I am giving most of my readers the benefit of the doubt here, but to the few people who have exhausted my time with accusing me of being a “radical”, a “manhater” and a sad victim of abuse, I will only say this: I’m interested in fighting a system that routinely disenfranchises both genders on the reg.
I have experienced two kinds of dissent in the last week. One, is from a person who claimed that “feminism is no longer needed because the sexes are equal”. And two, from a gentleman who said “Why do you hate everything about men?” Read Lindy West’s article on misandry for a fully comprehensive explanation In this article she also describes the need for the term feminism, rather than what many people think should be just called “Humanism”. It’s semantics, but important.
Both of these things are common responses that I get when I say things, even if they are casual jokey things, as I am someone who finds it important to call out inequality, oppression, or systems of power that dismantle the well-being of others . I make comedy out of it, and I try to alleviate it’s brevity by being exasperated and ridiculous. I am exasperated everyday but that doesn’t make me a lunatic on the verge of a topless killing spree (though that does sound quite visually hilarious). Should I shut up because I’m a white woman working a cushy job while a 9 year old girl is having a clitorechtomy in Somalia as I type? Being exasperated about inequality helps the world change and progress, it helps us evolve. No woman would be working in an office as a CEO (even though there are still only 14% of us doing so, thanks Sheryl Sandberg, I’m gonna fucking lean my ass in you better believe it), be able to vote, or to decide not to have children if there weren’t HUGE amounts of people who were routinely exasperated back in the 20s, then 60s, and on and on. That doesn’t mean there’s not a lot more to do. There is loads to do. The insidiousness (read Caitlin Moran’s book “How to be a Woman which talks about the insidious sexism that is prevelant today) that is still so pervasive in the US in regards to rape culture and street harrassment.
1.To claim that sexism doesn’t exist and that men and women are perfectly equal is to be living under a rock of denial and privilege. (especially given that today is Equal Pay Day) But I am making the agument that men are suffering too. It is the same stream of thought that comes from people who say “racism no longer exists, look we have a black president!” Do you really think that racism doesn’t exist, that there is no more use for racial awareness, no reason for people to call out crap as they see it because we have a black president? Isn’t that part of the way the world works, the need to uproot horrible shit so that we can evolve, so that humans can live better lives?
Most people haven’t read basic gender studies text books, and in those you can find all of this malarchy, but you don’t even need to do that. You can learn from simple gender studies autodidactism and OPENING YOUR EYES TO THE WORLD AROUND YOU. Also, the fucking US Weeklies, Starz, OK Magazine piles of rubbish that are damaging women to the point of becoming self-harming flesh police.
The point is, all of the people who go on the defensive to try and deny that sexism still exists are threatened because it means they may be sexist themselves. It’s also a threat to their “benefits” of being the one in power, or the oppressor (yes I admit saying oppressor makes me sound like a tenured professor with coulottes who doesn’t wear a bra). If sexism doesn’t exist, then it’s perfectly ok to keep treating gals like shit, or expect shit from men. Same dif.
Because it’s Anti-Street Harrasment Week, I will go here: A person, a perfectly lovely man to his family, and to his friends, could turn around and tell me I have a hot ass and should smile more while I’m on my way see my grandfather being taken off life-support. That is institutionalized sexism. You don’t know what my day has been, where I’m going or what I’m doing but you find it in your right to invade my space and comment on my body in a demeaning way AND you think there is nothing wrong with that. Another: A woman who makes $400,000 a year, decides to ask out a man on OK Cupid who has just finished graduate school, but expects him to still pay for their entire meal at Del Posto instead of splitting because she has the vagina. That is institutional sexism and patriarchy. It is what I decided to coin as the phrase “bodily bartering”. Not in a prostitution sense - but really the bodily bartering we do everyday as men and women. In the most extreme senses, it’s an exhaustive and sinister series of plays that do not serve anyone. Why do you think we’re all in fucking therapy?! No one can communicate in a normal fashion or look at each other like autonomous creatures. If we all just empathized, listened to each other’s stories and communicated as HUMANS, set down our entitlements, we would be able to have a fucking conversation and maybe even some lovely concensual vee on pee, pee in vee, vee with vee, pee in a, or whatever you like. (I also admit I’m having some heteronormative discussions here, and I in no way want to discount the LGBT community, this does affect all of us though).
2. This brings me wonderfully to my next point. The “I am a poor poor woman in a man’s world, and who will save me?!” thing that people try to pin me as. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and what i have come to the conclusion is this: While women have been jetting past at the speed of light, getting birth control, getting good jobs, etc. Men are looking around saying, “Wait, what about us now?” What’s interesting about this, is that the MRAs, the people who are trying to deny women their rights, or tell us we’re all money grubbing demon-whores, are the ones whose identities lie within that power imbalance. A man who only sees himself as worthy unless women are oppressed or ridiculed or below him has some serious soul-searching to do because he’s basing his sense of masculinity on others, not himself. Why not base yourself on you? Similarly, women who only think of themselves as useless unless they are married, have a boyfriend, get the approval of men,are just as bad because they are also feeding into a system that reduces them to their oppressed gender relation to one another. It’s a lose-lose. It’s a power imbalance that isn’t sustainable. I’m not saying that even in my relationships it’s 100% equal or perfect, but generally, everyone I deal with treats me with BASELINE RESPECT in regards to being a human. We should all strive for that. Humans are complex and small power play impabalances keep the world interesting, but when they are grossly imbalanced to the point where one party becomes particularly disenfranchised as a result, it becomes a serious issue. It’s why people are raping with abandon, why women are taking their clothes off without asking themselves why, and then 25 years later they’ve had 17 boob jobs and but no house. We all need empathy and communication with the opposite gender, enough with the boys against girls. Let’s laugh together, play together, and have a good rowdy time together. Make babies, not have babies, help one another if we have those babies, and just sort of be normal.