Category Archives: feminism

The Pill

by cacophonies

edit as of 10/14/09: Please read the updated post that will appear sometime 10/14/09 evening (US Central time) for a clarification of what I intended to get across with this post before commenting on this thread. Comments from here on out yelling at me about my tone will be deleted. Thank you.

Amanda Marcotte wrote an article about how she’s irritated by all of the criticism of the Pill, and claims of scientific studies proving that hormonal birth control is harming women’s health and the planet. She doesn’t believe the claims, and believes instead that because the Pill symbolizes “female sexual independence,” it should remain on the market, for everyone, no matter what the silly studies say.

I usually really appreciate Amanda Marcotte. She’s an intelligent and insightful writer, her book is hilarious, and I just generally know that if she writes something, I’m likely to enjoy it. But jumping on the bandwagon of feminists who can rant all day about right-wing ass holes not believing in global warming and other proven scientific facts, and 15 minutes later are closing their eyes and sticking their fingers in their ears when someone says they ought to be informed and look for another form of birth control (there are a whole lot of choices out there, ladies and gentlemen) because this one is proven to be detrimental to most women’s mental and physical health, and also fucks with the ecosystem, is not progressive. Not in the slightest. And when they do acknowledge that all of those things can be true, they are very quick to claim that, regardless of all of the known dangers even to people who don’t take the Pill, we would have no right taking it away from the people who wish to continue using it.

Why not? We expect that once it was proven that cigarette smoke not only causes lung cancer in a smoker, but also in non-smokers via second-hand smoke, that cigarette smoking will no longer be allowed in an enclosed public space, in order to protect the people who are not choosing to do something dangerous to their health. In most Western industrialized nations, it is.

We expect that once we learned about the dangers of DDT to the workers who sprayed it, the people who ate what it was sprayed on, and the environment, that it would be banned. It was.

We expect that if it’s discovered that spinach has E.Coli, it’s recalled and stricter safety regulations are enforced. It generally is.

But feminists of the so-called “third wave” or contemporary persuasion, for some reason, love the crap out of Big Pharma. You can’t pry those precious prescriptions for all of their many problems out of their claws. They can’t seem to grasp the idea that many prescription medications are bad for you, and bad for the environment. If they can grasp it, they try as hard as they can to find a reason why it would be wrong, immoral and sexist to ban them. Or, how, Who cares if it’s bad, what you said made me feel fat!

Amanda discusses some study done somewhere that proved that while women were on the Pill, they were attracted to more “domestic” men than they were when they were off the Pill. She blows it off, eventually seeming to call people who are predisposed to consider what anthropologists have to say silly for believing what she clearly thinks is hogwash.

She also finds a way to make sure that it looks like someone is leaving out lesbians: “I’m also sure lesbians in the audience will be amused to hear their hormones direct them to this man or that, depending on their cycle.”

No. While the article is clearly hetero-centric and doesn’t take into account the fact that lesbians ovulate just as much as heterosexual women do, Amanda doesn’t take into account the fact that “domestic” and “rebellious” are not traits that only exist in heterosexual people. If the study is more or less accurate in it’s hypothesis, then lesbian women would be more attracted to more “domestic” women while on the Pill.

There was a thread on Feministe a while back, reviewing a book about all kinds of lefty-natural-green-save-the-planet things. Like how antibiotics in your system will kill fertile soil when it goes from your body to the earth. The author found this out by pooping in his yard regularly, and noted the difference when he pooped while taking antibiotics.

Everyone got mad at me, and the author or the post told me not to comment on that thread again, because I was too snarky for them (I was of the belief that there was nothing too snarky for Feministe commentariat) and “condescending” because of what I said in the comments about the reviewer’s criticism about the author’s claim that the Pill is bad for the planet. I heard all kinds of reasons why I should be just totally fine with toxic chemicals in my drinking water:

also your call for eliminating antidepressants and other drugs “for the good of the planet” is pretty damned ableist. i think my not committing suicide from uncontrolled depression takes priority here.

I think that if I am going to be called an ableist for understanding that many chemicals in anti-depressants are bad for those using them and also, eventually, for those who choose not to use them, then it could be argued that you could be labeled selfish for choosing to save yourself from the magnitude of your depression rather than the health of 6 billion other people.

he is causing MAJOR environmental issues by possibly introducing foreign bacterial colonies to local soil populations. VERY BAD idea to be eating things from ALL OVER the planet and then pooping them out on the surface of the soil.

“Foreign bacterial colonies”… Hmm. I guess hormonal birth control doesn’t count as something foreign to introduce to the local soil populations… I guess soil just evolves happily with synthetic hormones, but not with this guy’s poop?

Why are all of these feminists so reluctant and angry and unwilling to admit that sometimes, these things are bad, and that even if we think they’re bad, we should keep them around all the time for everyone anyway? Ok. Science knows nothing? Then why not let the religious right have what they want, and teach Creationism in schools? That’s a good idea, then, right? If we follow the proposed logic, anyway.

I get the concern about people who are dependent on prescription medication, and I’m not proposing that we make prescription medication illegal. I also think that it’s very important to consider that many people are dependent on prescription medications because of conditions caused by pollution, toxins used in our household cleaners, baby formula, and poor health decisions that didn’t exist 100 years ago. Do we want to eradicate this trend, or perpetuate it? Again, I’m not advocating forbidding medication to those in existence who need them, but there has to be another option. Am I willing to say that having the Pill is an even trade for the slow, inevitable death of our planet, if we keep it up?


It’s time for feminism to get out of bed with the pharmaceutical companies and think about their health, the health of other women, and the health of the rest of the planet that we all claim to care deeply about.

The catch is that there are women who genuinely suffer from excruciating pain when they have their periods, who haven’t been able to find comfort in anything but hormonal contraceptives. This, I understand. I’m not trying to advocate taking your only comfort away from you. But that isn’t the end. “Some people neeeed them” isn’t a good enough reason to ignore the fact that Big Pharma, the FDA, and the rest of the government really don’t care about you or me or anyone else. It isn’t a good enough reason to keep up production and not demand regulations and absolute, 100% safety in these products. That’s what they are: products. Have we forgotten that we, as a users of oral contraceptives, are not people with a problem that you’re taking a pill to treat or “cure,” but a consumer of a product? I think we have. Consider, then, that manufacturers of these products are going to do what they can to manufacture these drugs as cheaply as possible, which will create the highest profit, which means the product will be sub-par in quality. A trend that has always led to adverse effects on our health, and everyone else’s that manages to inadvertently come in contact with it. Under-regulated drug designers are concerned with their profit, and only with their profit. They are in the business they are in, not because they care about increasing the quality of the lives of the people who purchase their products, but because they know that there is a demand for oral contraception, and they want to get in on the profit. Even the religious suppression of the Pill in the United States has never overcome its demand.

I was on The Pill for a few months. I figured I might as well, since I was in a monogamous relationship and it seemed terrifically convenient to pop a pill a day and say goodbye to condoms. I imagine that’s the way most women feel when they go on The Pill for contraceptive reasons.

My experience, however, was less than pleasant I grew incredibly depressed. My breasts hurt constantly, and I had cramps that were worse than the ones I got with my period. My doctor asked me absolutely zero questions and basically just handed me the prescription that she figured would be best, and I therefore had no idea what to expect or what to do, other than take the thing at the same time every day. I didn’t ask her any questions because I trusted that she knew best. When I got to the end of the first 3 weeks, and took the placebo pills, I started to bleed, as though I had my period. From Wikipedia, explaining the placebo pills:

The placebo pills allow the user to take a pill every day; remaining in the daily habit even during the week without hormones. Placebo pills may contain an iron supplement, as iron requirements increase during menstruation.

Failure to take pills during the placebo week does not impact the effectiveness of the pill, provided that daily ingestion of active pills is resumed at the end of the week.

I guess it just didn’t occur to me that I’d need to be reminded to do the thing that stopped me from possibly getting pregnant while I bled. Oh, but I didn’t even need to bleed:

The withdrawal bleeding that occurs during the break from active pills was thought to be comforting, as a physical confirmation of not being pregnant.[55] The 28-day pill package also simulates the average menstrual cycle, though the hormonal events during a pill cycle are significantly different from those of a normal ovulatory menstrual cycle.

So I took a pill so that I didn’t get pregnant. My breasts grew one cup size (permanently) as a result of the extra estrogen that my body didn’t need or want to produce or accomodate; everything hurts; I’m depressed as hell. Fuck this– there are plenty of other ways that I can prevent myself from getting pregnant when I don’t want to be. And don’t even think of telling me that one way to help the depression while still taking The Pill is to start taking an anti-depressant. Just don’t bother.

I know that my experiences are not the same as every woman’s, and I wouldn’t presume to tell other women that they shouldn’t do something simply because I had a bad experience with them. On the other hand, many women report problems with The Pill. Many women need their PIll’s estrogen level increased or decreased because what they’re doing is introducing more of one hormone (actually, two; progesterone is the other active ingredient in The Pill) into the body, that the body doesn’t naturally produce, that the body does not want. Since the body does not produce it and does not want it, it creates negative effects. Like depression, tender breasts, cramping (fooling your body into believing it’s pregnant, so it doesn’t think it needs to let you get that way), blood clots, breast cancer.

Once I realized that my depression was so severe and I couldn’t figure out why, I had a spark of curiosity and Googled The Pill. When I read about the depression, I stopped taking it. When I read about how my “period” while on The Pill was not in any way real (I knew something seemed quite off), I got mad.

It’s time to stop blindly trusting the corporations that produce toxic chemicals and tell us that they symbolize our freedom. It’s absolutely nonsense to allow these corporations to get away with it, just because we can’t think of a better solution. Let’s focus on a different way to help women with reproductive freedom; The Pill is clearly more detrimental than beneficial.

update: Lookie here! I’m already called an ableist because I write a post that dares to discuss the negative side effects of oral contraceptives!

Shocking! Heaven forbid we allow ourselves to consider the larger environmental impact of our rampant pharmaceutical usage.

Micro vs. Macro

by cacophonies

This is a post where I hope to see readers’ participation. I’ve devoted a lot of blog space lately to how I think feminism “ought to” be, but I don’t want any ensuing discussion to be yet another feminist echo chamber like so many blog posts we often see, and I also hope to avoid arguing for the sake of arguing. Hopefully we can learn something from one another and bring up some ideas for change– no matter how theoretical or utopian. Hopefully we can help elaborate on one another’s ideas and provide contructive criticism when necessary.

It seems that the majority of disagreements that occur between feminists and non-, or anti- feminists occur because the parties involved in the debate are not coming from the same place in their arguments.

One thing we all see repeated over and over in blogs, in discussions with friends and acquaintances when discussing social justice issues are situations where a discussion like the following occurs:

Woman: “Women bear the brunt of institutionalized sexism, are the majority of victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and earn, on average, less money than their male counterparts.”

Man: “But my friend Tim, who has a doctorate, was turned down for a job he was more than qualified for because a woman applied. She wasn’t as qualified as Tim; they only hired her because of Affirmative Action. That’s blatant sexism, and it is sexism with men as the victim. Sexism is not only a problem for women.”

Woman: “But that woman may not have had another opportunity for that job. Where do you expect her opportunities come from? What about the countless women who are turned down for promotions that they are qualified for, only to have an under-qualified male hired instead, because the male boss didn’t trust that a female would have the necessary drive or intellect, even though she had more than proven her intelligence and worth to the company?”

Man: “The system that you are talking about is legalized sexism toward men and toward white people, plain and simple.”

Woman: “Think about it this way. A man, Bob, and a woman, Sue, work for a company. They do the same job, they started on the same day 5 years ago, they have the same level of education, they achieve identical results on their performance reviews. One day it comes out that Bob makes $60,000 a year and Sue makes $40,000 a year. Since they both perform equally as well, are identically educated, and neither has seniority over the other, Sue is rightfully angry. She confronts her boss, who states that he has exactly $100,000 in the company budget to pay the two of them. There is not a cent more they can squeeze out. He is under obligation to make their pay equal, or he faces a battle in court that he will certainly lose. He decides to do the right thing, and make Bob and Sue’s pay equal.

In doing so, Sue got a $10,000/year raise. Bob received a $10,000/year pay cut. They continue to perform the same job with equal skill and dependency.”

Man: “That is not fair. Bob does not deserve to have his pay cut just because the boss was sexist in the first place. The boss needs to figure out a way to please everyone and make things fair for Sue, but Bob should not be penalized for it. He did nothing wrong and was not involved in the decision to pay him $20,000 more per year than a woman of equal education, skill, and experience.”

Woman: “But there is no more room in the budget. Should Sue continue to earn less than she is worth because the boss is sexist, and because it’s not Bob’s fault?”

Is this fair?

Well, that’s hard to say. The man has a point when he says that it’s not his fault that the boss made a decision rooted in sexism, and that he should not have to pay the penalty for being favored initially.

The woman has a point when she says that it is not fair that the woman not be compensated equally for equal work.

The boss, however, made it clear (and let’s assume he is being truthful) that there is no room in the budget to put them both at $60,000/year. And furthermore, where does the equality that is missing come from? It doesn’t materialize out of nowhere; it must be redistributed from existing resources.

What is fair, then?

You could argue that if Sue is not earning what she deserves, which is half of the payroll budget for half of the work, then Bob is earning more than he deserves, since he does not have more experience, education, work ethic, etc. than his female counterpart. No, it is not his fault, but he has also done nothing to deserve more compensation than what was allotted in the first place.

Focusing on the fact that most women earn less than their male peers in the workplace is what often occurs in feminist discourse, on the internet and elsewhere. Focusing on Bob’s experience, and Man’s friend Tim’s experience with Affirmative Action is what tends to occur in non- or anti-feminist (or MRA) discourse– or, more often than not, their polarized arguments are yelled back and forth at one another.

Both have valid points, as we’ve explored already. Bob doesn’t seem to deserve a pay cut; he wasn’t a part of the sexist decision-making that caused the problem in the first place. But Sue is representative of scores of women who are systematically compensated inadequately and unfairly for equal work, education, experience.

The problem with feminist discourse is that no one is willing, apart from the outspoken critics of feminism, to discuss what happens when we try to dismantle the patriarchal structure from the top and watch everyone fall down. Would we benefit from working our way up, from the bottom, instead of scrambling to put the pieces back together after everything falls to the ground? I think we would be.

Most of us agree that “the patriarchy” as it stands is the root of many, if not the majority, of our social problems. Do you think that the current “macro” approach to solving these problems is beneficial? Would focusing on a “micro”approach yield better, or faster, results? What are your theories? Are there lessons from personal experiences that may prove beneficial if applied across a given populace?

Gender Equality

by cacophonies

For anyone who reads this blog with any regularity, you’ve no doubt noticed the lack of posts in the past month. Well, imnotme and I moved, we’ve been getting ready for school (imnotme transferring and me enrolling for spring) and are settling into a new routine, and blogging has just become an afterthought– although imnotme has started a side project, blogging about his experiences on Trazodone, a prescription that he’s just begun taking for insomnia.

In addition to (and maybe of because of) that, I’ve been reconsidering my motives for starting and writing on this blog.

I still “believe in” feminism, at it’s core. I am still grateful for those women and men who are activists and change minds and policies every day. But I’m also changing my focus, whether I really wanted to or not. I’m in no way saying that I no longer care about the ways that sexism and misogyny affect women and try to (and do!) hold us down. But… I can no longer say that I feel that it’s important for us to focus solely on the ways that sexism hurts women.

While it’s important and useful to personalize and identify your passions and activism, to not spread yourself too thin, feminists tend to flat-out ignore the ways that misogyny, patriarchy, and sexism affect men. You tend to hear more these days, but they’re barely scratching the surface, with their quickly forgotten, sentence-long statement about how “patriarchy hurts men, too,” before moving on to how sexism against men is really just another manifestation of misogyny.

The thing is, I tend to agree with the assertion that hatred and fear of femininity is the root cause of most, if not all forms of sexism against men. What needs to change is that we need to stop focusing on this, stop using it as a rhetorical sound-bite to illustrate to the masses how misogyny is still alive and well.

When men are discriminated against because of their sex or gender identity, when they’re being held to ridiculous gender expectations, we, as feminists, need to stop screaming “feminism!!” in their faces. Perhaps embracing feminism is one solution, but it’s certainly not the only. Ordering a man to embrace feminism when he’s been the victim of sexual discrimination at the hands of a woman isn’t going to earn you his trust right away.

Imnotme and I had an incredibly enlightening and emotional discussion about physical standards men are expected to live up to. Throughout the conversation, as I listened to imnotme talk about the pressure to be a “buff,” muscular dude, I had to restrain myself from interrupting him to remind him of how many young women struggle with anorexia and other eating disorders, how the pressure to be thin, as a woman, was, in my opinion, far more dangerous and affecting. And I’m glad I did manage restraint, because imnotme was being candid and open with his struggles with gender conformity and expectations, and who was I to make it “all about the womenz”? Feminist blogs use that statement all the time– only, of course, replace “womenz” with “menz.” Men stumble across a feminist blog, read about rape statistics, and argue that no one cares about prison rape, men are wrongly accused of rape all the time, etc., thereby making it “all about the menz.”

Trying to assert that misogyny is more significant or damaging than misandry (if you even agree that misandry can exist– some radical feminists and other left-leaning bloggers would disagree, since men are the ruling class and oppressors) is to try to split sexism into neat little categories of importance, diminishing the voices of so many other oppressed people, invalidating their experiences.

I’m tired of fighting on a “side.” There’s no sense to it anymore, and even if we finally get where we’re going, it’s taken much longer than necessary.

I’m still going to get angry when I see pictures of celebrity women that are Photoshopped beyond belief, the subjects turned into disproportionate waifs with no hips or breasts to speak of, that we are supposed to strive to look like. But I’m also going to get angry when I see Calvin Klein ads with men who are 6 feet tall and 190 pounds of muscle, huge biceps and discernible abs and square jaws, that men are supposed to strive to look like.

I still identify as a  feminist, but I’m not going to act on one side anymore. I’m for gender equality, not just the equality of women.

Counter Point to ‘Thoughts On Privilege’

by imnotme

I have been reading and reflecting on Cacophonies’ last post on privilege, a post I very much enjoyed, and instead of commenting, thought I would simply counter-point since my comment is truly another perspective and not necessarily a criticism.

Cacophonies wrote, and I will summarize rather than quote/cite, that, while oppression and privilege exist in varying degrees, does not each individual existing along that spectrum have their own right to lament or have concerns regardless of their level of privilege? To this I say yes, each individual has that right in-arguably. However, there is a further ethical question here… or, an additional axiom with which to calculate preferable behaviour. A consideration that I think is quite fair since the original complaint of Cacophonies is a social one, i.e. it is the social repercussions of ‘people with privilege who complain’, that would cause people to say things like “you know, Paris, others have it worse, so don’t let your day get ruined over this chip in the paint on your favorite Ferrari.” It’s possible that the roots of this sentiment are envy, but I don’t think it’s very likely. I think the sentiment is altruistic in nature and that it’s generally said one privileged person to the next. So that one investment banker would tell his stressed out coworker at their private spa that “Hey, your portfolio fell flat this week, but you know, look at us, we’re doing fine, be grateful.”

This to me is not a criticism of the plaintiff’s feelings, but a reminder that things will probably turn out okay given their relative well standing, be it economic, medical, spiritual, or social privilege that a person enjoys. Additionally, people do not tend to console each other over types of privilege they do not have in excess. This means that a wealthy woman would be less likely to remind her wealthy friend who recently lost a loved one that they are privileged as an effort to lessen that person’s pain. Contrarily, a person of very little wealth may indeed console an equally impoverished friend on the loss of their loved by reminding the bereaved that they led a rich life and shared many beautiful moments together. So I believe that the impulse to console, or temper if you will, another person’s emotional reaction to a perceived or real pain is done so by individuals who share the same privilege.

On a brief sidenote, I am accounting for the underprivileged who either feel they are, or actually are oppressed by the ultra elite as separate from this argument in that polarized class struggle is a social phenomenon, and therefore, it is another topic entirely.

Back to the point then. I would offer up the notion that personal excesses beyond survival necessities (say, food and shelter) can readily be called ‘privileges’ since they do not enter the realm of life and death, and furthermore, easily open the door to exploitation when labor or resource distribution are factors. I offer this notion as additional to Cacophonies’ general thesis and not necessarily contrary or irreconcilable to it. Yet, using this more definitive approach to privilege it certainly follows that those with privilege, or those with more than they need to survive, may not have a socio-ethical “right” to complain about their privilege-dependent concerns (although, here the court would, of course, withhold any harsh convictions upon children raised in privilege and simultaneous ignorance).

In this sense I would readily accept the burden of holding my tongue when my computer fails, because it is more than I need to survive, and survival is a pretty accurate indicator of whether or not one’s needs are met. And I hasten to restate now, that I hold the unsatisfied elite in great contempt when they lament within the context of their privilege, but would never console them about their lost child or dying relative within that same context. With that I feel that I have touched on a more mysterious universal truth of sorts, in as much as people can mostly agree that reasonable people who are poor or unskilled are generally provided a basic standard of living, and reasonable people who achieve incredible privilege are pressured in some way to give from their excess (and by reasonable, I mean non-malicious or non-predatory).

Finally, if it is the right of one person to complain, then it can only be the right of the next person who shares the same type of privilege to say, “hey, you may have lost a rug here, but it seriously could be worse.”, and it would most certainly also be the underpaid fast food worker’s right to roll their eyes at the tirade a wealthy person unleashes in front of them about the quality of their fast food.

25 Reasons Why I Am A Feminist

by cacophonies

There was a meme floating around Facebook for a while titled “25 random things about me,” or something to that effect. My friend Erin participated, but changed it to “25 reasons why I am a feminist.” (You can find Erin’s list here, if she allows non-friends to view her notes, which I’m not sure about.)

I decided to do the same thing. Here’s my list (note that I wrote this a few months ago, so some reasons referenced current events that are no longer so current):

1. The craze over Natalie Dylan’s virginity auction. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about how that looks, about her reasons, or about the whole idea in the first place, but that’s part of the problem. It’s not my place, or anyone else’s place, to decide what another woman should or should not do with her body or sexuality. It’s hers, period. This is clearly a choice, not coersion or desperation, and therefore it should be allowed to happen without scrutiny from people not involved.

2. Men who cite “but I’m expected to be manly and make a lot of money and never show emotions” as a reason why they think that feminism is invalid, useless, or that men are “more oppressed.” It’s not because our society is oppressing men, but because the things men “aren’t allowed” to do is show any sign of weakness or other stereotypical feminine quality. Because femininity is not valued in our society and masculinity is. That’s institutionalized misogyny.

3. We are all held to rigid and unachievable gender expectations. This will continue to happen as long as we don’t acknowledge feminism (aka, as long as we continue to act as though females are inferior to males– even if we don’t say it out loud).

4. Any time I go to get a haircut and tell the stylist how short I want it, they ask if I’m sure, over and over.

5. There are still people who think that my potential fetus is more valuable and important than I am.

6. I get letters at work every day from customers who address them “Dear Sir(s).”

7. People think that a good insult for a woman they don’t like is to call her a “cunt” — a name referencing her genitalia. As though we should be insulted by a reference to it.

8. I’m marketed to EVERYWHERE by companies owned by men that sell products to get rid of any natural vaginal odor I might have, cream that will rid me of any sign that I’m over the age of 21, that promises I will get rid of stretch marks from childbirth, “mommy surgery” to rid my body of any signs I’ve given birth and bewilderingly, to change the shape of my labia to match those of airbrushed, surgically-enhanced centerfold models. Similar products are not marketed to men in any similar frequency or abundance on mass media (not including email spam about penis enlarging that even I’ve gotten). And if they were, we should STILL be concerned, but that’s another issue.

9. Many men, most of whom don’t even realize they’re doing it, will all but completely ignore my presence in, potential interest in, or ability to contribute to, a conversation that starts with him, me and another male about politics, science, music, or anything else that requires any level of critical thinking or opinion-giving. I may have contributed to the beginning of a conversation, sparked a conversation thread, but it will consistently end up being the males that make eye contact with each other and finish the conversation. I stop being included once my token contribution time has expired.

10. When I was a kid and into my teens and twenties, when I would walk to work along a busy road, I would be cat-called, whistled at or yelled obscene phrases to, regardless of how I was dressed, what I was wearing, whether I was even paying attention to the cars on the road. It’s only less frequent now because I work with my male significant other, and when I’m walking around downtown before or after work, it’s generally with him. Men won’t hit on me now because they see a man with me, which indicates that I am someone else’s “property,” an idea that they are willing to understand and respect over someone being their own person, instead of someone else’s property.

11. Any time I sign on to MySpace, Facebook or LiveJournal, I see advertisements for new diets, how to lost 25 pounds in 10 seconds or something, and even one banner with a before-and-after picture asking me, “Are you 25 and overweight?” My boyfriend primarily sees either ads for electronics, or ads on how to meet hot, single women.

12. Pixie waifs as the new trendy way to look if you’re a female, because long-haired waifs are SO last season. Not because there’s anything wrong with someone who would fit into the category of “waif,” but because only showing that one image of beauty is only reinforcing the idea that we are only valuable if very thin.

13. When I go to Target to buy deodorant withOUT antiperspirant, I have a choice of 3 over-priced and stinky “all-natural” scents, from one brand. When my boyfriend goes there for non-anti-perspirant deodorant, he has the same options I have (they’re unisex) PLUS an additional variety of non-anti-perspirant in all the major, recognized brands.

14. When I was in high school, my friends and I were being picked up after school by a male friend of ours who had long hair that he wore in a ponytail. When he drove up to the front of the school, a group of guys talked about the chick driving the nice car and, upon realizing it was a male behind the wheel, proceeded to make fun of him and laugh at how “girly” he looked, just for having long hair.

15. When I worked at the Geek Squad and would answer the phone “Brooklyn Center Geek Squad, how can I help you?” I would often hear a long pause, then, “Uh yeah, can you transfer me to the Geek Squad, please?” This did not happen to other departments located in the same Best Buy we were in, who were each also given a “for (blank) department, press (numbers)” option like we were, and who did NOT say the name of their department in their telephone greeting. I know this because I worked in other departments before transferring to the Geek Squad. This also did not happen to the rest of the (male) Geek Squad employees.

16. Because transgender people who transition from male to female are routinely made the butt of jokes, even on prime time television, and routinely abused, murdered, or driven to sex work because of their MTF status. They are overly sexualized the same way (if not more derogatory) as non-trans women while simultaneously being ostracized for giving up their inherent male privelege and social status– not to mention their PENISES, OMG, while transgender individuals who transition from female to male are hardly even mentioned at all. This is not only because they tend to “pass” more eaily as the desired sex (because we rely primarily on masculine cues to help us distinguish between genders in others), but because it seems more accepted, even expected, to want to trade in womanhood for manhood, femininity for masculinity.

17. Because I can’t just bleed on my damn kitchen floor.

18. Because if I wanted to spend my entire paycheck on a bra for some reason, Victoria’s Secret’s sizing is as follows: For underwear, take whatever size you’ve worn your entire adult life and purchase the one 4 sizes below it. This is to make you feel like your butt is smaller, because we’re all concerned about that, right? Then take your bra size and add 4 inches and at least one cup size, so you feel like your boobs are bigger. Obviously, we all want giant boobs. Or, you can just do like I did and live with too-big underwear and a too-small bra because you don’t want to return to the store for a 3rd time to exchange the bra you should have just tried on at the store but didn’t think you needed to since you’ve worn the same bra size for 7 years… and returning underwear is gross and probably not allowed, anyway.

19. The fact that someone adjusted the way women’s clothing is sized so much that they had to create a size zero

20. If I actually had any desire to try to be in the modeling industry, I would need to lose at least 20lbs to be considered “normal” weight for my height (not that I’m tall enough to be a runway model, anyway, but proportionally-speaking). The only person/entity who would consider me to be overweight would be that particular industry.

21. On some level, that actually bothers me, and it wouldn’t if unrealistic and unachievable expectations weren’t placed on women and their physical appearance

22. When I’m a mother, whether I stay home or go back to work right away, someone will be pissed off. If imnotme went back to work, no one would bat an eyelash, and if he stayed home, he would be praised for being such a wonderful daddy.

23. Because some people think that just because we can wear pants to work and vote, we’re equal and now we’re just complaining too much.

24. Valid emotions and feelings are brushed off as PMS, menopause, pregnancy, or just “girly melodrama.”

25. Because a lot of people, both women and men, haven’t even considered many of these things at all.

Anyone have anything to add?

Gendered Language, Part II

by cacophonies

The recent post about gendered language and the common defaulting to male got on quite a tangent. I’d like to raise a few points to maybe clarify, or expand on, what I was saying.

My annoyance at being defaulted to male, like when a customer sends a letter to me, a female, addressed to “Sirs,” is based less on historical context or its relevance to current societal problems or legal issues, and more to do with what the words or phrases mean in modern society.

No, discontinuing the official use of gendered language is not stopping women from “facing legal penalty for being raped in misogynistic cultures,” but it is holding onto, and perpetuating, the idea that women are not equal to men. Whether the person who writes the letter or defaults to male pronouns in speech realizes it or not, or whether or not s/he is actively sexist.

I readily acknowledge the fact that meanings of words have changed with time, and the root of any one word may mean something completely different in a different time than its modified version does now. I agree that gendered language is slowly evolving and becoming more inclusive. I’m also not denying that, 50 years ago, when the same elderly person that called me a sir in their letter to me wrote their first letter to her bank, it was 100% expected that a man would receive that letter and handle the person’s problem. Maybe more women were accepting of that then, and they aren’t now. Times have changed, and I understand that.

My post was, ultimately, touching on a small annoyance that I, as a female, have to deal with in my professional life. Defaulting to male when addressing or describing people is now outdated and, because of the fact that women occupy nearly all positions in the corporate world, sexist, whether intended or not.

Gendered language does, however, grow into larger problems. The little boy who learns that it is expected to assume everyone is male when addressing an audience, a letter, or telling a story, will grow accustomed to the idea that he is the default, and therefore, the most important or most valuable. The little girl that learns the same thing will grow accustomed to believing that she is an afterthought, or not as important, and that she will always have to struggle to be recognized– more so than her male counterparts.

The subliminal messages (whether intended or not) that we get and process as a result of gendered language can, in fact, be problematic on a larger scale. Maybe, if the 20-year old college guy hadn’t been assuming that everyone defaults to male, therefore not realizing that he sees himself as more valuable than women, or sees women as a people who exist for him, he would have listened when the girl that went to the frat party he threw said no, because he would see her as a peer, someone who had the same ability to make decisions for herself as he had.

That’s a bit of an out-there example, but I think it fits. Acquaintance/date rape is a huge problem, and the victims are more often women than men, and gendered language that defaults to men is only aiding in the mindset that that’s expected, or acceptable behavior. Like it’s just another part of being a female that we have to live with, comparable to our periods.

That’s not how it actually is, and that’s not the idea that we should perpetuate with something so easily changed and modified as our language.

A Brief History

by cacophonies

I’ve always been prone to being evangelical about nearly everything I have managed to be interested in, or feel any kind of passion about (astrology, Donny Osmond, Apple products, cilantro), and this has caused me to burn out with nearly every possible obsession.

I’m still bemusedly interested in astrology, but it’s more of a party or social thing (“You must be a Gemini!” “How did you know?” [A bunch of astro-ramblings for the sake of conversation and making myself look more interesting]), and I could give or take Donny Osmond these days even though I look back fondly on my 12-year-old crush, I’m about to buy a PC laptop, and, well, I can’t imagine a time in my life when I will not love cilantro. But you get the point.

I think that the same thing has happened to me with feminism. I was so utterly opposed to the idea, then enthusiastically on board, and now, I’m fizzling out.

When I was a kid, I would often notice and point out various sexist behavior among my peers, and do my best to prove that I could do anything that boys could. Growing up, that meant that I desperately wanted to wrestle in high school (I only made it so far as cheerleading for the wrestling team), that I took creatine supplements in high school to both physically and visibly accelerate my muscle growth (something that only the male athletes did), and strived to be the first female in the Geek Squad at the Best Buy store where I briefly worked (I did manage that one– poorly). I also held on to the short-lived fantasy of being the first female president. I quickly decided that that goal would require far too much effort, and I wasn’t sure I would ever want that type of responsibility. (The creatine had a lasting effect, too– my legs still have an unnaturally (for me) large amount of muscle for someone who is nearly sedentary for most of her life.)

My introduction to modern feminism came a couple of years ago, when my partner at the time told me he was transgender. It was a new concept to me, and it made me think a lot about gender, and how I felt about it. Around that same time, I was friends with someone who linked to many articles from Feministe on her LiveJournal. At the time, while still sorting through my own thoughts on feminism and gender in general, I found most of the posts on that blog to be infuriatingly over-the-top, and their bloggers to be proud victims of anything they could possibly think of.

I would often check the blog, sometimes daily, just to find things to make the subject of my own angry, ranting blogs, and try to counter their arguments. I would comment on the posts in what most people who frequented the blog would consider to be a trollish sort of tone, and get repeatedly insulted and condescended to.

Eventually, I started to “come around,” and once I ignored the majority of the commentariat, I started to understand the position from which the authors were writing. Because of my circumstances at the time, I also appreciated that they often address issues in the trans and GLBT communities. I was, essentially, a convert.

These days, I seem to have come full circle. I am not anti-feminist anymore, but I read the articles that are posted with a critical eye that I didn’t have a year ago. I can no longer claim to be on board with the groupthink style of the mainstream feminist blogs, and, similarly, I cannot tolerate the rhetoric and regurgitated, presumptuous and misguided theories of MRA-types, either. In fact, I’ve almost entirely eliminated “feminist” from my list of personal identifiers, but still hold on, just a little, hoping that other people will get why it was ever important in the first place, and how it still is, and that reacting to only radical feminists’ perspective is not productive for anyone.

Hopefully my future posts on this blog will reflect these new ideas accurately and not come across as either constant criticism, or blind faith.