Archive for Feminism

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.

The time I got raped

Posted in Me stuff with tags , , on March 20, 2015 by idnami

Trigger warning: I’m about to talk about rape. Further warning: If you know me, you’re about to know a lot more.

Let me first of all say that I want no one to tell me how sorry they are that this happened to me. I do not tell this for sympathy and I find that phrase unhelpful and patronizing even when it’s sincere.

Also do not tell me how brave I am. Despite how really scary it is to tell this story, it isn’t bravery that has prompted me to do it.

I’ve talked more than once about how I feel that women should be raised and trained to take no shit from anyone. I’ve also mentioned how I’ve occasionally felt stalked and violated.

But I never have, possibly from embarrassment, or maybe thinking I ought to spare my readers the horror of the whole story, talked about the time I got raped.

See, it’s a source of real shame for me. It may be shocking to some, but I’m not actually superhuman. I’m not even extraordinary as it turns out, to the disappointment of me most of all some people.

Well, I figure, shame is a thing women get to live with a lot of, so read on if you can stand it. It’s not so bad.

It was so bad, actually. So bad my hands curl into fists when I think of it. Especially when I think of anyone else going through it. I’m tough and I could handle it. So what must they have gone through, those other women who got really raped? I moved on better than many women do, so it’s ok in my case right? No lasting physical harm came to me. Yet there is was. Rape.

He was a man I was very attracted to, had consensually fucked. Even earlier that same day. I knew he was dealing with things, bad things, in his head. See how I try even now to excuse it? We were in my apartment drinking coffee when he expressed his disagreement with some of my choices. He became agitated, then angry, then aggressive. I suddenly had to defend actions I hadn’t taken, face accusations with no basis in reality. He stood over me and I stood to meet him, indignant that he dared pull any such shit. Then he had my wrists in his hands and I couldn’t get away.  He threw me down and reached into his pants. I screamed no and struggled to get away.

He twisted my arms till I knew something would pop and I stopped fighting, because I saw in his face that he would break my arms and do it anyway. And he slammed into me, yelling slut and whore and bitch and I forget what else.

Afterwards, I threw him out of my apartment and never saw him again. His last words to me were, “Don’t you dare say this was rape. You wanted it the whole time.” I said, “Not this time.” and shut the door in his face.

Or at least that’s how I’ve told the story to the very few people who know. But the truth is even worse than that. I didn’t just get up and kick his ass out. I made lunch first. That’s the shameful bit that I’ve never confessed to a soul. I got up, cleaned myself up, heated soup and made toast. We sat eating at my kitchen table as if the awful thing hadn’t happened. I was in shock, I think. I was trying to restore a sense of normalcy, fit the experience into the boundaries of  sane interactions. It’s like I thought I could fix it with homemade chicken soup, like it was a cold.

The anger eventually seeped through the shock and then I did demand he leave and I never have seen him since. I couldn’t report it, of course. Who would believe me?

This is the shit that makes us question ourselves, that makes us feel sometimes that our stories aren’t legitimate. It is a scar upon myself and my self worth to this day, though it was years ago.

Sounds pretty weak right? But then I had the weeks of fearing that maybe I was pregnant or worse, and hiding that fear. My roommate came home and I acted normal, I saw friends later that day and acted normal. I said not a word to anyone and just got on with life. I got my period, had a reassuring STI test, and everything was ok. I didn’t come to hate men, or to fear sex or anything like that. But I will never forget the hatred in his face, and my own rage still burns.

This is why I say don’t tell me how brave I am. This isn’t brave. I started writing this in the wake of the Elliot Rodgers Isla Vista killings last year. I’ve been sitting on it ever since, opening it now and then to tweak and edit, stare at it and dare myself to hit the publish button. Rodgers and everyone like him, the stories I read on the #yesallwomen hashtag at that time, the reality I can’t look away from and can’t stop thinking about almost forced this story from me, but I never could quite work up the nerve to post it once it was written. I became terrified at my own audacity. I told myself it wasn’t kind to my friends and followers to share this story, that this was too much vulnerability to make public knowledge. I read over it again and worried that the legitimacy of the story was somehow diminished by the fact that I had previously had consensual sex with the guy. And the lunch thing. Good god.

I used to think feminism was almost there, that we were in the home stretch of building true equality between men and women. What a goddamn laugh. We have so far to go. And then we have idiot MRA’s and PUA’s, we have The Red Pill, religious oppression, online harassment, slut shaming and on and on and on. We have society, the media, our parents telling us to smile, be nice, be pretty, be ladies, and where is that getting us?

So I guess if I post this it’s pretty brave after all, and that makes me angry more than anything, because the shame of this should not be mine.

I hate having to post this story. But I can’t go around preaching feminism, encouraging women to tell their own stories while I hide my own. This post has been a huge stumbling block, staring at me every time I think of writing here, keeping me from moving forward even in my writing. And you know, fuck that. I was made a victim. I won’t continue making myself one.

We can’t shield and protect our abusers and hope to ever heal. We can’t judge each other’s choices when these stories come to light.

Now that that’s out of the way, if you’ve made it this far you should also know that I didn’t get into a car accident last year. My face looked like that because my partner at the time beat the hell out of me, and that is why he is gone. And I was sucker enough to lie to my friends to protect him. Fuck that too. Ironically, my records show that the last time I opened this post to edit and flirt with publishing it, was the day before that happened. Seems like a sign.

Thanks for reading.

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.

Men are not a special interest group part 2

Posted in just opinionated, Rants with tags , , on May 17, 2013 by idnami

As promised, part 2. I’ve received the predictable amount of criticism for part 1 but I am impressed and gratified at the amount of discussion it’s generated. I don’t just mean in the comments here and on Facebook, but also between myself and my partner.

My partner is someone I consider exemplary of the best male virtues. He is physically strong and capable of anything from building bookshelves to punching out bad guys. My friends and I joke that he’s rassled lions and pooped on cobras and despite his extreme modesty on the subject of his amazing feats of derring-do, it really isn’t far from the truth. In addition to this he does his share of the housework, is touchingly kind to people and animals, humble to a fault, sensitive, loving and unafraid of his vulnerability. He is a balanced person whom I would not hesitate to trust with my own life and the life of my niece, who is the most important person in my world.

He also exemplifies some of the less endearing aspects of masculinity. I’m looking at a pair of his dirty socks on the living room floor right now. Nobody is perfect.

So because I love him and value his opinion I went through this list with him to find out what his thoughts were. Interestingly, we for the most part agree. This is because we are pretty realistic people with the same sarcastic sense of humour and we both think whiners need to suck it up and do something constructive. So I have the permission of my man to continue thinking thoughts and writing them down. Huzzah!

Here we go again. This time with pictures!

• I need men’s rights because talk-shows think it’s funny if I am wounded or sexually mutilated by a woman;

Ok I admit, when I heard about John and Loreena Bobbit I did laugh a bitter and vengeful laugh on her behalf. But I was like 13 at the time and have become somewhat more enlightened since.  Now I no longer think it is funny that anyone can be driven by abuse to such lengths as to avenge it by cutting off their abuser’s body parts. I think it’s sad. I also think talk shows are stupid.

• I need men’s rights because while the rape of a woman is properly regarded as a crime, the rape of a man is funny;

That is also not funny. Neither was it funny when Reteah Parsons was cyber-bullied into suicide by people who though her rape was funny.

• I need men’s rights because mutilation of male infants is considered normal – and those arguing for the protection of male infants from mutilation are regularly slandered as anti-semites and bigots;

This is touchy ground right here. Many religions practice barbaric and archaic habits that have existed since long before human rights became something people cared about. On the one hand, some uncut men choose circumcision later in life for a variety of reasons, including medical. On the other hand it is traumatic to an infant and usually unnecessary. I think the problem here is not society but a very deep resistance to change in human nature, especially when the change violates holy writ. This is why I am at best a lazy pagan and possibly veering toward atheism. But that is just me. I’d be tackling child rape by priests first, personally, because it is definitely much more traumatic and I was raised in Christianity and can do so with some impunity.

• I need men’s rights because my sexuality is routinely characterized as violent pathology, rather than as a natural part of my human identity;

Sexuality is a pretty personal thing, isn’t it? One person’s violent pathology is another person’s swingin’ Saturday night. I have kinks that others consider to be unsettling. I remain unaffected by what others think of this and I’d recommend the same. Unless you are a rapist, in which case, get help.

Violent pathology? Perhaps not. Fucking weird as shit? Yup.

Violent pathology? Perhaps not. Fucking weird as shit? Yup.

• I need men’s rights because women assume it’s my fault if I am assaulted by a woman;

There are some women who are bigger, stronger and meaner than men, who like to intimidate men. They are assholes just like men who do this. On the other hand, I was once compelled to use extreme force to repel my much larger male attacker/ex boyfriend. Despite it being self defense I was still arrested.

• I need men’s rights because people think it is irresponsible to have me work around children;

Again, who are YOU? Some people shouldn’t be around kids. But considering all the male teachers, camp counsellors and child psychologists there are, if YOU are considered irresponsible around children, maybe you are. Or maybe you’re a catholic priest.

kindergarten cop

• I need men’s rights because I have the right to the same sexual sovereignty given to women;

I do not even know what this means.

• I need men’s rights because I believe that the feminist idea that a woman in the United States is equally oppressed as a woman in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia in cruel and insulting;

Again, Canadian over here. But did you know, human trafficking also happens here? Did you know we have Sharia courts here? And that many women are compelled to obey their husbands or suffer their wrath? And exactly what the fuck do any of those facts have to do with your need for male rights?

• I need men’s rights because I should not be ashamed of my sexuality;

Well neither should I but I was getting called a slut before I was ever sexually active. Do you know how many women are psychologically incapable of orgasm because of the prevailing underlying idea that nice girls don’t have sex for their own pleasure? If we can overcome that, so can you. Chin up, boys!

furry-fandom-sex-fetish

• I need men’s rights because women who find me unattractive will shame me can call me creepy for politely interacting with them, and they will be praised for this cruelty;

Maybe you are creepy? Some guys are creepy. 

Pictured: The guy who made creeps cool.

Pictured: The guy who made creeps cool.

• I need men’s rights because I was sexually harassed by several drunk women twice my age and everyone at the party thought it was funny;

So if they were attractive and your age or younger would it have been acceptable?

• I need men’s rights because my size and strength is commonly used to pretend that I am violent, which I am not;

Just be glad you aren’t fat, which according to society strips you of all human value.

• I need men’s rights because if I am small or weak doesn’t mean I have a Napoleon complex;

Doesn’t mean you don’t, either. But that bully who kicked sand in your face? Probably a dude. He needs rights too cuz he’s a man!

• I need men’s rights because the type of car I drive does not give you the right to shame me or belittle me;

My boyfriend says, “Yeah it does.” And you have no one to blame for it but yourselves. Decades of men identifying with their cars to an almost fanatical extent have impressed on us all that the guy in the Mazerati is cool and slick (and loaded), the guy in the Dodge Ram is a rough, tough manly man, and the guy driving the shitty Pinto with rust spots and garbage all over the floor probably has an apartment to match (in his mom’s basement) and who wants to date that guy? Not me. My boyfriend doesn’t even have a car, though he has a shitty bike that I rag him about constantly.

The the guy who drives this probably has a Napolean complex.

The the guy who drives this probably has a Napolean complex.

• I need men’s rights because I have the right to associate with other men without legal action forcing me to allow women, too;

Freemasons. Also I freely invite you to check out Curves Fitness one day and see how much it sucks. Make it lame or boring or wussy enough and even women won’t want to go there. I advise you to start up a poker night like my friend Pat’s husband. Or fantasy baseball. Or just hang a No Girls Allowed sign on your garage and watch how fast you never get laid again.

No Girls Allowed!

No Girls Allowed!

Whew! Believe it or not, the mantra doesn’t end there. But some of us have lives. Part 3 to come!