I Don’t

Bonjour, cool cats!

I just started reading The Meaning of Wife by Anne Kingston. It is pretty awesome. And, like all good books should, it started me thinking. Even if I were allowed to, I don’t plan on getting married. There’s just too much stigma attached to it for my taste. Marriage was conceived as a way to use women as currency, disguised as a religious commandment. Even with the religious background, though, in its early days, marriage’s ownership overtones wasn’t disguised that heavily.

In our current PC days, though, that would like, so not fly with those feminists. You know, the angry ones with hairy armpits from the 70s? They would be pissed. So how to convince generations of women to keep getting married? Tell them that marriage is the ultimate form of love, because every wants to be loved! And even I have to admit that the idea of getting dressed up in pretty clothes and swearing you’ll love each other until the end of time is honestly sweet. Don’t get me wrong; there are lots (hopefully most!) of married couples that adore each other. And I think commitment is important, especially if you want to have children (nothing against divorce; my mom has been divorced twice and it hasn’t killed me yet). But marriage in and of itself is not the ultimate form of love. And I don’t see the point in continuing a tradition that originally, had nothing to do with love, in the name of love. Does anyone else see why I think this is odd?

In addition to the tradition of wife-as-property, the wedding industry is eeeeviiilllll. *spooky voice* Consumerism is one of the main ways society subverts women. The obsession with having the “perfect wedding” leads to a year-long shopping spree, often with purchases of items that cost exponentially more because they have the word “wedding” tacked to the front. (Wedding Port-a-Potties!) Not to mention the completely exploitative shows like “Bridezilla”.* And (blarrrgggh) the belief that every little girl dreams about her wedding? When I was a little girl, I was fantasizing about having a pet dragon and riding it to school and all the other kids would be soooo jealous. The only thought I ever gave to marriage was being really sad that I’d have to give up my last name, which I was apparently extremely attached to, because I just assumed I was going to get married one day.**

And there is something about “wife” that connotes a certain personality. Type-A, tidy, with it, probably nagging, if not speed freak cheerful frighteningly cheerful about something. For something that is supposed to be able to include all women, that sounds pretty narrow (and unrealistic). In The Meaning of Wife, they mention that women actually try to change to seem more wifely. Er. As in, acting more demure, doing more dishes, etc. etc. Maybe taking some time to purchase a pink frilly apron. Guess what? Their husbands didn’t like this. Yeah, maybe because they married a human being who suddenly MORPHS INTO WIFE-BOT! Transformers, sexists in disguise! While I disdain the genre of humor consisting of middle-aged dudes complaining about how they married some hot lady who is now UGH! Letting herself go! Nagging! Wearing granny panties! Maybe there is a tiny kernel of truth to it. (That sentence hurt to write) If wives feel so much pressure to conform to this 50s, Feminine Mystique-esque stereotype that they’re actually trying to become that, they’re probably losing themselves. And the men who married them probably miss that old self, because you can’t love a stereotype. You can’t love the stress that comes with trying to be someone you’re not. You can love a partner who lives with you and shares chores with you and maybe raises kids with you and keeps house with you and sleeps and cuddles with you. But after all the problems that “husband and wife” have had in the past, it seems that “wife” is having a damn hard time adjusting to being a person who just happens to do all those things with their significant other as well.

And for Pete’s sake, keep your name or hyphenate. Please?

*I have never even seen this show. I would probably puke.

**No, little Rabbit! You don’t have to give up your last name! You can keep it! Or hyphenate! Or even not get up-and-marriaged at all!

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Men Do Feminism

Read this article and then tell me it doesn’t do your little heart good. Quick summary: it is about why gender stereotypes suck for men as well as women. Well-written, intelligent, right on the target. Honestly, feminism is good for guys too. Because if I were a guy, I know I’d find the beer-drinking football-watching, slobbish stereotype really insulting. Who wants to be a stereotypical asshole? Not me. Anyway, the article is awesome, please read it and scream with joy.

because no post about gender is complete w/o David Bowie

Why?

Today one of my friends told me she didn’t really agree with feminism. I tried to restrain myself from launching into a short verbal essay and/or roundhouse kicking her. I think I answered tactfully. I said something along the lines of, “Feminism is just the belief that women are human beings.” which is really pretty weak and certainly isn’t changing anyone’s minds anytime soon. But it’s hard to defend something you believe in so strongly to someone you care about. Especially because– well, how does one explain feminism?

Of course, pretty much everyone and their cousin knows sort-of what feminism is. But it seems like so many people have such a screwed-up idea of feminists. We’re man-haters, we have no sense of humor, we’re all lesbians (O.K. I’m queer but I don’t speak for all feminists), and we should just get over ourselves because the battle is over. And in a situation like that, you need a quick comeback. Not necessarily something clever that will leave them speechless with pure awe and shame, but have you ever tried to explain double-standards, the beauty myth, the virgin/whore complex, rape apologism, the rift society creates between women, and why yes, heels are actually a symbol of oppression, regardless of how adorable they are*? It’s impossible to sum up how women are oppressed in 140 characters or less. And you have to admit “feminism is just the belief that women are human beings” isn’t going to make a radical feminist out of anyone, let alone inspire them to read the books and figure out what is really is.

So my question is: is it worth it to try to explain? Do you have any fallback replies to things like this? How do you explain to someone your perception of feminism? Please leave a reply in the comments. In the meantime, here’s a picture of Lady Gaga from the “Judas” video (which, by the way, I have watched at least a million times).

P.S.: DO NOT say “women and men are just different”. Having a vagina vs. a dick doesn’t have anything to do with whether your hair is long or short, you wear skirts, you like to shop, your friends are men or women, etc. etc. Plus, “women and men are different” can justify anything. “Women should stay home! They’re different! They have babies, and men don’t, and babies stay at home!”, “Men and women are just different. THAT’S why women are weak”, “Men and women are different! Men are BUILT to be in positions of power over women!”

*I have nothing against heels in general, besides the fact that they often hurt like hell. But why is it that painful and restricting shoes/garments are relegated to women? Oh yeah the world hates us and wants us to be unable to run away from rapists ha ha I forgot about that for a moment.

Rabbit Fumes in the Back Row

If you attended my high school and went to the assembly we had today, and happened to glance into the back row about halfway through, you would have seen me with steam blowing out of my ears and a feminist lecture upon my lips. Because some utter asshole decided it would be a great time to bring up the sandwich thing.

Let’s get this straight. Feminists have nothing against sandwiches. I’m sure there are even feminists who like sandwiches. Hell, I’ve been known to enjoy the occasional peanut-butter-and-chocolate-chip myself. Sandwiches are not the problem here. Sandwiches are an innocent snack or meal.

But feminists will bare their teeth, unsheath their claws*, and shriek a vicious war cry when that tired old, “make me a sandwich” line is pulled out from its dusty place in a closet in Patriarchy HQ. Yes, during the election speeches given during the assembly today, someone actually mentioned the sandwich thing.

A girl whom we shalt call ‘O’ was explaining how she would add incentives for people to attend school events. This is all howdy-doody, but then she proceeded to give examples of what people considered incentive. “So-and-so would go to a game if we gave everyone a bowl of Cheerios, what’s-his-face would attend a play if there was free food. And Sir Asshole Toolster would attend a game if there was a woman to make him a sandwich.”

At this point I turned in my seat and told my friend K, “And Rabbit would go if she got to slap the ass who told a woman to make him a sandwich.”

And yes, I realize: time and time again it has been proven that high school boys are 99% more likely than most other human beings (with some exceptions, mainly for frat boys) to be misogynist sacks of hormones and woman-hate. And I realize someone is probably going to write me an angry comment telling me that is was “just a joke, God, feminists are all so serious, learn to laugh”. But none of the administration thought it was a problem for someone to put such an obnoxiously sexist piece into their speech? The subjugation and degradation of women is not a joke; calling it so is a) further demeaning to women and b) belittles the fight for gender equality. One would think that a group of adults trusted to run a hothouse of teenage hormones should be the most sensible, intelligent people on the planet. The kind of sensible, intelligent people who realize that making jokes at women’s expense is NEVER OK, even if it does make jocks laugh. I have the right to go to school and not have my entire gender insulted by someone who knows nothing about women and girl’s struggles.

I am considering complaining to someone, but if somebody could give me advice on how to continue, that would be great! I am not exactly sure how to bring up that this upset me, who to talk to (the principal?), how to complain, so any help with this (just leave a comment) would be wonderful.

*All feminists have adamantium claws, just like Wolverine. Because feminists are X-(WO)MEN AND WE ALL KNOW IT OK?

Feminism: Now Available in Coed

You know what makes me so happy I could weep tears of soy sauce? (I just had sushi, O.K.?) Male feminists. Gee, Rabbit. You’re probably thinking. Isn’t valuing male feminists over their female counterparts a bit… sexist? And the answer is, yes, that would be sexist. But I don’t value them more; I just give them a hearty pat on the back for overcoming all the b.s. saying feminism is only for women or that feminism is the equivalent of man-hate. Not that women and girl feminists don’t have to deal with that too, but… Anyway, it does my withered old heart good to hear that men are not too thick to realize that the patriarchy exists.

It is for this exact reason that you must immediately trot your hot little selves over to The Masculine Mystique. If you don’t feel like doing that, at least check out his list of male privileges. It is intelligent, well-phrased, and best of all, true. I even printed it out and stuck it in my giant binder filled with articles about feminism, notes from books, etc. etc. I seriously want to have it made into a tiny pocket-edition so whenever someone says or does something sexist, I can whip it out and flip through to the page. If they don’t believe me, I will simply refer them to Male Privilege #22 and then walk away, back erect and chin high and proud. Until a bird poops on me.

You Might Be a Sexist Pig If…

So I just started reading Backlash by Susan Faludi. It is, so far, great, even though I’ve barely started the first chapter. Part of the reason I wanted to read it is because the “feminism is a done battle; you’re just paranoid; the feminists have already won” attitude really pisses me off. And yet so many people think like this. For shame, mon ami, for shame. With boys and men I can understand it. They’re not the ones being oppressed; privilege is nice, isn’t it, boys? Like a big warm hug at the expense of millions. Gives you a warm fuzzy feeling inside, doesn’t it? (The warm-fuzzy bit is your soul getting moldy) And O.K., if you’ve been treated perfectly well all your life because you hold the reins (we’re lookin’ at you, white, straight, middle-class males) you’re not going to want to change things, or maybe just not realize anything is wrong. But why are women so resistant to the idea that we are not treated well? I realize that the term ‘feminist’ comes with enough negative connotations to feed a small country for a year (though I think connotations are not particularly filling), and that appeasing the oppressor (I’m still giving white/straight/middle-class males the eyeball here) is built into our system by society, but why do they still deny that anything is wrong? Feminists are not working against you, ladies– they are working for you. They are not trying to take away your rights to be a stay-at-home mom, or declare that your love for knitting is sexist. They’re just trying to ensure you aren’t made to believe that women just love staying at home and doing laundry and hand-washing their hubbies socks with raw liquid love and devotion and that we all have a natural predisposition towards the color pink (seriously, why pink?). And yet these women insist that everything is fine, that sure, they’re a feminist, or maybe they’re not a feminist, but they’re any man’s equal, and they just happen to like being traditionally feminine and that ironing hubbie’s tie is a very satisfying job, thankyouverymuch. Suuuuure. Honestly, shouldn’t feminism make women more comfortable? The idea of a group of strong, badass women who are looking out for your rights to be whoever the hell you want to be shouldn’t make you feel nervous.

So, in response to this gag-worthy belief that “men and women are just different! Women are bio-frickin’-logically programmed to wear skirts and get unnatural surgery to make men think they’re sexy and take sharp razors to their legs and armpits and vag’s and arms to become hairless, prepubescent children!” I have composed a list of “You Might Be A Sexist Pig If…”s. If you answer yes to the below, than hey! That’s sexism! Note: if you answer yes, it does not automatically make you a terrible person headed straight for the pits of hell, or even not a feminist. The list is just meant to help you recognize that these behaviors are sexist. If you know they’re sexist but still do them, that’s… not really O.K., but it’s understandable. I definitely do some of these; we all have to try to figure out how to behave in a non-woman-hating way.

Do you go after or leave before the women play at sporting events?

Do you think it is creepy, unnatural, or laughable when a man performs traditionally feminine tasks, acts in feminine ways or dresses effeminately?

Do you ever use the phrase, “man up”, “grow some balls”, “chick flick/lit”, or ever refer to women as “bitches”, “sluts”, “skanks”, “whores”, etc. etc.?

When thinking about a woman, do you think about her appearance/sex appeal/relation to a man before anything else?

Do you think that women have an “obligation” to look “put together” when they go out?

Do you think abortion should be illegal regardless of the woman’s beliefs/opinions or situation?

Would you ever encourage a woman (friend or partner) to get purely cosmetic surgery?*

Do you find women laughable, ugly, or frumpy when they don’t shave their legs, wear put-together outfits, wear men’s clothing, bind their breasts, have a very short haircut (“mom haircuts”- ugh, I hate that expression), etc. etc.?

When you see a single father, do you automatically feel sympathy for him and think what a wonderful father he must be to do this all on his own? Do you think the same thing when you see a single mother?

Do you judge unmarried women depending on whether they are virgins or not? Do you make assumptions about her personality (“she’s a slut”, “she likes to party”) based on whether or not she is a virgin?

I could go on and on with this list, but I think I’ll stop here for now. Maybe I’ll end up doing something where on Mondays I’ll have a short list of “You Might Be a Sexist Pig If”s.

On an unrelated note, one of my friends had a great idea when I told her I wrote a feminist blog. She said, “Oh, if you ever have a contest you should make it ‘who can punch the most misogynist prickheads in a day’!” She didn’t use the term ‘misogynist prickheads’ actually, but you get the idea. I sort of thought this was a great idea. I’m not starting a contest, but if you want to punch a misogynist prickhead for me, go ahead. My thoughts will be with you.

*When I say purely cosmetic surgery, I am not referring to surgeries such as cosmetic surgery for patients who have been badly hurt (in a fire or something) or breast reduction surgery if it’s paining your back, etc. etc. Breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy is purely cosmetic, and people are probably going to hate me for saying that’s sexist, but that’s for another post.

Breaking News: Feminists AREN’T All Man-haters

I know, this is so revolutionary. Can you believe it? We’re not all hairy, hideous, combat-boot wearing (though I love me some combat boots) Lorena Bobbitts who can’t get a date. Anyway, there has been a study done proving that feminists are “less hostile” towards men. Check it out here. It’s from a while ago, but I thought it was worth posting.

So I have some points to bring up about this. First off, I was reading the comments and there was (as there always is with anything claiming feminism isn’t the antichrist.) a lot of controversy, a lot of which revolved around the sample size. I agree, the sample size does seem kind of small, but I also don’t think you can dismiss the findings because they seemed pretty substantial too.

Also, one comment (maybe more) brought up that the study also says that non-feminists are more likely to be benevolent towards men, so maybe (they implied) feminism isn’t that great. However, I think you need to assess what “benevolence” means. I think it is telling that “benevolence” and “hostility” are two different categories, because non-benevolence in this study doesn’t mean more hostile. And being benevolent could be a bad thing, because cutting a man slack just because he is a man is not a good thing. To me, this study just proves what us feminists have always known; that feminism isn’t about hating men, it’s just about not treating them like gods because of their supposedly-oh-so-fragile egos. I think this study just proves that feminists wait to know the person before passing judgment, and are less likely to let a guy get away with something just because he has a Y chromosome. I know that personally feminism has made me happier and more confident overall; not any more hostile towards men in general, but less likely to let anyone treat me badly because I’m female.

One thing that did make me sad prepared to run out and convert everyone I see into a feminist was how few people identified as feminist. The statistics weren’t really surprising, sadly, but it was still disappointing to see that in every category, the amount of non-feminists was higher than that of feminists. Also, we need more people of color and men to identify as feminist! I realize that one of the stereotypes about feminism is that it’s only for middle-class white women, but that’s just not true. Feminism has evolved to encompass so many more issues than those of middle-class white women. Feminism is for everyone, my little chinchillas, even dudes! I think it would be harder, at least for a guy in high school, to identify openly as feminist because there is just SO much b.s. telling guys they need to be macho and tough and don’t-be-even-a-little-bit-feminine-because-that-would-just-ruin-you-and-no-one-will-ever-love-you-and-you’ll-be-hit-by-a-bus-tomorrow. And even though feminism is just the belief (I refuse to say “the radical notion that women are people”. That’s just too…cheesy.) that women are NOT one category of people and we do not have to be Suzy Homemaker to be “successful”, it’s a label that carries a lot of weight. When most guys hear feminism they’re going to think “woman”, and (unfortunately) often “scary woman”. And I just don’t think most men are secure enough to see through all the macho-man-bullcrap and identify with something that carries those kind of connotations.

But enough of the doom and gloom! Tell your friends about the radical new trend that’s sweeping the nation – FEMINISM! YAY!

But whatever you do, DON’T pass out feminist pamphlets for Halloween. If you do that, you will turn all children against feminism for life. Seriously, don’t do it.