Friday, May 28, 2010

Contemplating Some Purposes of Patriarchy

So, everyone's heard the old Rush Limbaugh canard that feminism was established "to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society."

Isn't it awesome when men who are not attractive by their own superficial, "conventional" standards of hotness falsely accuse an entire group of women of being ugly and of, therefore, building a movement around obtaining societal resources that do not hinge on their looks?

It's interesting, I suppose, but not surprising when we remember that patriarchs are full of projections and reversals.

If movies, TV programming, and reality often attest, it was patriarchy, actually, that seems to have been established to allow unattractive and elderly men easier access to "conventionally attractive" women.

Or, wait wait, here's another! It was patriarchy that was established to allow stupid men easier access to societal resources that they could not otherwise garner if they were required to compete against both men and women, as opposed to just men.


*Writing this feels appearance-shamey and I want to be up front about that. My intent is to highlight the double standard in place whereby men, wealthy ones especially, are not held to the same standards of beauty, youth, and thinness that all women are held to. It is hard to highlight that double standard without implying that men should be shamed just as women are. Ideally, neither men nor women would be shamed by their appearance, age, or weight. It just really irks me when unattractive men don't see their own privilege that enables them to make a sweeping judgment about an entire group of women whilst their own appearance is, of course, "off-limits." I hope that is clear.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

From the Center to the Margins

Previously, we read about the experience of Ben Barres, a scientist who transitioned from female to male when he was 50. Barres has compared living as a male scientist with living as a female scientist and, to briefly summarize, he believes that he is taken more seriously as a man in the everyday world and in the scientific community than he was as a woman.

Via Geek Feminism Blog, a recent article discusses Barres' experience and also the experience of male-to-female transgender scientist. In contrast with Barres experience of gaining some of the privileges of being male, a notable privilege of which is the authoritativeness people grant to the male voice, Joan Roughgarden had a different experience. After presenting a controversial scientific theory:

"At a meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Minneapolis, Joan said, a prominent expert jumped up on the stage after her talk and started shouting at her. Once every month or two, she said, 'I will have some man shout at me, try to physically coerce me into stopping …When I was doing the marine ecology work, they did not try to physically intimidate me and say, 'You have not read all the literature.''

'They would not assume they were smarter. The current crop of objectors assumes they are smarter.'"

Another privilege, more aptly labeled an ignorance, that many men possess is the belief that they are inherently and automatically more intelligent and knowledgeable than women. This sense of illusory superiority is the result of the tendency to grant more weight to the male voice than the female voice. If one is always treated as though one has Very Important Things To Say and notices that women are not granted this same level of deference, it is only natural for men to come to believe that they possess superior intelligence and ideas.

She continues:

"My own salary has drifted down to the bottom 10 per cent of full professors in the School of Humanities and Sciences, even though my research and students are among the best of my career and are having international impact, albeit often controversial.

You get interrupted when you are talking, you can't command attention, but above all you can't frame the issues. Ben has migrated into the centre whereas I have had to migrate into the periphery."

Welcome to the club, Joan.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pulling Away the Mask: Is Extermination the End Goal of Anti-Gay Activism?

[Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Eliminationist rhetoric]

There's always that moment, when you're watching a show like Law and Order: SVU. The defendant, an accused rapist, is sitting on the stand in the courtroom looking like a choir boy wearing his clean suit and sheepish smile. As the viewer, you know he did it, but you don't think the jury's buying it because the guy "looks like a nice guy" all cleaned up.

As the prosecutor recounts a particularly gruesome detail of the attack, the camera cuts to a close-up of the rapist, who is subtly smirking as he re-imagines his handiwork. The jury, of course, doesn't notice this secret smirking.

But then, the atmosphere changes.

The prosecutor, Alexandra Cabot perhaps, isn't backing down. She, rather than he- the man- has authority in the courtroom, and she isn't backing down. She's pressing him and he can't stand it. Where was he? What was he doing? When was he? Where was he, again? And what did he do after he raped her? She's not letting up and that pisses him off and so, in a fit of rage, through spittle and red-faced tears he confesses.

On the stand. In front of the judge and jury. In the light of the day. He says he did it. He raped that bitch. And he'd do it again if he had the chance.

The courtroom collectively gasps. Alexandra walks away, no more questions your honor.

There's always something viscerally satisfying about that moment. That Nice Guy mask slips away, revealing civility to be nothing but a performance.

With respect to the anti-LGBT movement, there are those who demonstrate similar losses of control. Although they themselves might not label it as hatred, what they do demonstrate is repugnant, nonetheless, and identifiable as hatred.

Likewise, there are those who, although virulently opposed to LGBT rights, advance qualitatively different arguments than those whose opposition to Everything Gay seems to be grounded mostly in their opposition to "one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.'" As it becomes less socially acceptable to show open hostility toward gay people, some peddle a softer bigotry of heterosexism, insisting that they don't hate gay people or anything, they just think every marriage should have one man and one woman in it and what's so bad about that?

But every now and then, that mask of civility slips a little, and you wonder if maybe they've revealed more than they have intended. You start to wonder, did they just accidentally show their true extreme, violent thoughts about gay people, or did they merely choose their words poorly and irresponsibly, without regard to the logical extension of their words? I ask that question out of sincerity, for we should be wary of attributing to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.

In making his case against same-sex marriage, our anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-equality friend Playful Walrus likes to use an argument that I've always found incredibly troubling. In a nutshell, he believes that two people of the same-sex should not be allowed to marry (among other things) because "...same-sex couplings have not produced anything for society, except for the spread of disease."

Perhaps recognizing the extremity of such a statement, in recent times he has tempered his statement to:

"...[A]s I've said before, no matter how angry it makes people, the demonstrable fact of the matter is that heterosexual coitus, and by extension marriage (in addition to other reasons), benefits society in ways that same-sex pairing can't. It naturally produces new citizens, and marriage gives those new citizens a legally and socially bound mother and father, role models, nurturers, and protectors from both of the two sexes who demonstrate beneficial interaction between the sexes. That two men commit sodomy with each other does not allow them to contribute to society in any positive way that they couldn't have without ever touching each other."

Here, it's important to note that these statements do not so much make me, a gay person, feel "angry" but rather they make me, a gay person, feel unsafe. I sit here and think about the implications that follow from Walrus' premises that (a) same-sex pairings contribute nothing positive to society and (b) that same-sex pairings only contribute disease. Essentially, all Walrus is explicitly noting here is that some heterosexual couples can reproduce together whereas same-sex couples cannot, yet the language he uses to convey this statement of the obvious is incredibly troubling.

It is a slip of facade that reveals an extreme christian-darwinist view that measures a couple's value to society solely in its members' capacity to reproduce with one another. He has chosen to wrap his observation about how "heterosexual coitus" can create babies in the language of extermination. As elle at shakesville writes of a fire ant extermination commercial that sounds quite similar to Walrus' speech, "it relies on language and imagery used throughout history to talk about the extermination of people, as well." As elle further notes, it doesn't take a huge leap of logic to go from:

"There’s nothing good about [ __________ ]. They don’t [engage in beneficial activities]. All they do is [cause a specific problem]. That’s their sole contribution to mankind."


"And that’s why, they have to die."

I don't know whether Walrus is in favor of literally exterminating gays or same-sex couples from society, but I would not be at all surprised if he at least believes the world would be a better place without LGBT people, same-sex couples, and/or homosex in it. After all, if a certain type of "coupling" contributes nothing positive to society and only spreads disease, it's not a huge stretch for a person to want to eliminate such couplings from society. That's certainly the sentiment behind Uganda's pending anti-homosexuality bill that mandates the imprisonment and execution of "convicted" homosexuals, which by the way, not a single person at the gay-obsessive group blog that Walrus contributes to has bothered to condemn, acknowledge, or oppose.

When some folks are so adamantly anti everything gay, refusing to acknowledge or condemn injustice against LGBT people, it's hard to know what, if anything, they are for when it comes to homosexuality. Just the other day, in a post complaining about California's Harvey Milk Day, Walrus noted that "one can be for 'gay rights' and against be [sic] neutering of marriage," suggesting that he's actually for gay rights and is not, actually, "anti-gay."

This claim is quite common, although when pressed on which "gay rights" such folks favor, their lists are rarely forthcoming. Their actual, tangible advocacy for the few, if any, "gay rights" they favor is almost always nil. Instead, they will tell you that they are "for" marriage and family and god and so forth. But these institutions, from their perspective, are ideally devoid of gay people, people who engage in homosex, and/or people who have same-sex partners.

So, naturally, the excluded non-heterosexual is led to wonder. Where, specifically, do the LGBT folks and the same-sex couples belong in the ideal world of those who oppose LGBT rights and same-sex marriage? In a heterosexual relationship? In "reparative therapy"? In a same-sex "civil union" that's Definitely Not Marriage? Where? Anywhere?

On the extreme end, I do believe that some anti-gays do want gay people, the gay identity, and/or same-sex behavior to be literally exterminated from the world. At a less extreme end, I believe that many anti-gays want this extermination to happen metaphorically, through the social expectation for gays to assimilate into heterosexuality. By conditioning the receipt of social goods, including the labels of "normal" and "marriage," on heterosexual behavior, they seek to coerce gay people into heterosexuality and then marginalize, stigmatize, and invisibilize those who do not comply.

It's a mask that doesn't slip too often, but it slips damn often enough. (See also, Conservapedia's article on the "homosexual agenda" that calls Iran's policy of executing gay people "exemplary.")

The general public laughs off the likes of Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps and is rightly horrified at Uganda's pending bill, but many people are more willing to listen to someone with a message that sounds sort of reasonable and civil. The connect-the-dots picture that is revealed by extending Walrus' statements to their logical conclusion is horrifying- whether taken literally or metaphorically- yet by not explicitly drawing these conclusions himself, he and like-minded cohorts can back up with their hands in the air and say they love gay people, they really really love us, they just don't want us to have homosex.

Or teach children.

Or have homo relationships.

Or have legal same-sex marriage.

Or raise children within a homo relationship.

(The restrictions on our lives tend to increase the more one presses the average anti-gay on which activities we should and should not be able to engage in.)

Perhaps it is presumptuous to assume that Walrus and like-minded "marriage defenders" would be in favor of eradicating homosexuality, same-sex pairings, and/or LGBT people from the planet. Yet, based on many of their own overstated beliefs that homosexuality is an inferior way of being that has only negative consequences for society, I believe it would be similarly presumptuous and, also quite dangerous, to assume that they would oppose such a drastic measure.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

An Exemplary Policy: Commendable, Worthy of Imitation

[Trigger warning: Anti-gay violence and eliminationist rhetoric]

From time to time, I take a stroll through Conservapedia, a Wikipedia knockoff that claims to be "A Trustworthy Encyclopedia" but which, in reality, is a rightwing propaganda source. And poorly-written at that.

For instance, the article on "Lesbianism" explains "Homosexuality normally focuses on men more than in women, but the problem is not minor." Homosexuality isn't a sentient being. It is no more capable of "focusing" on men or women than is an apple tree.

In and article on the "Homosexual Agenda," somebody included this gem:

"Vic Eliason of Crosstalk America rightly points out that if all Americans turned homosexual it would only take a few generations for the United States to lose most of the population of the country through lack of procreation. This would make the US more vulnerable to attack by our enemies."

Aside from the minor detail that Turning Everyone Gay has yet to be added to the Homosexual Agenda (and I would totes know if it was), it is cute that the author's primary concern is not so much the dying off the American population but that this lack of Americans would "make the US more vulnerable to attack by our enemies."

Speaking of homosexuality, did I mention that some of the longest and most numerous articles on Conservapedia are about homosexuality? This phenomenon is not surprising, of course, as it is a truth universally-acknowledged that some Christians love talking about homosexuality more than they do about Jesus or the Good News.

Shorter them: Homosexuality is sick and wrong and, therefore, gay people should die.

Yes, really.

Many anti-gay folks rarely reveal, even if they harbor such thoughts in their hearts, an explicit statement that gay people should be murdered for being gay. Conservapedia, however, let's it all hang out. The last paragraph of its "homosexual agenda" article reads thusly:

"Some well known individuals/groups in the United States who actively oppose the homosexual agenda are: Focus on the Family, Peter LaBarbera's American's for Truth, the Traditional Values Coalition (Louis Sheldon is a chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition), and Matt Barber of Concerned Women of America. Outside of the United States, Iran is notable for their exemplary policy of executing known or suspected homosexuals."

Tomorrow, let's read between the lines and ask ourselves whether less courageous anti-gays would agree that the elimination of "homosexuals" and/or homosexuality would constitute an "exemplary policy."

Monday, May 24, 2010

MacKinnon: On Man as Default

I was first introduced to the ideas of legal scholar and feminist Catherine MacKinnon almost a decade ago during a Feminist Jurisprudence course in law school.

Sadly, I don't think I appreciated either MacKinnon or that class as much as I could have back then. Law school has a way of sometimes sapping the curiosity right out of someone. I would love to audit that class now, with a bit more real world experience and feminist consciousness under my belt. Until then, I have settled for reacquainting myself with feminist legal theories and exploring them further on my own.

MacKinnon is a dominance feminist who, among other things, argues that legal strategies to make women equal to men are unsatisfactory because they continue to center men as the norm. In a recent interview, she expands on this idea:

"'De Beauvoir showed the problem: that the woman is the `other,' and the man is the standard. I am showing something else: that the things that have been depicted as a solution to the problem - that is, the feminist struggle for equality, for the equalization of the rights of women to the rights of men - are in fact part of the problem.'

MacKinnon makes it clear that the very fact of wanting to be equal to men perpetuates the assumption that men and masculinity are the model that determines what is worthy and what is desirable. 'If we want to achieve equality in such conditions of inequality, our way will become endless,' she comments."

We see this centering of the male experience in the way that women are encouraged to be and think like men in order to have successful careers, which only reinforces male dominance. For sci-fi geeks out there, think of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series, where femininity has been devalued and erased as women have been assimilated into the maculine-human norm. Even though women have achieved formal equality, men remain the default human being.

Her argument is interesting because, on the surface, it borders precariously close to different theorists, and many anti-feminists, who say that men and women are inherently different. While MacKinnon would likely agree that some biological sex differences exist between men and women, she would argue that more important questions are (a) how and whether the law is used to create and reinforce sex/gender hierarchy and (b) how the legal system and male dominance have exaggerated sex differences, making many of these differences appear to be "natural" when they are not.

And, of course, MacKinnon has a lot to say about rape and pornography. Watch how she deals with one mansplainer:

"MR. WATTENBERG: ...Rape -- you know,we keep coming back to this. Rape is against the law. Rape is a vulgar, terrible, murderous crime. I mean, who says that anybody --

MS. MacKINNON: And women -- and what women know about it --

MR. WATTENBERG: Who says that anybody is saying rape is okay?

MS. MacKINNON: It is not taken seriously in this society.

MR. WATTENBERG: Oh, that's just not true. I mean --

MS. MacKINNON: I mean, I'm glad that you take it so seriously, but I think it would behoove you to realize --

MR. WATTENBERG: I mean, do you think that people --

MS. MacKINNON: -- that the society you live in does not.

MR. WATTENBERG: -- that people who are husbands and fathers and brothers don't take rape seriously?

MS. MacKINNON: Well, not only don't they, but the incest figures suggest that they participate in it to a considerable degree.

I definitely need to re-introduce the word "behoove" into my vocabulary.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fun With Facebook Acquaintances' Status Updates

One lady proudly admits:

"This fish needs her bicycle."

Sadly, it's probably true.

(See e.g., Right-Wing Women).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Andrea Dworkin Quote of the Day

Andrea Dworkin reminds us that feminism is related to LGBT rights advocacy:

"All of the sexual prohibitions in Leviticus, including the prohibition against male homosexuality, are rules for effectively upholding the dominance of a real patriarch, the senior father in a tribe of fathers and sons. The controlling of male sexuality in the interests of male dominance- whom men can fuck, when, and how- is the essential in tribal societies in which authority is exclusively male..... The heinous crime is not in the sexual act committed per se; it is certainly not in any abuse of women per se. The heinous crime is in committing a sexual act that will exacerbate male sexual conflict and provoke permanently damaging sexual antagonism in the tribe among men.... The subordination of women was a means to male social cohesion."

- Andrea Dworkin, Right-Wing Women (128).

And herein lies an explanation as to why so many anti-gays are much more outraged and disgusted by sex between two men than they are by sex between two women.

To those who oppose homosexuality on the basis of male and female "complementarism," sex is an interaction between two people a man and a woman, who have an inherent hierarchical relationship to one another. What two "subordinate" (female) types of humans do with one another is not nearly as threatening to this order as what two "dominator" (male) types of humans do together.

Or, as David Benkof, who is also an Orthodox Jew, opponent of same-sex marriage, and self-described bisexual, explains, in Judaism:

"Unlike men, women have no requirement to marry or have children....As far as I understand it, it is not against halacha for a Jewish woman to love another woman, live with another woman, and even share the same bed with another woman. While it is no doubt deeply disappointing to you as parents that she has not chosen to marry a Jewish man and have children with him, it is a legitimate Jewish choice."

A man, you understand, must marry a woman in order to preserve male dominance. What two women do, not so important.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Woman Plays Baseball: Is Good At It!

The channeling of girls into softball and boys into baseball is another of those arbitrary instances of sports sex segregation that doesn't make much sense.

Now, I'm not saying that men and women should necessarily play baseball together. I think it's possible that women could successfully compete with men in the sport, but (a) given that girls don't grow up playing baseball the way that many boys do and (b) baseball has a little steroid problem that exaggerates male strength, it's hard to say.

I'm also uncomfortable with implicitly saying that, since men and boys play it, baseball is the better or more elite sport. Softball is a legitimate sport in its own right and, also, softball pitcher Jenny Finch can strike out Major League Baseball players.

So, what bothers me about the baseball/softball sex segregation is that it results in ensuring that boys and girls cannot be compared to one another and of exaggerating any biological differences between the sexes. Given that boys do not seem to gain significant physiological advantages until puberty, I do think girls can (and often do) successfully compete against boys in baseball, especially when that pesky assumption of male athletic superiority doesn't get in the way.

Unfortunately, this softball/baseball segregation is rarely questioned in American society. Thus, it's nice to be reminded that, despite not being male, girls and women too can play baseball.

Via AfterEllen, blogger Heather Hogan writes about
Japanese lady pitcher Eri Yoshida who, apparently, is quite good at playing baseball with the boys and has joined a professional independent league baseball team in the US. Writes Hogan:

"So, here's the real (non-fashion) deal with Yoshida: She's been a household name in Japan since 2008, when she became the first woman to be drafted by a pro baseball team (she was still in high school!). She toured with the Arizona Winter League earlier this year, pitching ten games and going 1-1 with a 4.79 ERA. Her fastball only clocks about 80MPH, but her signature knuckleball — taught to her by Tim Wakefield — is what she's placing her hope on."

Good luck to her!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Insecurity of Dominance

After recently passing a notorious racial profiling immigration law, Arizona has now banned students from learning about real things that really happened in history.

Specifically, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a law making the teaching ethnic studies illegal. From the Times:

"Under the law signed on Tuesday, any school district that offers classes designed primarily for students of particular ethnic groups, advocate ethnic solidarity or promote resentment of a race or a class of people would risk losing 10 percent of its state financing.

'Governor Brewer signed the bill because she believes, and the legislation states, that public school students should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people,' Paul Senseman, a spokesman for the governor, said in a statement on Thursday."

Generally, I have somewhat conflicting thoughts on ethnic/women's/LGBT/race studies. On the one hand, ghettoizing these Other Studies' courses into their own classes can reinforce the conception that the histories of Others is not Real History, and is less important than other historical narratives. However, because the historical narratives from the perspective of Others are rarely prioritized or centered in Real History courses and texts, Other History courses are still needed so people will be exposed to history about folks other than wealthy, powerful white guys (oh, and the obligatory sections about Martin Luther King, Jr and Susan B. Anthony, of course).

I have heard many criticisms of Other Studies from those who are threatened by people learning about real things that really happened in history. Some mock Other Studies as being inherently less academic than Real History, as less important than Real History, or as contributing to some decline in "Western Civilization." In Arizona, this ban on ethnic studies is predicated on the idea that it is Mexican-Americans who are unfairly and divisively marking themselves as Other, when in reality, it is always dominant groups that mark minority groups as Other and, usually, as inferior as well.

Thus, ignorant due to their privilege, members of dominant groups are extremely uncomfortable with minority groups expressing pride in and learning about their Other-ness. Like conservative white guy Dennis Prager, who has argued that minority groups should feel "group shame," those who possess non-marginalized identities often make the ego-centric mistake of thinking that minority pride events are actually about the majority group. Thus, some anti-gays interpret LGBT pride not as a celebration of our sexual identity, but rather as an exercise in making anti-gay people feel bad about the historic mistreatment of LGBT people.

Unable to conceive of a human experience that is not centered around the experience of a heterosexual (or a man, or a white person, for instance), this is the same ego-centric logic that defines ethnic studies as racist against white people and feminism as misandrist. It is a privileged worldview that posits that expressions of Black Pride are unfair because a White Pride party would be considered racist, or that Male Studies is a necessary discipline on top of Men's Studies because it is men, really, who are oppressed and there just isn't enough shit dedicated to the male experience in life.

To possess aggressive, insecure privilege is to hold a worldview that contributes nothing but ignorance to the world, both by its denial of real things that happened in real history and it's labeling of of Other worldviews as unimportant, unreal, and unnecessarily divisive.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tales From Gilead

"From father's house to husband's house to a grave that still might not be her own, a woman acquiesces to male authority in order to gain some protection from male violence. She conforms, in order to be as safe as she can be." -Andrea Dworkin

As though straight from Serena Joy's journal, I recently read the writings of a conservative woman who wants to restore what she calls "customary discrimination" against women in the workplace. Admitting that pre-feminist days were essentially a giant affirmative-action program for men, blogger The Thinking Housewife ("TH") opines upon her vision for a better future:

"First and foremost, we must restore customary economic discrimination in favor of men. America’s businesses and institutions must be free once again to favor men over women in hiring."

Basically, she's in favor of making shit harder for women in two ways. First, lucrative fields would only be open to men, unless the occasional woman proved that she was "exceptional."

"Business and institutions would be as free to favor women as they were before, but would violate an unwritten code if they favored anything but exceptional women in lucrative fields.

Especially gifted and ambitious women, generally those who will not have families, will still be exceptions in all fields, as they were before the feminist era. There will still be women doctors, lawyers and professors, just far fewer of them. Ambitious women will not find it as easy to make their way as they do today."

Second, she would make divorce more difficult and less desirable for women to obtain. Combined with her proposed restrictions on female wage-earning, the end goal is to keep women economically dependent on men:

"Women should generally face the loss of child custody and a serious decline in income if they initiate divorce, except in the event of proven malfeasance on the part of the husband. Single women will still be able to find jobs and receive help from fathers and extended family. Most of them will not be rich."

The general point of this oh-so-desirable discrimination, TH explains, is essentially the production of consumers who will, in turn, buy stuff:

"Competition in the world economy is not the first and most vital task of the American market. Given its size, the American economy has vast potential for serving itself and Americans alone. In any event, our economy requires a healthy, moral and educated workforce. It also requires a large number of consumers within its own borders. Consumers are born, and raised, not manufactured."

A woman's primary function in this return to traditional society, of course, is to produce and raise consumers. A man's function is to create the stuff that the consumers buy.

How fulfilling.

This plan sounds like a horrifying made-up dystopian plot. But, of course, this experiment has been done before. By limiting women's opportunities to earn a living independent of a man, heterosexuality becomes compulsory for women. For the women who do not marry, they become spinsters, economically unstable, and dependent upon "help from fathers and extended family." Women become valued primarily by the children they bear and raise; men are valued for their contributions to the public sphere and their leadership over their families.

TH's plan is the extension of the ideology that posits that men and women are very different from one another, perhaps complementary, and are thus suitable for different occupations in life. This sort of superficial, shallow thinking about the "inherent" polarity of the sexes is illustrated in TH's discussion section (she does not allow comments on her blog), where she posts emails from readers and then responds to them. Commenter Mark, for instance, mansplains:

"The reality is that the cultural ruin of America was caused by women. Specifically, women’s political, sexual and financial freedom is largely responsible for the decline of the West and not some abstract 'culture.'

We harp a lot on liberalism, but what is liberalism but female thinking unbounded?"

Women, according to Mark, have a way of thinking that is quite different than the way men think. Whereas women think liberally, men think in way that is opposite to that: conservatively.

TH, in response to Mark, does not object to his statement that Women Have Ruined Everything, but instead chooses to give Mark's Male Superiority Complex a handjob while reinforcing this sex polarity:

"A society run by women is less capable of the abstractions needed to ensure its own survival. This is all the more reason why male thinking should assert itself in the economic sphere, which is my point in this article."

Thusly, according to TH, are women inherently less capable of abstract thought whereas men inherently are more capable of it. The manly way of thinking, of course, is the preferred and superior form of thought, as Lady Thinking leads to society's downfall. This exchange is a nice illustration of the way that some use the myth of gender polarity/complementarity to support a sex/gender hierarchy. Men and women think very differently, the argument goes, and the male way of thinking is inherently more suitable for public life. Therefore, men should dominate the public sphere.

In light of this obvious male narcissism, which often still passes for good 'ol folksy folks common sense, it is ironic that Mark and TH accuse women of being inherently "narcissistic" compared to men. Yet, given that patriarchs "always are the reverse of what they claim to be," are we really surprised?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lesbians Need Not Apply

Hey everybody, Obama's Supreme Court pick Elena Kagan is NOT GAY. So say her friends.

What do I say?

So the fuck what if she was.

See, I've read Article II of the US Constitution which gives the President the power to make nominations to the Supreme Court and it doesn't say anything about lesbians being banned from the Supreme Court.

Is there fine print that I'm just not seeing?

That is all.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Odds 'N Ends: Sports Edition

1) Sex Segregation in Sports

Over at The Science of Sport, Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas post some points and counterpoints regarding women and men competing together in sports. It's an interesting read, especially since sex segregation in most sports is such an unquestioned given.

Some argue that sex segregation in sports constitutes unethical sex discrimination, and to an extent I agree. It depends on the sport. Sex segregation in some- bowling, darts, billiards, and extreme long-distance running and swimming- does seem arbitrary and only reinforces the idea that men are better at women than everything, basically. However, in sports where physiological differences between men and women would be more of a factor, I tend to agree with Tucker and Dugas that sex segregation is probably desirable.

Although, given the degree to which men have fought tooth and nail to keep women out of athletics historically, I do think that some men are more scared of losing to a woman than they are of beating a woman too badly.

Anyway, in a point against allowing men and women to compete, Tucker and Dugas argue:

"[T]he very best women in history do not make the top 500 performances in track and field athletics PER YEAR. In swimming, it may be narrower, but consider that Michael Phelps is a full 26 seconds ahead of the women's world record holder in a 400m medley and you get the idea."

This is a point they repeat throughout the article and, while true, "let me just play devil's advocate here" and note that most sports' competitions don't involve world record holders. In fact, I wonder what the effect would be on girls if we expected them to be able to compete with boys instead of continually telling them that they cannot.

2) Sex Discrimination at Augusta

Writing at The Huffington Post, Ellen Snortland- whose book Beauty Bites Beast I reviewed here- urges Tiger Woods to advocate for an end to men's-only membership policies at Augusta National Golf Club:

"Tiger Woods has more authority and moral positioning to stand up for ending 'men-only' policies at Augusta than almost anyone else I can think of ... but of course he wouldn't, because his behavior indicates that, to him, women are playthings, not people to be taken seriously....

Hey, Tiger! Do I have an amends idea for YOU!

Use your bully pulpit -- or Tiger pulpit, in this case -- to insist that the Augusta National integrate its club further with women. Why? Because it's a disgusting bastion of male privilege and for you to take that kind of stand would be a triumph of morality."


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Male Studies: Hear Them Bore

On April 7, 2010, a group of academicians convened a conference for purposes of launching a new discipline called Male Studies.

Although the discipline of Men's Studies already exists, which is a multi-disciplinary study of men and masculinities, proponents of Male Studies claims that this new discipline is the "multidisciplinary study of the male human being, boys and men." By its account, the distinguishing factor between Men's Studies and Male Studies is that Male Studies looks at boys as well as men.

Despite the surface similarities between the two disciplines, Male Studies also claims to be "independent scholarship without ideological ties to Men’s Studies." And that, of course, is where things get interesting.

Men's Studies, for some background, is also a relatively new field of study and it is allied with feminism. Male Studies, in short, is not. While the Male Studies FAQ section appears benignly nonspecific, one of its founders, Lionel Tiger, believes that feminism has caused the "institutionalization of misandry." Tiger underscores his academic anti-feminism by making the oh-so scholarly point that "A lot of feminist argument is just irritating."

Looking for more specific argumentation, I read some of the news articles that the Male Studies site links to regarding the plight of men and boys. Whether it's bemoaning the fact that a college that is a "whopping" 55% female somehow turns a college town into "Girlington" or letting us know the "surprising" secret that men too can be victims of domestic violence, Male Studies' contribution to these already-known statistics seems to be an obsession with holding feminism responsible while glorifying maleness.

For instance, in this commentary, Stephen Zelnick blames the "weak performance of boys and young men in education" on a myriad of factors, an important one being that boys these days have no place in our greedy society to channel their inherent male "desire to serve a higher purpose and prove their valor."

While Zelnick aptly observes an American culture obsessed with greed, he fails to demonstrate any actual link between this greedy culture and declining male achievement. Instead, he relies on stereotypes of masculinity to argue that men and boys are inherently heroic and argues that they just want to serve others, instead of accumulate wealth. Which, really, is just bizarre. Wasn't it men, after all, who created this great American experiment in capitalism, exploiting women and other men and flourishing in it for centuries? If Male Studies posits that the sorry plight of men and boys is the fault of feminism, this article fails to demonstrate a causal relationship, or any relationship, between feminism and capitalist greed.

At this point, I'm reminded of the "men's rights" set that blames the shoddy portrayal of men in Super Bowl ads on feminists, even though 92% of the ads are created by white men.

When Zelnick's article ends by demonizing young women who aspire toward educational achievement, his argumentation takes a revelatory turn. Male Studies doesn't seem to be so much about uplifting the oppressed male, but of putting uppity woman back in her place. Of today's young women's "petty obsession to excel" in school, he opines:

"This is not good for the future of couples, and it is not good for women. Without the restraint of shame, the encouragement of honor, and the inspiration of noble purpose, none of us can lead fulfilling and happy lives." (Emphasis added)

First, note that Zelnick belittles girls' desire to do well in school, calling it "petty." Yet, that boys are not doing as well in school as girls has been framed as a Boy Crisis and is, apparently, a primary reason for the very creation of Male Studies. Oh yes, it is abundantly clear that doing well in school is important. For boys, that is. When boys are in school it is Important Business. When girls are in school, it's petty and unimportant.

Second, he says that when girls are strong it is bad for society and women. It is so bad, he claims, that when women are strong "none of us" can lead meaningful, happy lives. It is interesting that he says "none of us," isn't it? One wonders who exactly he includes in the category "us." Like gender complementarists, Zelnick seems to inhabit a world where male and female are binary opposites where if women are strong, men must be weak, and vice versa. Liberation, to folks with this binary worldview, can only ever be a zero-sum game.

Third, he claims that the desire to serve others is inherently and uniquely male, theory that is, to use a technical term, bullshit. As anyone who reads any given article about the gender pay gap can attest, the primary reason given as to why women consistently earn less than men is that women go into helping/serving professions that are lower paying than the manly wealth-generating positions that men tend to go into. But again, just like he does with education, note how Zelnick romanticizes and aggrandizes the notion of service when speaking of men who do it.

Like its "men's rights" brother, Male Studies espouses an entitlement to continue displaying toxic male superiority, which is claimed as a biological reality, coupled with the insecurity of having to finally compete with women in a professional world that used to be a giant affirmative action program for men. It peddles the same stereotypical man-on-top gender binary that for centuries used to pass as unexamined "common sense." Indeed, one sponsor and speaker at the Male Studies symposium endorsed as "an excellent resource" an anti-woman book that claims that men have "superior mental prowess" compared to women.

Yes, these resources are unimpressive and unsurprising. Unimpressive, because most critics of feminism are too ignorant of feminism to be able to even render intelligent, informed critiques of it, favoring instead to present the views of, say, Valerie Solanas as though she's representative of every feminist who ever lived, like ever. Unsurprising, because men who hate feminism hate it because they hate women, believing themselves to be inherently and biologically superior to us. The goal is to perpetuate and reclaim male privilege, which they see as their birthright. That they claim feminists hate them is, oftentimes, a sad projection.

On the plus side, now that men have not one, but two, disciplines devoted to them, I fully anticipate gender studies to soon become a Important Business. Like cooking and hair-cutting.

-Related Links-

Nine Deuce: Some proposed Fall 2010 Course Offerings for Male Studies.

Amanda Hess: "So now, we need two separate disciplines devoted to studying men, because the first one just wasn’t devoted enough."

Angry Mouse: "Up is down, black is white, and men are the world's most oppressed minority. That's why a group of brave souls have decided it's long past time for a new academic program to confront this oppression head on: Male Studies."

Titania Kumeh: "Is Male Studies A Sham?"

Molly Knefel: "Another big man on the male campus, the 'Chairman of the Foundation for Male Studies,' Dr. Edward Stephens, has coined the phrase 'lace curtain.' It’s like the 'glass ceiling,' only for men! You know, because women LOVE LACY SHIT!!!"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Sexual Shame of the Anti-Gay

[Cross-posted at Our Big Gayborhood]

Last week, Ed Brayton posted an apt and amusing piece on The Incredible Power of the Gay.

In response to "former homosexual" Michael Glatze, who wrote in WorldNetDaily that "The pressure to succumb to homosexual desires is also immense...I tell people all the time that the seduction of homosexuality is so powerful," Ed responded:

"Do you detect a bit of projection there? I certainly do. I don't doubt for a moment that Michael Glatze truly sees homosexual 'desires' as being that powerful and that seductive, for one simple reason: He's homosexual. It is his nature to be gay, that is what he is, and he sees it as an all-powerful temptation because one's true nature does not simply go away no matter how hard you try to convince yourself that you're straight.

But for those who aren't gay, this is all a bunch of melodramatic nonsense. If The Gay were that all powerful and magnetic, surely I should have been tempted by now...."

The argument that gay urges are very seductive, even for heterosexuals, is always bizarre to me. Yet, I've seen anti-gays make this argument all the damn time. I would normally describe this phenomenon of heterosexuals explaining the LGBT experience as something akin to hetsplaining, but whether they're detailing the incredible allure of the homosexual lifestyle or telling gay people to just repress their dangerous desires, anti-gays often write as thought they have personal, intimate knowledge of such sexual repression.

And, I suppose, in some ways they do. Whether or not they're closet cases, many anti-gays demonstrate an uncomfortable relationship with the use of their bodies for sexual pleasure. Sex, they will publicly and awkwardly tell you, is "coitus" and for reproductive purposes only. They will erroneously tell us that our genitalia were "designed" only for reproduction, you know, despite the fact that the only function of the clitoris is pleasure. Any non-reproductive use of the genitals, to many, is cause for shame even though to seek sexual pleasure is, for many humans, a natural and regular occurrence.

So, while the "pressure to succumb to homosexual desires" is not, actually, at all immense for those who are heterosexual, sadly, many heterosexual anti-gays nod their heads in agreement anyway, knowing exactly what it means to negate a part of themselves.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Fun!

A request from Leftist Gender Warrior:

Quick, name something about your body that you like or are proud of. Bragging and immodesty is highly encouraged.

Mine: Despite not looking strong, I have super-strong calves. Like, not even just for a lady. Like for a person.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Experts: Football Causes Anti-social Behavior? Oh well.

[Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault]

Previously, I have written about the nihilistic hyper-masculinity that the sport of American football embodies. In it, I referenced a Time magazine article that highlights the mental debilitation that repeated blows in the head have caused in many professional football players.

Now, and you sort of had to know this was coming, some are speculating that head injuries are what have caused the poor behavior of Ben Roethlisberger, who has been twice accused of rape. Explains neuropsychologist Jordan Grafman:

"Socially finessing (social) circumstances takes time and experience and further maturation of the frontal lobe brain tissue. If you're in the middle or even late period of that development, maybe 14 to 28 (years old), and you have a brain injury, it's going to make it that much more difficult to resolve social behaviors so that you're acting appropriately as an adult."

So... what? What does this mean for the great All-American sport of football? Football causes football players to rape women? To act like entitled jerks? To be anti-social?

Answer: It means nothing with respect to football.

Even if it were absolutely proven that football-induced head injuries caused male football players to be sexual predators, football would not be banned and the glorification of its brutality would continue. If the fact that football harms men's bodies hasn't been enough for the NFL to impose regulations on skull-crushing hits, then a speculative harm to women isn't going to do it either.

Roethlisberger is a white man who has been caught behaving badly, whether his sin was in making poor choices with women or actually raping them, and experts are now scrambling to excuse his behavior on medical grounds. This may not even be a conscious thing on the part of the media and experts, as part of living in both rape culture and a racist society is that white men aren't framed as sexual predators in the way that men of color are. If Roethlisberger were black and accused of rape, the general reaction would instead be "Well... of course."

That sort of bias is implicit in many people, and media narratives contribute to these biases. Roethlisberger's failing, we are to understand, is an individual one if it is even seen as a failing at all, which to many it isn't. Boys'll be boys after all.

This medical explanation in Roethlisberger's case offers an excuse for his behavior, perhaps inducing people to feel sorry for him, while doing nothing tangible to reduce male superstars' sexual access to women nor their entitlement to continue to act violently and get paid for it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Catholic Church Investigates Big Problem

As more revelations about the Catholic Church's prioritization of its own image over the safety of children have come to light recently, the Vatican is stepping up its investigative efforts...

of nuns and their feminist activism, that is. From KUOW news:

"Three Catholic women's communities in Washington state are being investigated by the Vatican. They were chosen for review as part of an extensive investigation into American nuns. The Vatican says it's following up on complaints of feminism and activism....

The Seattle–area communities were chosen for visits after investigators reviewed responses to questionnaires sent out to every women's order....It's not clear why the local orders are being singled out. The Renton Sisters of Providence run a women's transition house. The Tacoma Dominicans call themselves risk takers. They work to end human trafficking."

Despite the good work that it sounds like these nuns are doing, upholding the authority of the godly males, you understand, demands immediate action.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Book Review: Right-Wing Women, Part II

This post is a continuation of a review of Andrea Dworkin's Right-Wing Women. (Part I can be found here).

3) The Left's Woman Problem

Dworkin argues that, for good reason, Rightwing women fear the Left. The Left of the sixties was "a dream of sexual transcendence.... It was- for the girls- a dream of being less female in a world less male; an eroticization of sibling equality, not male domination" (91). What this meant in practice, however, was that it essentially freed men to fuck women "without bourgeois constraints" (91). What this meant for women was "an intensification of the experience of being sexually female- the precise opposite of what these girls had envisioned for themselves....freedom for women existed in being fucked more often by more men, a sort of lateral mobility in the same inferior sphere" (93). The Left, that is, continued to construct women as sex, while men continued to be constructed as the Doers Of Important Things.

Further, "sexual liberation" created an expectation that the sexually liberated were ready for sex at any time, effectively negating the concept of consent. Those who were not ready for sex were considered "repressed," not liberated. For women, for whom pregnancy was sometimes an outcome of this sex free-for-all and for whom abortion was illegal, the consequences of sex were higher than for men. Rightwing women feared sexual liberation as it meant unfettered male sexual access to women, and possibly pregnancy, without the expectation of male support via traditional marriage.

Thus did the women of the Left find the first premise of their political movement: "that freedom for a woman was predicated on, and could not exist without, her own absolute control of her own body in sex and reproduction" (97). To the larger left, however, this premise was met with "supreme indifference" (Ibid.). One of the male-dominated Left's still-large Woman Problems is that it does not care enough about a woman's right to control her own body. To men of all political stripes, a woman's choice to control her own body is too often framed a negotiable bargaining chip for obtaining More Important political victories.

4) The Coming Gynocide

In societies that value women primarily for babymaking, Dworkin argues (and I agree) that women without children are "not worth much" (143). In The Handmaid's Tale, Maragert Atwood extends the idea that a woman's social worth lies in her ability to have children to its logical conclusion, speculating a fundamentalist future wherein women unable or unwilling to bear children are called un-women and are sent to work camps to die. Or, as Dworkin writes, "In the sorrow of having children there is the recognition that one's humanity is reduced to this, and on this one's survival depends" (145).

In a society that defines womanhood by childbearing, women who do not bear children are seen to live pointless lives, taking up space without fulfilling the womanly duty. Logically then, when such societies decide they need fewer children, we find that male-dominant societies also find that they need fewer girls and women. We see this in countries like China, India, and Afghanistan, where sex-selective abortion and infanticide of female babies has skewed the sex ratio in favor of boys because boys and men are overvalued in these societies.

In this fear of gynocide, lies the rightwing woman's hatred of homosexuality, in men especially. Male homosexuality coupled with reproductive technologies, Dworkin argues, is especially terrifying to rightwing women, because "it suggests a world without women altogether- a world in which women are extinct" (144). Instead of hating a system that values women primarily for reproduction, some women choose to hate homosexuality and what they see as its frightening implication that women are unnecessary to men.

In this fear also lies the hatred of feminism. Feminists posit that women are not their sex and that, "each life- including each woman's life- must be a person's own, and not predetermined before her birth by totalitarian ideas about her nature and her function" (191). It is an idea that "annihilates the system of gender polarity in which men are superior and powerful," yet rightwing women fear this idea because if women aren't sex and reproduction, women fear that they are nothing at all in the eyes of men. And sadly, in the eyes of some men, that is the truth. Still.

To end, it would be helpful to remember the political environment in which Dworkin was writing. The '80s were a time of incredible rightwing backlash, especially with respect to feminism. Dworkin came of age in a time when men had the legal right to rape their wives and women were forced to carry any resulting pregnancies to term, or to seek illegal abortions. Women in the workplace earned 60% of what men earned and were only beginning to break out of low-paying pink collar professions in greater numbers.

Dworkin is now the poster-child for use in demonstrating How Feminism Has Gone Too Far. Men's Rights Activists invariably cite her to prove that All Feminists Hate Men. And, it is in part because of her that other women, some of whom identify as feminists, back up with their hands in the air and say that they don't hate men or anything, but [insert feminist statement originated by Andrea Dworkin].

Still, I think she said what needed to be said at that time. I am thankful for the "bloody feet [that] have worn smooth the path by which [I] came here." Her theory on rightwing women rings true, still, no matter the labels and defamations some slap on Andrea Dworkin. For, in dismissing rightwing women as hateful bigots who are indistinguishable from their male counterparts, the Left misses a real opportunity to offer these women something better. Every time the male-dominated Left uses misogynistic and sexist slurs against rightwing women, they only reinforce in these women how unsafe the Left is for women.

In this reality, do many feminists recognize that women are "associated with all women, not as a matter of choice but as a matter of fact," sharing a "common condition" that is subordinate to men (221). In this reality, just as in 1983 when Dworkin was writing, do feminists understand that feminism is hated. Still. And that "feminism is hated because women are hated" (195). Anti-feminism, especially of the gender complementarian type, holds that the subservient "social and sexual condition of women essentially (one way or another) embodies the nature of women" (Ibid.). It is a system that defends the use of women as wives or whores because that is what women inherently are. And that, therefore, there are always More Important Things to talk about in the world than so-called women's issues.

In that reality, are rightwing women doing what they do to survive. "Looking for a way out of a sex-class system...right-wing women look at feminists and they see women: inside the same boundary.... Their response to what they see is not a sense of sisterhood or solidarity- it is a self-protective sense of repulsion" (234).

Shorter Dworkin: Rightwing women hate women because men hate women.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Review: Right-Wing Women, Part I

"From father's house to husband's house to a grave that still might not be her own, a woman acquiesces to male authority in order to gain some protection from male violence. She conforms, in order to be as safe as she can be."

The above quote is a good starting point for Andrea Dworkin's book Right-Wing Women, which is her attempt to explain women's complicity and collaboration in their own oppression in a male-dominated society.

I have long been interested in the phenomenon of ladies against women and feminism. Those Phyllis Schlaflys and their modern-day counterparts, the Ann Coulters and Laura Ingrahams. Women who, from the perspective of many of us on the more progressive side of things, appear to sell out as women in exchange for those oh-so-valuable patriarchal pats on the head.

1) Fear

Dworkin begins by arguing that the Right makes several promises to women that the Left does not. By exploiting the fear that "male violence against women is unpredictable and uncontrollable," the Right "promises to put enforceable restraints on male aggression" (21). It does this, via religion and traditional marriage, by offering form in a world of chaos, a home and sure place in it, safety in obedience, rules for safety, and love in exchange for sexual subservience and childbearing (22).

In addition to the fear of male violence, the Right constructs the world outside of traditional marriage as an incredibly scary, unpredictable place. Fears of the Other are exploited, causing rightwing women to fear lesbians for threatening a known sexual order, to loathe abortion as the "callous murder of infants," and to share an anti-Semitism that is rooted in fundamentalist Christianity (33). Dworkin recounts when, as a reporter covering an Equal Rights Amendment convention, she talked with a man from Mississippi who claimed to be a member of the KKK. He said that he and other KKK members were sent there to "protect their womenfolk from the lesbians, who would assault them" (115). In this way, does patriarchy frame lesbians- the Other- as sexually dangerous, even though the reality is that male sexual violence perpetrated upon women, even married women, is exponentially more frequent.

Against all of these threats, female complicity offers women some degree of safety, or at least a safer alternative. Dworkin writes, "Every accommodation that women make to [male] domination, however apparently stupid, self-defeating, or dangerous, is rooted in the urgent need to survive somehow on male terms" (34). In line with this need to survive, they direct their anger and fear at Others, instead of at men. "Having good reason to hate, but not the courage to rebel, women require symbols of danger that justify their fear. The Right provides these symbols of danger by designating clearly defined groups of outsiders as sources of danger" (Ibid.). Queers, babykillers, and Jews.

Today's most prominent symbol of danger, I would add, is contained in the Right's recent Manhattan Declaration. In this haughty, self-aggrandizing tale, a delegate of powerful, Christian, (mostly) male signees has informed the world that abortion, science, and same-sex marriage will destroy civilization but that they, thankfully, will come to everyone's rescue as long as certain rules are followed. Namely, with their courageous leadership, restrictions on abortion and denial of same-sex marriage will be put into place.

2) The Denial of Intelligence

In perpetuating itself, patriarchy has historically denied women intelligence, which has led to women's dependency on men. For one, cross-culturally, most of the world's illiterate are women. Yet, literacy is how humans find meaning in, and define, experience. Two, the requirement that women be wives (so that they are not whores) and bear babies kills the sexual intelligence of women. "Men have constructed female sexuality" down to two rules: "be fucked, reproduce" (56). Real sex, for instance, is largely defined by what it is sexually pleasing to men- intercourse- which is not always or necessarily pleasing to women.

In short, women are constructed as sex. And when women as a class are sex, it is difficult for people- men and women alike- to view women as anything else. Further, it is difficult for women to survive on non-sexual terms.

Thus, prominent rightwing ladies against feminism, despite their educational degrees and experience, often remain relegated to the pink ghetto of "women's issues" (along with, I would add, rightwing people of color, who the Right uses as, for instance, Expert Black Man Against Barack Obama). While rightwing (and leftwing) male talking heads can be college dropouts and still be considered authoritative people Just Telling It Like It Is, possessing an advanced degree is an unspoken necessity for women to be given the same level of deference.

For instance, Dworkin uses the example of Phyllis Schlafly, who has a law degree, has given testimony on many subjects over the course of decades, was an important organizer of the Republican party, had published multiple books, and had stopped the Equal Rights Amendment dead in its tracks yet whom Reagan overlooked when he was making appointments to his Administration. A man with her credentials and experience would have been guaranteed a position and, indeed, Schlafly conceded that point to feminist attorney Catherine Mackinnon in a debate (30).

Because of this sexualization of women, Rightwing women find the world to be a dangerous place without the alliances of men and the resources they control. And thus, Dworkin writes, "They see that traditional marriage means selling [sex] to one man, not hundreds: the better deal... They see that the money they can earn will not make them independent of men and that they will still have to play the sex games: at home and at work too.... Right-wing women are not wrong" (68). Which brings us to the Left and it's woman problem, which will be continued in tomorrow's installment of this review.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Body Shaming: Facebook Style

Some of my friends have been joining the following group on Facebook:

"Real women have curves.... Not the body of a 12 year old boy"

Aside from the annoying idea that only women who have a certain body shape are "real women," note the body shaming of thin women that is occurring here. Women better not be too thin, or they won't be real women at all!

The media regular bombards people, women especially, with messages that our bodies are cause for humiliation and inadequacy. Although much of this body shaming is directed at fat women, it is also directed, Hollywood gossip magazine/Perez Hilton-style, at women's bodies that are too thin, too muscular, too small-breasted, too large-breasted, too fat-assed, too flat-assed, too real, or too plastic.

Basically, the message is if you're a woman and you have a body you can't fucking win. And that's why women need to take pride in their own bodies without ridiculing the bodies of other women in the process.