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Posts Tagged ‘discrimination’

Okay, here is a disclaimer. In this entry, I am going to try and briefly canvass a serious chasm within feminism and social justice activism. I’m not sure that I’m going to do a very good job! Is what I am trying to get at. This topic has been dissected to within an inch of its life; to use a diametric metaphor, it isn’t even a dead horse any more. The dead horse disintegrated years ago, leaving a coterie of activists and academics whipping themselves into a hole in the ground. Like a lot of these insoluble bugbears, it concerns ‘essentially contested terms’. Terminology! You know, WORDS MEAN THINGS! NO, THEY DON’T MEAN THAT, THEY MEAN THIS! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE AND TAKE YOUR PC PRESCRIPTIVISM WITH YOU!

So I apologise in advance if this is boring or repetitive. To be honest it’s mostly for my own benefit, so that I have a physical Rolodex of these terms to call on rather than manically flipping through my mental differential dicitonary to make sure I’m using/understanding the right one.

Sexism. When most feminists use the word ‘sexism’, they don’t mean what most non-feminists mean by sexism. I myself have been caught in the endless loop of arguing with people on the internet about what the word should be used to refer to. Those arguments never go well. People whip out Dictionary.com, other people try to explain the concepts of privilege and instititional oppression by the seat of their pants, and everyone goes home to gently nurse their sense of thwarted indignation.

Generally those tiffs occur between social justice nerds and non-social justice nerds. The two definitions they advance are:

Definition #1, or what I will call Activist’s Choice: Sexism, Racism, etc. are words used to refer to the oppression experienced by classes of people based on their membership in that class. The definition, which is often written ‘prejudice + power = sexism [racism, homophobia, etc]’, actually encapsulates a lot of ideologies about power and oppression. Living in societies that construct supremacist hierarchies based on functionally inconsequential traits causes all of us to have ingrained unconscious biases in favour of the constructed ideal: this may be as simple as toilet doors using a skirt to differentiate ‘female’ from ‘male’, the figure of which is a neutral human. It may be as intense as overtly supremacist dogma, like ‘trans people are lying/trying to trick us’.

None of us are exempt from the effects of this socialisation, the thinking goes; HOWEVER, some of us, based on membership of a privileged class, have power to make things better or worse for people who are oppressed along the same axis. This is difficult for a lot of people, because we have a tendency to deny privilege. It causes offence, guilt, etc. to have someone tell you that you’re irrationally prejudiced, and that your irrational prejudice contributes to their oppression. Privilege, however, is not a personal indictment of character: most of us are privileged in some way. Being a member of a privileged class, ie being white or able-bodied, doesn’t make you inherently anything; it’s the hierarchies that are the problem. Unfortunately we are all soaking in them, and it takes active effort on the part of the privileged not to exercise this advantage.

Sexism is therefore defined as prejudice, plus the institutional power to oppress someone based on that prejudice. As a white person, for example, I can’t think of a single disadvantage I’ve ever suffered based on institutional prejudice against white people. I mean, what could possibly happen? I get called a cracker? The power of prejudice against white people is practically nil, because it has no support. Conversely, as a woman, men with irrational prejudices against women have the social capital to make parts of my life a pain in the arse.

So those -ism and -phobia words take on the role of describing experienced oppression, rather than the social prejudice that leads to that oppression. In this capacity, they are extremely useful as political tools. I mean, why do straight people need a word to describe the oppression they don’t experience? We don’t have words for ‘prejudiced against people who collect stamps’, or ‘hatred of those who shop at American Apparel’. We don’t need them. Irrational prejudice is always a negative thing to be discouraged, but who gives a flip if some homo decides she hates all straights? What can she possibly achieve with that prejudice? From a social justice standpoint, it’s a nonissue. Thus, the Activist’s Choice definitions, which are reserved specifically to refer to prejudices of serious consequence, or institutional oppression.

The one issue I have with the Activist’s Choice definition is based on its inability to account for horizontal oppression, or Sarah Palin Oppression. Sarah Palin, as a woman, does not have institutional advantage. Her other privileges, however, like wealth, whiteness, and whatever magic powers Fox News grants its pundits, give her the power to oppress other women. I mean, I don’t think it’s possible to deny that Sarah Palin is both irrationally prejudiced, and capable of making women’s lives worse based on that prejudice. The power she uses to oppress originates from another axis of privilege, but she’s sexist in word, deed, and effect.

Definition #2, The Dictionary Definiton: Look, I can quote it for you:
rac·ism/ˈreɪsɪzəm/ [rey-siz-uhm]
–noun

1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

This is the classic definition. It doesn’t discriminate (hahaha). If you hate anyone for being any race, believe in racial supremacy, or do anything in accordance with it, you’re a racist. Apart from referring to any and all racial prejudice, this definition also requires ACTIVE, rather than passive, bigotry. It’s not enough to have absorbed negative racial messages; you have to actively believe those messages. It’s not enough to be personally repulsed by gay sex; you have to believe that gay sex is repulsive. This is partially why people get so offended when the words ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’ are thrown around: most people associate them with a conscious belief in supremacy. Being called sexist, for most people, doesn’t mean ‘you’re throwing around your unconscious privilege in a damaging manner’. It means ‘you are an irrational and dangerous bigot’.

The immediate downside of this definition is that it serves as a means for privileged people to legitimise any persecution complexes they might have about their person. Nobody wants that.

By the time someone has whipped out the Dictionary Definition, the argument has probably already devolved into multiple substrands concerning instances of anti-[privileged majority] prejudice, prescriptivism vs. descriptivism in linguistics, and accusations of thought-policing, PC-policing, and various other egregious constraints on individual liberty. Both definitions’ flaws are painstakingly explicated. Someone’s feelings have been hurt. Someone has been sternly reminded of everyone’s right to free speech. Everyone is tired and cranky. And I really don’t think I have the tools to improve that situation, apart from maybe directing people to read this post.

If you’ve made it this far and have anything constructive to add, please do. I don’t usually anticipate stupid comments, but please, for the lovagod, don’t tell me about how white people/men/heterosexuals are oppressed. I am even less in the mood for that shit than usual.

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Where does Eleanor Carnivore do Gender Studies? The Australian home of inter-collegiate rape, of course!

‘They can’t say no with a c–k in their mouth” read the hand-drawn graffiti in the Salisbury Bar, part of St Paul’s residential college on the University of Sydney campus.

It has since been painted over, but the sentiment remains.

”Any hole is a goal” stated other graffiti. ”Free entry” yet more announced, accompanied by an arrow pointing to a sketch of a vagina.

Seriously. This is my university. The university that thinks it’s funny to publish columns in its student pubications advising college men how they can marry a student at Women’s College. The university where I avoid events, balls, parties, and pissups like the plague because everyone knows they exist solely so that idiotic imitation frat boys can drag off a drunken college woman and rape her. The university where homophobic insults get daubed over queer-positive messages in the legal Graffiti Tunnel. This is where I do Gender Studies.

Dear students,

 

Many of you will have seen the articles in today’s Sydney Morning Herald relating to behaviour in our residential colleges.

 

I want to assure everyone in our University and the wider community that I regard the issues raised in these articles with the utmost seriousness.

 

I am appalled by the reported behaviour and apparent attitudes of some students. There can be no excuses for sexual assault. Binge drinking is at odds with our commitment to rational behaviour.

 

There should be no additional protection of any kind for students who break the law. They must be accountable for their actions and should be treated just like every other member of the community. Indeed, being a student of the University arguably carries with it an additional obligation to uphold its values.

 

The University and the residential colleges have been working hard to bring about a change in attitudes and behaviour. Obviously we still have much to do.

 

Dr Michael Spence

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

The University of Sydney

Yeah, Spence, you have a lot to do. Get on it. How about some rape prevention programs for the men at college? How about you try to stop rapes from happening to drunk first-years at intercollegiate pissups? How about no more naked runs through Women’s College, how about some more security, how about you try to make sure Paul’s boys turn out to be decent human beings instead of another round of fascist rapist investment banker anti-citizens? How about you  end the Old Boys mentality at the colleges, tear them down, and make them free, entry based on academic potential, proximity to the university, and socioeconomic disadvantage?

While we’re on shit you need to do, how about you build some decent low-cost housing for international students and poor students, how about you get international students their fucking travel concession? How about you lobby as hard as you possibly can to make university free and Youth Allowance enough to live on, so that all universities stop being strongholds of unit production for the kyriarchy and start producing some real goddamn people?

I am so disgusted and scared, I can barely speak.

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Here is part of a rebuttal of my anti-gay marriage post, by a guy I know only as ‘Dan’:

And, yes, the gay marriage movement ignores the rights of transexuals and polygamists. That’s because gays are not transexual and gays are not polygamists. Eleanor’s really going to oppose expanding rights to a group of people just because that group of people isn’t also fighting for the rights of a completely different set of people? Then we also shouldn’t pass gay marriage because gay marriage advocates aren’t fighting to pass UHC, or gun control legislation, or any of my other pet causes. Eleanor’s inappropriately mixing causes here.

This makes me spit fucking chips.

Hey, guess what? There’s no such thing as ‘inappropriately mixing causes’. The gay people you’re fighting for ARE TRANS* PEOPLE. They are also women, poly people, people of colour, disabled people, neurodiverse people. The gay marriage movement fights for causes that predominantly concern wealthy, white, middle class men, a group that constitute a tiny minority of the privileged upper crust. Being gay, fighting for gay marriage, does not give you license to ignore issues affecting gay people that do not affect you personally. You might not be a person with a serious mental illness who has to negotiate the medical and justice establishments refusing to acknowledge your basic humanity, but SOME OTHER GAY PEOPLE ARE. They have to worry about being oppressed for being gay, AND being oppressed for being a undocumented immigrant or a person with a disability.

Acknowledging the everyday concerns of your fellow gay people is called ‘intersectionality’, and mastering it is the only way that any social justice movement has a snowflake’s chance on my tongue of achieving any kind of truly liberated society. Gay people are not just gay people exactly like you, and ignoring the importance of other oppressions that they experience is racist, sexist, transphobic, ableist, all of the above. As someone primarily identifying as a feminist, this is something I should be thinking about every day, and as someone who advocates queer rights, the same thing applies. It’s not okay for feminism to pay attention only to privileged women, and it’s not okay for the gay rights movement to pay attention only to privileged gay people.

We should be trying to mix our causes MORE, not less. THAT is what bourgeois means: not a promotion of the ‘ordinary’ or ‘base’, but the privilege to ignore issues that do not affect you personally. People’s lives do not reflect a neatly segmented pie of different oppressions, and this is one of the huge problems with privileged anti-oppression academia and activism: we deny the lived experience of people who experience multiple oppressions. I include myself in this, because, as an aspiring member of government and academia, I am complicit, through my involvement, with perpetuating this enormous fucking problem. We should be listening to the voices of people who are oppressed in different and multiple ways, and implementing their suggestions within our ‘different’ movements. Heard of ‘safety in numbers’? This is what we should be trying to achieve.

But people who refuse to ‘mix their causes’, and it is usually the privileged among us who do this, delay, obscruct, kill off this objective. We fixate on our own pet issues to the detriment of the humanity of others. I cannot be a feminist who does not listen to women of colour or fat women or disabled women or women who are sex workers. Their problems are MY PROBLEMS. By ignoring them we foster their fully deserved resentment and hatred toward us. When I hear someone say something that is racist, and I do not try to counter it, I am being racist. Is that not completely fucking obvious? I get shat off massively when the male left ignores feminist issues, and I’m sure gay rights activists feel the same way when it’s gay rights that falls by the wayside when we all cluster under the leftist umbrella.

This is a shitty excuse for an Intersectionality 101 post, but if it made you angry or confused, do some research, for the love of humanity. I am not attacking here; I am defending. Read about intersectionality.

We are not completely different sets of people.

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What is it with the French government and thinking that the solution to ensuring women aren’t being forced to cover their body in a particular way, is forcing women to cover their body in a particular way? Seriously, people, even if you think religious clothing for women is inherently and universally oppressive (which it’s well fucking not), how, tell me, HOW is the solution to impose different limitations on women’s clothing?

“Well, see, those damn Ismuhlamics were telling you nice ladies what to wear, but because we don’t like what you’re wearing, it’s now mandatory that you wear something of our choice instead. Ok?”

If they think it’s a breach of women’s human rights that they’re being forced to wear the burqua, why don’t they work on the problem instead of issuing a blanket ban on an item of clothing that women may be freely choosing to wear? Furthermore, how is banning an item of clothing ever a solution to anything?

Come on, French government, get creative. Find something else to blame as the supreme hellmouth of all antifeminist evil. Like … the Pussycat Dolls! Blowjobs! Pink! See? All on about the same level as blaming the burqua itself.

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Toddler’s Senate Eviction ‘A Stunt’

Senator Hanson-Young says she was humiliated when Senate President John Hogg ordered her two-year-old daughter Kora to be removed from the chamber before a vote.

One of the most interesting things I’ve learnt about during my subject on masculinities this semester is how the historical model of a worker assumes that the person is a male head of household, and is therefore in possession of a full time domestic slave, ie a ‘wife’. When one is not in possession of this domestic slave, the standard full time work week becomes essentially beyond the capabilities of a single human being. It’s the consummate example of the supposedly ‘neutral person’ being a dood.

So Sarah Hanson-Young, not being a dood, and also being a mother, was probably bound at some point to be fucked over by her workplace. That sucks. Her child shouldn’t have been ejected from Parliament; Kora wasn’t running amok, crying, or doing anything else that could possibly have been construed as disruptive. It sounds like a combination of the Senate’s standing orders being a sexist fucking mess, and John Hogg having a huge goddamn stick up his arse. But, as with many stories about women in public life, this one has an xtra-special bonus round, where somebody wins a giant stuffed animal for impugning a woman’s disposition after the fact:

“There were definite alternate courses of action that could have shown you were more genuine in trying to not create a media event, because you don’t want to trick people’s emotions, you want people honestly [to] believe you were in a genuinely difficult position,” Senator Joyce said.

“If it was from a party that never effected stunts, you’d say ‘well, maybe it was a one-off’, but this is a party that is known for its stunts.”

He says Senator Hanson-Young should remember how important a senator’s job is.

“There are 21 million people who rely on the way that Senate votes, you’ve got to take that job seriously,” he said.

“Within that Senate are votes for things that might send people to war, that might get people killed. Do not ever lose sight of how important it is, the job inside the rails of that Senate chamber, and so this requires certain sacrifices.”

Oh, Bananaby, you absolute charmer! Being a woman who has a child is emotionally manipulative, unstable, uncommitted, flaky, stupid, and making a scene! I don’t know Senator Hanson-Young, but unless she’s a poorly programmed automaton, the suggestion that she would cause her baby distress to score a political point is fucking absurd. Maybe she was trying to make the vote on time, since Senators are only given four minutes from when the bell rings to assume their place? Maybe she doesn’t have a specially-built soundproof cage with feeding trough installed in her parliamentary office, in which she can deposit her inconvenient spawn at a moment’s notice during the days she sits?

Maybe Bananaby is a particularly egregious misogynist asscrunch, who’s never been the primary caregiver of a child and enjoys talking out his arsehole in order to score a political point off the back of a distressed baby girl. Maybe he needs to go back to Not Being a Sexist Dickmonger 101, issue a formal apology to Senator Hanson-Young and every working mother in the country, and get a fucking clue before he opens his spewhole.

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I’m probably already on the record somewhere as saying that marriage sucks, but I thought I’d have another go at it, given that some hatemongering scumracket judges in California decided that homos aren’t allowed to get married to eachother. As indicated by the first half of that sentence, I too do not think homos should be allowed to get married, although my sentiment is only coherent for a highly specific value of the word ‘marriage’ (and yes, I do happen to love discussing highly specific values of otherwise everyday words). I know saying that you’re against gay marriage, in the leftist world, is commensurate with vomiting into a large tub every day for five years and then flooding a happy rainbow unicorn land with your saved up puke, but give me a minute to make a list of some stuff.

1. Under the current system, all marriage sucks. It’s an inherently exclusionary way of validating one kind of highly specific relationship and awarding it benefits based on outdated criteria. It rests on a set of heteronormative assumptions (possibly the most heteronormative assumptions of all, unless you count the ones in ads for washing detergent), mostly to do with the production of children. Married hetero couples, it is assumed, produce the most and the best of society’s children; therefore, the union itself must confer special, glittery benefits upon its partakers. Of course, those of us with giant communist brains realise that unmarried hetero couples, unmarried homo couples, single men, single women, polyamorous people, and various combinations of the above all take care of children in our diverse modern society. Some would suggest that taking care of children may be the best criterion for assessing whether a person should receive benefits for taking care of children, but shh. Don’t tell Family First.

2. Marriage privileges some kinds of interdependent relationships over others. Namely, ones in which the participants are assumed to be fucking. This is a clever social fiction that I don’t fully understand, and which mirrors another, more deeply rooted (lol sorry) social fiction: if you don’t fuck eachother, it’s not a real relationship. It’s funny and/or absurd to think of two people getting married who don’t fuck eachother, isn’t it? To think of two people living together, declaring next of kinship, having children, and demanding social recognition of their interdependence, without fucking eachother? I find this attitude totally bizarre. What if two siblings, or three or four siblings, want to raise children together, or just live together? A group of female friends? A couple and their friend? A polyamorous relationship with three people, one of the partner’s parents, and a cousin from interstate?

All of these are de facto possibilities, and, I think, possibly better possibilities. Who knows how many people would be happier in some kind of alternate arrangement that didn’t involve a socially compulsory man-fucking-a-woman, or, in places with gay marriage, person-fucking-ONE-other-person. Hey, kids, guess what? It’s okay to  have kids with whomever you want. It’s okay to not fuck that person, it’s okay to not fuck anyone, and it’s okay to live by yourself, hate kids, and use your fertile years to build giant sculptures of zombie pirates out of Lego. 3… 2… 1… go.

3. Marriage at the moment is a weird, squishy consolidation of church stuff and state stuff. Instead of bitching about that, check this out: France has a pretty good solution, even if it’s in its infancy and has a while to go before you can let it out of the house on its own. The idea is that “marriage” is definitely a religious thing, and specific religions can impose whatever wacky norms they want on it. Civil unions, on the other hand, are definitely a State thing, and imply, socially speaking, nothing about whomever is seeking to be a party to one. You can have one, both, or neither, depending on what you had for breakfast this morning.

Obviously, the glaring omission in the French version is that only two people can enter into it at a time, and it suffers from conflating adult interdependency with caring for children. I think the solution is that someone smarter and more hard-working than me has to invent either a new kind of union, or a modified Civil Union, that specifically refers to the responsibility of spooning mashed veggies into a snotty infant after 1.5 hours of poor quality sleep.

4. The gay marriage movement ignores many of its own. It ignores many of the reasons gay people might want to get married. ‘Gay people can’t marry eachother for immigration status!’ Well, maybe you should think about reforming your shitty immigration system. ‘Gay people can’t access their partner’s health insurance!’ Stop me, but maybe you should reform your shitty health insurance system. etc. It ignores polyamorous people, and in fact seems to spend a lot of its time refuting the conservatives who say that it might lead to poly marriage. This is pretty stupid, because they’re right: consenting adults, blah blah blah. It ignores the rights of trans people, who might have a lot more complicated and traumatic legal bullshit than cis gay people if they want to get married. In short, it’s pretty fucking bourgeois.

So that’s why Eleanor Carnivore is against gay marriage. There’s another post in here somewhere about whether or not gay marriage can be seen as a kind of baby step on the way up to something that actually resembles equality, but I’ve got dinner to eat and an assignment that was due yesterday to write. Also: I’m officially asking for submissions for another Ask Aunt Carnivore, which appears to have been my most popular post. So, are you bored? Gassy? Lonely? Angry? Email me at shesacarnivore@gmail.com ! I want to turn your problems into a mildly amusing and ideologically motivated blog post help!

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This oldie-but-goodie is a classic argument against radical feminism, which is often vilified for refusing to “listen” to oppressed women when they claim they are not oppressed. Just look at any comment thread on this blog where I’ve stated that tiny handbags, or marriage, or prostitution, or the nuclear family are tools of the patriarchy. Holy armadillo quadruplets, do otherwise sensible women ever love high heels!

But the thing is, radical feminists do listen. It’s just that what we hear is not the dulcet tones of liberated personhood, but the doth-protest-too-much keening of Stockholm Syndromettes sticking up for their captors. Unlike Campbell, radical feminists have answered the clue phone. We know that within a patriarchal paradigm, women, as an oppressed class, do not, from the git-go, possess fully human status. Our “choices,” therefore, are not real. We are manipulated by the system to embrace false constructs as truth.

This is a (rather extended) quotation from one of my all-time favourite feminist blogs, I Blame The Patriarchy. Many an evening have I spent on the couch, balancing dinner on one knee and the IBTP archives on the other, slopping curry on myself while I kick my feminist lens up a focal notch and absorb Twisty’s no-bullshit critiques of misogynist reality. She embodies many of the traits that I find lacking in the rest of the femoblogocube; she’s funny, erudite, and every time I read her, I feel like my eyes have been opened a tiny bit further, and I’m about one centimetre closer to understanding the way the world really works.

But there are two sentiments she frequently expresses that I find offensively simplistic. So simplistic and silencing, in fact, that whenever she writes something about them, I want to compose her a letter on fifty feet of cardboard, deforestation be damned, tape the cardboard to myself, go round her house, knock on the door, and stand there pointing at myself until she’s read it. I find that these two views are endemic to the radical feminist community, which makes me uncomfortable. I like radfems. Most of the time, I feel in sync with radfem politics. It’s snuggly and comfortable and, I find, reflects reality in a hammer-to-my-forehead-moment kind of way.

The first objection I have is about religion. She loves Richard Dawkins, and his dogma; I think he’s an unmitigated dickhead who wilfully ignores his own field and perpetuates harmful, bigoted, and repellently ignorant understandings of religion AND atheism. I’m not going to go into that, though, because it angries up my humours and I want to relax tonight instead of secretly plotting to put him in the Total Perspective Vortex.

The second is reflected in the preceding quotation. Lots of feminists bang on about ‘choice’, reflecting totally different understandings of the concept. The anathema of Twisty’s view was summarised a while back by Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com, whose face I want to lick (she’s not talking about Twisty in this extract, just to be clear):

So I went and read some of her work online, and she’s always careful to point out that by claiming that we’re making a choice to stay at home we are only copping out, that somehow the choice to stay at home is invalid. Wow! As a mother I’ve never heard that before! My choices are wrong! She should write a book about how she knows which choice is the best one. Oh wait! SHE HAS!

My reaction then, I guess, is that here is my middle finger and here is me waving it at Linda Hirshman. This IS my choice. It is mine. I want to be at home with my child, not because my husband said I had to want it, or because my mom said that I had to want it, or because I am blinded by society’s bias toward women and their role in the family. I had the option of going to work outside the home or staying at home with my kid and I made a choice. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything more fundamentally feminist than exercising that choice.

There is some seriously monochromatic contrast between these two positions. They speak past each other in new and perplexing ways, when I think the most correct and pragmatically stable position, both personally and theoretically, is a sweet and enchanting bouillabaise of both.

I agree with Twisty’s basic premise. I jive with it, if you will. People gender-assigned ‘women’ do not have free choice, simply because society coerces us into various situations and practices that are designated ours, as a class. I don’t think ‘women’ would, were we not sorted into this category, naturally seek to perform the million and one oppressive practices associated with the feminine construct. I take a reasonably Butlerian view of sex, gender, and sexuality, and I identify strongly with her notion of performativity:

Butler says: ‘There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender; … identity is performatively constituted by the very “expressions” that are said to be its results.’ (Gender Trouble, p. 25). In other words, gender is a performance; it’s what you do at particular times, rather than a universal who you are.

This is a little squiddly description of performativity, obviously, and if you have the time or interest, I urge you to borrow a copy of Gender Trouble from the library, or from your closest femiwonk egghead.

I also agree with Dooce, and I am, generally speaking, far more optimistic than Twisty about the capacity of most women to tell when they’re being oppressed. Dooce directly acknowledges the patriarchal structure of society. She’s not stupid, and yet she chose to stay at home with her child rather than go out to work. I believe her when she tells me that this is her choice, and I believe her when she says it makes her happy. There are moments when I think I would be happy staying at home with my progeny. Admittedly, those moments aren’t very long, but I am hyperaware of social pressures to conform to shitty gender expectations, and it’s still something I find appealing. I would probably find it even more appealing if there were less vomit involved.

Unlike both Dooce and Twisty, I do comprehensively entertain the idea that, although my preferences and behaviour have undoubtedly been moulded by coercive cultural standards, I own those preferences, and I think it’s okay for other women to own theirs, build a pink frilly tent around them, if they want. Here’s my point: society is inherently coercive. All human customs and practices are coerced, and there are probably few parts of my identity, or anyone else’s, that aren’t a result of societal pressure. Rebelling against those pressures is also a reaction to and therefore a result of them. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with identifying and criticising those pressures, obviously, or I wouldn’t be a feminist. Unravelling the complex pattern of mutual contracts that constitute human interaction is crucial to the synthesis of a new, less oppressive system. IT’S ALL A RICH TAPESTRY, OK.

But the pervasive tone of condescension that Twisty, and many radfems, have towards women who make patriarchally acceptable choices, really burns my cookies (gasp! My feminine, stain-resistant apron is showing!). Twisty tends to acknowledge that women “do what they have to to get by”, characterising femininity as a survival technique. But I think it’s okay to enjoy those survival techniques, whilst acknowledging that they’re at least partially the result of societal coercion. Everything’s the result of societal coercion; it’s not a big deal to do things in accordance with it. Resisting those forces through personal behaviour works for some people, and it works for me a lot of the time. It’s cool. But if wearing marriage and eating makeup genuinely, thoroughly makes you happy, fucking go for it, for the love of god. Embrace it. Cover your hat in high heels and nuzzle all the pink shit. I’m certainly not going to judge you, and I don’t think you owe it to feminism or anyone else to do anything you don’t honestly enjoy.

Guilt is bad for you. brb, I gotta go and adjust my lacy underwear.

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