Tag Archives: feminism

Conquering Modern American Social Apathy Borne of Privilege

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Map created by the folks at Brilliant Maps. Click for their article and associated credits.

 

If you or a loved one suffer from apathy to social justice issues, politics, and the stark intersection of the two, and exhibit any of the following sentiments:

  • my voice doesn’t matter because I don’t believe in the power of aggregate opinion
  • I don’t care about the problems of others, even though my silence is precisely what enables their continued plight
  • lending my voice to amplify the concerns of others conflicts with my own pursuit of happiness
  • I personally do not experience a problem, therefore I don’t care about it
  • I personally do not experience a problem, therefore I don’t believe that it truly exists
  • I personally do not experience a problem, therefore I believe its victims must deserve to experience its trappings

….please use your voice and example to change their minds. In the same way that the silence of the apathetic allows subjugation of the minority to flourish, so too does our own apathy towards the apathetic allow apathy to bubble over into the sad map of national indifference pictured above. If your loved ones are shocked that a bumbling, blathering buffoon was elected by only a misguided but passionate minority, explain that they shouldn’t be; that inaction, more than any other factor, is what empowers and emboldens the worst in society.

Apathy is extinguished one person at a time through our efforts. Its sufferers can have an effect for change, just as they currently have an effect for regression. Inaction is also a type of action, as the map more than illustrates. Being at liberty to choose inaction is a privilege that many do not have, because for them inaction directly threatens their access or protections related to their workplace, income, home, healthcare, legal protections…. even their abilities to have families of their own.

So, let’s start with the bare minimum and work up from there: Please ask your apathetic loved ones to show up at least one day a year [at their polling place] to exercise the human condition known as empathy.


New Male Tears Campaign in India

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See Bust for more (don’t give the source any clicks)

Powerful, isn’t it?

No, not the message. The gall. To feel so victimized as to proudly equate feminist appeals to stop raping and killing women with the self-inflicted duties of …holding doors and handbags.

Pour one out for the meninists and their struggles on Ladies Night Thursdays, when half-price cosmos challenge their holds on their masculine identities.

Women don’t want free drinks, your seat on the subway or your sympathy. Women want equal pay, equal job opportunities and to walk home late at night without their keys poised between their fingers. – Elissa Sanci for Bust.com


The Handmaid’s Tale Viewing Notes, Episodes 1-3

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The power of the Handmaid’s Tale is how perfectly believable it is. It’s a modern woman’s nightmare. Men (and certainly numerous women as well) like to think we’re in a post-racial and post-sexist society in the United States because everyone has equal rights on paper. However, regressives frequently challenge those rights in courts or through legislative gymnastics. Women made incredible strides this century to be sure, but modern women fear the recoil. After all, the first African American girl to attend a desegregated school is still alive today. She is only 62 years old. American women have held the right to vote for fewer than 100 years. Let that sink in. The men who wanted women to be voiceless raised an entire generation that is still alive and, in many cases, in power today. In fact, they whittle away at women’s reproductive agency and bodily autonomy every day at their jobs. Watching the Handmaid’s Tale while a woman (WHTwW) will surely be a buzzy health condition this month. I wonder how many right-wing viewers will miss the mark, though. “Isn’t it just the pits that women aren’t trusted to make their own bodily decisions?” an anti-choice viewer will muse to his or her neighbor.

In an emotionally grueling scene, one of the handmaids opens up about her horrific gang rape experience at school. Afterward, the other handmaids are forced (by threat of bodily harm) to shame her for “leading the boys on” and bringing the gang rape upon herself. In the Handmaid’s Tale, as in many real-life modern societal circles, women are unironically viewed as powerless and meek at the very same time that they’re thought to wield the all-powerful weapon of sex. From the show’s reception, these scenes clearly strike deep chords with women today. Rape victims are generally viewed as liars until proven raped in a court of law (see: nearly any case involving sports figures or celebrities ad nauseum), senators and congressmen argue whether pregnancies can biologically result from “legitimate rapes”, judges ask if victims bothered to move their butt around to avoid the penetration or if they kept their knees together, and even legislators go so far as to uphold rapists’ parental decision and visitation rights.

Still not convinced? Still think women’s closeness to this novel and mini-series is self-indulgent paranoia? Try playing Refinery29’s game, “Republican or Handmaid’s Tale” and see how well you do.

Another blogger delved into Atwood’s real-world influences for the novel that make it almost biographical:

“When Atwood was writing it in Berlin in 1984, she determined that she would put nothing into it that hadn’t already happened to women somewhere on earth. …. The novel has its origins in the 17th-century Puritans who settled in America, and in contemporary Afghanistan, and in Romania’s Decree 770, which dealt with a plummeting birth rate in the 1960s by outlawing contraception and abortion. That so many women feel so keenly attuned to it now demonstrates an acute awareness that the impulse to police women’s behavior and reproductive systems is as old as history itself.” – Sophie Gilbert for The Atlantic

Beyond the glaring premise of the show are other human rights atrocities that are just as believable. LGBTQ people gathered up and executed? Happening right now in Uganda, Russia, and Chechnya to name a few off the top of my head. And who can forget the ISIS video last year of a gay man being flung from a roof in execution. Female genital mutilation? Rampant in northern Africa and some parts of the middle east. Rape? No citations needed. These are common human rights crises happening at this very moment around the globe. One does not need a tinfoil hat to see the plausibility of American society’s downward spiral as illustrated by this television show. In the story, all it took was desperation and fear. One gruesome, alleged terrorist attack, and the bible belt handed the reigns of governance over to martial law. Welp, have you watched Fox News yet today? Its viewers are frothing at the mouth to do just that and support every idea that reroutes funding from critical services to the ever fattening military industrial complex (while inexplicably fighting for the right to stockpile guns in case a tyrannical government turns on them?) And did the show’s march for women’s rights remind you of a certain Women’s March on Washington in defense of women’s healthcare (among many other issues)? It’s startling to think that this scene was likely written and filmed long before our real march occurred. Yet, here we are.

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Front and center to the show are the women of privilege–the military wives–who seem to help enforce the new social constructs and keep select women enslaved. We hate them at first as we view the plot through a lens of the “have everything”s versus the “have none”s. Almost as soon as we begin watching, though, we see that many of the privileges the wives enjoy are barely that, as they still cannot work, own property, or have their own money. We’re also led to believe they may not have chosen their husbands and that all companionships are assigned. Take Mrs. Waterford. She looks pristine and clean at all times: hair, makeup, dress, high heels while she walks around the house. Her husband is out of town, yet she must still don her uniform of the privileged woman. She may visit friends that day, but that is the totality of her freedoms. She can’t even enter her husband’s study in their home. Privileges are thrown at these military wives like bones–nice homes, macarons and ice cream, fancy clothes–but bones are all they are. And these women, desperate to maintain what little status and few privileges they have, will do anything to keep them, including keep slaves. In this same way, the Handmaid program’s leader, Aunt Lydia, takes delight in lesbian Ofglen’s court-ordered “reformation”, a genital mutilation to remove sexual arousal for the wrong gender. Aunt Lydia rose to power for her pious devotion to conveniently cherry-picked dogma that supports the current powers, and she won’t abide women whose positions (or very existence, in Ofglen’s case) challenge her. This show does an incredible job of including the reactionary ways in which women help to uphold patriarchy and the ways in which women’s complicity are integral to its continued existence. It would have been easy and safe to focus on the male over female power structure in this adaptation, but that would not have been entirely true to Atwood’s tale nor to the reality of patriarchal structures.

When I was reading reaction blogs today, a piece in The Atlantic echoed my thoughts on this topic:

“The complicity of many wealthy women in the tyranny of Gilead is another aspect of the show that sharpens its topical relevance, particularly after an election in which a majority of white women voted against a female president. But casting women as co-oppressors in the novel, Atwood told me, was merely another way of remixing history. ‘They’re the roles that women have always played,’ she said. If someone were creating Gilead from scratch, she said, the most intuitive thing to do would be to enlist women in the policing of it, offering them limited power over other women. ‘There are always takers for that.'” – Sophie Gilbert for The Atlantic

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In the same way women are antagonists, the show is also careful to include men in an ally role. In the women’s march scene, men are gunned down on the front lines alongside the women, and of course we start the show with Offred’s husband dying in order to give his wife and daughter a running shot at reaching Canada. This inclusion is, of course, great on its own. But every now and then, it did make me laugh out loud. For example, while taking notice of men during the march scene I had the simultaneous thought, “this is to placate the MRAs who will surely frame this show as us versus them, anti-men propaganda.” If it had been a few men included in the march scene, I would have smiled at the simple inclusion and moved on. But, it was a gratuitous, slow motion homage to men at the women’s march. It even looked like a 50/50 gender split. It was as if the episode director was shouting preemptively, “See? We KNOOOOW #notallmen, you guys. We get it. Just look at all the men we put in this protest scene for you!” See, I know they had to, and that annoys the living shit out of me. But, as I find myself saying a lot lately, “here we are.”

In conclusion, it is the law of the internet that comments on any post about feminism justify the need for feminism. And, where men can look at the entirety of human history and still have the absence of mind to find the Handmaid’s Tale (novel, movie, or Hulu miniseries)  “hysterical, criminally unerotic, and a symptom of the author’s misandry“, let these same rules apply.


The Bandwagon-like Rise of the “I’m anti-bandwagon” Punditry

Widely known internet fact: It is nearly impossible to talk about something topical without getting hit by some soapboxing idiot’s scepter, dubbing you disingenuous, attention-seeking, or (my personal favorite) a fake geek.

Welp, don’t you fucking try to “fake geek girl” me about Alan Rickman today, Internet. I will combust into the Phoenix and take you down with me into hell. You’re seriously going to suggest women are fake geek girls for fandom(s) primarily made up of women?!? You want to play gatekeeper for our own fandoms too? Fucking christ, patriarchy. You are on fleek today.

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Eff you, Facebook.

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This is not what I had in mind when I wrote about women taking initiatives.


The Marriage Subtext

“If anything, sex is less commodified now than when my great-grandparents were courting. Before divorce; before reliable, effective birth control; before women’s advancements into the higher levels of the workforce; marriage was ALL about economics. Now that women are able to leave abusive and unhappy relationships, support themselves financially, and choose when/if to have children, we don’t need marriage anymore. It’s no longer an economic imperative, which means that people are free to be choosy about who they marry. So you’re damn right marriage rates are dropping and people are marrying later. It’s because we’re getting better at it.”

Lindy West

This right here. It’s reasonable for me to be upset that since the ripe age of 19 my family members (parents once in a while when I started “living in sin”, but mostly grandparents/uncles/aunts) ask me on the regular if I have a ring yet….. but at 26 the same people supported my brother in waiting (and encouraged him to wait much longer if he wanted to). As my 27th birthday approaches, I feel the projections growing stronger and more shameless. Here’s to another year of I feel like my body is dirty, so I’m going to ‘remind’ you that yours is too subtexts rolling off of my familial relations in waves.

Newsflash: If you think your body is dirty and created for the sole purpose of being a sin-disposal, then a magical piece of paper from the city government will never change that. Animal procreation is evil up until the arbitrary point where it’s not, am I right? I’m sure that state of mind does wonders for your self esteem as well as your marriage bed. *shrug*

theokaynod


Elevator Etiquette

Dear every other sir with whom I share the elevator,

Your outdated, sexist “etiquette” is obnoxious not only because I am a modernist and feminist, but mainly because it is completely unreasonable and inefficient. Taking the elevator doesn’t have to be frustrating, but it’s made that way by blockheads like yourself. The following example is just the icing on a very tall cake, but it’s the funniest one to date, and so I’ll share. I was the first person on board and so naturally was in the back of the elevator.  I was even carrying over-sized, cumbersome boxes. But you are always so persistent–you’re the type who would linger by the entrance until the fucking door closes again and we get sent back down to the bottom before you get the fuck out. So, you were waiting for me to exit first…. even though you’re in the front; even though you’re half-blocking the door. Oh, my boxes knocked over your lunch as I tried to squeeze past you? That was the most predictable outcome in the world, which is why I rolled my eyes at you when you insisted I leave first. Please hold common sense higher than your 1950s sexist dogma and get. the. fuck. out of the elevator if you are the closest person to the door. It just makes sense. Unless you know that the only way I’m scooting past your over-sized lummox of a self is by brushing my boobs against you. Is that the goal? Perhaps for a few, but there must also be some outdated “ladies first” nonsense to it, as the skinny men treat me the same way without the possibility of ever receiving “boob brush”…. It is 2013, and beyond the dogma I would hope that people paid such ample salaries as most of my colleagues at least would have enough sense to realize how incredibly stupid it is to wait for me to squeeze past if we’re getting off at the same goddamned floor. Why? Why complicate the easiest thing in the office–transitioning floors? Reason #45678 why sexist “etiquette” is quintessentially ridiculous and needs to die out already.

 

feministrants


Reflections on Dating from the Other Side

States of upset can be times of prolific and profound production (alliteration FTW!): scathing poetry, songs, journal entries, essays, short stories…. Bitter poetry was my #1 outlet of choice, followed closely by hypothetical “spill all” letters (I never sent them, of course. They were for personal use only). Before I begin this topic, I’ll raise a glass to Livejournal, my old personal website, and various poetry journals.

Here’s the two things that grind my gears lately about the dating world.

1. Men won’t break anything off cleanly; they need some “time alone” or to work on themselves while you’re on the back burner, wondering where you stand.

There is this stigma in western society that telling someone “We just don’t click” will cause an uproarious scene too awkward to imagine and that serving a lie will “let him or her down easy”. Call me old fashioned, but I simply don’t see how hearing the same lie told to me an upwards of 20 times makes anything easier. On the contrary, it just adds to the vexing frustrations of a dating scene where no one says what he or she means. Dating a man suggests, at the very least, that I think he’s not a con artist. So, when he says something like “I shouldn’t be dating right now,” or “I need some time alone,” or “I need to focus on my issues for a while… we were just bad timing,” I take him at his word that he actually does still like me but times are tough. After all, if I thought he was a liar, I wouldn’t have dated him in the first place, right? But when that man (any of them) began dating someone within a week I was furious—and I wasn’t furious because I was dumped. Maybe that’s where the disconnect ties in. Trying on people to see if they fit is a natural and necessary series of steps to finding the right person. No, I was furious instead because this person clearly 1) didn’t respect my feelings enough to at least let me down truthfully and provide clear closure, 2) subscribed to the antifeminist Women Are Leaky Faucets of Catastrophe Who Can’t Be Dumped Without Terrible Consequences school of thought, 3) took it upon himself to construct a final memory of himself for me that was a steaming pile of bullshit, and 4) clearly thought I was an idiot who wouldn’t find out about his new girl immediately.

It all sounds dramatic, but I swear I’m not exaggerating the frequency of this situation. In fact, before I met my current partner I had played a cathartic game with myself: after being “put on hold” in favor of “time alone”, I took to Facebook to bet which woman he was seeing later that afternoon… because finding a way to laugh cynically about it is healthier than crying about it, in my opinion. Why Generation Y men think my hearing that we were two ships passing in the night would make me feel better amid such obvious evidence to the contrary (such as…. an engagement to another woman two weeks later…. I can’t make this shit up, folks!), I couldn’t say. It’s especially concerning when men must know how common a cop-out it is. After all, how many romantically-sound-but-poorly-timed ships passing in the night could there possibly be? Why can’t we talk about his opinion that we’re not working out, nod, talk out some positives and negatives to be constructive, and then shut it off on decent terms? Does every youngish guy feel that the faux-sentimental, tortured soul martyr, “I have issues, and you should go your own way before I drag you under” persona is even attractive?

2. The exaggerated behaviors are out of control and confusing as hell.

Egregiously mixed messaging. For men, it seems like it’s 100% game time every single date RE: their charm and RE: their need to succeed. It’s like a race against the clock, even if he doesn’t even know if he wants it to work. Do Generation Y men think that they can’t just talk to me over coffee without all the lavishness? I mean, I’m all for lavishness… but not if it’s fake. Not if we just met last week, and he doesn’t mean it, and he’s seeing three other women right now too.

Can’t we be chill for a while so that he can find out if he wants to date me before he is already dating me? I hate that we can’t converse about our interests without him gushing that he’s “falling for me” only to axe me by Thursday. It’s an indefinite source of confusion and frustration. Just like my other tick, it’s not about getting dumped. I expect some bumps, and I expect most things to not necessarily work out. What irks me is the lack of candidness, the misleading confessions of emotion, the meaningless overtures, and the excessively rehearsed rituals. This may seem like a given to me, but apparently it bears stating:

If you feel casually about me, then act casually about me.

Don’t pretend that you’re mad for me and you think I “could be the one” if you feel only a mild interest. I certainly don’t put on airs if I don’t feel it, but that just makes me a “frigid, prudish bitch” instead of an honest, well-meaning dater. Clusterfuck, much?

To make matters worse, I know this isn’t just a case of the men I’ve dated “being assholes”. For the most part I don’t think they were. I’ve noticed the same behavior in my own gaggle of straight male friends as we swap stories over lunch. They were guilty of the same crimes: the introductory grand gestures, the masterful first few dates, and the creative efforts to win their girl’s affections only to discover a few weeks in that she wasn’t all that and a bag of chips. But by that point, she was successfully romanced, and my male friends would ask how they could let her down easy. I just stared at them and couldn’t believe it. “Why did you do such-and-such if you weren’t even sure you liked her yet?!” I would ask, dumbfounded. They answered simply that they thought they liked her at the time but admitted they didn’t know anything about her. I thought to myself, Well, sometimes I think I like a guy, but I don’t buy him a ticket to his favorite opera, bring him flowers at his work the next morning, and tell him he was the most unique dude I’d ever met all because I thought he had a nice beard and liked a few of the same bands as me.

I shit you not: I had a guy surprise me at my office with flowers the day after a fabulous date and take me to lunch, gushing over how much he liked me. But when I asked a few days later about exclusivity, it was like I had just dropped the marriage bomb or something. “Well, let’s not jump into things….” he said. Huh? You came to my work with flowers, not the other way around. If you wanted to be coffeedates, we could have just been coffeedates….

I just want Reasonable. Representation. Of. Feelings. Most of my WTF moments stem from this issue. Oh, you’re actually not crazy about me? Then why have you been telling me every weekend since we met that you’re crazy about me?

Or, my absolute favorite example of this I’ve ever experienced:

Him: *dreamy eyed after we’d been together a month+* I’m falling in love with you.

Me: Wow! I feel the same way. I’m so happy to be your girlfriend.

Him: W-what? *shakes head, flabbergasted* Well, we don’t have to put a label on it. Are you fixated on that? ….I-I don’t want to be pressured into that situation.

That situation. Fixating. Thinking of me as more than a regular weekend hookup was a situation, and my thinking on our relationship was a fixation. If it weren’t so horrific I would have laughed. Sounds like he’s falling in love, for sure! Needless to say, we didn’t last long after that. He pulled an “I need some time alone” over the phone two or three weeks later, immediately started seeing a friend-of-a-friend, and then unfriended and blocked me on le Facebooks.

It’s alarming, isn’t it? As soon as you return a man’s affections and want him too, he seems to lose interest. Scary, rapey stuff at an evolutionary level.

Overly flattering someone you’re only mildly interested in takes cojones. Perhaps it’s the equivalent of a male peacock’s elaborate feather display: all distraction and no substance. I can’t speak for what pushes the modern dudes to act this way, nor can I correct it. But, I’d be interested in the aggregate dating experiences of a few men in my demo to see what it’s like from the other side; how do women fan or not fan this flame in their experience, how are these expectations set up, etc.? It’s damned disheartening to learn that someone didn’t actually like me as much as I thought he did he said he did, and I hope that some women’s nostalgia for the age of courtly love isn’t exacerbating a man’s need to rise to [what he thinks are] my expectations. Because I sure as hell am not setting any of these goalposts.


While I’m ranting about the ridiculousness of dating, here is a fun anecdote from just last week. A man in what I’d estimate is his late forties (with 2 kids, btw) asked me out at my office’s warehouse (which is a male delusional self-entitlement issue aaaaall of its own considering I’m only 25), and suddenly all of his little annoyances made sense. He constantly gets underfoot by going out of his way to take things out of my hands, grabbing things out of other people’s hands right next to me just so he can be the one to hand it to me, and ungracefully shoving his arm in my face because he’s trying to hold a car door open for me that I am already holding open. He thought he was flirting. I can’t believe he thought he was flirting all this time. It all clicked when he asked me to hang back and then cornered me with his proposal.

Advice: When you almost knock me down just to hold the door, and then you block my passage through said door because you’re now in my way, …….just pack up and go home. Why do so many men think women like being treated like invalids and that it’s somehow perceived as romantic? Pushing me out of the way so he can get that thing on the top shelf for me? Asshole, I’m probably 5 inches taller than you! On top of that, he knows not a single point of interest about me…. His rationale was simply that he “thought [I] was cute” ….and young. That’s it, folks. That’s all you need to pursue sex with girls half your age.

feministrants

Thanks, Zooey. Good night!


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