The art of being consistently compassionate

From talking about privilege by Steph:

So these days, I believe in some guidelines, things like this list. Not because I think that we all need to be nannied whenever we cross our various social boundaries, not because I believe that we necessarily need to go seminars and training sessions in order to learn how be friends or interact across such boundaries. But there’s an art to being a consistently compassionate person, and there’s an art to challenging injustice, and we don’t achieve these things just by meaning well.

Why are body politics important? [Loving Our Bodies, Part 4]

If I had a penny for every time I’ve seen people, both men and women, call issues such as shaving “petty” or otherwise mock them when someone brings up the double standard as an example of why we aren’t equal, I would be a rich, rich woman. But why is something that, on the surface, seems so minor and so tied-in with personal choice a continual talking-point within discussions of equality?

The easy answer is that it’s not about the act of shaving or not shaving, but rather what those personal experiences mean when they are put into the greater context of socialization and gender roles. What does it mean to learn womanhood? What impact does it have on how we view women’s personhood? Continue reading

The double standard: "Doesn't that perpetuate sexism?"

How it Works (xkcd comic)

So, I’ve been quiet mostly because I need to find an apartment before April and so that’s been keeping me busy. Last weekend I went to Osaka to check out some potentials and my friend went with me. The day was going fine (if a bit long); we met up with the agent who was helping me, we had seen several apartments, etc, etc. Then, as we were being driven to one of the places, my friend looked over and saw a woman putting on makeup while driving.

In the ensuing conversation she asked something to the effect of, “Don’t you think that doing that perpetuates the sexist stereotype?”

This is a hot button for me, because I’ve been accused of doing a similar thing for daring to mention to a male (now ex-)friend of mine that my cramps were acting up. His reasoning was that if any woman ever mentioned her period in the presence of men then that was a carte blanche invitation for them to make sexist jokes about PMS.

What this is doing is applying a sexist double standard to women, in which the actions of an individual are held up as being representative for the entire group (this happens to not just women, but all non-privileged groups and is one of the defining factors of being the Other). It’s the same idea behind the xkcd comic above, wherein when a man is bad at math it is understood that he is the one bad at math, but when a woman is bad at math it is understood that women as a group are bad at math.

Returning to the first example, was the woman putting on makeup being incredibly stupid and driving recklessly? Of course. If I was a cop I would have pulled her over and ticketed her, just like any other reckless driver. But she, and she alone, is responsible for her actions. If it were a man driving recklessly, it wouldn’t be used to “prove” that men as a group are reckless. Yet, put a woman in the same position — or, worse yet, have her doing an activity that is considered feminine as part of the reckless driving — and suddenly she’s the poster child for Why Women Are Bad Drivers (a stereotype obviously not supported by the facts).

The thing is, we can’t help other people’s selection bias. People choose to believe in stereotypes. When they do so to the point of having tunnel vision when it comes to seeing the one person who fits the stereotype and ignoring the thousands of others that they see every day that don’t, then there’s nothing that an individual who belongs to that non-privileged group can do. Even if all the individuals in the world tried to change themselves to not fit that stereotype it wouldn’t help, because those people who believe the stereotype have chosen to believe it and the choice to give up that belief in favor of the truth has to come from within.

What myths about feminism do you want debunked?

While I’m thinking about it, what myths about feminism would you like to see debunked on the Feminism 101 site?

I’ve already tackled the bra-burning myth, and the all feminists are hairy-legged myth; in the works is tackling the subject of feminism and lesbianism, as well as the “all sex is rape” claim that wasn’t actually made by MacKinnon or Dworkin.

So are there any other myths (half-truths work too) that you’d like to see me take on? Bonus points if you give me some links as a starting point 🙂

Crecente fights the boy's club of gaming… ORLY?

Now, I’ll be honest here. I think that Brian Crecente is an unprofessional misogynist who doesn’t have the writing skills to match his journalism education. Given his track record, I don’t think he’s fit to write articles, much less be put in charge of a majorly influential gaming news site.

Part of this is personal, seeing as he’s tried to take credit for the Iris Gaming Network that Revena and I founded, not to mention was the source of the misattribution of a quote by Guilded Lily to Iris/Cerise that has caused no end of misunderstandings. Oh, and I was none too thrilled that he felt that it was appropriate to allow commenters to make rape threats about the cover model for the first issue of Cerise, especially since the “model” was my friend who posed as a personal favour to me.

The other part of it is just my general aversion to misogyny, which he’s directly responsible for as the senior editor of the site (it’s his job to moderate both the posts by other editors and the comments by readers) and the fact that he thinks it’s appropriate to refuse removal of a dirty picture, posted without permission, at the request of the model. Really, it doesn’t take very much to earn a place on my “misogynist shit list”, but Crecente has really gone above and beyond the call of duty.

So, you can imagine my snort of disbelief when I was reading Nick Douglas’s article, I’m Not Offended, I’m Just Bored: Why Gaming Journalism Should Stop Treating Women Like Meat (via this month’s Gaming in the Media), and came across this quote:

Gawker Media’s gaming site Kotaku, says editor Brian Crecente, goes out of its way to stop boy’s-club coverage.

So, I follow the link to Feminist Gamers in the Gaming in the Media article (they express a similar disbelief that Kotaku is turning over a new leaf; they also link this article by Amanda Marcotte which is worth reading) and come across the following quote from this article by Crecente:

Wow, there are a lot of hateful women out there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are just as many hateful men out there too, but none of them have been given the space in large newspapers to spew their anger at video games and the men who play them, so I’ll limit my ire to them in this post.

The post generated comments such as:

if she wouldn’t be such a c*%t then maybe the child-men she’s hangin with would put down the controller and shag the hell outta that dried up ol prune. — ROYAL_HIGHNESS

Let me guess, last guy she met stood her up for a videogame? I would too lol — IRENICUS-THE ONE AND ONLY

My God I want to slap her in the face. — INTELSILVER

Way to “[go] out of [your] way to stop boy’s-club coverage”, Crecente and Kotaku! I don’t know what I’d do without men like you to champion women’s rights by never bringing up women’s gender when it’s completely irrelevant to the topic at hand, cracking down on threats of violence against women, and distinguishing yourself from other game journalist sites out there by refusing to make inappropriate references to women’s body parts in your titles!

Ask a Feminist

I was just working on a new Feminism Friday post over at Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog and I had a thought (what? me? have thoughts? I know, so out of left field). My thought was this: wouldn’t it be cool to have a group blog called “Ask a Feminist” where each week a feminist answers selected questions from readers regarding feminism?

The way I see it, if there was a base group of about 5 bloggers that came from various schools of feminism it would probably be a good mix (as well as splitting the post load). If questions outside of the bloggers’ expertise are asked, they could get in contact with other feminists who could offer “expert opinions” on the subject. I also figure that the bloggers could field questions from non-feminists and feminists alike (we all have more to learn about the various feminisms, after all).

Not that I have the time to start a new project, mind you, but I just want to get a feel for what kind of interest there might be in a project like this. And, heck, if I get enough bloggers interested in doing it, I’d be more than happy to offer the space and help organize things.

So, here are a few questions:

  1. Would you be interested in reading a blog like this?
  2. Can you think of questions that you would like to ask the columnists?
  3. Would you be willing/able to participate as a blogger? And/or do you know of any feminists who would?

If you have any other comments on the idea, or want to add suggestions for how to implement it, go ahead! Even if it never gets off the ground, I’m sure it’ll be fun to talk about 🙂

PS: I’m going to be gone this weekend, so moderation might be slow. I’ll see if I can get some of the other bloggers to keep an eye on things while I’m gone.

Stephanie gets her due

Via In her memory: Batman #673:

Project Girl Wonder has led to a number of shout-outs in comics in the year and a half since it began. We’ve had Rip Hunter wonder “No Trophy = Stephanie?” on his board of time-travel conundrums. We’ve had Tim remark in his inner monologue that she never had a memorial in the cave. We’ve even seen a future Bat Cave in Action Comics with a Stephanie memorial in it.

Batman #673 means so, so much more than any of these. Because, in two panels, we were told everything that mattered: that inside Batman’s heart, Stephanie was Robin, the same as Dick and Jason and Tim — her gender made no difference at all to that. That her loss is felt as keenly as those other losses Batman has been shaped by.

In those two panels, in that one gesture of Batman contemplating the Robins he’s lost in front of the symbol of those losses, that line of suits in cases, the glass ceiling keeping girls out of the red and green and gold costume at Batman’s side finally cracked and fell.

All I can say is: about fucking time. Way to go and all of the people, in and out of the industry, who made this possible.

Reasons why unisex bathrooms are good for all

When we talk about replacing gendered bathrooms with unisex ones, the conversation tends to focus on the important issue of giving those who don’t fit easily into the gender binary (whether they be trans*, genderqueer, intersexed, or even engaging in drag/cross-dressing) such a basic right as the ability to use a bathroom without the risk of being arrested, harassed, or assaulted.

But recently I read something that made me think about some of the other potential benefits of unisex bathrooms. A cisperson was arguing that since cispeople are the majority that we don’t need gender-free spaces, including unisex bathrooms. Now, of course, the easy answer to that is it doesn’t matter if it’s one person or a thousand, there’s no excuse for denying people their basic rights. But another thought occurred to me: this person was assuming that no cispeople were in favor of, or could benefit from, gender-free spaces.

Which, of course, is patently absurd. But it did make me think about the various “perks” for cispeople that could come from unisex bathrooms. So, I’ve made a lit of the potential benefits that a unisex bathroom could give over the traditional gendered ones:

  1. (Concerning men’s bathrooms) Raising the standard of cleanliness.
  2. Women’s bathrooms on average tend to be better maintained than men’s, and so combining them into a communal space would likely mean that the new bathroom would be maintained to the same cleanliness as the former women’s bathrom was.

  3. (Concerning men’s bathrooms) Access to a “powder room”.
  4. In certain cases, women’s bathrooms have what’s often called a “powder room”, which is a small area with chairs and mirrors. In a unisex situation, men would have access to this area as well.

  5. (Concerning women’s bathrooms) More available stalls.
  6. I can’t count the times when there has been a huge lineup at the women’s bathroom and none at the men’s where I wished I could just walk over there and use one of their stalls. Some places have tried to combat this problem by mandating that women’s bathrooms have more stalls, but shared stalls would solve the problem just as easily.

  7. Increased safety.
  8. While people may feel safer having a sign that designates “women” and “men”, the facts are that it’s no deterrent for perverts. Most of my female relatives have a story about being in a woman’s bathroom and having a man pop his head under the stall to watch her pee. For me it wasn’t a man, but a girl who was a classmate of mine. By removing the false sense of safety that gendered bathrooms provide, unisexed bathrooms would encourage increased security measures such as using dividers in stalls that go from the floor to the ceiling.

  9. Make it easier on families.
  10. While some places have introduced a “family bathroom”, most places just rely on the parent bringing their child into the bathroom with them. When the parent is not the same sex as the child, however, this can cause discomfort. Another problem is that not all men’s bathrooms have facilities such as baby changing stations (which has become standard for most women’s bathrooms) and so a man out with his children could find himself in a bind. Unisex bathrooms would solve these problems in the same way that family bathrooms do now.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many smaller venues already have unisex bathrooms, in the way of forgoing stalls in order to have one or two rooms with a toilet and sink. The transition would be the hardest part, but in the end I also believe that it would be more cost effective for buildings to have one larger restroom area rather than two smaller ones.

Can you think of any other benefits that could come from unisex bathrooms?