Give that man a cookie, er, Klondike!

Wow, a man refrains from violating the terms of his relationship agreement with his wife? Totally worthy of a reward. Give that man a cookie Klondike! <insert massive eyeroll here>

Actual analysis of Klondike’s latest series of commercials can be found over at The Hathor Legacy, in sbg’s post, Normal Behavior Rewarded as Extraordinary.

Dealing with harassment isn't that easy

I recently stumbled across a post called Cuppy, aka the anti-feminist, which was written in response to Brinstar’s I Reject the ‘Big Boys’ post. There’s actually a lot in it that I disagree on, but I’m going to focus on just one of her arguments.

One of the things that Cuppycake argues is as follows:

When you play in a video game, no one cares what gender or race you are except the immature idiots who you wouldn’t want to associate or group with anyway. Learn to avoid the immaturity and the disrespectful people and familiarize yourself with the ignore button and the fact that you can always meet new friends. Quit lumping all the men into this stereotype of “asshole, hardassed, disrespectful, immature, condescending jerks” and instead find yourself embracing the differences in people in the gaming culture. Just like the real world, you have people you need to avoid and distance yourself from and others that you will want to become closer to. The glory of current MMO’s is the ability to talk in private chats, to use ignore features, to join guilds, to pick and choose who you group with, to use chat profanity filters. We really can make gaming an enjoyable experience if we choose to and put a bit of effort into it.

I think that there are too many over-simplifications in her argument, starting with the way that she represents the opposing view and ending with the way she presents personal action as the solution to the problem of harassment. Continue reading

Who's responsible for facilitating discussion on men's issues?

One of the points that I agree with when it comes to Men’s Rights Activists is that men’s issues need to be addressed, too. I have addressed them on some occasions — especially when they intersect women’s issues — but overall I leave it to the (pro-)feminist men to handle, as they are the ones with the first-hand experiences.

Where I differ with the aforementioned MRA’s is where it comes to recognition of institutionalized power structures. From what I can tell, MRA’s as a group don’t acknowledge that there is a power structure in place that overall privileges some groups. Personally I think it’s rather too bad, as it is part of what prevents them from working (at least with male) feminists, but anyway that’s not really here or there.

People, especially ones who experience privilege, in general don’t acknowledge that there is institutionalized power structures. And that, I think, is what leads to instances such as what happened to Ariel and her fellow performers below.

In The Penis Monologues Ariel talks about something that happened during a production of The Vagina Memoirs, which consisted of women going up there and telling their real stories of everything from sexual assault to discussing their queer identities [emphasis mine]:

We had a dialogue afterward the show, and someone in the audience made a comparison to reverse racism and asked why we weren’t including men’s voices in such performances. […]

The director of the upcoming men’s show was in the audience, and spoke out. But I was surprised no more men spoke up, especially white men (the men’s show director is a person of color) when the man in the audience compared what we were doing to reverse racism. The Memoirs cast had just made ourselves extremely vulnerable… [a]ll things that we shared in hopes that other women wouldn’t feel so isolated and alone, and yet the men in the audience didn’t inspired enough to step out of his box and explain that no, there is no such thing as reverse sexism. …Why didn’t anyone step up and say that?

[From The Penis Monologues by Ariel Wetzel]

There are two examples of privilege in Ariel’s story. The first is that at least one man in the audience felt that it was appropriate to not only bring up the issue of men, but to do it in a way that accused the people putting on the play of not only being bigots, but having the power to back up that bigotry.

Whether or not a similar play addressing men’s issues is a good idea isn’t the point here. The point is that the forum and the style in which this issue was brought up was inappropriate.

Women get so few chances in which to share our stories with each other, to find out that we aren’t alone in our experiences, and to have venues in which to publicly tell our stories. The fact that women are beginning to organize and bring these things to their communities is nothing short of amazing.

If women can do this in the face of all the pressure from institutionalized sexism, then what’s stopping men from doing the same? Why is it women’s responsibility to make sure that men feel included by a presentation that, by its very name, is supposed to be about women reaching out to women?

And that’s the first expression of privilege: Privilege is feeling entitled to always be included, no matter what.

Instead of seeing the production and thinking, “Hmm, that was really inspiring. How great would it be if there was a companion production for men? I should talk to the producer after the show!” the man in the audience unthinkingly shifted the responsibility, and created blame for not having preemptively accommodated him, onto the entire cast of the production, choosing to “shame” them in the most public way — through the Q&A session.

He never questioned the appropriateness of his comment, or in bringing up that kind of argument in a production aimed at creating common bonds between the people of a marginalized group. He never thought that he didn’t need to be included in this kind of production and, in any case, it wasn’t the group’s responsibility to do so.

Privileged groups are so used to seeing ourselves represented, that it’s hard to step back and allow the non-privileged groups to create their own representation that traditional media venues deny them.

The second expression of privilege falls on the rest of the men in the audience, excluding the one who spoke up. Where were the other men to express disapproval over the first man’s inappropriate framing of the issue? Where was all that homosociality that is so easy to use when reinforcing the status quo? Out of all the men in the audience, only one man spoke up. One.

Privilege is seeing something wrong happening, but not having to do anything because it doesn’t directly affect you.

Here’s the thing, men who are and/or want to be (pro-)feminist. Men like the one above? Aren’t going to listen to women. If they can sit through a play about women’s experiences, marketed towards a women audience, and then come up with a “reverse sexism” charge… no matter what we say, no matter how we say it, they ain’t listening.

That’s where you come in. Call them on their crap. You see a man harassing a woman? If you can, try to stop it. Your friend is being ignored or condescended by a friend/acquaintance/whatever? Tell them to knock it off because it’s sexist/racist/etc. If men stand by and do nothing while other men continue to perpetuate oppression, then it just sends the message that these things are okay. And if you don’t think they are, then you need to speak up and say so. And, by the way, if you’re a woman who is any combination of straight, white, cisgendered, able-bodied, middle-class or above… you need to speak up, too.

The Penis Monologues

I’m in favor of men speaking out about how patriarchy hurts them; how they’re expected to act as men, how they’re denied validity in their emotions beyond anger—and denied their full humanity as oppressors.

But it isn’t the job of women to facilitate that discussion.

Last night was the opening night of The Vagina Memoirs, an annual performance at my university as a part of the V-Week Campaign. We share our own stories. I like to think of it as social justice through performance. I’d never verbally shared my own writing before. It was awesome. Perhaps I’ll reflect more on the process after our last performance on Saturday.

We had a dialogue afterward the show, and someone in the audience made a comparison to reverse racism and asked why we weren’t including men’s voices in such performances.

My director responded rather tactfully and we plugged an upcoming show at our school called Undressing the Other: Discovering the Naked Truth About Stereotypes that traditionally is starring women of color and their allies, but for the first time this year there is a separate men’s cast. I didn’t say all I wanted to say last night because I wanted to promote Undressing the Other, so I’ll share my thoughts here.

The director of the upcoming men’s show was in the audience, and spoke out. But I was surprised no more men spoke up, especially white men (the men’s show director is a person of color) when the man in the audience compared what we were doing to reverse racism. The Memoirs cast had just made ourselves extremely vulnerable, sharing stories about our body image and femme queer identity and watching porn and losing our virginity and being raped and molested. All things that we shared in hopes that other women wouldn’t feel so isolated and alone, and yet the men in the audience wasn’t inspired enough to step out of his box and explain that no, there is no such thing as reverse sexism. Women can reinforce the status quo, the patriarchy. Women can be prejudiced towards men. But women do not have the physical or institutional power to backup that prejudice. Why didn’t anyone step up and say that?

My fellow castmembers defended their pieces by qualifying, “We don’t hate men!” I certainly don’t! Some of my best friends are men. Seriously. But I also wanted to speak up and say that I disagree: all men benefit from sexism, so yes, all men are part of the problem and are morally obligated to combat sexism, everyday. Yeah, much like I benefit from racism because I’m white and live in a white supremacist culture. I have to combat racism. It’s the right thing to do. Those aren’t two mutually exclusive struggles.

And it’s not our job as women to coordinate a show for men talking about masculinity. I think it’s great a small handful of men at my school want to be allies to women and speak out about how white supremacist patriarchal culture hurts all of us. I wish more men would instead of criticizing women like it’s our job as the minority to make sure the majority’s voices are included.

IMPACT Defense Against Multiple Assailants class

Good afternoon,!
My name is Katie, and I’m a white cisgendered female heterosexual able-bodied blogger.

Andrea gave me a Shrub login a few weeks ago so I could post ideas that I thought fit the thoughtful “breaking out of roles we’re supposed to have based upon our social categories” theme I often see here. I never did post the original piece I meant to, but it wasn’t critical. This is. Everyone should know how to defend his or her body to the maximum extent he or she can, and those who know owe it to those who don’t to responsibly pass on whatever they can by word of mouth.

Therefore I’m reposting here a summary of my experiences in IMPACT’s “Defense Against Multiple Assailants” course. (If you want more details about “defense against a single assailant,” click here.)

I look forward to hearing your comments and engaging with you here on for a long time to come!

     Fighting multiple unarmed assailants bore some similarities to fighting single unarmed assailants. Firstly, the premise of the attack was sexual assault or some other act that implied the assailants wanted you alive and aware of what they were doing until they felt that they had managed to perform this act. Therefore, assailants were more likely to grab and restrain us than to throw a deadly punch.

     As in Single Unarmed Assailants class, the presumption was that they were out to

  1. convince us to stop hitting them but not “fight” the way men fight each other and
  2. do sexual things we didn’t want them to do (or, as I said, something like that).

     This class is not adequate preparation for fighting multiple henchmen in a Jet Li movie whose only goal is to kill you as fast as possible.

Continue reading

BK commercial redux: It's not about the burgers

About half a year ago I wrote about the infamous Burger King commercial and I haven’t stopped getting shit about it. Even more so because it’s apparently on the air again. Most of them I just delete, but there has been one sitting in my moderation queue for more than a week now.

daisy wrote:

As a married women, I saw this commercial and asked what my husband thought. He had a laugh and I asked how he wasn’t offended. He simply said, why do guys play football, wrestle with friends, or eat huge burgers. Boys will be boys. He left me with that thought and I agreed. This commercial is targetted at men, let them enjoy it, and let them eat their meat.

I probably should have let it pass without comment, but the whole “let them eat their meat” was borderline minimizing, as the implication is “you shouldn’t bother raising issue about this kind of issue.”

But, then, today I was reading an entry by Jill of Feministe on PETA’s politics where she discusses the connection between meat and masculinity. Ariel, who is not only a vegan but has done research into the intersection of vegetarianism and feminism, would probably the better candidate to discuss this issue, but I’ll do my best to convey more clearly this time why this issue is an issue not because of the burgers, but rather because it’s perpetuating a destructive view of masculinity. Continue reading

Good Children and Better Women: Lessons Learned from Nanny McPhee

On New Year’s Eve, tekanji and I watched Nanny McPhee, a British fantasy movie for children. In the film, the magical Nanny McPhee comes to the Brown Estate to help Cedric Brown, widower and mortician, manage his seven unruly children, free of charge. Since the death of their mother, the Brown children have driven away seventeen nannies.

Nanny McPhee is a movie that tells both women and children how they ought to be. I want to analyze the messages in this film because I’m interested in the power dynamics between children and adults. Even powerful people were children once. I’ll explore some of the lessons I “learned” from this movie in this post.

Continue reading

This from a man who can't even use the word "woman" in his post

So, apparently, there is maybe, sort of, perhaps a possibility that Halo 3 will get a female voice for its multiplayer mode. I’m not a fan of Halo 3, so the decision doesn’t exactly affect me. Though back in the day when I had this mythical thing called “time” I was disappointed that the FPS games I played either had no female characters or inappropriately sexualized their female player characters, so it would be nice to see an FPS giving a nod to the women playing even if I’m not one of them.

However, despite assurances from Bungie’s website that the voice “won’t be comical, stereotypical or insulting – we’ll pick a great, strong female actress who can pull off bloodcurdling death cries and rattles,” (which, if true, would be great; the whole orgasmic death thing creeps me out) I have a hard time taking someone seriously who didn’t even bother to use the word “woman” when addressing and talking about the female gamers. Continue reading

Catholic League Plays the Victim Blaming Card

The Catholic League in response to former congressman Mark Foley remarking that he was abused by a clergyman:

“As for the alleged abuse, it’s time to ask some tough questions. First, there is a huge difference between being groped and being raped, so which was it Mr. Foley? Second, why didn’t you just smack the clergyman in the face? After all, most 15-year-old teenage boys wouldn’t allow themselves to be molested. So why did you?”

Getting victim blamed for abuse and molestation ain’t just for the girls, apparently. Not exactly the kind of “gender parity” I’d like to see, though.

Via Darth Sidhe.