Archive for May, 2013

some comments on a feminist essay

I will likely offend some people with this post, but I think that’s okay. I’m taking this opportunity to do a couple things. First, I’d like to point out to feminists a few of their arguments that aren’t working. Additionally, I’d like to present the remaining arguments in a way that may convince a few people that they are already feminists.

I could just ramble on here for a while, but instead I think I’ll get down to the point and maybe I’ll come back and fill this all in a little bit better afterwards. A friend of mine reposted a non-academic essay on why society still needs feminism. I could critique an academic essay, but I find this boring and I know most people don’t care about academic works on the topic anyway. This non-academic essay does a good job of presenting a few common points that feminists make. Several of these are very good points. A few of them are bad points. I am going to offer my remarks on them. I’ll post the essay in bold, and any comments of my own that I insert into it will be in italics. Also, there’s a bad language warning, in case you care.

Why Society Still Needs Feminism

Because to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it’s a weapon we hold between our fingers when we’re walking alone at night. I’ve done this before too, actually. I didn’t need it, but it’s nice to know I’ve got something to stab with if I need it.

Because the biggest insult for a guy is to be called a “pussy,” a “little bitch” or a “girl.” From here on out, being called a “pussy” is an effing badge of honor. I think as adults, we can move on from these childish insults. I don’t think these insults came around from particular animosity towards women, boys just want to be seen as men. That doesn’t excuse this, but it offers an explanation. Don’t let your kids use these terms as insults, it’s not helping anybody. 

Because last month, my politics professor asked the class if women should have equal representation in the Supreme Court, and only three out of 42 people raised their hands. This is a bit misleading. Personally, I wouldn’t have raised my hand either. It’s not that I don’t think women should be allowed equal representation, I just don’t think that a gender balance would necessarily improve the Supreme Court. Thomas Sowell has some great things to say about diversity and why it doesn’t make sense to treat diversity like it’s a definite positive thing. I don’t have a problem with more women being in the Supreme Court, but I don’t think we should be actively pushing to get more diversity there just for the sake of diversity. By that standard, I think the professor’s question was a false choice, and it should have been further discussed and clarified.

Because rape jokes are still a thing. Yeah, seriously, this isn’t funny. At all. Don’t joke about it.

Because despite being equally broke college kids, guys are still expected to pay for dates, drinks and flowers. Some of us don’t mind. In fact, I often pay for even just female friends if I’m out somewhere. Male friends too, sometimes. I like paying for people. I don’t think it should be assumed that we’re required to pay. More on the male/female thing later.

Because as a legit student group, Campus Fellowship does not allow women to lead anything involving men. Look, I know Eve was dumb about the whole apple and snake thing, but I think we can agree having a vagina does not directly impact your ability to lead a college organization. Private groups should be allowed to enact any rules they want to, as long as it’s legal. If you don’t like that they don’t allow women to lead anything involving men, start or join a new group that has the policies that you prefer. That’s freedom of speech. 

Because it’s assumed that if you are nice to a girl, she owes you sex — therefore, if she turns you down, she’s a bitch who’s put you in the “friend zone.” Sorry, bro, women are not machines you put kindness coins into until sex falls out. Yeah, seriously, girls can make their own choices. If you’re looking for sex, you may get shot down. Sorry, bro. Interpersonal interactions always hold risks. If you’re hoping to get sex in return for being nice, you might get it and you might not. We all have free choice in how we treat other people and how we respond to their actions. If she doesn’t want to have sex with you, that’s her choice. If you want to be nice to her, that’s your choice. If you think those two things should always go together, you’re a moron.

Because only 29 percent of American women identify as feminist, and in the words of author Caitlin Moran, “What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Did all that good shit get on your nerves? Or were you just drunk at the time of the survey?” I’ll get back to this later.

Because when people hear the term feminist, they honestly think of women burning bras. Dude, have you ever bought a bra? No one would burn them because they’re freaking expensive. I have nothing to add here.

Because Rush Limbaugh. Okay, I know he said a really stupid and sexist thing. However, when it comes to the issue that was being discussed, whether or not the government should pay for women’s birth control, I agree with his side of the argument. It’s not the government’s job to give you birth control. The government shouldn’t be granting anyone positive rights, we are only given negative rights and it’s for a very good reason. I’m not going to get into it here, but I will make the statement (which will probably get me into some trouble) that if women are so strongly against being subjugated by men, shouldn’t they be equally against being reliant on the government to provide for them? What part of women’s liberation don’t you understand? Somehow you’re suddenly supposed to be granted freedom and equality, but a part of that is that everyone is now required to pay for your birth control? This will never make any sense to me, it’s just transferring dependency from men to the state, and somehow that’s supposed to be a good thing.

Because we now have a record number of women in the Senate … which is a measly 20 out of 100. Congrats, USA, we’ve gone up to 78th place for women’s political representation, still below China, Rwanda and Iraq. I make the same point here as I do for the Supreme Court statement earlier. 

Because recently I had a discussion with a couple of well-meaning Drake University guys, and they literally could not fathom how catcalling a woman walking down University Avenue is creepy and sexist. Could. Not. Fathom. I prefer to call this immaturity. Creepy would depend on the circumstances. “Sexist” is vague and I think it probably depends on the circumstances as well. I’ll get back to this too.

Because on average, the tenured male professors at Drake make more than the tenured female professors. Let the free market sort it out. I’m not going to get into this, but forcing equal pay will only further damage the system. This is a part of why I think all feminists should be libertarians.

Because more people on campus complain about chalked statistics regarding sexual assault than complain about the existence of sexual assault. Priorities? Have them. I don’t know what this means so I’ll leave it alone.

Because 138 House Republicans voted against the Violence Against Women Act. All 138 felt it shouldn’t provide support for Native women, LGBT people or immigrant women. I’m kind of confused by this, because I thought LGBT people and women of color were also human beings. Weird, right? I will definitely get back to this. This is INCREDIBLY misleading.

Because a girl was roofied last semester at a local campus bar, and I heard someone say they think she should have been more careful. Being drugged is her fault, not the fault of the person who put drugs in her drink? Please carefully read and consider my response here before you get mad at me. I completely agree that it’s the fault of the person who drugged her drink. However, I do have a problem with this sort of argument because I hear it all the time but it’s one of those things that nobody is allowed to call into question. If I say “yes but,” I am immediately shouted down as a horrible person. I’ll offer an example though to illustrate what I mean. Let’s say I’m walking around in a bad part of town, and someone walks up and stabs me. In the hospital, someone tells me I should be more careful where I’m going for walks. Is that person evil for suggesting that? No, they aren’t. They aren’t saying it’s my fault, because it obviously is the fault of the person who stabbed me. The stabber’s actions are inexcusable. And even if the person commenting is wrong, I don’t get offended by it. Now, yes, this is not the same issue, and I understand that it’s very easy to write off rape or women getting roofied or whatever as being something they should have been more careful about. My issue with the rabid, unquestionable assertion that no one is allowed to say anything except that it was the guy’s fault is causing a new issue. We’d all like the world to be a perfect place, but it isn’t. Also, I don’t want any woman blaming herself for what happened. Ignoring the fact that there are things that can put you at greater or lesser risk, though, is neglecting to address the situation. Some people would like a world where a woman is completely safe passing out buck naked in an alley in a bad part of town. I would like this too, that sounds like a very safe (albeit disturbing) type of world. I don’t think any woman should do this in the real world, though. Something bad will likely happen to them, and that’s not a sexist thing to recognize. Anything that did happen to them would be the fault of whoever assaulted/raped them, but there may be something they could have done to lessen the possibility of them getting assaulted/raped, such as not passing out buck naked in an alley in a bad part of town. You can connect the dots from there. I do understand the danger of blowing off this kind of argument and letting the woman take part of the blame, I just wanted to point out the weakness of this kind of argument and express my frustration with people who refuse to admit that it’s a weak argument.

Because Chris Brown beat Rihanna so badly she was hospitalized, yet he still has fans and bestselling songs and a tattoo of an abused woman on his neck. Yeah, this is stupid. Pop culture is absolute garbage. Granted, abuse probably has nothing to do with his music, but I haven’t listened to his music so I don’t know. I do think it’s pretty stupid that we idolize such a terrible person though.

Because out of 7 billion people on the planet, more than 1 billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes. Women and girls have their clitorises cut out, acid thrown on them and broken bottles shoved up them as an act of war. Every second of every day. Every corner of the Earth. Inexcusable. This needs to end. I don’t think anyone disagrees with that statement.

Because the other day, another friend of mine told me she was raped, and I can no longer count on both my hands the number of friends who have told me they’ve been sexually assaulted. Words can’t express how scared I am that I’m getting used to this. Yeah it’s pretty sad that we end up just accepting this as normal. I know of several of my friends that have been raped. It’s a horrible thing, and somehow we just let it fade into normalcy.

Because a brief survey of reality will tell you that we do not live in a world that values all people equally and that sucks in real, very scary ways. Because you know we live in a sexist world when an awesome thing with the name “feminism” has a weird connotation. Because if I have kids someday, I want my son to be able to have emotions and play dress up, and I want my daughter to climb trees and care more about what’s in her head than what’s on it. Because I don’t want her to carry keys between her fingers at night to protect herself.

Because feminism is for everybody, and this is your official invitation.

— Caitlin O’Donnell, Drake University.

Now for a few of the things I said I’d bring up afterwards.

Men and women are different. There, I said it. It’s a fact. Granted, these differences are not binary, that is to say, there is overlap. However, by-and-large, men are men and women are women. Society has developed ideas of what this means, and these ideas are not always correct. However, biologically and psychologically, there are differences. As a man, I like to be a provider. This is a part of why I like paying for people, it makes me feel good about myself. No one should assume I’m going to pay for them, but I think a lot of guys are this way. Probably some women too. Being offended by peoples’ assumptions about male and female expectations is one thing, but being offended by the fact that society exists is another. When it comes to cat calls, this just isn’t my style at all so I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. However, some women don’t find it horrifying or degrading if it happens occasionally and briefly. I personally just don’t do this sort of thing, so you won’t have this problem from me. However, I think this is another male/female issue, where some women are offended by it and some women aren’t, and men don’t see the problem. I’m tempted to say just deal with it, but that would be sexist, wouldn’t it.

The Violence Against Women Act is a great political play by whoever’s idea it was. I’m not going to bother look it up. However, which of these situations do you think is more likely: 138 Republicans want more violence against women or 138 Republicans had some other problem with the bill? If you didn’t pick the second one, I’m not going to even bother to try convincing you, because you’re stupid. If you’re interested in why some people opposed the bill, you can easily find it by googling something like “why oppose violence against women act,” you’ll find some results that explain the votes against. This shouldn’t be this hard, people. There’s no excuse for not knowing. A big reason I’m bringing this up, as well, is because feminism is being used as a political weapon, and women don’t benefit when that happens. Do you remember the Patriot Act? Wire taps, intrusions into constitutionally protected privacies, etc? If you didn’t support it, you obviously hated America, right? You couldn’t possibly have opposed it for any reason besides hating America, that just wouldn’t make any sense. I’ll get back to politics in a minute.

I think at this point you are likely aware of why some people don’t identify as feminist, or don’t realize that they are feminists. The span of ideas that are attached to the word “feminist” are extremely broad, and range from “women should be allowed to vote” to “until men and women are equal in every possible way, all sex is rape.” Can you see why people have trouble with the term feminist? Nobody likes being attacked for not being crazy. I have decided to identify myself as feminist (some people would claim that I’m not) because I think some of these issues are very very important. I’m willing to argue with the crazies in order to find some common ground in preventing rape.

To the feminists, if you want more support in your endeavors, try distancing yourself from the lunatics and stop politicizing your efforts. Also, don’t use bad arguments. I don’t support government-supplied birth control, but that doesn’t mean I’m pro-rape. Stop insulting my intelligence and the intelligence of all of these other decent people. Also, learn to recognize legitimate resistance to your efforts. If someone opposes the Violence Against Women Act because they find the financial structures complicated and lacking in oversight, and see that nearly all organizations that were given grants through the program violated the terms of those grants, they have a reasonable criticism. By attacking these people, you’re causing a divide on the issue and losing support for your extremely reasonable core goals. Very few people are pro-rape, it shouldn’t be hard to unite our society against rape.

I could go on for hours, but that’s plenty for now. In general, I agreed with a lot of the things that were in the essay, I just wanted to draw some attention to a few of the points that needed attention. Some of the things I said may be incorrect or bad logic, and you’re welcome to critique them. I just wanted to be a voice for reason and pull some people into this conversation.

Quick Edit: What I’m saying is that if you want to win people to your side of an argument, you need to try to grab the average person with reasonable arguments, not try to swing everyone to an extreme position.

endings and beginnings

it’s funny how we use the phrase “all good things must come to an end,” but we don’t use that phrase for bad things. i think this is partly because we use it as a phrase of condolence to ourselves when we’re let down by a good thing ending. when bad things end, we usually don’t notice. i read somewhere that whatever the chemical is that your body associates with depression takes something like 6 times longer for your body to flush out of your system than the chemical associated with happiness. i suspect the happiness one is dopamine or… seratonin? or something. if i knew what the chemicals were, i wouldn’t have been so vague in my earlier sentence. if you’re so curious, look it up for yourself. anyway. i think due to this fact, bad things dont seem like they end, because they stick with you longer psychologically. also, when it comes to beginnings, i think bad things usually seem like they come out of good things ending, but good things seem like they are new when they happen. maybe that’s just me. 

anyway, ive had a few blog ideas lately and i’ve just had a hard time getting myself to write things down. i read somewhere recently that people of my personality type usually have a hard time fully explaining themselves to other people and therefore generally don’t bother. we don’t think linearly enough to have it translate well into blog posts. so i’m going to blame my lack of posting on that. my other two recent blog post ideas have been on feminism and racism (unrelated topics), so if you want me to write about one of those, tell me, and maybe i’ll find the motivation.