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Archive for August, 2011

That moment when I become consciously aware of the way I walk as a group of men follows me on the street, and decide whether to make it a little quicker, a little more confident, a little more purposeful… that moment isn’t important. It doesn’t make me feel unfairly treated. It doesn’t ruin my evening. It barely registers. If one of those men catcalls, I don’t think about how all men are scum and how much my life sucks; I may roll my eyes, but then I probably laugh — maybe even smile — and forget it.

It’s the accumulation of a lifetime of tiny moments that adds up to an awareness that you don’t have the same freedom in the world at large as a man does. (If you’re lucky they’re tiny moments. If you’re less lucky, they can be huge.) You may have equality, respect, success, and love on a personal, case-by-case level, but your gender makes you somehow constricted. It’s not impenetrable or inescapable, like a straightjacket; you just know that it’s there all the time, making you think about things men aren’t even aware of, putting pressure on you like a tight turtleneck. And you can make observations about that turtleneck, and invite others to observe it and notice their own, without necessarily complaining about it.

– comment from The Story of Men is the Story We Decide to Tell: A Single Woman Traveling Alone

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On another note, I am continually shocked by the extreme insecurity that society breeds in men and how deleterious that insecure need to “prove oneself” is for everyone. I’m finding it fascinating (I am a little naive, it seems) how immediate, aggressive and hostile some readers are in comment threads to women who write about sex or street harassment (yes, that’s my article! Just plugging myself here! No, no, no, please; hold back the compliments, I’m just too embarrassed by the flattery, really!). Women who speak up for themselves are routinely accused of hating men. Women who say that BOTH genders are deserving and capable of giving and receiving respect are jumped on instantaneously for getting in the way of men “biological imperative.” The lack of empathy and sense of justice is staggering. It appears to me that people who’ve been socialized to see themselves as able to act with impunity are DEEPLY angered and threatened when people who’ve been socialized to believe they are less deserving of respect, comfort and sexual satisfaction suggest that we all cooperate. The INSTANT, defensive accusation that those seeking basic human rights are UNFAIR, MAN-HATING FEMINISTS is such a surprising and obvious example of 1) fear of loss of power and 2) intense projective identification (see Eric M’s comments on my street harassment piece).

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Women’s beauty and behavior is always monitored, appraised and upheld as Ideal or disparaged as dirty. How easy (I indulgently tell myself, not ever having experienced it) to be the anonymous, observant Everyman!

I think the hideous treatment of black women by our culture and its beauty standards is more of a “guilty secret” that a lot of well-meaning people would immediately admit exists. Liberals feel bad about this; it’s how we got “I Love My Hair” on Sesame Street. Asian women have a different problem that doesn’t create as much liberal guilt — exotification and another flavor of ridiculous idealization, fetishization, etc. It’s the fallout of a “positive stereotype”; although most people would agree that gross anime-chasers are disgusting, they see it as part and parcel of a typical problem that any “beautiful woman” would face. And Asian men are a total afterthought, because the liberal political culture isn’t even aware that racist stereotypes are constantly affecting Asian men’s gender too. Complaints mostly surface on forums where Asian guys are complaining about how nobody will date them — and it’s way too easy, in the mainstream discourse, to simply dismiss that as a bunch of dudes whining instead of looking at it as a symptom of racism + sexism.

Racialicious

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Women!

Men are often charmed and amused by what they regard as the mysterious behavior of women, but they typically feel no need to decipher it. “That’s women for you,” they say with a shrug or a smile. “Who knows what they want?” Songs, plays, novels and cartoons have long relied on this joke, although I’ve never understood why the answer never occurs to the songwriter or cartoonist: Just ask them–and then listen.

-Carol Tavris  “The Mismeasure of Woman

Oh man, I am tired. Tired of smug ignoramuses—condescending, incurious–brainwashed automatons with power hurting people without power. I’m tired of being sentimentalized and objectified into something inhuman and unworthy if imperfect. I’m tired of fighting my way off the pedestal and tired of being made “mysterious” in order to be kept at bay. You know, I want some fire and some ethicality! I want interest, analysis and challenges to the idea that women are passively acted upon and men are actively lobotomized. I want humanity, empathy, righteous anger against injustice! and hot dudes who nobly stand up for their fellow justice-seekers….

Why be manipulated into following all these false dichotomies of male and female, master and slave; these weird, ol’ boys club conventions that keep arrogant men superficially up at the expense of their potential comrades and buddies and lovers: women?! I mean, really?! Of course, maybe this would all trouble me less if I were a rich, Aryan man, but ‘Master Race’ members have problems (that are easier to address in a world that serves their needs more readily), too. In the meantime, let’s try to all remember that we’re here, (some of us are) queer and we’re more similar than different.

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  • The only violence I like has a safe word
  • Leaving my house ≠ asking for your opinion about my body
  • I wasn’t assaulted as I child because I was SEXY
  • I wasn’t wearing THIS when I was RAPED

and this one…

and this one from Toronto…

this one was good too!

I joke. And it feels so good (to combine stupid levity with serious trauma). Yeah SlutWalk! More information to come (on the main website, not here) as New York’s own protest approaches on October 1st!

Here’s some more good articles for the nonce.

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