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Posts Tagged ‘feminist rant’


How many times have you heard a guy say this: “Women like you better when you treat them like shit.” Or: “I never get the girls I like because I’m too nice.” Or: “I’m a functioning alcoholic, and a complete asshole. Let’s date?” Okay, maybe that last one isn’t so popular (outside of my world, at least) but really, now, I’m sure all of us have heard the first two from multiple sources, usually men fresh from a break-up or another form of rejection. Really, it’s surprising that, being as gung-ho about gender equality as I am, that I’ve known so many men so eager to explain this rational to me.

The fact that many men categorize themselves/their behaviors toward dating women, unconsciously or not, as being “bad boys” or “nice guys” speaks less to the idea that women actively seek out men of either types and more to how society views women. “Bad boys” treat women like shit because they’re either to subdued or too stupid to know any better, while “nice guys” treat women well and get dumped because women are sex-starved bitches who do better when they’re treated like objects or children. Never does it cross their minds that they may not be treating their partner with respect. To avoid making sweeping generalizations as much as possible (since, after all, it’s these types of generalizations about women that really piss me off), it seems like, all too often, these guys are one in the same. These men never recognize or admit to their own flaws when it comes to dating; when a woman leaves, it’s always because “all women are whores,” “all women are bitches,” etc etc etc, instead of “maybe she has her reasons.” It’s always the “nice guys” claiming that women get turned on by being treated disrespectfully. Turns out they’re not really “nice guys” at all.

Now, again, this is with avoiding generalizations. As WhatEmbersConsume, a self-proclaimed “former Nice Guy,” points out, there are key differences between “nice guys” and “nice people.” A “nice person” will genuinely care about you, but also respect your boundaries and limits, and take responsibility for their faults and actions. On the flip side, here’s a few tell-tale signs that you’re dealing with a “Nice Guy:”

  • Often clingly.  May ask you far too frequently where you are, who you are with, what you are doing, etc. out of a supposed regard for your safety.  In reality, the Nice Guy™ wants to know where you are because he wants to keep tabs on you, like any other one of his possessions.
  • Easily prone to jealousy.  Doesn’t like you hanging around other people of your preferred gender and age group (or even your friends outside of your preferred gender).  This is because he is afraid of loosing you.
  • Will likely be upset when you try to put up healthy boundaries when it comes to personal time, space, etc.
  • Will often want to get involved with your family/friends as soon as possible if you have a good relationship with them.  This is because he thinks – subconsciously or not – that if he forges relationships with those close with you it will be harder for you to break things off.  The same goes for the reverse of this: he will likely want you to meet his friends and family for the same reason.
  • Will often talk about how important you are to him, how he couldn’t live without you, etc. especially as things get more serious.  He either really believes this, in which case it is because he has become dependent on the ideal of you; or is deliberately using it to manipulate you emotionally.
  • Will affirm you/praise you for your physical characteristics and accomplishments.  This is because these are the only things he cares about: things that others will notice and things that he can take advantage of.
  • Easily put off by arguments; not inclined to initiate serious conversations.  This is because he views differences between you two as freedom from him he does not want you to have.
  • Is not willing for you two to be anything less than he wants you to be.  If you maintain your boundaries, he will hightail it out of your life or seek revenge.
  • Will try to make you feel special.
  • Will never admit to making mistakes unless you threaten him with something.  He is always right, and even if your threats get him to concede that with words he will maintain that he was right in his own mind.

Looking over this list really startled me, because not only did it remind me of dating patterns I’ve witnessed, but also those my friends and I have experienced first hand–more than once.  And, what’s even scarier, is this lists’ similarity to that of an abusive relationship.  In fact, many abusive relationships–physically, emotionally, verbally, or otherwise–start off in the realm of the self-proclaimed Nice Guy and get that much more extreme as possessiveness worsens. The fact that so many men self-identify as “nice guys” is quite startling–even the OP recognized this trend in his dating choices (although he claims to be reformed now–we shall see).

So what’s the fucking deal? Why do so many men equate possessive behavior to genuinely caring? And why do so many guys think that they can’t get a date because they’re “too nice” when really they completely fail at seeing a woman as a human person with autonomous feelings and decision making capabilities?

It makes me really sad, to be honest. Some of these guys have serious issues.  This type of misogyny can often be a product or a side effect of other problems such as alcoholism, poor self-esteem, post traumatic stress disorder, or other serious mental/emotional limitations. Really, who’s to blame? The guy who thinks he’s supposed to treat women like shit, or the culture that says if he doesn’t manipulate her into submission, he’s not masculine enough?

Either way, it’s not an issue to brush over, and what’s most important is who this outlook affects the most—women.  Ladies, how many times have guys tried to guilt into dates, sex, or staying in a relationship, just because someone was “nice” to you? Probably a lot. Probably all the time. And chances are, when you reject these guys, it’s probably not pretty. He probably gets mad. He might use misogynistic language to describe you, like “bitch,” “cunt,” or “whore,” whether it’s to your face or behind your back. And a lot of times, he probably won’t back down after the first rejection.

What’s most important is to remember that you have control over your body and decisions first—no one else. I know a lot of times it doesn’t feel that way, but we must keep reminding ourselves. By owning ourselves first, before any ideas or cultural standards, we are taking a giant step against oppression every day. Don’t let anyone tell you whether or not they’re a “nice guy”—leave that to your own judgement calls.

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Yesterday I was browsing through GrrrlVirus, or maybe it was another of the other riot grrrl revival blogs I’ve been getting into lately, reading about SlutWalk Chicago.  My friend, Evan, glanced at my computer screen and asked, half-laughing, “SlutWalk Chicago? What’s that?”

I turned to look at him, thinking for a second how to best explain what the fuck I was doing, and finally said “Um… it’s a protest against rape culture.” He stopped smiling. I guess the seriousness of the message of SlutWalk is not an uplifting thing, despite the fact that it is fun enough to be approachable.

For a while now, I’ve been watching the GrrrlVirus community. I actually first heard about this whole riot grrrl revival phenomenon when a poem and non-fiction essay I wrote were published by Clementine Cannibal in her zine, “I Knew A Motherfucker Like You And She Said…” The zine itself impressed me–two volumes full of writing and art by women about their experience as a woman–and when my copy arrived, it came in an envelope stuffed with small flyers that looked like this:

or:

However, GrrrlVirus has never solely been organized long-distance, through exchanging zines and reading blogs.  They have always been about inspiring feminists to get together on a local level and organize their own protests and events.  There’s even GrrrlVirus international, which is having a meet-up in Germany in October. The most widespread and easy way to participate in the movement is by real-life “reblogging,” that is, taking these images and flyers and posting them up around your neighborhood. Instead of looking for feminist companionship in college gender studies courses or non-existant local political organizations, the idea is to go to the streets to spread ideas and find other like-minded people.

But I digress. GrrrlVirus is a great idea that’s quickly spreading, and there’s also a lot of other riot grrrl zines and organizations coming out of the woodwork now, but this sudden surge is all because of SlutWalk.  While SlutWalk, at first, may sound like a good way to see a lot of women dressed sexy with protest signs (and I’m not gonna pretend like there aren’t a ton of pictures of scantily-clad hipsters and crust punks floating around the internet that I adore), it is not just a sexual parade.  In fact, the entire point of the protest is to bring attention to the fact that simply being woman, or a man, or dressed a certain way, or religious or not, or anything else is not an invitation to be raped–rape is the exact opposite of accepting an invitation. In Toronto this past January, a police officer gave this statement at a campus safety seminar: “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” So, a bunch of GrrrlVirus grrrls and other feminists got together in Toronto and decided to protest against this idea.  While it may not be an act of defiance against legislation, the importance is not to be understated—rape is the oldest tool of oppression and dehumanization, and it is disgusting that victims still carry blame for these crimes, even if it’s on a purely cultural or ideological level, because it’s these misogynistic opinions that allow women to still be raped, and even our laws and actions against rape are subject to this, first, before subjectivity of the law.

The fact that a police officer can walk into a room full of women and tell them the best way to protect themselves is to dress the way he thinks is appropriate is the symptom of a much larger problem. Outside the context of SlutWalk, it may seem silly to go out into the streets and picket against “rape.” Of course everyone hates rape! Yelling on the street about how much you hate rape isn’t going to stop it. All protests against rape or domestic violence that I’ve been apart of have always been more about providing comfort and community to survivors and their families–something that is equally valuable, but not the same as SlutWalk.  From their website:

We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. … We want to feel that we will be respected and protected should we ever need them, but more importantly be certain that those charged with our safety have a true understanding of what it is to be a survivor of sexual assault — slut or otherwise.

So the people in Toronto got together and made a fucking statement. And the next thing you know, SlutWalks start popping up all over the world—New Zealand, Poland, London, all over Canada, Seattle, San Diego, Boston, Detroit, and, now I’ve caught wind, Chicago. Needless to say I contacted the person who made the blog immediately about how to get involved, and you should too, or start one in your town.

Despite the fact that the subject matter of this protest, and the experiences of rape, are not to be taken lightly, the reason I’m so excited about SlutWalk is because it’s an opportunity for feminists to organize together and make a statement about something, and not only that, but to call attention to a part of society that we do have the power to immediately change–how we respect and view women. The fact that this is all happening so quickly and on such a large scale is amazing. The potential for a global movement exists, as long as people continue to organize.

The most beautiful thing about it, though, is that SlutWalk is for everyone.

 

 

 

 

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We all have our guilty pleasures, submitting to cultural forces even when they completely contradict our beliefs and identities–we can’t deny it. I love reality TV—I find shows like Jersey Shore and Keeping Up With the Kardashians addictive. Despite the fact that no matter how much I try to downplay my interests with a sense of irony, I’m still feeding into a capitalist mass-media phenomenon that’s ultimately perpetuating inane cultural ideals, mostly relating to fame, gender-constructed notions of sexual identity and dating, and especially money. I won’t try to explain it or justify it or say that it creates some sense of intellectual fulfillment, because it doesn’t, and that would just be flat-out pretentious. I try to keep my “guilty pleasures” on the downlow, queueing up the megavideos of Kourtney & Khloe at obscene hours of the night, only speaking publicly about these shows with my adopted grandmother who shares the same secret obsessions (and used an apt metaphor to explain herself: “You know when you’re driving on the highway and you see a horrible, fiery accident and you slow down to look? It’s exactly the same thing.”).

There is nothing wrong with being a feminist with guilty pleasures. But I do find it quite disgusting when people try to justify their indulgences with feminist commentary, as if they were serving some greater good by circle-jerking (online and off) about aspects of sexual liberation in Sex in the City.  The online magazine, Jezebel, has basically built a commentary empire based on post-feminist bullshit that tries (unsuccessfully) to reunite Western mass media with female empowerment. The thing that really irks me is that feminists, even the really intelligent, self-aware ones, keep buying into this crap, feeling some vague sense of fulfillment and pretension that somehow justifies what should be reduced to “guilty pleasures” instead of becoming over-glorified pseudo-social commentary that ultimately fulfills the same purpose as any other magazine “for women.”

Now, let’s be real for a second. Jezebel isn’t just a dumping zone for over-intellectual zealots, and for those who comb through the articles obsessively, it’s not too hard to find articles contributed by real activists with real, legitimate, culturally relevant opinions. But for the sake of example, today I loaded up the site and took a gander at the articles featured at the top:

Let’s take these headlines from left to right:

  1. “The Art of Getting Dressed While Drunk” – Hey, lady, even if you’re completely disoriented, you should still put thought and effort into your appearance because, after all, it’s an ART
  2. “Lady-Tears are Total Bonerkillers” – Don’t show your emotions in your heteronormative lifestyle because you will inevitably  push your man away and NOT GET LAID (and we all know that bad feminists don’t have sex)
  3. “Social Minefield: How to Deal with Shyness” – could be more aptly titled “How to Conform to Social Expectations and Succeed in Impressing People with your Fake Personality”
  4. “Cosmo’s Fake Cover Hides Orgasm from Advertisers” – Appropriate subtitle: WE DON’T!
  5. “Kendra and Betheny Dissect Their Own Body Issues” – Because models who willingly sexually objectify themselves and fulfill societal standards of beauty should also be the standard of how you measure your own body issues too.
  6. “What the Angle of your Ponytail Says About You” – Mm, yes, really important information for empowered women here.
  7. “The Harrowing Date-Rape Scene from Snooki’s Book” – Celebrity date rape, not regular rape, because that would just be too human for a celebrity gossip e-zine. Still not exploitative or anything. Nu uh.

Pretty much all of these articles are in reference to cultural ideals that promote “false-empowerment,” or the post-feminist notion of being empowered by choosing which ways to conform to society’s expectations. Jezebel ditched its title as a feminist pop-culture e-zine some time ago, now proudly toting themselves as “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women,” but its fans are not ready to let go. Smart women who consider themselves feminist still seek out Jezebel as a means to buy into the same cultural ideals that have oppressed women for generations, but then justify themselves as intellectuals — for some reason reading celebrity gossip on Jezebel is better than Us Weekly, despite the fact that it’s far more convoluted than just saying “Fuck it, I want to see Kourtney Kardashian’s exclusive baby pictures and I don’t understand why!”

Hell no–Jezebel is fucking proud of the way it can present the same topics that you’d find in any magazine “for women” yet justify it with some vague notion of being well-informed when it should be the exact opposite. If you’re well-informed, you should be dissecting the ways mass media exploits and oppresses women, not promoting it. I mean, if you want to buy into it a little bit, knowing full well you’re buying the ideas The Man wants you to, you can still keep a firm sense of boundary between your beliefs and their beliefs:  sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Yet Jezebel has no concept of this. In fact, it actively seeks to destroy it by continually attempting to reinforce the idea that if you’re a feminist, all aspects of your identity support this, despite the fact that no one is impervious to social pressures. In the end, if you want to continue to read Jezebel because they have articles that you like, go for it. Just don’t do it under the guise of being a well-read feminist. Please don’t encourage them or contribute to their sense of legitimacy as feminists creating change “for women. Without airbrushing.” Fuck no.

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It pretty much goes without saying that the media has been an integral manipulative tool to politics in the 21st century. Our president frequently exploits the talk show circuit, appearing next to celebrity powers such as Oprah and Jay Leno. Meanwhile, the story of another drunk driving pro-prop 8 republican getting arrested on his way home from the gay bar gets the more exposure on Perez Hilton’s celebrity gossip blog than on CNN. Somewhere, in the midst of all this, is Sarah Palin, doing a stand-up routine on Jay Leno. While she appeared to get knock-out laughs from the audience for defacing jokes such as “When I saw the giant moose [at the Winter Olympic closing cermonies], I thought ‘boy, I forgot to make the kids dinner,’” the live audio was apparently compromised, laugh tracks being added later. Michael Stinson, a former sound engineer, was there and witnessed the actual live show:

“They added laughter where there was none during uncomfortable portions. Well, there was some laughter. Mine, of derision. … The real heroes of the night were Shaun White and Adam Lambert – the audience was delighted, all of it, and blew the roof off the place when they were mentioned and appeared. Meanwhile, Leno’s show used the ambience to give Palin Cover. They sold her. Her book, her body, her celebrity, her future, all of it. And 70% of an audience weren’t buying it, but you can’t tell from the broadcast. I know. I was there.”

Some of you may be wondering how it’s possible for such drastic modifications to be made to a live broadcast when there were hundreds of members of the audience and crew who witnessed the actual event. Others might not be so surprised knowing that The Tonight Show is a product of NBC, where the network executives know how much a bad stint on late night can make their conservative sponsors pull out stock. And then, there’s Sarah Palin, truly an anomaly to American politics – as she should be, since she was John McCain’s desperate attempt at trumping the smooth, culturally embedded image of Barak Obama. Today, Palin stands as just that—she’s like that awful outfit your grandpa thinks is hip and fitting for a young woman. No one is really buying it anymore, but those who have put all their faith in this being the next “in” thing are not willing to back down before 2012. Republicans are doing everything they can to sell her, hoping she’ll look good if they just put her on the same line-up as actually accomplished people.

It seems like every time I hear about Sarah Palin doing some new stint on TV, I ask myself, “Why doesn’t she just go away?” People don’t like her, they don’t find her funny or charming. Sarah Palin? That’s so 2008. The reason she doesn’t stay in the past and just retire to her moose lodge with her oil-loving husband and her baby’s baby is that the Republicans have invested too much money in her to just put her back on a shelf—from August to October in 2008, the RNC spent more than $150,000 on just her outfits. You can just imagine the price tag on making a virtually unknown politician from Alaska the face of your political campaign in addition to the costs of making her look like the product of flawless beauty (as is the only way women can hope to scathe by when they’re in the lime light), and the Republicans are still waiting for a pay-off.

So, for those in television, that means there’s a face-off between the few and the many—the few conservatives that are willing to pay for as much control of the media as they can afford, and the many in the audiences all across America who would forget Sarah Palin ever existed if TV shows would just stop reminding them. And then there’s those who work in television, on the sets or behind the scenes, who really don’t get much of a say in what happens—until you get a team of writers and producers willing to attack a politician head-on. In Palin’s case, the face of this satirical attack was Tina Fey.

At first, Palin’s resemblance to Tina Fey was seen as a good thing by Republicans. When first selected as Republican VP candidate, people were eager to point out how much she had in common with the 30 Rock star—I remember the phrase “Tina Fey glasses” being used to describe her eyewear fairly often. It was as if they had hoped Palin would come to share Fey’s relationship with the younger crowd. However, it was only a matter of days before the next SNL episode came out and Fey’s spot-on Palin impression—from the former beauty queen wink to the almost verbatim Couric interview parody—came to define the former governor’s public image. Before Fey’s portrayal, much criticism of Palin from the left was dismissed by right-wing media as “sexist,” although they had made many of the same comments about runner-up Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. It seemed Palin was gaining popularity among conservative female voters rather quickly while feminists pulled their hair out in frustration.

The fact that Fey was able to satirize Palin so adequately and receive such raving reviews, as well as make that significant first blow to Palin’s since-then doomed public relationship, is a sign of a unique point in our history. On the one hand, Republicans think America is stupid enough to support a woman candidate just because she’s cute—and, unfortunately, many Americans are that fucking stupid. On the other hand, Tina Fey is able to penetrate audiences as both a woman comedian and open feminist, as well as achieve status as celebrity icon—this is something female comedians have often be marginalized or persecuted for in the past. In addition, she has gained a massive audience for the long running SNL, which allowed her to make a funny, yet poignant, wake-up call to many of those left undecided on who to vote for in the election. And, lo and behold, the Republicans lost big in 2008.

But, in the long run, sexism wasn’t defeated, I hear more about Barak Obama’s celebrity guest appearances than about the future with Afghanistan, and Sarah Palin is doing bad stand-up on compromised “live” recordings. After all, NBC aired the SNL sketches that put the nail in Palin’s coffin less than two years before giving her a comedy debut. The world isn’t really a better place because of any of this. And, certainly, female politicians are not seen as anymore legitimate because of this parade. I wonder how much longer it will be before women who want to be in office isn’t so quickly turned into the butt of a joke. But, as long as there are women like Sarah Palin so willing to get on her knees and suck the dick of capitalism over and over again on television, I can only dream of a future where feminists make all the jokes.

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