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Today in What The Actual Fuck news

FOTLG Boganette linked to this article on Tumblr last night. I have been mulling it over, and while it’s not the cause, it is definitely not helping this headache I have. So let’s, shall we, take this apart piece by piece. It is brilliant in it’s absurdity. As always, Don’t read the comments.

Is the pursuit for gender equality sucking life out of relationships?

Not mine, but you carry on.

Instead of harnessing the different qualities of men and women to energise us, we are striving to make men and women equal.

More women are joining the battle for the CEO’s chair and pursuing dominance in their homes and communities. But in the process they’re becoming more like men. And men are becoming… well, less like men.

Um, yeah, no. “Striving for equality” isn’t “making women more like men. And cutting off the men’s balls and turning them into namby-pamby apron wearing pantywaists. It means women having equal rights and opportunities and access to services and healthcare, and bodily autonomy, and freedom from fear of violence, and teh right to work or not work. It’s the choice. And if a woman has to “become more like a man” to do that, that’s a sad indictment on this apparently “post-feminist” world we live in. If she does that because she chooses to, fantastic. But let’s none of us fool ourselves into thinking that women wearing boxy pantsuits and drinking beer with the boys after a 14 hour day at the executive table is what every feminist wants.

Renowned Australian neurosurgeon Charlie Teo believes men and women have different roles “set not only by society but set by physiology”.

“The current trend is for dads to be more hands on. But for all we know it may be proven in a hundred years time that that may be a negative thing for the upbringing of children,” he said recently on Seven’s Sunday Night program.

Yes. Parental involvement is such a terribly bad thing. That’s why I just spent ten minutes googling and couldn’t find any study ever saying that. (I’m positive someone will come along to prove me wrong). But what do I know? For all we know, in one hundred years, it may be proven that cigarettes are good for you, lettuce causes heart disease, and bourbon is an elixir. (I can live in hope)

Feminism has achieved victories for women, but could it be at the expense of femininity, chivalry and attributes of the opposite sex that instinctively attract us to each other?

No. Have you not seen the recent retro-crafty-uber-feminine-apron-and-gingham movement.  Or feminist embracing stilettos and lipstick. And I, as a card-carrying feminist (seriously, we need cards, ladies), have never once kicked a man for holding a door open for me. Chivalry is nothing more than politeness, and I expect that from everyone.

“This force of attraction is the dynamism that often disappears in modern relationships. If you want real passion, you need a ravisher and a ravishee. Otherwise you just have two buddies who decide to rub genitals in bed,” he writes.

*snort*. I just…can’t even. Hey, I liked to be ravished as much as any girl, but why is that to say women can’t be the ravisher? Oh. Because he wrote a book called “The Way of the Superior Man”, so he’s clearly the ideal person to quote in an article about feminism.

Earlier this month, TopGear presenter James May…

Noted without comment.

Well into the last century the husband provided his family with a home and food and this sole responsibility gave him a sense of power and purpose. And women didn’t feel pressure to justify their existence with a career. They were proud home makers and mothers.

Until feminism.

That’s right, blame the bitches. We ruined _everything_. Just out of interest, this right you have to express your opinion, to be heard in a publication, that just came to you, did it? No one fought for that right, no one suffered so you could spout your “traditionalist views”? And also, you know there are women who are still proud homemakers and mothers? And the fact that some women feel pressured to stay in the workforce or not stay in the workforce, or wear heels or not wear heels or put our when they don’t want to, is exactly the reason you need to be a feminist.

However, a British survey of 2000 men revealed one-third of men would prefer to be the sole breadwinning traditional father while another quarter would like to be the main breadwinner with their spouse working only part-time.

Instead, men are sporting aprons, doing their own ironing and pushing trolleys down supermarket aisles – roles that don’t exactly exude manliness.

You know, one of the most “manly” men I know does his own ironing. In fact, I’ve asked him on occasion to do mine. Do you know what? Sporting aprons and doing the supermarket shopping is providing for a family. Challenging society’s vision of what makes a “real man” is extremely manly, and if you can’t see that, you are part of the problem.

“Kids, turn off the TV, Buster outside, Dave, the dishes aren’t going to clean themselves.” Dave feels like he’s surrendered his balls.

When a man is stripped of his sense of purpose, it’s more difficult to satisfy that instinctive hunger for power and purpose. Could this be part of the reason why one in eight Australian men experiences severe depression in their lifetime?

Deida describes it as a “weakened impotent existence”.

“Without a conscious life purpose, a man is totally lost, drifting, adapting to events rather than creating events,” he said.

Dave should probably talk to his wife. Of course, his wife is probably working a full time job, and doing the lion’s share of the caring at home, because our society continues to  not value “women’s work”. He might feel like he’s surrendered his balls. She’s probably exhausted.

And you know what? I could care less that the poor delicate flowers that are men are lost, adrift, and confused and impotent. OK, I probably care about that last one. However. I expect everyone – of whatever gender – to treat me like a human being. Frankly, I don’t give a shit if you’ve been taught to hate my gender. Man up, and do the decent thing.

I don’t think that women should surrender their careers all together. But if we allow men to reclaim some power, we women could do more to embrace our femininity.

Would we be happier if more of us accept that men and women are not equal?

Aside from the fact that the first sentence makes no grammatical sense, um, what? I think you mean men and women aren’t the same. I’d argue that people aren’t the same, but actually, I will never, ever, not in a million years, not if you paid me a billion dollars, or gave me 100 puppies, accept that men and women are not equal.

And even if in your privileged life, men and women are equal, it might be worth thinking about the fact that that in a lot of places, women live horrible lives of poverty and violence and fear. And we need to do something about that. With or without aprons.

You’re fucking right I am fucking angry.

If you can read the following paragraph, and not be angry, you’re not a feminist.

Women still don’t earn as much income as men in comparable occupations and there is still a tendency to think that women belong in the kitchen, but the feminists that have fought for equality over the years have had a huge effect on gender roles in our society.

Oh, fuck off, AskMen. I’ve spoken to you before. You don’t get to invoke feminism. Ever. Because those gender roles you talk about up there? You actively participate in maintaining them. In fact, you exist to maintain them.

You don’t think we should be angry? Fuck you, and the shiny little horse you rode in on. Let me introduce you to the words Tone Argument. And while I’m at it, Intent. And also, can I introduce you to my foot? It would like to meet your balls. Your patronising arguments on “how to deal with” us can bite me. Back off with your arms raised all you like, but I am still going to call you a group of misogynist shits.

No, I don’t agree with Solanas and Dworkin and Jeffries. At all. When it comes to the matters of sex, I couldn’t be more opposed to what they have to say. That’s pretty much why we call them radical and militant. You know what those words mean, right? It means they’re extreme, different from the norm, revolutionary. But, you know, way to handpick the women who have views about hating men to undermine all feminism. Despite your back-handed “some feminists are great!”, thanks for painting the whole movement as misandrist. For the record, I’ve been doing feministy things for years now, and I’ve yet to meet a woman who actually hates men. I like people to be polite in conversation, and here on this website. That doesn’t mean I’m not occasionally furious with the world. You can tell. It’s when I write in all caps.

But you bet your ass I am angry. Not about sex, as a general rule, but I’m angry about being called a slut because I like sex. I’m angry about old white men wanting to control my reproductive health. I’m angry that I can’t walk down the street without wondering whether my cleavage means I am “asking for it”. I’m angry about political representation and wage gaps and child care and meaningful work and the way women of colour are massively over-represented in US jails. I’m angry that I have to fight so fucking hard to be taken seriously by people like you. Because what’s frustrating is that I could not give less of a shit about what the editors and writers and advertisers of AskMen think. But if you’re going to perpetuate this kind of bullshit to your readers, then I do care.

So, AskMen, take your misogynist, woman-hating crap, and shove it somewhere painful. Women have every right to be angry. Your tone arguments are meaningless, please stop using them. Or just fuck off, that’d work too.  No, the vast majority of us do not want to wipe out men. Some of us love them. But yes, sometimes we want men to shut up and listen. Because that’s how you learn and empathise and be a good ally. Which is not to say men can’t be feminists, or part of the conversation about equality. In fact, we can’t do it without you. It’s just that maybe, every once in a while, and especially if you’re going to talk about women’s issues, you could AskWomen.

Come again?

I am a big believer in reform. I think given the right impetus, opportunity, and support, people can change. They can get better, improve, and come to regret things they’ve done. Naive and idealistic, maybe, but sometimes I am, darlings. I also think you can really dislike a person, but agree with something they say.

Which is why I was willing to give Hugo Schwyzer the benefit of the doubt when he wrote this piece. Because this is all very true.

It’s a key anti-feminist strategy, even if that isn’t the actual intent of the men doing it — it forces women to become conscious caretakers of their male peers by subduing their own frustration and anger.   It reminds young women that they should strive to avoid being one of those “angry feminists” who (literally) scares men off and drives them away….

This doesn’t mean that a “good man” is always in the wrong when he’s arguing with a woman.  It does mean that when men and women argue about gender justice, women are more likely to have insights that men have missed.  Here’s the basic axiom: power conceals itself from those who possess it. And the corollary is that privilege is revealed more clearly to those who don’t have it.  When a man and a woman are arguing about feminism – and the women involved happen to be feminists and the man happens to be an affluent white dude – the chances that he’s the one from whom the truth is more obscured is very high indeed.   That’s as true for me as it is for Tom Matlack.

So, when the furor at Feministe (one of my favourite feminist places) happened, I was a little nonplussed. Here was this guy, who seemed to get it. Sure, problematic relationships with his students – but who hasn’t done things they regret? We grow up, we move on. Oh. He tried to kill himself and his girlfriend? Huh. Well…he was an addict, we all do things…and…. I am increasingly on thin ice here. I can’t justify that, especially in the terms he describes it – he was trying to take care of her, she was broken, only he was strong enough to do what needed to be done. And you know what? Part of reform is admitting what you’ve done, and paying the consequences. He freely admits he hasn’t done that.

Oh. And then Clarisse shut down the comments? Well, while calling someone a sociopath – if you’re not a psychiatrist, and don’t actually know him – is dangerous, but yeah, that seems extreme.

But Feministe apologised, and all was well. Sort of. However, enter Jezebel, who will do whatever they can to increase pageviews, even if it’s posting a column basically suggesting we women are too wrapped up in the idea of consent.  At Jezebel, Mr Schwyzer has suggested this:

For a young man raised with the sense that his body – and especially his penis – is “disgusting”, a woman’s willingness to accept a facial is an intensely powerful source of affirmation. In my conversations with Glickman and Andelloux, I shared this anecdote. Both agreed that rather than seeing the facial as rooted in the impulse to denigrate, it might indeed be better to view it as longing for approval. Andelloux pointed out that in her experience, many women (often with good reason) have a difficult time believing that degradation isn’t at the root of straight men’s fascination with facials. In any case, humiliation and affirmation aren’t incompatible reactions to the same act; a feeling of indignity when your partner ejaculates on your face isn’t contingent on his intending to demean you.

And, yeah, OK, this is where I draw the line. Flavia has said it all better than me, but Hugo? remember back up there when you said that men should sometimes shut up and listen? It’s time for you to Shut Up. We’re not going to give you cookies for being an ally, not especially when you argue bullshit like this.

I should preface the rest of this paragraph with the disclaimer that some women don’t mind, or even enjoy, facials. For me, it’s entirely contextual on the person I am with, and the situation I am in. But the way they are usually (insert standard disclaimer here) portrayed in porn is inherently degrading. But don’t worry about that! According to the estimable Mr Schwyzer, that doesn’t matter! We women should suffer through a humiliating act because it might make a dude feel better about his cock? Look, I’m all for consenting adults being allowed to do whatever they want, but that? Is bullshit. And in fact, consent is barely mentioned in the piece. It’s much more about we women should “let” men do it, to save their precious egos. There’s lip service paid to the idea that “No one should be obligated to endure humiliation for the sake of someone else’s longing for validation.” Except that the entire rest of the piece makes that statement a lie.

And of course, “At the same time (as perhaps with anal sex), many people struggle to believe that receiving a facial is something a woman could enjoy.” This is something anyone involved with BDSM is familiar with – you can’t consent to being submissive, that’s unfeminist, and also, you like being hurt? What? Weird. To which, you know, shut up, I can’t be bothered with that conversation today.

But, seriously, feminist sites need to stop giving this guy airtime. He’s not a feminist. He wants to believe he is, maybe, as redemption, or just cos it’s a really good way to get chicks. Let him write what he writes at his own place, and people who care can have that conversation there. I’m not someone who believes men can’t be feminists – the kyriarchy hurts everyone, and men should  be a part of the conversation. But when a man consistently fails to take responsibility for his actions and his words, and actively promotes disrespecting women – then, yeah, nah, it’s time to STFU.

[Update: Garland Grey also has a great piece, with my favourite sentence this week: “But still, the memory of his sexism is reason enough for you to reevaluate your flimsy personal objections to this sex act, because if there is anything I know about Feminism, it’s that not nearly enough people are getting jizzed on and this is a crisis.”]

For your Monday morning reading pleasure

For your Monday morning reading pleasure, the 40th Down Under Feminists Carnival, presented by the Queen of Thorns, and chock full of feminist reading from antipodean bloggers.

For more information about the carnival, visit the homepage: Down Under Feminists Carnival.

Friday Feminist – Cordelia Fine

Cross posted

You have heard, no doubt, the saying that the personal is the political. Based on his own experiences within a marriage in which we struggle against convention to split things equally, my husband has developed his own, expanded version of this motto. As he would state it, “The school drop-off is the political, the staying home when the kids are sick is the political, the writing of the shopping list is the political, the buying of the birthday presents is the political, the arranging of the baby-sitter is the political, the packing of the lunch boxes is the political, the thinking about what to have for supper is the political, the remembering of the need to cut the children’s toenails is the political…”

Cordelia Fine (2010), Delusions of Gender, New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., pp. 79 – 80.

Friday Feminist – Astrid Lindgren

Cross posted

What does the sign say?” asked Pippi. She couldn’t read very well because she didn’t want to go to school as other children did.

It says, ‘Do you suffer from freckles?’” said Annika.

Does it indeed?” said Pippi thoughtfully. “Well, a civil question deserves a civil answer. Let’s go in.”

She opened the door and entered the shop, closely followed by Tommy and Annika. An elderly lady stood back of the counter. Pippi went right up to her. “No!” she said decidedly.

What is it you want?” asked the lady.

No,” said Pippi once more.

I don’t understand what you mean,” said the lady.

No, I don’t suffer from freckles,” said Pippi.

Then the lady understood, but she took one look at Pippi and burst out, “But, my dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!”

I know it,” said Pippi, “but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.”

Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking, 1945

Friday Feminist – Anne Fausto-Sterling

Cross posted

The intersexual or transgendered person who projects a social gender – what Kessler calls “cultural genitals” – that conflicts with his or her physical genitals still may die for the transgression. Hence legal protection for people whose cultural and physical genitals do not match is needed during the current transition to a more gender-diverse world. One easy step would be to eliminate the category of “gender” from official documents, such as driver’s licenses and passports. Surely attributes both more visible (such as height, build and eye color) and less visible (fingerprints and genetic profiles) would be more expedient.

Anne Fausto-Sterling, “The Five Sexes, Revisted”, in Althea Prince and Susan Silva-Wayne, with Christian Vernon (eds), Feminisms and Womanisms, Toronto: Women’s Press, 2004, pp. 133 – 138, first published 2000.

Friday Feminist – Gloria Steinem

Cross posted

Since history was recorded, male human beings have built whole cultures around the idea that penis-envy is “natural” to women – though having such an unprotected organ might be said to make men more vulnerable, and the power to give birth makes womb-envy at least logical. In short, logic has nothing to do with it. What would happen, for instance, if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not? The answer is clear – menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event:

Men would brag about how long and how much.

Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood, with religious ritual and stag parties.

The US Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea to help stamp out monthly discomforts.

Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. (Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of commercial brands such as John Wayne Tampons, Muhammed Ali’s Rope-a-dope Pads, Joe Namath Jock Shields – “For Those Light Bachelor Days,” and Robert “Baretta” Blake Maxi-Pads.)

Military men, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation (“MENstruation”) as proof that only men could serve in the army (“You have to give blood to take blood”), occupy political office (“Can women be aggresive without that steadfast cycle governed by the planet Mars?”), be priests and ministers (“how could a woman give her blood for our sins”), or rabbis (“Without the monthly loss of impurities, women remain unclean”).

Male radicals, left-wing politicians, and mystics, however, would insist that women are equal, just different; and that any woman could enter their ranks if only she were willing to self-inflict a major wound every month (“You must give blood for the revolution”), recognize the preeminence of menstrual issues, or subordinate her selfness to all men in their Cycle of Enlightenment.

Street guys would brag (“I’m a three-pad man”) or answer praise from a buddy (” Man, you are lookin’ good”) by giving fives and saying, “Yeah, man, I’m on the rag!”

TV shows would treat the subject at length. (“Happy Days”: Richie and Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still “The Fonz,” though he has missed two periods in a row.)

So would newspapers. (JUDGE CITES MONTHLY STRESS IN PARDONING RAPIST.)

And movies. (Newman and Redford in “Blood Brothers”!)

Men would convince women that intercourse was more pleasurable at “that time of the month.” Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself – though probably only because they needed a good menstruating man.

Of course, male intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguments. How could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics, or measurement, for instance, without that in-built gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets – and thus for measuring anything at all? In the rarefied fields of philosophy and religion, could women compensate for missing the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death-and-resurrection every month?

A classic from Gloria Steinem, written sometime in the 1970s. It seems particularly apposite this week.

Friday Feminist – Alison Goodman

Cross posted

She stepped up behind me and I felt her fingers working through my caught hair. It brought the memory of another long-ago touch: my mother combing out snags and knots.

“Why do you wear women’s clothes? There is no power in being a woman, and you are suffering for your choice,” I said. “You could wear men’s tunics and they’d leave you alone.”

The pin came free and she stepped away from me. I heard it clink onto the crowded table.

“When I was seven or so, my sister caught me wearing her skirt,” Lady Dela said softly. “But even before that, I knew I was different from the other boys in our tribe. Nothing boyish came naturally to me. I hated hunting, fishing, even the ball games. I had to work at it, all the time.”

I turned around. Her arms were wrapped tightly around her body.

“Then one day I found the beaded skirt my sister had laboured over for months, tucked away in our family’s tent,” she continued. “When I put it on, I felt complete. I remember thinking that it was just the thing to wear to the mudhole while I pretended to make the special bread our mother baked for Midwinter Feast.” She smiled ruefully. “As you can imagine, beautiful beaded skirts and mud do not mix. My sister found me and dragged me back to our mother for a beating. Of course, my sister’s righteous indignation was lost in the excitement when my mother and the other women saw me dressed in a skirt.”

“What did they do?”

“Instead of a beating, my mother sat me down beside her and showed me how to mill the rice. She always suspected I was a twin soul. She was just waiting for me to come to it myself. A wise woman, my mother. But I did not take on the life of a Contraire until much later. Until I was sure. It is an honoured position in my tribe.” She gave a small, bitter laugh. “Not so honoured here.”

She moved in front of the mirror, surveying herself. “I do not wear men’s clothing because I am a woman in here,” she touched her head, “and here,” she touched her heart. “You are wrong when you say there is no power in being a woman. When I think of my mother and the women in my tribe, and even the hidden women in the harem, I know there are many types of power in this world.” She turned to face me. “I found power in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept, but I cannot live any other way. How would it be to live a lie every minute of our life? I don’t think I could do it.”

Alison Goodman, Eon, 2008

By way of explanation, I can’t find any evidence anywhere of Alison Goodman claiming to be feminist. However her book Eon is strongly feminist, with an interesting heroine, and a nuanced and sympathetic extended discussion of gender. The plot is simple, but the characters are complex, and the ideas are fascinating and beautiful. It’s a young adults book which I bought it for my emerging teen daughter, and read and enjoyed myself.

Friday Feminist – Elisabeth A. Lloyd

Cross posted

I was surprised … when I spoke with a researcher who was working on the evolution of female orgasm in stumptail macaques. He described his experimental set-up to me with some enthusiasm: the females are radio-wired to record orgasmic muscle contractions and increased heartrate, etc. This sounds like the ideal experiment, because it can record the sex lives of the females mechanically, without needing a human observer. In fact, the project had been funded by the NIH, and had presumably gone through the outside referee and panel reviews necessary for funding. But then the researcher described to me the clever way he had set up his equipment to record the female orgasms – he wired up the heart rate of male macaques as the signal to start recording the female orgasms. When I pointed out that the vast majority of female stumptail orgasms occurred during sex among the females alone, he replied that yes, he knew that, but he was only interested in the important orgasms.

Elisabeth A. Lloyd, “Pre-theoretical Assumptions in Evolutionary Explanations of Female Sexuality,” Philosophical Studies 69: 1993, pp. 139 – 153.