Don’t be a “NotAllMen” Man

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First, to clarify, let me define the “NotAllMen” or “NAM.”

A “NotAllMen” is typically a heterosexual white male, who, when encountered with feminist anger, the patriarchy, or women’s issues in general, respond with “but I’M not like that. It’s not ALL men! this is an isolated incident. It cannot possibly be as bad as you think!” A NAM shares similarities with those who call themselves Men’s Right’s Activists, but may be less extreme or active or even know about the MRA because they really don’t know a lot about the whole women’s rights thing to begin with.

The NAM suffers from something known as “Male Privilege.” They show a natural tendency to resist any acknowledgment of such privilege, and make a concerted effort to remain ignorant of what the term means.

Male Privilege is often invisible to the typical NAM, but symptoms include a warped world view due to the fact that they have never encountered many of the systematic forms of societal oppression women face every day, and therefor seem unable to understand how the life of an average woman can be so different from their own. Since they do not grasp the fact that they are afforded more opportunities and freedoms (I.E. Feeling safe walking alone) they view feminists are trying to take away something from them, rather than giving women more equality. To them, equality is a finite resource. In order to give it to women, it must be taken away from men. Most people know this not to be true.

The NAM may also show signs of entitlement to their (often uninformed) opinion. These opinions typically include (but are not limited to)

  • It’s not ALL men
  • Feminism is just a platform to hate men!
  • It hurts my feelings to be told men do bad things
  • We already HAVE equality
  • Some form of blaming the victim
  • But men have issues, too!
  • We NEED inequality to function as a society!

The NAM also may exhibit signs of “Mansplaining,” in which he will attempt to explain things to you, on topics which you are well-informed and well versed, and he knows little. However well informed you may be, the NAM will always feel that he has to explain it to you, using knowledge often gained from other uninformed NAM’s, internet comments, and Fox News. The NAM believes he knows what feminism ACTUALLY is, and how the world ACTUALLY works, according to him. The NAM’s invisible Male Privilege causes him to believe, while oblivious to the sheer level of narcissism involved to create such a delusion, that if he as an individual has never encountered a problem, the problem does not exist. The problems inherent in this logic are obvious.

The NAM attempts to sound reasonable and respectful, as a contrast to the typical woman’s hysteria. However, what the NAM understands to be reason and respect is actually intense condescension and patronizing. It is typical of a NAM to have a misunderstanding of the definitions of many words.

While all of these symptoms may indicate NAM tendencies, men who exhibit them may recover if they manage to possess an open mind, a willingness to learn, and enough maturity to admit they were misinformed.

A true NAM will reveal himself when actually challenged on any of the above. If at first patronizing doesn’t succeed, try, try again. If you politely and respectfully attempt to explain to a NAM why his opinion is problematic, his initial response will be “oh dear, her small lady brain was unable to understand what I so clearly explained to her. Let me try again.” This time he will reach a level of simplicity so obtuse, most observing will be slightly shocked. After, once again, attempting a respectful, if more forceful reply to the NAM, who is now exposing himself to be severely uneducated on the topic he is attempting to discuss, he will now start to get pissy. This is because being challenged on something he has told a woman is such a blow to the NAM’s fragile ego, he must now resort to grand generalizations, name calling, and general sexist stupidity.

Let me explain to you how your comments look to a well-informed feminist, woman, or female friend who posted an article on an issue related to women’s rights or feminism.

When you try to explain to a feminist what feminism is, to be base, you look like an idiot. It would be like me trying to explain to OJ Simpson how best to write a book about getting away with murder. I’ve never gotten away with murder! I haven’t even researched it! Or read his book! Who am I to try to explain to OJ Simpson how it’s done? This is just general common sense when it comes to literally any discussion in life. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, or if your opinion is based on other people’s opinions and you haven’t actually done any unbiased research you can’t expect other people to take your opinion seriously. When I talk about feminism, I’m talking from personal experience, academic research, personal research, and a whole lot of statistics. When you try to talk to me about feminism, and want to disagree, you better be able to back yourself up, because otherwise your opinion is not valid. Not to me.

When men do this, especially men I know and am acquainted with, this is what it says to me: You don’t respect me and you don’t respect women. If you really, really respected me as your equal, you wouldn’t feel the need to talk down to me. You don’t actually respect my opinion, because although it is generally back up with facts, figures, and hundreds of years of systemized oppression, you STILL feel the need to chime in with your uninformed, simplistic, privileged understanding of what women go through every day. If you actually respected me and women as a whole, you’d be an ally. You wouldn’t be telling me to shut up and stop posting articles on Facebook.

I just want to clarify, once again, how narcissistic this is. When I post an article calling out sexist behavior, violence against women, or Men’s Rights Activists, it is not me yelling at you. I am not saying “LOOK AT THIS SHITTY STUFF MEN DID AND HEY PAUL YOU ARE A MAN THEREFORE YOU ARE A PIECE OF SHIT!” That is you personalizing the issue to you as an individual, and  is probably missing whatever point I was trying to make entirely.

I’m not suggesting that men can’t have opinions about feminism, and they can’t be different than mine. But you must keep in mind the platform you’re speaking from. If you are a heterosexual white male, you are speaking from the most privileged platform in our current North American society. You’re life experience is going to be vastly different than say, a queer African American Woman. Vastly. Everyone as an individual can only speak with a combination of their personal experience, perspective, and education. Before speaking on any issue of inequality, it is your responsibility to acknowledge that you are speaking from a privileged platform, and that you do not have the firsthand experience of being part of an oppressed or minority group. Until you accept and acknowledge your privilege, you really can’t expect to be taken seriously in matters like feminism or any kind of inequality. 

I used to have a policy of education over confrontation, but the more NAM’s I encounter the more I realize they just don’t want to hear it. Trying to be civil with a NAM or an MRA is like trying to convince a brick wall that it’s anything other than a brick wall, because a brick wall is a brick wall and it ain’t gonna change.

But, if you’re mature enough and want to actually learn, that’s when I’ll be willing to talk to you like an adult. But remember: the oppressed are allowed to be angry at their oppressor. Women are allowed to be angry at men. Again, this does not mean that I am angry with you, Dustin, Sean, Kurt, or any of my male acquaintances individually.

So instead of getting up in arms and trying to defend yourself against the evil feminists, how about you defend women? Be an ally. Learn. Educate yourself. Don’t be a NAM.

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The “Friend Zone” Myth: By Guest Kraken Jerika Coleman

A post I recently saw on tumblr really inspired me to say something about the ‘friend zone’ trend, and how much it honestly pisses me off. The post read: “Slut is how we vilify a woman for exercising her right to say yes. Friend zone is how we vilify a woman for exercising her right to say no.” Reading that made me think. Because everybody is aware of the fact that women will be judged for having sex (she shouldn’t be judged, but she will be, and that’s a sad fact of society right now), but it’s not as often that we encounter the opposite: a woman who becomes a bad person because she won’t have sex. So, now, not only are women being punished by society for having sex with men that weren’t our friends, but we’re actually being punished for not having sex with men that are our friends. There are obviously very few, if any, ways for women to win in society when it comes to our sexual behavior and this friend zone thing is making it even worse. 

The friend zone has become a widespread internet meme. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it was essentially coined by many not-nice guys claiming to be nice guys, and who therefore believe that this entitles to them to sex with all their girl friends. There are six pages of definitions for it just on Urban Dictionary, most of which seem to be written by men who are just angry and bitter that they put time into a relationship without getting a sexual pay-off. Men collectively mourn their ‘fallen brothers’ who have ended up in the friend zone, and praise the ones who have managed to ‘escape.’  I’ve seen friend zone flowcharts with dozens of lines and layers trying to explain to men that they’re in the friend zone and how to get out of it, and holy shit I did not know that being friends was putting men through such a personal struggle. Guys got it real rough, y’all.

Search ‘friend zone’ on a website like 9GAG and you get a couple hundred results.  Some of them are relatively light-hearted, praising men like The Office’s Jim Halpert for being able to ‘overcome’ the friend zone and get a female friend to fall in love with him.  As if Pam was never a person to Jim, just an object to be achieved – as if any woman ever is just an object for a man to achieve, like a level in a video game. To men, we are all Princess Peach, and if you’re just good enough, and nice enough, we’ll let you come save us from Bowser, and you’ll win the game.

Some are much more violent, or angry in nature, like one I read that was written by someone claiming to a “Good Guy…or rather, a New Found Asshole.” He blasted his female friends for not wanting to have sex with him, a self-proclaimed great guy, and for instead choosing to sleep with men that he had deemed assholes. What makes this guy a great guy? Why, he’s always been nice to you! He’s listened to your problems, helped you out, and given you advice. What makes this other guy an asshole?  I’m assuming just the fact that he got to have sex with the girl.

Guess what: some of you may think its funny, but in reality, it’s actually sexist B.S. that further perpetrates our unfortunate rape culture. In 2012, that is literally the last thing that women need. For the love of God, are my female friends and I really going to have to go through the rest of our lives being treated like shit because we fail to meet male expectations? Really? In the 21st century, this sort of judging crap isn’t over with yet?  Because I am getting bored of it, and frankly, I want to have better things to do than worry about what people think of me.

The concept of the friend zone is depressing as hell, if you actually sit down to think about it, which hopefully you will after this. Judging by the concept of the friend zone, no man has ever actually wanted to be friends with a woman. Ever. Because friendship isn’t enough? The idea of a guy being friends with a girl is no longer a positive thing, it’s become a punishment. “Ugh,” men around the world seem to be collectively thinking, “this girl wants to talk to me, and wants to hang out, and joke, and share common interests.  What fresh hell is this and when the frig will it end?”

I just read a post on tumblr, ironically tagged ‘chivalry’ (leading me to believe that English classes are failing to teach people the actual definitions of words), written by a guy who claimed that the only reason a guy would stick around in a friendship is because he wants a romantic relationship, and eventually that guy will get tired and move on, ending the friendship. WHAT? NO! HOW? There are no actual friendships, there are only pre-sex relationships?  And the punishment for not having sex with a guy is that the relationship is over entirely? My friendship isn’t worth as much as my vagina? How is this okay? How is anybody (not just girls) okay with living in that kind of world?

Men are seemingly desperate not to be friends with women; I guess they’ll do anything to get out of it. So, shout-out to all my guy friends who I haven’t had sex with, so…all of you, sorry I’m so boring and clothed all the time, but thanks for sticking with me! I guess this has been really hard on you. Men just want to be friendly enough with a woman that she will eventually want to have sex with them. Judging by the rage that men feel when this fails to occur, men don’t just want to have sex with women, they feel as though they actually deserve it. The men who believe in the friend zone inherently believe that if they are just nice enough to a woman, that they should be rewarded with sex. That if they’re just a nice enough guy, that getting to have sex with a girl is their right.

That is what being in a rape culture means. In this day and age, very few people are going to come out and say, “yeah, rape is okay.” I honestly do believe that this is because most people actually know that rape is bad. I believe that given the opportunity, most people will not rape. The act of rape is not normalized within our culture as it is in others. But being in a rape culture means that men will still get enraged if they feel as though they’ve been denied a woman’s body; that a woman’s body can even be denied to begin with. Living in a rape culture means that men are brought up to believe that all they have to do is be a good friend, and they will be rewarded with sex. Almost every movie with a male hero ends with him getting the girl of his dreams – women are trophies for good behavior. Any woman who refuses to be this trophy is deemed a horrible person who needs to be attacked – most often verbally, but sometimes physically too.

That’s why men insult women. Some men probably are just prudish and backwards enough to think that having any sex at all makes a woman a whore (I have a male friend who was willing to label a mutual female friend of ours a slut simply because he’d heard rumours that she’d slept with TWO men). But I think that in the case of most men, it’s that they’re bitter and jealous. Most men are actually super-okay with women having lots of a sex, as long as all the sex they’re having is with them.  BECAUSE THEY EARNED IT, BY BEING A DECENT HUMAN BEING, DON’T YA KNOW.

Which is crap, because if you’re the type of guy who thinks just being a decent human being means that a girl has to have sex with you, you’re not a decent human being.  You never were. You’re just a tool. Odds are, she can tell. It’s probably why she doesn’t want to have sex with you to begin with. We’re not idiots. If you were actually a decent human being, you’d be okay with being rejected. That doesn’t mean you want to be rejected (nobody does), but it means that you recognize a woman has the right to reject you.  An actual ‘nice guy’ won’t go around insulting a girl because she ‘failed’ to fall in love with him.  We haven’t failed to fall in love with you, like it some goal that we all had that we just couldn’t achieve, we just don’t love you. An actual ‘nice guy’ would respect women, and respect our right to make our own romantic choices instead of complaining about them.

You know how I know the idea of the friend zone is sexist? Because there isn’t an equivalent for women. That isn’t to say that women don’t often have unrequited romantic feelings towards their male friends, because oh my god, do we ever. Should I show you my diaries all the way from middle school up until last week to prove my point? But girls don’t go in the friend zone. Because if a girl likes a guy who doesn’t like her back, she’s just labeled hopeless and needy. As far as I know, there is no large gathering of girls lamenting the fact that we were SO NICE and WHY AREN’T WE BEING REWARDED. A man isn’t judged for wanting to just be friends with a girl (lol guyz, she’s probably super ugly or something, its totes understandable – that was sarcasm, BTW). Society taught us that, if guy isn’t attracted to a girl, it’s the girl’s fault – we failed at making ourselves attractive or acceptable enough for him to like. And if a girl doesn’t like a guy, well, society says that it’s still her fault too, obviously. A man’s relationship choices are always valid, and never attacked, no matter what. Why are women attacked for wanting to just be friends with a guy, but very few people are sitting around saying, “uh, men, why do you want to just have sex with me, and not actually be friends?” (hint, because the rules mostly made by men, and they don’t want to be told how wrong they are). Men are allowed to choose their romantic partners without judgment, and women aren’t. That’s how I know the friend zone is sexist, and that’s how I know it’s wrong.

Nobody has any obligation to like anybody. Ever. Ever. There is literally nothing on this planet that somebody can do that automatically means someone else will have to like you. Stop, no, there is nothing, so whatever you’re thinking, the answer is no. You could always be there for me whenever I needed you, and that would be lovely, but that doesn’t mean I have to have sex with you. You could give me a billion dollars, and I’d frigging think you are the most awesome person ever, but I still have final say on what my vagina does and does not do, thank you very much. That just isn’t how attraction works. There is no one to blame when someone says that they’re not sexually attracted to you. So, stop blaming girls, and stop talking about the frigging friend zone like it actually exists. It doesn’t, it’s not legitimate, you’re actually not suffering, so get over it.  Start recognizing that you’re actually a little (or a lot) misogynistic, and then stop being misogynistic.

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You can find Jerika on twitter @dreamsofmarchesa

Horrific Crimes Against Women Happening Right Now, Everywhere- Part 1: Sex Trafficking

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I’m Canadian. I count myself lucky almost every day for being born in a country that allows me free speech, a democratic government, health care, and a (mostly) unbiased justice system. I know all of these things could be a lot better, but relative to places around the world, I have a lot to be thankful for.

It’s important for women in these parts of the world to continue fighting for equality, because if we’re not careful, many of the things women in the past have fought for and won for us will be taken away. This week, in fact, the Canadian Government voted on a motion to reopen the discussion on criminalizing abortion, despite Prime Minister Harper promising this would not happen in the last election.

BUT I DIGRESS: Another reason it’s important to stand up for our rights is because if we can’t stand up for ourselves, how can we stand up for the millions of women, girls, and children around the world who are treated worse than animals, things to be owned, sold and controlled, beaten, raped, and killed, every single day?

Now my original plan was to do a list similar to “5 Reasons you Dismiss Feminism,” but it quickly became apparent that the things I want to talk about are difficult to summarize, and each deserve a thorough discussion that would end up being too long for one blog post. Also, the issues I’m going to be talking about are pretty disturbing, so I’m thinking I’ll spread out the horrible so you don’t spend the rest of your day sinking into a deep depression because sometimes it seems like the world just sucks too much.

Yes, the world does suck. Especially if you made the poor decision to be born with a vagina. But I feel like having a real understanding of what happens to women around the world is crucial to understanding why feminism and the fight for equality is still so important.  Until I know that rape is no longer being used as a weapon of war, that women are no longer being stoned to death, or that sex trafficking is a thing of the past, I will never be able to say that women have achieved equality and that feminism, finally, is no longer necessary.

Horrific Crime #1: Sex trafficking

Sex trafficking is something everyone is aware of, at least peripherally. It’s discussed on the news; apparently the UN doesn’t like it. Someone somewhere is “cracking down” on it. I knew a little more about it than most after watching a documentary on the CBC called “Sex Slaves.” If you can find it, watch it. This documentary hit home with me because I finally realized that often times the girls being sold into the sex trade are my age or younger, and illustrated just how easily these women and girls are being lured into these traps.

How does it happen?

Imagine you’re a young woman from a poor family in Mexico, China, the Philippines, Moldova, the Ukraine, or fill in the blank. Your parents can’t work. There are no jobs to be found, and you have a bunch of younger siblings with mouths to feed. You come across an opportunity that looks legitimate: they will fly you somewhere else – Western Europe, Bosnia, Canada, America– and you can work as a Nanny, or janitor, or waitress, and you can send the money back to your family. After a year or so you can go back home to your family and be that much better off for it.

Sounds great. So you get on a plane with a few other girls. Once you get where you’re going, you’re driven to a brothel and given this information: you will be working as a prostitute, and you owe us money. It cost us a lot to get you here, so you need to work off your debt before you can even think about earning money. And don’t even think about running away, or arguing, or not working, because we will beat you until you give up, and if that doesn’t work, well we will just shoot you.

This is the reality for millions of women and girls around the world every. single. day.

This is just one way sex traffickers lure their victims. It is estimated that 800,000 people are trafficked worldwide every year. 79% of those victims are women or girls. That’s almost the entire population of San Francisco.

What really, really gets to me about this is that all these girls did wrong was be born somewhere were this could happen to them. That’s it. All they wanted to do was earn money to help their families. The only difference between me and these girls is that I happened to be born in Canada.

Who is paying for this?

It’s bad enough to know that this is happening, it’s worse when you realize who is creating the market for these trafficked women. What kind of vile, disgusting person would knowingly pay money to rape an often under-aged girl, who you know is here against her will?

If you get the chance, I recommend you watch the 2011 film The Whistleblower by Larysa Kondracki and starring Rachel Weisz. While you’re at it, read the memoir it’s based on “The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and one Woman’s Fight for Justice” by Kathy Bolkovac.  Just be prepared for being really, really angry, and maybe prepare those around you for rage-rants. You can watch the trailer here

This is a quick summary of Blokovac’s story.

Kathy Bolkovac was on a UN mission in Bosnia following the war. She was an American police officer and was working under a military contractor called Dyncorp, which the American Government hires to take care of international military and police obligations. Dyncorp was working with a 15 million dollar contract from the United States to supply troops to the UN Mission.

Bolkovac was in the human rights division of the mission, and specifically investigated cases involving crimes against women – cases generally looked over by local law enforcement officers. This lead Bolkovac to discover that local brothels were selling trafficked, under aged, women. From this Blokovac learned that among the clientele at these brothels were American soldiers from the UN Mission, sent to Bosnia to help restore order. They were also accepting bribes from the owner of the brothel to stop them from raiding the establishment. This was not a case of ignorance. The American soldiers paying to have sex with these girls were well aware that they were trafficking victims, and went out of their way to keep them like that.

When Bolkovac brought this to the attention higher up UN and Dyncorp officials, she was threatened with physical violence,  fired, sent home, and her reputation was attacked by many of her superior officers and UN officials. She brought her case to court and won, yet to this day she in unable to find employment within any international law enforcement agency. The men she had evidence against were given a slap on the wrist and sent home. Many of them have returned to the United States and back to their old jobs as cops, security people, or comfortable retirees

Dyncorp and the UN went out of their way to shut Bolkovac up and did nothing to stop these brothels from running, or to help the women being held there and forced into prostitution. This fact disturbed me almost more than anything else. It blows my mind that this is something that actually happened. In recent history. And oh yeah: The American Government continues to pay Dyncorp multi-million dollar contracts.

So, if you get as angry about this as I have, here are some links.

www.notforsalecampaign.org/

www.equalitynow.org/

www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fs-sv/tp/

www.amnesty.ca/

Let’s All Talk About Rape

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*Trigger Warning

So everyone is talking about rape. Legitimate rape, illegitimate rape, date rape, statutory rape, forcible rape, accidental rape, mistaken identity rape, it-wasn’t-me-officer-it-was-my-evil-twin rape, rape-y rape! ALL OF THE RAPES! My god! Here I was kind of under the impression that rape was rape, but we basically have a Chinese Food take-out menu of rape!

Let’s get something straight here. Obama pretty much summed it up when he said “rape is rape.” If a person commits a sexual act on a person who has not consented, guess what? RAPE! That simple. 

But why do people keep making up these different categories of rape? Because it makes it easier to dismiss rape victims, and in a lot of cases can turn the blame around onto them. Saying things like “legitimate rape” also implies that if a woman does get pregnant after she says she was raped, she was lying. It also implies that a lot of women lie about being raped. Or that victims that dress provocatively or take birth control pills or are in a relationship can’t technically be raped either, because they’re kind of asking for it.

I find it so very offensive that there is this wide spread belief that women are constantly lying about being raped. When was the last time you heard about someone lying about this? I can’t remember because even media reports of it are that rare. I’ve used this statistic before, but in Canada as few as 2% of reported rapes are falsified. And please don’t try to give me bullshit about how one woman lying about it gives us all a bad name. People are constantly on the lookout for that one story of a woman falsifying a rape claim, because for some reason discrediting rape victims has become a cultural pass time. Why? Why is this? Is it because on the very rare occasion that a man is found guilty of committing rape, he is permanently seen as a monster and his life is destroyed? Do we believe that his life shouldn’t be destroyed because he made one mistake? Because rapists don’t generally seem to care about ruining the lives of their victims. I really hope that’s not the case, but I honestly don’t understand this victim blaming culture we have surrounding rape.

Now, I think I’ve written the word “rape” enough times to last a while, and I think anyone who follows the news and uses earth logic have already spoken out about how ignorant, misinformed, and whatever other  adjectives you want to use to describe Todd Akin’s comments on the topic. So, though I don’t have anything new to say regarding Akin, I would like to use this as a warning sign, and as an example for anyone who wants to try to tell me that women have equality in this world.

It might be easy to try to dismiss Akin as one crazy-son-of-a-gun. Which he is. But he is not just “one.” He just happened to have a microphone. Despite being asked to step down, and the Republican Party no longer supporting his campaign, he might still win. Last I checked, he was still ahead in the polls. This means that millions people in Missouri agree with him, don’t really care, or live under a rock and haven’t read the news yet. Think about this. There are millions of people who honestly believe that women’s bodies have a way to “shut that whole thing down” and cling to the notion that “hey, we’ve never heard of anyone getting pregnant from rape,” in complete and utter disregard to mountains of evidence to the contrary. Now, the Republican Party and the Religious Right taking the “I’LL JUST PLUG MY EARS AND SING REAL LOUD TILL SCIENCE GOES AWAY!” approach to anything important isn’t new, but even though they have publically distanced themselves from Akin,  the Republican Party honestly don’t believe that women deserve the same rights as men. They used this opportunity to officially put forward their stance on abortion, and their intention to redefine was constitutes rape. Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan has sponsored every bill pertaining to the limitation of women’s rights he can get his hands on – including voting against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would help women earn equal pay. (This one isn’t even controversial. It’s just the basic “women are people too!” type deal.)

This all seems to come down to controlling women’s reproductive rights.  Viagra is covered by health insurance, but they’re fighting to have Birth Control Pills removed. They want to limit women’s access to birth control and abortion, yet they still want to make sure that men can still get a boner well into old age? They are even going as far to try to limit access to  contraceptive pills similar to the morning after pill, and to redefine when a fetus is considered a person in the eyes on the law (at the exact moment of conception) – thus making any form of abortion murder. So… men can (and should) have sex… but women… should not… unless they want a baby? Because having sex while being female makes you a slut, I guess. I don’t know who these men are planning to have sex with if they don’t want babies…

But I digress. This legitimate rape stance really makes the whole abortion thing a non-issue, because if a non-slut gets raped, it’s impossible for her to get pregnant! So that’s hardly an argument for abortion at all! And if a woman who SAYS she was raped does get pregnant, well she was full of shit, obviously! She keeps the baby! That’ll teach her! Because the only reason women should have sex (or have a romantic night of “Illegitimate rape” if you’re Todd Akin) is to have babies!

Seriously. What the fuck?

This shit storm that exploded over these last few days has made my head hurt. It’s discouraging, it’s disheartening, and it scares the hell out of me. I feel like one morning I’m going to wake up and read the headline “GOP Sponsor Bill to take away Women’s Right to Vote!”

I haven’t really said anything in this blog that hasn’t been said before, but I guess what I’m getting at is please, please, don’t tell me that we don’t need feminism, because I’ll probably lose my shit and go crazy-town-banana-pants on you, and I haven’t even started talking about what women put up with around the world.

Rocks. They put up with rocks. Like, they get stoned to death. Just a quick example.

 

*EDIT November 6, 2012, 9:22PM – Todd Akin was defeated, thank fuck. Let the “we have ways to shut that whole thing down” jokes commence.

“But Men Have Issues, Too!” Or, “Spot the Derailment Tactic!” with Mary B (Guest Feminist Kraken)

This week I am posting a blog by friend and fellow Feminist Kraken, Mary B. Mary actually wrote this hilarious, sarcastic, cutting, educated, and smart piece as a response to day long facebook argument I managed to get myself into over THIS article from Jezebel titled “What No One Else Will Tell You About Feminism.”

The thesis statement of this Jezebel tongue-in-cheek article is that “you’re either a Feminist, or you’re a bad person.” Maybe this declaration seems harsh, but since at its most basic level Feminism can be defined as “the radical belief that women are people,” it’s a statement I tend to agree with.

Now, I really didn’t intended to start anything by posting this – I just thought it was funny and smart. But then a facebook acquaintance, who shall henceforth be referred to as Burt, posted me a link to a video called “The Failure of Feminism” by youtube personality and insane person, The Amazing Atheist. Burt refused to call himself a feminist based on the arguments made in the video, which include statements such as “Feminism isn’t the same as Women’s Rights,” “Feminism is sexist,” “Patriarchy isn’t real,” “Male privilege isn’t real,” and “men have a lot of issues, too.”

So, I spent most of my day refusing to really discuss the matter with him, since after googleing the Amazing Atheist to really see if he had any kind of credentials to back up any of his statements, I found THIS RationalWIki on the guy. MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING!

The guy who made that video attempts to come off as some kind of sensible voice of reason, yet calls rape victims “vindictive bitches” for having the audacity to call themselves “victims” after experiencing something has horrific as rape. I sent this quote to Burt, and explained that I really didn’t want to discuss the opinions of a known woman hating crazy person, but was then accused of trying to derail the conversation by attacking the source and not the argument.

Rage Blackout. I couldn’t deal. It was too much for me. I had to walk away from my keyboard. Enter Mary to save the day with the fantastic reply I’ve posted below.

(Though I don’t recommend it, Mary pretty much takes out “The Failure of Feminism” point by point, so if you want to take a second to watch it for some extra context, it’s on the youtube.)

An Eloquent Response By Mary B

This is quite the collection of attacks on feminism right here in one place, isn’t it? Patriarchy isn’t real! Feminists are too fixated on women! And aren’t those whiny rape victims so annoying? Frame the whole thing in a stunning example of one of the most effective derailment tactics (which ironically – or hypocritically – Tessa is then accused of using when she tries to bring the discussion back to the point) and, oooh, it’s like Christmas to me! A really super rage inducing Christmas where the presents suck out my soul and pee on it!

‎*deep breath* Ah, where to begin? Not with the dismissal of rape victims, since you seem to understand that that is some monstrous ignorant bullshit right there, which is good since I don’t know how to argue with someone so out of touch with reality. But, Burt, surely you can understand why someone who genuinely believes that rape victims are “vindictive bitches” because they had the AUDACITY to call making it through each painful second of their lives with the horror of what happened to them “surviving” has given up every right to be a legitimate voice on women’s rights. This is a case where Tessa is completely valid in her dismissal of the source. That quote has EVERYTHING to do with the point being made. The point, by the way, is that feminism is an important thing we should all be invested in. Store that away. It’s going to get relevant later.

“Sexism is a big problem, but it’s far from a patriarchy.” I thought I should deal with this quickly before getting into the meat of my response, because, since you contradicted yourself in the remarkably small space of just one sentence, I don’t think you actually know what patriarchy is. Or possibly you also don’t know what sexism is. Sexism is the systemic oppression of a sex viewed as inferior (aka women), so if sexism is a big problem, then so is patriarchy. You can’t have one without the other.

Now let’s look at the examples of violations of men’s rights you brought up and ask some questions about them. Like, what is the core issue of each violation? Why are women more often awarded custody? Because women are natural caregivers,of course! Why is it easier for women to get away with crime? Because women are helpless and weak and can’t think for themselves and therefore could not have hurt anyone and/or were manipulated by a man into doing it and are practically victims themselves! Why is spousal abuse not taken seriously when a woman is abusing a man? Because a real manly man would be able to protect himself! (This is also a huge factor in why male rape victims are often dismissed and also plays a role in why many don’t report the assault in the first place.) These are all, of course, bullshit reasons. This is the negative effect of patriarchal binary standards of masculinity and femininity in full force. This is not me saying that these aren’t men’s issues; they are, and the party that is being hugely, grossly affected negatively here is the men. It’s a horrifying injustice, and it comes from an overarching gender inequality that affects EVERYONE. This is why the patriarchal belief of a superior gendered behavior (masculine > feminine) needs to be stopped, for everyone’s sake. This is why feminism and women’s rights are everyone’s fight.

You object to the word “feminism” and use instead “humanism,” so I’d like to take a second to deal with that. Humanism as a movement is a nice ideal, but it can’t exist while a hugely unequal gender binary permeates every corner of our current society. It can’t exist when the right to consciously and subconsciously be even considered human is still an issue for many, many people not just on the gender spectrum, but also the ethnic, differently abled, age, class, etc, spectrums. To insist on humanism is to lump all human rights issues together as one and dismiss the vastly different problems that each of these groups face. When we have achieved a society in which humanism can be a thing, we will no longer need it.

I know all men are not out to make things easier for men. However, there is an unfortunately vocal group that support what they misname “men’s rights” that is really the desire to maintain the current systemic and social privilege men have over women. With feminism, we want to be systemically and socially considered equal. With misandry, that equality (which would eliminate men’s privilege) is perceived as an imbalance in favour of women.

Now, I’ve made the supporters of misandry sound a bit like evil bigots out to get women, but in general it isn’t that simple. These people often do not believe they are sexist and therefore do not always act in an overtly sexist manner, and certainly do not do so on purpose. This belief that equality is actually favouring women is the result of warped worldview caused by privilege. See, the tricky thing about privilege is that it is completely invisible to those who have it unless someone or something draws their attention to it (and sometimes, even then, it remains invisible, though often willfully so). So when something threatens that privilege, it is not seen as equality but rather as a loss of rights.

But the important thing about all of this is that it is irrelevant to the discussion. That’s right, nearly everything I just said has nothing to do with what Tessa was arguing. Remember the point – the one I told you to store away – about how feminism should be something we’re all invested in? Yeah, we got a bit off topic, didn’t we? I mean, I made a valiant effort to tie what I was saying to that point when I talked about why the injustices men face are part of what feminism is trying to fix, but that was it. And that’s the real point of my response.

See, the important thing is that your first reaction to a post about the relevance of women’s rights / feminism to everyone was “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENNNNNN?!” I think it’s important to ask why that is. See, fact of the matter is, this post wasn’t talking about men. You want to talk about the unfair and damaging societal standards of masculinity men are held to? Fine. That is an important discussion I would enthusiastically participate in. You want to talk about the unfair treatment of men by the justice system? Great. You want to get the ball rolling on misandry? Go for it. The internet is a big place; there are plenty of places to discuss all that. It is not, however, the discussion happening here. Now is not the time, nor is this the place. You are frustrated with Tessa’s lack of a thorough rebuttal, but I’m going to applaud her for not engaging your attempt to derail the discussion. Bravo, Tessa.

The real lesson here? Don’t try to play “Spot the Derailment Tactic” with me. I’m really good at that game.

You can find Mary on twitter @CodeNameMreb and at her own blog “Mary Digresses”

https://releasethefeministkraken.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/clash-of-the-titans-1.jpg?w=300

5 Reasons you Dismiss Feminism (That are Total Bullshit)

I broke this week. A combination of things I’ve been reading online, seeing, and experiencing first hand have made me so angry that I can’t ignore that this is an issue anymore. I snapped. I broke. I can’t take it anymore.

I don’t want to rant. I don’t want to preach. What I hope to accomplish with this, if you take the time to read it to the bitter end, is to make you think.  To make you realize that equality still is an issue, and that “feminist” isn’t a dirty word. We have been asked to accept so much as “just the way things are,” but I’m tired. I’m tired of tolerating it. I refuse to accept that I have to put up with sexist, dismissive attitudes because “hey, we have equality, what’s your problem?” Fuck. That. Shit.

5 reasons you Dismiss Feminism (That are total bull shit)

1)      Feminists hate men

This is a stereotype is founded on extremist statements made by radical Feminists, and is reinforced by the media and popular culture.  Every group has its radicals. The Socialists have Hitler, Christians have Westboro Baptist Church, people from New Jersey have Snooki, and Cults have a bad name thanks to Charles Manson. There are always going to be the bat-shit crazy people waiting in the wings to jump on whatever cause happens by. Don’t take the words of one crazy person and judge an entire group by them. That’s a hasty generalization. And that is an invalid argument form. P does not equal Q.

ALSO: This study has shown that women who identify as Feminists are more likely than their non-feminist counter parts to be in a satisfying heterosexual relationship.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071015102856.htm

2)      Feminists are hairy

Feminists have a reputation of being hairy legged, dirty, flannel wearing, who gives a damn kind of people. But these days I’m pretty sure I just described a hipster.

Feminist?

What I’m getting at is not shaving your pits is not a pre-requisite to being a feminist, and likewise, if you see a woman who hasn’t shaved her pits, that doesn’t mean she IS a feminist. Maybe she’s lazy. Or doesn’t believe in the beauty standard. Or forgot. You don’t know her life! On occasion I myself am a dirty hairy person because I tend to be a lazy asshole, not because I am making a political statement. Sometimes I just want to see how long my leg hair will grow. (answer – forever. My leg hair can grow forever.)

If you thought someone was making a political statement every time some unwanted hair made an appearance, we would have the biggest social upset since Firefly was canceled. A person’s choice to shave or not to shave is personal, and not indicative of an entire group of people.

Again, this stereotype can be attributed to negative representations of women in the media and pop culture. I smell a pattern.

3)      Feminists don’t have a sense of humor

Just because I don’t split my gut laughing every time someone tells me to “go make them a sammich” doesn’t mean I can’t laugh. I also plan to not laugh at rape, sexual assault, pedophiles, and that story you and your buddy have about going to strippers that one time.

Things I will laugh at: Farts, poop, baby panda’s sneezing, people falling down, burping, and literally almost anything else. But not LOL Cats. I hate LOL cats.

For more on feminists having a sense of humor, check out this list of “25 Republican-Approved Ways to Say ‘Vagina’ Without Offending Political Pussies” My favorite is “Hermetically sealed shame-basket” http://jezebel.com/5918587/25-republican+approved-ways-to-say-vagina-without-offending-political-pussies

Also, to sum up this argument see Nellie McKay singing “Mother of Pearl” (The first line is “Feminists don’t have a sense of humor) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hU446HDtGv8

 

4)      All Feminists are Lesbians

This one is a biggie. It’s an issue within an issue within an issue. I don’t have time to go into it all in detail (hopefully in the future) but I’m going to start with an exchange I had recently, which is what pushed me over the edge and onto a blog.

A person I consider a friend and whom I have a lot of respect for opened my eyes to this issue. He is smart, educated, and a well meaning guy. After discussing some of my interests with him (which include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Amanda Palmer, Kate Nash, and playing video games) he said to me “Non tradition female roles, strong women, going against stereotype – it makes me wonder – what team do you play for?’

Oh my. Where to begin.

Before giving in completely to my rage at being asked such an obnoxious question stemming from a stereotypical generalization so inherent in our society, I managed to respond with “Being a feminist does not make one a lesbian. I admire strong women because I aim to be one.”

But it wasn’t the fact that he asked if I was a lesbian (albeit in a tacky, dated, and insensitive manner) that made me so upset – it was why he asked. Why does looking to up to strong, independent, female role models, automatically cause people to question your sexual orientation? What does your sexual orientation even have to DO with that? And why is it asked as if it’s a bad thing?

The only answer I can think of is that it minimizes potential issues and dismisses them. Why do we want to dismiss this? Because our society still believes in traditional gender roles, and if a woman acts outside of this then there must be something wrong with them. It’s a way to discredit feminists to the general public, and to discourage young women from wanting to become one.  And this leads to an EVEN BIGGER ISSUE: Why do we still think there is something wrong with lesbians, and why are they the most easily dismissible people in our society? Why does it matter that a Feminist may also be a lesbian?

“She says she’s a feminist? Well she must be a lesbian.” How does this make sense? And don’t pretend you haven’t thought this at some point in your life, we all have, because despite its immense lack of logic, it’s somehow become ingrained within our society. But think about it,

What is the thought process behind this argument? “Oh, well she’s a lesbian, of COURSE she doesn’t want women to be raped and murdered.” One simply has nothing to do with the other, and the other is not an insult. Why are lesbians (arguably) the most dismissed people in our society? Why is it that being a Lesbian suddenly voids someone’s opinion?

Gender equality is unequivocally tied to Gay Rights. Gay women are criticised for behaving or appearing more masculine, Gay men are criticised for behaving or appearing more feminine. And both are used as insults to anybody who wants to challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes, because we are all seen as LESS THAN a man.

I look up to these strong women because I dream of living in a world one day where being a “strong, smart, independent woman” is not considered “going against the stereotype.”

*it should be noted that I discussed this issue with my friend who asked it – again, not a bad guy. HE JUST DIDN’T THINK ABOUT IT. He has now.

5)      The fight for Equality has been fought and won

 

Famous Feminist Gloria Steinem (Google her) recently said in an interview about the current state of Feminism that “it’s hard to be angry about something you haven’t experienced.” I know this to be true. I’ve asked a lot of my gal pals how they feel about equality, and they don’t feel like they’ve been discriminated against, and thus, what would they be fighting? Well, all of the reasons I’ve listed above might be a place to start.

Ladies, we’re lucky to live in Canada. We have it pretty good here. But it’s ignorant to assume the battle has been won. We make less money than men. Abortion is still on issue. Every time a man yells “Nice tits!” out of his car window, that’s not one asshole – that is a symptom of a cultural inequality we have been raised to accept as a social normative.

This “Straw Feminist” trope is the first thing people think of when they think “Feminist.” An angry, man hating, militant woman, fighting against something that doesn’t exist. If you’ve stuck with me this far, take another 10 minutes and watch Anita Sarkeesian’s vlog where she explains the Straw Feminist trope, why it exists, and just how prevalent it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnJxqRLg9x0

My point is: the fight is far from over. Anita Sarkeesian? When she started a kickstarter to fund a research project exploring female tropes and representations in video games, she was the target of a mass interest harassment campaign. She was threatened with violence, murder, and rape. SOMEONE THREATENED TO RAPE HER BECAUSE SHE THINKS SOME VIDEO GAMES MIGHT BE KIND OF SEXIST. To reiterate what she said in her response to this: this is not a trivial issue. You cannot brush off this kind of behavior because hey, the internet is the internet.

I’m not saying all us women should start burning our bras – I know some of you really really need them – I’m saying don’t accept what you’re told. Ask Questions. Don’t take what rights you do have for granted. Pay attention to the little jabs you brush off every day. Always ask “why?” Who benefits from you not standing up for yourself?

And to all my male friends? You can be feminists, too! Think about what you’re saying and why you’re saying it. So much of this inequality is perpetuated by simply not thinking about it.

 

Ignorance is not bliss – it’s just ignorance. A Feminist is someone who believes in equality. For everyone.

You can read more about Anita on her tumblr: http://www.feministfrequency.com/

For more info on Gloria Steinem –http://www.gloriasteinem.com/

“Let’s Watch a Girl get Beaten to Death” a great post by Director and Feminist Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Buffy, Firefly):  http://whedonesque.com/comments/13271