Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stripping is not a fucking revolution

Seriously.

As much as people say it is, it still is not. I'm amazed I have to say this.

Yes, and this post will alienate a very large population of the sex-positives and liberal dudez. I don't cater to hypocrites though1, and there is such a large pile of rotting fecal hypocrisy in the notions that stripping is a revolution that I'm amazed that very little people (beside the ever wonderful Twisty or Nine-Deuce2, for example) have pointed them out.

Namely, it is this: those that profess stripping, porn, and prostitution are feminist in nature, can be feminist, or are progressive in any way or form are typically enamored of using some sort of appeal to history, such as some deviation of the phrase that "prostitution is the oldest profession".

How telling! Did anyone else notice that?

If prostitution, the buying of a woman's sexuality for the pleasure of a man (or a richer woman) is the "oldest profession" there really cannot be anything revolutionary, progressive, or new about it and its various forms3.

When Disney produced a movie about the "happy slave" to differentiate American slavery from really horrible slavery, nobody with any sort of intellect would dare express that what was shown was not slavery or not morally wrong.

Likewise, if the women slithering up and down poles today have the right to vote, take off their clothes and not be stoned in the public square, and express their "revolution" via odd consumerist tendencies of blue hair and nipple piercings, that doesn't make what they are doing anything more than dressing up the oldest form of female objectification with half-hearted "counter-culture" symbols. A happy slave is still a slave because he is treated as a slave and looked upon as a slave. A "neo-burlesque performer" is still a stripper because she is treated like a stripper and looked upon in the same fashion as strippers have been for thousands of years.

Women dancing and decorating themselves for men's pleasure is hardly something new. In every single ancient culture, I'm sure you'll find some instance of this sort of objectification. The only thing new about it is that it is now done by privileged and unprivileged women alike.

What is not new about it is why it is successful. Men visiting a brothel in ancient Mesopotamia and men paying a high-class modern escort have quite a lot in common. No matter how much agency the women on poles and in laps and naked on screen might claim they have4, the men having them do not agree. They express this disagreement not with words, but with the continued vilification of sex workers, the celebration of pimps, the disgust of the natural female body and function, and the demand for a male vision of sexuality rather than a celebration of real female sexuality.

And I know all of this because men pay for it. If my job did not pay me, I would not do it. I don't shelf books out of the goodness of my heart, I do it for the paycheck. Women don't take off their clothes, pose provocatively, and commit to strenuous workouts and beauty routines because in a vacuum, they'd want to. They do all of this because their submission is rewarded with male attention, and in the case of sex workers, money.

I also know this because in the places and societies and circumstances in which men did not pay for sex, yet visited places where they could view female bodies in the manner they want and use them how they wish, the women were most frequently slaves, or abused, or kidnapped, or trafficked.

Regardless, women have been ignoring their own sexuality, to the point that hardly any of us can differentiate it from the sensation of wanting someone to want us, for as long as history as been recorded. They have done this for survival, for self-defense, for acceptance, for love, and sometimes for money. Thus, the perpetuation of this behavior today is not a fucking revolution.

It is more of the same. No matter what color the hair might be, or how many trendy tattoos are displayed. Not even if the stripper is wealthy, white, and does so of her "free will". Even, contrary to what some say, if the women own the methods of distributing this show of femininity for male sexual pleasure or they display it by a performance of domination.

But let's pretend that stripping, porn, and prostitution does not have such a grim legacy and doesn't exist today in a largely inhumane fashion. Is sex work an act of feminism, or can it be?

The answer is still no.

The consumers of a message determine its validity. If I draw a really cool poster that I think depicts the idiocy of my political opponents' racism and it winds up really pissing off both the people I'm defending and my allies, then my poster is not an act of rebellion, but an act of racism.

Likewise, if I take off my clothes and say to myself, "I am expressing my sexuality and my empowerment", but the men in the audience say "woo, titties!" and masturbate with a furious glee indistinguishable from their reaction to the disgusting rape porn stockpiled at home, then by taking off my clothes I am not the fueling the revolution, but just crafting another expression of the same old objectification.

Someone will read this post and wibble on about how I am shaming women and taking away their agency. I am not. I will not profess that I want to stop women for making money and having sex in any fashion that does not harm others in any way they so choose. Rather, I wish to say that no matter how much we close our eyes and wish for fairies and pink fields of equality, an act that someone calls a "rebellion" that looks exactly like the same old song and dance, just modernized for consumability, and does not in any way shape or fashion alter the opinions of the viewers or powerful class, is not an act of rebellion at all.

Thus, I leave you with this thought: Feminism has accomplished many things--better rape laws, the right to vote, more equal pay, more opportunities, the right to own property, the right to our own bodies--but none of those things were accomplished by taking off our clothes.

1I am physically incapable of it via my philosophy degree. My background in logic and reason is highly damaging to the social appeal of my message, I fear. On an unrelated note, I love footnotes.
2If either of them stumble upon my tiny corner of the internetz and are distressed by my fan-worship of what little modern radical feminist thought I can consume on a regular basis, I will gladly remove my plugs and slink off to a corner to cry about my inadequacies.
3Of which, I include porn and stripping, both of which are the buying of a woman's sexuality for the pleasure of a man
4And most don't. According to a study done by Farley, Baral, Kiremire, and Sezgin in 1998, 92% of the sex workers surveyed would leave prostitution immediately if they had other viable options

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On abortion, part trois

This will be a post about abortion and rape, although not in the way most people relate the issues.

I promise.

In my last abortion post, I said a fetus cannot survive without the willing cooperation of the mother. It is simply not a viable organism on its own. I claimed that I have never heard a viable moral argument that would substantiate the anti-abortion position that a fetus is guaranteed the support of an unwilling mother. I realize that I was giving this specific line of thought not enough attention. Very few people outside of academic Ethics have heard of Judith Thompson's "right to life" thought experiment which I have quoted here:

The fetus is an innocent person with a right to life. Abortion results in the death of a fetus. Therefore, abortion is morally wrong. In her thought experiment we are asked to imagine a famous violinist falling into a coma. The society of music lovers determines from medical records that you and you alone can save the violinist's life by being hooked up to him for nine months. The music lovers break into your home while you are asleep and hook the unconscious (and unknowing, hence innocent) violinist to you. You may want to unhook him, but you are then faced with this argument put forward by the music lovers: The violinist is an innocent person with a right to life. Unhooking him will result in his death. Therefore, unhooking him is morally wrong.

However, the argument does not seem convincing in this case. You would be very generous to remain attached and in bed for nine months, but you are not morally obliged to do so. The parallel with the abortion case is evident. The thought experiment is effective in distinguishing two concepts that had previously been run together: “right to life” and “right to what is needed to sustain life.” The fetus and the violinist may each have the former, but it is not evident that either has the latter. The upshot is that even if the fetus has a right to life (which Thompson does not believe but allows for the sake of the argument), it may still be morally permissible to abort.

For those too lazy to read the above, Judith Thompson's thought experiment quite eloquently shows that even if we assume that a fetus has a right to life (which I do not think it does, but is allowed for the sake of argument), it may not have the right to the means to support life, especially from an unwilling mother.

Ah, but then we run into complications. Mainly, the usual sexist line used by anti-abortionists when they are pushed up against a wall: "you knew the potential consequences for your sex act when you engaged in it, therefore, take responsibility for your actions you irresponsible whore". Okay, so they usually do not call anyone a whore. That epithet is heavily implied by the statement itself, however, so I have no trouble raising my brows to the obvious anti-woman sentiments. It takes two to tango, and to reproduce, and so it should go without saying that the idea that the woman is the only named irresponsible party if she gets pregnant is incredibly misogynist. A large proportion of people that fornicate use birth control. Furthermore, I very highly doubt that the majority of people who have sex and then seek an abortion if fertilization occurs ever knowingly said to themselves, "gee, let's go fuck and if we have a baby, oh well". Usually, because those same people are using birth control. Notice that I explicitly use the plural we in that sentence. Boys and girls have different parts, and without them, babies are not made. This is hardly rocket science people! To assume that the women is the most responsible party for preventing reproduction, or dealing with the consequences if they occur, is so mind-boggling stupid, and sexist, that I really do not know quite where to begin. Of course, I have found quite a bit of anti-abortionist "liberals" who also rage against she-witches that steal poor menz hard-earned monies with the gun-enforced horrors of child support. Those people, if it wasn't obvious, are MRAs, even if they do not yet know it. There is a very large and obvious hypocrisy in anyone's logic if they think that I cannot see the double standard that is being anti-abortion because women have to be responsible for their actions and being anti-child-support because men don't have to be responsible for their actions. And, if it wasn't clear above, having sex with birth control is not consenting to pregnancy. How hard is that concept? I accept the risk every day that I might die by getting in my car and driving to work, but that hardly means that a court could excuse a drunk driver that hit and killed me by claiming that I consented to someone killing me. I hate that I have to state this, but accepting the minimal risk of something bad is not allowing that something bad to happen to you on the assumption that if it does, it is your fault. That's called victim-blaming. Please knock that shit off.

Well all of this is well and good. What about women who thought they might want to get pregnant, and now find themselves in dire straights? Or women that forgot a condom and find themselves up the duff as the result of a little consensual hanky-panky? Here I bring in the topic of rape. Not to trivialize the issue, but there is an understanding in rape awareness circles that consenting to one sex act does not mean that you consent to another. Meaning that if I am engaged in some fun with my current partner, but I have quite clearly stated before that there will be absolutely no anal sex, and he hold me down and fucks me in the ass anyway, that's rape. Even if I said okay to vaginal sex, it's still rape. Vaginal sex is not equivalent to anal sex. Getting pregnant is not equivalent to becoming a mother. Is this concept really so bizarre? Just because a mother consents to pregnancy, or actively seeks it, does not mean that she consents to carrying the thing to term.

Furthermore, as in the case with rape, consent can be withdrawn at any time. If I consent to sex with someone, I I change my mind in the midst of foreplay, that doesn't mean that he can just carry on and it's not rape. I apply this same principle to pregnancy: just because I consent to have a child, and change my mind in the middle of the pregnancy, does not mean that I have the obligation to continue to term.

The really great thing is, all of the above arguments still hold true if we assume that a fetus is alive, human, and even has a right to life. Anti-abortionists, philosophically, do not have a leg to stand on. I feel quite foolish pointing this out, because it should be blindingly obvious.

Monday, July 28, 2008

If patriarchy had a red button, I'd push the shit out of it

I admit that being conventionally attractive (although less so today than before, being that I stopped caring about what pant size I wear) and white severely benefits my social reception. It also helps that my French and South-eastern European background always give me a "knowledgeable" air by the nature of my sharp features and dark hair. Regardless, I absolutely notice the difference with how people treat me depending on what I wear. I used to be very self-conscious when I ran to the corner store in wrinkled shorts and sans makeup, but recently, I find myself forgetting to shave my legs for a week or more. I still do the "fat check" in the mirror, and I wish I could stop. I put on clothes, and then check to make sure, at various angles, that bits of untoned and flabby stomach, thighs, and back don't noticeably show. I hate this tendency in myself, but I have no idea how to stop it. Perhaps someone, someone blindingly stupid, might read this and think, "gee Jenn, lose some weight and you'll feel better about yourself!" And the fact of the matter is that no, I won't feel better about myself or lose weight, thanks ever so much. I feel better about myself when I am in shape and doing well in my social and school life. When I was the skinniest I ever have been in my life, a size two, and closely resembled Natalie Portman, I thought I was the ugliest and fattest girl in school. My negative body-thoughts now, at a size 12, are much less frequent. Still, they persist.

The fact is that I still wish I could change this in myself. Ha! I might as well submit myself to the illusion that I am a god, not a human, and that my perception of myself is not at all linked to society's judgement. Humans are inevitably social creatures. Every time I submit to patriarchal guidelines of dress my submission is rewarded with praise, attention, and sometimes, love. To think that anyone could erase that influence in their lifetime is beyond absurd. To even dream that my "fat check" ritual is a choice in the real sense of the word is shear idiocy. I know that this lack of choice and individuality bother the typical Western "master of my own destiny" philosophy, but we should all know by now what I think of the utter bullshit that taints mind of the average American.

I apologize for the digression, but it is relevant. I notice how people perceive me in public simply because a social organism, I am programmed by evolution to do so. For someone to come along and say "stick it up and stop caring what people think of you!" is just so utterly simplistic that I seriously question the validity of conventional wisdom. One day, I will write a critically acclaimed philosophical treatise on what utter nonsense conventional "wisdom" is, and how it serves the interests of those in power. Perhaps this is wishful thinking.

Nevertheless, when I venture out of the house bedecked in large trendy jewelry, clingy tops, matching shoes, and a tastefully made-up face, I definitely notice the difference between that and "normal mode": unshaven legs, no makeup, shorts, old faded tees, hair up, and sometimes, godforbid, glasses. My hygiene is always impeccable in either case. My hair, even when I don't do much to it, stays neat by the good care of my fantastic hair stylist and her shampoo recommendations. I never ever smell, even in the disgusting Arizona summers. But still, in "glamour mode" I find that men smile at me, clerks make small talk, my friends make more eye contact, women graciously let me cut in front of them if I have fewer items, kids grin at me, and my family talks more about my successes than failures. In "normal mode" I am completely invisible. I still can get stares by the nature of my disproportionately large breasts and lips, but it's in a "eww slutty homeless crack addict/hooker" way, not in a "where did you get that cute top?" way. Men ignore me. Clerks don't make small talk and get angry if I notice a mistake rather than apologize. Women look down on me and turn up their noses. Children stare at me, sometimes point out my hairy legs to their mothers. And my family, the worst of all, tells me how worried they are about how I don't have a boyfriend, how I seem depressed, and how I come off as cold and bitchy. All of this after I have taken painful introspective care to make sure that my mannerisms do not change at all regardless of how I am dressed.

And it is beyond stupid to ask myself to be angry because I am too shallow to let go of what others think about me. I simply cannot, and I submit that no other human on the face of this planet can either. We can bottle these feelings of inadequacy up as much as we want, but they will persist in things like depression, domestic disturbances, eating disorders, and various other widespread social ills. What makes me so incredibly angry is that I feel this way at all. I cannot defeat human nature. What humanity could do, and it chooses not to, is destroy these stupid gender expectations. Erase the taint of marketing. Ship everyone out who uses power to sell a product or idea on our inadequacies to some deserted island, and then wipe it off the face of the planet with those stockpiled missiles. I, personally, would push that little red button until it cracked in half under the strain of my fervor. Everything in me hates this violence humanity submits itself to, and then viciously defends regardless of social class, political alliances, or privileges. And the shear gall of those who would deny it! Humanity as we know it is terminally ill. The thought that my inclination to destroy those parts of our culture that I feel are responsible for most of our present ills would be reviled as insane rather than praised as enlightened is truly a testament to how far this madness has encroached on our mental territory.

To this day, I hate myself no matter how far or close to the patriarchal guidelines I find myself. The only thing that at all diminishes this relentless self-hatred is the knowledge that I never, not once, consented to this nonsense. I urge everyone else to stop thinking of themselves as the instruments of their own self-destruction and start recognizing how the system we inhabit is specifically designed to make us hate ourselves and destroy ourselves, and then fool each other into thinking that everything is alright, that the most oppressed is responsible for our suffering (racism anyone?), or that the individual who cries silently to themselves with the thought that they cannot overcome this madness is pathetic and weak.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those that are oppressed by the patriarchy, and those that think they are not.

But godammit, if you're going to try to push my hands away from that red button, at least understand my urge to claw your fucking face off.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On abortion, part deux

The biggest disconnect between the two sides of the abortion debate is that both are talking about entirely different things. The pro-abortionists are, rightly, concerned about the rights of the mother. The anti-abortionists are concerned with the rights and status of the fetus.

It is from this that antagonism spawns. It should be obvious that I am patently and unapologetically pro-abortion. I am ready and willing to take on any anti-abortion debates. Why? Well, anti-abortion debates are usually founded upon the principle that a fetus is human, and is therefore entitled to all human rights. They point towards shoddy research, stating such things like at what point a fetus feels pain, or at what point it has fingers. They might also claim that a fetus is human at the point of conception, because it has a full set of human DNA. If they are feeling particularly inspired, they will appeal to a higher authority, citing that abortion is against the will of God and misinterpreting various passages of the Bible.

Firstly, all the research in the world about when a fetus has brain waves or hair is all for naught. I have not stumbled upon a single rational argument as to why a fetus unable to survive without the willing cooperation of the mother is somehow guaranteed that cooperation, or why exactly a fetus is human. The fact that a fetus has a full set of DNA is also inconsequential, because so does my spleen and the nails I just clipped. The greatest abortionist of all, God, also cannot save your shoddy argument, for it is fate that aborts more fertilized ovum than any number of willing women.

All of the anti-abortionist logic can easily be defeated. What cannot be brushed off, however, is that there is a very real infringement of rights that would result from the banning of abortion. There are women that would die, unnecessarily, from illegal and unsanitary abortions. These are facts. Incontrovertible facts.

Anti-abortionists give me no such relevant facts. In the interests of my rights and my innate rationality, I cede unqualified victory to pro-abortionists. The very real fact of the matter is that anti-abortionists cannot prove that anything necessarily morally wrong happens during an abortion. Whereas, pro-abortionists can prove, with little effort, how legalized abortion saves human lives and grants half of the population reproductive rights.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Photoshop + Feminism

So I was working on a new banner for the blog, and I came up with the above. I really like it a lot. I think I might port this blog over to Wordpress, simply because I like the features over there more. I'm up in the air, though, of what exactly I'm going to do. I do think that the new layout is going to be something with a lot of red, and something with a lot more sidebars than what I currently have. I want people to stumble upon my blog and immediately know what they're looking at, but I also want a lot of interactive features. Currently, Blogger doesn't do so well on tags and comments. I abhor their comment system.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Search terms that uncover radical feminist blogs

I really love my sitemeter, the unintentional source of much hilarity. Among the searches that lead people to this page are:

  1. why do men constantly masturbate if they have a significant other?
  2. beauty teen 12 years old xx
  3. preteen forced sex
  4. middle school girl xx
  5. preteen orgasms
  6. free home made porn older women younger men
  7. xx larger sexy woman porn

1. Well, I don't know. I don't have a penis. You're not going to find the answer here, sorry. If I may make an educated guess, it's probably because sometimes it's just easier to masturbate. At least for me, I don't have to worry about what I smell like or if I feel like reciprocating. Don't take it personally, okay?

2-5. I find it unintentionally hilarious that dudez out there looking for some hot XX underage rape get a radical feminist blog instead.

6-7. Again, surfing for porn and turning up an anti-porn site is just precious. I wish google bombing still worked like it used to, and for every time someone looked for porn they'd get something like oneangrygirl.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Consent, the patriarchy, and altruism

So it has been said, quite frequently, that my hatred of all patriarchy-inspired "beauty rituals" including high heels, surgery, and movement-restricting clothing is really demeaning to women. My critique of the violent and abusive nature of all things labeled feminine mocks women that choose such things of their own free will. Pro-porn1 advocates claim that objections to the industries of objectification and abuse--porn, prostitution, and stripping--are taking women's agency away from them or applying the same kind of moral outrage that conservatives are apt to.

The disconnect, I believe, lies in the definition of "consent". In a prior post, I confessed that all sex acts within a patriarchy lie along the same continuum of non-consent. Which, although the word is shocking, makes all heterosexual encounters acts of rape. This is not to say that pleasure and love is not possible in this society. Simply, because of our socialization in gender roles, we cannot determine for ourselves whether or not even the smallest adherences to gendered behaviors--such as plucking your eyebrows--is actually an act of free-will. It seems simple: I want to pluck my eyebrows, so I do. But the question is, would I want to pluck my eyebrows if I had not been told that my naturally bushy brows are ugly? If every image I saw of femininity was not a gross distortion of nature, would I still have the desire to forcibly rip hair, and sometimes skin, from my body?

Thus, it stands to reason that the most gendered encounter--the act of coitus--is probably less a product of free will than any other.

However, that is not to say that I think everyone who does not realize that their actions are not their own is stupid. Nor am I infantiziling women. My point is that everyone, even me, does not consent to the violence done to their individuality by gender roles, and that the exercise of those gender roles in this society is inevitable. Humans are social creatures by necessity. Succumbing to our social programming in ways both known and unknown to us is hardly an act of stupidity. It is a mechanism of survival, instilled in us through billions of years of evolutionary adaptation. Basically, social creatures exist in a state in which they trust the members of their immediate social grouping not to hurt them. They know they they will not hurt them by familiarity. The social animal knows that to hurt others would be wrong or unnecessary, and since the other animals around it look and act similar to it, it assumes that they agree with this principle and are thus worthy of some measure of trust.

Therefore, when a new organism wanders into the vicinity of the previous animal's "turf", either seeking admission or to otherwise, the animals are far more likely to trust and tolerate an organism that acts and looks like them.

Humans instinctively know this. The social phenomenon of trends and fads arises from this tendency. Most humans will seek to minimize differences in order to belong to a group, and to be seen as a friend and not a threat.

To say that someone that adheres to gender roles is stupid, therefore, is to assume that people are more like gods than animals. We are lucky to possess free will and consciousness, and these things allow us reason that the things we do are wrong or silly or weird. However, thousands of years of social conditioning in the rightness of gender roles cannot be entirely overcome by any individual in so long as those gender roles are still encouraged by popular society and our immediate acquaintances.

It is hardly easy to admit that the power of reasoning cannot overcome my instinctive need to belong to the point where I can erase all the violence done to the definition of my selfhood. My choices in this mad world are either to submit to the need to belong and be unhappy by the nature of the things I must to, as a woman, to belong, or to resist the need to belong and be unhappy by the nature of my loneliness. The "choice" between two unhappinesses is hardly a choice at all. Even consciously choosing one or the other is hardly feasible, for there are a thousand ways that resistance is overcome.

And so I exist in a perpetual state of non-consent. I have never consented to the person I am or the urges I have, instilled by social conditioning. I can only choose to be aware of my misery and loss of choice, or fool myself into thinking that I am free. The second choice, however, is not the greater of two evils. The necessity of ignoring violence is hardly the actions of a weak mind. That too is human nature. If we see no other choice, then no other choice exists. It is not enough for me to say that one chooses to be a porn star, because I do not know if the rational behind joining the sex industry is entirely free. In actuality, I know that it not entirely free, in the same way that I know my decision to pluck my eyebrows is not.

What, then, of those who would objectify women? Are they not subject to the same social forces, are they not the same helpless victims of human instincts? That answer is complicated.

I believe, as do others, that humanity's instincts are not to rend and tear and kill. I think that we are inherently peaceful and altruistic, and that as social creatures we are apt to do good things for others, even for no gain for ourselves, because this instinct has resulted in the creation and maintenance of societies.

Luckily for women, this altruism is not damaged in the way that it is for men. We might be socialized into hurting ourselves, against the instinct of self-preservation, to serve a need to "fit in", because if we do not fit in, we are vulnerable and lonely. However, the altruistic tendency is socialized out of men by the constant message that women are not human, that they are different, that they are the Other. If the natural human inclination is to do good for, or at the very least ignore, those similar to us, then the only way that this instinct can be overturned is by the notion that those that we hurt and suppress and kill are abused for the sake of self-preservation, because they are not human, or because they, being the Other, like it.

This theme is not restricted to gendered interactions. The above is used again and again to perpetuate and justify every human horror, from sexism to racism to animal abuse and to genocide. People electrocute others on the orders of someone in uniform in order to belong and not resist perceived authority--a self-preserving response to the threat that authority embody. What things like the Mil.gram experiments show is not that humanity is naturally cruel, but that we are cruel when we can be convinced that this cruelty is necessary for our own survival or the greater good2.

It is the socialization of the male that warps the natural human altruism, while the socialization of the female merely distorts the urge of self-preservation. That is not to say that females cannot act in such a way that is deliberately cruel, or that men can act in such a way that is self-destructive; merely that gender roles make it far more likely for men to be abusive and for women to be self-sacrificing.

All of this social theory is well and good, but what does it have to do with consent?

There is something very different between a gendered woman's act, such as choosing to stay with an abusive husband, and a men's act, such as beating his wife. That is where I make the distinctions of moral wrongness and consent. A violence done to the self may not be natural, but it is not morally wrong. A woman who chooses to stay with her abuser does no moral wrong. However, a man that chooses, as the result of socialization, to abuse another is not acting out of a perversion of natural human altruism, but is morally wrong.

Likewise, it is not an act of infantilization to admit that gendered interactions, "consented" to by women, are not a product of natural human instincts. It is an admission of their humanity and the social forces that every single one of us will never be free of in our life times. That is not to say that a man's violence is something that he cannot help. On the contrary. While his attitude about women may never be changed, and while men, in so long as the gender continues to be socialized in this fashion, will never consciously and subconsciously think of women as the Same, and not the Other, their choice to act in such a violent matter is exactly that: a choice.

Because we acknowledge that every one of us has the power of reason. We do know that when we do things that affect other people, even animals, that they probably have the power to form an opinion of our actions and the way that they affect them. A woman takes away no one's choice when she plucks her eyebrows or "consents" to marital rape. A man is morally wrong when he acts in such a way that requires the socialized subjugation of women for that action to be valid or "consented" to. In less words, a man perpetuates and submits to sexism, a woman only submits to sexism.

This can be observed in the incontrovertible fact that men, as a collective, have benefited far more from the present state of affairs than women have. Just as a slaveholder may consent to perpetuating slavery, a slave cannot "consent", in the real meaning of the word, to his own status. And this is shown, time and time again, by the state of fear and violence that the masters shower upon their inferiors. They must be made to think that their submission is an act of self defense and of normalcy, or the vast mechanisms of this convoluted hierarchy cannot function. But a man suffers no real loss in status by refusing to abuse. A woman, however, suffers very real losses by refusing to submit to the social forces that drive her to "consent" to her subjugation. Consent, in this context, can only be applied to those actions in which there is a net gain, rather than a net loss.

For it is taken as a priori knowledge that the act of consent, and to a lesser extent, free will, may only be taken by a fully rational human being. And it is truly a sick society in which the definition of consent is only applicable to those that would use it to submit themselves to some other's perversions and abuse, when the other can excuse his abuse, and gains, with various appeals to his right of superiority and moral wrongness.

And that is how and why, in many words, women's actions are not subject to the same sort of scrutiny and scorn as the actions of someone who perpetually benefits from a society that bestows upon him unearned privilege and rights for his chance of a penile appendage.  

1I refuse to call them "pro-sex". Porn isn't sex any more than a movie with a sex scene is a real sex act. Just because it looks like sex and is marketed for sexual pleasure does not mean that it is sex and not a performance.

2Excepting, of course, those instances of real human sociopathy or mental illness. Which, I am convinced, are extremely rare and usually mistakenly contributed to psychosis and not an extreme reaction to normal socialization.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

BlogThings Doesn't Want to Get Some Coffee with Me After Class

You Are A Bad Date!
Sometimes it just seems like your heart isn't in it

At least, not unless the guy is a dead ringer for Brad Pitt (with more money)

You just don't spend enough time wondering if he's having fun...

And newsflash - he probably isn't!

 

Oh God, where to start? Of course my heart is not in a date if the man is not attractive. I see how BlogThings tried to assume that I was a bad girl for not being enthused about a man who undoubtedly spent far far less time on his appearance than I did.

For that matter, who walks around wondering if they are pleasing the person they are with? Women, that's who! Look, dude, if you don't like me, get up and leave. That's for you to decide. If you want me to bat my eyelashes and act like I think you're the hottest thing since the invention of the wheel, you are completely delusional. Honestly, I would be questioning someone's motives if they were so enthused about spending time with someone they hardly know that they are constantly second-guessing if the other person is having fun.

Also, thanks for the snarky newsflash (seriously, who the hell still uses such cliches outside of satire?), but if a guy can't have fun unless I am acting like he is some male Adonis and I am so insecure that I constantly cater his needs by wondering what I would possibly do to make him have fun, then I'm glad I'm raining on his egotistic parade.

So what did I do to BlogThings to make them assume I am such a craptastic date?

First, they asked me what would be a good spot for a first date. I would never want to see any sort of movie with Julia Roberts or Reese Witherspoon, so that option was out. Furthermore, I do not have the money to be spending it on a nice dinner and concert tickets for a guy I do not even know (shit, I can't even afford to do that with my best friends), so that option was crossed out. I figured that I liked lunches, and lunches at quiet spots, and lunches at quiet spots with views, so I picked that one. Sounded low-maintenance and cheap.

Then we moved onto my pre-date beauty ritual. I was a bit stumped at this question. Honestly, it's not a "beauty ritual". I do not pray at any sort of altar for the gods of porn to bless me with a suitably fuckable face. I immediately knew that I did not spend an hour doing anything remotely like painting my nails and doing my hair, so that option was out. I do have minimum standards of hygiene, however, and I abhor being late, so I could not choose "you really don't have one - unless rushing to make the date on time counts," even as much as I wanted to out of spite for the stupidity of the idea of any sort of beauty "ritual". So I settled on a new shirt, some perfume, and refreshing my lipstick. Even though I don't wear lipstick.

Okay, now we finally get to things about men. Of course, it's things about how we react to men, rather then how men treat us. Because how a man would treat me on a date has no bearing on my behavior on that date. No sir 'ee. I am the picture of modesty and feminine grace no matter how much of a douchebag my potential paramour might happen to be. It's my duty as a woman to deal with the bullshit of men because "boys will be boys" and my lack of penis means I must suffer losers and misogynists by God's holy decree.

So, question three: "What do you try to find out about a guy on the first date?" First, I do not "catch" men, and I am not interested in his suitability to being "caught". I would not bring up the topic of money and income on a first date, probably because I have neither and the issue is fairly touchy for me right at the moment. Also, Donald Trump is probably one of the biggest sexist pricks on the planet, so it's fairly obvious that income does not have much of a bearing on personality. I was tempted to pick "what he's like as a boyfriend... to see if you want to be with him", but then I thought better. Hi, earth to Jen: it's a first date. You don't plan cakes and wedding and moving in together on the first date. I don't even know what the guy likes to do, what kind of person he is, and whether or not I can stand him for a full evening, so I'm not about to question if I want to "be with him". That statement could also be taken as whether or not I was willing to sleep with him on the first date, and then my answer would be a resounding "check please!" coupled with a quick brush-off. So obviously I needed to pick the option that stated that I needed to see what he did for fun and if we had enough common ground to even be friends. Honestly, I don't fuck people I don't like as people. It's not a good situation all around.

Next, the quiz wondered what my reaction would be to a guy who claimed that he loved rollerblading (people still do that?) and that he used to do it every weekend with his last ex. My typical reaction would ask why he does not anymore, simply because I cannot fathom a world in which the prerequisite to exercising with someone is sleeping with them, and that this exercising must immediately cease upon the ending of the sex. So you only have fun with the people you're sleeping with? Check please! But that wasn't an option. Pity. I had to skip over the answer that I would tell him that that was "awesome". Really, rollerblading is not so exciting that I am going to lie about my opinion, because I do not have one, of it. I would also not tell him that his hobby was stupid because my ex-boyfriend used to take me on elaborate trips on the weekends. My ex-boyfriend's idea of a weekend get-away was pestering me to have sex on his roommate's bed. I would probably say something about how I used to love rollerblading, because I actually did, and ask him where he liked to rollerblade. It's always nice to keep tabs on places that are friendly to transportation devices other than cars.

So now my date asks me why I am single. If he was a bad date, I would probably respond that, "because I have had a series of really bad relationships. Also, I hate reruns. Check please!" If he was a good date, I would shrug and say that most dates do not go as well as this one did, and I must have standards. Of course, BlogThings is neither as witty, nor as intelligent as me, so neither of these options were available. First, the idea of "Mr.Right" coming along to make me happy with his shlong of manly awesomeness is pathetic, so that's a no. Complaining about my last relationships ("oh, the last one cheated on me with my now ex-best friend, the one before that was not a man--by the way I'm bisexual, and the one before that raped me") probably is not a good idea either. Thus, I'd tell him that I am busy and that I haven't "clicked with anyone yet".

Now I have to assume that my date is boring. Hardly a stretch. Then, it is revealed that my waiter is attractive, and single. What do I do? Well, I'm certainly not going to corner him, while still on my date, and ask for his number. Advertising my willingness to boy scout in entirely inappropriate moments is not prudent. Likewise, I would not slip him a note on the way out. Having standards, I would probably finish the date, keep my hands to myself, and then come back to the restaurant later, alone, because I'm not stupid.

To mix it up, now I have to assume my date is not boring. I might have to use some brainpower for this exercise. My phone rings, so what do I do? The idea of answering it and saying something to whoever is on the line about how great my date is would be stupid beyond words. Really, why should I have to act so coy? I didn't even bother to look at any other answer other than the one that included "this does not happen because I know where the off button my cell is". If I am in a one-on-one situation with another person, I turn my fucking cellphone off. I also expect the other person to do the same. Common courtesy, where art thou? I'm on a date with John Doe, not with my best friend and my potentially "just checking up" mother. Also, I really hate it when I suddenly become the third wheel to someone who is not even there, so I would never do that to someone. Phone is off.

Now my hypothetical date is over. My first option inspires the gag reflex: asking him to kiss me. Oh lord. If I want to kiss, then I ask him if I can kiss him. Look buddy, these are my lips, I want a kiss, and if you would be a willing participant in this kissing adventure, nod yes and off we go! Also, the idea of asking someone to do something to me, like I am some sort of object, is gross. No thanks. Furthermore, I will not ask someone to call me like I wait by the phone for his approval. Neither do I ask if I should call him. If I want to spend time with you, I'll call. If you want to spend time with me, you call. Why must I make dating into this bizarre "please do X to be because I am too helpless to do it myself"? So, if the date was good, I'd be likely to say, "that was so much fun. Thanks for taking me out!" Because it's nice to thank people for spending enjoyable time with you, and to express how much you enjoyed spending time with them. Hey, I'm blunt and honest.

So, I submitted my test on a lark. And BlogThings told me I was a shitty date. I'm going to assume that this is because I date like a person trying to discover if I like someone rather then dating like a coy flirty "chick" trying to manipulate a egomanic into wanting to do dirty degrading things to me.

Oh how bad am I? I date under the assumption that (a) I like you as a person and (b) I am attracted to you. If either are false, then I'm not dating you. Thus, a first date is an experiment of how I feel. I could really give a shit about pleasing someone else by being something I am not.

Then my results tell me: Newsflash, Jen! Men don't want to date women with standards for themselves and others, and they certainly don't want to date someone more interested in how a woman feels about a guy as person then how much that woman would like to them to fuck her. Because if I have standards, and I want you as a person, that means that you have to behave and meet me somewhere in the middle.

In this crazy world, however, dating isn't about my happiness, it's about how much I can fake liking men for their enjoyment. Thanks for the update BlogThings!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A eulogy for my brother

His memory is bittersweet. I recall the first time I behold his large forehead and open blue eyes as he looked up into my four-year old face from his perch in my lap by the bedside of my postpartum mother. I remember the days when I would throw a tantrum because I hated school and my little brother was always there to play with me, no matter how awkward I was. I was his sun, his older sister, and he fell into my orbit with his wide grin and habit of throwing peas into old ladies' hair at the local cafeteria.

I loved my brother with all my heart and then some. I missed him dearly when we were separated, me eleven and he seven. I wondered if he missed me, in the city with my mom, while I lived under the thumb of my draconian father and aloof stepmother. The weekends were cacophonous and ironically peaceful. The monotony of my schoolwork was broken only by the weekend interludes of the time with my brother. For two days we were together again, and the pull of our sibling love for the other was palpable in its normalcy. I look back at the times my jealousy overcame my young heart with such nostalgia. My rage for his luck of my mother's leniency, and his yearning for my natural book smarts. We were complements, he and I. I was the approval seeker, disappointed when my brother, who could not read, received more attention than I, She Who Devoured Books. My best friend, my partner in crime. He would pick up sticks in the alley behind my father's house at my dare, and stick them between the slats of our neighbor's fence to tease their anxious dog. When the animal bit and snapped and rattled the fence, we would laugh at our cleverness at overcoming such a foul beast and narrowly escape down the alleyway with our lives intact.

He flourished, one day, my brother. He moved out of my orbit and into his own. The height of the diving board became no match for his will and his drive. The things he would not do without the teasing of his older sister became the things he did to impress someone other than me. Perhaps it was himself he was trying to please. His slowness receded, and my best friend became someone other than my reflection and my twin. He read things I had no wish to. The games I played held no interest for him anymore. The weekends we spent, glued to each other's side, became two days in which we saw each other sporadically in the breaks between our own interests.

And I loved this person, this brother of mine. No longer my shadow, but someone new. I loved him not in the childish way that one loves their arm as a part of themselves, but in the way a sibling loves her younger brother, who succeeded where she failed, failed where she succeeded, and sometimes never attempted either success or failure in those things which she once did. We fought with the viciousness of cats at play, confident that there would be a time, usually the hour after, in which we loved one another again. Our arguments were petty: dishes and garbage cans and hair in the sink. But we loved each other still, and the time we spend apart made the times we compromised together sweeter.

But there came a time when my brother fell ill. His guileless blue eyes turned cold, and his head lolled towards the ground instead of towards the sky. His silly games became taunts, a madness, a game, in which there was no object or reason other than the expression of his agony. He did not care anymore for anything at all. Nothing but that which reflected his illness back at him. There was a fire that burned, not of passion, but of pestilence. And that fire was both literal and figurative.

That day was the day I knew that my brother was dying. He stood on the pavement, a mask over his face, his arm wrapped in gauze, and the firetrucks' flashing red amongst the facades of cookie-cutter suburban adobe. The air stunk of smoke and of water. All I smelled was fear, fear and a crushing agony that never abated. As they shoved his wrists in cuffs and I held my weeping mother close, I persisted in holding on to the false hope that this sickness was not terminal. That there would be a day again where my brother's eyes sparkled with glee and my mother laughed at our antics.

For a time, my delusion held. There were no more cuffs, and no more uniforms knocking at our door. We still fought over trash cans, hair in the sink, and drums during homework. But his jacket was still black, and his time was still spent looking into mirrors that echoed his madness, and the fights were of rabid beasts, not of cats. I ignored these moments that broke my lie. I would curl in on myself even as I held my head high as his words of pestilence and famine and death crashed round my ears. I blamed myself for this illness. I blamed my mother for her surrender, unwillingly given by necessity. I blamed by father for his absence and the passing of this malady.

And then there was the day my brother was dead. The laughing boy I loved like myself was gone. There is no anniversary of his death to mark by time. It was only recently that I realized that the foulness of rot was only gone with his physical absence. How do you morn a love greater than yourself? How do you see that which is dead in the face of a monster? And so I bury my brother today. My partner in crime, my love, and my hope.

This memory of love makes my reality of hate so much more unbearable. The monster that inhabits my home in his place says things that hurt, says things that make my own madness laugh and grin and beat a tempo of futility amongst the demons of reality traipsing through my head. I cannot bear to look upon this monster and see my own illness reflected back at me. This illness of hate and violence and twisted love. But we are one and the same, still, this new monster and I. We both hate that which has no name, she who wears my face and my sex. She that taunts and laughs at me for the things I wish and wish not to be, and he for the things he wishes he had or hates that he wishes or and hates that he does not have.

So I buried my brother. I dug a deep grave beside one I unwillingly dug, teaspoon by teaspoon, a long time ago. Here I buried that which was once was my brother, and will never be again, beside the shed skin of someone who was once me. There are no gravestones to mark this hallowed place; no mausoleum at which to mourn for the possibilities now lost.

My only reminder of this death is the emptiness of the monster's eyes as they gaze deep into the emptiness of mine.

Rape Culture or the Perversion of Nature

There exists a portion of academia that I  continually denigrate and mock. Namely, the sociobiologist pseudo-intellectual who argues that all, or most, present gaps and differences between races, genders or religions are a product of evolution. More often than not, they are responsible for completely non-sensible conclusions, unsupported by their own research, to explain how things like the American male aversion to pink or the female dissatisfaction with casual sex are biological imperatives rather than learned social behaviors.

In case you did not already conclude this, I am very much a tabula rasa breed of philosopher. This examination of social forces has largely gone out of style. I imagine that this is because sociological fields require quite a bit more creativity and intuition than the hard sciences. While evolution is undoubtedly more rational than creationism, using it to justify every single minutia of human deviancy is intellectually dishonest. Evolutionary biologists adhere to their theories with all the fervor of religious dogma. Like evangelists, who think that all sins are forgiven, as long as one has faith, the sociobiologist justifies deviant behavior, including his own, with the claim that "we just can't help it".

While claims of the biological inferiority of the female sex never fail to inspire eye-rolls and immediate dismissal from my good favor, nothing quite inspires anger like the evolutionary rape apologist.

Rape, this pseudo-intellectual might claim, is a natural imperative. Men cannot control their penises by design. Even if they could, rape is responsible for the continuation of the species and the fulfillment of the biological imperative to procreate by any means necessary.

First of all, such thinking is not only incredibly dangerous, but also more a product of old Christian ideas on human nature than empirical science. If rape is natural, and we take it as a priori that rape is bad, then humanity is bad. The root of such conclusions does not lie in Darwinism, but in the doctrine of original sin and influential Western philosophers that parroted such notions; namely, Hobbes and Machiavelli.

Secondly, the idea that rape best serves the continuation of the species is completely nonsensical. The biological imperative to procreate is undoubtedly mutual to both sexes. However, sex is hardly an act that requires brutality. On the contrary, the female sex organs are designed for pleasurable stimulation, and new studies have shown that the female orgasm might play a role in strengthening the kelgel muscles for successful childbirth or that the orgasm itself may increase the chances of fertilization.

However, not all rape is brutal. The idea, however, that the manipulation or force of rape encourages sex is absurd. Women are biologically just as likely to want sex, intimacy, and reproduction as a man. Manipulation of her will or the enslavement of marital duties hardly makes the act enjoyable or a female more likely to partake of it. Even a child can tell you that chores are things which they pull out all stops to prevent their necessity or command. Women are quite capable of enjoying sex and motherhood on their own, thus the manipulation of natural inclinations would be more rooted in religion and delusion than science. The loss of control, the violation of selfhood, that rape creates would not increase the rate at which women have children or men have successful sexual encounters. Rape inspires sexual dysfunction, stress disorders, and various other psychological scars that would prohibit a woman from wanting to bear more children and discourage her from all future interpersonal relationships, vastly decreasing the chances that she would bear further offspring.

Pretending that all of the above is irrational, rape still is not a valid evolutionary response. If the purpose of rape is to increase the proliferation of the human species, than leaving a now prospective mother with feelings other than love for the resulting children is hardly rational. The imperative to hunt the most vulnerable female or to manufacture female vulnerability as a cultural norm, likewise, is in opposition to the idea that the biological imperative is to create healthy and strong offspring. Animals hunt the weakest, but they mate with the strongest. A man who claims that his urge to rape a young child or someone he thinks of inferior to himself is not the characteristics of natural sexuality. Reproduction between equals, not a monster and his created inferior, would result from the healthiest genetics.

This deviancy echoes in our society. The acquisition of sexual conquests is expressed with such metaphors related to hunting, such as "on the prowl". In this rape culture, the dominant definition of sex is not, by any rational justification, the makings of an evolutionary imperative. The default definition of intercourse, the having of the woman by the man, has much more to do with cruelty and manufactured sociopathy than healthy proliferation of the species. To say that rape is about power, not sex, is not as accurate as it was once thought to be. Rape, by definition, is the sexualization of power.

Rape and the manufacture of female inferiority, as I have clearly explained above, is also a massive deviation from the idea of evolutionary success. Any intellectual who purports any differently is not a intellectual at all, but a dogmatist seeking to rationalize his, or others, sexual deviancy with a hijacked perversion of science.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

False Consciousness or the Funeral of I

This post was inspired by Twisty's eloquent explanation of the rape culture, which I posted in her comment thread and preserved here in all of its agony.

For the thousand ways I resist the patriarchy every day, there are another ten thousand ways in which I give in, lie back, and let the flow of oppression take me away. I have never consented. Not once. Every single sexual encounter I have ever had with a man exists on the same spectrum of rape from the most obvious to the most insidious. Every time I do so much as shave my legs, simply because I have been conditioned to hate their natural state, my body is not my own. It is always a tool of the patriarchy, valued for its ability to titillate. I stand in front of the mirror plucking my eyebrows weekly, pleased with their socially acceptable shape, but horrified by the realization that I have no idea what I would like my eyebrows to look like if I was a truly free of this horrid cycle of self-hatred and mental illness. I love myself for looking pretty, I hate myself for looking pretty. I love myself for resisting looking pretty, I hate myself for resisting looking pretty. This horror is specifically constructed to take away our consent in almost every detail of our lives.

Every single one of us is sick. The society which has given us our life has taken away our identity and agency. Who am I outside of the short brunette with purposely tousled sexy hair? I have no idea. Simply the mental energy required to resist the smallest details of the patriarchy is beyond my grasp. I can float on top of this vast ocean of madness, but I am still a part of it and my toes will never be dry.

And I hate myself, almost as much as I hate the men who would use me and discard me as a temporary sheath for their penis. When I take the time to really think about who I am, and how I know who I am, its very clear that everything about me is manufactured for the profit or pleasure of someone other than myself. This sickness is like a cancer, a parasite, that encompasses my entire existence and being. Like Twisty said, it is Stockholm Syndrome. I am happy for being oppressed. I “consent” to oppression to be happy. All I can do is condemn the patriarchy while hypocritically adhering to it in ways unknown and known to me.

This violence will not cease in so long as we remain complacent that our choices are good and just because they must be our own. The entire structure of society is based on a convenient lie of consent. I did not manufacture this atrocity, I did not set the gears in motion. Sometimes I oil them, and sometimes I throw small pebbles into the clockwork out of futile spite. In my lifetime I will never be free of the patriarchy, no matter how far I run, and neither will anyone else.

My only consolation is that I am self-aware enough to admit my madness, to morn for a world that is terminally sick, and that my purpose is this vast mechanism is to be oppressed rather than to enforce and perpetuate the oppression. Why I live is not that because of the knowledge that my choices are my own, because that delusion is not available to a critical mind. No, I live with the assurance that in so long as I live, I will never consent to bring another into this existence of internalized agony, nor will I ever pretend that this is what I would want, if I was ever, even for a moment, given the free choice.

Wanted: Snuff porn and women-hatin' in a two hour package

You know, I really regret not walking out of Wanted and asking for my money back. I also really regret not expressing how much I hated this movie to the male friends I saw it with.

Wanted was about as close as you can get to snuff porn without actually watching something illegal. The movie's only redeemable quality is that the script decided to throw in some existential fate plot themes at the end, just to break up the monotony of violent garbage.

The camera angles made me nauseous. Fight scenes, which were the entirety of the movie, were shot in such a shaky manner that I felt like I had eaten twenty pounds of nachos and then rode state fair rides for three hours straight. Then they were slowed down, randomly, so that the audience could get a good look at the blood and bruises. Know what is the only thing more exciting than two hours of violence? Two hours of slow-motion violence. Oh yeah!

Not only did the movie glorify violence, the protagonist's goal of using such violence is to "be the man". Several times in the story, the protagonist fervently wishes for someone to utter the exact words, "you are the man!" When someone does, it is only in recognition of his violent ways and hot love interest. In case you did not catch that, violence is exciting! Killing people on command, emotionlessly, is the definition of manhood! Where's the moral of the story? When I could find one, it was that the purpose of life is to be as much of a badass violent jerk as possible. Because that's exciting, whereas being a normal citizen is pathetic.

So besides the glorification of violence, what else did Wanted have to offer? The million dollar question, my dear readers, is the hatred of women.

Although there are a slew of men in the film (duh, it's an action film), there are only three women. Let's go over their roles.

1. Janice the fat boss - Janice was the bitchy boss that everyone in the audience should love to hate. Her shrill relentless tone and overly made-up face is supposed to be as comical as her girth. Women in power are fat and annoying, or so the writers of Wanted think. Our protagonist gets his comeuppance by telling her to stop being a bitch (seriously, that's the exact word he uses) and expresses some sort of vague pity for her grotesque fatness, which is apparently the reason why she could be such a horrible person to him.

2. Cathy the ex-girlfriend - Cathy is skinny, but she's also a whore. She sleeps with his best-friend, because that's what women do, you know. Them women always take advantage of teh menz. The only interaction she seems to have with the protagonist is to nag and complain. Then the movie switches to a completely unnecessary sex scene where the audience gets their fill. Because Cathy is skinny, she gets to be fucked. But she's still portrayed as a bitch, and a whore.

3. Fox the assassin - Jolie could have potentially played an empowered female role. Little to my surprise, nothing is further than the truth. I should have known as soon as her code name was revealed as "Fox". Jolie's only purpose in this film is to teach Wesley how to be bad ass, inspire him to magically curve a bullet with his awesome chauvinist powers to avoid hitting her, be the victim of a violent crime as a child to inspire her to kill people, show her bare ass for no apparent reason, make out with him in front of his ex to show that bitch how manly Wesley is, and then kill herself in the process of saving him.

What have I learned from Wanted? Well, I learned that if you're fat and a woman, you're a horrible bitch. I learned that if you are skinny and a woman, you're a horrible nag and a whore. I learned that if you are skinny, powerful, and a woman, you're a pornorific plot device who gets to play second fiddle to someone with less experience than you, have the honor of having sex (or at least appearing to) with the male protagonist, and then kill yourself for him.

I also learned that gratuitous violence is really really awesome if it is accompanied by horrible camera techniques, pointless slow-motion, and a complete void of morality.

Wanted looks and feels like a teenage porn addict and gun enthusiast's wet dream. If I did not know better, I would have thought that it was satire. Of course, the only thing sadder than someone out there thought that this could possibly be a good movie is that seemingly everyone thinks it was a good movie.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Failing at Irony and Alienating Your Allies: The Liberal Dude's Guide to Satire

So I open my blog reader and the Huffington Post. What do I have the pleasure to find?

Oh Christ, who's the genius behind this?

I know this might be rocket science to liberal dudez who think things like rape are funny, but this really tasteless and poor excuse for satire is not inducing anything but my gag reflex. You know you fail at irony when your art work is indecipherable from the message of those you intend to mock. While I was sleeping, someone decided that mocking the Republicans by depicting the Obamas with racist stereotypes was effective and funny. I can imagine a bunch of balding upper-class white dudes giving each other congratulatory back slaps around some editor's desk at The New Yorker, engaging in mutual masturbation inflation of their over large egos as their wit goes to press.

You know what's really funny? Mocking Nazis by walking around in public, in places where there may or may not be Jews, and acting and dressing in such a manner completely identical to Nazis. So what if you offend a few Jews along the way? Your completely nonsensical message must be conveyed in the manner you see fit, even if you offend a demographic that would otherwise be allies. I might be white, but even I know that the picturing of an afro-sporting woman in military fatigues is probably a dig at her deviant blackness and her radical opposition to white culture. Also, if you think drawing racist depictions of prominent political figures is funny, you might be racist.

The purpose of satire is to shock and inflame your opposition. If your illustration could be used as a poster for the far right and you are offending your political allies, then it's about time someone fired you.

Then again, I am not really surprised. Anyone remember this? :

That was a "liberal" blog, the DailyKos, really failing to understand the nuances of irony.

Heads up to white dudez: if you think the appropriate manner to object to bigots on the right is to be a leftist racist, on the name of "humor", kindly get the fuck out of my political party.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Women aren't Human

As much as I would like to deny it, some people really do think that women aren't human.

Really.

Consider the Humanist. He or she says that they are opposed to Feminism. They object to the "raising of one gender above another" and would rather spend time crusading for human rights. Among those that profess such lofty sentiments are MRAs, intellectuals, liberal dudez, anti-feminist women, and control-troll writers.

So how do I know that they think women aren't human?

Simple! If they profess those who are for women's rights are against or not for human rights, they are operating under the premise that the movement for women's full agency is somehow in opposition or contrary to the movement for full human rights. The only way that an ideology that speaks for the female gender, or 51% of the global population, is not for human rights is if women are not human.

So next time someone tells you that they think feminism is anti-human rights, or that it is too myopic, tell them that you don't associate with morons who think the prerequisite for humanity is a penis.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

On Staying Single

Notice that I am not just single currently, but that I am staying single. This was not a conscious decision. I did not sit down one day, feminist ideology in hand, and decide to stay single for political reasons. It just happened. I haven't been in a relationship for two years. For a woman in her twenties, this is so odd as to be alien.

When I was in middle school, nothing could have been more important than being in or wanting to be in a relationship. Boys were just beginning to notice me, probably because I was one of the first girls to have her breasts grow beyond the mosquito bite phase. Luckily for me, I did not grow up in the Paris Hilton era. Britney Spears was still keeping most of her clothes on the late 90s when the pre-teen girl uniform of choice was polo shirts, short shorts, and high ponytails.

Regardless, my desire for a boyfriend and to look good had nothing to do with my sexual desire. Although I had curves and breasts to rival any grown woman, my sexual drive had not matured. I heard about masturbation, mostly from the eighth grade boys, but such things held no interest for me. Even the extremely progressive books on puberty that my parents bought me detailed male masturbation explicitly, although some of them spend a bit of time on female masturbation as well. Curious, I attempted this masturbation a couple of times. Nothing really much happened, presumably because my sexual drive had yet to develop (it would in high school), so I gave that up.

Why then, was the pinnacle of pre-teen social life the drive to attract boys? I obviously did not know what to do with them when I got them, and I had no sexual desire for them. I was putting on a performance, plain and simple. The dominant social message of the time, and I assume it has gotten worse lately, was that a girl should aim to look sexy and have sex, but her own enjoyment of the sexual act had nothing to do with it. This held true for my twelve year-old self: I was not attracted to boys in a sexual manner, and I had no personal desire for sex. I was simply responding to social norms. If I said a boy was cute, it was not the case that I was attracted to him. I simply recognized that he fit within the acceptable range of male appearances, and I wanted him to want me. My desires did not play into the equation at all.

As I moved on from middle school and entered high school, my sexual drive finally blossomed. I had a healthy desire for sex and masturbation by the time I was fifteen. Still, however, I cannot think of a time that I wanted a boy more than I wanted him to want me and the social power I would gain by being sexy and attached to a suitable male. I was also doing battle with my monstrous crush on my female friend at the time by denying to myself that I probably was not as straight as I would like to be. Nevertheless, the idea of a boy competing for me or spending time on his appearance for me was laughable. By the time elaborate hair and makeup routines were the norm for girls my age, boys had yet to grasp the concept of showering daily.

Simply put, being sexy was more important than being sexual. The conflicting messages of abstinence and MTV had done battle, and the result was "be sexy, be hot, be available and wanted. Your sexuality is shameful." It was not important that boys were attractive, and they largely were not, it was important that I was attractive to them. Due to my extremely extroverted personality and unwillingness, even then, to play weak or dumb, I never succeeded.

In college, the drive to be wanted and not to want became funny in its intensity. The antics of my peers inspired mental images out of a porno: buckets of male ejaculation everywhere, but no elusive female orgasm. Men were still boys, and still had not grasped the basics of hygiene that were common sense to the average eleven year-old girl. And why would they? All around them women were wearing next to nothing and viciously fighting for their attention with deeper tans, deeper v-necks, and higher shoes. All they had to do was sit back and enjoy.

After a disastrous series of boyfriends where the male orgasm was far more present in our relationships than the female orgasm, I had the luck to fall into Feminism by way of a Women's Studies course. Among the considerable changes in my life, I stopped wanting men to want me if I did not want them back.

Simply, if my sexual pleasure had no part in the equation, I wanted nothing to do with men. If they were not attractive, their attention was gross and creepy. It was surprisingly easy to find my dry spells becoming longer and longer, only broken up by my mostly pleasurable forays into lesbian relationships.

How was this so? Once I gave up performing the sexy routine, guys largely did not want me. Which was fine with me, because most guys my age hadn't touched a razor or bar of soap in half a week. My university was like a scene out of a pornography: most of the women were conventionally attractive, but the men were as lazy with their appearances as they were with their health.

Today, I find it pathetically funny how my pursuit of my own pleasure--wanting attractive men, wanting sexual fulfillment--removed me from the dating scene. By raising my standards to men that I wanted, instead of men that wanted me, I had to find men that spend a comparable amount of time on their appearance and would be invested in my pleasure as much as their own. Unsurprisingly, the men who spent as much time in front of a mirror as I did (which wasn't much, considering that I stopped tanning and wearing large amounts of makeup) were the ones that dated the most feminine women, who had the personality of swine, or who were more interesting in acting out their favorite pornography than pleasing their significant other.

What I realize today is that the dating scene revolves around male pleasure. Male orgasms, male lust, male appreciation of beauty. If I wanted female orgasms, my lust, and my appreciation of male beauty I was holding out for something that did not exist. Or, if it did, it was not available to me once I stopped tanning, obsessing about how flat my abs were, and wearing hundreds of dollars of makeup.

In conclusion, I stay single because it's pathetically easy, but not by my design. Perhaps one day I might stumble upon a man who is as invested in looking good for me as I would be invested in looking good for him. Instead of me wanting him to want me and him wanting me, I would want him and he would want me. Then we could meet in the middle, form a relationship based on mutual attraction, admiration, and lust.

How sad that society has made such things the exception, and not the norm.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's EVOLUTION because we're ALL ABOUT THE BABIES

So I was walking down the street today. I came across a dog. The dog was ugly, and it smelled a bit. I decided that I wanted to kick that motherfucking dog. I was going to kick the shit out of it. It hadn't done anything to me, but I still wanted to see it cry.

So I drew back my foot and kicked that damn dog. It yelped, and then made to run away. Someone else had already had my bright idea, because the dog's leg was broken, and by the festering look of it, had been for some time. So I shifted by weight and prepared for another kick, pleased that my prey could not escape.

Before my Converse could connect with the matted side of the mongrel, a police officer came out of nowhere. He whipped out his pad of ticket paper and prepared to levy me a heavy fine for animal abuse. As he asked my name and other vital statistics such as the middle name of the brother of the person I lost my virginity to, I could see the hate in his eyes. He shook his head every so often, as if my mere existence necessitated a random negation when his questioning would pause.

"Wait, officer!" I exclaimed.

His pen paused, his mustache twitched (all men of the law should have commanding facial hair), and his eyes, squinted in the glare of the relentless Arizona sun, met mine. 'Make my day, motherfucker,' they said to me. I intended to deliver.

"I have a biological impetuous to kick dogs! It's an evolutionary tactic, you see."

Steely gaze narrowed further until his craggy face was bisected by the squint of his skeptical eyes.

"Really, uh, sir, it is!" I shifted, paused, and regained my composure as my posture shifted and my hands animated to punctuate my relentless intelligence. "You see, when we were all cave men, dogs used to carry off babies. I know this because I read it in a fancy university study. Or perhaps I didn't, or the study was flawed, but you and I know that dogs could, at one point, eaten babies. So it's hardwired into humanity, officer, this need to kick dogs. We know that they could turn feral on us in their hunger at any moment. Even though dogs today don't carry off babies or go feral in hunger, they used to. So men naturally have the urge to kick dogs. It's there right beside the genetic code that makes hair grow on my balls. I couldn't help myself, officer. I did it all for the evolutionary success of my species!"

Gasping, panting, my hands and pedantic cadence paused. Surely my oppressor knew of my futile struggle with evolution. I had to kick that dog. How could I be punished for the continuation of the species?

And then the officer shifted his stance, dropped his notepad to his side, drew back his foot, swept his gaze up my shocked face as his mouth twisted into a gleeful grin, and he kicked the dog.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Body Positivism: Health in a post-BMI Mentality

One of the most valuable things I have taken away from Feminism is how to love myself and everyone, no matter what shape they are. I especially have to give a hat tip to the lovely ladies over at Shapely Prose for all of their hard work. I feel like the battle to accept myself, and others, is constantly uphill. The work of feminists and fat acceptance activists has helped me increase my self esteem and be healthier, mentally and physically.

Nevertheless, various health issues connected with food run in my family. For years, I struggled to control my intake and exercise religiously. This struggle was mostly fruitless, because I love to eat and cook. Running in place on a treadmill was nowhere near as fun as inhaling the heavenly aroma of home-made risotto as I stirred it on the stove, and then receiving glowing compliments on my culinary abilities from my family and friends.

The age-old "diet and exercise" shtick wasn't sticking. Fat Acceptance mentality in tow, I decided to go to a friend-recommended local nutrionist for a check-up that I refused to receive from my weight-obsessed general physician.

Before she began, I set a few rules. No talk of BMI. No discussion of weight and "weight classes". I stressed that I really did not care about what size I wore. I wanted to know if I was getting the right vitamins, if my cholesterols were in balance, and I could pass basic physical fitness tests. In short, I wanted to know everything worth knowing, and nothing that wasn't worth knowing. If I was healthy and moderately fit, I didn't need "weight loss tips".

She agreed, thankfully. I don't know how well such rules would have worked for regular nutrionists (she was more of the natural hippie variety), but she was perfectly agreeable, and understood why I asked her to leave such inconsequential things out of my check-up.

I passed the physical fitness tests, with moderately high endurance ratings, but low strength ratings. She said those could be increased with more fiber in my diet and simple things like carrying more grocery bags at once. I'm awaiting my blood and urine tests though.

I feel like looking after my health in this fashion is much more productive. Weight does not really determine a lot of health issues. I could have the body of a super model, but be malnourished. I could be as toned as an Olympic athlete, but have serious cholesterol issues. More than weight and BMI, excesses and deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals in your blood are responsible for various ailments. Besides, dieting has been found to be useless in the long run, and a constant drive to "improve" my body, on the assumption that it is "bad", is not healthy mentally or physically. My intestinal disorder and allergies can and have put me in the hospital. I have no wish to screw around with food unnecessarily.

Fat Acceptance and health are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I have found them to be very inclusive indeed. Here's to enjoying food, my body, and my life!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Men's Rights Activists

So I'm sitting on my bed, reading the news. I have this nifty tool installed in Firefox called StumbleUpon. Basically, when I click a button I am randomly referred to a web page that the tool thinks I would like, based upon my votes on other sites. I give a lot of thumbs-up to activist pages, so I was not surprised to be referred to a rights group.

What I was surprised to find, however, was that the rights group was a men's rights group.

I was curious. What are Men's Rights Activists? Do they champion the causes of men in Africa who can't afford to feed their families? Do they push for a male birth control pill? Do they speak out about abusive parents?

No.

They speak out about the "violence" that the feminist movement has done to men. They talk about the Femi-Nazism of the government that punishes men for being masculine. They rage against women who ask ex-husbands for child support and alimony.

Basically, they think that society is out to hurt men by making them act like humans.

Their basic tenement is that men should be free to act like men. By men, they mean homophobic, hyper-masculine, violent, abusive, irresponsible failures of humanity.

How do I know this? Why, they are opposed to feminism. Feminists hold that the default definition of masculinity alienates men from their emotions and empathy, and is ultimately damaging to the individual and society as a whole.

Men's Rights Activists, on the other hand, hold that the gun-toting, children-leavin', anti-sissy model of manhood is the only thing holding humanity back from anarchy.

Really.

They also claim that both women and men are equally oppressed, or that men are oppressed more than women. Which is evident, of course, when one considers that less than 1% of the world's wealth is owned by women.

Men are "success objects" they say, and burdened as providers. Because, you know, women that labor unpaid in the house or underpaid as a teacher or maid are lazy lie-abouts.

They say that violence against men is more pandemic and tolerated then violence against women. While more men are mugged or killed in war, MRAs fail to comprehend the obvious: the people killing men also happen to be men.

Men killing and hurting men. Men killing and hurting women. Men killing and hurting children. Men running nations and sending men to their deaths. See a trend? In general, the subject of such violent sentences is typically a man. The very notion that women, or feminists, are responsible for the actions of men is laughable.

Largely, however, MRA groups tend to concentrate on one particular area: divorce law. They maintain that men have lost the right to a fair trial in family law and custody settlements. This, of course, is the fault of women.

The majority of law-makers are men. The majority of judges are men. Hell, the majority of high-paid lawyers are men. Perhaps they are responsible?

No! Who's to blame? Well, their "bitch of an ex-wife" who wants child support and alimony.

Despite hundreds of peer-reviewed studies sporting statistics that women, more often then not, get the short end of the stick at every point of the marriage life-span, including divorce, MRAs hold that men are being systematically attacked and oppressed by a justice system that they, as a gender, have largely perpetuated and dominated since antiquity.

If, by accident, the website I was perusing stumbled upon a legitimate concern to "men's rights", they approached the discussion in such a misogynistic and hostile fashion that hilarity ensued and rational argument was absent.

Yes, but the feminist movement can be hostile and angry, right?

Of course. Notice, however, that mainstream feminists reserve their rage for social forces that oppress humanity, disgusting criminals, sexist leaders, and, in general, people and forces that are actually doing something wrong.

MRA activists direct their rage towards women, and in particular, their ex-wives. The privilege that these largely middle-class white men receive and exercise is rendered completely invisible. They deny or ignore men's domination of powerful institutions, traditional familial structures, and popular culture.

When they do discover an example of a man without power, they typically ignore the fact that these are examples of men's powerlessness in the hands of other men. The injustices that men suffer by the hands of the legal system are largely the fault of modern male lawmakers, and wholly the fault of historical male-dominated institutions.

That is not to say that their observations are unfounded. Plainly speaking, men have lost power in all areas of modern life compared to their historical counterparts. This is not because of some feminist conspiracy or culture of man-bashing, it is because as society moves to correct millennia of inequality, the privileged will perceive a loss of power as resources are distributed more equitably.

For the purpose of illustration, assume that society has one pie and a group of four people. Because of various social doctrines, Bob gets to take half of the pie as his share. Mary, Rebecca, and Peter each then take a sixth of the pie for themselves, but only after years of political struggle and pie-lessness. Mary looks at everyone's pieces and finds that Bob's piece is far bigger than hers. She can think of no real reason why he is entitled to a bigger piece. So, she gets Rebecca and Peter to join her in demanding their fair share. Bob is eventually forced to give up half of his piece, so that everyone has a fourth. Bob thinks to himself, "why, this sucks. I was always told that it was my birth-right to have half of a pie. Now, I have to content myself with a fourth of a pie. I have lost pie. This is all that bitch Mary's fault".

Bob is right: he has lost pie. However, Mary and the others were right to demand more pie. If Bob wanted to blame something or someone, he should blame the people that originally decided that pies must be divided unfairly, or the social forces that inflated his expectations of what his "share" ought to be.

Men are given a far bigger share of the "pie" of wealth, power, and prestige than they are rightfully entitled to. MRAs are not wrong to observe the loss of those privileges, but they are wrong to view women, who still have yet to achieve full equality by law and otherwise, as the enemy.

When men are born into a society that indoctrinates them into a culture of inequality, but simultaneously purports equality as a social value, men develop the notion that their unfair share of global wealth and power is rightly kept, and that such inequalities are somehow "equal". When these advantages are taken away, and made more equitable, a man feels as if he is being treated unfairly.

What MRAs advance is the notion that, as men, they are treated unfairly by increasingly equitable (but not wholly so) legal systems. In that, they are absolutely right. Given that the definition of "man" as "he who is rightly entitled to a larger share of worldly power and wealth by the chance of being born with a penis", men are being treated poorly by the justice system.

As humans, however, these men are treated more than fairly, if not outright favored, in everything from family law to criminal law.

They are favored, by men, because they are men. If they are killed, hurt, or treated unfairly, they are largely abused, also, by men.

Such self-reflection, however, is beyond the power of those who maintain that violent and robotic models of masculinity are something to be preserved instead of destroyed.