Tag Archives: Women’s issues

The One About David Hon and His Dumb Article

It seems as if I am writing more and more of these responses than usual. Perhaps it is because there is a general increase of idiocy floating across my awareness than usual. Yay internet. Anyway, this most recent example is this oh-so-valiant article written by journalist David Hon, chronicling his reasons for not wanting to date a Feminist.

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Mmkay. Let’s go with that.

Even though there is just so, so much to unpack with this one, I am going to address one element which seems to continue to raise its ugly head, the one continuing misunderstanding about Feminism, which is mentioned in the very first sentence of the article.

“If you look for a reason to hate men, chances are you’re going to find it.”

-David Hon

Let’s ignore for a moment the fact that one can literally replace the word ‘man’ in this sentence with any noun and it would still work. Go ahead. Try it.

“If you look for a reason to hate hats, children, television, squids, bananas, motorcycles, Facebook, religion, eggs, Ghostbusters, round earth theory….. chances are you’re going to find it.”   

See? It works with anything. He did not stumble across some great secret tenant of feminism. Sorry.

But the truth is, and it is really, really sad that this even has to be explained, feminists don’t ‘hate men’. That is a diversionary tactic and quite an old one at that. There is so much information out there about what feminism stands for that not getting it reeks of ignorance.

In all actuality, we love men.

Love them.

You know why? Because the men that we surround ourselves with are awesome! These are the men who get it, who hear what we have to say, who recognize the inequalities surrounding us (all of us) on a daily basis. These men will change a diaper with the same skill and mental prowess as they would use to change a tire. These men know that taking care of their own children is called ‘parenting’, not ‘babysitting for mom’.

These men will hold a door open, but not because of patriarchal expectations of chivarly, but because they happened to be in front. They will not only watch the movie, but maybe even shed a tear when the dog dies. They will read the thing and talk about it after. They will acknowledge the culture of objectification surrounding women and little girls, the patriarchal gender norms which damages all children, girls and boys. They notice how difficult it is to find a Black Widow action figure to go with their son’s collection of Avengers toys. They realize how difficult it is that their partner can’t walk to the library without getting harrassed.

It is because of the existence of these men that we know bad behavior is not somehow inherient to male-dom. It is because of these men, that we know it is possible to function in the complex state of existing-while-human, to encompase traits of empathy without compromising one’s masculinity. (or compromising it, if that’s your thing).

When we draw attention to the inequalities surrounding us, we are not saying ‘We hate men’. We are saying, do better, and we are holding you accountable because we know it can be done. We know you can do better, because we are surrounded by those who do. Not only is it possible, but it’s also not all that difficult. I mean, look around.

Daniel Radcliffe gets it.

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John Legend gets it.

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George R.R. Martin gets it.

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Joss Whedon gets it.

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Even Sir Patrick Stewart gets it.

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And perhaps most importantly (to me anyway), this guy right here gets it.

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Free Comic Book Day 2016

In conclusion, it has been my experience that we as a culture are more prone to demonizing those who point out inequality, than we are to take a moment of self-reflection, examining in what ways we might be contributing to the problem. Furthermore, if you have a vocal outloud feminist in your life, congratulations. You made the cut. If not… well. I’m sure that’s purely by choice, right?

 

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An Open Letter to the Guy Who Unfriended Me Over Ghostbusters

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Yes, I’m talking to you now, but don’t think it’s because you are special in any way. I’m singling you out, even though you conducted yourself like nothing more than a common internet troll, because once upn a time we were friends, real-life, face-to-face friends. Something I assumed to still be true, right up until the moment you unfriended me. Over Ghostbusters. I want to be clear, I was perhaps a bit stunned at first, but I have long since moved past that, since you have so clearly shown your true colors.

Prior to that moment, I made the obviously erroneous assumption that we operated on an equal playing field. That if you commented with brash boldness, that I could reply with brash boldness. If you began name calling, I could reply in kind. After all, it’s all in good fun, right? You posted to my wall, and I posted to yours.

I’ve posted about a lot of things on my Facebook timeline. Some of it had to do with feminist stuff. Some of it has to do with fandom. I’ve posted about Star Wars. I’ve posted about Firefly. I’ve posted about the Dark Tower movie coming up staring Idris Elba. I’ve posted about how people are outraged that Rowland is cast by black actor, Idris Elba, when it is assumed he is white in the book. I’ve posted about the outrage aimed back at the original outrage. I’ve posted about how the media skews headlines to meet an agenda regardless of what the truth may be. I’ve posted about #blacklivesmatter. I’ve posted about Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, and I have even stated that I think we might face another holocaust if Donald Trump is elected. I have posted about lots of things. Yet, out of all these things, it is Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters! Which pushed you over the edge.

For whatever reason, the presence of a post about Ghostbusters seemed to offend you to the point of mouth-foaming frenzy. You claimed that “we” made this about “us” (Us being feminists, I guess?) Even though it is wildly documented repeatedly across the internet that this movie, much like other movies with female leads, was targeted by anti-feminist groups.

You stated that if something is to be equal, then men must be included too. Okay, sure let’s examine that for a minute. Women make up 50% of the population of the planet. That’s half. That means there are an equal amount of women existing as there are men. You with me so far? Good. Yet, they only take up 30% of speaking roles in movies. That is out of a survey of 7000 characters out of 300 movies, and only 15% in lead roles. So we’re still seeking that elusive equality of which you speak. This is of course, ignoring the fact that men were “included” way back in 1984 when Ghostbusters was released starring an all male cast.

 

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“Circle, circle, dot, dot! Now I got my cootie shot!”

If by chance, you were referring to being included in the discussion itself, you were plenty included in that as well. You began with the name calling and the accusations. When I responded to them, (see above) you then claimed that I was incapable of responding to a critical discussion. I am fully capable of that.

 

You, however, did not invite critical discussion. You name called. You posted pictures of phallus-shaped objects. You insisted that me and my friends show you our vagina because all feminists are all about showing off the vag, you said. (Why do people think we have some kind of hive mind? We are not bees.) You called us fat and ugly (an outdated and, quite frankly, lazy attempt at insult). And yet, you said I was the one incapable of critical discussion.

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And then, when things got too hot to handle, you shared my post to one of your other accounts, which I guess you forgot I was following. This prompted the beginning of the threatening language from your friends, followed closely by the unfriending. After all, I assumed a level playing field. Guess not.

All this becuase I posted stuff akin to what I usually post. A little bit of fandom. And a little bit of critical discourse. Why did that bother you so much, I wonder.

What is even more laughable is you actually used the sad argument that this remake ruined your childhood. Ruined. Your Childhood. That’s some serious gravy right there. You marked yourself when you said that. You claimed solidarity with all the legitimate trolls who flooded Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, and other sites to bash and downvote the movie before it was even released. It is one thing if someone watched it and legitimately did not care for it, but to go out of your way to sabotage a film which may not pander directly to your market is nothing less than that of a little boy throwing a fit and nailing the “no girls allowed” sign on his tree house

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“Except Mommy”

 

This may be tough for you to understand, what with having the majority of media represent you in a positive light and all, but the new Ghostbusters was made just as much for you as the old one was made for me.

Take that in for a moment. If that makes you feel left out somehow, then welcome to the club, brah. Think about it.

No one excluded you… except you.

For the record, I enjoyed the old Ghostbusters. Why? Because I possess the capacity to idenfify with characters who exist in a different demographic than myself. Women, minorities, gay people, trans people are constantly exptected to look to the white teethed CWM manly hero types as the driving force. In fact, if we want to take part in a fandom we kind of don’t have a choice in the matter. So when we do get a snippet of representation, we get a little bit happy. The playing field is not level. Not yet. So stop pretending it is.

Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy my fandom. Just as outloud as I do any other fandom. Not participating in any way is an okay option for you. I genuinely wish you well. Sadly, I don’t expect the same from you.

 

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“Let’s bust some Ghosts!”

 

 

I Don’t Want to be a Feminist Any More

What do you call a woman flying a plane?

Give up?

A Pilot.

Most of you who are familiar with me on any level know that I am a pretty vocal feminist for the most part. It has been a gradual evolution over the course of my life and I won’t go into the details of it at this time. The thing is that once you step into that, once your eyes are opened to the reality of what it means to be a female in America, the constant media input as to what the expectations are about your body, your behavior, your role in society in relation to those around you, be they other women, men, children, your boss, your subordinates, etc. Once you see that you cannot unsee it.

There are constant reminders that it is the job of the female to exist in a state of constant prettiness as determined by outside forces, even to the detriment of her own sense of self-worth, physical well being and personal autonomy, and ignoring any body of knowledge, training or skills that said woman may possess.

Some time ago I stumbled across an opportunity to submit an essay to a contest, the subject being Feminist Utopia. My first thoughts were, hey, I’m a writer and a feminist. This should be easy!

But I sat down to write it, and…. nothing.

The more I thought about what a feminist utopia actually means to me in my very heart of hearts, the more I realized that a feminist utopia is…. utopia. Just a regular old plain vanilla utopia. Everyone has plenty of what they want and they get to live their lives according to their own choosing. For anyone and everyone. That’s it. That’s all.

Some time ago I walked to the library by myself. On the way I got catcalled no less than five times. Do I think it happened because I’m just so danged attractive as to cause people to descend into some primal mating response of making loud noises with so as to attract a viable female? No. I don’t think that.

To tell you the truth I cannot no matter how much I try figure out why people cat call. Has there ever in the history of the human race been an instance in which the woman stops what she is doing and chases down the car to gather the phone number of the catcaller because she was some overcome with desire? I don’t know. Not to my knowledge. The message I received after about the third cat call was that I am not allowed to be out in the world, simply existing in my own skin without inviting commentary no matter how rudimentary it may be. I am not allowed to walk down the street alone with my own thoughts without the shrill reminder thrown at me from passing car windows that I do not belong to myself.

Just ignore it.

Okay and then what. One has to have a certain level of awareness to ones surroundings when walking, whether it be in the woods, down a side walk, through a parking lot, through the middle of the tundra, wherever. As human animals it is vital to be aware of one’s surroundings. To “ignore” outside noises is irresponsible to one’s baser instincts of self protection. Sure, I could just keep walking without responding, but this is not the same as “ignoring”. The damage has already been done. The happy observation of the blue jay just up ahead has been interrupted. The idea that I was rolling around for another novel has been cut short. The inevitable sense of danger that raises the ‘fight or flight’ instinct has already been triggered. Ignoring is just not an option.

Take it as a compliment.

It is so hard to address this one, because once again cat calls and wolf whistles are not compliments. They are harassment. What this statement is really saying is that you don’t have a right to be upset. You don’t have the right to feel threatened. If you do, then the problem is with you. This invalidates a persons reaction probably more than any other statement, because not only are you forced to hear the message but also you are not allowed to have your feelings about it. They are not valid and you should not feel what you feel. Not only are you subjected to receiving the unwanted attention, but you are also forced to feel how we tell you to about it.

Don’t go walking alone.

Okay. Really? I am grown woman, forty years old. I should be able to go for a walk in my own neighborhood if I want to.

Next!

Thing is, once a person is aware of it. You can’t turn it off. I would have loved, LOVED to walk through my own neighborhood without the intrusion of verbal harassment. I would love to live in a world in which my children can play with whatever toys they want to without getting the stink eye. (Guess what. As long as they are at home they already do!) I would love to watch a movie and NOT notice the plunging neck lines, the gratuitous camera angles, the badly written story lines (forced romantic elements, anyone?). I would love to live in a world in which both men and women are seen as fully encompassed human beings, fully capable of existing within their own agency.

Someone asked me recently if I was “that” kind of feminist, you know, a man hating feminist. Um…

If I want equality, which is kind of the whole point, why would I hate that which I consider equal to myself? No, I’m not that kind of feminist, and I don’t know of many who are. Not personally, not theoretically. I have yet to find that stereotype of the man-hating she-beast who berates anything male as being less than. That is just the same problem over again, and the complete opposite of the goal of feminism.

I would love to be able to relax and just exist, being in the world in the manner that I see fit without having to fight just to walk down the street. Once that becomes a reality, I will happily no longer call myself a feminist.

In the mean time…

The Black T-Shirt

So yesterday I went to a national store (rhymes with small-fart) to buy a black t-shirt. I knew going into the store that I needed a Large. How do I know this about myself? Well, it’s my body. I know I usually wear a large in shirts that are demarcated in the standard S, M, L sized brackets. Used to be that I wore mediums (Even then I still wore large, cuz I liked the baggy look.), but since I’ve had kids now I tend towards Large. Do I feel bad about it? Not really. It’s just something I know about myself.

So my family and I poke around the store for a bit, pick up some other things we need, so on and so forth. What I initially wanted was just one of those plastic bag-o’-black t-shirts that I see so often in the men’s section. (I have a husband, so yes, sometimes I’m in the men’s section.) But guess what! Those kinds of t-shirts don’t exist for women! But alas, I needed the t-shirts, so we meandered over to the women’s section. I thumb through the stack of shirts, pick out a Large and have my hubby hold it up to my back to see if the shoulder seams match up.

“This one looks like it’s too small,” he states.

“Too small… It’s a Large,” I say.

So we rummage around and find the next size up. The X-L. He holds it up and it seems to work. We grab a couple and head to the check out lines. Of course I spout a few angry sentences about the Conspiracy to Keep Women Down and how the arbitrary sizes of clothing is becoming rampantly ridiculous. My dear husband, being used to such expressions, nods in agreement and we continue on our way.

So here’s the thing. I don’t know if it’s because I lived the first seven years of my life in a European country, or if because I went to a Liberal Arts college, or if because I’m a smart person who understands that people are more than the whole of their parts, but for whatever reason I have never subscribed to the American notion that a woman’s worth lies in her appearance or her size. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when women verbally shame their own bodies or each others. There are FAR more interesting things about a person than what they look like. If we want to talk about it, let’s at least use the language geared towards personal health rather than appearance.

I began to follow the natural thought process through. If a person is told from infancy through a barrage of media imagery and language, by her friends and family, by those she loves and respects, that it is super important to be skinny and desirable and if one is not skinny and desirable then one has absolutely no value as a person and should hide herself from the world lest she burn someone’s eyes out for accidentally glancing in her direction, then she might be a little bit upset for having to wear an extra-large t-shirt. So if she is upset by this, then she believes she must take action to somehow acquire a different or smaller sized t-shirt (As she very well should! Freakish She-Monster!).

She now begins to renew her focus on obtaining a smaller physicality (Even though she’s already normal sized). Her mind is now in a cycle of counting calories, portioning out food, scale gazing, waist measuring, number crunching, and let’s not forget the emotional weight of the shame heaped upon her for being such a hideous waste of humanity. So what is the problem with this, you say? Why should it matter if a woman wants to focus on loosing weight? Well, I’ll tell you why it matters.

When a woman is devoting her brain power to this arbitrarily defined standard, she is not focusing her energy on… say, writing a novel, or researching a scientific phenomenon, or digging up a new dinosaur bone, or writing a marketing plan, or finishing her homework, or devising a method for reducing green house gas emissions in the atmosphere, or laughing with her children, or flirting with her spouse. You get the idea. How much brain power do women as the larger portion of society spend worrying about size and appearance? I’m just going with experience here, and I haven’t done any kind of formal research, but a good bit of my Facebook feed consists of people bemoaning their size or what diet they are on or how they have fallen off their diet, so on and so forth. These are accomplished strong women with bright brilliant minds who I frequently enjoy engaging with in discussion. So what about you, you ask? If you are wearing an Extra Large t-shirt you must be a huge beast of a woman. How do you manage to fit out the door every morning! Thing is, I fall square in the middle of the ideal weight range for a woman my age and height. Blam.

When I see things like an Extra Large label on a t-shirt for a woman my size I cannot help but think that there actually IS some sort of secret society all working together to keep the women distracted from merely existing to their full potential. But that can’t be right… can it?