Sexism Round-Up: November and December

I’ve decided to start a blog, since that’s a bit more effective (in theory) than just griping in Facebook.

I’m due for another diatribe on the 11th, but until then, here are my two posts from Facebook. If those who commented on the original articles give me their permission, I’ll also post their comments at a later date.

November

Recently (oh, about half an hour ago), I was responding to someone’s who had been loling at a liberal who said that banning abortion would force women who came pregnant to carry it to term and that was equal to slavery. I said that:

Pro-life IS forcing a women to term and IS forcing her into labor. When someone isn’t in control of what happens to their bodies, that is NOT freedom.

The argument that “o lawl stupid slut chose to have sex” is hurtful, sexist and wrong. We help people who get into car crashes (even though they chose to drive), provide bypass surgeries to people (even though they chose to have unhealthy diets) and operate on lung cancer patients (even though they chose to smoke).

Furthermore, to say that you’re only for it in cases of rape or incest means that you only care about punishing a woman for having sex, not saving a “baby,” since it’s just as much a “baby” whether she wanted to have sex or not.

A clump of cells should not have rights that trump those of a living, breathing woman who is a part of society. If you need a gross oversimplification: the “unborn baby” is not born, meaning it is NOT subject to the rights of citizens under the U.S. Constitution. What’s more, no person, born, or unborn, citizen or non-citizen, has the right to use anyone’s body without their consent. No one can force you to donate blood or a kidney; why force a woman to give up her uterus?

There are plenty of children in the world who need homes. Let’s take care of them first before we turn to slut-shaming and depriving women of their bodily autonomy.

The response I got was:

I was talking about the forced labor= slavery one, you might want to try some midol though

He didn’t try to defend the “right to life.” He didn’t try to give an argument based on Constitutional law. He assumed that I was just another PMSing skirt.

No one, no one, would say to a Black man: “You might want to try some chicken, though” without expecting repercussions. No one would offer a Jew some money to make the problem go away. No one would tell a man to go take some Viagra and few people would tell a gay man to go shopping (though they may tell a lesbian to get laid). And yet, when I tell people “You know… That was pretty sexist…” I get laughed at. There is no “Oh, gosh, I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean it” that we hear when someone gets called out for “racial insensitivity,” nor the uncomfortable silence in the room when someone goes a “bit too far.”

Sexism is everywhere. The next topic on the forum was:

I hate girdles, spanx, wonderbras, etc. WOMEN, QUIT ****ING LYING TO ME. And then you wanna try to have sex with the lights off? My ass. If your body unrolls, unfolds, or collapses when you take off your clothes, I’m taking the window.

Last week, when I was arguing in a pro-choice forum (totally different from where those two posts came from), I was asked why I hate men so much. As my six female friends may have noticed, I don’t hate men. Men are great. I’m half man; my father was one. I don’t put up with crap, though. People act as though it’s some feat of strength for a woman to stand up for herself, but when she starts asking for (gasp!) rights and protections, she suddenly becomes a PMSing bitch. When I moved into my house, one of my roommate’s fathers told me that I was expected to “keep these men in order” and rattled off some other equally offensive (though I’m sure innocently-intended) blurbs, including things like how I’d be cooking, cleaning and going grocery shopping. When I muttered a confused, diplomatic “Oh, um, I’m not sure about all that…” he responded with “Oh, I forgot. You’re a woman; how could I be right?” This was the second time I had met the man. Earlier this semester, a teacher made a comment grouping all women together based on a stereotype and punctuated it with “I mean, I’m not being sexist or anything, just saying…” I imagine that ellipsis went something “…that all women are the same.” This was one of the first “I’m not sexist, but…” statements I’ve heard, meaning that there is some undercurrent of awareness, but the fact that it happened and everyone in the class laughed (even the girls) shows that sexism has yet to become as acrid as racism.

One of the only arguments I had ever heard against Hilary Clinton during her campaign was that she was a “bitch.” What did she do? No one mentioned her experience or lack thereof, nor the pros and cons of her proposed legislation. Nope, Hilary was just a bitch and that’s reason enough to not vote for her. The other one (and there was only one other) argument was that she would “start nuclear war every twenty-eight days.” Not sure if anyone else noticed, but (in addition to that being terribly offensive) Mrs. Clinton is in her sixties. I don’t think she’s had any “nuclear war” to deal with since before her husband’s first term in office.

When I was a little girl, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a boy. They had cooler toys, more comfortable clothes, were more fun to play with and weren’t destined to be mommies, teachers, nurses or… … … fat bus drivers? cat ladies? crazy art teachers? hairy-legged liberals? Little girls are told they can be princesses (the medieval equivalent of a poker chip) and have baby dolls marketed directly to them. Little boys’ toys do things, change shape, make noise, create things and, most importantly, aren’t suitcases, ties and business model slides.

My point is this: If you consider yourself my friend, or casual acquaintance, or even if you just want to piss off some dark, nebulous “The Man” somewhere, please speak up (and out and over) about sexism. In light of the recent suicides of gay teens, I’ve been musing a lot about my own identity and I’ve decided that being a woman can be just as damaging in many ways. I do not wish to make light of what has happened, but rather to show people the very real, very tangible comparisons; for too long the rights of gays, as those of women, have been used as a stepping stone for politicians. Those opposed to them brag about how they’re “protecting America” while those in favor of them are always willing to sacrifice the wants of their constituencies to bargain with the “baddies.” I will not be walked over anymore, because my uterus is not a podium.

This Winter, I’m going to begin hatching my plan to be the Fox News of feminism…except not crazy, hateful, lying, paranoid, racist… Scratch that. I’m going to humbly attempt to be a sane, level-headed voice for feminism. It’s not a dirty word and I won’t let the likes of Sarah Palin steal it from me. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be doing or how I’ll do it, but my platform is this:

*Reproductive freedom is vital to women attaining their place as equals in the world. I am not “anti-life.” I do not want to kill babies. I do not want to coerce women into having (or not having) abortions. I will seek to discredit “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” for what they are, dispel popular misconceptions about abortion and contraception and let people know that being pro-choice is all about choices, not about death.

*Pornography is sometimes sexist, but it’s not inherently wrong. In a society that has such a virgin-whore complex with its female citizens, pornography must be allowed, including (but not limited to): depictions of bondage, scat, sex with multiple partners and (ONLY in the drawn or CG format) loli/shota and beastiality. These aren’t my thing. I derive no pleasure from them, but many adults (men and women) do. A viable system of release must be made available for men and women on demand, without apology. Whether this be physical sex or pornography, they have their rights as consenting adults to pursue them. As for depictions of beastiality and young participants, my aim is this: Some people are broken. They have a drive to see things most of us would think of as terrible. However, if these drives can be slaked by watching a cartoon ten year-old, I would rather that be legal than have the tension build until something happens to a real child. If someone takes these images and becomes so obsessed with the fantasy that they go out and harm a real child, they should be duly punished. However, it is my firm belief that they would have done this anyway and the images will help more people than harm (I will gladly accept comments, critiques and flames on this view and look forward to debating them with anyone).

*Raising awareness that sexism hurts and that most women don’t even realize it. Sex and the City is a minstrel show in Prada. No group in the history of the world has ever played so eagerly into the stereotypes set up for itself. As with pornography, consenting adults have the right to watch things like that, but there are no depictions of women who don’t conform to the norm other than snarky, unlikable bitches (Juno or any of the other “zany off-beat hipster bitch” tropes gurgling to the forefront of media visiblity) or crazy cat women (Wanda from Wishbone).

*Reasonability: If what I said before offended you, I’m sorry. I recognize that there is a middle ground and not all crazy cat women are making fun of women (Crazy Cat Lady is one of my favorite Simpsons characters), but the lack of any decent role models for girls is a bit upsetting. Also, legalize pot already.

*Other stuff. As I said, this crusade (whatever it may be) is in its infancy. I welcome criticism and advice from you all. In the meantime, I entreat you all to speak up when you hear or see sexism. Share this note with your friends, if you like. And, when I take my message on the road…let me and my soapbox crash on your couch in between speeches?

**********************************

December

It’s December 11th and as good a time as any for my monthly diatribe about people and the women they hate. I hope to address the issues raised by others in my previous “newsletter” and will, as always, be delighted to hear your feedback. I was positively floored by the responses I got to November’s note and forced to think harder about my positions. In the interest of keeping people’s sensitive opinions their own, I’m not currently naming names while addressing issues, but will let them be known in the interest of fostering communication between my friends if they give their consent. As always, I welcome you to air your opinions and to share this with your friends if it touches you. Thank you for reading, good luck on finals, happy (belated) Hannukah and early Christmas, Kwanzaa and Solstice.

Old Business

In this section, I hope to answer the points raised by others’ after their reading of my first article. If you recognize what I say as your comment and notice that I’ve misquoted or misrepresented you, please feel free to call me out on it.

After my last article, I was told that I shouldn’t presume to know how feminism (or the lack thereof) affects women of other races, religions, creeds, nationalities, ethnicities or socioeconomic class. This is true. I want all of my friends, no matter their gender or background, to be willing to help me in my fight for women’s equality and freedom and all of the benefits it would entail. Right now, my focus is mainly on what women face in the U.S., since that’s my main frame of reference, but I would like to hear from friends in other countries and raise some hell on their behalves as well.

My comments about depictions of child pornography offended some people and with good reason: It’s a sensitive issue and there is no way to really mitigate the horrors that pedophilia entail. I maintain my position that a drawn alternative is infinitely preferable to the real thing and I feel confident that few people would disagree inasmuch as a real child isn’t being harmed. But the question boils down to whether such depictions should be allowed freely, or if they should be controlled. In discussion with my boyfriend and other people, its being meted out carefully like methadone came up.  This would be an effective therapy, perhaps, but it hinges on people’s willingness to come forward as pedophiles. Unless there were asylum laws to prevent these people (for the sake of argument, I’m assuming they have never committed a crime) from being charged with pedophilia, no one would participate. Again, I feel confident in saying that asylum for pedophiles is a bad fucking idea. There is a difference between pedophiles who don’t act on it and those who do, but the delineation in the enforcement of these laws would be burdensome and would most likely result in guilty people going free while those seeking help went untreated. At this time, I have no good solution for this.

As an aside, I would like to push for the definition of “child pornography” to clarified. Being sexually aroused by a five year-old is not the same as having lustful feelings for a thirteen year-old, nor the same as a seventeen year-old. There ought to be nuances within the law to reflect this. A sixteen year-old girl sending a picture to her seventeen year-old boyfriend is not the same thing as a ten year-old boy being held in a basement somewhere.

The final point I would like to address as ‘old business’ is a comment someone made about how degrading pornography is to the actresses (though I’ve also heard of many young men doing homosexual porn in their desperate times as well). She worried about women who think their only choice is to sell their bodies. My response to her was this: “As for the porn, I can understand what you mean. Right now, I think the degradation in porn is endemic of our society’s sexism. Women who say they’re using their bodies freely are, by and large, fooling themselves (though some to legitimately like it and more power to them). I don’t really care one way or another what the people watching it think, but you have an excellent point about the “stars.” Sex slavery happens to women from all over the world and it’s only rarely reported on.

A woman can too easily fall into the trap of feeling that she’s only valued for her body, whether it’s to be maternal or to be a hole, but that also falls to society at large to address: Until girls feel self-worth *before* they run into dire straights (that is, teaching little girls from infancy that they’re more than a pretty face or a mommy-to-be), the issues of “willing” sex occupation cannot be adequately addressed without turning to some form of slut-shaming.

Animated porn could be very effective; CG get more realistic all the time and some people can draw very, very well. I not sure I agree 100% with converting all porn to animation (certainly not right away), but your idea is a really cool one and, if it did happen, I’d support it. I’m not sure how feasible it would be (especially since many people, men and women, like watching it and plenty of others enjoy participating in it). As a thought exercise, I propose to you this: What if the only “legal (for lack of a better term)” real-life porn were amateur? That is, under the public domain, porn would be created by people for pleasure, mutual benefit and free distribution, rather than there being a pornography industry, as it exists currently? Again, I doubt it’d be very feasible, but there’s no harm in aiming high at the onset.”

Abortion Rhetoric

We have a horribly anti-choice Congress right now and a lot of spineless Democrats in both the House and the Senate (there are plenty of Dems with spines, but they’re the Blue Dogs who like fetuses more than women anyway). This is horrifying and I’m not above telling each and every one of you to BE AFRAID. Our reproductive rights are in serious jeopardy and I’m not confident in President Obama’s willingness to make people unhappy. He’s a good man, but an idealist who wants to please everyone. Over the past fifteen years, the Religious Right has moved further and further right and demanded that we meet them in the middle (à la Bill Maher: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfHD36sWQBo).

I really have no qualms with meeting people in the middle when there is a reasonable compromise to be made, but this really isn’t one of those issues that can be treated that way. The closest we can ever come to middle ground with this is “No one will ever force you to get an abortion, so please don’t ever force me to have a child.” If you allow the government to make laws about when someone must have a child, it’s only fair to accept it when the government makes laws about when you may not. People often talk about the middle ground being “reducing abortions.” This is a noble goal and, in the perfect world, abortion would not be necessary. This is not a perfect world and reducing the number of abortions means that there will be a reduction in the numbers of clinics. This will only damage women who do need those services, because they won’t be able to get to a clinic in time. Hospitals don’t often perform abortions and, when they do, they’re much more expensive than most clinics. Until the stigma of abortion is reduced or we have more GYNs and hospitals willing to provide these services at a more affordable price, we must NOT allow these places to be closed in the name of “Compromise.”

Another way women have been thrown under the steamroller of compromise is with late-term abortion being demonized and illegal in almost all circumstances. In anything, this should be the last form of abortion made illegal. Why? Because it’s so much more than a slutty sixteen year-old who didn’t make up her mind for seven months. Late-term abortion is expensive, traumatic and profoundly non-cosmetic. These were wanted children, these are women who want to be mothers. These women find out something awful and need to make a decision they never thought they’d have to: They’ll die if they give birth or the child will be born without a brain. Do not allow these women to undergo more trauma at the hands of misinformed ideologies.

I’ve said this before and will say it again (because I run out material quickly and recycle my jokes and stories): Telling women to “take responsibility” doesn’t help anything and I would like to see how having a child you can’t afford, love or care for is responsible. “Just give it up for adoption, then.” Are you serious? How can you act like abortion is a gut-wrenching decision women will regret and question for the rest of their lives but act like giving away a child is a walk in the park? Even if you never wanted the child in the first place, it’s callous to assume that all women would be able to just give up their child after having carried it around for months. I’ve hated pieces of furniture, but thought the room looked empty once they were gone. In fact, it seems to me the only people who ever acknowledge adoption, abortion or parenting as a serious, difficult decision to be made carefully are the baby-killers like me on the pro-CHOICE side.

Nobody is anti-life and I really wished the opposition hadn’t hijacked that word. If we had had that idea in 1973 and called ourselves ‘pro-life,’ as in “No more women dying from botched abortions,” we could have won thirty years ago. I want them to call themselves what they are: Limited-Choice, Anti-Choice, Anti-Woman, Pro-Birth, Pro-Dark Ages, Pro-Subjugation. I’m very pro-life: I am pro-quality of life and they’re simply pro-quantity.

Also, please consider this a plea to all pro-lifers: Would you pretty please stop using the line “Abortion hurts women” in your arguments? If things that hurt women were made illegal, childbirth would be the first to go. End of discussion.

Newsreel

There’s been a lot of talk about the Pope having “okayed” condom use (here’s an article for reference: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/world/europe/21pope.html?_r=1). He, in fact, did not and I hope to set everyone straight about this right now. It’s still not okay to use condoms if you are Catholic. The only thing he said it might, kinda, maybe, sorta be okay for is use by “male prostitutes,” not to prevent STDs or anything, but rather as a “a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility” and, presumably, walking back to the way of righteousness and being cured of The Gay.

Dear The Pope,

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, since your fine organization has spent much of the last two millennia hating on women, but there are far more women who are prostitutes in the world than male ones. Of these, many have a larger clientele and a larger pool of potential customers. These women could reach a lot more souls for responsibility-taking and would, in the end, lead many, many more people to salvation. Also, I’m pretty sure that most male prostitutes aren’t the most devout Catholics. Just thought you should know.

xoxo,

‘Yanna ❤

In other disgusting news, there’s a new reality show. Instead of being the beacon of education and the elevation of culture that most reality-based TV usually is, this one objectifies women and thrusts the worst kind of people into the spotlight to become famous for being famous. It’s called “BridalPlasty.” In case you were wondering if it’s what it sounds like, yes. A group of unlikeable harpies are herded into a house to compete in challenges and the winner gets to pick a procedure from her wish list. They will not see their fiancés for four months during this time and the winner gets a small country’s economy’s-worth of plastic surgery for her dream wedding. What.

I would not marry a man who would allow me to do this. As a general rule, having a man forbid me to do anything is a major turn-off, but I’d be willing to make an exception for this one. This is all the worst bits of everything tossed into a jumbalaya of what-the-fuckism. Also, a word to these women: If you’ve just had your whole body remade, you’re going to be a bruised mess at your wedding. None of your friends will know who you are and will just eat all the shrimp and leave after figuring out what a shallow creature you are. Also, do you think your fiancé is going to wait around for you for four months? I’m not saying he’ll cheat, but I don’t think I would blame him for finding someone who loved herself for who she was. THIS is a major problem: Women who hate themselves so much for their perceived imperfections that they’re willing to have every aspect of their corporeal beings redone in a desperate bid for validation. How in the world has society been allowed to abuse its daughters like this? These poor women have (poor) men who love them and who have already given them the highest form of validation a Disney princess can hope for and they’re still worried about being inadequate. Women, my sisters, I implore you to accept yourself for who you are. People are asses and you may get some flak for being less than the air-brushed Aphrodites plastered on magazines, but they’re just a drop in the cum-bucket.

Reality Check

Since my articles have a depressing bent to them, I’d like to leave you with a bit on the lighter side. I’m going to propose some of my ideas that are mostly in jest and also evaluate some other things I’ve come across in my travels.

This first point may cause some trouble. I looking for a picture of a Mammy to prove a point and, in my naïvté, typed “slave woman” into Google Images. Near the bottom of the first page was a Black woman from a pornography website, tied up, gagged and being penetrated by some sort of machine. Fairly typical anti-woman stuff and this isn’t the point I want to argue right now. The picture had a caption about slavery being alive in the U.S. I will not deny that sex trafficking is alive and well in my fair country, but I clicked on the picture to read the rest of the article. The author of the blog wrote about how “Master” was going all of this to the Black woman and that the website this picture came from was all about keeping Black women “in their place.” The photo had the mark “HogTied.com” on it and was, very obviously, a fetish site. Intrigued and upset about a website dedicated to hating Black people, I decided to visit HogTied (I know people say this all the time, but I really, really, really was there for research purposes!).

It was not a website about Black women. It was a bondage site where women of all colors and creeds were subjugated, tied up and mercilessly boned. I looked through the thumbnails of videos up to the sixth page and couldn’t find any Black women. After page six, I felt uncomfortable and left, but I can safely say that Black women being beaten up is not the main point of this dirty website. I can understand that this would be a sensitive issue, but it seems slanderous to say a whole subset of the population gets off to the subjugation of Black women, when it’s really more about all women being put “in their place.”

Two pieces of endemic sexism in culture that I’ve encountered are probably not really all that big a deal and I shook my head to reality-check myself. 1. If men had to undergo ultrasounds internally, the technology would have been made much smaller. Ouch. 2. If men had to sit on the toilet to go to the bathroom as often as women do, we would have better auto-flush technology. In one week, I had two separate incidents of being auto-flushed on FOUR times while going to the bathroom. Anyone who knows me can attest to how little time I take on the terlet, or at least how not-much-longer-than-average I take. It’s ridiculous.

Finally, I’ve found a study that indicates many of the stereotypes of feminists are wrong. I know my dear friends all already knew that, but now, you can wave science in the face of the next person who calls who a hairy-legged, flannel-decked man-hater (source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071015102856.htm). Personally, I love flannel and not shaving, but I really like men when they aren’t making policies that damage my whole sex. According to that study, straight women who identified themselves as feminists are more likely to be in a relationship than non-feminists, have happier and more fulfilling sex lives and their partners also reported greater satisfaction.

Links

In my trawling and trolling the net, I’ve found some sites that are good for angryin’ up the blood  (most are blogs; take everything they say with a grain of salt and ask that they cite their sources). Most of them focus around abortion politics, since that’s the issue I hold most dear, but others are generally feminist or just fun to read.

http://discoverfeminism.com

http://abortiongang.org/

http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/

http://www.guttmacher.org/

I don’t think this site has updated since 2003, but it has some good scans of letters of anti-choice propaganda and I really liked the part about the lies they tell on their placards with three month-olds covered in spaghetti-o’s that are supposed to represent abortions.

http://www.lifeandlibertyforwomen.org/truth_about_photos.html

That’s all I have so far. More to come…

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