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Category — no more forced pregnancies

Funny v. Comments: A darkly hilarious little battle in the sexism war

Humor hits a home run again — is it sick or wrong that in our (my) present society, the most insightful commentary is coming from places like The Daily Show and Cracked.com?  

Maybe.  Today I don't care, because I like laughing and crying the way some people like sugar on their pickles, or cayenne in sweet tea.  I'm also a gamer — at one time pretty hardcore (think "FPS LAN-parties" and "unlocking every single side-quest in 80-hour-long RPGs"), less so lately, but I still follow the industry pretty closely…when I can stand it.

This article is an incredible, dead-on, sobering, awful, and freaking hilarious description of why sometimes I can't stand it.  It's a short explanation of "Six things more sexist than breasts" in video games, and it delivers the comical WTF as only quality venues like Cracked (yup, I just said that phrase) can.

And I highly recommend it.  

Er.  

Except for the comments.

The last line of the article — which stops being funny just before this in a beautiful drop-kick maneuver that you see on some of my favorite bits of TDS too — makes the point that "If you're trying to prevent discussion of a problem, you are part of that problem."  Sadly, one gets the impression that virtually no-one who left a comment read that far:  Instead, they saw the name of a game they liked (or just saw the article's title), stopped there, and flew in to Deny Everything and loudly point out why this topic isn't worth discussing.

In one sense it's funny to watch oblivious people wander into a logical bear-trap like that:  Cracked is too business-savvy to call out their own audience as fuckwits, but the writers (who are kept anonymous, a tactic which neatly serves double-duty by cutting off rape/death threats — the actual, usual response to things like this written by women; look around — and forcing the reader to at least consider the possibility that the article has to be taken as seriously as if it were written by a man (though several commenters do jump in claiming to "know" which parts "must" be female-penned)) obviously foresaw the flood of NUH-UH THERE'S NO SUCH THING the article would generate, and let their last words be a foreheadslap hanging in the air for when it inevitably happened.

Still, holy CRAP is it disturbing how clearly, uniformly, and obviously it happens.  Tossing explanations of sexism and rape-culture to the public is like sprinkling feed to chickens — you know where they're all going to rush to, and watching them do it, you're strongly reminded how very like little machines we animals are, programmed and reactionary.  (Then you remember that we don't have to be, and you have to fight down the urge to find a railgun and perforate some morons for the good of the herd.  But I digress.  ;)

The commenters are often upset about something that was said about a game they like, though (making them mostly a higher class of commenter than you usually get in these situations!), which raises an interesting logical question:  Can you make arguments about the degree of sexism in each of the examples?  And the answer is more complex than most people like it to be.  Briefly, if you're a woman, you can talk about how the game's elements affected you (both as you experienced them, and after giving it more thought, because one thing that's almost always overlooked is that women live in a sexist culture too — sometimes an even more sexist one than men do — and so it's not, in fact, immediately apparent to many of us when we're being subjected to it…it's normal, and for many women, "the way things should be") – and that's valuable information, in the aggregate and also in evaluating some of the personal impact.  But even then, whether something is sexist is a function of how it affects everyone, its place coming from and speaking to the culture.  And those on the wrong (actually, right) side of the privilege divide can't ever claim based on their feelings that something is not sexist — just as I, a Caucasian person, can't ever claim that something is "not racist" because don't think it is.  People get upset at this, because we all like thinking that our feelings and opinions matter, but the plain truth of it is that when you're talking about culture, some questions are not democratic.  Some people's answers don't matter — i.e when we're discussing "whether the European treatment of American Indians counts as a genocide", by reason of how that question is framed, the yes/no opinion of a European-descended person counts for about 10% as much (if that) as that of a Native-American-descended person.  Why?  Because by default, we don't know what it's like on the other side of that line.  Even if we grew up talking to Native Americans about it, studied it in school and went on to work on a reservation, we know more about it intellectually than other people like us, but we still can't know what it's like to be descended from the people who experienced what may or may not have been genocide.  And for the question of whether or not it was to be answered, we need the data that can only come from asking people who do know what it's like.

And that's "rape culture" for you.  If you didn't grow up a woman, if you haven't lived as a woman, if you haven't had the daily-for-decades experience of being exposed to things like commercials and video-games and conversations and advice from your elders and treatment at work and all of the things that go into "being in a culture", you just don't know.  If you want to make an educated guess and you don't know, literally your only option is to listen to as many people who do know as possible, and try to understand why they have the opinions they do, and then extrapolate from there (being clear with yourself and others that what you're presenting IS an educated guess).  

Logic doesn't always feel good, guys — Sorry, but it's true.  In the world of "things that are segregational and therefore by definition only directly affect certain populations", everyone does not get an equal say about what's really going on.  It makes me feel icky as a white European too, so I do understand a bit how shitty that feeling is.  But if I swooped in on a public article with almost a million views and outed myself as not believing in racism, or as an appropriate arbiter of whether or not something was racist, I'd be figuratively shot in the face, and I'd deserve it.  

Yet for some reason that's still okay when the topic is sexism.  Huh.  Maybe it's because sexism affects so many more people?  Sounds counterintuitive, but in the early days of anti-racism it was probably really hard to be someone who actually knew and loved people who were getting discriminated against…yet virtually everyone knows and loves at least one woman.  Maybe there's such blatant denial of (equally blatant) sexism the world over because every man alive feels like shit knowing that he's been part of a world that's organized itself for centuries to unfairly and horrendously mistreat his mother, his sisters, his friends and lovers…I mean, that's gotta feel AWFUL.

Um…::rereads some of the comments::…

GOOD.

 

September 20, 2013   4 Comments

One thousand British slaves with spoons in their underwear

Women who fear being forced to marry abroad told to hide spoon in underwear | World news | The Guardian.

Estimates are around 1,500 women in Britain alone, per YEAR are forced to marry, with around 1/3 of those being UNDER SIXTEEN years old.

The idea sounds funny, but it isn't:  If you're being forced to travel so that you can meet up with your Guy Who Bought You, and you put metal in your underpants, the TSA has to take you into a private room for a search…meaning maybe you get a chance to beg someone to intervene.  

Whether they will or not is entirely up to them, as in spite of the magnitude of this slavery problem, there are still no laws or firm guidelines in place saying how we, the sane and unsick world, should be helping or dealing with women and girls who are sold like iPods by their own families.

I wonder…if I were a black man and I pulled the TSA aside and said "I was sold into slavery; I'm traveling against my will," would there be a greater or different expectation for the officer's response than if I said the same thing as a woman?

August 17, 2013   2 Comments

I Swear (Open-Minding Your Manners)

I'm so grateful to my father for teaching me to not only be polite, but to get more polite when confronted with rudeness.  

(Note:  I do this much more consistently in person than in writing.  When writing I love to inject color and a little lightning where I can; it's like enjoying spicy food I guess.  Personally and professionally, though, I'm the person who says "please" and "may I" consistently, who holds open doors for strangers and always excuses myself for interrupting.  I was taught well, but I've also expanded on it in later years by modifying some of my well-intentioned American tendencies to be more like my European and Australian friends, who tend to think of things I never would have learned about from my Midwestern family — things like saying "May I please have the…" when ordering food, rather than "I'll take a…" or "Give me a…", which is both normal in my experience and pretty annoyingly rude once you notice it.  But I digress.  Shockingly.)  

This habit my dad ingrained in me is a heck of a weapon, for a couple reasons:

1)  Rude people–or even average people who are trained to respond to the emotional stimulus of anger by turning rude–get flustered and stupid when confronted with quiet, professional mannerisms, giving me an instant edge in a blow-by-blow argument.

2)  Onlookers to an argument where I'm the one being composed and polite, even if I'm obviously angry or disagreeing, are predisposed to agree with or at least hear my point.  Corollary:  In a workplace or other professional or formal environment, I'm much less likely to break a rule that either loses me future credibility or lands me in trouble with some authority (i.e. HR).

3)  Mobs of dumb-ass dissenters, as one tends to get in, oh, say, the Midwest, are less likely to get nasty or violent towards someone who's being calm and "nice" (even if the content of my words is not "nice" at all).  Good manners are a sort of armor against unruly groups of 'Mericans; they can still be icky to deal with, but are generally hesitant to attack someone they perceive as being a "good sort", even if it's not "our" sort.

and my favorite, 4)  Being known as someone who generally stays gentle and sticks by the rules of decorum in most circumstances means that when I cut loose, it packs an extra whollop*.  And there are some circumstances that I firmly believe are best handled with loud swearing and an instantly aggressive demeanor — the biggest example being when confronting sexual harrassment, which I consider to be the far end of the Bell curve of rudeness — it's rudeness escalated to a form of psychological (or even physical) attack, really.  So I actually approve of anyone — of any gender** – responding to unwanted sexual attention or discrimination (against themselves or anyone else) with a loud WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM?!   Those behaviors are, I would argue, too often treated as deserving of tolerance — Oh, you know, that's just how Bill is — and, like overt racism (another way-out-there form of rudeness), are best headed off with loud, forceful objection that both throws the unacceptability of their conduct directly in the offender's face, and also forces them and everyone else who witnesses it to take a stand one way or the other.  Don't get me wrong; there are times when it's better for that response to be served ice cold — if you've got everyone's attention already, a nice icy glare and a hissed, "What did you just say, boy?" or "Did you really just put your goddamned hands on me?" are awfully nice — but on the whole, I prefer volume and swearing because they get attention and don't allow people to easily gloss over or dismiss what's happened.  

And of course, it's just icing on the cake if I've spent the whole evening minding my manners before I scream obscenities and throw something at that jerk, really.***

Thanks so much, Dad!  

<3

 

*I love words like this, which can kind of be spelled any way it suits you.  You can find this one as whallop, wollop, wolop, walop, whalop, etc. everywhere and they're all pretty much equally right.  Hm, I should write something in Middle English, yeah?  

**Gender or age — If anyone harrasses or threatens my daughter that way, I want them to be met with a loud, angry, FUCK YOU!  (from her, her friends, or anyone who witnesses it).  I think that's both likely to deter an attacker, and likely to draw the attention of bystanders, coming from a kid.  She's known that loud swearing (and if they put their hands on you, physical violence) is an appropriate response to threatening adults since she was about four — and yes, it does inadvertently make it sound a little exciting to have to defend herself, but I'm hoping that makes her more likely to react swiftly in such a situation.  Not that it's her responsibility to react swiftly to protect herself, but if it could make the difference between trauma and escape, I see no reason not to encourage it.

***Oh yes, in case you're wondering, I have done it.  I've also dropped my briefcase and straightened my suit-jacket before yelling things across the street that would make a sailor blush, and I've gotten right in the face of huge beligerent drunks and threatened to beat them senseless and send their remains home to their moms.  I comfort myself regarding the state of women's rights by vowing to, if things haven't improved, get louder and nastier about it the older I get.  I'm sure the effect when I'm grey-haired will be terriffic. 

August 5, 2013   2 Comments

My one beef with underwater hockey: Gender Segregation

I loved a graphic I found recently which showed a pink and a blue version of kids' toys, and had text something like this:

"Do you work it with your genitals? Y/N
If Y, it is not for kids.
If N, it does not need a gender."

I think this is a ridiculously good point that doesn't get nearly enough attention:  You know when it's ok to separate people by skin color?  When the thing you're doing has something to do with skin color  — i.e. if you're making a piece of human art that involves people standing according to their skin-color to make a picture, no-one's going to say you're racist for having the dark-skinned people stand to the left.

And do you know when it's ok to separate people by gender?  When what you're doing has something to do with sex or gender.  An all-woman's childbirthing class makes sense.  Women's changing rooms, because we link nudity with sex in our culture (whether we should or not is a separate question), are not in themselves sexist. 

But if I separated the Underwater Hockey tournament teams into a Blacks Division and and Whites Division, I'd be crucified, and rightly so:  Nothing about the game has jack shit to do with skin-color.  As a very international sport, we generally make a big point about being inclusive in UWH:  My regular games are peppered with people who don't speak native English, and who obviously come from a wide variety of geographic backgrounds.  They get to play without feeling like fringe participants, like they're being allowed to participate because there are too few of them to form a separate team for now, but as soon as they go to a bigger venue where there are more East Indians or French-speakers, it's off to the side and into the special section with them.

So why is it OK that there are separate games, prizes, and sometimes entire tournaments for women?  Well, I'll give you a hint:  IT'S NOT OK.  Not with me, at least.  And as a woman who's been in the sport a few years, I feel like I get to have an opinion.

Here are a couple points to head off the obvious objections / counter-comments I've heard:

  • You COULD argue, in some sports, that there are physical differences between the genders that make direct competition unfair.  (If you did, I would disagree with you:  even in purely size-, strength-, or weight-based activities, there are small men and big women in this world [as one example], and segregating between the genders is only separating out people with different sexual equipment, not bigger vs. smaller people:  That's what there are weight-classes for.)  

    • But even given that argument, you sure as hell can't claim it in underwater hockey, a sport with many skills involved, none of which men have a clear advantage (or disadvantage) in:  swimming speed, endurance, breath-hold, stick-handling skills, body-positioning skills, shooting/flicking, etc.
  • Someone inevitably makes the positive-sounding comment that "it's so interesting when only women play!  There's so much more of XYZ style of thing!"  Which is, I should point out, exactly like saying, "I love how all-black basketball teams do so much more jumping!".  

    • Whatever differences exist between me and the male player to my left exist because we're different peoplewhich covers a lot of things, and could cause either of us to have a zillion different things about our playing – not because I have tits or ovaries.  Also, when you explain anything about me by citing my tits and ovaries as the reason (unless you're explaining, oh, why I wear a bra — again, something actually about sex or gender), then it's offensive, and my answer is going to be "fuck you" and possibly also something about how your playing style must be influenced by your small dick.  Because if it's ok for you to make comments about my sex-organs, it must be okay for me to do it too, right?
  • And then you sometimes hear how women are more comfortable playing on all-female teamsor having the opportunity to.  Which, first of all, ought to make us ask Why?  Since there's nothing about hockey that has jack shit to do with sex, why would women seek segregation for their own safety or comfort – unless we're hinting that there's some bigger, illegal, immoral, and really nasty problem in the sport, such as rampant sexual harrassment?  

    • Which is certainly true in sports-in-general, but again, in UWH specifically, I've never seen the slightest whiff of this; in my several years of regular play, I've never once been harrassed or made to feel uncomfortable by the any teams I've played with, and I firmly believe that if there ever was a problem, the vast majority of my teammates — both at home and in tournaments — would act swiftly and firmly to handle it.  (And being that this is a sport inevitably involving some contact and played in swim-suits, it makes me CRAZY proud of UWH to say that that's so, when I know for a fact that many women trying to play things like baseball are having a harder time of it!)
    • The question of why women are generally less comfortable on co-ed teams is still one that bears lots more scrutiny, but the answer to there being such problems isn't segregation — it's addressing the problems.  Segregating women to avoid sexual harrassment is punishing them for the fact that men tend to harrass them.  Which is just sick.  (And the same kind of reasoning that has millions of Middle Eastern women trapped at home "for their own safety".)  
    • As a corollary, if it's really about women wanting to play on segregated teams, then why isn't it purely voluntary, and offered in addition to co-ed play?  (Sometimes it is, though it's not really considered socially acceptable to refuse to play in a "women's game" at a tournament — I've done it — and there are far too many cups and tournaments where games are mandatorily segregated.)  
  • And one more you hear all the time in various sports:  There aren't enough women!  This is sometimes given as a reason why the supposedly co-ed teams are mostly men — and in that sense it again raises the very good question Why?  Might have something to do with women still being largely discourged by society from sports-playing in many ways…but whatever it is, the answer to it certainly isn't to punish them, by singling them out or making them compete separately.

    • The other angle on this one is, "We should have an all-women's game because, you know, women are rare in this sport, and if we Make Them Feel Special / Welcome, more will play!"  To which I simply say:  Okay, cool!  Let's have a Dark-Skinned People's Game too then, and a Foreign-Born People's Game!  …Oh, wait, what?  Nobody would find that cool or welcoming?  Huh, go figure!  I thought we were postulating that being singled out for your rarity and/or differences felt awesome!  

Yeah, I don't think it feels awesome either.

I don't want to be "on the women's team", "play in the women's game", or win the "women's cup".  I'm there to play underwater hockey, and I'd like to be included and treated like a member of the class of people who are fans of playing underwater hockey, please.  When you tell me that I have to play different games or compete for different prizes because of my sex, then I feel just like you would if I told you the same thing because of your skin-color:

Come on, that's not fair; I was born this way.

Nothing about my bodily configuration makes me a worse player.  Plenty of people built like me are awesome players. Give me a chance, let me learn and play, and then judge me on my game, okay?

Why do I have to be singled out, put on the spot, or treated differently?  I'm not looking for special treatment or a fucking parade; I just want to play.  

I don't come here to be The Girl On The Team; I come here to be On The Team.

You want me to be comfortable here?  Then stop bringing up my private parts in public, when what we're doing has nothing to do with them.  

…Also, to that last point, a personal plea:  I'm a weird, loud, and not terribly couth person; have some pity!  And protect yourselves!  I swear, one of these days I'm just going to snap and start saying, "ALSO, YOU HAVE A COCK!" every time someone says something about my gender in a context that has nothing to do with gender, and then nobody'll be happy, will they??

 

 

 

July 17, 2013   29 Comments

Why aren’t we all Pro-Life? Oh wait — we are.

Here is the best argument, maybe the only one needed, to support the birth of every possible child, wanted or not, no matter how horribly conceived or damaged or unprivileged:  Every single one of those human lives could turn out to be awesome.  A bad start doesn't mean shit when it comes to whether or not you can love and be loved, succeed at any of the zillion things that are out there, or make a positive difference in this world.  

Neither I nor anyone else I know with half a brain could, or would want to, argue against that.  So why, then, isn't everyone "Pro-life"?

Well, here's the thing:  You don't have to support forced pregnancy in order to support the idea that every life possible should be lived.

You can firmly believe that the more lives we make possible, the better off the world is — that that rape-victim's child might invent FTL travel or cure cancer — the question is HOW do you want to make those lives more possible?

Some people answer that question by saying, "Well, the woman who's body and life that is on the line here, and whose free will and civil rights are intimately involved in the decision of whether this new life can go forward?  FUCK HER.  Enslave that bitch, ruin her health, steal her future, destroy her opportunities and treat her like a criminal if she doesn't bend to our will and devote the rest of her life to singlehandedly creating, feeding, teaching and raising that new person."

That's not, I say with my teeth clenched tight, "being pro-life".  That's being pro-burning-one-life-to-start-a-new-one, and of course it has the glaring logical flaw that that life / liberty / happiness you're destroying is just as valuable as the one being created!

(I say "just as valuable", but one could very easily argue that it may be more valuable, for any of the following reasons:  It's a thinking citizen with freedom, rights, and who is actively contributing to society, rather than simply draining resources as all newborns do for oh, over a decade.  It's got a ton of immediate potential to create, discover, earn, cure cancer, etc.  It is fully conscious, above the age of reason, and knows that it's being mistreated and having its rights stomped-upon, unlike a fetus.  And given that that existing adult life wants to not continue its pregnancy, there are any of a host of reasons why the new life may be worse than the one it's replacing, which means that by valuing "new / young" over "here / grown", people making this argument are not only not working to make humanity better, but actively pushing to make it, overall, over time, worse.  In fact, it's not just "a woman" or even "all women" that are damaged by forced pregnancies — it's everyone; as quality of life is decreased for our whole society.  The current incarnation of the "pro-life" movement is actually in favor of burning down the entire concept of free democratic life AND proliferating worse genetic and environmental traits in order to increase the quantity — without consideration of quality — of viable fetuses.  BRILLIANT.)

So here's where things get sticky:  With the false dichotomy.  "You can't support the maximal creation of new lives, even in crappy circumstances," it goes, "Without supporting infringing on the rights of existing women.  You just can't."

What.

Idiocy.

LISTEN:  What if you made the circumstances better?

What if you did everything you could to improve the situations of women stuck with pregnancies they don't want?  To make it as easy as possible for them to bring their children to term?

  • Money to raise, feed, clothe, and babysit so the women can work and live.
  • Programs to finish and continue their own schooling once they're mothers.
  • Active, easy, open adoption programs — because if, as you say, live children are better than aborted pregnancies no matter how bad the circumstances of the newborn would have been, then aren't they almost always, if not always, better off with parents who want them, no matter how horrible, than they are not existing?  What's the rationale behind insisting that it's ok for a woman with no income and a drug addiction, or no education, or an acute mental-health issue from sexual trauma, to raise a baby, but it isn't OK for a poor couple or a gay couple or a single person or whoever actually wants one to raise a kid?  Yes, some kids will wind up with bad parents.  Just like they do right now.  Focus your efforts on responding to and protecting kids in trouble, adopted or not, and stop pretending that the way to solve child abuse is to make sure that only rich people can adopt!

"But all that costs so much money," some jerk will whine.  NO IT DOESN'T — it's called an "investment"; it pays off in mad dividends; and you fund it to start with by taking all that money, time and effort you've been wasting on oppressive tactics (and maybe some of the money you've been wasting on something else stupid — like, oh, marijuana convictions, or corporate welfare) and putting it here instead.  Shut up about the money, seriously…if making more births possible is something you believe in, find the money.

If those things above existed, think of how many lives you could save.  Because trust me, no woman wants a D&C — they're horrible.  (I've never had one, thank goodness, but I know plenty of people who have, and just reading about the experience will make your hair stand up.)  Of course some people would still choose them, but by making the alternatives easier and better, you'd preserve existing, productive, full-grown lives and do a lot to ensure that the new lives had a better start than they would have as a forced pregnancy.

If a woman doesn't want to carry a baby to term, it's flat wrong to make her.  Women are human beings with rights, and the fact that some people don't like that being women gives them the right to decide when children are born is, to be blunt, too fucking bad.  I say this as a woman, a human being, and a qualified representative of reason and intelligence.  Those who disagree are free to do so in person, where I will say it as a martial artist.  (Yes, hmph.)

Should society encourage the birth of babies?  (Overpopulation aside*,) Of course it should. It can encourage that in a myriad of healthy ways that support and create new life by encouraging mothers to choose to take that route — and simultaneously giving those new lives a much better shot at being good, cancer-curing, FTL-discovering ones – by making birth and/or motherhood a less terrible option.

What we can not do to encourage it is remove and criminalize the other options, stripping women of their rights to control their own bodies and lives.  A society that does that is not in any way a free one — in fact, half its number is made up of slaves, of people who could be forced at any time, physically or otherwise, into being breeding stock, shackled into poverty and ill-health for life; or even killed as a result.  

The false dichotomy, the "If you're pro-new-life then you must be pro-forced-pregnancy" argument, is just stupid and needs to die.  

There are plenty of sane ways to be pro-life.  People should try some.

 

*Overpopulation, and the other reasons why we don't just want to proliferate like mad as a species, are very good supports for widely-available birth control.  Birth control (which is also a civil and human right that women are entitled to) prevents a great deal of less-viable pregnancies from ever happening, and thus does a ton to improve humanity as a whole, and as long as we're not dangerously declining in population, is absolutely harmless.  However, it doesn't prevent pregnancies by rape, accident, and other circumstantial things that make them unviable, and therefore widely-available birth control is not by itself enough of an answer to the forced-pregnancy problem.

June 8, 2013   No Comments

Scream, clap, laugh, win: Humor makes a great molotov cocktail

Luke McKinney's new article — a follow-up to his infamous piece on "straight white male" being sexuality's lowest difficulty setting (you may remember John Scalzi's still-famous article expanding that idea) – on 5 Gamer Comments That Give Straight White Guys a Bad Name had me screaming and clapping while simultaneously laughing coffee out my nose.

As Scalzi points out in his blog today, this IS written on Cracked.com, so it's got a marvelous left-handedness where you know that some of the people being called assholes in this article — in lovely metaphor-laden smackdown style — are going to be reading and commenting on it…and boy, do they.  I've stayed off the comment thread myself, mostly because all I really want to say is fuck yes, Luke.  Way to hit a second home-run just to prove you can! 

…It's really impossible to pick a "best" part of this to quote, but…

"People want to bang you = easy life" is the worst sexual equation since David Carradine's work with knot theory.

WAHAHAHA::wipestears::

But seriously?  I think it's incredibly important that topics like this one be handled with loud, raucous, stabby humor whenever possible.  It's hard to speak accurate truth to power, sure; but it's even harder to make power hear it, and those people who can take truths and wrap them in you-can't-ignore-me linguistic molotov cocktails are treasures of humanity.  It's precisely why comedians and satirists are so vitally important to every movement, and I'm chest-burstingly proud that the No More Forced Pregnancies-related movements have voices like Luke (and Scalzi) on their side.  <3!

June 1, 2013   5 Comments

What’s The #1 Killer Of Girls Aged 15-19 Worldwide?

In short?  Forced pregnancy.  To wit, infographic:

One in 7 girls in developing countries are MARRIED BEFORE AGE FIFTEEN.  These deaths are not a slut problem; not a sex problem:  A Forced Pregnancy problem.

May 22, 2013   No Comments

Some of us are left with geysers of internal anger; others just die

Only 14, Bangladeshi girl charged with adultery was lashed to death »

And the only reason we hear about this case is that the autopsy report which pronounced her death after 70 lashes a "suicide" caused some public outrage.



This is not rare.



Also, fuck all of them; I was fourteen.  This makes me want a gun (or ten) and a plane-ticket.

February 25, 2013   Comments Off

Solve Everything: Give Women The Guns

You know how I love me some big, fat, obvious truths-that-need-saying.

Well, here's another one, and it's about incidences of violence.  For all that the individual cases (school shootings!  another one!  cop shootings!  another one!  rapes!  murders!  assaults!  lookee, another one!) are talked about and reported on — usually when there's something crazy about them that sets them apart from the pattern – the pattern itself, the biggest, most obvious pattern in all cases of violence is rarely discussed.

If coins landed heads over 80% of the time, do you think that we, as a scientific society, would have anything to say about that?  Or would we go on insisting that there was no correlation, nothing to see here?

Yet, the vast, vast majority of all violence is committed by humans who share one characteristic — one which, if the odds were random, they'd only be about 46% likely to have.  

They're male.

(And don't you, if you share that characteristic too, dare get defensive:  To say–no, admit–that the vast majority of perpetrators of violence are male is NOT the same as to say that the majority of males perpetrate violence, which they certainly don't.  We are saying "all squares are rectangles", NOT "all rectangles are squares", okay??  And to react as though what's been insinuated is that all or most men are violent is sloppy thinking and I will slap you with a fish for it.)

The article quoted a bit below has some great and useful information on that account, specifically regarding male violence against women — which is not all violence, or all male violence, but is a good way to highlight the statistical pattern going on here and the severity of it, and the effect that ignoring it as a pattern is having on our culture, and on almost all cultures really.  

But that's a point that's been made well enough that I figured I'd make a different one.

I'm about to make myself real popular here, so get ready.  I have a modest proposal for you:

1.  Violence against women is a pattern, and a cultural problem.

2.  Gun violence is a pattern, and a cultural problem.

3.  Removing access to guns for free citizens is problematic for a few reasons, one of which is that it removes the ability of the weaker ones to defend themselves and each other from the perpetrators of violence and oppression; another is that it's difficult and expensive to determine who to allow and disallow from ownership.

4.  Perpetrators of violence, using any weapon, against anyone, anywhere in the world, are WAY more likely to be men than women (see every fact ever).

THEREFORE:

Make it illegal for men — only men — to possess guns.

TA-DAAAA!

  • Worried about "the government" taking over?  Well, worry no more; almost half the population can legally be armed!  And women are, while far less likely to be unnecessarily violent, historically badass about protesting and resisting government oppression.
  • Worried about helpless kids in schools and elderly people on the street?  Worry no more!  Armed and trained nuns and schoolteachers and little old ladies make perfect defensive weaponry, with none of the risk that they'll make the problem worse.
  • Unsure about enforcement, about "keeping guns out of the hands of criminals"?  This will be a zillion times easier if the rule is simple*.  Heck, I give science a decade before guns can "tell" if you're a woman and only work in female hands.
  • Worried about using open gender-discrimination this way?  Don't be!  This is only the flipside of the already-existing open gender discrimination that violence as a phenomena already exhibits.  When one goes away, the other can too — easy as pie!
  • Concerned about the gun industry in general?  Imagine the economic bump when it's legal and acceptable for every adult woman to own at least a handgun, and when every young girl needs training and access to a range for regular practice!
  • What about hunting, you say?  Easy!  Women can hunt with guns if they want, and men, who are always on about needing to keep their sKills sharp, can use bows and spears and shit that actually poses a challenge.  It'll be good for them!
  • Also, not a fan of the systemic cultural violence against women?  Well….how long do you think harassing women in bars or attacking them on streets, in busses, and in their homes will stay the popular activity it is, after they start capping motherfuckers for it?  (Male allies are nice, and I'm glad they're starting to become A Thing, but personally when it comes to deterring rape, I can't argue that Smith & Wesson's disapproval of your violence against me is a leeeeetle more compelling than knowing our friend Bob would hate you if he ever found out. ;)

*I'm not addressing the issue of transgenderism in its various forms here, not because it wouldn't be an issue that would need fair addressing, but because I think it's out of scope for a simple initial presentation of a radical and half-tongue-in-cheek idea.

 

Now, some facts from an awesome article re-written recently; emphasis throughout is mine.

Violence doesn't have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.

So many men murder their partners and former partners that we have well over 1,000 homicides of that kind a year – meaning that every three years the death toll tops 9/11's casualties, though no one declares a war on this particular terror (another way to put it: the more than 11,766 corpses from domestic-violence homicides since 9/11 exceed the number of deaths of victims on that day and all American soldiers killed in the "war on terror").

 

A woman is beaten every nine seconds in this country. Just to be clear: not nine minutes, but nine seconds. [Also to be clear: In the US, not any of the many countries where it's *legal*. --me]  It's the number-one cause of injury to American women; of the two million injured annually, more than half a million of those injuries require medical attention while about 145,000 require overnight hospitalisations, according to the Centre for Disease Control, and you don't want to know about the dentistry needed afterwards. Spouses are also the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the US.

"Women worldwide ages 15 through 44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined," writes Nicholas D Kristof…

 

Unlike the last (male) head of the International Monetary Fund, the current (female) head is not going to assault an employee at a luxury hotel; top-ranking female officers in the US military, unlike their male counterparts, are not accused of any sexual assaults; and young female athletes, unlike those male football players in Steubenville, aren't likely to urinate on unconscious boys, let alone violate them and boast about it in YouTube videos and Twitter feeds. … No female bus riders in India have ganged up to sexually assault a man so badly he dies of his injuries, nor are marauding packs of women terrorising men in Cairo's Tahrir Square, and there's just no maternal equivalent to the 11 percent of rapes that are by fathers or stepfathers. … No major female pop star has blown the head off a young man she took home with her, as did Phil Spector ... No female action-movie star has been charged with domestic violence, because Angelina Jolie just isn't doing what Mel Gibson and Steve McQueen did, and there aren't any celebrated female movie directors who gave a 13-year-old drugs before sexually assaulting that child, while she kept saying "no", as did Roman Polanski. 

February 11, 2013   3 Comments

Sexism is not caused by men wanting sex more than women

Wonderful article at Pandagon, written in response to the gaggingly awful one at Cracked (which no, I'm not linking to). The latter was making the tired (yet somehow still reasonable to some people) claim that the whole reason we have misogyny in the world is that men just want to get laid so much more and so they do all kinds of crazy things to try to "impress" women by, um, oppressing them. Topic quote:

I don't believe that men build civilization to impress lazy women who keep saying no to sex, because we don't understand what it's really like to want it. I believe men built most things because women were shut out of political power, job opportunities, and education for most of history, and instead forced into servitude towards men in the home. I believe my theory has a lot of evidence for it, in the form of all of history.

But I really loved this bit at the end, because it gets to a point that's really hard to find your way to if you start from anywhere socially-acceptable: The point where we discuss how, you know, women DO want sex, and some of them in fact want it quite often and/or a lot and/or care quite a bit about the sexual attractiveness (not just the "being a good provider"ness) of their sexual partners. I loved how this was put:

 

More importantly, men get to feel hornier because they're socially supported in this. The whole of society is geared toward titillating men and discouraging female sexual desire. It's inherent to the Nice Guy® complaint, where men are entitled to feel physical attraction, but a woman who wants more than "nice" is shallow. It's evident in the way men and women dress, with women always mindful to wear stuff that makes them sexually attractive, whereas men have the opposite problem, and have to avoid being too sexualized lest they seem feminine. Naked women are draped over every inch of public space, and the internet is full of visually interesting porn for men, but our society barely can imagine what it would be like to try to attract a female eye. [...] It's easy for men to know right away how to be sexual, whereas women are still largely expected to figure it out for themselves—and even that's a recent invention, because pre-feminism, women were mostly just expected to do what men wanted. To a large extent, that's still true, but we're at least getting a few glimmers of liberty for women, but in many ways, the past few generations of women are real pioneers in trying to figure out what sex means when we're actually allowed to want it, even a little.

But even with the small amount of freedom we have, it's worth noting that a 30-year-old woman who admitted obliquely to having had non-procreative sex in Congress created a month long, nationwide scandal. Until that kind of pressure disappears completely, we can't even begin to measure what the "natural", unadulterated female sexuality would look like, and how it would compare to the celebrated and constantly titillated male sexuality. 

Either way, stop blaming sex for misogyny. If all men wanted was women to fuck them more, the English language wouldn't even have the word "slut" in it. 

 

via pandagon.net – it's the eye of the panda, it's the thrill of the bite.

April 3, 2012   Comments Off