When people say “choice” the first thing we tend to think of is abortions. Me, I’m never going to get an abortion — unless the universe really hates me, that is. You see, when I was 23 I got my tubes tied so, unless I’m one of those less than 1% of women whose body naturally reverses the tubal, I’m not going to get pregnant which means I’ll never have to think about getting an abortion.
I grew up in a world where my right to bodily sovereignty was considered a basic right (though that way of thinking is slowly being eroded). Roe v. Wade pioneered the way for that kind of thinking, and so it’s in part responsible for my ability to get my tubes tied without kids, without a husband, and without being nearly post-menopausal. Roe v. Wade made it possible for me to never have to be faced with the decision to have an abortion.
So, yes, that decision gave countless women access to safe medical abortions, but that’s not all it did. It also was a major step in the direction of giving women control over their sexual lives and their bodies; it helped to give women access to birth control methods and family planning that otherwise would not have been available to them. It said that, yes, women do have the ability and right to make their own decisions regarding whether or not they want children.
When I think about “choice” I don’t just think about the abortion debate; I think about how thankful I am that I was allowed to make a choice that enriched my life. We need to create a society that allows more women to make such choices, not less.
On the over-the-top offensiveness of God Hand (the game the above clip comes from), pat of Token Minorities says:
I don’t think this is accidental. I think this says something about us, as the kinds of people who enjoyed and got used to playing games like Final Fight, where we fed the machine quarters and yelled “Oh yeah?! I’m going to beat your ass!” during every boss fight and punched punk stripper transsexuals all day and didn’t give a fuck. God Hand is laughing at you because you love it, because it has translated all the gendered and racialized images of our games of yesteryear into actual goddamn dialogue and you still don’t really notice it. It’s bringing us back to the Old School, complete with everything that was kind of messed up about the Old School, and so I propose that perhaps God Hand’s inclusion of blatantly Bad Things is actually so pronounced and over-the-top that it actually has a point, a thought-provoking point, and not merely gratuitous, sensational stupidity. Maybe it’s gotten a few people to idly ponder the games they played when they were young, and what they learned from it. It’s messed up, but it’s closer to the Chappelle’s Show end of the spectrum (thought-provoking and possibly educational) than Indigo Prophecy (which is basically ignorant) or Border Patrol (which is actively messed up).
I’m not sure that I agree with him (and would have to play the game to fully form an opinion), but it’s something to think about.
I apologize for rehashing an old debate, but I came across a Facebook cause yesterday called Forward Feminism. Their tagline states “Bring back the true values of Feminism” and they say that they are “[b]ased off the book Full Frontal Feminism”.
Full Frontal Feminism is what I’m going to call “feminism lite” (BetaCandy calls it Spice Girls Feminism). To my knowledge, the book is aimed at being a non-threatening introduction to feminism for those “I’m not a feminist, but” types. I can understand the logic and I can’t say that I wholly disagree. But at the same time this feminism lite gets marketed as the feminism (not always intentionally, but often through poor wording choices or just because the book becomes popular).
This is especially problematic when the rhetoric is targeted at highly privileged audiences, like FFF was. Many aspects of this have already been covered, especially the white and class privilege aspects (link roundup), but I’d like to address the underlying culture of privilege that feminism lite is a part of and perpetuates, using the Facebook cause that started this post off. Continue reading
Over on her LJ, Rachel Edidin debunks purported “female privileges” one by one:
Let’s take a closer look at some of these “female privileges”:
1. I am physically able to give birth to another human being, and then do my best to mold her or him into the kind of person I choose.
My sexual choices are more likely than a biological man’s to have life-altering consequences. As a result, the responsibility for birth control is tacitly mine. However, I am less likely to retain custody in the event of a divorce.
2. I am not automatically expected to be the family breadwinner.
If I am not contributing financially to my household, is assumed that I will be a parasite, or, at best, confined to the domestic sphere. In exchange for financial support, I will be assumed to “owe”
3. I feel free to wear a wide variety of clothes, from jeans to skimpy shorts to dresses as appropriate, without fear of ridicule.
If I am harassed or assaulted, it is likely that I will be blamed because of my choice of attire and/or adornment. My culture perceives many styles of dress as inviting extremely invasive and/or personal commentary by strangers, and the style of my dress will have a much more profound affect on my personal and professional opportunities.
Read the rest of the 25 point list here: When I Say “Check Your Privilege”…
My dad loves, and I mean loves, to talk about how the pill is what enabled women to become equal. He talks about it as if it’s the end-all-be-all of contraceptive and that something like women having a pill that they can take to prevent pregnancy was the deciding moment in the struggle for equality. Now, I think he presents it this way mostly because my family tends to talk in hyperbole, but I do think that it’s a reflection of the common way of thinking of the pill as freedom for women.
Now, obviously the pill has done some great things for some women. I’m not disputing that. But I would like to highlight a post by BetaCandy, How the pill revolutionized sex… for men, where she questions the conventional wisdom that the pill was some miraculous discovery for women everywhere:
We already had the solution to women’s freedom to have sex without worries about pregnancy: condoms. So why did we need a pill to market the concept that women could now have sex as they pleased?
Because men didn’t like condoms, and this “sexual freedom” women were being granted took place within a framework of having to sexually appeal to men and their preferences. I realize there were other apparent advantages to the pill: it was more convenient, it didn’t interrupt the moment, and for a lot of women it made periods more manageable (which sounds trivial to those who’ve never experienced grossly difficult or irregular periods, but trust me: it seems like a godsend at the time). But it wasn’t marketed as “convenient”; it was marketed as “freedom”, when condoms already provided that very freedom, plus STD protection, without side effects.
And I think that’s something that’s important to think about because so many things that are packaged in our society as “freedom” for women really translate into some freedom for women, but much more freedom for men. I feel like the rhetoric of the pill as revolutionary is symptomatic of the way women’s needs and wants are subsumed by greater narratives that, ultimately, cater more towards the needs of others rather than the needs of ourselves.
A Low Impact Woodland Home
Check out this low impact woodland home.
First up is a post at AllyWork on the qualities of an ally. It’s an anti-racist focused version of a paper from the Gay and Lesbian Action Council called “Qualities of a GLBT Ally.” On the list of what makes a person a good ally to people of colour are being someone who: works to develop an understanding of issues facing people of color; understands how racism and other patterns of oppression operate; works to be an ally to all oppressed people; and chooses to align with people of color and represent their needs, especially when they are unable to safely do so themselves. The rest of the 12 point list is a must-read for… well, anyone who doesn’t want to be seen as racist, really.
The other post is by Donna at The Silence of Our Friends, More on Full Frontal Feminism and really speaks to one of the repeated themes of this blog, which is that feminists can’t just be in this just for ourselves we have to be committed to ending oppression for everyone.
Here’s what struck the deepest chord with me in that post:
There are very few white allies who are trustworthy, who will do the right thing when it is at odds with their own wants, needs, goals. I am convinced that most of the major white feminists, including bloggers, have no intention of dismantling the patriarchal system, they want to join the power structure, have power over other people, and have a higher position in the hierarchy. That’s why they only wink and nod when it comes to issues involving other oppressed groups then tell us to shut up while they go about their important business of getting the things that are only to their advantage, and eventually (*wink nod* never) they will get around to our “pet issues”. Paying lip service to anti-racism is always to their advantage, gives them the warm fuzzies, and leads their readers to believe they are actually progressive instead of as selfish and self serving as conservatives.
The problem of paying lip service to equality isn’t confined to any one movement, but feminism is my movement and we have the tools, and the knowledge, to be better than this, damnit. Perhaps feminism that caters to privileged women (white, cisgendered, straight, etc) is easier to grasp and less challenging to follow in some ways, but it’s just as Donna said: you can’t dismantle the master’s house using the master’s tools.
So, Feministing is soliciting submissions for a new book called Yes Means Yes! (hat tip: feminist_writer LJ community). The book aims to brainstorm constructive ways that a more positive attitude towards sexuality, especially female sexuality, can help dismantle rape culture:
Imagine a world where women enjoy sex on their own terms and aren’t shamed for it. Imagine a world where men treat their sexual partners as collaborators, not conquests. Imagine a world where rape is rare and swiftly punished.
Welcome to the world of Yes Means Yes.
Yes Means Yes! will fly in the face of the conventional feminist wisdom that rape has nothing to do with sex. We are looking to collect sharp and insightful essays, from voices both established and new, that demonstrate how empowering female sexual pleasure is the key to dismantling rape culture.
Now, I am 100% behind the intent of the book. If I had the time, I would definitely submit something (unfortunately I barely have time to write my WisCon paper, and I have until May to finish that). It’s no secret that I’m a sex-positive feminist and I believe that sex-negative attitudes — both conservative sexual shaming and liberal forced sexuality — are harmful to a truly equal society and I think this book is an excellent opportunity to get some positive ideas out into the mainstream (or at least feminist-leaning mainstream). The book will go on my Amazon wishlist when it comes out.
However (there’s always a “however” with me, isn’t there?), I am not so pleased with this part of the pitch:
Yes Means Yes! will fly in the face of the conventional feminist wisdom that rape has nothing to do with sex.
There are two basic problems that I see with that line:
- It perpetuates a fundamental misunderstanding of what “rape isn’t sex” is saying.
- It is setting the editors/contributors in direct opposition to “conventional feminist wisdom”.
Below I’ll go into more detail as to the problems and talk about why I feel that this way of presenting feminist theory is problematic and ultimately hinders feminism as a movement. Continue reading
I just realized that I forgot to plug myself here. Via my other blog, The Life and Times of a Video Game Design Student, I was contacted to do a piece for Game Career Guide which is now up for viewing here: My Search for a Japanese Game School.