May 06 2014

Rekwired Reading Korner

Amy Schumer’s awesome Gloria Awards speech should be read aloud at all high school graduations, except nobody listens to graduation speeches. So, in the manner of wizened crones since the dawn of the printed word, I’ll just pronounce it required reading for all women graduating from high school.

I can’t say whether things would have turned out differently for me if I had seen this speech before fecklessly biffing off to my spiritual death at college, but it sure would have been nice, going in, to have been given a little advance notice regarding the degree to which I could expect to be bootylized by Dude Nation. What happened instead was that my freshman year leaped out at me in a dark alley and amputated my mojo with a dirty shard from a broken Budweiser longneck. It took me about 30 years to grow it back.

I have nicked Schumer’s speech in its entirety from Vulture.com, because when a thing is required reading, it just feels wrong not to steal it.

Here I go, and if it doesn’t go well, please just don’t blog about it.

Right before I left for college, I was running my high school. Feel it. I knew where to park, I knew where to get the best chicken-cutlet sandwich, I knew which custodians had pot. People knew me. They liked me. I was an athlete and a good friend. I felt pretty, I felt funny, I felt sane. Then I got to college in Maryland. My school was voted number one … for the hottest freshman girls in Playboy that year. And not because of me. All of a sudden, being witty and charismatic didn’t mean shit. Day after day, I could feel the confidence drain from my body. I was not what these guys wanted. They wanted thinner, blonder, dumber … My sassy one-liners were only working on the cafeteria employees, who I was visiting all too frequently, tacking on not the Freshman 15, but the 30, in record-breaking time, which led my mother to make comments over winter break like, “You look healthy!” I was getting no male attention, and I’m embarrassed to say, it was killing me.

But one guy paid me some attention — Matt. Matt was six feet tall, he looked like a grown-up von Trapp child, and he was five years older than me. What?! An older boy, paying attention to me? I must be okay. Uff. I made him laugh in our bio lab, and I could tell a couple times that we had a vibe. He was a super senior, which is a sexy way of saying “should have graduated, but needed an extra year.” He barely spoke, which was perfect for all the projecting I had planned for him. We grew up in the same town, and getting attention from him felt like success. When I would see him on campus, my heart would race, and I would smile as he passed. I’d look in the mirror and see all the blood rise to my face. I’d spend time analyzing the interaction, and planning my outfit for the next time I saw him. I wanted him to call. He never called. But then finally, he called.

It was 8 a.m., my dorm room phone rang. “Amy, wassup? It’s Matt. Come over.” Holy shit! This is it, I thought. He woke up thinking about me! He realized we’re meant to start a life together! Let’s just stop all this pretending that we weren’t free just to love one another! I wondered, would we raise our kids in the town we both grew up in, or has he taken a liking to Baltimore? I don’t care. I’ll settle wherever he’s most comfortable. Will he want to raise our kids Jewish? Who cares? I shaved my legs in the sink, I splashed some water under my armpits, and my randomly assigned Albanian roommate stared at me from under her sheets as I rushed around our shitty dorm room. I ran right over to his place, ready for our day together. What would we do? It’s still early enough, maybe we’re going fishing? Or maybe his mom’s in town, and he wanted me to join them for breakfast. Knock-knock. Is he going to carry me over the threshold? I bet he’s fixing his hair and telling his mom, “Be cool, this may be the one!” I’ll be very sweet with her, but assert myself, so she doesn’t think she’s completely in charge of all the holiday dinners we’re going to plan together. I’ll call her by her first name, too, so she knows she can’t mess with me. “Rita! I’m going to make the green bean casserole this year, and that’s that!” Knock-knock. Ring ring. Where is he?

Finally, the door opens. It’s Matt, but not really. He’s there, but not really. His face is kind of distorted, and his eyes seem like he can’t focus on me. He’s actually trying to see me from the side, like a shark. “Hey!” he yells, too loud, and gives me a hug, too hard. He’s fucking wasted. I’m not the first person he thought of that morning. I’m the last person he called that night. I wonder, how many girls didn’t answer before he got to fat freshman me? Am I in his phone as Schumer? Probably. But I was here, and I wanted to be held and touched and felt desired, despite everything. I wanted to be with him. I imagined us on campus together, holding hands, proving, “Look! I am lovable! And this cool older guy likes me!” I can’t be the troll doll I’m afraid I’ve become.

He put on some music, and we got in bed. As that sexy maneuver where the guy pushes you on the bed, you know, like, “I’m taking the wheel on this one. Now I’m going to blow your mind,” which is almost never followed up with anything. He smelled like skunk microwaved with cheeseburgers, which I planned on finding and eating in the bathroom, as soon as he was asleep. We tried kissing. His 9 a.m. shadow was scratching my face — I knew it’d look like I had fruit-punch mouth for days after. His alcohol-swollen mouth, I felt like I was being tongued by someone who had just been given Novocain. I felt faceless, and nameless. I was just a warm body, and I was freezing cold. His fingers poked inside me like they had lost their keys in there. And then came the sex, and I use that word very loosely. His penis was so soft, it felt like one of those de-stress things that slips from your hand? So he was pushing aggressively into my thigh, and during this failed penetration, I looked around the room to try and distract myself or God willing, disassociate. What’s on the wall? A Scarface poster, of course. Mandatory. Anything else? That’s it? This Irish-Catholic son of bank teller who played JV soccer and did Mathletes feels the most connection with a Cuban refugee drug lord. The place looked like it was decorated by an overeager set designer who took the note “temporary and without substance” too far.

He started to go down on me. That’s ambitious, I think. Is it still considered getting head if the guy falls asleep every three seconds and moves his tongue like an elderly person eating their last oatmeal? Chelsea? Is it? Yes? It is. I want to scream for myself, “Get out of here, Amy. You are beautiful, you are smart, and worth more than this. This is not where you stay.” I feel like Fantine and Cosette and every fucking sad French woman from Les Miz. And whoever that cat was who sang “Memories,” what was that musical? Suze Orman just goes, “Cats.” The only wetness between my legs is from his drool, because he’s now sleeping and snoring into me. I sigh, I hear my own heartbreak, I fight back my own tears, and then I notice a change in the music. Is this just a bagpipe solo? I shake him awake. “Matt, what is this? The Braveheart soundtrack? Can you put something else on, please?” He wakes up grumpily, falls to the floor, and crawls. I look at his exposed butt crack, a dark, unkempt abyss that I was falling into. I felt paralyzed. His asshole is a canyon, and this was my 127 Hours. I might chew my arm off.

I could feel I was losing myself to this girl in this bed. He stood up and put a new CD on. “Darling, you send me, I know you send me, honest, you do …” I’m thinking, “What is this?” He crawled back into bed, and tried to mash at this point his third ball into my vagina. On his fourth thrust, he gave up and fell asleep on my breast. His head was heavy and his breath was so sour, I had to turn my head so my eyes didn’t water. But they were watering anyway, because of this song. Who is this? This is so beautiful. I’ve never heard these songs before. They’re gutting me. The score attached to our morning couldn’t have been more off. His sloppy, tentative lovemaking was certainly not in the spirit of William Wallace. And now the most beautiful love songs I’ve ever heard play out as this man-boy laid in my arms, after diminishing me to a last-minute booty call. I listened to the songs and I cried. I was looking down at myself from the ceiling fan. What happened to this girl? How did she get here? I felt the fan on my skin and I went, “Oh, wait! I am this girl! We got to get me out of here!” I became my own fairy godmother. I waited until the last perfect note floated out, and escaped from under him and out the door. I never heard from Matt again, but felt only grateful for being introduced to my new self, a girl who got her value from within her. I’m also grateful to Matt for introducing me to my love Sam Cooke, who I’m still with today.

Now I feel strong and beautiful. I walk proudly down the streets of Manhattan. The people I love, love me. I make the funniest people in the country laugh, and they are my friends. I am a great friend and an even better sister. I have fought my way through harsh criticism and death threats for speaking my mind. I am alive, like the strong women in this room before me. I am a hot-blooded fighter and I am fearless. But I did morning radio last week, and a DJ asked, “Have you gained weight? You seem chunkier to me. You should strike while the iron is hot, Amy.” And it’s all gone. In an instant, it’s all stripped away. I wrote an article for Men’s Health and was so proud, until I saw instead of using my photo, they used one of a 16-year-old model wearing a clown nose, to show that she’s hilarious. But those are my words. What about who I am, and what I have to say? I can be reduced to that lost college freshman so quickly sometimes, I want to quit. Not performing, but being a woman altogether. I want to throw my hands in the air, after reading a mean Twitter comment, and say, “All right! You got it. You figured me out. I’m not pretty. I’m not thin. I do not deserve to use my voice. I’ll start wearing a burqa and start waiting tables at a pancake house. All my self-worth is based on what you can see.” But then I think, Fuck that. I am not laying in that freshman year bed anymore ever again. I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I will speak and share and fuck and love and I will never apologize to the frightened millions who resent that they never had it in them to do it. I stand here and I am amazing, for you. Not because of you. I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you, and I thank you.

May 05 2014

A Child’s Garden of Feminism

Since it doesn’t seem to exist, I thought I might try my hand at writing the elusive feminist primer aimed at a tween audience. Lard knows I’m no kid’s writer, but there’s a hole in the canon there, and nobody else seems to be stepping up, so damn the torpedoes, I’m goin’ in.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Chapter 1: Dudes Invent the Sex Class

A long, long time ago, human civilization was founded on the belief that women are toilets for male incontinence. Dudes thought being in charge was awesome, so over the centuries, they invented a system of behaviors called “femininity” to make it easier for them to rap –

Ah. It turns out that nobody has written A Child’s Garden of Feminism because women’s reality is an X-rated horror story of untold suffering and senseless tragedy. Rape culture, racism, femininity, Stockholm syndrome, Spanx, blow jobs, pervs, Boko Haram, plastic surgery, abortion, porn, harassment, forced marriage et al are the stuff of nightmares. The antithesis, in fact, of anything I would want my 10-year-old niece to read. The Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women are just too gruesome to foist on little kids.

But surely someone can think up a way to sort of counteract the indoctrination a bit?

What got me onto this was this, the announcement that Girl Talk, a popular UK tween magazine, was “going feminist.” The photo is all pink with pastel swirly stars and hearts. The copy is full of empty platitudes à la “I will love myself the way I am” and “By working hard I know I can achieve great things” and, of course, “#GIRLS ARE AMAZING!”

Quoth the editor, Bea Appleby:

We’re bringing feminist ideas onto the pages; putting empowerment, positive role models and broader ambitions on the agenda. A bit less about popstrels and telly stars, a bit more about sportswomen, writers, scientists and businesswomen.

But seriously. Do kids even buy this crap? At age 10, you’d think any kid with even modest observational skills would know full well that boys never have to be singled out and explicitly informed as to their amazingness. Wouldn’t the kid smell a rat? Wouldn’t she grasp on some subliminal level that if girls really are so goddam amazing, we wouldn’t really need all the extra other-y pink-ass fuss? Why not just quietly integrate the acknowledgement of girls’ humanity into the product the way you would for any other autonomous being?

Here’s why, according to Bea Appleby, explaining why Girl Talk is giving away nail stickers to promote their new, pink “feminist” direction:

“[W]e’re a commercial magazine and having a “SMASH PATRIACHY!” stationery set as a free gift, or Marie Curie as a cover girl, might freak out the readers. The fact is, we have to sell magazines and compete on the newstand [sic], otherwise we won’t exist.”

Yeah? Well, if those are the terms, maybe they shouldn’t exist. If acknowledging your audience’s humanity will kill sales, your product is seriously fucking flawed, lady.

Too harsh? Give Girl Talk an A for Effort? Appleby thinks so, because at least they’re “trying to do something.” But heck, if Marie Curie would “freak out” her readers, and giving out pink nail stickers is considered an act of feminist rebellion, this is a pretty terrible state of affairs.

Someone’s just gotta hip the tweens that feminism isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a human rights movement. So here goes.

Chapter 2: Female Genital Mutilation

It’s gonna be a classic!

May 04 2014

Please don’t rape, OK? Thanks awfully!

“At first I thought this was a parody.”

When these words appear in the comments section on some internet feminist post or other, it’s a sort of mutant variant of Godwin’s Law. You know it’s time to stop, dash off a snarly rejoinder that no one will read, and get the hell out. The “parody” put-down — a sort of variant of Godwin’s Law in that it signifies the implosion of the discourse — is a mainstay of disingenuous liberal dudes who are so insulted by feminazis that they can’t resist trying to reduce feminism to a hilarious dudejoke.

The parody put-down naturally showed up in the comments section of this article. My snarly rejoinder got rejected because I don’t have a Facebook account, so I had no choice but to just post it here on this blog.

Blogging. What a great idea. I should try that.

Anyway, the article, written by one J.A McCarroll and appearing in HuffPo, sort of touches on something the author calls “dude feminism”. I’m out of the loop; is the term “dude feminism” a thing? Whatever you call it, the practice itself is as old as the gender binary. I allude to the feminist compulsion to appease potential dude supporters by whatever means necessary in a misguided effort to appear solicitous and un-manhatey.

In the article, J.A. McCarroll identifies as problematic the current fad for masculinity-affirming feministical slogans such as “real men don’t rape.”

J.A. McCarroll, it turns out, is a dude, but for now (and I’ll probably regret this) let’s ignore that detail, despite the statistical probability that he is posting feminist shit on the internet in order to get laid.

The problem with “real men don’t rape” is, as J.A. McCarroll correctly surmises, that it subverts women’s interests into a kind of timid, solicitous affirmation of masculinity, which, according to the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women, is the world’s predominant benevolent force and moral authority.

Common to all these messages is that men CAN rape, hurt, buy women, catcall or what-have-you, but they SHOULDN’T. Men, we are told, shouldn’t hurt women, not because of any intrinsic rights women may have, but because other men might do it to THEIR women, and that would be awful.[...] It looks as if men are given a privileged place in the feminist movement, one where they are praised for simply not being terrible and their much-vaunted power remains intact.

Rather than attempt to dismantle the “real man” construct — a construct of the hypermasculine that requires a weaker feminine sidekick to give itself meaning — “real men don’t rape” initiatives reaffirm the status quo. This status quo is one in which dudes soldier on as the default humans, beneficently refraining from raping and pillaging as a sort of exercise in noblesse oblige. “Real men don’t rape,” in fact, is merely an advertisement for chivalry. And chivalry, the feminist will recall with a curled lip, is that dudely codification of women and children as frail, defenseless, somewhat degraded versions of men, incapable of survival without gallant male protection. Or, to put it another way, chivalric code enabled medieval dudes to disguise their bellicosity as honor and to justify guarding their women as chattel. Chivalry was a big ad campaign promoting the licentiousness of masculinity at the expense of enforced femininity.

“But Twisty, why so harsh on the anti-rape campaign? At least they’re trying!”

Yes. By way of fulfilling the tiresome internet feminist requirement that I relax my critical standards in order to give an A for Effort, I acknowledge that any “real men don’t rape” campaign is marginally preferable to no anti-rape campaign at all, or to the universal and uncritical embrace of rape culture that appears to be the only mainstream alternative.

But see here. Chivalry didn’t work as a path to women’s liberation the first time around, and it’s not gonna work this time, either. That’s because chivalry loves masculinity, and masculinity is just a way to justify misogyny. Wrapping masculinity in some lofty code of honor still leaves women with no recourse beyond compliance with femininity, resulting in continued dependence on the magnanimity of oppressor.

Defining women’s liberation in terms of male interests is always gonna be an imperfect revolutionary technique. If we continue, like damsels poised to collapse on our fainting couches, to reassure anxious hetero cisgender dudes that their complicity is forgiven if they merely refrain from behaving like barbarians, we are supplicants. “We embrace your masculinity, but please, if it’s not too inconvenient, don’t rape us, Real Man!”

The comments on the dude’s article were unsurprising, largely composed of offended men who are insulted by the absurd insinuation that all men profit from women’s oppression. And dudes who claim to view “their wives” as “equals” but worry that any attack on masculinity — wherein is safeguarded the dudely right to prong whatever it likes — will bring about a dreaded “matriarchy.”

O the irony. Anybody who dreads a matriarchy obviously has a pretty good idea of how crummy patriarchy is. Yet somehow, when the price of fixing it turns out to be human rights for women, waste no time in heading to the comments section at HuffPo to explain what a bad idea that is.

To get rid of rape you gotta get rid of masculinity. Suck it, Parody Boy.

Apr 04 2014

Spleenvent Friday: Feminism-as-happiness-destroyer Edition

From the LA Times:

A panel about ladies convened by the right-wing Heritage Foundation avers that

“feminism is bad because women are not as happy as they used to be.”

Discuss.

[I’ll check in later from the car repair waiting room, pity me. But before I go, let me just say that of course women aren’t happy. We've never been happy. Oblivious, yes. Ignorant, sure. But happy? No. Because patriarchy.

Also. The author of the article says “Was happiness the goal? I always thought it was equality.” I am duty bound as a spinster aunt to suggest that the goal was never equality, either, but rather liberation from dudely oppression.

Equality is both unattainable and undesirable.

Carry on!]

Apr 03 2014

The Persistent Sexist Stereotypes in Mass Media Department

From an article appearing in the Chicago Tribune about the latest shooting at Fort Hood:

“When confronted by a female military police officer, he shot himself with his semi-automatic weapon in the parking lot.”

This is an example of sexist bias in reporting. It reveals a couple of things.

Thing one: “male” is still the default human, no matter what you may have been told by “feminists” who insist that patriarchy is dead. The chromosomal makeup of the police officer is of absolutely no relevance whatsoever to the story, and indeed would not have been mentioned at all had she been a dude. But in 2014 “police officer” still means “male.” Whenever there’s a breach in the patriarchal continuum and a woman gets caught doing a dude-job that doesn’t involve children or being pretty, it’s perceived as weird.

Thing two: the Tribune writer has included the “female” detail to add a cheap frisson of extra pathos to a story that needs no extra pathos. In our sexist culture, women continue to be perceived as weaker, frailer, damsel-in-distressier, and incapable-ier. So how wild is it that oh my gosh a woman confronted this terrifying mass murderer?

fthoodPretty much any mainstream newspaper article you read contains a little blob of sexism.

As an aside, a weird photo accompanying this article depicts a woman clinging to the foot of a soldier sitting on the hood of a car. Photography lies, so it’s anyone’s guess what was really goin’ on there, but objectively, as an illustration accompanying an article on a mass shooting, the composition and body language suggest an affirming reinforcement of the patriarchal warrior narrative: anguished damsel in submissive pose literally kissing the foot of the detached and superior dudely hero on high.*

On the subject of the Fort Hood shooting itself: if it’s this terrible when bits of America’s wars escape their foreign boundaries and resurface back home in these isolated bursts, how unspeakable must it be “over there” where the bursts are nonstop?

UPDATE: The New York Times gets it right:

He got out of the vehicle, walked into another building and opened fire again, and then engaged with a military police officer before shooting himself.

He put his hands up, General Milley said, then reached under his jacket. The officer pulled out her weapon, and then Specialist Lopez put his weapon to his head and fired. General Milley described the officer’s actions as “clearly heroic,” adding: “She did her job. She did exactly what we would expect of U.S. Army military police.”

_____________________

* We know the soldier is a dude from the caption, which identifies him as the woman’s husband.

Photo nicked from (Deborah Cannon, McClatchy-Tribune /April 2, 2014)
_____________________

Mar 12 2014

Spleenvent Wednesday: Web Snippets Edition

A few stories about women from my inbox this morning.

• “The most powerful woman in Hollywood,” Disney exec Ann Sweeney, is planning to ditch her post when her contract’s up. She wants to direct TV shows. It’s so nice that a rich, successful white lady can get liberated from the prison of running Disney to follow her dream. Feminism’s awesome! Meanwhile, other Hollywood ladies are nervous that Sweeney will leave “a large, woman-sized hole in Hollywood’s top executive ranks.” As Beauty2K-approved actor Cate Blanchett lamented at the Oscars, Hollywood’s pink-faced dude cabal regards women as a “niche audience.” Feminism fail! [cite]

• Irish orphanage abuse whistleblower-and-champion Christine Buckley has died at 69. Buckley was a survivor of Goldenbridge orphanage in Dublin, where inmates were tortured by deranged nuns as a matter of routine. In her efforts to expose the abuse she met with denials and excuses at every turn, but she wasn’t havin’ it. Quoth Seán Ryan, the government dude who oversaw the investigation: “At great personal cost, she brought to public attention terrible wrongs done to children with the authority of the State. She was an indefatigable champion of those who were abused as children and disbelieved as adults. The nation owes her an enormous debt of gratitude.”

A propos of our recent discussion on the preferred demeanor of the oppressed, Ryan also mentioned that Buckley “was a pleasure to meet and to deal with.”

• A 20-year-old woman has lost half her body weight to attract the attention of “absolute dream boyfriend” Justin Bieber. He still hasn’t tweeted her, though. Relatedly, it is unclear why anybody would want to attract the attention of that snotty little asshole Bieber, but the woman defends him as “misunderstood.” Mang, you just wanna hand that gal a copy of the SCUM Manifesto or something. [cite]

• And finally, our dick-chop headline of the week: “Woman Cuts Lover’s Penis Off With Scissors, Kills Him With Hammer After He Raped Her.” We know this story already; no further details are required. [cite]

Mar 10 2014

International Women’s Day: 24 hours of the “Unique Female Perspective”

celebratewomenAnother International Women’s Day come and gone. How time flies. It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since Western interests last “celebrated” women by putting photos of smiling ladies in colorful turbans on their websites.

I spent International Women’s Day, not celebrating women, but freaking out because my horse Stella had suddenly come down with a mysteriously swollen face. It was as though her head had been inflated with a bicycle pump. Fortunately the vet arrived just before I had to resort to shoving foot-long pieces of garden hose up her snoot to keep the airways open. He shot her full of steroids, charged me with the duty of checking on her every fifteen minutes for the remainder of the day, handed me a bill for $42,678,573.98, and biffed off in the hybrid vetmobile my hypochondriac herd bought for him last year. As he left I waved, “Happy International Women’s Day!” and he said, “Huh?”

stella_swollen_faceLater that same day my hay guy delivered a truckload of coastal square bales. He said what he always says, which is, “You women. You sure love a barn full of hay.” Apparently, hay awareness is weird and gender-specific; men are too manly to give a crap if their horses starve to death because they ran out of hay in the middle of winter. “Happy International Women’s Day!” I said. “Every day is women’s day,” the hay guy informed me.

But I digress.

Every year when International Women’s Day rolls around, I cast a jaundiced eye upon the patronizing Mother’s Day-ish tone of the thing. Yay women! for 24 hours. Inspirational quotations! More pictures of women generally smiling! Vague enjoinders to “celebrate” those pitiful long-suffering women. But what is International Women’s Day, anyway? Who invented it? Who runs it? Who makes money off it?

I did some rudimentary Googling. It turns out (if Wikipedia is to be believed) that International Women’s Day started out as a Marxist holiday. In 1911 German Social Democrat Clara Zetkin organized the first IWD at a socialist working women’s conference in Copenhagen. Leon Trotsky credited a 1917 Women’s Day demonstration in St Petersburg with sparking the Russian revolution. IWD was naturally adopted as an official holiday in Soviet Russia. In 1977, the UN started an annual International Women’s Day dealio dedicated to enbiggening women’s interests and opportunities, which has been wildly successful, as you can see from (among other things) the illegal forced closings of abortion clinics in Texas.

Nowadays in the West, International Women’s Day is more marketing than Marxism. Let the jaundiced eyerolls begin.

The website claiming ownership of International Women’s Day is run by something called Aurora Ventures. “Our name ‘Aurora’ comes from Aurora the Goddess of the Dawn.” So there’s an eyeroll right off the bat.

Aurora Ventures say they promote “economic advancement of women through entrepreneurial and career development.” What they mean is that they are lady-head-hunters working for ginormous corporations (BP, McDonald’s, Cisco, GE, Microsoft) interested in padding their workforce with talent they can get for 75 cents on the dollar.

Here is Aurora Ventures’ inspirational message:

So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women’s Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.

In other words: fill the internet with meaningless platitudes !! And don’t forget to celebrate our Supporting Partners, BP and Scotiabank !!

I clicked the “Events” tab at Aurora Ventures’ IWD website. I was expecting to give my jaundice a good buffing, and the website did not disappoint. There were 262 woman-celebrating events scheduled in the US. Since anybody was welcome to fabricate and post an event on the site, the specimens ran the gamut, from a “True Beauty Fashion Show,” to a live Twitter Q&A featuring those notable expert women Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu, to poetry readings (yawn), to “30% off luxury lifestyle products made by artisan groups that empower women.”

Naturally there were several appeals from marketing firms looking to leverage woman-celebrating into some free focus group action: “Tell us, what is your one wish for Womenkind?”

Eyeroll the second.

Womenkind, it turns out, is a marketing communications company “built soundly on the the authentic desires, opinions, and wisdom of women” because “91% of women say marketers don’t understand them” and there’s money to be made from tapping that vast virgin asset. Another clueless firm pretended simply to want to “increase awareness of Women’s Day” apparently as an end in itself, by inviting participants to freely volunteer information about “what women want.” Eyeroll, eyeroll, eyeroll.

An event called “WOMEN IN SUPPLY CHAIN” — no shit — won my Best of IWD Award. It turned out to be a thing at a Miami hotel dedicated to women who have learned “how to run a great supply chain” using their “uniquely female perspective.”

Women! 51% of the population, yet so unique! So mysterious! So unfathomable! So weird about hay! No normal marketing company has ever cracked the code!

Eyeroll x infinity.

stoptellingwomentosmileAnyway, here, via Perry Street Palace, is my contribution to International Women’s Day. You know how a spinster aunt loves an activist street art thing. Stop Telling Women to Smile.

________________________

“Celebrating Women” photo nicked from African Development Fund’s ad on the International Women’s Day website.

_________________________

Mar 07 2014

UterusWatch 2014: Texas godbangers’ brilliant campaign to jam women up

Enough about everybody’s hurt feelings; here’s an actual, ongoing crisis affecting millions of American women who don’t give a shit about feminism’s boring Twitter feuds: the medieval State of Texas has unequivocally seized ownership of all Texan uteruses.

I allude to the redoubtable HB2 of 2013, the telegenic filibustering of which bill catapulted state senator Wendy Davis to cosmic prominence last summer (this week she officially became the Democrat candidate for governor). Because you are no doubt obsessed with Texas politics, you don’t need me to remind you that while Davis’s efforts managed to block HB2, it was later passed anyway, in special session by spiteful misogynists.

The bill is very crappy. What it does, among other woman-hating things, is require either clinics to spend millions to build ambulatory surgical centers, or clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. This, the spiteful misogynists asserted, lying through their teeth, was to improve the “safety” of the already perfectly safe legal abortion.*

Well, cash-strapped reproductive health care clinics in poor communities are obviously not going to be able to build surgical centers, and local hospitals operated by conservative godbags are not going to invite abortion providers to join their misogynist rosters, so HB2 was really about obstructing women’s access to legal abortions. Which is itself really about punishing women.

You know all this already, of course. I bring it up because this week more clinics, this time in McAllen and Beaumont, were forced to close down as a result of this crappy misogynist legislation. In all, all but 6 of Texas’ 43 remaining clinics will bite the dust by September. The closings were nasty to contemplate last summer, but now that it’s actually happening, it just makes you want to pull your own head off. The anguish of the clinic directors is heart-breaking.

“We’ve been well aware that Texas has been against us and on us for many, many years,” said Marva Sadler, a regional director at Whole Woman’s. “But I did not think I would see a day where they would have put up such barriers that now that we’re actually closing clinics, and they’re essentially taking away the right to fair and safe comprehensive health care that all women, not only in the state of Texas, deserve to have. […] I’m grieving for the women. I know the day after we close our clinic, they’ll call and that line is not going to have anyone on the other end to answer their questions. Where are they going to go? What are they going to do?”

Indeed. Women from those impoverished Texas communities now face evenmore absurd, burdensome, and potentially life-threatening hassles before they can exercise their legal right to an abortion. They have reproductive health experts like GOP state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg to thank. Laubenberg, one of the sponsors of HB2, really, truly believed, until just last year, that rape kits are what emergency room doctors use for abortions, “where a woman can get cleaned out.”

Laubenberg is a woman, incidentally.

Mang, sometimes you just want take your Mega-Clue1000 ray gun, set it to 11, and zap these oblivious right-wing blisters right in the lobe.

____________________

*Hey, asshole Texas teabag legislators: the risk of death from abortion is only one-tenth the risk of death from childbirth. [Guttmacher Institute]

______________________

Mar 06 2014

Internet feminism hurt my feelings, but then I got up offa that thang

After a decade of web-based patriarchy blaming, if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this: it is pretty inadvisable to make arguments, oppressionally speaking, that do not take into account the viewpoints of every possible marginalized group, particularly those groups of which one is not personally a member and the specialized interests of which one therefore has no direct knowledge. Of.

Of course there’s no way around that, so welcome to the personal attacks, rushes to judgment, tone-policing, out-of-context misquotations, sanctimonious castigations, and full-on misconstrutions of Internet Feminism. They will give you fits.

The phenomenon to which I allude — lately all the white ladies are talking about it — is attributable not to the usual anti-feminist dudebros, but to the Mean Girls of Feminism Eating Their Own. This describes every internet feminist at one time or another. It’s been done to me and I’ve certainly done it myself. It’s kind of horrible, on accounta it’s painful, but then again, no pain no gain, right?

The lively, free, and sarcastic exchange of ideas is a beloved cornerstone of the internet. Opposing viewpoints exposing legitimate beefs within the cutthroat world of Internet Feminism should always be expressed colorfully, and with wisecracks. Still, it can be argued that one ought to distinguish between justifiable anger and knee-jerk abuse; cannibalism not a literary style. It should not be confused with argumentation.

But let’s back up.

It all starts with the hurt feelings. If you are, as I am, merely a human internet feminist, rather than an omniscient deity of infinite scope and virtue, chances are the nuances and niceties of the Wide, Wild World of Oppression occasionally escape you, and from time to time you unwittingly commit, out of either naiveté or sloppiness, a privilege-based stupidity foul. Hell, I’m probably doing it right now! As I mentioned, failure to grasp every possible sociological subtlety from the point of view of every imaginable oppressed party can — and will — result in dispiriting beatdowns. Your intent is irrelevant. Such is internet feminism culture in its current form.

And what a curious form it is. With its demands that members conform to strict regulations, subject themselves to incessant policing, and submit to discipline and humiliation, much of internet feminism culture looks a lot like — lard helpis — BDSM. This is disturbing but unsurprising. Given that no revolutionary political movement can exist outside of the very oppressive hegemony it seeks to destroy, a system of domination and submission precisely mirroring that of broader society necessarily obtains within internet feminism as well. Spawned by oppression culture, “feminist infighting” is, at its best, justifiable anger run slightly amok. At its worst it’s a sadistic mob indulging in an abuse fetish, slaking the bloodlust of the hive.

Many a spinster aunt finds that this hive stuff can paralyze the lobe, ravage the viscera, or chunk’er into a feminism-funk. For example, its prevalence is why — for the sake of my own delicate stomach lining — I keep disappearing on hiatus. It’s fairly depressing when your own tribe pillories you for unintended privilege infractions, or worse, when they inform you you’re not even in the tribe. In many respects it’s even worse than the “I hope you die in a rape fire” dude-threats. There’s a sense of betrayal and violation engendered by these smackdowns, and it takes a toll. You make some dumbass privilegey gaffe and suddenly you’re Public FemEnemy No. 1; women you had hoped were united with you against patriarchal tyranny turn out to have their own problems (indeed, you are one of those problems), and are now gnawing on your rotting carcass.

I know, right? White tears! But wait, before you kick me out of feminism again, I’m not suggesting that so-called “white feminists” — a designation that often appears as shorthand for “racist transphobic egomaniacal yuppie white bitches who think it’s all about them” — get a free pass. Au contraire; the whole point of all this Internetian discourse is to smash oppression culture, so it’s in everybody’s interest to use their hurt feelings as a privilege clue and quit being part of the problem. Writers of privilege who give a shit about enbiggening their worldview (those who don’t give a shit should not be considered feminists) have a responsibility to examine with an open mind criticism — even sarcastic criticism — dispensed by the differently-privileged. Yet even among those who assiduously self-monitor, obliviousness will occur, so a good old-fashioned privilege-check can definitely be all to the good. To wit (anecdote alert):

Recently I received an illuminating nudge that was strangely free of hostile scolding. A reader calmly pointed out that in a recent post — about ultra-privileged Jerry Seinfeld’s diversity tone-deafness — I had omitted to mention that, as a Jew, Seinfeld, though fabulously wealthy, is also a member of an oppressed minority. Such an intersectional detail should of course be pertinent when discussing privilege in the US. The reader described my omission as belonging to the “erasing Jewishness” genre, which turns out to be a Thing about the existence of which I had been previously oblivious.

Well, it was so weird not to be chastised, pilloried, and kicked out of feminism over this lack of insight, I practically plotzed (but stopped myself before committing a cultural appropriation). Weirdlier, even though the nudge had been civil, I was no less chagrined than if it had been hostile. This chagrin was my cue to implement my standing policy, which states: whenever a concerned reader says “watch out, you’re erasing someone’s Jewishness” I should ask myself, “hey, what is ‘erasing Jewishness’, and did I in fact do it?” Whereupon I stop, Google, and grok. Once I’ve acquired a grasp of the concept, and determine that the answer is “yes,” I cop to it. Jewishness acknowledged; worldview enbiggened; patriarchy blaming lumbers forth into its uncertain future.

Over the years, the spinster weltanschauung has been similarly enbiggened with regard to countless other issues large and small, including racism, trans politics, fat acceptance, disability, mental illness, vaginismus, blow jobs, motherhood, and discrimination against the ginger-haired. The thing is, the enbiggening took place regardless of the tone of the call-out. In the old days I would get pissy and make churlish retorts (the archive is full of’em), but it gradually dawned on me that ceding power to my bruised ego merely sealed my fate as an unenlightened chump. The key, I discovered much later, is not to get huffy and defensive, or to sit back and passively demand to be educated by the aggrieved party, but to get up offa that thang. Sure, when they tell you your head is up your ass you’re gonna sulk for a minute because you’re human, but then you’re gonna get up offa that thang, because you’re a feminist.

Remember, folks: your hurt feelings are the result of privilege. They’re giving you the opportunity to go out and entruthen yourself. Don’t waste it.

Thanks, Internet!

_______________________

One of my long-standing beefs is with dudes who love to lecture me that I will never win them over to the feminist cause as long as I keep copping a tude. My response is twofold. 1) fuck you dude, and 2) the moral indefensibility of sexism exists independently of my or anybody else’s demeanor; oppression isn’t any less wrong if the oppressed aren’t ass-kissers. And besides, winning dudes over has never been, to my mind, the objective of feminism. Appeasement will never liberate women from patriarchal oppression. What’s that old bumper sticker? “Well-behaved women seldom make history”?

Privilege-checking and a deep understanding of intersectionality are vital to modern feminism. In fact, they are prerequisites to the ever-elusive solidarity. I strenuously aver that no movement can evolve without a strong influx of ideology from vocal radicals. So maybe yelling “I hate you” at feminists from different backgrounds isn’t the most expedient of all possible solidaritous exercises, but until all the assorted privilege-weilding gets addressed, I don’t see how anyone can reasonably expect members of marginalized groups to “lighten up.” Is there a fine line between schooling and scorching? Sure, but I’ll say it again: either you’re against oppression or you’re not. A civil tone is more pleasant, but (excepting abuse for abuse’s sake; see “mob fetish,” above) not necessarily more effective.

_________________________

You know, not everyone who reads a feminist blog is interested in enbiggening her worldview. Apparently there exists a sizable cohort of consumers of Internet Feminism who are content to complain that disturbing shit like this

80's freak of nature Christie Brinkley displays her sexy pits on the cover of a magazine dedicated to patriarchal hegemony because she's way old but maintains fuckability.

80′s freak of nature Christie Brinkley displays her sexy pits on the cover of a magazine dedicated to patriarchal hegemony because she’s way old but maintains fuckability.

reinforces impossible femininity standards, and then call it a day.

Not to give the impression that casting a jaundiced eye upon damaging femininity propaganda is without value. I sure hope it isn’t, anyway, or I’ve wasted a shitload of time over the past 10 years. Jaundiced-eye-casting is the one of the spécialités de la maison here at Spinster HQ.

Fortunately, for them that wants it, feminism offers more than the opportunity to rip on Photoshopped pix of sexagenarian Christie Brinkley posing as a sexy tween, more than the “toxic Twitter wars.” Here’s hoping that sincere seekers of truth will choose to stay and fight on through the distracting twitterclysms of hate, and that cooler heads will continue to calmly nudge toward enlightenment those who thirst for knowledge, compassion, liberation, and a decent margarita.

Seriously, I’m thirsty. Where’s the bar?

____________________________

Feb 27 2014

Spleenvent Thursday: Arizona guv vetoes godbag bill

I know, I know, I’m phoning it in, but, in the interest of keeping up a blaming head of steam, the Spleenvents are going to be a semi-regular feature until such time as I whip my blaming schedule into something resembling a shape. I’ll probably have a real post up by this afternoon, but until then, please kvetch at will.

I will begin by linking to a NY Times op-ed column on Arizona guv Jan Brewer’s veto of that asshole godbanger anti-gay hate bill masquerading as “religious freedom.” If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, the column begins

Arizona. Wow. How often do you find yourself saying, “Go, entrenched interests of the business community!” Yet here we are.

and ends (spoiler alert!)

[I]n the United States, victory really arrives on the glorious day when the people with money decide discrimination is bad for business.

Thanks, Arizona.

Wouldn’t it be a riot if people with money decided that the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women were bad for business?

Older posts «