Category Archives: Feminism

Internet: conquered.

Well, I have finally made it, in terms of internet bloggers. Curiously, I did not feel that I had “made it” when I hit my official decade mark of blogging, nor did I feel it when I was interviewed for a book because of my blog.

I feel it now because I was finally name-called on the internet. Apparently, I am “Bitchy, Entitled Feminist.” The best part of this is that, for some reason, I got referenced in a post that also mentions Rebecca Watson, Richard Dawkins, and Greg Laden, who, I’m sure you can agree, are great company. Still seriously trying to figure this one out, unless this person searched WordPress tags right after I posted about Nice Guys and, vaguely, about Elevator Guy (that post only has nine unique views, anyway). I thought for a moment about commenting on his blog, but after perusing it I realized that there would be no point; he is a person who argues for “men’s rights,” and so I am pretty much writing him off as a lost cause.

To be clear: I write this blog primarily for myself, but also with hope that the persons around me might find it interesting and that it might lead to good discussions. I also am bitchy, I’m entitled (in the sense that I am “entitled” to an opinion, and also that I have entitled myself to the title of “blogger”) and I sure as hell am a feminist. In the blog post, I was also put under the umbrella term of “oppressed feminist bitches.” This adds in two new words to my title, “oppressed” and “bitch.” I won’t say more than: if somebody is oppressed, they certainly have reason to be a bitch, no matter what gender, cis- or trans-, genderqueer, othergendered, etc.

The truth of the world, in general, is this: in general, men have more privilege than women. Similarly, white people have more privilege than people of other racial or ethnic backgrounds. Other groups with more privilege than their counterparts (this list is not exhaustive, and, while in general it is universally true, this list also has a western societal bias): rich vs. poor, heterosexual vs. any other sexuality, able-bodied vs. handicapped, religious vs. non-religious, etc. If an able-bodied person argued, “I can’t believe our tax dollars go to paying for handicap accessible shit, we shouldn’t have to change our world for them,” then you would probably think that they were missing the point, or even that they’re at least slightly leaning towards the side of “douche.” Handicapped people of all sorts face difficulties every day, and yes, we should change the world for “them” because they have a right to the same chances at life and enjoying it as every other person. There is a need for change in general because, historically, much of our and other societies have treated handicapped persons as “less than,” or “lost causes,” for reasons fueled by religion or ignorance.

Similarly, though not in any way identically, women have faced difficulties historically for religious and ignorance issues, as well as plenty of other issues and motivations. Yes, we have come a very long way even in just the past decade. But that doesn’t mean that we should stop fighting for equality. Also, when I say “equality,” I do not mean “women deserve more than men,” because this goes against the definition of “equality” as well as displays a gross lack of understanding that gender is not binary. My feminism says “no matter what gender or sex, no person should have to be discriminated against, put down in any way, hurt or endure prejudice simply based on their gender or sex.” My feminism says, “fuck the patriarchy,” because it hurts everybody, including men. Women are treated as “less than,” men are treated as having to be hyper-masculine and bullied if they display feminine attributes, and anybody who doesn’t fit into this idea of binary genders is treated as a freak. Feminist issues are men’s issues, and they certainly do have to deal with “men’s rights.” Men’s rights are equal to all other genders’ rights.

I don’t have a lot of hope for the person who wrote that blog post, but I do have hope that at least one person will see what I have said (which is in no way unique or different from what other feminists are saying or have been saying for a very long time) and be exposed to the idea that feminism is not a dirty word, and that it is probably what they have been thinking about for a long time.

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The problems with “nice guy” syndrome

Richard Dawkins giving a lecture based on his ...
"Freethinking" is not always equal to "understanding." #listenup

(While this could certainly apply to other groups of male-identifying persons and also non-straight persons, I’m going to focus this point on cis-gendered, heterosexual men.)

As somebody who played an instrument in the low brass and was even low brass section leader in marching band for two years, and also as somebody who is aspiring to work in male-dominated industries (web design, academia) I have been lucky enough to meet a variety of men and get to know many different male minds. I would never say that I have a full understanding of the way men think, but I would say that I know some general male traits and actions, and I know what men have said to me. Everything I say in this post is directed at the group of cis-gendered, heterosexual men who identify as “Nice Guys,” and believe me when I say that there are many, many of them.

The “Nice Guy” is not necessarily defined by his actions, which may include being a good listener to the females in his life, “always being there,” and other things that are supposed to set him apart as “better” than the other cis-gendered, heterosexual men that a woman may meet, though these are what a “Nice Guy” would use to define himself. All of these things may seem nice, and they will probably earn him many good, female friends. He just loves women so much, you see. However, once the female he has been “nice” to informs him that she’s not interested in him romantically or sexually, all of this love seems to fall away. Suddenly, she’s a bitch who is obviously going to go bang some asshole instead of you and that makes her stupid and ungrateful.

Why does this happen?

Because, under the surface, Nice Guys are “nice” because it’s their way of trying to attract women. They believe that if they treat a woman “better,” that she will sleep with them, perhaps go out with them, marry them, or any other reward they are seeking. When the woman doesn’t immediately realize how much “better” he is, the man becomes immediately enraged, suddenly assuming that she isn’t smart enough to see that she only likes assholes.

If you don’t see what’s wrong with being a Nice Guy, it’s this: despite your “nice” actions, you are still living under the assumption that how you treat a woman entitles you to some sort of appreciation, or some part of her body. If you haven’t noticed by now, this makes you an asshole, too.

I understand that, for many men, it’s difficult to imagine what makes a woman upset when she gets whistled at/yelled at when walking down the street. “It’s a compliment.” For many men, it’s also difficult to see why getting hit on feels degrading in some circumstances. “It must be so difficult to be wanted.”

Obviously, voicing an interest in another human being isn’t just understandable, it’s essential to our survival. At some point, a person must show interest in another person, and if the second person reciprocates interest then a lot of good can happen. But that doesn’t make all attention good; context is key here. If a person is at a place that signals their availability/desire for finding attraction (e.g.: Speed Dating, an online dating website, a singles mixer, a singles church group, etc.) and they are approached, and then if they voice reciprocal interest, then asking for a date/later meeting time/coffee/etc is perfectly acceptable. If you already know a person and have grown feelings for them, and then present your feelings and they reciprocate, then you probably have the go-ahead to ask for a date/later meeting time/coffee/etc.

From my perspective, there are very few other scenarios in which getting hit on doesn’t feel like an invasion, or inappropriate, or rude, or just downright uncalled for. Getting yelled at on the street isn’t fun; it’s frightening, especially if the car circles back to do it again (this has happened to be often), and it’s also giving a clear message of “I’m going to assert my dominance over you and make you out to be a purely sexual object because it’s culturally acceptable for me to do so.” Being listened to/treated “nicely” by a man who gets angry when you turn him down sends the message: “I’ll be nice to you as long as you reward me in the end.”

And, for the record, if a woman spends her time giving a panel about treating women well in the atheist community, then later makes it clear that she is going to bed, this isn’t an invitation for you to ask her to have coffee with you in your room whilst in an elevator. Whatever the intentions, this is still a power play, and it sends the message of: “I’m going to show my interest in you while you’re vulnerable and I have the ability to trap you in an enclosed space with me.” I’m not saying that Elevator Guy had intentions of hurting her, and I can perfectly imagine him thinking of himself as a nice guy, if not a Nice Guy (“I’m so much better because I like her for her brain and not just her body”).

I wish I could call him an Uninformed Guy, but the fact that he attended her panel says that he isn’t uninformed, he’s just clueless. As are many men. Because, for the record, what we need to be fighting for is eliminating all forms of oppression, not just the most extreme forms. Yes, Muslim women being mutilated and stripped of their rights is tragic, and we should be fighting against it. But we should also be fighting against all forms of sexual oppression, even the most clueless forms, the forms that Richard Dawkins himself is perpetuating. I personally don’t understand the paradox of any atheist man viewing himself as oppressed for his (lack of) religious views, and fighting for more awareness- and then having no compassion or understanding for sexually oppressed persons, some of whom live in a society that has a more active role in limiting women, and some of whom live in a society that has made some changes but still has a long way to go. That would be like somebody saying “hey, we have one atheist active congressperson, and also there have been books about atheism that were successful, so we’ve made it and we don’t have to fight anymore.”

My rambling thoughts are rambling, so I will end with: as a cis-gendered heterosexual man, please #listenup. If you want to go from being a Nice Guy to a nice guy, then look at your motivations for how you treat your the females in your life. If you find that your intentions are less than genuine, then congratulations: you’ve listened, and hopefully learned.

Hey, cis-gendered heterosexual males: comment and post any/all ways in which you have ever felt oppressed/objectified by other people in your life, male-identifying, female-identifying, genderqueer, etc. All sexual oppression needs to stop.

The Importance of Numbers (Or, How in a Roundabout Way, I’m Pro-Life)

Official photo of Congresswoman Michele Bachma...
Nemesis #1 tbh

My politics are obviously not informed by faith (kind of difficult for that to be true when I don’t subscribe to any faith). But they are also not informed by my lack of faith; it would make no sense for my atheism to inform my politics beyond perhaps being one less thing to tell me how to think/feel/vote.

Though I am a proud feminist, I am not informed by my feminism. People might point out- “aren’t you pro-choice? Isn’t this because you want reproductive rights for women? Isn’t that feminism?” And I would say “my feminism is the part of my life that helps me make personal decisions and helps give me a drive for activism, but it does not tell me how to vote.”

I am obviously and definitely a secular humanist. If there were any kind of label that I subscribe to that informed my politics the most, it would probably be this. This is because, underlying what does inform my politics, what I am looking for are the answers to the question- “what is best for humanity?” (This can easily lend itself to “what is best for nature,” because humanity is kind of nature’s bitch, and we have to appease nature and treat nature with respect and kindness. Nature will go on without us very easily.) I think that the idea of “pro-life” and “pro-choice” is extremely misleading; one should not, in my opinion, call themselves “pro-life” if their concern for life stops the minute it exits the womb, if they care more about the potential for life than the actuality of it, if they vote in ways that aren’t informed about poverty, about education, about the death penalty, about the environment, about human rights. That is life, at least it is life in the United States, and that is what we vote for.

But what does inform my politics the most, what I look to before anything else, are facts, figures, statistics. Numbers. These are the tools that help me to grasp- what is the result of the availability of abortion, or what would the result be were there to be a lack of abortion availability? The same goes for science education, for environmental measures, for laws that have the ability to limit human rights to any one group of people. What matters to me is- what do the non-partisan fact-checkers say?

I was worried when Sarah Palin stepped onto the scene, but that was nothing compared to my fear of Michele Bachmann. The easy thing for people to say about my abhorrence for Bachmann is that I don’t like her because she has the evangelical, home-schooled thing going for her, something I obviously don’t agree with. While yes, it’s one thing that I could pick on her for, my annoyance isn’t with her faith, but with her lack of truth or reason. Out of all of the candidates for the Republican nomination in 2012, Bachmann has the worst record of stating any truths at all, and yet she is one of the top-runners for the nomination. Why? Because she “speaks our language,” which is the language of the United States Evangelical. Michele Bachmann is, of course, well-suited to become a favorite amongst the average citizen voter, because the average citizen voter is a Christian, and the average Christian’s vote is informed by faith and not verifiable fact. (I understand the argument “God is fact, and what he says is what’s important, and that’s fact for me.” But until you can supply empirical evidence to back up the claim that “God is fact,” it will still be a faith issue.

In theory, I have no problem with people letting faith be a big source of their political views and their voting record. What I have a problem with is people disregarding the importance of facts, numbers, statistics, truths, for anything. If an atheist voted for an atheist solely based on the candidates lack of faith, I would have a problem; the same with a woman voting for a woman based on her sex chromosomes, Democrat for a Democrat based on his party affiliation, etc.

I used to say that the important thing was for everybody to vote. I retract that statement. The important thing is for everybody to vote informed. Not informed by far-partisan media (such as The Daily Show, Fox News, MSNBC, etc.) but by non-partisan facts, statistics, numbers. That is my utopia.