All the Changes

I think I might lack the constancy to be writing or blogging at all.  I change my mind too much.  I read old opinion pieces I wrote and think, oh god did I really write this?  Maybe I should stick to autobiographical retelling of the past.  But I’m not going to do that, because I have opinions and they want to be written.

Why do we demonize changing our minds?  Unless you are willing to change your opinions when new facts present themselves, your opinions are nothing more than religious-like faith, based on your true belief you are right about everything right now.  Nobody is right about everything so that’s a delusional position in and of itself.

Why do we call politicians who adapt their platforms “flip-floppers?”  Certainly sometimes they do it for political purposes, but if they do it because they learned something and evolved their position, isn’t that a positive?

I got banned by a couple intersectional liberal feminist Facebook pages and chastized on others for cis-sexist transantagonist TERF-i-ness.  Here’s the really funny thing about this: before I was called “TERF” (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) for saying something about female biology in relation to a post about abortion (the horror), I had never heard of Radical Feminism in any capacity.

My sort of feminism, and I have long embraced the term, was always the liberal kind, but no longer.  I believe that sex is real.  Male and female are real biological categories with different reproductive roles.

Amazingly, that one little statement I made there about reproductive biology makes me a “TERF.”  It apparently means I hate transwomen and want to erase them from the universe.

That is really an incredible leap to make, isn’t it? If I think that there are important differences between being a female and being a male, and between being raised as a girl and being raised as a boy, that means I’m a bigot.

Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean I want to murder transpeople.

My current thoughts regarding gender are as follows***:

Gender is not Sex.

Sex is the reality of bodies.  People are male, female, and some are intersex.  The majority of humans are male and female.  Female bodies are presumed to be capable of reproduction.  Some are not, but when you are born a female, the things you are taught to believe about yourself and the world will be based in the assumption you can give birth.  When you are born male, there is no possibility you will ever give birth and it is assumed you can impregnate females.

Gender is the role assigned to humans based on sex (or in the case of intersex, assigned sex).  Some people say all sex is assigned, but I don’t buy that.  The great majority of humans are male or female and never question their sex or feel incorrectly categorized.  Only in intersex cases is sex assigned.  Woman is the role assigned to adult human females.  Man is the role assigned to adult human males.

Gender roles vary from culture to culture.  Woman and man have distinct assigned roles from clothing to personality to strengths and weaknesses to favorite colors.  Gender roles evolve and expand and contract.  There is nothing about having a male or female body that makes a person like pink or blue.

If a man wants to wear makeup he is breaking his gender role.  He is not conforming to the role assigned to him by society and he will be punished for it.  If a woman does not want to be a mother and she’d rather be a truck driver, she is not conforming to the role society assigned to her and she will be punished for it.  This is wrong.  Men should be able to like pink and care for children and women should be able to never get married and eschew high heels.

If a male child likes pink ponies, that does not mean he is a girl.

Nobody who believes that gender is an innate identity is willing to describe it.  We are told that if a person feels like they are a woman, they are.  End of story.  But nobody will say what that feels like.  If a male person feels like the social construct woman and he wants to be seen as a woman that is his life and I support that.  The world is difficult to navigate for all of us and we have to do what we need to in each of our lives.  Nobody needs my permission anyway, but that’s how I feel about it.

I wish we lived in a world where there were no gender roles.  Nobody should be abused or discriminated against for who they are.

Nor do I think that transwomen are evil men pretending to be women for sexual kicks, like a lot of radical feminists believe. I’m sure there are some men doing exactly that, because men.  But I don’t think it’s fair to extend that to every transwoman.  Every group has it’s bad apples.  I would not want to be assumed to be the same as a lot of women just because we share the same sex and gender.

My body matters to me.  My experience of being a woman is through my female body.  Breasts, uterus, vagina, curvy shape, there is nothing androgynous about me.  At the same time, I don’t care for makeup, being subservient, dependent, maternal, demure, delicate, etc.  I don’t want to be a man though, I want to be a different kind of woman.  I think that’s what gets so many of us who feel a dubious about every boy who likes pink ponies being considered “transgender”.  Are we really giving up on abolishing gender roles?  Are we really giving in to the idea that if you don’t want to do “woman things” you are not a woman?  I guess so.  I mean, that’s what has happened.

My experience of life is deeply tied to being female.  My body is not “parts” and “plumbing”.  When I see the female reproductive system referred to as “plumbing” on feminist pages, I bristle.  When I read an article posted by a mainstream feminist page that purports that “menstruation isn’t inherently female.” I feel like Alice in Wonderland.  When I am told that it is “cis-sexist” to talk about reproductive rights as a War on Women, I know I am not one of them anymore.

Also, just a note about sexuality.  Nobody is obligated to be sexually attracted to anybody.  I, a heterosexual woman, am only attracted to male-bodied men.  Nobody has the right to tell me who to be sexually attracted to.  Nobody has the right to tell a lesbian she should allow a penis in her vagina just because the penis is attached to someone who identifies as a woman.  I can’t even believe this is something I had to say.

My feminism does not include encouraging and fostering an environment where people with penises can coerce and abuse women.

My feminism does not include silencing women for having a different opinion.  I disagree with every single thing Sarah Palin has ever said or done, but she should be allowed to speak. Though I disagree that there’s nothing inherently female about menstruating, I want that person to be allowed to say that.

My feminism does not include pretending sex isn’t real.  It is real.

I have left the liberal intersectional label behind.  I wanted to stay and discuss these issues from within, but it was not allowed.  I was shouted down.  I was blocked.  I was threatened and insulted.  So I went elsewhere.  I read new points of view. I realized I was not alone by any stretch. I changed my mind. I found out that not all transpeople agree with those intersectional liberal feminists.  Transactivists are silencing not just women, but transwomen as well.  I will never support that.

***subject to change


Men’s Rights to be the Center of All Attention Always

I follow a lot of feminist blogs, facebook pages, IG accounts and the like.  Men follow these pages too.  A small percentage of them follow because they are supportive, intellectually curious, or they totally get it and they are feminists themselves.  But unfortunately, most of the men who follow are there simply to impose themselves, to take over the conversation, and basically to prove the need for the existence of feminism.  Ironically, they don’t realize this is what they are doing.

Ironically, they have no idea that every time they make some comment about women falsely accusing men of rape or women provoking abuse and violence, or women being heartless slut bitch cunt whores, they make our point.  If you threaten women with rape and abuse in an attempt to prove that feminism is unnecessary, you may want to re-think your strategy.

These men are so blinded by their male privilege, they think it perfectly righteous to defend their need to have everything be about them at all times always.  They think that when women are talking about the harassment we face simply trying to walk down the street, that would be a good time to tell us about that time a woman was mean to them when they tried to “compliment” her.  When we talk about the things that men have done to us in our own experiences, they can’t just listen.  They simply must proclaim “NOT ALL MEN” or accuse us of exaggerating or imagining these things.

I’ve seen the laundry list of complaints the Men’s Rights Movement has made about the horrible plight of men.  Some of the concerns are legitimate.  Most are not.  None are the fault of women or feminism, yet women and feminism are the target of all the MRM’s vitriol.

For example, they believe they are not given a fair shake in custody court.  Okay, that seems like a crappy thing.  Custody should be decided not on the basis of gender, but on the basis of the best interests of the child.  Sometimes the father is the more suitable parent.  This is a feminist position as well.  Yes, that’s right, feminism is about not making decisions on the basis of gender.  So what should be done about it?  I’m no lawyer or expert in legal matters, so I’m honestly not sure how we can change this if it is indeed a systemic problem.  But I do know one thing: feminists did not make it this way.

Child-rearing has been “women’s work” forever.  That’s the patriarchal set-up.  Women raise children and do housework, men work and make money.  Don’t like that?  Me neither.  That’s why I am a feminist.  The idea that somehow feminists created this situation is some very twisted logic indeed.

They point to the dismal statistics about how many men get custody of their children, but they miss one vital point: How many men try to get custody of their children?  My father didn’t, even though he would have been a more suitable parent than my schizophrenic drug-addicted mother.  I guess children would have put a damper on his relationship with his new younger girlfriend.  My boyfriend’s father didn’t.  He ran off and never even attempted to contact his son again.  In my life today, I know one man my age who has divorced his wife and complains about what a horrible mother she is.  Even he did not try to get custody.  Complain as he might, it’s pretty obvious he benefits from having her care for the kids while he meets new women and lives the single bachelor life.

Before we can have a meaningful statistic about how many men get custody of their children, we need to have men who actually try.  Hey, I’ve seen Teen Mom.  NONE of those dads wants custody of their kids.  The moms are lucky if the guy even wants visitation.

I’m sure there are some men who have tried to get custody and failed and I’m sure there are some judges who are prejudiced against them.  That’s our unfortunate legal situation for ya.  We have prejudiced judges making life-altering decisions.  It’s wrong for sure.  I’m not sure it’s as widespread as the MRAs think, but if it’s happening it’s wrong and we should do something about it.

That’s just one example, but I truly feel that the concerns that MRAs claim to have that are legitimate are concerns echoed by feminists.  We could be working together on those.

But I don’t honestly believe that the MRM exists to try to improve the lives of men.  No, I’ve read enough of their forums and blogs to see what they are.  They are a hate group plain and simple.  They are to women what the KKK is to black people.  They try to cover this up in language about discrimination toward men, but it’s pretty fucking obvious when you interact with them that the base argument is that they hate women and despise the idea that they are being asked to treat us like equal humans.

If they were honest with themselves, they would see that their “movement” is about trying to hang onto the privilege men have so long enjoyed.  They cannot stand that straight, white, heterosexual men aren’t the center of attention at all times everywhere always.  And they experience the loss of this privilege as discrimination.

Because when you’ve had an unfair advantage for all of human history and you see it being dismantled, I guess the reaction is to rail against that.  Nobody wants to give up their privileges, even if they are undeserved.

So they insert themselves into feminist spaces, take over conversations about women’s issues, and turn the subject back to themselves.  They are only comfortable when they are the center.  Because they don’t know any different and lack the self-reflection to see what they are doing for what it really is.  I think some of these guys believe in their cause.  I think some of them are probably decent people somewhere in there.  I think many of them are victims of the same patriarchal system feminists have been trying to dismantle for decades.

We could be working together, but their blindness to their male privilege won’t allow it.

An MRA is like a person with a stubbed toe coming into an ICU filled with people with life-threatening and debilitating injuries and screaming “BUT WHAT ABOUT MY TOE!??!?!  WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT MY TOE NOW!!!”


“Resting B*tch Face”

There is no such thing.

Women aren’t obligated to smile constantly or always seem to be holding a pleasant happy thought in our heads.

When a man doesn’t smile, or he looks serious, or contemplative, or even mean or angry, we don’t call that anything. It is simply one of many emotions within the wide range of possible human emotions.  Men are not expected to maintain only pleasant thoughts and feelings at every waking moment. But because women are expected to always be warm, welcoming, happy, and accommodating, when a woman doesn’t smile we make up a derogatory term for it.

RBF: Resting B*tch Face

There is no such thing.


Getting More Women in STEM

With the dismal diversity numbers coming out of Google, Facebook, and other technology companies in the news recently, there has been much talk about how to get more women into science, technology and engineering disciplines.

As a woman who is in a male-dominated technical field, I have some thoughts on this.  I was the only female in my graduating class, and the winner of the Best Portfolio award. (own horn, toot toot!)  I work at an engineering firm.  I’m an expert user of a lot of software, I troubleshoot my own computer issues, and I know a few scripting languages and computer programming basics.  I’m not intimidated by math or science or computers.

But before I tell you my ideas, let me tell you what is NOT the way.  PLEASE, for the love of God, do not try to get women into STEM by making it “girly”.  Please, do not make it pink.  Do not put glitter and flowers on it.  Do not make it cute or gossipy.  Please do not make it “sexy” to like math and science.

We need to get girls interested in math and science the exact same way we get boys interested, by making it interesting and giving them inspiring examples of other girls and women who have done it.  Ask a man why he got into an engineering field and his answer will not be “because I am a man and it was a masculine thing to do.”  No, it will likely be “because I was intrigued by _____.” or “My favorite sci fi movie featured a little boy hero and I wanted to be just like him” or “I wanted to build _____ or design better _____”

When I was a kid, I was already into nerdy things.  I loved sci fi, both reading and movies.  I loved fantasy.  I loved video games.  I loved building things with legos.  Looking back though, I notice that all of those movies and books I loved, they ALL had a male protagonist.  In most cases there were no girls or women at all except as the love interest.  The girl character existed only as an object of the boy character’s desire.  She usually had no lines.  Flight of the Navigator, The Never-Ending Story, The Last Starfighter, etc.

My favorite books, The Lord of the Rings series, had a few minor two dimensional female characters.  So many of my favorite books followed that pattern.  It just seemed normal to me that women were rarely featured.  I never questioned it until much later.

Because of my interests I did not fit in.  I would never be popular.  Girls teased me and boys passed me over for girls who were pretty and giggled a lot.  Being nerdy was never cool, but being a nerdy girl made me one of a kind.  I was an oddity.

We need movies and books that make science and technology intriguing to little girls and show little girls as the HEROS not the love interest.  Show me a little girl winning the space battle or saving the world with a magic video game.

We also need video games that allow girls to feel like they are a part of the world of technology.  Not pink flowers and ponies, science fiction type puzzle games with smart female protagonists, and they don’t need to be dressed like they’re going to work at the strip club either.

We need books with female protagonists solving technology and science issues.

We need TV shows that show women being scientists and starfleet captains.  Thank goodness for Captain Janeway.  MORE please.

We need teachers who are trained to encourage boys and girls equally in math.  I experienced sexism in my schooling.  It came in subtle and overt ways.  I can see why other girls were driven away from the path of math and science, but for me it egged me on.  I’m just a defiant type of person, but we can’t expect most people to buck their social role.  Whether it was teachers who acted surprised at how well I performed at math and science or teachers who wouldn’t call on a girl in their classes, it was not encouragement.

Want more women in STEM careers?  Get girls interested in it.  Encourage curiosity.  Let them know they can do it.  Give them examples of other girls doing it.  Don’t act surprised when a girl is good at math.  

We don’t need to put pink stickers on it. 


Not Just Hello

There has been a lot of much needed discussion about street harassment lately.  I have my stories.  Yes, all women have these stories.

The first time I experienced street harassment I was a 13 year old girl.  They may have thought I was older, because I developed faster than all of the other kids, I was chubby, and I was tall.  I was walking down a country road in my home town and they were in a truck.  The truck slowed and they started saying things to me.  There were three or four of them.  I kept walking and they drove slowly beside me yelling sexual, threatening, and insulting things at me until I ran.  I ran off the road and into the woods.  It was incredibly terrifying and put me off walking outside for many years.

Later there was another somewhat similar incident in the same town.  I was older, had graduated from high school, had an apartment in the same small town, and was walking home from work at night.  Again, some men in a vehicle slowed beside me and started yelling things.  I walked, then ran, to get away from them as they followed me in the vehicle.  But I was afraid to go home, lest they know where I live.  So I ran to a friend’s apartment and escaped them.

Soon after that I moved out of that town.  I will never go back there.  Them country boys scare me.  Yes yes I know.  Not all men.  Tell that to thirteen year old me.  Tell that to the woman who is so terrified her heart is going to beat out of her chest.  Explain it away.  Tell me it was meant as a compliment.

I have other stories, of course.  But none scared me the way those two incidents did.  Once I lived in the city, having strange men say things to me became par for the course.  I would sometimes yell back, tell them to go fuck themselves.  I would sometimes ignore them and keep walking.  Occasionally I would come up with a witty response on the fly.  But generally these things now happened in areas with street lights and other people and I felt relatively sure that I wasn’t about to get grabbed and dragged off somewhere for I don’t want to think about what.

I still get harassed today.  I’m almost forty and I’m hoping to soon be old enough that they leave me alone, as some of my older friends say happens to them.  They tell me how relieved they are to be past the age where men find you a good target to yell “Hey baby, I want to fuck that ass baby, why you ignoring me baby, you fucking stuck up bitch!”

I’m still chubby too so that invites another kind of harassment.  One time, as I was walking down a city street, I walked past a man who looked at me like he wanted to murder me and said “If my wife was as fat as you I would divorce her.”

I have never had any man yell something at me that could even vaguely be considered a compliment.  Mostly it was very vulgar sexual talk, or talk about my body- my tits, my ass.  Or it was something insulting about being fat.  Of course, being fat gives me bigger tits and ass, so you see how the two subjects are related.  Often times it starts as a “hey I want to do ___ to your ___” then when I don’t respond, it becomes insults or threats.

Only one time did a man actually grab me, and I shoved that asshole so hard he fell on his back and whacked his head on the sidewalk.  I didn’t stick around to find out if he was alright.

When I see men defending street harassment, they always make it out like it’s just innocuous compliments. “Aw, I’m just trying to tell you you look good, why can’t I tell you that?”  Yeah.  No.  That’s not what it is and we all know that.

That incident that happened when I was 13, I know it could have been a lot worse and for a lot of women it is much, much worse.  After that, I found myself considering what men might say to me or try to do to me if I dared to do something risky like leave my house.  No, it did not keep me from living life, but it was always there in the back of my mind.

How many times have I looked over my shoulder?  How many times have I crossed the street to avoid walking close to a group of men or even one man?  How many times have I felt my heart pound and race in my chest? Too many to count.  Those experiences colored my whole life.

It’s not just hello.  Almost every woman can tell you.


Anti-Feminist Strawmen

I am a feminist.  I’m also in my late thirties so I’m nowhere near as concerned about what anyone thinks of it as I once was when I was a teenager or young twenty something.

It is fine with me if other people don’t want to call themselves feminists.  I will still believe they deserve equality under the law and in society and I will still speak out and fight for them.  What you want to call yourself is up to you.  Some labels have connotations beyond their real meaning and some people just don’t like labels at all.  For example, “Vegan” simply means a person who does not consume or use animal products.  However, there are a lot of people who believe “Vegan” means being a pushy overbearing difficult person to be around, so they believe they hate vegans.  They really hate a few loud obnoxious outliers- there are plenty of soft, kind, quiet vegans too.  It’s not vegans you hate, it’s obnoxious people.  There are obnoxious people in every group.

Additionally some people just don’t like labels because they don’t like being lumped into a category with other people.  Sticking with the vegan example, some people who don’t eat animal products choose a different label like “plant-based” or they just don’t talk about it at all.  These are all valid choices.

However, there seems to be a special confusion surrounding Feminism and make no mistake about it, it is manufactured.  I have heard about the mythical “Feminazi” many times, yet I have never met one.  Did you know that the term “feminazi” was actually coined by Rush Limbaugh, who is hellbent on keeping women “in our place.”  I don’t know about you, but feminist or not I am guessing that most rational people do not want to be associated with Rush Limbaugh.  The women and men I have met who are feminists are kind people who care about the equality and rights of everyone.  For certain, online, I have encountered a few extreme commentators, but isn’t that the case with everything online?  Hell, there are extreme commentators in the cat group I belong to on Facebook.  This is the internet.  If you’re judging an entire movement by the comments of a few people, you might be missing the overall point.  However, again, it’s okay.

The highest tenant of my feminist belief is that you alone should be able to choose how to live your life and you should be given the same treatment under the law as everyone else.  The fact of your sex or gender should not be a deciding factor in what you are allowed to do.  Women who want to be stay at home moms or fashion models are just as welcome and valid as women who want to be corporate CEOs or President of the United States.

Most anti-feminist arguments I encounter are nothing more than Straw Man arguments.  A Straw Man is a type of logical fallacy, which is, in-essence, a misrepresentation of the other side to make it easier to attack.  Here is a list of the most common straw man arguments against feminism I see repeated again and again:

1. “I am not a feminist because I love men.”

Straw man: Feminists hate men

Reality: Feminists do not hate men.  Feminists want equal treatment for both sexes and all genders and believe this will benefit men as well as women.  Many feminists are women who are married to men or in long term relationships with men.  Many of us have fathers and brothers and sons and we love them dearly.

2. “I am not a feminist because I want to marry and have children.”

Straw man: Feminists believe women should all have a career and not prioritize family.

Reality: Feminism is about allowing women to make our own choices.  Marriage and children are great choices for some women, and not others.  Some women want to be at home with kids, some don’t.  Some men want to be at home with kids too.  These are all valid choices.  Feminists can be stay at home moms.

3. “I am not a feminist because I like to wear makeup and high heels.”

Straw man: Feminists are masculine and don’t believe in presenting yourself in a feminine way.

Reality: Feminism is about choices.  If you want to wear high heels and makeup and you enjoy those things, that’s wonderful.  Go for it!  You can dress sexy and be a feminist.  However if you don’t want to, that is also a valid choice.  You don’t have to wear makeup or high heels.  If you feel forced into those things and you do not enjoy it, that is something feminists want to change.  We want you to be able to be you, whatever that means to you, without being forced into a tiny little box marked “woman” by society.

4. “I am not a feminist because men and women are different.”

Straw man: Feminists think men and women are the same.

Reality, Feminists know that men and women can be different in a variety of ways, we just think we should all have equal rights and equal choices.  Sure men and women are different.  And women and women are different.  And men and men are different.  Certainly, in general, men are bigger and stronger than most women.  However, some men are 5’3″ 120 lb and some women are 6′ and 200 lb.  Some men like to be quiet and peaceful.  Some women are loud and competitive.  These are all valid choices under feminism.  It’s about breaking out of the narrowly defined gender roles IF you want to.  We are all different.

5. “I am not a feminist because I think men deserve rights too.”

Straw man: Feminists want to take away men’s rights.

Reality: Feminists simply want women to have all the same rights men have always had.  And we also want men to be free to make choices that are right for them as individuals. Men and women should have equal treatment under the law.  Just as women should not be discriminated against, neither should men.  Men should not be disadvantaged in custody court.  This is a feminist position.  The law should treat us as equal individuals, not judge simply on our sex or gender.


In conclusion, I completely understand why some people who believe in equality cannot be persuaded to use the term feminist.  And some people do not believe in equality.  Just remember, without feminists, women would not be allowed to vote or own property or basically do anything without the blessing of her husband.  If that’s the world you want, you are definitely not a feminist.  But if you’re making the above arguments, it would be worthwhile to read some history and find out if what you think about feminism is really true or if you’ve fallen victim to Rush Limbaugh’s anti-feminist smear campaign.  A lot of people have, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.  You can always change your mind, and you will always be welcome to call yourself a feminist if you realize the label truly does suit your beliefs.  Even if you do not, we will continue to fight for your rights regardless.