Us VS. Them VS. the US (a.k.a Feminism is not the Enemy)

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This. I hate that “feminism” has a acquired a taint because of a few militant feminists. When people make the argument “why is it called ‘feminism’ and not ‘equalism'” (or whatever name they think is more appropriate) if it isn’t skewed towards women, it’s  because HISTORICALLY, all the rights women have now are relatively new (DUH!). We never started on equal footing, so the movement to give us the same rights men have always had probably did seem female-centric. The beginning of feminism is basically when we started sticking up for ourselves.   And a lot of rights we now enjoy, we take them for granted because we have lost touch with the women (and in some cases, probably a few men)  in our history who had to fight for us to get those rights.

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It bugs me that even today, some WOMEN refuse to identify as feminist. It’s sorta sad, because it shows not only a gross misunderstanding of what feminism is, but also that in some ways, that the old social patriarchal programming is still in some ways in tact. They actually DISDAIN “feminists.” To me that’s like a mother of many, who hates kids.

And speaking of kids, what if you’re a woman who doesn’t want children, and especially not before you’ve had the chance to finish school…or go to college.53110672_814366642249280_3509339789545439232_n

or marry the person you love instead of someone who is chosen for you by family or religion or politics…

 

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Thanks to feminists, you have access to birth control.  You also have the right to divorce and leave a marriage that isn’t healthy or is not working out.

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If you are assaulted, you have the right to accuse your attacker.  If you have been impregnated by a rape, you have the choice to terminate your pregnancy.

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You even have this option under normal circumstances, if you are just not ready or willing to have a child…you get to make decisions about what you put your body through.  And there are people who want to take away that right, in the name of “religion” and their morality.  Personally, I don’t see anything moral about taking rights away from a living, breathing, autonomous woman, and giving them to an nonviable fetus.

The point is, as woman in America, we have access to tons of things we haven’t always historically been “allowed,” all because of feminism, and yet, sadly, in this country as of late, we are seeing a push to deliberately regress in social progress.  And not just for women, but for minority peoples, people of color, non-Christian people, immigrant people, and queer people (who are STILL fighting for all their rights.)  But all people are people, and they deserve the basic amount of respect and freedom to live their lives if they see fit.  We can NOT afford to be silent or apathetic to what is going on now.  Not to us, not to our other marginalized brothers and sisters, and not to our planet (because Mother Earth is suffering at the hands of the plutocrats too.)

I know I sound wacky, (and that’s what the people in power want you to think, because that narrative makes me the bad guy) but let’s be real… We all want comfortable lives, but more than that, we want comfort and happiness for future generations, specifically our kids.  OUR children, and America’s children.  But before we can get back to that, we have to reconcile our own fears and insecurities.  I know you’ve probably heard it before; Equality is not a pie.  There is not less for you if you share it with others.  We have to get over this competitive adversarial attitude towards our fellow Americans.  We can care about our own interests without feeling like other people need to suffer for it, but we need to start asking the right questions.

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There are a handful of very powerful and rich people in the US who only want MORE.  They want to have obscene amounts of money and power- to acquire it and to grip it in a death spiral, only the death isn’t theirs…it’s ours, it’s our future’s, it’s our planet’s.   I am sure I could expound upon this all day, but I will wrap up by suggesting you watch this short non-partisan video on corruption in America.  This video not only details some of the failings in our system, but ways we can start to address them I say “non-partisan,” but my guess is the people in power see it as very partisan; Us VS Them, and they use fear and insecurity to bait us into blaming each other instead of them so they can stay in power.  But it doesn’t have to be Us VS Each Other.  It is so hard, so,so hard, when we’re surrounded by bad news and hate and strife every day. I am just as guilty as anyone of feeling angry and adversarial at times.  But I want to try to do better too.   Let’s do better together.  Blessed be.

 

Edit: 3/16  I mention American a few times in here, us needing to be unified, etc.  I’m not trying to push any sense of overblown nationalism or “America First” BS here.  It’s just that this is where I live and I feel like under this administration, we’re actively imploding as a nation.  I don’t feel like we should be at odds or ‘comparing’ and competing with hardships of anyone, including refugees, immigrants, people of other faiths, etc.  All suffering matters and I just wish the people most likely to trot out the ‘all lives matter” phrase would start SHOWING it in their actions and their voting choices.

 

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I am a liberal.

I am a liberal.  It’s not a dirty word.

I believe in equal rights for everyone, regardless of color or sexuality, and I don’t believe people getting those rights, or even forming affirmative action groups to facilitate those rights, in any way detracts from the rights you’ve always had and taken for granted.

I believe if the government/tax payers do not want to have to fund any part of women’s reproductive health, and believes a woman is solely responsible for her own birth control, then only she gets to decide what to do with an unwanted pregnancy, should one occur.  The argument that any fetus is “part his” goes out the window unless the responsibility of not becoming pregnant is also “part his.”  It’s not a hard concept.

I believe in feminism as the idea that women should have the same rights as men.  Real feminism, much like liberalism, is misunderstood.  Just because something empowers one group does not mean it has to threaten another.

I am a liberal.

I like to shoot guns and I don’t want your guns taken away. I do believe gun owners should be strickly liable for the whereabouts and use of their firearm at all times, even if they voluntarily lend it to someone. Perhaps then they will be more choosy in how they secure it and to whom they lend it.

I believe in helping the less fortunate, not just when it benefits me, or when it won’t cost me anything.  I believe in helping the poor, even if it means welfare, and I believe in helping the homeless, veterans, and refugees.  I even believe in helping illegal immigrants if they are children, because no child deserves to suffer for any reason.  I’d rather my taxes go to that than a Congressman’s salary or the interest on the national debt.

I am a liberal.  I am also an atheist. I don’t hate Christians and if you say Merry Christmas, I will gladly smile and say it back.  I believe if you can express your religion without fear of reprisal or death, you have religious freedom.  Just because you can not restrict others’ rights based on your religion, or force other people to say “under God” in the pledge does not mean there is a war on your religion.  It means you live in America, where everyone, not just Christians, have freedom of religion.

I am a liberal. I am not your stereotypical “extreme liberal,” and most of us aren’t. I am not intolerant of Conservative views unless they violate another person’s rights.  Again, let me reiterate, your inability to trample the rights of others does NOT constitute a war against you.

I am intolerant of hatefulness and intolerance. And to anyone who knows me personally, if you think that is a bad thing, instead of “agreeing to disagree,”maybe we should part ways.

lib·er·al·ism

 A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil andpolitical liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority.

lib•er•al•ism

1. the quality or state of being liberal, as in behavior or attitude.
2. a political and social philosophy advocating individual freedom, representational forms of government, progress and reform, and protection of civil liberties.  (source)

 

I Need Feminism Because…Insurance Companies

There seems to be those who still doubt that there is a “war on women” in this country, even in the midst of the Republican’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.  I have discussed and subsequently argued with friends who don’t believe sexism exists and don’t think they should have to pay for women’s health care.  Let me first note the irony in how the first statement is contradicted by the second.  I already addressed the second issue in a previous post specific to Planned Parenthood.

Now let me offer you some anecdotal evidence about the first statement.  Sexism exists.  It’s even institutionalized…which is likely a direct result of lobbyists for insurance companies and the effect they have on legislation politicians attempt to pass.

Fair warning: the following contains mentions of “lady parts” and women’s health.  If you can’t handle that…you’re too much of a sissy to be on this blog and especially not this post.

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Happy (belated) Birthday, “Ex” Friend

Dear longtime friend,

Since you “divorced” me a few months back, I’ll have to admit, I sort of forgot about the whole issue.  At least on a daily basis.  You see, since we live so far apart now, and social media was really our only contact, you erased yourself from my life, and me from yours, quite effectively with that “block” button on Facebook…although I still can’t exactly figure out why you felt that was necessary, as if “de-friending” me was not enough…like you thought I would just continue to send you messages even though we clearly had nothing else to talk about.

I went about my life, and , like I said, after the shock and upset over our initial argument wore off, I sort of forgot about it all.  Except for when one of our mutual friends would mention you in conversation, or in a Facebook comment I couldn’t see because, after 20 years of friendship, you decided my existence pissed you off so much, you didn’t want to see my name…or whatever.  Then I would get kinda mad.

But eventually I’d forget about it…

Until I went through all my old greeting cards, some from as far back as middle school, and found the ones from you.  On more than one, you proclaimed how we would be friends forever and you’d always be here for me.  It made me a bit sad, but it also made me mad.  I didn’t know if I should keep the cards or get rid of them.  After all, if you could throw me out like an old card, why should I keep these mementos of our friendship?  But I decided to…just in case.  

And then I forgot about it.  After all, I am a mom, a wife.  I am (once again) a student, a writer, an artist, and a volunteer.  I’m a daughter and a friend… SO I had a lot to occupy my mind… and I forgot about it again.

Except for whenever feminism came up in conversation.  It seems a stupid thing to lose a friend over.  It’s not an elitist club.  It’s not about being obligated to feel or act a certain way, but rather having the option to decide for oneself…  And that’s what I would tell whoever I happened to be in discussion with.  But then I would forget about it again.

And every once in a while, something random would make me think of you.  How you were at my wedding.  How you are one of few of my friends from my homestate who have gotten to meet my daughter, who was not born until after we left the state.  It’s always with a mixture of sadness and anger that I think of you.  It makes me sad that you feel you no longer want to share in my life, especially my life’s greatest joy, getting to know my daughter.  She is super-cool!

It makes me sad that I used to describe you as the nicest, most open-minded person I knew, and you took those words and bit me in the ass with them.  I understand activism is important to you, but you seem more angry now then empowered.

Today* was your birthday.   I thought about asking a mutual friend to wish you a happy birthday…then I started questioning myself.  Did I really care?  Did I want you to know I was thinking of you, or was I just being passive aggressive, letting you know that despite your snub, I was still around?  I don’t even really know why I am writing this now.  You likely have “unfollowed” my blog as well and will never see this message.  And I guess that’s fine.  Maybe it’s better even, since it would probably just piss you off.

But, Happy Birthday anyway.  And Happy Holidays too, for good measure.  In a day or so, I will forget about this again for a while.  But I will be here, as ever.

Love me.

(edited cuz I thought today was yesterday*)

Microsoft’s “Rape Joke” Flub and Feminism (from a female gamer’s perspective)

In the wake of the Tosh O rape joke scandal, Microsoft goes and flubs their shit during a game demonstration at a Microsoft Xbox one event.  I provided the link, but the general gist of things was a game banter gone wrong kinda deal that came out disgusting and offending a lot of people for it’s tastelessness and what some see as blaze’ reference to rape.

“I can’t even block correctly, and you’re too fast,” she says.

“Here we go. Just let it happen. It’ll be over soon,” he says.

The audience laughs at the remark that many have been interpreted as a rape joke. The banter continues between the two, further adding fuel to the allegations that the joke mimicked a sexual assault scenario.

“You have a fight stick,” she says.

“Wow, you like those,” he says.

“No, I don’t like this,” she says.

I didn’t actually hear about this until a gamer friend of mine, with whom I regularly have “debates,” asked me what I thought of the whole thing.  Even though we are very like-minded, it seems our conversations always take on tangentially adversarial note.  As if we agree, but not exactly.

My initial take on what I read about the “rape joke” was judging from the info in this link, was that it was intended to be normal, harmless gamer banter.  If you’re a gamer, you know how we like our trash talk!   That said, considering how damn sensitive everybody is about everything, it was not something that should be done “on stage” as it were. The first comment was fairly ambiguous, but the following comments made the situation worse, and added additional sexual connotations. The fact that Microsoft claimed the “banter” was unscripted and they were aiming for “friendly game-play banter”, but used two employees (who are not improv actors) to give said unscripted banter strikes me as a rookie mistake for a big company to make.

My gamer buddy, we’ll call him *Leon Kennedy, had this to say:

Well what bugs me about this is that it’s normal gamer trash talk. I’ve said stuff like that to guys I was beating and heard the same when they were beating me. Hell you know how we get playing Resident Evil.

His point brought me to an important idea…something I’ve noticed before in other aspects of my life as well.  Well, yes it is normal trash talk, but why is it that trash talk almost always seems to have sexual connotations?   Especially in an industry still rife with sexism (Anita Sarkeesian, anyone?), in a world that has become super-sensitive (sometimes to a fault) but very vocal, one would think Microsoft should know better.  SOMEONE is gonna get their panties in a bunch over SOMETHING.  (See what I did there? 🙂 )

And yet, the fact that all our trash talk is still geared overtly or subtly to sexual domination or gender stereotypes says something, doesn’t it?  Maybe it’s because I hung around with a lot of guys when I was younger, or maybe it’s because I have always struggled to be strong, independent, take no bullshit, not girly girl… but I have caught myself making misogynistic remarks too, in the form of banter.  For instance, when hearing about some of my husband’s co-workers or “friends,” and their bad behavior, I have been known to tell him they were acting like “whiny bitches,” or ask him if they had “sand in their vaginas.”  I know, terrible, isn’t it?  But it seems like this aspect of gender stereotyping is, to an extent, so ingrained in our culture that I don’t even take offense to it in the traditional sense.  I’ll admit, the fact that this is the case is probably indicative of further need for a shift in attitudes in this country… I’m just not sure what to do about it, because railing against “the man” or the status quo over it seems to me, a largely futile pursuit.  At least, to it’s not worth the aggravation it would cause me.

Edit: Leon adds:

I think this Microsoft thing brings up so many issues.  If he was playing with a guy no one would have blinked. If we are supposed to be equal than we have to be equal. It can’t be equal until its inconvenient.

This statement also struck a chord with me, because it ties into role of feminism in my life lately.  And it’s not what you might think.  If anything, I am apparently not enough of a feminist for some people, I mean, to the point where I am losing friends…which is ironic to me.

Have you seen any of the photos from the “I Need Feminism Because…” project?

Well, I came up with my own, and I don’t even know if it’s really relevant to the Microsoft thing, but it certainly applies to the concept of feminism in my life.  It also applies to other aspects of social equality and humanity that one would think are a given, but for some reason are not… like for instance, the right for gays to marry.

I NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE:  there are still some “feminists” who believe that I’m “not enough of a feminist” because I am a Stay At Home Mom.

Consider that a hyperbole if you will.  It generalizes to mean basically this: Having the “right” to do something does not mean you have an “obligation” to do it.

Basically, equal rights is not about following a prescribed set of behavior “because you can/should,” it’s about having choices to begin with.  

A Perspective on “Perspective”

I’ll admit I’m guilty of using the word myself, specifically when I am trying to get people to see other points of view or integrate new info into their existing view of something.

But until yesterday/today, when I had it used against me, I never realized how patronizing it can sound.  As in,

“This link provides a really awesome perspective,” 

sounds a lot like it should conclude… “because you obviously lack the information to make the correct choice on your own.”  

And when a person says, “I just want to give you a different perspective on [the topic]”  which is something I have been guilty of uttering myself, it sounds a bit condescending, as in “I just want to give you the correct perspective on the subject.”

See, “perspective” is a tricky word.  It means one thing, but there seems to be an underlying implicit meaning depending on the context in which it’s used.

The thing is, I’m not 100% sure how to word it so that it doesn’t sound patronizing and self-important.  Sometimes, I feel like when defending a position on a given topic, people get to the point where they don’t want to entertain any facts (facts, I say…even statistical data) that don’t support their point of view.  The recent explosive discussions about gun rights is a perfect example.  The extremes of both sides simply refuse to entertain even concrete facts from the “other side.”

The same can be said for arguments on religion vs. atheism.  I would like to stress that on either side of the argument, the point at which you feel like you have to beat someone over the head with your opinions and feelings to “make them see” is the point where you have crossed over from merely expressing your own opinion, to being a zealot.  And lets face it, the only people that like zealots are other zealots.  The irony is that once you reach that point, it is usually impossible to objectively see.

That said, I am a little sad today, and a little angry, that the stupid Facebook argument I had yesterday with someone who, basically, is not that important, has turned into a big disagreement with someone who is important.  Today, the subtle rift I’ve felt between me and a friend I have known for almost 20 years was ripped open into a giant, oozing gash.

Sounds dramatic, right?  I guess it feels a little that way.  How strange that our friendship is in danger of being over ending,  neither with a bang or a whimperbut with a constant and rapid tapping of computer keys.  We didn’t pick up the phone…we instant messaged.

And the argument was about, of all things, feminism.  I maintain that both my friend and I are strong, intelligent women.  Yet, there seems to be a great divide caused by how we choose, individually, to express that…namely how we attack or do not attack the issues women face today.  Apparently we are also stubborn.

Without getting into too many specifics, it seems as if we’ve reached an impasse.  For my part, I feel as if I’ve done all I can for right now, and that anything else would be akin to me chasing her around and nipping at her ankles.  She does not want to talk anymore.  Although angry, I feel as if I conducted myself reasonably well (at least by not saying something I might later regret, or resorting to mud-slinging.)

My hope is that that time will eventually lead to a resolution.  Even if we can “agree to disagree,” it seems as if there may always be that undercurrent of judgment and bitterness.

Well, at least we haven’t “de-friended” each other yet.

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