Archive for October, 2009

Help!: A Thorny Question

Friends, I’ve recently been presented with an interesting job opportunity.

“Ted” has been posting on Craigslist for months, looking for a woman to teach him how to approach women in public. It sounds coercive and awful—he’s going to pay a woman to teach him how to claim his God-given right to any woman’s attention at any time.

Unemployed as I am, I comb the Gigs section daily, and one fateful night, I decided to respond. I told Ted that he needs to learn when women aren’t interested in talking, and he also needs to think about the personal safety issues women face all the time. I even outed myself as a feminist.

Shockingly, Ted wrote back, and I made a plan to meet him at a coffee shop and discuss the job.

If I get this job, I plan to use it to teach Ted when not to approach women in public, aka 99% of the time. I don’t want to give this guy the confidence to talk to any woman—I want to teach him to recognize when women don’t want to talk and respect that. Ultimately I want to teach him that pushing women’s boundaries in public social situations is never acceptable.

I’d like to use this opportunity to mold a decent, non-d-bag man from someone who’s at least recognized that he’s having trouble talking to women, and won’t find my perspective in the standard lore. There’s a lot I can use for teaching materials, like Phaedra Starling’s piece “Schrodinger’s Rapist” and RP’s “But I’m Nice!”. But I’m worried about three things: first, if I’m helping a man talk to women, won’t my perspective necessarily be diluted? I find myself nodding my head when talking to men disturbingly often. How can I do this in good conscience? Second, what if he’s a d-bag? What if he’s a rapist? Third, what if he doesn’t really listen to me, just uses some parts of what I’m saying to manipulate women? I just don’t know how to do this, or if I should.

I need advice, everyone. Is there any universe in which this isn’t blatantly cooperating in women’s oppression?

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Pre-existing condition of capitalism

Pre-existing condition of capitalism?

Feministing had a great post today about how health care reform is a feminist issue and it got me thinking to do a bit of research. What I found was that women are in need of a complete overhaul of our health care system and we need it now. Check out here, here, and here for more information.

It’s no secret that women’s health care is pricey and important. Don’t know how much a gyno costs? Ask your mom or a sister. I honestly don’t understand how we can justify forcing women to pay for their own health care, simply because women face health issues different from males, especially if we’re statistically less likely to be able to pay for it because we are often not paid (or not paid equally) for our labor. And let’s not forget that not only do our health care issues affect women disproportionately but women of color especially–women of color are twice as likely to have no health insurance and are more likely to receive late or no prenatal care. And of course our current health care for trans folks is even worse.

Also I hope you all checked out the 4 month year old who was denied health insurance because he was “too fat”. The fat phobia going on in health care these days is some seriously scary stuff.

It’s important in this time to remember that we are not too sick, too fat, too woman-y, too trans. On the contrary, we are ourselves, our existing conditions are the conditions of existence, of life. Instead our health insurance companies are too greedy, too cruel, and too powerful.

Remember, “the personal is political,” and for all those facing health care issues remember you are not alone and that there is nothing wrong with you–there’s something wrong with our system. Here’s to hoping our politicians wake up and we get some sort of public option and that we are not denied care simply for being who we are.

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happy woman liberationFollow-up to that other article posted a while ago: Here

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sexual assault preventionGuaranteed to work!

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feminineCan anyone recommend me an essay/book/text/video/whatever that makes a clear, analytical, impassioned, awesome defense of femininity? I just found this neat book in the LGBTQI center at my school that’s called Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Gender Studies. It has this interesting format where it poses questions, then presents a YES side and NO side to the question with two different authors. One caught my eye: “Is the Quest for Beauty Necessarily Damaging to Women?” I read the NO answer and was severely disappointed by the argument. Probably because it was written by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese who was a leader of the conservative feminist movement. The whole essay was very capitalist, classist, and racist–in a nutshell it basically said, “Women bond over shopping. If you tell women they can’t buy dresses, they will not bond and love each other.” She called feminists who come out against femininity like me elitists (which I’ve been called before…) , but didn’t really articulate her reasoning or use examples, though I REALLY wanted to know why. I just don’t think she knows how to write well… She also wrote a book called Feminism is Not My Life Story… which makes me saaad.

Anyway. I’m really open to hearing a defense of femme identity, femininity, dress-wearing… I just haven’t read a story that I find empowering and excited. Help.

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anal sex non graphicMy friend showed me this article.

If you practice penetrative sex, are you usually the penetrator? If so, would you be okay with being penetrated?

If not, then maybe that means that you think of penetration as degrading, when you are on the receiving end. Which means that you should stop penetrating the people you are fucking.

What my friend (who identifies as female and mostly has penetrative vaginal sex with men) said about it:

“but, despite how they say that more and more guys are trying it, i still feel that the vast majority of guys i have fucked / will fuck wud not at ALL be okay with this.  and that bothers me.  it bothers me that they’d do something to me that they wouldn’t want done to them.  like sex is when a guy does something to a girl that he considers so degrading that he would never ever EVER let the girl do it to him.  because then he’d be a worthless woman (like how he sees me), or a worthless gay man.”


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Dear Margey,

I just saw a post on Jezebel about you “posing” nude (can animated characters pose?) on the cover of Playboy.  I have to say I’m disappointed.  Did someone make you do this?  Did the Simpson household just need the money?  If that’s the reason I guess I’ll have to understand.

Playboy said they were going to bring out “the devil in Marge Simpson.”  Is that the only way we think we can bring out the devil in a woman?  By removing her clothes?

You are a devil Marge.  But not because Playboy decided to “complicate” you by putting you in lingerie.  I didn’t really appreciate you, I have to admit, when I watched the Simpons as a kid.  I was more interested in being smart like Lisa, mischevious and clever like Bart.  I wanted to laugh at Homer’s slap stick.  You sort of faded into the background.

But when I was older, and when I looked back on all the seasons, I realized how captivating you are.  You struggle madly with you position in the home.  You hide all your pain beneath the surface of your grainy grumble.  You’re the passionate artist, who revealed the miserly Mr. Burns in his naked vulnerability.  Every time you tried a new profession (a cop, a real estate agent) you worked twice as hard as the men who hired and heckled you.  And damn right you got the job!  And then when a business showed its true, corrupt nature, you withdrew from it with dignity.

Your polite facade was dropped whenever it really mattered. And you gave that little shit, Artie Ziff, a solid slap for his wandering hands.

So I just want you to know Marge, how naive the editomargers at Playboy are, to think a lacy bra and panty set can bring the devil out of you.  You, ma’am, were a devil from the start.

Love always,


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gender identityI’ve been feeling a lot of tension lately between my feminist identity and my gender identity. They both began developing around the same time. I started realizing that I what I thought was right for me deviated from the mainstream. A lot of people have been offended by my sadness for feminists who shave their legs and armpits, pluck their eyebrows, and maintain a “femme” appearance. Ever since I decided to stop doing these things (I didn’t do that many of them to begin with), and even before then, I have seen these practices as compromises to my feminism because I associated them with a desperate desire I had to pass as straight. I also hated my body hair and thought it was ugly. And I wasted a fair amount of time each day to maintaining this appearance. So whenever I see a female-identified person following these rules, I assume that they have some deep-down homophobia-based fear of looking gay or like a “typical feminist”. I was so torn about stopping shaving. I was scared people would judge me or be grossed out. Then I remembered that (a) I am an awesome person, (b) I would never want to be friends with someone who liked me only for my socially acceptable appearance, and (c) my hairy legs would just be ignorant-person repellant and do I really want to attract ignorant people? Now some feminists might say that ignorant people will only learn the error of their ways by being wooed (platonically or otherwise) by feminists. But I decided that I would rather stop wasting my time waging a war on my body hair for the sake of converting the fools to feminism.

So I worry sometimes that femme-y feminists sacrifice some self body-love in order to remain appealing to misogynist assholes.

But lately I’ve been questioning myself. All my life, I don’t think I ever felt comfortable wearing dresses or putting on makeup or generally being “femme”. I felt judged, I felt ugly and too flabby, and I was physically inable to do many things I would do while wearing… loose cargo pants, for example.  Lately, I have felt differently, oddly enough, after watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and seeing male-identified people putting on a feminine show. When I wear a dress now I comfort myself by remembering that gender is a performance and, right now, I am performing femininity. It is no more closer to my identity than the character I play in theatrical piece. I have finally learned to be comfortable in a femme role by imagining that I am merely in drag. Having a mohawk also helped too, though.

So, essentially, what I’m going on about is this conflict deep in my feminist soul. As far as my gender identity is concerned, I don’t identify as trans, or feel comfortable with male pronouns for myself, but I do not enjoy female pronouns either. I currently identify as genderqueer, and sometimes genderfuck. I favor clothing from the “men’s section” of stores because it usually is better made and better suited for my comfort, loving my body, and being a physically active human being. Shopping in the “men’s section” was another scary leap for me. I initially felt uncomfortable venturing there out of embarrassment. Now, I have no qualms. But I still have trouble dismissing my now hairier body as part of my gender identity. It was a feminist statement when I stopped shaving–that is, I didn’t stop because I wanted to look like more masculine. I stopped because I wanted hairiness to be an acceptable form of femininity. But, more and more, I feel as though I need to put this feminist view aside and say it’s a queer genderqueer thing. I want to get to the point where I don’t worry about anyone who proudly calls themself a feminist. Though I still can’t help but wonder if she’s ever questioned why she’s still shaving, plucking, and squeezing into those skinny jeans. I always find it hard to believe that she ever considered the other options.

I hope y’all will help me pull these thoughts apart.

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