Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Modest Proposal, Part II - Marriage Equality

AN ACT to prohibit heterosexual
couples from engaging in the act
of marriage and from receiving
the more than 1,138 rights and
protections of marriage provided
by the federal government, as well
as from receiving the benefits of
common-law marriage as defined
by Meister v. Moore
(96 U.S. 76 (1877))

WHEREAS, it is illegal for same-sex couples to marry each other while allowing heterosexual couples to do so in a country that claims to be “the land of the free,” and

WHEREAS, we are a country that is founded on the principles of the human rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” therefore


Section 1. 

(a) Any heterosexual couple who attempts to obtain a marriage license in any government office, attempts to be married in any religious institution and/or attempts to receive the federal rights and privileges of marriage and/or common-law marriage benefits shall be summarily denied and turned away.
(b) The marriages and common-law marriages of all heterosexual couples that took place prior to this act taking effect will be immediately annulled. 

Section 2. The law enforcement officers of all existing fifty states may arrest any clergyperson or government official discovered to be aiding and abetting heterosexual couples in their nuptial ceremonies and/or receiving of government marriage benefits. 

Section 3. Upon conviction in a competent Court of law, the judge shall sentence the clergyperson or government official to a sentence of no less than 6 months, no more than 1 year in prison at his or her discretion. 

Section 4. This act shall take effect immediately.

Come on, America. Don’t deny us the rights you take for granted every second of your lives. We deserve to marry the person we love just as much as you do. Don’t treat us as second-class citizens. Otherwise, you just might find yourselves right beside us someday. Either everyone gets a slice of the pie or nobody gets any at all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Just...Don't Want to be a Mother. There, I Said It.

[TW for severe gender essentialism and sarcastic violent imagery]

Actually, that's not 100% true. I'm about 95% sure that I don't want to be a mother. The other 5% is telling me that I will change my mind someday, but I can never be sure that it's my actual instincts telling me this or if it's the patriarchal idea that's been drilled into my head since day one that all women MUST WANT to become mothers or else they fail as women. Almost any time I find myself in a conversation about parenthood and my lack of desire to become a parent, I am made to justify my decision. It's interesting to note that, in the same conversation, any woman who expresses a positive attitude towards, and a desire for, motherhood is not made to justify her decision.

Most misogynists and gender essentialists seem to think that nurturing a child is the ultimate thing a woman can do with her life. Forget a career, forget traveling the world, forget everything else you've ever wanted to do with your life; unless you have a child, you're nothing. And gods forbid you ever express your complete non-desire to have children. At best, you will be told that you will change your mind in the future. At worst, you will be told that you are a selfish freak of nature and that you're not a "real woman." I actually had a woman in an online Pagan forum tell me that I was sick in the head and that I deserved to die alone and unhappy because I didn't want to have children.

Is choosing not to have children selfish? Yes. And I'm not saying that choosing not to have children is selfish as a bad thing; I think it's fucking great to be able to look at your life and what you want to do with it and realize that having children is truly not something you want. For example, there are so many things that I want to do with my life where children would just not fit. I want to be a college professor and write research papers for a living, which is going to take up a HUGE chunk of my time. I also want to travel the world, go out with friends on a regular basis, take in shows, go to a week-long Pagan festival in the woods, pick up and go to the beach on an arbitrary sunny day just because, spend a weekend doing nothing but relaxing in a bubble bath and reading, etc. etc. If I were to have children, I would never be able to do any of these things. I just wouldn't have the time. And, simply put, I just don't have the patience for it. Crying children, rather than warming the cockles of my ovaries, make me want to shoot myself in the face just to end the suffering.

Although I suppose there is an altruistic aspect to choosing not to become a parent; there's that whole "not having a child you don't want and fucking up all of your lives because of it" thing.

What it boils down to is this: parenthood is a deeply personal choice, a choice that nobody but the person and/or people involved in the process of creating (or not creating) the child can make. It is not a decision that anyone has to justify to anyone else. Do I have an agenda against women who want to become mothers? Not at all. I give the utmost credit to and absolutely applaud the women who are ready and willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary in order to take on motherhood. Notice the key words there: "ready and willing." These women made a choice to become mothers, and that is what feminism is all about: CHOICE. If you want to be a stay-at-home mom, great. If you want to be a working mother, fantastic. If you don't want to be a mother at all, more power to you! You are not any less of a woman because you have chosen not to make use of your ovaries. So many people seem to think that wanting children is this inborn, biological force of nature that nobody can escape, but the fact of the matter is, ever since I was a child, whenever I envisioned my future, it never had children in it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Modest Proposal for the War on Women

"If (Planned Parenthood) wants to receive taxpayer money," he said, "they can simply stop practicing abortion." - State Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis

And if you fucking asshole cisgender, white, straight Republican men want to see the human species survive, then you can simply stop the war on women. Imagine how quickly this whole debate would end (in women's favor) if women simply took their own reproductive systems hostage and refused to produce any more children until they ended the war on women. Better still, we would all get tubal ligations one by one until they complied. If they refuse to guarantee that every child is a wanted child, then they don't get any children at all. It's no different than what Schneider is doing with women's healthcare and abortion services.

But maybe that's just crazy talk.

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's Not Rude to Say "Stop" When Enough is Enough

[TW for harassment, misogyny and socialized forced silence]

Every woman I've ever met in my life has had at least one instance where they felt that they were being harassed but felt incapable of stopping the harassment because they didn't want to appear rude. They didn't want to react because even though their gut was telling them that the person was infringing upon their boundaries, they felt that the people around them might think that they were overreacting. The women who decided to press on with their repeated requests for the harassment to stop, including myself, were told that they were killjoys, oversensitive, hysterical, overreacting, etc. This, in turn, resulted in them minimizing the person's actions in their own heads and questioning their reaction to the situation, ultimately deciding to just let it go because hey, maybe it really wasn't that bad.

I'm here to tell you that yes, it was that bad, and no, you weren't overreacting. You weren't being hysterical or oversensitive or anything else that they told you you were being. You were simply defending your physical, emotional, sexual, mental, psychological, etc. boundaries, and there is nothing rude about that. What is rude is taking someone's boundaries and treating them as if they are negotiable and/or nonexistent. 

Women have been socialized since the dawn of time to be demure, non-confrontational and passive. Any time we have stood up and protested an act of harassment, we have been told that we were overreacting, that we were being hysterical, that we were reacting over nothing. That is exactly what the patriarchy wants; it wants us to believe that we are being rude to say no to someone who is stepping on and over our boundaries. It wants us to question ourselves. It wants us to second-guess ourselves. It wants us to believe that every reaction to every instance of harassment is an overreaction so that it will be easier for harassers to get away with infringing upon our boundaries. 

The thing about boundaries is that they are different for every person. What works for one person will not work for another. My emotional, physical, sexual, psychological, mental, etc. boundaries will not be exactly the same as the boundaries of the woman standing next to me on the elevator at school. Her boundaries will not be exactly the same as those of the professor standing at the front of the room. Her boundaries will not be exactly the same as those of the woman sitting next to her on the train on the way home. Everyone's boundaries are different. However, these boundaries do have one thing in common: they do not have to be justified. Your boundaries are your own, regardless of the reason (or lack of reason) for them, and you have every right to expect other people to respect those boundaries. When someone crosses those boundaries, you are well within your right to tell them to stop, and if they don't, you are not being rude for being aggressive in your defense of those boundaries.

They are being rude for aggressively ignoring them.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Miniskirt is NOT CONSENT

[TW for sexual assault, sexual harassment and victim blaming]

About two years ago, I was walking down the street with my then-boyfriend. I was wearing shorts and a tank top because it was fucking summer and it was hot and that's what you do when it's hot outside. As we were walking, some random dude yelled from the car, "You have a nice ass!" I expressed utter disgust and contempt, and as my then-boyfriend so lovingly mansplained to me, "Well, look at what you're wearing. What did you expect? Take it as a compliment."

In another incident, while I was studying abroad in London, I went to a beach-themed party in the student union. I wore a Hawaiian-print bikini top, a white button down shirt, unbuttoned halfway, and a pair of shorts. While dancing with a fellow student, he attempted to unbutton my shirt. When I told him no, he continued to do it anyway. I wound up asking two of my very good friends to escort me back to my room because I was afraid he was going to follow me; judging by what had just occurred, I already knew that he was hostile to the idea of consent.

In yet another incident, while I was walking to the train from my friend's house, some random guy whistled at me from his car and honked his horn while leering at me. I was wearing a tank top and shorts, again, because it was a hot summer day and that's what you do. When I told my current boyfriend, who wasn't yet my boyfriend at the time, he told me something similar to what my ex had told me, that I should take it as a compliment. Thankfully, at this point in time, he is well aware of why exactly it isn't a compliment, and I will reiterate the basic gist of it here: it is not a compliment because our clothes are not our consent. 

I have heard SO many people say that if a woman dresses in what could be considered a skimpy or "slutty" way, she shouldn't complain if she is sexually harassed. Many men have stated that if a woman is scantily clad and refuses their attentions (aka harassment), then she is being a tease and she shouldn't dress that way, the idea being that she is dressing that way to get their attention and that, by doing so, she is automatically consenting to any and all sexual advances. First of all, telling women what they can and cannot wear, both via words and societal norms and "punishments", denies us the autonomy and agency to do what we wish. Secondly, it does not matter how a woman is dressed, nor does the reason she is dressed the way she is dressed; if she has not explicitly asked for a man's attention and/or if she has refused his advances for ANY REASON, then it is HIS responsibility to cease his behavior. Full stop.

What is particularly disheartening about this whole issue is that so many women blame their clothing for these incidents of sexual harassment that happen to them. As a matter of fact, I blamed my clothing for all of those events up until a few months ago. Even to this day, I still don't feel 100% comfortable going out wearing what many would consider a "skimpy" outfit without having at least one man around to "protect me." Unfortunately, that is exactly what society wants us to believe; it wants us to believe that we, and our clothes, are responsible for the behavior of the "men" around us (I place quotation marks there because I hesitate to call anyone who is hostile to consent a man). The idea is that men cannot control themselves and so it is up to us women to dress "appropriately" in order to help them control their erratic behavior; if we don't do so, then clearly it isn't the man's fault for misbehaving because he simply can't help it and we haven't done our job correctly. Unfortunately for society, more and more women are realizing that it is not their clothing that is to blame for sexual harassment; the people we need to blame for sexual harassment are the people who are hostile to consent. Just like the only common denominator in rape cases is a rapist, the only common denominator in sexual harassment cases is a harasser. 

Keep this in mind: the people who don't have a problem continuing to verbally harass a woman are the same people who would have no problem with continuing to physically and sexually assault a woman long after she has said no. People who are hostile to consent in one arena of life do not suddenly agree with it in another arena.

This is exactly why sexual harassment is the fault of the perpetrators and not the victims. This is exactly why it should be taken more seriously.

And it is exactly why it shouldn't be taken as a compliment.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Why Nice Guys aren't actually nice

[TW for denial of autonomy and entitlement]

There's a phrase floating around in the ether that goes: "nice guys finish last." It might be true, it might not be true, I don't know. The validity of the statement isn't what I'm talking about here. I'm here to distinguish between Nice Guys and nice guys, and believe me, there is a huge difference. Everyone, I think, has that one friend that complains about how they're always so nice to women and yet they get nothing in return for it. Despite their best efforts, their best girl friend always winds up with the jerks, and they get nothing. Despite everything nice that they've done for that hot girl at school, they simply cannot "get it in." They feel that they deserve some sort of recompense for their good behavior. Most of these guys will probably receive an abundance of sympathy, mostly from other Nice Guys; I mean, they HAVE been nice, after all, don't they deserve a little something in return, whether it's sex or a relationship or what have you?

No. No they do not.

Why is that, you ask? First of all, no woman is obligated to give of herself, whether it's physically or emotionally, on demand. Let's get that clear right now. It's fantastic when men want to do nice things for us, and we are very appreciative, but we are not obligated to have sex with you or enter into a relationship with you because of that. Therein lies the difference between Nice Guys and nice guys: truly nice guys do nice things for women because they genuinely want to be nice. Nice Guys do nice things for women because they expect to get something out of it; they consider the woman as obligated to reciprocate, either with her body or her heart, and they, because of their actions, feel entitled to her. They don't care about what the woman wants, and they do not respect her freedom to decide, nor do they respect her feelings; the only thing that concerns them is their own desires.

You can tell which is which by the reactions they have to rejection. Truly nice guys, when faced with rejection, will be disappointed, of course, but they will respect the woman's decision and eventually move on to someone else who reciprocates their feelings. Nice Guys, on the other hand, will often spiral into self-deprecation so badly that even Robert Smith would look at them askance. However, it is not the self-deprecation that makes them Nice Guys: it's who they blame after being rejected. You've probably heard it before: "I've been so nice to you and you've done nothing in return for me. All women are bitches. You all say you want a nice guy but you're lying: you all just want douchebags. Well, guess what? Now I'M gonna be a douchebag, and I'm gonna bag all the women I want! And it's all YOUR fault! Bitch."


There's a million and one things wrong with this reaction. First of all, holy entitlement Batman. Like I said before, the act of being nice does not automatically entitle someone to sexual favors or romantic involvement as a result. The woman is not obligated to fulfill those demands. And they are indeed demands, no matter how you slice it. Also, the statement "all women are bitches" isn't going to get anyone any brownie points; mass generalizations generally do not help one's case. Neither does telling all women that they're lying when they say they want a nice guy, and by proxy telling that one woman that she's lying to them. It's not that she doesn't want a nice guy; she doesn't want you. Which, yeah, sucks completely, but if that's how you're going to react I don't fucking blame her; she certainly doesn't want a Nice Guy complaining that she's not fulfilling an obligation that she never agreed to in the first place.

And as for the "I'm gonna be a douchebag to get women" part, not to burst your pretty little Nice Guy bubble, but you're already a douchebag. No drastic change in personality is necessary. If you really want a woman to have sex with you or get involved romantically with you, try respecting her autonomy and giving her the space to make her own decisions about her life without freaking out when they don't include you.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Blame Rapists for Rape, Not the Victims

[TW for victim blaming and rape apologia]

Stop me if you've heard this one: "If you go out, don't drink too much. Don't dress like a slut. Don't walk around by yourself. Don't don't don't."

This speech has probably been given at every single high school and college campus in existence. There are pamphlets everywhere dictating what a woman must do and must not do in order to prevent herself from getting raped. Normally, I am all for prevention, such as cleaning out the lint trap in the dryer so your house doesn't catch fire, taking vitamins to supplement your diet so that you get all the nutrients you need, etc. I do not agree with these speeches and pamphlets and what have you that tell women how not to get raped because it implies that if you get raped, you must not have done something right because we gave you this ENTIRE list of things to do and not to do in order to prevent this.

I do not agree with most programs concerning rape prevention because they place the blame and the burden of preventing the crime on the victim instead of the rapist. 

The fact of the matter is, women should be able to get shitfaced while naked and parading around a back alley at two o'clock in the morning and expect not to be raped. Women should be able to go to the police when they are raped and not expect to be questioned about their sobriety, their clothing, their actions, their location and the time of day they were at said location, their sexual history, etc. Women should be able to do whatever and go wherever they damn well please and expect not to be raped. Women should NOT have to curtail or adjust their behaviors in any way in order to prevent rape because that perpetuates the falsehood that the victims are responsible for the actions of their rapists. And if you think that victim blaming doesn't exist, then read this article about a town meeting where a mass group of people blamed an 11 year old girl for her gang rape by eighteen fully grown men and this article where a Republican lawmaker also blamed the girl, saying that she was "dressed like a prostitiute." We live in a society where it is perfectly acceptable to blame a child for her rape, and that is absolutely fucking sickening.   

Many people argue that we need rape prevention programs because "Oh, well, it would be fantastic if we could let you women loose on society and allow you to do whatever you want, but our society just doesn't work that way. Those darn rapists are out there looking for you so you have to do this, this and this to prevent them from gettin' ya!" This would be great if these things actually prevented rape from happening, but they do not. Rapists attack women no matter what their level of sobriety, no matter what they are wearing, no matter where they are and no matter what time of day it is. As a matter of fact, just recently, an elderly woman was raped in broad daylight in the Upper East Side of NYC. This also happened in Kansas, where a woman was attacked in the middle of the afternoon in front of a crowd of people at a bus stop.

Rape does not happen because a woman is drunk, because she's dressed in a sexy manner, because she was walking around alone at night. The two cases that I've mentioned alone prove that.

The only thing that all rapes have in common is a rapist.

Maybe instead of focusing on blaming the victim and telling women how not to get raped, we should focus on telling rapists not to rape. I have a strong feeling that this would be way more effective.

The Privilege of Not Being Angry

[TW for social and political misogyny and denial of bodily autonomy]

My brother asked me a few weeks ago why I'm so angry all the time. In the moment, I had a difficult time figuring out a decent explanation, but now that I've had the chance to sit down and really think about it, I think I have a basic idea.

I'm angry all the time because I don't have the privilege of not being angry.

First of all, I should define what privilege is; my personal definition of privilege is when you face a social and/or political issue and you don't have to think about the consequences as they pertain to you. It doesn't even cross your mind because you will never have to worry about the consequences for a single day in your life. For example, when a woman gets paid 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns, it is highly likely that the man will not think about the fact that there is a gendered pay discrepancy. Why? Because he doesn't have to: it doesn't affect him. The same thing goes for all of the other issues facing women today; most, if not all, men will not have to deal with the consequences of the social and political warfare that has been declared on women in recent years. It simply does not affect them, and therefore, they don't have to be angry about these injustices every second of every day.

I do not have that privilege. Neither does any other woman living today.

There is so much injustice and outright hatred facing women, both on the social and political spectrum. I don't have the privilege of being able to be complacent and brush it off when a presumably cisgendered male politician tells me that I'm not allowed to do what I wish with my body, that I'm not allowed to obtain birth control, that I'm not allowed to have an abortion if I get pregnant and I don't want to be.  I don't have the privilege of being able to smile and laugh it off when that same politician is allowed to cover his Viagra with his Medicare insurance, because there is a deep double standard there that begs not only questioning, but outright protest. If a man can insure a penis pump with his medical insurance (and this is absolutely true), then I should be able to insure my fucking birth control pills.

I don't have the privilege of not being angry because I want to be able to obtain birth control if I so desire, because I want to be paid the same amount of money for the same amount of work as a man; because I want to be able to walk the streets at night without worrying about the possibility of being raped; because I want to be able to do what I please with my sex life without worrying about being labeled a slut; because all it takes is one angry feminist to rouse up an entire crowd of angry feminists eager to keep women from falling back into the Dark Ages.

I don't have the privilege of not being angry because angry women make the difference between whether or not we keep our rights.

I am Sick and Fucking Tired of the Patriarchy

[TW for victim blaming, rape and sexual violence]

I began engaging in actions of a sexual nature at age 15 and lost my virginity when I was 16 years old to a guy I dated for a month and a half. I've had four other sexual partners since then in the span of four years, including my current boyfriend. I have had sex on the first date just about every single time. I have had sex with people with whom I did not intend to enter into a relationship. I have had a one-night stand. I am what many people would call a "slut" because of these behaviors.

Many people will probably question my decision to post my entire sexual history on the internet, but my reasons are crystal clear in my mind: it is because I want to make the point that I do not deserve to be raped and/or murdered, and neither does any other woman, regardless of her sexual behaviors (past, present and/or future), her occupation, the way she dresses, etc. It is because people have taken to throwing around the word "slut" to degrade and dehumanize women for decades now in order to make them "other than" so that when institutionalized and gendered acts of violence happen to them, such as rape, the general public can brush it aside with the simple statement that "They deserved it."

Most of the common conceptions of a slut seem to be a woman who dresses in an overtly sexual manner and/or is blatantly open about her sexuality and her sexual behaviors. There are plenty of women who do dress in a sexy manner, engage in sex frequently and are indeed blatantly open about their sexual activity. There are plenty of women who dress in a sexy manner and do not engage in gratuitous amounts of sex, but will still talk about sex with their friends. There are women who do not dress particularly sexily, but will have sex with the entire neighborhood and will broadcast it from the rooftops. There are women who dress in a sexy manner who engage in sexual activity so frequently that you'd wonder how they got anything else done during the day, but they keep it to themselves. There are so many different types of women who are a combination of all these factors, but the point is that it does not matter how you dress, how much sex you have and with whom, or how open you are about it. YOU DO NOT DESERVE TO BE RAPED OR KILLED BECAUSE OF IT, and you are NOT a bad person or a bad woman for being sexual!

The wonderfully patriarchal society that we live in (/sarcasm) has made it social suicide for women to be sexual in any way, shape or form. When women step one toe out of line in terms of what's acceptable sexual behavior for them (which changes on what seems like a daily basis), they're termed "sluts" and are given Other Than status. When women are raped, they are often put on trial in place of their attackers. The defense seeks to prove to the jury that the victim deserved what she got. Victim blaming is so rampant in this country that it's sickening. We are not told not to get robbed, not to get murdered, not to get run over in a hit and run accident, and yet authority figures tell us not to get raped instead of telling rapists not to rape. When those poor women's bodies were found in Long Island, victims of a serial killer, I heard so many people saying how their deaths weren't worth investigating, that the killer was doing our society a favor. Why was this? Because they were sex workers.

Anyone who believes that women are lesser than or deserve to be raped and/or killed is fucking sick, and while I'm willing to make concessions on just about everything else I believe, this is not one of them.