Archive for the Goddamn feminism again Category

I support you whether you like it or not

Posted in Goddamn feminism again, just opinionated, Not an activist, Rants with tags , , , on July 3, 2015 by idnami

I’ve been running into ally shaming a lot lately and I think it’s fucked up that this is becoming a thing. I don’t mean educating someone to become a better supporter of your cause, I mean straight up shitting down their throat for trying to support as best they are able. Some of it is from the feminist community, telling men who want to stand by us that they aren’t good enough at it, some of it from the LGBT community, telling cisgendered heterosexual supporters that they aren’t good enough at it. And like, yeah ok. Sometimes that support is offered clumsily or imperfectly, and some people are more talk than action, for sure.

I still think the fact that the talk is happening is a very encouraging sign, so let’s think about not alienating people who are sincerely trying to be part of the solution.

So, historic US Supreme Court decision blah blah, finally catching up to Canada after 10 years yada yada. We all know what happened and I’ll skip the rehash.

I know some LGBT people that this actually really matters to. American ones who want to get married. This was kind of a huge win for them and I was genuinely happy about it. Also it pissed off a bunch of bigoted fuckheads and that always makes me smile. So I threw a rainbow filter on my profile pic just like several million others. The intention was something along the lines of putting on a party hat. It was not intended as activism in itself, only a festive celebration of a thing that happened that means good things for certain people I care about. I’m pretty sure I could say the same for most of the people who did this.

But then, some other LGBT people said, “No you fucking hipster, don’t expect me to be grateful to you for jumping on this rainbow bandwagon.”

cheinbow

But why?

Well… I didn’t expect them to. And it’s ok that they weren’t. Gratitude is not an appropriate response to a party hat. But the talk became positively hostile and days later I’m still thinking about it. Cuz I actually give a fairly large number of fucks about LGBT rights, and whether I was expressing that in a way that could please everyone or not, ouch dude.

So no, me sporting a flag doesn’t directly help anyone. What it does do is tell the people I encounter something about me that I want them to know. It tells LGBT folks that I’m on their side. It also puts any homophobic idiots in the immediate vicinity in a snit, perhaps even provokes a reaction so that I know who they are and can shun them in future.

But, know who else I’ll shun? Every other type of bigot out there, including feminists who hate men and straight-hating LGBT people. Hate is the thing I’m actually fighting here.

I’m not a feminist because I think oppressing women is bad, I’m not anti racist because I think oppressing people of colour is bad, and I’m not a LGBT supporter (do I even say supporter if I’m bi? I’m in the acronym!) because I think oppressing gay and trans people is bad. I am all these things because I think oppressing people is bad. But I take part in the conversation about specific forms of oppression and the people they affect because I think just calling yourself a humanist is another way of saying you’re equally apathetic about everything.

I think we also need to recognize that apathy is a perfectly valid response to a world which demands that if you care even a little, you must care all-consumingly or you can go fuck yourself with a rusty hatchet.

I get it. Some of us have been so hurt so badly that we see the face of our abuser in anyone who shares characteristics with them. I get that I am a privileged member of a historically oppressive culture, whether I like it or not, and that sometimes I’ll be the focus for that rage. That doesn’t mean I have to hold still when someone starts flinging shit at me.

I don’t have to take a bullet for you. I don’t have to agree with everything you say. I don’t have to like you personally. I don’t have to be your punching bag, or drown in guilt for the hurt you’ve suffered at the hands of someone I may vaguely resemble. And the fact that I may think you personally are an asshole doesn’t mean I’ll stop actively supporting your rights. But if you get shitty enough at enough people, maybe some of them will. I see this with men vs feminism all the time.

Being an advocate of human rights, for me, means when I hear racism or sexism or LGBT bashing I don’t tolerate it. I address it and I’ve changed more than one person’s thinking simply by asking them to think. It also means treating people like human beings no matter what genitals or skin colour they have, who they love or where they come from. It does not mean being everyone’s friend, walking on eggshells, or treating their point of view as more important than mine. It also doesn’t mean spending every waking second educating myself on the special situation of every oppressed group. I tried that for a long time and it got exhausting. There is just too much to know and I’ve got my own shit to think about too. But feel free to tell me what you need. If you have the time to tell someone that it’s not your job to educate them and lecture them for not knowing what you feel they should, you have time to copy/paste a link. have time, speaking as a feminist who is getting pretty fed up with the unnecessary exacerbation of hostilities.

The us vs them mentality of this seems to imply that your struggle isn’t my struggle too, that our struggle isn’t theirs, and you bet your ass it is. I don’t want to live in a world where rights are granted in some kind of weird gradient system. So when I’m told that because I don’t understand every nuance of an issue I want to help fight and therefore I’m not welcome in the battle, I find it incredibly counterproductive. Also it really hurts my feelings, and hurting your allies sometimes just makes you extra enemies.

I’m glad that legal rights in the US have taken another step forward, but as we’ve seen with every other fight against systemized oppression, you can’t legislate true equality. Women didn’t magically become equal just because the government granted us the right to vote, and we are still fighting almost 100 years later. The evolution that society needs to ensure that every person has the same rights as every other person comes from changes in the hearts and minds of the individual members of of that society. In other words, look at all these fucking rainbows. They mean that more and more and more people stand up for the idea of equality. It’s not just lazy, idle, armchair activism. It’s a sign of changing times.

So if you see me flying a rainbow flag, please know I do not expect a pat on the back for it. But I also don’t expect a punch in the face. Unless you’re a trans/homophobe, in which case, get in the ring, motherfucker.

Enforced gender roles, and why they need to die

Posted in Goddamn feminism again, Me stuff, Rants with tags , , , on January 31, 2014 by idnami

When I was a kid I wasn’t allowed to have toy cars, GI Joes, short hair or a room that wasn’t pink, because I was a girl. I had to wear pretty things and play with dolls and act like a little lady. This despite the fact that my mother had served in the military, refused to wear a dress and was all in all a terrible role model for traditional femininity. The pressure to be girly abated somewhat as I grew older. This was possibly due to her dawning realization that years of encouraging my Barbie fetish was placing her in real danger of having a little fashionista to support. I think she was secretly relieved when I embraced heavy metal, ripped jeans and band t-shirts in junior high. She didn’t express her gratitude very well however, and went around drawing crosses through all my pentagrams.

I also wasn’t allowed to phone boys, despite one of my best friends being one. I was supposed to wait demurely for him to call, even if I had an important question to ask about an assignment we were working on together. I eventually won that battle when I pointed out that my bad grades would be all her fault, and get with the times already, Mom!

If these things seemed really stupid back then, they seem straight up absurd to me now. Why was she telling me that I had to like pink and ruffles and shit “because you’re a girl” when she clearly didn’t? Why couldn’t I have toy soldiers “because they’re boy toys” when she used to wear combat boots? Why in fuck’s name was a boy supposed to read my mind and call me when I wanted to talk? Why was she equipping me for a future she herself had rejected?

Because she made some assumptions about my potential based on my gender, assumptions instilled in her as a little girl being forced to wear pink ribbons, and for a long time retained them even in the face of contrary evidence. And we all do it, all the time, and we need to be aware of this. Some of us have worked hard to root out our assumptions, but I think it isn’t possible for most of us to entirely escape the habit. When you are daily barraged by deeply ingrained social thinking habits, it’s really hard not to take them on. And when you don’t happen to fit the mold, it’s really hard not to get pissed about it. And guys? Very few of us fit the mold.

In case you’re thinking this is me going off on a feminist rant, I’m about to go to bat for the dudes too. My aforementioned boy-bestie stopped playing with me for a week one time because of the merciless teasing of the other boys after they caught us playing with my dolls. The fact that we were drowning the dolls in a puddle in the schoolyard while pretending to be badass evil giants didn’t change this a bit, and he got humiliated for it. So we switched to pet rocks that we drew faces on, and he built an entire house for them out of cardboard which he delighted in decorating. And it didn’t stop there. By puberty he had developed a great love for Madonna and made a series of videos called MaJohnna: The John Ambition Tour, in really bad drag. And now he’s a gay rights activist who successfully sued the pants off a preacher for gay-bashing in the church newsletter. Which I suppose goes to show that if rotten little third-grade bullies call you gay, they might be right. And that’s fine. So why do they have to be jerks about it?

More than once I’ve been told that sexism and gender-based privilege/disadvantage is mostly in my head. Oh yeah? Tell that to the trans folks of Reddit. It occurred to me that the only people who would have a really clear understanding of the way gender is perceived in society are people who’ve lived both sides of the question, so I asked. And yes I used Reddit. Don’t judge me.

The answers I got were a pretty insightful look at the specific issues each gender faces. The men said that they had an easier time finding work in engineering and mechanical fields than they had previously, as well as better service in places like auto parts stores. One guy said he had a gender neutral first name and as soon as he started referring to himself as Mr. Kelly Smith (as opposed to just Kelly Smith) on his resume he got a lot more callbacks regardless of the type of job he applied for. However they also found that people were less friendly to them in general and that they felt under a lot more pressure at work. One guy who worked in call centers both pre and post transition said that angry customers held back on him a lot less as a man.

The women who answered said they felt validated and frustrated at the same time. Validated because the guys holding doors open for them and helping carry their stuff was proof that the world now regarded them as female. Frustrated because they were treated like children, taken less seriously, talked over in conversations and objectified in a way they’d never imagined.

So yeah, this is a problem. A big, ugly, widespread, universal problem that gets reinforced every time someone says, “Man up, pussy.” Take a look at that phrase and see it as the insidious and telling statement that it is. Man UP, because you are acting like a clearly inferior person of the sort that has a vagina. Elevate yourself above that weak and emotional vagina having-like state and be a man, which is clearly a better, stronger, smarter thing to be. Bro.

Truth. Also truth? Betty White never said this.

The more trans people come out, the more I realize that gender isn’t a binary, it’s a spectrum, and it really has fuck all to do with what’s in your pants. Much like intelligence, competence, strength and aptitude has fuck all to do with what’s in your pants. So get your mind out of my goddamn pants! When the same person with the same qualities, same intelligence, same skill, same mind and same soul gets suddenly treated as inferior because she grew a pair of tits, we as a society have a very long way to go.

So let’s go there. Don’t shame men for “feminine” traits like feelings. Don’t call assertive women bossy. Don’t make your son feel weird if he happens to like playing with dolls, and if you don’t want your daughter to grow up with a deep suspicion of things mechanical and a crippling phobia of driving that persists into adulthood, maybe just let her play with the damn toy car. Maybe we can evolve into a society of well-adjusted persons who aren’t limited by our genitalia.

Yeah, that’d be nice.

Sorry guys, men are not a “special interest group” Part 1

Posted in Goddamn feminism again, just opinionated, Uncategorized on May 15, 2013 by idnami

Today I was reminded that men’s rights activism is a thing. A friend on Facebook posted a status denouncing people who engage in “fat shaming, slut shaming, rape jokes, homophobia, transphobia, and racism.” And I totally agree with her.

The comment thread was possibly the longest and most impassioned thing I’ve ever read… well, scanned. I don’t have that kind of time, even for amusing rhetoric. But the conversation seemed to revolve heavily around the tenets of Men’s Rights Activism.

For those of you who don’t know, MRA is a growing movement of men who are sick of feminist bitching and feel that things have gotten out of balance in favour of women. They have this big long mantra listing all the ways they are oppressed by society.

It makes me indignant. This is not because I don’t believe that some men do suffer spousal abuse, rape and discrimination. They totally do. What bugs me is that they feel the need to augment those very serious and valid problems with a laundry list of bullshit. Because it’s not bad enough that we can’t even create accurate statistics on rape because both male and female victims are too afraid or ashamed to report it, so let’s make some shit up to emphasize the victimhood of men by feminism.

People who have been violently assaulted, had their reputations ruined or lost their children unfairly to their co-parent have my absolute sympathy but the list below is overcompensating for a lot of things. So I present it with my rebuttals. In pink!

WARNING: Contains heavy sarcasm, stereotyping and bitchiness. Cuz I never said I was a role model.


• I need men’s rights because if she changes her mind the next day, I go to jail for 5-7 years;

The very next day? Without trial? Without a tedious, years-long crawl through the legal system? Without evidence? This is not to deny that a woman is capable of lying and some are bitches enough to lie about that, but few can keep it up through multiple court appearances. There are far more real victims who are terrified to step forward than bitches lying about rape. 

• I need men’s rights because I was the victim of abuse but nobody believed me;

See above. We have a shitty culture that blames and shames the victims. We all need to work on changing that.

• I need men’s rights because I am less likely to go to college, and if I do, I will make less money than my female contemporaries;

Did you just play some kind of screwy trick with statistics there? I think what you’re possibly getting at is that because more women are attending college the ratio of men to women is shrinking. Also because there are more women applying there are fewer spots available for men because we’re hogging them all up with our good grades and stuff. Guess you all better step it up. Don’t worry if you don’t make it. You can always find some absurdly well paid woman to support you.

• I need men’s rights because the president sees the shrinking number of men in colleges across America as “a great success”;

I can’t argue this statement at all because I’m Canadian. My national leader’s idea of great success is poisoning all the water, muzzling all the scientists, censoring the CBC and putting all the natives in jail.

• I need men’s rights because people question if I am a predator when I am alone with my child;

Most people I know think good dads are, you know, good. If mom getting a night to herself once in awhile means dad takes over the diaper changing for awhile you’ll be elbow deep in poopy before anyone questions anything. And I don’t mean that in some horrible pedophillic way.

• I need men’s rights because a man’s appearance, height, and weight has a greater affect on his income than it does for a woman;

This is plainly true. Everyone knows that the only reputable plumbers are tubby with hairy butt cracks.

• I need men’s rights because saying “it’s impossible to discriminate against men in our society” allows people to discriminate with impunity;

Kind of like saying “Feminists need to shut the fuck up” allows people to disregard us with impunity?

• I need men’s rights because traditionally masculine characteristics are virtues not flaws;

It depends which characteristics you mean and to what extent they define the person as a human being. There are many lovely manly virtues which if unbalanced turn into flaws pretty damn quick.

• I need men’s rights because the likelihood of my death coming by suicide is four times higher than it is for women, though I receive little support;

So, like, don’t kill yourself maybe? I know I sound like a dick there but that kind of thinking has kept me alive so far.

• I need men’s rights because it is not considered bigoted or sexist to deny me a male safe space at my college by those who have possessed their own safe spaces for decades;

I thought you weren’t going to college? Well if you do miraculously prevail against your feminist oppressors and get in I promise not to enter your stinky frathouse. Not even to clean it.

• I need men’s rights because it is assumed that a meeting of men in a male safe space is automatically going to devolve into hateful sexism and violence;

You guys could seriously win awards for sweeping overgeneralization. But considering that every men’s rights site I’ve ever seen has been peppered with hateful sexism, you may be right. And those assuming may have a point. But my friend Pat’s husband kicks her out every Friday night for his men-only poker game and so far no one has been ragemurdered. Yet.

• I need men’s rights because broad gender-wide slurs against men are socially accepted;

I’ll see your slurs and raise you dumb blondes, sluts, feminazis and the assumption that single mothers are all strippers or sucking their baby daddies dry to support their lavish lifestyles.

• I need men’s rights because my life, career, reputation and connection with my family can be easily destroyed by a single, false and anonymously whispered accusation;

Anyone’s could, dumbass.

• I need men’s rights because when women stumble blame rests on society, but when men stumble it is their fault;

When I stumble I blame it on my boyfriend for always leaving his stuff where I will trip over it. When he stumbles I say, “Serves you right. Now quit leaving your boots right in the doorway.” So yeah I guess that’s true.

• I need men’s rights because in my physically demanding career, I am expected to do much more work for “equal” pay;

Much more work than whom? Did you know, many women are quite capable of swinging a hammer just as hard as you? Unfortunately the typical male response to a woman picking up a hammer is along the lines of, “Whoa there little lady! Better put that down before you break a nail.” I’d advise you to get a cushy office job like I have, but your physically demanding one pays way more.

• I need men’s rights because it is fine to call me a “dick”, a “cock”, or a “prick” on the street or on television; a woman must never be called a “cunt”;

Try not to be such a pussy about it.

Believe it or not there are a whole bunch more, but I’ve taxed my readers’ attention span enough for one day.  To be continued!