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What Was I Saying about Perspective?

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I recently came across a blog editorial entitled, "Supreme Court Officially Sends Taxpayers into Early Menopause."

Just kidding! The actual title was Supreme Court Officially Emasculates Taxpayers.

That's right: Taxpayers are officially gendered male, and the supreme court has officially castrated them.

Now, I am not happy with what the Supreme Court did in this particular case, but I wouldn't call it "emasculation." The Supreme Court has decided that "State taxpayers have no standing ... to challenge state tax or spending decisions simply by virtue of their status as taxpayers." But I don't think that really qualifies as "cutting off the testicles" of taxpayers. I suppose you could argue that "emasculate" in this case simply means to "deprive of strength of vigor," but still, that definition only works if the person being weakened is male; you wouldn't say, "My grandmother was severely emasculated by her struggle with breast cancer."

So--anyone want to suggest again that I'm "overreaching" when I say that the world happens from the perspective of a man?

Carnival of Feminist XV

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Thanks to everyone who nominated posts, and special thanks to Natalie, who organizes and oversees the carnival.

Feminism, Friendship and Fun

Carnival is supposed to be a time of pleasure and fun, so this carnival begins with a post from Mind the Gap!, pointing out that Fun Is a feminist issue:

Fun is also a feminist issue because it builds friendship. And friendship is a feminist issue. Friendship among women and their male allies is radical because women are not really supposed to be friends with one another, and they're certainly not supposed to be friends with men on equal terms. In refusing to compete and sell each other out for the attention of men, we work to break down patriarchal norms.

The post was generated as part of Blog for Radical Fun Day, the idea of Brownfemipower. On Woman of Color, she writes about her fondness for the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (which contains both feminist and uh, not-so-feminist elements) and lists all the blogs who participated. Definitely check this out!

In the spirit of feminist friendship, Pomegranate Queen creates a blog Forum for Women and Trans Writers of Color to share written work for purposes of critical feedback and support, called Securing our Writing.

Here's to feminist fun and friendship--I hope you enjoy this carnival, and find some new friends here.

From the Perspective of a Man

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Last Thursday I met a friend for coffee at Barnes and Noble. (Yes, yes, it's so corporate of us, but I also make a point of frequenting the one independent coffee shop in town too, and my friend prefers B&N.) I was waiting for my grande decaf mocha in a mug (not a paper cup), when I noticed that Student C, a talented but uh, challenging student of mine, was sitting by the window, watching me. It was a shock to see him: this particular student absorbed so much of my energy during the year, but when I encountered him off campus, I realized that I hadn't had a single stray thought about him since I'd turned in my grades--god, it felt good to realize that.

"Hey, Dr. Holly," he said. "How you doing?"

"I'm OK," I said. "You?"

"Good," he said. "I'm writing!" And he gestured at the notebook before him on the table.

Then my beverage was ready so I chatted with my friend for an hour or two, and then I browsed books for a while, and then I went back to the café to get some water, and Student C was still there, writing, and he asked me a question about a course I'm teaching next semester, so I sat down to answer it. And we started talking about writing.

He asked if I'd written any poetry recently. "Nuh-uh," I said. "No inspiration." I paused. "You get any good assignments in your other classes? Any good ideas you want to pass on?"

"You should write from the perspective of a man," he said. He raised his eyebrows. He'd been in a couple of classes where we discussed gender; his ideas on the topic, although not the most misogynist I'd encountered, were still not what I'd call enlightened. And I'd been told that when I wasn't around, he often referred to women as "bitches," even women he liked.

"Nah, that doesn't really interest me," I said.

It's Always Somehow Her Fault Too

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In the "Thank God Someone Else Reads These Crappy Patriarchy-Loving Rags" category is this piece from Rebecca Traister at Salon. Ms. Traister neatly shreds an article from the Washington Post, which blames the impotence problems of young college men on... get this... horny college girls! That's right! In the "Jesus Fucking Christ" department, Laura Sessions Stepp has written an article called "Cupid's Broken Arrow" announcing that

for a sizable number of young men, the fact that they can get sex whenever they want may have created a situation where, in fact, they're unable to have sex. According to surveys, young women are now as likely as young men to have sex and by countless reports are also as likely to initiate sex, taking away from males the age-old, erotic power of the chase.

After explaining that impotence should be refered to as Erectile Dysfunction (ED for short), Ms. Stepp analyzes a few images of limpness and powerlessness, concluding that

Such images disturb because sexual performance is still, in the minds of many males, the sign of authority and dominance, perhaps the last such symbol in a society slogging its way toward gender equality. (Emphasis added--and gee, I wonder where guys get that?)

Those in the first years of testing their manhood may particularly see it that way.

When the tools work, there's nothing like it, says Devin Jones, a sophomore at Maryland, who read several how-to books about sex before going all the way with his first girlfriend. "When she got an orgasm, I felt like the man," he says in an interview, pounding his fists on his chest. Will Skelton, who graduated from George Washington University last year, says good sex "is all about self-worth. If you know you're a helluva lover, you're more confident with women and men."

And it goes on and on about various ways women put too much pressure on guys, and so ruin their erections...though it also takes some time to consider things men can do to themselves, like drink too much alcohol or coffee, smoke too much tobacco or marijuana, or take too many anti-depressants.

Luckily, before I read that crap myself, I got this excellent analysis from Ms. Traister:

Perhaps (and I realize this is pie-in-the-sky thinking here) the leveling of the sexual marketplace Stepp writes about, in which women and men enjoy and pursue sex with comparable vigor, could be good for both sexes. First, it could deflate some of the frequently unearned but long-held stereotypes about guys who'll have sex with anything that moves, who consider each conquest a notch on their bedpost, who are more turned on by the pursuit than by the physical pleasure of union. Perhaps, if sex with women is something that they didn't have to finagle and tease and chase their way into, if it was just a fun activity that two people who liked each other chose to engage in and that often felt really great, everyone would have a better time.

Bzzzzz! Apparently that answer was incorrect. According to Stepp, we're not looking at the maturation and increasing sophistication of the socio-sexual dynamic here. We're looking at the loss of manhood in its purest form. Guys who can't get woodies for any old girl on the block are a poignant representation of the crumbling power of the erect phallus, which is, after all, as Stepp writes, "in the minds of many males, the sign of authority and dominance, perhaps the last such symbol in a society slogging its way toward gender equality." Wow. Stepp isn't doing the men she's writing about any favors in treating their condition not as a treatable health problem related to stress or their recreational habits, but as an actual loss of their masculinity, the ultimate cost of gender equality.

Only Rapists Can Prevent Rape

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Borrowed from The Adventures of Dr. Diana, who invites readers to repost this entry.

A lot has been said about how to prevent rape. Women should learn self-defense. Women should lock themselves in their houses after dark. Women shouldn't have long hair and women shouldn't wear short skirts. Women shouldn't leave drinks unattended. Fuck, they shouldn't dare to get drunk at all. Instead of that bullshit, how about:

If a woman is drunk, don't rape her.
If a woman is walking alone at night, don't rape her.
If a women is drugged and unconscious, don't rape her.
If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don't rape her.
If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don't rape her.
If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you're still hung up on, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in her bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in your bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is doing her laundry, don't rape her.
If a woman is in a coma, don't rape her.
If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don't rape her.
If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don't rape her.
If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don't rape her.
If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don't rape her.
If your step-daughter is watching TV, don't rape her.
If you break into a house and find a woman there, don't rape her.
If your friend thinks it's okay to rape someone, tell him it's not, and that he's not your friend.
If your "friend" tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there's an unconscious woman upstairs and it's your turn, don't rape her, call the police and tell the guy he's a rapist.
Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it's not okay to rape someone.
Don't tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don't imply that she could have avoided it if she'd only done/not done x.
Don't imply that it's in any way her fault.
Don't let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he "got some" with the drunk girl.
Don't perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions. You can, too, help yourself.

If you agree, re-post it. It's that important.

Note: This goes for any gendered rape, male on female or female on male or female on female or FTM on MTF or non gendered to dual gendered and so on and so forth....

I've generated a fair amount of heat for myself because of my announced intention to stay the fuck away from Mormon feminists whose primary allegiance is to the Mormon part of that phrase rather than the feminist. I came to this decision after an experience I allude here, about finding a Mo-fem blog where a married non-feminist dude (he's a HUMANIST instead, but he tries to muster some interest in feminists, since he's married to one) came along and asked the age-old question, "But what about MEN?"

And wouldn't you know, most of the women started falling over themselves to say, "Oh, don't ever imagine that we'd forget about MEN! We're the NICE variety of feminists! We LOVE men! Oh, yes, men suffer! Men's problems are important! Men's problems are EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT TO DISCUSS HERE!"

And then I came along and left the following comment:

A Guy from Dorking

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Found this story in the Times of London on the results of--I'm not making this up--The National Housework Survey of Great Britain 2006.

This survey was commissioned by a British cable television channel, the Discovery Home and Health channel, I guess so it could create a reality TV show, Cleanaholics, which, according to the Times, will "[follow] 27 women and three men as they plough through their chores. " The website claims the show "delves into the psychology behind [the cleanaholics'] routines, and asks – is cleaning the new therapy?" A provocative question indeed!

The headline of the Times story is, "The women who think housework is better than sex," because a third of the 2000 women surveyed reported that cleaning house was more rewarding than having sex.

But I think the real gem of the Times story is the final paragraph:

Graham Peters, 40, of Dorking, one of the minority of superclean men (about one in ten), says he wishes he could cut down on his cleaning habit. “I’ve always been tidy,” he said, “but if I got a young female to clean for me, I would give up tomorrow.”

"If I got a young female to clean for me"?!

Has he ever looked into a cleaning service?

There are plenty of things I would give up tomorrow if I could get someone else to do them willingly, graciously, free of charge, for me: mowing my lawn, servicing my car, dry cleaning my fine woolens.... Oh wait! I forgot! I CAN get someone else to do those things for me, willingly and graciously! I just have to PAY FOR IT, because people tend to expect to be paid for their work!

Oh, wait: I forgot something else: People expect to be paid for their work.... unless that work is housework, and it's done by a woman.... Then it's supposed to be UNPAID. AND it's supposed to come with the added bonus of FREE SEX once the house is clean.

And yet, I imagine that given Graham's attitude, any "young female" he could find to clean for him would be one of the women who find housework more rewarding than sex. Who wants to get it on with a guy who's primarily interested in free maid service? I wonder if they asked THAT of the women who prefer housework to sex.

Advantages of Being a Woman Artist

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Not long ago, a friend sent me a guerrilla girls postcard detailing some of the "advantages of being a woman artist." I thought I'd share, though you can find--and order--a poster of this list here.

Working without the pressure of success

not having to be in shows with men

having an escape from the art world with your four free-lance jobs

knowing your career might pick up after you are eighty

being reassured that whatever art you make it will be labeled "feminine"

not being stuck in a tenured teaching position

seeing your ideas live on in the work of others

having the opportunity of choosing between career and motherhood

being included in revised versions of art history

not having to undergo the embarrassment of being called a genius

This Is Your Life (If You're a Woman)

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Borrowed from the Independent UK's Woman's Day Coverage

1% of the titled land in the world is owned by women

A baby girl born in the UK is likely to live to 81 - but if she is born in Swaziland, she is likely to die at 39

70% of the 1.2 bn people living in poverty are women and children

21% of the world's managers are female

62% of unpaid family workers are female

9% of judges, 10% of company directors and 10% of top police officers in the UK are women

Women comprise 55% of the world's population aged over 60 years old and 65% of those aged over 80

£970,000 is the difference between lifetime earnings of men and women in the UK finance sector

85m girls worldwide are unable to attend school, compared with 45m boys. In Chad, just 4% of girls go to school.

700,000,000 women are without adequate food, water, sanitation, health care or education (compared with 400,000,000 men)

Women in full-time jobs earn an average 17% less than British men

Women in part-time jobs earn an average 42% less than British men

67% of all illiterate adults are women

1,440 women die each day during childbirth (a rate of one death every minute)

1 in 7 women in Ethiopia die in pregnancy or childbirth (it is one in 19,000 in Britain)

In the US, 35% of lawyers are women but just 5% are partners in law firms

In the EU, women comprise 3% of chief execs of major companies

12 is the number of world leaders who are women (out of 191 members of the United Nations)

Men directed 9 out of every 10 films made in 2004

Also see this report from the UN on the fact that women are denied representation, making war on poverty hard to win, this story on advances made by women around the world, this harrowing report on hardships still imposed on Afghan women bu Muslim zealots, and this item on the fact that men in Britain are being advised that failing to obtain explicit consent for sex could result in rape charges--in other words, men are being told that if a woman is unconscious and a guy has sex with her, that ain't consensual.

So, I just learned that Women and Authority by my friend Maxine Hanks is soon to be available in its entirety on the web. For those of you who've never heard of this book, it's one of the ovunal (as opposed to seminal) texts in Mormon feminism.

I really wonder why Signature is putting the book on the web, where no one will have to pay for it. Yes, the web makes a great archive, provided you've got a working computer and internet access. And documents on the web can be printed out, although it takes incredible amounts of energy. And I also suspect that this means that from here on out, Maxine will receive NO ROYALTIES for her work.

There is plenty more I could say about Signature Books and the way it treats women. But I think this pretty much sums it up: if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll see a link to "Mormon Housewives." The site linked to is actually a blog of Feminist Mormon Housewives, but the good ol' tools of the patriarchy at Signature just erased the word feminist. It makes for a pretty significant difference, especially since the link comes right after one for "Mormon Polygamy."

Way to go, boys.

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