feminism

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!!!”

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feminism

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.

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rant

Beauty Fatigue

I am tired of beauty.

On one hand, we have the constant barrage of techniques and products for making yourself more beautiful. These include altering your appearance through the use of makeup, hair styling, skin products and procedures, wardrobe choices, body hair removal, and even cosmetic surgery. Some of these seem innocuous. Some women even state they ENJOY their beauty regimen. But some are downright painful. Others are possibly life threatening.

On the other hand, we have a counter movement that is attempting to spread the message that ALL  women are already beautiful! Instead of changing yourself, they say, simply embrace your own unique beauty that you had all along if you would just have the confidence to show it off. At the core of this message is the belief that every woman wants to and deserves to feel beautiful.

I prefer the second message, if those are the only two choices. But the second message is still problematic in that the underlying message continues to be that beauty is EXTREMELY important for women. So much so that in order to be empowered, we must all have it.

Ask yourself this: How would you feel about a campaign to convince men that every man is handsome? It is absurd, right? Because men are expected to go on about their lives whether they are handsome or not. Being handsome is not required.

I do not feel empowered by being told that I am beautiful; I feel suffocated by it. I feel that I cannot go through one day without hearing about beauty and how I must find a way to embrace it in myself. Yet I have come to realize that I simply do not want to.

I don’t find my appearance all that interesting to think about. Certainly I have gone through various stages or insecurity, rebellion and conformity. I have tried to enhance my socially desirable physical traits and minimize those parts that are wrong, wrong wrong according to the ideal. I have told myself in the mirror that I am beautiful but it never felt right.

The truth is that I am not beautiful. I am not hideous. I am an unremarkable looking woman. I make the bare minimum effort to look presentable for my job and would do even less if I could.

For a woman to say “I am not beautiful and I am fine with that,” is the ultimate rebellion in my book. Because when people hear that, they hear “I am unworthy and unlovable.” Because when people hear that a woman does not find herself beautiful they believe it means the woman is depressed and has low self-esteem. Because beauty is so important that nothing else you think about yourself matters unless you are also beautiful.

I am smart. I am hilarious. I am clever. I am creative. I have innate artistic talent. I am caring. I am compassionate. I am successful. I am independent. I am empathetic. I am out-spoken. I am confident. I am loveable. I am a good friend. I’m an all-around pretty fucking awesome person.

I can be all of those things. But if I say I am not beautiful, I have low self-esteem because clearly a woman’s self-worth comes from her feelings about her appearance.

I don’t spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, but when I do I do not negatively judge myself. There I am. That’s me. That’s what I look like. Do I have spinach in my teeth? No? Ok good. I do not berate myself for “flaws” but neither do I swoon over my own image.

And I am in a long term relationship with a man who finds me sexy. I don’t care if anyone else finds me  sexy because I am not trying to have sex with anyone else. Yet I cannot go one day without hearing tips about how I deserve to feel beautiful and sexy at every waking moment and it drives me crazy sometimes.

Women do not exist for the visual pleasure of others. We are unique individuals with hopes, dreams, aspirations, struggles, histories, and all the humanity of any person.

I Am Over It.

What is beauty, really? As an artist, I certainly do find things aesthetically pleasing. I find people aesthetically interesting, even if they are not beautiful. But beauty is a social construct and it has always been changing. What we find most beautiful today in our culture would be considered hideous in another place and time. Some people say beauty comes from the soul, but I think that’s bullshit. There are beautiful people who are vapid and awful inside. And there are ugly people who are saints. If everyone is beautiful, what can beauty possibly mean? What is it then, if it is not an outer appearance? It’s nothing. So can we PLEASE stop talking about it?

I would like to talk about ANYTHING else. Anything. Can we work on empowering women through our accomplishments instead?

Basically I have beauty fatigue. I am so incredibly bored by the idea of female beauty I don’t care to hear about it ever again. It either pits us against one another or we all have it, so let’s just move on to something more meaningful.

Maybe beauty is a complete farce to keep us distracted from things that matter. Instead of worrying about what’s happening in the world or your country or your government or your society, here look, Shiny Things! See how they sparkle! You want to sparkle too, right? Everyone loves to SPARKLE.
I don’t want to be a shiny thing. I want to do things.
I am worthy.
I am good enough.
I am loveable.
I am awesome.

I am not beautiful and I do not need to be.

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