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Men’s Rights and Feminism: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

I found this video of one of my absolute favorite Jezebel writers, Lindy West, through the Skepchick blog.  Lindy speaks to a lot of the experiences of female bloggers, especially feminist bloggers.  The amount of hate and vitriol that is directed towards female bloggers is absolutely nauseating, and it seems to be increasing in intensity.  Offhand, I can think of two bloggers I love who have been the target of some particularly nasty stalking and abuse lately, Laci Green and Surly Amy.  My dear friend, Nixie Pixel, has also been a target at times.

I attracted the attention of the MRA (Men’s Rights Activists) subreddit a few months back, due to my Dark Side of Geek Feminism post.  I had some pretty severely conflicting emotions about the fact that, by and large, they all agreed with the post.  Until that time, my only experience with the Men’s Rights movement was through some grumblings on a few of the feminist websites I had been frequenting.

I spent a lot of time on the subreddit, and read a lot.  I cringed every time I read something that was clearly sexist, whether biased towards men or women (a few instances of the posters referring to women that they perceived as acting entitled as “cupcake” really irritated me).  Overall, though, I was surprised to find myself in agreement with a lot of the threads.

I believe it is a tragedy that men who are raped are not taken seriously, and have a harder time getting access to necessary mental health treatment.  I find it infuriating that there are women who actually use rape accusations as a form of bullying, extortion, or to smear a man’s name.  I think that the courts should stop being automatically biased towards women in custody hearings.  These were the main points I read about, and I no longer think of the MRAs (as a whole) as a bad movement.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this shift in my views.  I honestly believe that both sides could use a little more positive PR.  It is my understanding that both sides are trying to draw attention to injustices and attempt to rectify those injustices.  Feminists and MRAs just want to be treated with respect and as though their gender doesn’t determine how they should be treated in everyday life, in the workplace, and by the justice system.  Both sides have their trolls, and their radical elements, but in the end, we all want to be treated equally.  In order to do this, we have to stop vilifying each others movements.  We have to stop accusing entire genders of being culpable for the actions of those few who behave badly.  Yes, making that mental shift is difficult, but it has to happen if we are actually wanting equality for all.  Otherwise, we are undermining our own movements, and creating an Animal Farm mentality, where some are “more equal” than others.

I still think the PUA (Pick Up Artist) community is full of crap though.  Sorry, Lindy, I don’t foresee my thoughts on that group changing anytime soon.

Let’s Get Idealistic

There’s been so much in the news in the past few months about abortion, contraception, and a woman’s right to choose that as I said in a previous post, I’ve been overwhelmed.  I’d like to take a moment to get a little idealistic.

When I was in high school, I took a class about early human development.  We learned about the stages of pregnancy, and the different stages children go through in their first two years of life.  At one point in my class, we were given the task of brainstorming the ideal situation to have a child.  We already knew that adoptive parents had to fulfill certain criteria in order to be able to have a child, so we were told to imagine a “test” of sorts that a woman (or a set of parents) would have to pass in order to have a child.

If I remember correctly, we came up with the following points:

  • Financially stable, with at least six months worth of income in accessible savings.

We came up with this because pregnancy and raising a child are both expensive.  There’s also the risk of complications with the pregnancy or child’s health leaving one or both parents unable to work for a period of time.  We thought that at least six months of income in the bank would help ease that potential burden.

  • Emotionally stable, with a supportive network of friends and family.

Just like the financial cost, pregnancy and raising a child can be unexpectedly difficult, emotionally.  We learned about postpartum depression, and how the woman’s emotional state can affect the child’s development in the womb.  Having a supportive network of friends and family, especially people who are geographically close, is important to making sure that the parents can have a break occasionally.

  • Good health, and good health insurance.

Making sure that the woman is already in good health when she gets pregnant, and maintains her health during the pregnancy were also stressed during my class.  Proper nutrition and regular exercise, as well as the ability to see a doctor when necessary, were things that we deemed of highest importance to the development of the child.

  • A stable and safe place to live.

Being teenagers in the suburbs, we were imagining owning a house with a large backyard.  While I no longer think that is necessary, I do think that living in a relatively safe neighborhood, and taking the proper precautions to baby-proof your house are incredibly important.

  • Ease of access to hospitals, schools, and other important services.

I think this one is self-explanatory.

I am close to many women who have had children without checking any of these boxes.  Their children are happy and healthy, and they are excellent mothers.  I still think that all of these are important things to have in place before I consider having children, and that is why I chose to get an IUD.  When I decide to have children, it will be because I am ready.  This is not a criticism of any woman or her choices.  I fully realize that this is an idealistic list.

I would posit that is also idealistic of the Republican Party to expect to reduce accessibility to contraception and abortion and to somehow still not have any unwanted pregnancies occur, or for parents to not need some sort of assistance to care for their children.  Abstinence education just exacerbates these problems.  People are going to have sex, and sometimes, despite precautions, pregnancies occur.

If you had to come up with a list like this, what would you put on it?  Do you think that the list we came up with in high school was good?  Have you formulated a similar list?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

I Don’t Care About Your Abstinence, and it Doesn’t Make You Better Than Me

There have been a few recent articles about the “moral case” of either completely abstaining from sex until marriage, or having sex with partners beforehand.

This all started with an incredibly egotistical and almost horrifyingly judgmental article by Steven Crowder on foxnews.com.  In his piece, Crowder calls women who have sex before marriage “floozies”, and is openly disdainful of another couple after meeting the bride at breakfast the morning after their wedding.  That newly married man’s crime?  Deciding to drink at his wedding.

The people next to us that morning? Well, theirs was just one big party.  And the morning after? Just another hangover.

Our “weddings” were the same event in name only. They know it, and we know it.

Honestly?  That is precisely how I envision my wedding next summer: one big party.  I want my family, Fiance’s family, and all of our friends to be there, and to be celebrating our union.  I want dancing and toasting and laughter and fun.  The fact that I am intimately acquainted with Fiance’s nether regions (and vice versa) does not make our wedding, our engagement, or our relationship any less than yours, Mr. Crowder.

Fiance and I lived together for quite some time, and, unlike you, we have already gone through the awkward stages of living together.  We know that we are compatible in practically every way possible, and that includes sexually.  Yes, it still annoys me that he forgets to put his dirty laundry in the hamper, and he is largely baffled by my beauty regimen, but we have reached a point of homeostasis in our relationship and we know that we can actually share the same space.  You’re going to have to learn all of that, and you’re going to have to learn everything about sex.  Don’t worry, Mr. Crowder, I’m here for you and your wife!.

On the other side of the coin, Jill Filipovic (of Feministe fame) wrote a fantastic response article for The Guardian, detailing precisely why it is better to have sex with your partner before a long-term commitment.  I honestly couldn’t have constructed a better article.  This is my favorite quote,

Sex is good whether you’re married or not, and certainly folks who wait until marriage can have a lot of sex once they tie the knot. But waiting until marriage often means both early marriage and conservative views on marriage and gender – and people who marry early and/or hold traditional views on marriage and gender tend to have higher divorce rates and unhappier marriages. We know that, on the other hand, there are lots of benefits to marrying later and to gender-egalitarian marriages. Couples who both work outside the home and also share housework duties have more sex. Financially independent, college-educated women who marry later in life have extremely low divorce rates.

It turns out that feminist values – not “traditional” ones – lead to the most stable marriages. And feminist views plus later marriage typically equals premarital sex.

I wish you luck with your marriage, Mr. Crowder.  I wish you and your wife every happiness.  It’s a pity that you, with your nose in the air, can’t find it in your “Christian” heart to do the same for me and others who are like me.

XO Expo and Pink Cross

I spent a little time this past Friday at the opening evening of the XO Expo, hosted by the Adult Video Network.  I was expecting to see fun new sex toys, maybe some interesting demonstrations, and crowds of people.

I saw none of those.  Instead, there were tattoo and piercing booths, tables of the same sex toys I can find anywhere else, and the crowds were mostly men.  These men were standing around the booths with the porn stars, and the booths that were advertising local strip clubs, staring and taking pictures of the women like they had never seen a woman in a bikini ever before in their lives.  It was gross, and made me feel very uncomfortable.

One booth in particular caught my eye.  It was pretty incongruous with the rest of the expo.  This booth was for a group called the Pink Cross (I am choosing not to link to their website, because I really don’t want to direct traffic to the site.), which is a Christian non-profit dedicated to telling the young women who are involved in the sex industry that they are bad people who just need a little more Jesus in their lives.  I was completely baffled, but after delving into their website a little bit today, I am even more baffled.  Some of the testimonials are just ridiculous.  One was equating BDSM with the occult and devil-worship.  I actually laughed out loud at that one.

While I understand that there are some young women who are forced into sex work, there are even more who choose to be a sex worker.  I have many friends who work in the local pornography scene, and they are happy with what their line of work.  Equating all of the women who choose to work in pornography as unwitting and unwilling participants simply doesn’t ring true to me.  What are your thoughts, dear readers?

Some Blogs I Follow

Good afternoon everyone!  I’ve been busy reading books to review for you all on Nice Girls, and I thought that in the meantime, I would share some of the fantastic blogs I follow.

For reading up on feminist issues, these are my top four:

Patriarchy Survivor.  This blog comes from a Facebook page I follow: No, I will NOT be quiet.  This blog has a lot of submitted personal stories, and some of them may be triggering to anyone who has experienced rape, sexual assault, or domestic violence.

Make Me a Sammich.  The author describes this as “a place to read and talk about being a woman in the USA in the 21st century.”  It’s a great description, and she recently started posting some pretty awesome fiction!

Another Angry Woman describes her blog as “Part anarchist. Part feminist. All angry.”

Damn Right I’m a Feminist has shorter posts, mostly about current news articles and some fantastic quotes.  Don’t miss her Sexist Song of the Day posts.

For some reading that is a little lighter in topic and tone (in other words, you’re much less likely to read something that will make you angry), check out these blogs.

Sex Lives of Moms has some occasionally hilarious posts, but offers advice and commiseration for those awesome moms who are struggling with regaining intimacy with significant others.

Online Dating – Why I’ll Soon Be a Crazy Cat Lady always cracks me up.  If you’ve ever tried to find the genuinely good guys in the cesspool that is online dating, you will probably recognize your experiences in her blog.

 

Tomorrow’s post will be a review of Sex at Dawn!

Slutwalk SF 2012

L’Shana Tova to any of my Jewish readers!  I spent the last two days attending Rosh Hashanah services with Fiance and his family, which was quite an experience.  I attended with them last year, and, to be honest, I find the amount of Hebrew kind of overwhelming to someone who doesn’t understand a bit of it.  It is traditional for those attending services to take the two days of Rosh Hashanah off of work to celebrate the Jewish New Year, so I did this as well.  Learning about Fiance’s culture and religion is fascinating.

As I said previously, I attended the SF Slutwalk, and took a lot of fabulous pictures.  I had a great time, and it really re-energized my dedication to Nice Girls.  For the complete set of pictures, you can visit the album on my new imgur account (some images may be NSFW).  There were some fantastic speakers at the pre-walk rally in Dolores Park, including Carol Queen, the founder of the Center for Sexuality and Culture, who wore a fabulous shirt that said I ❤ Female Orgasm; Tommi Avicolli Mecca, who spoke about his experiences being a drag queen in Philadelphia in the 1970s; and, my personal favorite, Assemblywoman Carol Lieber, who told us that she is a slut, and hopes to be one all of her life.

Then, the Slutwalk began.  We walked about half a mile, some of the ladies managed to do it in their stilettos!  We cheered as a woman came out, asked what the march was about, and joined as soon as she understood.  There were chants, but I spent most of my time running around taking pictures of everyone (but not before asking for their consent, of course)!  We ended up at a small plaza in the Castro.

At that time, anyone at the walk could take the bullhorn and share a story.  A few chose to just thank the crowd of people who attended.  I got up and spoke about how the walk had inspired me to continue writing on Nice Girls and some of my experiences with rape culture.  There were a couple of men sitting at a table who were definitely angry at their pleasant afternoon being invaded by a group of women, some of them dressed in lingerie.  Unfortunately, a couple of the attendees had already responded to the gentlemens’ consternation with some anger, but I took the opportunity to sit down and explain the purpose and the message of the Slutwalk.    They seemed a lot less upset afterwards, and I even saw one of them cheering after an attendee’s speech.

Overall, as I said, the Slutwalk was an overwhelmingly positive experience.  I had a great time meeting new people, test driving the new-to-me camera, and listening to the poignant and interesting stories each speaker had to share.  I can’t wait for next year!

Street Harassment: Ladies Just Can’t Win

If you’re a fan of Nice Girls on Facebook (and if you’re not, then you should definitely go click “like” right now!), then you’ve probably already seen this post I shared yesterday.  Trigger warning: there’s an account of a pretty verbally violent situation.

A friend of mine had shared it, and I got pretty angry at the conversation in the comments on her page.  I had never been witness to such oblivious “mansplaining” in my life.   I’d like my readers’ thoughts on this conversation (names have been intentionally omitted): Read the rest of this entry

Oh, Toronto

Once again, Toronto is making headlines across the nation for slut-shaming.  As you might recall, last year, a Toronto police officer sparked a firestorm of criticism and outrage when he said  “women should avoid dressing like sluts not to be victimized” during a speech.  That outrage turned into a movement that has swept across the US and Canada: The Slutwalk.

But apparently that wasn’t enough.

Now, shortly after Toronto police held a news conference to warn women in the area about a series of sexual assaults, Krista Ford, the niece of Mayor Tom Ford, and daughter of a Councillor, sent an awful tweet (screenshot courtesy of Gawker media):

Some People Just Never Learn

 

Don’t dress like a whore?  Really, Ms. Ford?  Guess what?  My clothing is never an excuse for someone to sexually assault me!  It’s never an excuse, period!  People of both sexes, all ages, professions and styles of dress have become victims of sexual assaults.  It’s not just the drunk girl walking home by herself after dancing at a club all night, it’s the girl wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, it’s the guy rushing for a frat who is getting hazed, or anyone who finds themselves in a vulnerable position.

With all of this in mind, I have signed up to attend San Francisco’s Slutwalk, occurring next weekend, September 8th, at Dolores Park.  I hope that all of my readers in the Bay Area will join me.  For those of you who are not in San Francisco, I’ll be taking some pictures!

I’m Overwhelmed

There is so much talk going on right now regarding Todd Akin’s ridiculous comment about “legitimate rape” that it is actually making my head spin.  Of course, that also could be the cold medicine I am taking too.  But seriously, I tried opening all of the pages I bookmarked and I actually managed to crash my Google Chrome browser.   Bear with me, there are a lot of links in this post.  Oh, and the images are gifs.  I’m not sure why they aren’t animating on my blog.

If you’ve been under a rock (or curled up in bed and sick like me) and haven’t seen the clip, here it is in all its facepalming stupidity:

So, Todd Akin actually has spoken to a “doctor” who believes that a woman can’t get pregnant due to rape.  Here is a direct quote from Dr. Willke, via the New York Times,

“This is a traumatic thing — she’s, shall we say, she’s uptight,” Dr. Willke said of a woman being raped, adding, “She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.”

Someone, please, take that man’s license to practice medicine from him.  He clearly didn’t attend his anatomy or human reproduction classes.  Spastic tubes?  Really?  Of course, every doctor with any sense is denouncing Dr. Willke.

As every politician who makes a controversial remark, Akin has attempted to backtrack, to “clarify” what he “misspoke”.  First by saying that he didn’t mean “legitimate” rape, he meant “forcible” rape.  Of course, this is the same language used by Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, in the legislation he co-sponsored with Akin!  (Psst.  Romney also was pretty proud when the quack Dr. Willke endorsed Romney as a presidential candidate!)  When Romney and Ryan started distancing themselves from Akin, even denouncing his remarks, Akin “clarified” further, by saying he only meant “false” rape.  Honestly, at this point, he’s just digging himself further and further into a hole.

Now, even though Romney and Ryan have denounced Akin’s remarks, when the GOP drafted their Party Platform earlier this week, they refused to add wording that would allow a woman to have an abortion in cases of rape and incest.  Congratulations, Republicans.  The official stance of your party now says that a woman should be forced to have any child she conceives.  Do you include the mentally challenged 10 year old who was raped by her uncle in Kansas?  Yep.  According to GOP policymakers, that little slut had it coming.

Honestly, at this point, I’m ready to just throw my hands up in disgust.  Just like this Jezebel writer.

Oh, and some pretty awful people at American Vision are comparing the backlash against Todd Akin to “political gang rape”.  I just…  I can’t even begin to describe how much that blows my mind.

Comprehensive Sex Ed? Not in Clovis USD!

Hey everyone, I am still very sick, so I apologize again for the short post.

I am very proud of California’s commitment to comprehensive sexual education in the school systems. A law passed in 2003 requires that sexual health education in California’s public schools be comprehensive, medically accurate, bias-free, and appropriate for students of all sexual orientations.

Unfortunately, the Clovis Unified School District is now being sued for their abstinence-only and heavily religious leaning sexual education curriculum.  They are now being sued by two parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics California District IX, and the Gay-Straight Alliance network, with the ACLU providing free legal assistance.

Students were being taught that HIV could be spread through kissing, and that getting “lots of rest” was an effective way to prevent STIs.  Both of these statements, of course, are ridiculously inaccurate.  There were also passages in the textbook “Lifetime Health”, published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, comparing a woman who is not a virgin to a dirty shoe, and states that men who are aroused are unable to control themselves.  Oh, and there are no mentions of condoms.  Anywhere.  At all.

Congratulations, Clovis.  You have now handed these young men the mental excuses they need to rape someone: “But I just couldn’t control myself!  Besides, she’s not a virgin, so she’s dirty anyways.  Condoms?  Eh, those don’t work anyways.”

Fresno County has had one of the highest teen pregnancy and birth rates in California for over a decade now. The Central Valley area also has one of the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases.  Why, then, are the schools barring their students from medically accurate information?  It almost seems like they are proud of these statistics.

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