This is a ridiculous fake-news story about feminism in 2007. This pic is photoshopped. None of this is real.
This is a real photograph and a part of a real newsworthy event about feminism in 2011. The leader is Hugo Schwyzer, Professor of Women’s Studies. All of this is real. To be fair, Hugo does appear to question this. Whatever.
Egads! The sheer number of songs performed/written by men that address the age-old angst of that silent beautiful woman he saw that one time, well it’s enough to make me want to write a song about that guy I played pool with at the bar a few weeks ago that was really, really cute. Except, ya know, he was just a cute guy and not my savior, so I don’t know really what the song would be about other than “Hey, I liked your face and your clothes and your hair was passable although perhaps not ideal and you made some good shots.”
But see, men can sing those songs and I guess it’s supposed to be all meaningful and shit, because apparently the mere site of a pretty woman can change everything a man thinks about the world and then he leaves his wife! Men leave their wives over the silent beauty they saw in passing! It’s true! I hear about it all the time on the radio in my mom’s car!
To wit: Mr. James Blunt says,
My life is brilliant.
My love is pure.
I saw an angel.
Of that I’m sure.
She smiled at me on the subway.
She was with another man.
But I won’t lose no sleep on that,
‘Cause I’ve got a plan.
You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful.
You’re beautiful, it’s true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don’t know what to do,
‘Cause I’ll never be with you.
Your love is pure? Are you kidding me? Okay Blunt, just so you know, you’re completely fucked . This beautiful girl that you shared a moment with? I really doubt that she remembers it, much less thinks about you as the one who got away. Why’s that? Because pretty girls get looks like that ALL THE TIME from countless dudes hoping to gaffle a so-called moment with the pretty girl.
Trust me, as the frumpy BFF of a series of pretty girls for as long as I’ve been alive, with my hawk-like senses and protective insticts, I can tell you most assuredly that you did not share a moment. When a beautiful woman is as enrapturing as you describe, you can bet you weren’t the first guy that day to stare at her. At some point in pretty girl’s life, usually around age 12, such moments are just so damn commonplace they become non-moments.
No, when she saw you and smiled she was most likely thinking about that kid Manny on Modern Family.
It’s also possible that she thought you were cute and was kinda flirting with you. But not likely. And she certainly didn’t go home and write a freaking song about it.
So why do you do this to yourself Blunt? She was beaitiful and smiled at you and now you’re all you’re ‘my angel’ and ‘I know we’ll never be together’ and blah blah blah. You know nothing about her whatsoever and all the sudden you’re in existential turmoil.
I think that Blunts of the world really don’t want the pretty girl to speak because if she did she would be a real living breathing person and not a lovely fragile thing that stands there smiling at you, making you think about how you are not all the glorious things you wish you were but maybe, just maybe, if she never spoke or had an opinion about anything, this girl might just save you from yourself.
Women: If silent, angelic and catalysts to mens’ personal growth. If speaking, cause of all problems, personal and global.
I’ve been away for a while now. Not because I didn’t have anything to say, but because one night in October this sick dude who was pissed that I refused his ill advised attempts at wooing me into bed (I’m just looking for something casual…fooling around is fun…not into a relationship right now….you flirted with me once…I haven’t been laid in a really long time…) decided to pour beer on my laptop before he left. He promptly followed that up with a text message that said “So are handjobs and blowjobs out of the question too?” Ugh.
Craigslist – the answer to and cause of all of life’s problems.
I peruse the personals every couple of weeks for feminist inspiration and a nice reminder of why I’m single. I know you think I’m saying that because I’m embarrassed about the fact that I’m actually searching for my discount version of an eHarmony life-mate, or at least a decent screw, but it’s not true.
No, but I’ve gone on CL dates before. After the last time, the one where dude was seriously offended that I made fun of Miami Sound Machine, couldn’t shut the hell up about Romance languages, got super pissed when I beat him at chess, and then bailed on me when I was in the bathroom, I vowed to never ever do it again. And I haven’t. That was at least 4 years ago.
And the next paragraph, shockingly representative of the kinds of ads that get posted in my area, will tell you why I still don’t consider Craigslist valuable for anything other than finding free toasters and getting rid of moving boxes.
I just want to freaking hold you and listen to 80s love songs – 32
I wont choke the s**t out of you if you dont agree with everything I say and think, unless that happens to vibe with your particular fetish needs. I let bit..I mean women, have their own opinions. I think its cute and healthy too. All I can promise you if you answer this ad is your be the most well f**ked woman in the valley. Ill work that clit as if a group of aliens robbed our planet of all the chocolate pudding. Ill serenade you with 80s love songs till you puke. Write me baby.
Okay baby. Ha! Everytime I read that I find something new that makes me chuckle (in that really horrified, profoundly depressing, “Oh My God I Hate Being Straight” kind of way).
The really fucked up thing? I can hear the voice of the guy who wrote that and I’m pretty sure I made out with him last winter. Yeah, I’m totally going to hell.
I was in and out of the hospital for a few weeks a couple of months ago with some crazy intestinal bullshit that made me walk all hunched over popping chewable fiber tablets, terrified of eating bread products or spicy food. I was suddenly a hundred years old. I most definitely blame the patriarchy.
I went in to see my doctor in the morning a few days after the last hospital visit with some new belly pain and she forced me to go to the ER because she was worried my condition may have worsened. I really, really didn’t want to go. The last time I had gone to the ER with stomach pain I was there for 4 days and left with a mild morphine addiction. They sure are liberal with that stuff when they don’t know what’s wrong with you, lemme tell ya.
On this ER visit, I was attended to by a creepy ass old doctor with a long grey ponytail that despised me. I could tell this by the way he sneered at, chuckled, and dismissed my complaints. I wanted to scream at him that my doctor had forced me to come. I wanted to go home and curl up in bed for the rest of the week. I was mos def not on a mission to get narcotics. If a cup of Maalox was gonna make the pain go away then please, give me the goo and let me be on my way. Please please please, don’t admit me.
But this guy straight up hated me. He didn’t believe a single word that came out of my mouth. I knew this the way that people just know things.
Needless to say, I didn’t trust him much either, so when his evaluating presses on my abdomen became a little too gentle and caressing, I got tense. It wasn’t egregious fondling, and if it had been my own doctor I would have thought she was just expressing care, but it was a little too gentle for a doctor that had showed nothing but skepticism of my illness and contempt for my existence since I walked in the door.
He fed me some tummy medicine and came back a few hours later to see how I was feeling. “I think I’m fine” I said. “No more pain.” I got up and waddled around the room in a haphazardly-tied hospital gown and old undies, declaring myself fit as a fiddle. It worked! The Maalox worked! Can I please go home now? Then the doctor says:
“Jump up and down.”
“Jump up and down?” I asked.
“Yeah, let’s see if you’re really feeling better.”
“I will absolutely not jump up and down in front of you.”
Looks at me quizzically. “You won’t?”
I sit back down on the bed, determined. “No. No. I won’t.”
He looks at me from the side, with his eyes all squinty, and writes something down.
I lose my shit. “I’m not a crazy person! I’m not! Why are you looking at me like I’m crazy? Seriously, I can’t jump up and down in front of you. No! No. But I feel better, I feel just fine. Let me go home, okay? I won’t jump up and down. No. Definitely not. And I’m not insane.”
Looks at me as if I’ve just threatened to blow up the hospital. “I’ll just have to take your word on that.” Audible Pfft. “You can go.” Wave of the dismissive hand. “I’ll have the nurse bring in the papers.”
Of course I acknowledge the possibility that there was some sort of medical necessity at work there and that my doctor was truly attempting to determine, via the random jump demand, if I was lying about feeling better. In this scenario, my creepy doctor was looking out for my well-being.
If this is truth, it’s partial at best.
Taking in the whole scenario, I think it’s clear that dude was on a serious fucking power trip, to say the least. Me: A sickly woman in a stiff, cold, sterile bed, mostly naked under a thin hospital gown, who has expressed fear about her impending bankruptcy from these endlessly escalating hospital bills and wants nothing more from this man than to be allowed to go home. This is a portrait of vulnerability, and we all know how appealing female vulnerability is to men who get off on their assumed patriarchy-given power to demand things from women that they have no right or reason to demand.
Maybe I’ve been fortunate in my choice of female doctors and therapists, because in all my years, no female doctor has ever demanded uncomfortable personal information that was irrelevant to whatever I was there for. No female therapist has ever asked me for sexual details. No woman has ever demeaned me by asking me to jump up and down in front of her for any reason, ever. No woman has ever asked me to do something that made me feel like my vulnerability was being taken advantage of. That’s not to say that no woman has ever done such things, but never to me.
Or maybe I’m more conscious of my vulnerability and discomfort with male doctors than with women and more suspicious of their motivations. Yeah, maybe that’s it.
Or maybe I’m absolutely right to think that men in positions of close authority over women’s bodies are allowed to force a level of intimacy that is uncomfortable and wholly unnecessary, and that this is true especially in the most sanctioned of authoritarian relationships – the ones where the disparity in power is accepted near-universally.
Whatever little sovereignty a woman may have over her experiences, her body, her choices – these are negated entirely when in the presence of an authority man. Especially when she is at her most vulnerable, when she is most dependent on his assessment of her.
The man in this kind of power position has the legitimate right to take for himself anything and everything that belongs to a woman, all in the name of her health and well-being. He can demand her humiliation with little challenge, as long his demands aren’t outright illegal, because the world expects its men, especially those with his kind of power, to dominate the half of the species that are supposed to exist solely for the purpose of arousing, satisfying, and comforting the other half. And because the patriarchy expects its authority men, its doctors and psychiatrists and police officers, to verify for the rest of the world how not-quite-human women really are, what with their odd afflictions and emotions and behaviors, by treating them as not-quite-human.
He can tell a woman to jump up and down in front of him. He can ask her questions that nobody should ask for any reason. He can softly caress her belly when he should be pressing down on it. He can write down notes about how crazy she is because she didn’t do what he told her to do. And she’s the one with the problem, because she’s a woman. He’s a doctor. Enough said. End of story.
And I say boo.
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.
I had a conversation with a guy friend recently in which he told me that my friend Pam’s intelligence, humor, friendliness, beauty, and kick-ass pool playing skills were not enough to make her attractive because she was “just a barfly.” Another good friend told me that he would never have a relationship with a woman he met in a bar because he wouldn’t want to be with a woman “like that.” I challenged them both on their sexist double standards and I’ve been mildly obsessed with the idea of The Barfly ever since.
(Okay, before you go questioning my choice of friends, let me just say that I live in a small town. If I didn’t begrudgingly tolerate feminist ignorance among my friends I would have exactly zero of them)
So I decided to do a little investigation into this whole Barfly thing. The official definition is a person who spends a lot of time drinking in bars. However, the slang definition, according to the oft-cited Urban Dictionary, is as follows:
1. A bar fly is a sleezy woman that hangs out at bars with no other intent but to hook up with a man for the night. Bar flies normally leave a wet stain or mark on bar stools. They are disgusting whores.
2. A heavy drinking woman with a mom face but milf-like qualities such as a nice rack and a small ass. Can be surprisingly tight in the vagina. Will deny being a bar fly.
Apparently there are several synonyms and spin-offs to the Barfly. Yay!
A chick who hangs at the bar on a daily basis, fucks whover buys her drinks/drugs and thinks she’s hip to the scene.
Horribly skanky girls that regularly occupy the local bars trying to hit on bartenders in the attempt to integrate their alcoholic or otherly abused life with someone who is trying to earn money to get through college by holding a part-time job because they want their futures to be stable enough to avoid people like this.
A stupid drunk ass bitch who goes to the bar strictly to spread her taco.
A loser whore who tramps around the bar looking for anything that has anything between its legs.
A woman that takes a man’s offer to buy her a drink with no intentions of dancing or going home with him. After the girl gets the drink she will usually “recieve a phone call that her brothers in the hospital and she has to go”
Similar to Barfly but a MUCH Nastier Uglier Version, that not even all the alcohol in the world could get you to sleep with her.
Ugly drunk women who always seems to be at the end of the bar. Will go home with anyone who has at least 5 dollars in pocket.
Ah, there’s nothing quite like the sneak-up reminder of how despised women are. Especially the ones who go out into public.
I have many things to say about the Barfly, but I’ll have to say them in another post because for now, the Urban Dictionary has gotten me all kinds of riled up.
The tagline: “A slang dictionary with your definitions. Define your world.”
My world. Funny.
Under the current reviewing system, newly submitted definitions are entered into the editing queue before appearing on the site. Volunteer editors vote to accept or reject definitions in the queue…Each submission is reviewed by a number of volunteers (the exact number varies, but lies between two and nine), with controversial definitions being viewed by more people. Definitions with more accept votes than reject votes appear on the site.
The quality control issues with that site are obviously enormous and I realize that the bulk of entries are being written by teenage boys (but wait – is the fact that the guys writing this crap are young supposed to make me feel better about the world?), but I’m still quite unnerved by the fact that entries are actually reviewed before being posted and this kind of shit still gets up there. Hot damn, the hate is palpable. These entries were approved, for chrissake.
Ever read the forums at the bottom of movie pages on IMDB? Or the comments on any girl’s YouTube video? Or spam subject lines? My inbox terrorizes me daily. The internet has made it possible to spew hate before unsuspecting and oddly captive readers, the likes of which have never been seen before.
Online public spaces are so often dominated by proud misogyny. Boys write for boys as the default audience and women are intruders, lucky to be let in and laughed at and threatened when they try to point out that they’re actual people and not sex dolls or cartoon characters or ideas. Websites where anyone can say anything inevitably and tragically become places for men to alienate and degrade women; to remind us that we exist on the margins of humanity. Anonymity + no rules = the truth comes out. The gloves are off. No reason to pretend. And it feels fucking awful.
Please, dear feminist readers, start a blog if you haven’t already and write in it if you have. We need more places where we can go to escape the hate.
Funny thing. I’ve noticed that the men who come on to feminist blogs to argue about how men have rights too and how feminists are woefully misguided about the true nature of women – these men very often have obviously male names. They make it clear, if not within their comments, then with their handles, that they’re men.
I wonder, if these guys want to actually engage in meaningful dialogue about feminist ideas, as they claim they do, why do they feel the need to make it clear from the get go that they’re men?
Could it be that they assume from a lifetime of male privilege that they have a right, an obligation even, to interrupt women, announce their manhood, and expect full attention? That any discussion among women is not legitimate until a man is there to guide the conversational journey? That what they say has more weight and is inherently more important that anything a woman has to say? That women joyfully welcome the wisdom of the male perspective on whatever topic is at hand?
Or are they hoping that the feminists will quickly see that one of the “enemy” is in their midst and then attack whatever he says (because he’s a man, of course, and not because he’s saying ridiculous and ignorant things), thereby giving him all the proof he needs to support his argument that feminists are a bunch of hateful irrational hags that viciously slander the kind-hearted men who only want to help them become better people?
Me a few weeks ago: Eating sourdough pancakes at the counter, reading the last pages of a thick Peggy Guggenheim biography. Guy: sits next to me, sees what I’m reading, and proceeds to tell me all about the life of Peggy Guggenheim as if I’d never heard of her. Hello? I’m on the last fucking chapter of a 1,000 page biography. You really think you need to educate me on the topic? Who are you and why are you giving me a lecture while I’m trying to read? Are you expecting me to take notes or some shit?
Tell me, what are men thinking when they approach a woman reading a book and attempt to teach her everything they think they know about the subject she’s reading about? Are they thinking “Hey, it’s a girl! Maybe she’ll fuck me!” or is it “I’m totally smarter than her because I’m a dude. I better go make sure she knows it.” Or possibly “I hate women.” Perhaps a little of each?
Me a few days ago: At the bar reading a thoroughly entertaining book about TV (the ideal gift for any Gen-x’er who was raised by the nanny named television and who found themselves abnormally attached to TV’s rich California high school kids/vampire slayers/”start getting real” roommates long after they left home). Guy: Sits next to me, sees what I’m reading, and tells me all about the kinds of books he reads, as if I was sitting there wondering about exactly that thing and not, in fact, reading a book. To make matters so much worse, the kind of book he’s damn proud of reading is Bukowski. This is seemingly intended to convince me that he’s WAY smarter and cooler than I am because I’m reading about television and he prefers the shitty prose of a drunken misogynist asshole. Edgy!
Tell me, why do so many men think that a woman reading alone in a public place is the perfect listener? Is this because they believe they are smarter than any given woman near them and that women, especially the ones that are trying to look all smart by reading a book, are anxious to be subtly reminded of their supposed deficiencies? Do they see a woman reading and assume she’s only doing so in order to get a man to come talk to her; that she can’t possibly be just simply reading a book? Is it because she’s without a male companion and has therefore made herself open game – i.e. that she brought such attention on to herself by daring to venture out into the public realm without a man clearly claiming ownership over her?
Me since I was old enough to read in public: Asked “Whatcha readin?” by countless men who never attempted to engage in any sort of real dialogue about the book I was reading, who never asked me questions about what I thought about the author or the subject, who never did anything but spew paraphrased, hand-me-down facts and theories about whatever topic they felt like discussing regardless of whether or not I seemed even remotely interested, who never assumed I might actually know anything about anything.
Tell me, would the kind of men who shamelessly approach single reading women suggest that these women not read in public if they don’t wish to be approached by men pretending to be curious? And if so, how unbelievably fucked up is it that?
Okay so I know it’s hot out and everything, but where the hell did guys get the idea that it’s perfectly okay to saunter around the 7-11 without a shirt on? I get the no shirt thing when you’re putting a new roof on a house or maybe installing an irrigation system, but out in public, walking down the street, in chilly air-conditioned convenience stores? What’s the deal?
Yeah okay, you have a nice chest. Your celtic tattoos make you an intimidating sexpot. Your nipple piercings make us all quiver with desire. Your well-defined pecs haunt my dreams. Whatever. Put a fucking shirt on.
Here’s the root of my problem with male shirtlessness: It’s profoundly unfair. As you probably know by now, I’m not a huge fan of patriarchical injustice, and this one just reeks of it. Not only is it unacceptable for women to walk around topless, it’s plain illegal. It’s called indecent. Immoral. In too many places it’s still illegal to breastfeed in public, and in the Bible Belt you can be arrested for not wearing a bra.
Actually, I made that last part up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true.
Why? Because it is unfair to tempt straight men this way. See, it’s also illegal to go around feeling women up, and if women could go topless in public it might make it more difficult for the tempted men to not break that particular law. Can’t count on men to control themselves, or course. It’s gotta be up to women to make sure men don’t violate them. Men are not responsible for their own impure thoughts and compulsions to act on them, women are. Fancy that. Classic boys-will-be-boys, women-are-responsible scenario.
Now let’s say I got a strong desire to go lick the pierced nipples of celtic tattoo man. Which, for the record, I most certainly did not. Pretty much. Anyway, it’s fairly clear that no one’s too worried about my impure thoughts and desires, otherwise male shirtlessness would be similarly outside of conventional moral boundaries. Either this is because the world thinks that women don’t have such desires or it’s just not concerned about our inability to control ourselves.
It’s a bit of both, I suspect. Most (American) women have been taught to maintain pretty strict control over our desires and sexual compulsions ever since about the 3rd grade. Such enduring lessons include: Make them want you regardless of if you want them back, and don’t give in to your own want unless it will get you something more meaningful in return. Approach their desire with caution and in a proper ladylike fashion while maintaining your sexual attractiveness at all times. If you express or give in to your own desire, we will call you a slut. If you don’t give in at the appropriate time, when they really need it, we will call you a tease, especially if you dare tempt them with revealing clothes.
Them, them, them, them, them. Blah. What a bunch of horseshit. Too bad so many of us still abide by this stuff. This is the stuff that keeps us fighting with each other over developmentally disabled frat boys, questioning our worth and value in the world because the dude that we’re not even that into doesn’t call us back, and trying to find clothes that reveal just enough to make them wish they could touch us but not so much that they’ll actually try.
Basically, this is the stuff that patriarchies are made of. It’s a very useful tool for male domination: keep the women repressed with concern over how to get men to want them while still keeping their dignity intact, as well as how to prevent men from hitting them, raping them, leering at them, ignoring them, or just generally treating them like shit, and the men are free to walk around town with their shirts off enjoying all the perks of male privilege that are so ingrained they don’t even know they have them.
Oh calm down, I wasn’t talking about you.