Friday, November 7, 2014

It's not what's in your genes that's the problem

(Stolen from the internet)

(Note: Last night's post was number 500! I didn't even know I had that much to say. Thanks for reading all of them, which I'm sure you've all done. If not, read up. You never know when we'll have a pop quiz.)

I was a feminist when I was in the womb. I'm not sure how that happened, because I didn't get it from my mom, and the last thing I remember my sperm donor saying, during the short time we were in contact, is this charming ditty about an 18-year-old cheerleader he hoped to date: "Old enough to bleed; old enough to breed." And then I said, "Buh bye, Daddy. Thanks for the sperm."

Feminism has changed throughout the decades of my life. In  junior high, we were the first class of girls who were allowed to wear pants to school. Not jeans, but pants. In high school, we branched out into jeans, butt-cheek-short skirts, and shirts that showed our midriffs. I plastered my bedroom walls with Virginia Slims ads I'd torn from magazines. Smoking long, thin cigarettes indicated I was an independent woman, so don't fuck with me. Going to college came next, over the protests of my dad (technically my stepdad, but my dad), who said I didn't need a college degree, because I'd only end up back in our small rural town in SW Iowa married to a farmer's son. And then once I'd earned that degree at age 29, feminism took a radical turn when I decided to become a breast-feeding, stay-at-home mom and eventually homeschool my kids. What was important was that it was my choice, not something my husband forced on me. I felt like I was claiming my innate feminine power.

Fast forward to now, and we're still fighting the battle. We're still shouting to be heard over the catcalls, often to no avail. Men are still trying to tell us what we should put into our vaginas and what can come out of our vaginas. We are photoshopped and botoxed and liposuctioned and held to a standard of thinness and youth we can never meet, even the thinnest and most youthful of us. We're still catcalled and treated like pieces of ass and raped and even murdered by the men who claim to love us.

We tell our stories, our powerful stories, and in return we hear, "Not all men...." We're called man-haters by the misogyinists who, by definition, hate us for being women. When we say, "Yes, all women" goddamn it we mean, "YES, ALL WOMEN. IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU OR YOUR EGO. SHUT UP AND LISTEN."

I feel like I'm beating my head against a wall. I've run out of words. I've used them all, and change takes so fucking long.

So tonight, I'd like to just share some gems from the internet. Some of them I'm sure you've seen, especially the first one. It's gone viral. I even watched it with my senior class, and I suspect we could spend a month on just this video.

It's complicated, this video, because it's so obvious these men desperately want her attention, think they deserve her attention, think their attention is a compliment, that she should be flattered. They're showing their brilliant plumage, whether she wants to see it or not.

One guy on a friend's Facebook made the point that women should wear a burka if they don't want men to flatter them with attention. He said we obviously like it or we'd do something about it. Call it out. Stand up for ourselves. I told him he's an asshole, but OK. Point made. Here's a video that contrasts the experience of a woman dressed in normal Western garb and a woman dressed in jihab.

Obviously, the problem is our clothing, not those men who think their commentary on the bodies and expressions of strange women needs to be shouted out on the street. If all women were to wear long, dark dresses and cover our hair and faces, then everybody could simmer the fuck down and act like civilized human beings. Right?

Thanks, but no thanks. Fuck you. Women's clothing isn't the problem. How do I know? Because of these two websites, among others. Straight white boys texting takes us inside the world of online dating, and the crazy, insulting way men treat women there. It's certainly not about how women are dressed if most of these men are just trying to get a boob shot. (Warning: This site is a train wreck. I was 77 pages in before I could look away.) And then there's Bye, Felipe, a site that calls out men who become mean and aggressive and general dickheads when they don't get what they want -- often simply a quick response.

(I wish I could say these sites surprise me, but they don't. Even at my advanced age, I still deal with this shit from men. Felipe's got nothing on a former male faux friend who couldn't accept that friendship was what I had to offer him .... and that I considered my fine friendship a pretty decent gift even though it didn't come with my vagina -- no pun intended. He eventually became both emotionally and physically abusive, a typical example of nice guy syndrome. It's a sorry world when I have to warn women to beware of men who are too nice, but I've got stories! I digress ...)

Men, I think we can assume, don't have the same experiences as women who walk down the street minding their own business.

A troubling number of mansplainers came up with the brilliant and scientifically loaded idea that the boys-will-be-boys in the first video were simply following their biological imperative to let a fine-ass woman know how much he appreciates her (in case, you know, she might want to accept his seed-loaded penis into her vagina based on the quality of his superior cat calls). Here's one guy who has all the answers.

In a nutshell, men can't help themselves and women should take it as a compliment, and also we only say we don't like it, but really we love it when men call out our body parts and tell us how much they love them, or even worse, don't love them because we're fat bitches. He says men can't help it because it's in their genes. I suspect he means jeans .... For fuck's sake, is this guy even somebody's son? Does he have a mother? Smug bastard.

Moving on ....

Other people followed a different red herring and berated the producers for showing too many Black and Hispanic men, leaving the impression that this kind of behavior might be cultural and not just the normal expression of every man's residual cave-man genes.

If the jihad video didn't already debunk the "not cultural" explanation, this one should.

So, as it turns out, not all men behave that way under these circumstances. Maybe they've found a way to override their biological imperatives? Maybe they aren't real men? And yet, New Zealand has a reputation for being one of the more sexist countries in the world. Why aren't they behaving toward this model the same way men in NYC did toward that totally normal woman, and what excuse do we give now for those many New Yorkers who do behave like Fred and Barney? Maybe this video will make it clearer.

I get it. The problem is that women can't catch footballs as well as men. So much has become clear now.

I'm preaching to the choir, aren't I? I've just wasted all these words and videos, because you all got it before the first video, didn't you?

Well, maybe not all of you. Tomorrow, or maybe Sunday, I'm going to share with you a comment from a man who clearly hates my guts (not because I tried to be his friend; that's not happening) because I'm an American woman. And he took the time to stop by and share both his disdain and a link to his disdainful website. If he could, he would probably leave me a photo of his penis so he could get really mad when I didn't appreciate it enough. In any case, his comment proves only that some people who stop by and read aren't feminists at all, but fall into that surprisingly common category of men who think they know what's best for all women, if we would just shut up, fix them a ham sandwich, and give them a blowjob.

In all seriousness, I'm fully fed up with this conversation. A friend asked me tonight what the solution is, and I don't fucking  know. It's complicated and divisive and I probably can't and won't stop talking about it, because these attitudes like the ones in the first video lead to rape and physical and emotional abuse and lower wages and children and mothers living in poverty and all that shit that will not go away even if all women everywhere just shut up and look pretty and give all the blowjobs to all the men.

Good night.

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