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.
When women cease to be defined by our sexual behavior and our appeal to men and can fully participate in public discourse without our gender being dismissively scrutinized, and when our experiences are considered human instead of strictly female and outside of the norm, there will be no such thing as a barfly. Until then…
Women who frequent bars by themselves do it for a number of reasons. (Just like men! Imagine that!) Sometimes it’s to get shitfaced drunk and forget about everything that stresses her out. Sometimes it’s as simple as wanting to be alone in public, or to be with those wacky bar friends who don’t judge her as harshly as everyone else does and don’t pretend to know her well enough to explain all the ways in which she’s not living up to her potential.
She does it to not be home alone. To not be home with someone she doesn’t want to be at home with. To feel attractive for the first time since the last time. She does it because dusk always reminds her of her mother and she doesn’t want to think about her mother. Or because she has a physical craving that she has to satisfy despite not really wanting to, sorta like taking a 1-minute smoke break by the dumpster in the rain with no coat on only because your body is demanding that you do so.
Imagine: Broken-hearted dude goes to the local tavern where everyone knows his name, sits at the bar for many hours chatting up the bartender, drinking whisky shots with PBR backs. Says stupid shit, accidentally cries a little, drunkenly sings along too loudly to Tiny Dancer, goes to a lady’s house late night, has stupid semi-hard drunk sex, does the 2-mile walk of shame home in the morning, passes out. Repeat. Goes on 3-year-long bender of public drunkenness and sleepovers in strange places.
You know what that is? A song with gravelly vocals and elementary guitar chords. Americana. The human experience. Crazy Heart.
Imagine: the broken-hearted is a woman who does all of those things. You think: So sad! Why isn’t she at home making dinner for someone, or painstakingly scrutinizing her appearance? Where does she get the ludicrous notion that she has the right to be in a bar by herself? Doesn’t she have ladylike things to do somewhere? Does she not know what people think of her? Why doesn’t she care what everyone thinks? For fuck’s sake!
According to Urban Dictionary, and seemingly the general public, a barfly is a woman whose purpose is debauchery and destruction. She has no motivation for being in that bar other than to manipulate and eventually destroy the men that are stupid or drunk enough to pay attention to her. She does not exist in and of herself and has no self-awareness or integrity. She’s a slut, a drunk, a terrible mother, a washed-up spinster, a ruined woman. She deserves to be treated like shit, and in fact expects and seeks it out.
The hours she spends on the bar stool would be tragic if anyone actually cared about her well-being. But they don’t, because she’s just a barfly.
The truth is, a barfly is nothing more than someone who, like everyone else, tries to create her own brand of temporary happiness in the way she knows works. She just happens to do it in a bar – which, if she were a man, would be hardly notable. Cheers was full of ’em.
That woman that sits at the bar by herself is not who we think she is. Let’s stop being deafened by the standard-issue patriarchal white noise that makes us think we know her and get over our rickety judgments about her worthiness and tragedy level before my freaking brain explodes.
And really, feeling so sorry for that woman who sits alone because you just can’t imagine how horrible her life must be, simply because she’s there, at the bar, drinking and maybe flirting? That’s not a whole lot better than judging her according to her fuckability score and next-day-embarassment index. We don’t know shit about her life and thinking that her mere presence in that place is enough to understand her… well, that’s plain fucked up.
As a response to the tragic story of the drunk driver who was responsible for the deaths of 8 people on a New York freeway, the AP published an article about how women are drinking, DUI’ing, and child endangering more these days. Unsurprisingly, feminism was highlighted in paragraph 4 as the real culprit.
“Younger women feel more empowered, more equal to men, and have been beginning to exhibit the same uninhibited behaviors as men,” said Chris Cochran of the California Office of.
Because, you see, when women start thinking that they have the same basic human rights as men, all hell breaks loose. People die. Equality Kills.
Interesting also that criminal, reckless endangerment is akin to the “uninhibited behaviors” that men regularly exhibit and that we expect from them. This troubles me.
So buried at the way bottom of the story we get a couple of paragraphs citing some relatively legitimate reasons why women might be drinking more now:
“Our society has taught us that women have an extra burden to be the perfect mothers and perfect wives and perfect daughters and perfect everything,” Levounis said. “They tend to go to great lengths to keep everything intact from an external viewpoint while internally, they are in ruins.”
In the current recession, women’s incomes have become more important because so many men have lost their jobs, experts say. Men are helping out more at home, but working mothers still have the bulk of the child rearing responsibilities.
“Because of that, they have a bigger burden then most men do,” said clinical psychologist Carol Goldman. “We have to look at the pressures on women these days. They have to be the supermom.”
All valid points (disregarding the notion that woman = wife and mother) and much more likely than the empowered women crap that keeps getting top-billed blame for any gender-specific “pattern” that hits the news wire.
If ever a person needed (more) proof that we’re living in a patriarchy, I posit that International Women’s Day is the final argument.
Doesn’t it seem odd that women, at least half of the human population, are given a special day of recognition? Can you imagine a day that honored the achievements of men? What about a Men’s History month?
From a local newspaper article about a IWD parade: “We celebrate all of our accomplishments from early on until now and teach all of our young girls to know how important it is to feel you can do anything you want”
Yeah well, it’s more important to actually make it possible. And you know what else? If a girl could truly do whatever she wanted to do, if she could ever be anything more to the world than just a girl, she wouldn’t need a freaking parade to convince her of it.
Again, imagine a special day once a year where boys are rah-rahed into believing that when they grow up they can do great things just like other men have done. I mean, it’s kind of a given, right? Just as it should be for girls, yes?
Personally, I would rather be acknowledged as a fully realized human being on a daily basis than “celebrated” once a year. The patriarchy will be dead when there no longer exists a need to recognize with parades and banners that the billions of people with vaginas are human too.
I’ve been trying to figure out sex-positive feminism for a while now, I’ve read a bunch about it, but ever since this Twisty post and this post at Rage Against the Manchine I’ve been preoccupied with figuring this shit out.
I’ll admit that I’m a total n00b when it comes to this topic – it took many years of considering myself a feminist before I could meaningfully articulate what that meant to me, so understanding and being able to take a side on all the controversies ostensibly existing inside the feminist sphere is this whole other level of challenge.
What I do know is that this sex-positive feminism thing has never sat well with me. I suppose it’s partly because my sexuality isn’t really that important of a thing to me and expressing it isn’t anywhere close to the top of my list of things to do in a day. Sex is fun sometimes and the freedom for women to be sexual is paramount, but I don’t understand the preoccupation with needing to turn and be turned on. Maybe other women understand feeling sexy and having orgasms as an important part of their identity and their mission. Okay, that’s fine. I’m not against sex, just a little sex-neutral (as defined here)
But now I’m realizing how much sex-positive feminism rankles me, mostly because the mainstream world seems to think it’s the cool young sexy fun and entirely non-threatening part of the whatever Wave we’re riding these days. And also because it has the word feminism in it. (And from this point on, I will call it sex-positivity).
I dunno, but trying to make misogyny work in our favor doesn’t feel like any kind of a feminist movement to me. I know that women as a class do this every second of the day for various reasons and at all levels of oppression, but doing it is one thing. Calling it a feminist movement just because some women choose it/enjoy it/feel sexy and empowerfulled because of it – well, that feels like delusion.
Female sexual empowerment in the form of lap dances and porn parties and hawt women making out for the sole purpose of titillating the menz as a path towards gender equality? Whatever. I think true sexual empowerment would look a whole lot different than a 16-year old boy’s Tila Tequila-inspired spank bank and from where I sit, equality has very little to do with sex. Gender equality, or as I like to envision it, gender devaluation, would have to come before any meaningful sexual empowerment for women.
I read this today, which is from John Fisk’s book on the politics of popular culture via an essay collection called “Third Wave Feminism and Television”:
Radicalism’s “progressiveness is concerned with redistributing power within these structures (family, work, education) toward the disempowered; it attempts to enlarge the space within which bottom-up power has to operate. It does not, as radicalism does, try to change the system that distributes power in the first place.”
So first of all, I guess that means I’m radical, because everything that I believe can be done to combat the woman-hating that presents itself in the form of CSI and 14 year old girls cutting themselves and bikini babes on boat-selling websites and 13-year old pregnant FLDS commune wives – they all revolve around changing the system entirely and most certainly NOT around believing that the solution to the problem of mysogny is to make it work in my favor.
Anyway, the Fisk quote makes sense to me. Sex-positivity may be considered a progressive movement because it’s attempting to give a form of power to a traditionally oppressed class. Feminism, on the other hand, wants to change the system that distributes such power and not simply redistribute it.
OR… the alternate way to read this is that it’s all under the feminist umbrella, but the progressive faction is defined by its so-called female sexual empowerment and the radical sect is concerned with making sexual empowerment of women moot because there would be no distinction among gender-specific power and roles in the sexual sphere.
Aw shit. I don’t know what to think right now.
I can’t reconcile myself to calling sex-positives anti- or non-feminist because I just can’t believe that the feminism I believe in is the only thing that can truly be called feminism. That makes me uncomfortable. But I also can’t embrace sex-positivity as a feminist movement because it goes against so much of what I think feminism is. So much of what I feel it is.
All I know for sure is that feminism is a fight and sex-positivity feels to me like an admission of defeat. It’s like the back door to the club with the sketchy dark twisted hallway that distracts you with all its mirrors but then stops at the velvet-roped dance floor where the burly bouncer tells you to go back to the mirrors and check your makeup.
ETA: I realize that sex positivity encompasses far more than the Pussycat Dolls characterizations I’ve made here. I know that it’s about sexual agency and subverting the patriarchy via personal choice and liberation from conventional notions of femininity and female sexuality. That said, I still think that the belief that it’s possible for a woman in a patriarchy to become a sexually empowered subject by choosing to embrace misogynistic objectification is what results in things like Girls Gone Wild being considered the new feminism.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 was recently informed by a friend, via a note passed to me at a party after I had reacted negatively (or, as he explained, like a chihuahua) to some sexist comment he made, that feminists are “bored and abused” chauvinists who have nothing better to do than to attack men and that I should not let anti-woman words have any kind of power over me. To be offended by misogyny is my choice and to do so makes me weak, apparently. (Now there’s a topic for another day).
And because I did not want to hear the same defensive, woman-hating bullshit that I’ve heard a thousand times by yet another man who claims absolute wisdom and righteousness in all matters human, I stopped reading about halfway through and gave the note back to him. I was then told that, by not being open to his opinions about feminism, I am essentially unwilling to grow and evolve and that I will tragically fail to achieve in my life the full and rich human experience because I refused to give credence to and appreciate his anti-feminist viewpoint.
Super! Not only does being a woman make me less-than, but being unwilling to listen to the defensive voice of male privilege tell me how wrong my beliefs are makes me even more less-than.
The thing is: From the minute I leave my house in the morning I am inundated by misogynistic messages, from the things I hear people say to the images I see all around me. For every one time that I make any sort of comment on these messages there are approximately 1,172 times that I’ve recognized something as sexist and not said anything. There are about 5,249 messages that I didn’t even pick up on.
Once I first really understood what the patriarchy was, it became the Framework. The Context. Everything fell into place and finally began to make sense. Once I was at that place, there was no going back to when I didn’t see and hear and feel a seething hatred of femaleness all around me. Feminism became the lens through which I viewed the world. And that’s that.
I am happy, or at the very least willing, to debate whether or not a certain act, behavior, word, or belief is inherently sexist or misogynistic. I am not, however, willing to debate the importance or necessity of feminism. Honestly, if you really truly think feminism is wrong, or that women just have it made these days and that we should suck it up and be grateful for the rights men have already granted us, then you’re a complete fucking tool. Period. No discussion necessary. I won’t ever entertain the notion, no matter how passionately you argue or how solid you think your points are. To try and argue with me about this would be like trying convince Neo that there is no Matrix.
I know it must be hard to fathom that a girl doesn’t care what a smart man thinks about the thing that she cares most about in the world, or that there’s a movement that exists that doesn’t much take into consideration what men have to say on the topic. I know I’m supposed to 1) nod thoughtfully as I process your wisdom, asking clarifying questions about your points just in case I don’t immediately understand something you say, and then 2) offer up some powerful and intelligent argument on why feminism is important, and then 3) try to prove my point with examples from women in politics and a few stories about my grandmother, but of course, in the end, 4) concede that yes, you have some very good points that I will certainly think about, and thank you for educating me about feminism and correcting me on those things I didn’t fully understand about women and the world.
Well, that conversation has been had before and is a bullshit boring ass waste of time that does absolutely nothing for anyone. Pretending to be open to the possibility that I’m a fool for believing what I do is wrong, dishonest, and disrespectful to everyone involved. Being polite and feigning interest, when I’m really thinking “Holy crap, what an indoctrinated, privileged prick he is. Where’s my beer?” is simply no good. Watching an ESPN poker game that I’ve already seen 3 times would be a far more productive, enjoyable, and and honest thing to do.
Patriarchy, among other things, needs to encourage the abuse and mistreatment of women on a heartbreakingly tragic scale and then make them entirely responsible for it in order to maintain the male-dominated status quo. The words, ideas, behaviors, and images that support the misogynistic gender roles that keep the patriarchy thriving must be acknowledged as such and then eliminated if we ever want to live in a world where women’s bodies and souls aren’t abused to such a horrifying extent.
That’s my entire motivation and the broad context to every feminist argument I make. I really don’t see a whole lot to argue about there.
I never really thought of obscene phone calls as anything more than the childish antics of ill-behaved boys. But after today, I’m gonna have to put them on the rapidly growing list of things I consider misogynistic harassment.
I’m at work, in an office, talking on the phone at the reception desk. I’m half paying attention to what random salesmen dude is saying to me and half trying to map an image in Photoshop. “The copier toner is about to be shipped, ma’am. I just need to confirm your address. I didn’t take the order. I’m just at the warehouse and I need to ship it.”
“Okay, again, I didn’t order the toner and I don’t want it sent to me. Please don’t send it.”
“How about if I send a heat-activated jumbo size vibrator instead?” he asks.
Silence. Me trying to figure out if he just said what I think he said.
“It’s the size of a white man’s penis in the package, but it becomes the size of a black man’s penis once it’s inside you.”
What the hell was that? Why did he say that? What was he trying to do? Why am I shaking? Why do I feel like throwing up and taking a shower and sobbing uncontrollably?
Because I was violated, that’s why. Innocuous and entertaining at it may seem to some people, his words very much threatened me. They made me feel vulnerable and unsafe. They sexualized me in my workplace against my will.
I guess that I’m supposed to think it was funny and laugh it off, and no doubt someone will think of me as an uptight humorless bitch for not doing so, but I’m finding it pretty impossible these days to laugh off this kind of bullshit.
Any guys out there ever get an obscene phone call? Ever? Prolly not. Why do you think that is?
I got my first call when I was about 9 or 10 years old and home alone. Strange man with gravelly voice asked me a bunch of personal questions about my body and then jerked off, demanding that I not hang up until he was done. I was too scared of what would happen if I did, so I didn’t.
My growing list of misogynistic harassment is all these kinds of hateful, spiteful words and behaviors, typically dismissed as silly and meaningless, that nonetheless attempt to remind women and girls that they are weak, dumb, trivial, totally powerless against the sexual force of masculinity and worth nothing more than what they can do for men. Or, as Twisty puts it, a “subclass of passive sex minions for male use and abuse.” Sounds about right.
God, it’s just so not funny.
I’m sure lots of folks have seen this, but for those of you who don’t daily peruse the fem blogs, here’s an excellent primer on the concept of male privilege and on what feminists like myself are up against.
The Male Privilege Checklist
An Unabashed Imitation of an article by Peggy McIntosh
1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.
2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true.
3. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex.
4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.
5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are.
6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.
7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low.
8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.
9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.
10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.
11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent.
12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.
13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.
14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.
15. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.
16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters.
17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.
18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often.
19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.
20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented, every day, without exception.
21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.
22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex.
23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.
24. Even if I sleep with a lot of women, there is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a “slut,” nor is there any male counterpart to “slut-bashing.”
25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability or my gender conformity.
26. My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed than women’s clothing for the same social status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman’s without tailoring.
27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time.
28. If I buy a new car, chances are I’ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car.
29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.
30. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.
31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)
32. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. “All men are created equal,” mailman, chairman, freshman, he.
33. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.
34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.
35. The decision to hire me will never be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.
36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.
37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.
38. If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we’ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks.
39. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, chances are she’ll do most of the childrearing, and in particular the most dirty, repetitive and unrewarding parts of childrearing.
40. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we’ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.
41. Magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.
42. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do.
43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover.
44. Complete strangers generally do not walk up to me on the street and tell me to “smile.”
45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men.
46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.
Click here for details and discussion on this list.