Tag: Feminism

Weekend Links: The OK Ladies Now Let’s Get in Formation Edition

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

In case you missed it, the Womens March on Washington (and sister marches around the world, including the one I participated in in London) might have made some records. The coverage is still coming in and it’s amazing to see — more amazing to have participated in. You can see some my images here, but this is a story worth following and watching. To say nothing of joining in. Welcome to the Grab Back.

Oh yeah, and the US has a new president who doesn’t seem to be “pivoting” from his campaign persona in any way. Shock, surprise. I watched his inauguration because I’m a citizen and think it’s important to support the process of free government. The new First Lady looked absolutely lovely, and I thought it was gracious and correct for Secretary Clinton to show up in spite of how awful I expect it felt. The speech was Orwellian, but bang on from the tone of his campaign. The next day I laced up my shoes and hit the streets to make it clear that he was not elected with a mandate and I will be supporting the issues that I care about with my time, my money, and my voice. Because again, I think it’s important to support the process of free government. This is how it works.

Here are your links, kittens. Tell me what you got up to this weekend.

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I found this piece at Politico a very timely read. It opines that President Trump’s hostility towards the press may be a blessing in disguise. If the traditional lines of communication between the administration and the media are clipped, the press can and should (this writer argues) fan out to the myriad unofficial lines instead and take up the opportunity to do more and more extensive investigative reporting.

Also, what did the administration do on Day 2? Malign the press in the face of documented facts and figures, and talk a lot about himself in his “reach out” to the CIA.

Don’t let anyone say the Women’s March doesn’t matter. 2.9 million participants is not a “tantrum.”

An interesting piece on the physical logistics of changing over an administration.

An important reminder about some of the realities of race and privilege, especially when it comes to assembly. I for one, know I can do better and I intend to.

This SNL from Asiz Ansari was great and nicely nuanced against hysteria. We’ll be fine and the people ultimately set the tone for change, and if yesterday is any indication…

Shut up and take my money.

A bit more fashion levity and some street style.

STOP. I swear every time I read an article like this, my heart breaks a little. I know there are more important immediate issues, such as the civilian lives in the crosshairs right now, but this hateful and deliberate dismantling of human history is also hideous

Album of the week: Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool

The Woman Card We’ve Been Dealt

“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.”
― Margaret Atwood

Still processing my thoughts, and I’m trying to stay classy about it but the honest to god first thought I had the morning after was, “Wow. America really doesn’t like women.” Do I mean everyone? Of course not. Do I mean explicitly? No. Next to no one in this country is running through the streets with “Down with women!” signs or stroking cats evilly in a dark room somewhere, contemplating wrapping us in burkas.

I mean that as a culture, women are often instinctively reacted to as unworthy of being believed, supported, or followed. From rape survivors and wage equality to work leadership and our own health and care, we are not considered trustworthy in making decisions, telling truths, or seeking advancement. Suspicion and wariness are often the default. Our narratives are questioned before they are listened to much less believed.

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I did not vote for Secretary Clinton because she is a woman, though goodness knows I found the idea of the first female president breathtaking. I don’t think most people who voted against her did so because she is a woman. But I do think the culture and undercurrents about and towards women played a significant role in how she was perceived and treated by media, her opponents, and a lot of the electorate.

As women, almost every day, we see examples and stories of how our ambitions are threatening and (worse!) unattractive, our stories of victimization are suspect, those of us needing help are lazy or manipulative or moochers, our desires for control over our bodies are antagonistic or selfish, our expectations of work life balance are unreasonable, our emotions are unstable. We are not trusted. And I cannot help but see much of this inherent distrust in how Secretary Clinton was viewed and treated in this election. Her ambitions were unseemly, her cautiousness weak, her outspokenness offensive, her experience invalid, her whole candidacy insufficient and suspect.

Am I partisan? Yes. I have seen examples of sexism throughout my personal and professional life, and in the lives of women and girls I know and respect. These experiences of course inform my point of view and my politics.

But I don’t necessarily think that means I’m wrong.

*This post expanded on comments left on a Broadside post

Weekend Links

“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it. ”
― Roseanne Barr

Hi, kittens. This week’s links post is short but brought to you mostly by a big heaping dose of Lady Rage. Sit back and let it wash over you.

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First and foremost, Trump. I’ve long been baffled by his candidacy, actively dismayed in fact. But the whole garbage fire situation boiled over this week when lewd comments that frankly should have surprised no one, given his decades long public personality/persona, found their way into the light of day. Shock, surprise. Writing this, the fallout is still coming down, but at the end of the day, I’m more disgusted that this is what’s getting people to publicly distance themselves from his campaign. Not his racist comments or other sexist comments, not his strongman attitudes or attempts (or success) at demagoguery, not his statements flat out contradicted by fact checkers, his own previous public comments, or other world leaders…but this is the deal breaker? Being lewd/about a married white woman? You could not have encapsulated all of the conversations and flaws about our current political cycle and society, from gender and race, to rank and privilege, better if you tried. Political America, check your priorities.

Utah stikes again, but the cheerleaders strike back. #supportyourlocalgirlsquad

I enjoyed The Girl on the Train, but it lacked the same punch for me that Gone Girl did. This piece on the genre of women hitting back violently against the world/patriarchy and why it’s not going away anytime soon is worth a read.

How on earth is one supposed to be a woman in public these days?

A dive into the psychology behind victim blaming.

Book art. Because we needed something pretty.

And lastly, a touch of humor because FINALLY the questions will be answered!

 

Feminism and Facebook Facepalms

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: “It’s a girl.”
― Shirley Chisholm

Facebook, your standards on acceptable depictions of the female body (as discovered when researching image regulations for a client’s social media posts) trouble me. I think we can all agree that bathroom selfies need to go, but out of the three (of four total) images depicting women, the bottom left image is the one showing the most inappropriate amounts of skin? Really?

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Friday Links (New York Times, Edition)

“I don’t think intelligent reports are all that hot. Some days I get more out of the New York Times.”
– President John F. Kennedy

It’s been a busy week, as you may have suspected. I’m afraid that makes for an even busier Friday, so here are your links. Share anything else worth reading, plus what you’re getting up to this weekend, in the comments and enjoy high summer!

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Had to wait an extra day to get it over here, though the original is currently winging its way to me thanks to friends.

Headline of the week.

Teri, over at The Lovely Drawer, has shared another design freebie: beautiful desktop wallpapers.

Interesting story about an unexpected sumo wrestler.

Marvel is changing the comic book character Thor to a woman and certain parts of the internet reacted to the news…internet-ish-ly. Luckily the blog Texts from Superheroes had the perfect response.

Art remixes where new and old subjects and pieces are mashed up beautifully. (Warning for pearl-clutchers, nude forms are present!)

This video of a person playing with a platypus is exactly what it says on the tin and much cuter than you’d think. Almost makes you forget those odd beasties have poisonous spines!

A giveaway I assume most US based minions will want to know about.

Interesting development from Amazon, what do we think about this? Janssen, our resident book aficionada needs to weigh in!

A Facebook friend, moderator of a freelancer forum I belong to, and a writer herself penned this hugely useful piece on the realities of how to do your taxes when you work for yourself.

I could never persuade Jeff to this, he’s all about lofts and modern space, but I’m currently house-lusting over this 14th century home.

And, the biggest news for me personally, in case you missed it, I wrote an op ed for the New York Times that was published on Tuesday. It contains my perspective on Kate Kelly’s excommunication, its place in the “Mormon Moment,” and what I feel to be the larger implications for the church. It was not easy to write, and it was very scary to share, but I’ve been really overwhelmed at the positive and sincere feedback I’ve received from it. A huge and heartfelt thank you to friend and Friend of the Blog Caitlin Kelly (unrelated to Kate) who urged me to write a piece after many emails on the subjects of Mormonism, feminism, and religion in general, and who helped me to place it.

Writing Hard Things, Part II

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about wanting to write “hard things.

This week I got the chance.

It’s an experience that’s still unfolding, but let me just say that I’m grateful to have the chance to contribute what I hope is something meaningful to the conversation. To be able to do so in the Grey Lady herself is truly a privilege.

Shallow and deep all at once

“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

A friend sent me one of those silly Buzzfeed quizzes, which I decided to take for fun. “Which is your patron saint?” However, when one of the questions turned out to be…

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…given my longstanding personal conflict, I couldn’t help but smile.

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I guess I’ll take it.

#YesAllWomen And Why I’m a Feminist

‘”Why do men feel threatened by women?” I asked a male friend of mine… “I mean,” I said, “men are bigger, most of the time, they can run faster, strangle better, and they have on the average a lot more money and power.” “They’re afraid women will laugh at them,” he said. “Undercut their world view.” Then I asked some women students in a quickie poetry seminar I was giving, “Why do women feel threatened by men?” “They’re afraid of being killed,” they said.’
– Margaret Atwood, Writing the Male Character (1982)

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A man went on a mass shooting in California. Part of the “reasoning” behind his actions, according to his own online statements, was that he was rejected by women and felt a need to punish them. This frightens me. It angers and horrifies me, but it sadly doesn’t surprise me. Violence against women is pandemic – from Boko Haram to Santa Barbara, it is everywhere.

Working at a law enforcement agency for five years in a town with a religious academic institution gave me a powerful one-two punch of patriarchy. I was able to see how certain ideas about gender roles intersected on a number of levels, purposefully, and unintentionally. I saw how cultural ideas about maleness and femaleness, backed up in religion, received learning, tradition, you name it played out across organizational, familial, and personal relationships. I saw how cultural traditions crept into management and authority structures. And I saw, over and over again, that the society and culture I operate in (yes, even in the 21st century in the West), was stacked against women. I claimed the title feminist long before I worked at the PD, but working there cemented it in a new way.

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I saw several of them first hand and arrived, irrevocably, at the conclusion that any system that excludes women from administration, authority to act in their own right, or allows them responsibility only by delegation is inherently problematic, not to say dangerous. The typical result of such a system is that women are seen as people (or worse, things) to be acted upon rather than individuals able to act for themselves. Sexual crime against women is a huge and ugly component, but I would argue it’s a symptom of a much larger problem, not the problem itself. The larger problem is that the world over, men are typically privileged above (and often at the expense of) women. That is the textbook definition of Patriarchy.

And Patriarchy hurts everyone.

It hurts women who are disenfranchised from rights, property, safety, sexual security, money, and often legal identity because they are not men. It hurts men who are narrowly bound by conventions and expectations and risk losing rights, property, safety, sexual security, money, and often legal identity for flouting them (in other words, behaving like non-men, aka women, and therefore losing the privileges of maleness). It hurts those who try and change the status quo. It hurts those who simply point out the status quo! I have a number of hate filled emails and online messages from perfect strangers to prove it.

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No one is saying that every man participates in misogyny or violence against women. You may have heard of my father, brothers, really awesome husband, and a plethora of wonderful male friends over the years, to pick some examples, not at random. But what I am saying is that misogyny and violence affects almost every single woman – because of that inherent imbalance I mentioned above. When a society privileges being male, and you aren’t male, you are inherently up against a lot more.

This next bit is a tad self-indulgent but please bear with me. I don’t go into lots of deeply personal stuff like religion and politics here, I use this space to talk about other things, but I’m going to pull back the curtain just a bit.

I have paid a price for claiming the title “feminist.” I have had people suggest I should not have been able to work at religiously affiliated institution, because I said that I did not believe my husband was my spiritual head or presided over me in any way. I have been alienated by former friends in my religious and cultural community for engaging in activism for feminist causes. I have had a few instances where religious leaders (who are all male by default) have felt the need to “counsel” me or apply certain pressures to “correct” my opinions. I have even dismayed and caught some family members off guard for making personal or political decisions based on my convictions about gender. My relationship with my faith has been deeply strained and I have felt very distinct and unsubtle pressures to remove myself from various communities over the years, that I have found hurtful and heartbreaking.

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But I claim the title anyway. I claim it because I need it. I have seen the range of the problem from benevolent sexism that puts women on pedestals but doesn’t let them climb down from them, to flagrant and violent misogyny. And it’s all bad. It’s all unnecessarily limiting. It’s all just plain unnecessary.

I am a feminist because I have taken transcripts where in a perpetrator claims it wasn’t assault because the girl didn’t say, “No.” I am a feminist because I have been told that wanting to see women in certain positions of religious leadership is flouting God’s will. I am a feminist because a man who was rejected by women, felt he was entitled to rip them out of this world for not satisfying his wants. I am a feminist because it’s not enough for me to recognize the imbalance of the world, I feel an obligation to work to change it.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to read the #YesAllWomen hashtag trending on Twitter and elsewhere. – LINK

Some commentary on how it started, and why it’s important – LINK

My own first run in with frightening sexual intimidation, and how a man tried to lecture me (a police department employee) about the “realities” of sexual violence in the area, even though he was wrong – LINK

Some of the ugly reactions to the hashtag, or another reason why I need feminism – LINK

And lastly, don’t try and tell me misogyny is all in my head. I have five years in law enforcement support work that tells you you’re wrong, and this guy – LINK

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In Which It’s Late at Night and C. Gets Serious

“Why are sex and violence always linked?  I’m afraid they’ll blur together in people’s minds – sexandviolence – until we can’t tell them apart.  I expect to hear a newscaster say, “The mob became unruly and the police were forced to resort to sex.”
~Dick Cavett

Sexual-assault-is-everyones-problem-442x416Today a man came into the office and told me that he and his wife got into an disagreement about rape in our university town, because she wanted him to escort her even extremely short distances when it was dark, and he saw no need because we live in a “good” place where bad things “don’t happen.”  Couldn’t I back him up since he was clearly right?  I told him in no uncertain terms that he was wrong, that rape and other forms of sexual crime happen in our town just as much as anywhere else.  He tried to argue with me!  I refrained from what I wanted to say, which was, “Of the two of us, only one works in a police department and deals with this regularly.  It isn’t you.”  Instead I gave him facts, statistics, personal anecdotes (cheered on, as it happens by a – male – student waiting behind him with silent grins and thumbs up, which were very much appreciated), most of which he tried to counter.  But what finally seemed to make an impact was when I told him the estimated statistics for sexual crime versus the (much lower) actual reported ones – and told him bluntly that seen through a pair of female eyes, those numbers meant the world was a hostile and frightening place where the chances of us becoming a victim of sexual crime (from mild harassment – still criminal – up through rape) were higher than than our chances of not.  His tone changed after that.

Here’s the truth.

The statistics on sexual crime are appalling, and the majority of  that crime is directed at females.*  From our perspective (when we admit it ourselves or anyone else), the world is a sexually threatening place for us and the possibility of it intruding is very real.

As a kid several of my favorite playmates were boys, and the trend continued into university.  With the exception of The Girls, I’ve mostly hung around with guys – many of them dear friends to this day.  But I remember the specific day that boys took on a more threatening aspect for me.  My first year of high school I was accepted to a magnet school for writing that required being bussed to the next county to attend the class every day.  I was the only girl chosen for that class that year and that meant I spent a couple hours on a bus everyday with at least three boys from my school and a few boys from another school.  There were older girls but they often drove themselves to the program rather than taking the bus.

These boys were the normal sort of teenage males, a bit loutish and inclined to show off for one another, but not malicious I didn’t think.  There were tons of discussions between them that made me uncomfortable (being a nice, boring, bookish sort who mostly read on the bus ride), but nothing negative was directed towards me until I started standing up for myself against mild picking on.  When I voiced opinions counter to the boys, when I told them I didn’t like the conversation topics, when I spoke up.  I don’t remember what the conversation was about but one day (when I was the lone girl on the bus) I said something contrary to the general opinion.  The next thing I knew one of the boys loomed over me and told me to, “shut your mouth and spread your legs.”  I don’t even remember how I reacted (except for the fact that I marched into the classroom when the bus pulled in and told the teacher straight away), but I remember the realization that I was much smaller than even the shortest boy there, that there was nowhere for me to run to, and that the bus driver was awfully far away.  I remember realizing that in that moment that these boys, if they wanted to, if they chose to, could hurt me.  I remember realizing that I was suddenly scared of these boys who I sat in classes with every day.

They didn’t hurt me, he pulled away laughing and they got back to their which-sexual-superpower-would-you-prefer meditations.  To some of the boys’ credit they looked deeply uncomfortable about what had just happened, but none of them had stood up against their friend and none of them apologized until a teacher and another school authority made them.

My fear turned to fury at the fact that they had chosen to try and shut me up via sexual intimidation, which is what motivated me to tell my teacher, but I’d by lying if I said I’ve forgotten how scared I was in that moment before anger propelled me into action.  That experience stayed with me, and if I’m honest it has colored every relationship I’ve ever had with any male.  And to reiterate, most of my friends have been male, so clearly permanent damage wasn’t done.  But that was the moment I realized for the first time that beings who I previously saw as playmates were growing up bigger, stronger, and more able to enforce their will that I was.  On me and on my body if they chose.  Believe me, that is a realization that sticks.

I’m not the same girl now.  I’ve grown up.  Since that day I’ve been catcalled, I’ve been grabbed at by strangers, I’ve had dates get unwantedly frisky, but I’ve handled myself just fine with more confidence than I had at 14 and much more sass.  Cultivated, if I’m honest, for the purpose of being able to stand up for myself against people who would always be bigger and stronger than me.  Frankly, these days and after working where I have for four years gleaning the perspective I have, I’m just glad nothing worse happened on that bus – and I know exactly how statistically lucky I am that nothing much worse has happened since.  Although, to be morbidly honest, I’m barely a third of the way through my life – there is plenty of time for sexual crime to happen to me still.

And I think that there are so many men out there – good and decent men who are, I fervently believe, the vast majority of their gender – who don’t realize that most women live with that thought, whether conscious or not, everyday.  They walk into parking lots with keys held out ready to stab, cancel exercise plans when their partner does so they don’t walk alone at night, refuse calls to avoid people who intend them fear or hurt.  And we don’t do any of this for amusement, we do it because we honestly live with the threat of grievous harm – for no other reason than we are female and we either know from personal or trusted anecdotal experience that there are people out there who think their desire trumps our willingness.  That they have a right to do us harm.  Sexual violence against women is pandemic; yes, even in First World countries in “good” places filled with “good” people.

This man at my counter thought expecting an assault walking to the mailbox and back in the dark was silly.  His wife knows that, while on this particular Monday it’s not exactly likely, it’s more than possible.

Sexual Assault Hotline

*Sexual crime against men and boys happens and it’s just as horrific, but I’m speaking as a female here, so bear with me.