47th Carnival of Feminists

Posted in Feminism by Dizzy on November 9, 2007

Welcome to the Carnival! Sorry I’m a little late.

Lots to cover here, so let’s get straight into it, shall we?

On the messages we get:

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign has garnered a lot of feminist attention and debate from the beginning, and this new ad they call “Onslaught” is no exception. Bluemilk gives a thoughtful argument in its defense in this thoughtful post.

Is it ok for Dove to make money from selling products to women to improve their perfectly normal, lovely bodies so that they conform with an artificial beauty construct? Well, that is another question. I’m not expecting miracles with the beauty industry (it won’t happen overnight so to speak) but I’m pleased to see this discussion even if it is part of a campaign to sell products. The ‘Onslaught’ video works, it reaches people, it summarises the destructiveness of the beauty industry, and it does this in less than two minutes.

Black Amazon gives us a provocative argument on how the oft-cited “Well-Behaved Women..” quote dismisses the women whose survival often depends on behaving acceptably.

To believe that your behavior will change history as we accept it is to have a grounded belief that history will treat you fairly. If you do the right thing or if you fly in the status quo enough. Heck it’s a damn luxury to believe being non well behaved won’t get you KILLED or DEPORTED or ERASED from history. And that quote to me sums up the utter ignorance and repeated disregard that this concept of ” RADICAL RIOT ROAR ” feminism , grounds little in the lives of women. ESPECIALLY those for whom misbehavior is not some cognizant or even attainable option.

Check out Eric Stoller’s blog for a listserv exchange I’m pretty sure every feminist (and web developer) is familiar with. It’s the one that starts out with someone being called out on saying something sexist and immediately turns into an attack on overly-sensitive women and the girly-men who respect them. Bah!

At the Mind of Genevieve, we get challenged with some questions on why, when talking about the bad driver stereotypes, men get the reckless label and women get stuck with sheer stupidity. Good question.

It’s not a good thing to be let off easy because of a perception that we’re stupid and unknowledgable about the rules of the road. And it’s also not good that men are thought of as competent but choose to be dangerous.

I love the Movie Rule! And I love Natasha’s Movie Rule analysis of Pixar animated movies, designed to be “inoffensive and identifiable” to children.

When you start to think about it, it really is amazing how many movies act as if women either don’t exist, or exist only as sex objects. One in a while something surprising comes along, for example Resident Evil: Extinction passed the Bechdel test, but for the most part women have just gotten used to not seeing themselves in film.

The Rise of the Fembots: A Social Revolution.
Alex Remy at Writing Evolution probes into the Today Show segment about how selfish, emotionally distant, and sad the career-orientated, child-free “Fembots” are.

This sexist ideology has been force-fed to motivated women for centuries, only beginning to diminish when challenged and debunked in the 1960’s. It is now 2007, and I was under the impression that our society had evolved to a more enlightened consensus. Sadly, this segment seems to indicate otherwise.

at The Fine Art of Procrastination discusses her unenviable task of finding a cool and appropriate Christmas gift for a 3-year old girl.

Shouldn’t we be encouraging children to aspire to something a bit more than domesticity or being a wannabe footballers wife. Just because our generation is obsessed with easy celebrity do we really have to programme the next one to take the torch?

Anyone else remember Salt-n-Pepa pushin it and talkin bout sex? Sadly, those days are long gone. Rachel at Women’s Health News reports on the unfortunate stereotypes reality TV has turned them into.

The seeming lesson? The menfolk are nearly wild animals who will be tempted by the presence of loose women into lying to their wives, drinking, and getting into all kinds of trouble. This big fun is what they’d really rather be doing anyway, and a good wife must be constantly vigilant if she wants her man to behave.

On sex:

There are a lot of great posts around the femblogosphere about using”vajayjay” and Himbly at What am I Doing with a Blog? does an awesome job presenting some of the arguments.

My point is that, as much as sometimes we don’t care to admit it, there is a cause for us to adjust our language due to social situations. I think that it is sometimes seen as phony, but it most certainly is a part of being a social animal. Recognising the social situation you are in and responding appropriately. We, as humans, just happen to have language to concern ourselves with.

Nakedthoughts shares her two-cents on the original Smerconish article that started the vajayjay blog buzz.

The feminists, it seems, have a proprietary interest in female genitalia.

Oh the horror I have a proprietary interest in my own genitals. It is my body, right? I guess he thinks it should be his body, as evidenced by this:

Unlike the starkly clinical vagina, I see a vajayjay as a happy and inviting place, with a warm and fuzzy connotation. Vajayjay says “hello . . . welcome” and “open for business.” “Vagina” screams textbook. “Vajayjay” says Facebook.

Personally I don’t want my vagina to say “open for business”. It is mine to with as I choose. (and I choose very carefully). I only want to welcome those I want. Not the whole world, and especially not this writer.

Figleaf at Real Adult Sex argues with a couple of anti-feminists’ nitpicky assessments of the healthy and meaningful teen sex education going on at Scarleteen. A fine read.

Because with these people if you’re a woman there’s only one person you want to have sex for and that’s whatever man gets the contract. And because with these people if you’re a man then you don’t want to go thinking about anyone else’s feelings because then the system would fall apart.

Over at Hoyden About Town, Lauredhel gives us some ideas about what the marketing for hymenoplasty surgery is really telling us.

No longer merely a tool for fooling hapless hubbies, revirginisation is the new sexual empowerfulment for the noughties.

Louise at the F Word discusses the women-are-like-video-games Moaning Lisa doll and the creators’ assumption that getting a woman sexually excited is as simple as knowing which buttons to push. Literally.

Gosh darn it, you could try talking to your partner rather than just fumbling around twiddling her knobs (breasts) and stroking her sensers (arse or labia). Or is it easier to conceive of a woman as a voiceless (unless orgasming), passive bundle of sensers rather than emotions, thoughts, intelligence and ability to make decisions for herself…?

DasiyDeadHead gets righteous in her post about how denying teenagers access to birth control is more about punishing girls for having sex than preventing unwanted pregnancies.

And who is getting the attention here? Girls. Girls get pregnant, girls take the risk, and girls have babies. Girls will be uneducated single mothers. Girls will be broke. Girls will be on AFDC. Girls, not boys. Therefore, this is all about GIRLS, and PENALIZING GIRLS FOR HAVING SEX. NOT BOYS. (Are we really having this conversation in 2007?)

Marcella at abbys2hope explains why she isn’t surprised about the report telling us that feminism makes for better hetero-sex lives.

Whenever I see a man ask, “Do feminists still believe that all sex equals rape?” I wonder if he asks that question because all the sex he’s had is predatory. When predators compare their sexual activity to what feminists view as disrespectful, immoral, abusive or criminal there would likely be a complete match.

On men:

Whatsername at The Jaded Hippy lays out some solid gripes about the immediate assumption that being a feminist means being a man-hater.

But the fact that I recognize that there are men out there who are not my friends? That makes me anti-male? That I realize that patriarchy is a real thing? That we are not equal, and that there are men out there who rape, murder and abuse women on a regular basis, and in fact far too often…That makes me anti-male?

Hugo Schwyzer, in part 2 of a fascinating series, talks about how the lack of deep self-knowledge and fear of emptiness among men affect the ones who aspire toward feminism.

The secular hedonists (Leykis and a great many MRAs) urge a surrender to impulse: “You’re a man! You’re a simple creature who wants great sex and great food and a few laughs. Stop feeling guilty for your desires, and give into them!”

Traditionalist Christian voices often make a remarkably similar argument: “You’re a man! You’ve been given a special role by God to lead, and you must accept your calling!”

And when the nice young feminist man looks for a counter-argument to these pervasive messages, he finds very little that’s useful. Telling him “masculinity is just a social construct” is a woefully insufficient response, to put it mildly.

Debs at Feminist Fire talks about the Modern Cad and selling a nostalgic notion of gender to women so that we’ll be more complicit in our own degradation.

Are they using that famous ‘cad’ manipulation trick (more of which later) to make it seem as though all this ‘fun’ is for men only, when actually these ‘cads’ are talking to women, telling women what is expected of them in order for the ‘cad’ to do as he pleases? Are women being groomed by these books? Are they attempting to hypnotise women with some sort of psycho-suggestive technique (”You do miss the cad. You wish all men would just use you and throw you away. You are worth no more than this.”)?

Holly at Self Portrait As presents the self-proclaimed narcissist who refuses to admit he’s a sexist asshole. (I don’t hate women, I’m just really self-absorbed!) She rejects narcissism as a defense. “These guys are narcissists” she says, “in all the ways society trains them to be, because they’re men.”

Now, I’m not going to argue that ALL men are narcissists, because I don’t think they are. I feel I know men who exhibit remarkable compassion and generosity. But I am going to argue that for men who don’t want to do the work of thinking about someone else’s needs simply because those needs are someone else’s and not their own, there are plenty of ways in which they’re allowed to think it’s their god-given right to be narcissists if they want to.

Deborah at In a Strange Land talks about the irritating survey on the “state of New Zealand blokedom” in which a “national conversation” is being sparked that entirely excludes women’s voices.

Of course, it’s not really about having a national conversation at all. It’s really about selling newspapers, and it seems that framing a survey so that women can be blamed for men’s woes must guarantee sales.

I appreciate the value I get from reading about the personal experience of misogyny from the feminist man standpoint. I especially love it when they offer thoughtful advice to their male readers, like new blogger Black Male Feminist does in Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Mysogyny.

Any claim to support women’s rights and gender justice is empty and meaningless unless you support the real, breathing women in your life, day in and day out… Don’t debate, deal with the reality.

And here’s my contribution to the man topic.

This is why it’s hard for me to respond with any measure of understanding to the men who come at me, guns a-blazing, ready to debate feminism as if it’s a fun little academic exercise, all rife with “you’re all the same” declarations. I don’t respond well to those attacks because I don’t understand feminism or misogyny as theoretical in nature.

On Parenting:

Over at The Queen of Sheba’s Juicy Feast, we get a spirited rejection of “Invisible Mommy” cathredral-building martyrdom.

“At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.” What?!! Your invisibility IS an affliction! … It is not self-centered to want to wear clean clothes and smell nice and have an enjoyable career! It is not pride to want to be your own person for part of every day! Snap out of it, crazy lady!

The wonderful photographer Cathy Cade gives a great interview to the Bay Radical about her art and her experience as a lesbian mother activist.

There were those years where lesbian mothering was my movement. After they got to a certain age, I guess high school or something, they weren’t around as much and I started looking around and saying, “OK, so where’s the Women’s Movement? Where’s the Lesbian Movement now?” And I couldn’t find it. At first it seemed like it was nowhere.

Tracee Sioux talks about the bureaucratic nightmare that is getting her own name on her son’s birth certificate.

Surely, in this day and age, I am not the only mother who’s upset about the way her identity on her children’s birth certificate is documented? The assumption of anyone looking at it is that my current name is that of my husband’s and children’s.

The Redneck Mother wonders about the business cards that identify a woman as as someone’s mother. Get ready for the Mommy Cards!

For one thing, basing your identity on your child is fraught with peril. If you’re Maxwellison’s mommy, then what are you if young Max turns out to be a biter or an arsonist? Then you’re in the same boat with corporations whose celebrity endorsers drink the wrong soda, attack people or die. Parenting is hard enough without magnifying the identity issues.

And the political:

I’d like to end this Carnival with a very convincing argument from the wonderful Erica Barnett about why getting Senator Clinton into the White House could be a very good thing for women.

Feminist writers and others have debated themselves to death about whether being a woman means supporting Hillary. I don’t think it does. As a woman, however, I support Clinton’s record on gender issues–which is an entirely different thing than supporting a candidate because of her gender.

Thanks to everyone who submitted entries to the Carnival and for introducing me to a whole bunch of fantastic feminist writers. Not sure where the next one will be, but check in with the main Carnival site for updates.


Idealogical rhetoric on dominant reality perceptions

Posted in Being a Feminist, Dudes, Feminism, Language, My Favorite Feminists by Dizzy on November 4, 2007

My blog has of late been inundated with critical comments from folks who think that feminism is sexist and that feminists are kinda dumb. They tell me that they’re right and I’m wrong, declare my blog a pointless waste of time, and proudly claim that I’ve proven their arguments about feminism because I don’t engage them in a healthy discussion about how brainless and robotic feminists are. Aha! They say. Gotcha!

I am obviously under no obligation to respond to the criticism levied at feminism on my blog, what with me being my own actual thinking person and not, in fact, the press secretary for the international feminist club trying to take over the world, but I have to admit to being mildly titillated by all these attacks on feminism based on what I write here.

It would be justifiable to dismiss it all as part of the feminist backlash/product of male privilege and move on, and it may very well be those things, but I also think that there’s something way off about the whole thing and I want to figure out what it is. Maybe there’s a fundamental misunderstanding at work here?

Flimsy and unsupported endlessly-regurgitated hypotheses, psycho-socio-jargon, ideological rhetoric, dominant feminist discourse, sense of intellectual superiority, lens of theory. All phrases used in critical comments about me and, directly or implicitly, all feminists.

Hmmm. It appears that my blog (and many like it) has become akin to an intro women’s studies class where a few tardy, unprepared, dialogue-dominating, self-righteous freshman boys, who are taking it in order to get what they think will be an easy A and to sharpen their debate skills, only listen to female voices in anticipation of finding a faulty theoretical argument to attack and use against them.

So first of all, what the hell is the dominant feminist discourse? Can someone point me to the Wikipedia article on this? I really have no idea what they’re talking about. Wait, now that I think of it, I’m not sure I know what most of those things mean. Ideological rhetoric? Lens of theory? Psycho-social jargon? What the fuck? None of those things mean anything to me. You wanna talk about jargon? Well that’s just about the most jargony jargon I ever heard! So who’s regurgitating what now?

Hey, I think we’re on to something here. Perhaps the Freshmen, as I will call them, think feminism is just a debate topic. An academic exercise. A set of well-defined theories, held uniformly by all of it proponents, for them to intellectually process and refute. And I’m getting the sense that they think women experience it that way too.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I experience feminism through my revulsion to popular misogyny. When I see a beer commercial about a man’s inner struggle with his hot blonde twins in bikinis fantasy versus his naggy brunette girlfriend reality, I don’t think about it, I feel it. When I watch 37 trailers to upcoming movies and don’t see a single one about a woman, I don’t immediately come up with “regurgitated” rhetoric that explains it, I feel it first. When I hear a CNN newscaster tell me about the sexual history of a rape victim, my heart beats fast and my tummy hurts.

This has nothing to do with intellectual processing, everything to do with my aversion to being instructed to hate myself and my refusal to accept that women are peripheral to the human experience. Feminist theories on gender and patriarchy have given me the ability and the language needed to put it all into perspective, but the raw, unfiltered physical reaction I have to such messages, along with the resounding ‘Fuck Yeah!’ feeling I get when someone voices a frustration that I haven’t been able to put words to – those are the things that make me a feminist.

This is why it’s hard for me to respond with any measure of understanding to the men who come at me, guns a-blazing, ready to debate feminism as if it’s a fun little academic exercise, all rife with “you’re all the same” declarations. I don’t respond well to those attacks because I don’t understand feminism or misogyny as theoretical in nature.

Misogyny is my enemy, men are not, and telling whomever will listen that it’s rampant and painful, in a time when its many manifestations are vehemently denied as being harmful, is how I’ve chosen to participate in the battle against it. Denigrating me for that is a fantastic waste of time.