Archive for the 'Society' Category

19
Nov
16

What he said

He’s right. We as a country are trying to do something that might go against our tribal natures. And I see so much evidence of people standing together and trying to do it better. Like the adage says — if you’re going through hell, keep going. Let’s do this, together, and come out that much better on the other end.

11
Nov
16

Now what?

Many of us are horrified by the news of the racist attacks and brutality being visited now on people of color, gays, immigrants. What has the election of this man unleashed? We saw the videos of his rallies, and were appalled and frightened by the no-longer-latent racism, cruelty, hatred, that we heard coming out of the mouths of our fellow Americans. Donald Trump’s petulance, xenophobia, misogyny, racism, has given people permission to say things we have spent the last 50? 100? Years telling them they can’t say. And people who haven’t learned the lessons of civility, history — that there are, in fact, things that should never be said in civilized society, that there is no actual difference between you and any other person based on the color of their skin, that the world is actually safer when we work together (Alliances, people! Every good board game knows this, why don’t we?) — want to drag us back to some good old day where men were strong and women were good looking (and if not were dismissed as being unworthy of sexual harassment, #nowthereisagift #IhopeIama7) and knew their place and kept their mouths shut, and everybody they knew looked like everybody else. 

Hatreds and bigotries and horrible acts are being perpetrated, now, many like we haven’t seen in a long time. It is my hope that these are the death throes of a dying culture. We’ve spent the last eight years building — gay rights, protesting brutality against unarmed blacks, providing insurance for people who need it — and we can still fight against tearing it down. We must. People may feel they have permission to behave like animals, but they don’t. We can’t allow it. We must stand together, make sure our fellow Americans and the people in the world who are watching very closely right now, many with great fear and trepidation, that this does not represent all of us. We’re better than this. We must show it. And if we do, maybe we can actually make something good, and lasting, out of this debacle.

What to do if you see someone being harassed.

Part 2

#Warren2020



Shame on us


23
Feb
15

The future is not yet now

On my Facebook newsfeed today

PatriciaArquette

And just below it

VSecAd

Discuss.

05
Dec
14

horrifying

I read an article once in a newspaper about what was wrong with the article — that too much time is spent telling people the things they already know before they Get To The Point. So I’m going to get to the point as quickly as possible.

We all know what’s been going on in the past couple of weeks with lacks of indictments of officers (white) using deadly force against unarmed black “suspects.”

This makes me feel that the situation, our future, any chance of us ever living in what might be considered an “enlightened” society, is doomed; hopeless.

And I’m not saying that there isn’t some shared responsibility. I don’t know what happened with Michael Brown — did he attack? Did the officer actually feel threatened, or was this a story concocted later to cover his actions? The problem is, without a trial and the transparency that ensues, we will probably never know.

I also believe that a part of an officer’s training addresses exactly this, at least it should — how to avoid CREATING the situation in the first place.

I’m reminded of the movie Fruitvale Station, (excellent, btw), and realize how the situation STARTED out of control.

And yes, we should all be polite and respectful to police men and women; we should answer their questions calmly and keep our hands in plain view and not make sudden or violent moves. We should ALL do that. But how is it that someone can hold someone in a chokehold, for MINUTES, while the person is audibly gasping and saying he can’t breathe; that the death can be ruled a HOMICIDE, and yet no one is accountable?

How can we believe that we can trust the people who WE are hiring to be OUR public servants to keep US safe when they are also the people with guns, and apparently, omnipotence?

We’re supposed to be smarter than this. We know enough about biology to know that there are no differences in intelligence or capacity between different races. We know enough about society to know that we’re ALL better off if we take care of each other, trust each other, work together. We know that racism is learned not innate. We know that we all want the same things: safety, shelter, sustenance, love.

Yet, even knowing all of this, it still seems too difficult.

Even knowing all of this, it still seems impossible.

25
Aug
14

It’s not (just) about sex

Beyoncé is frequently touted for her championing of women’s causes. She flaunts her curves, speaks her mind, and fosters an attitude of empowerment and strength.

Am I the only one, though, to whom it seems that her message is mostly about sex?

A blogger on BlogHer wrote recently, vehemently praising Beyonce’s “Divine Feminism*,” vaunted on MVA’s award show, and posted a clip of the medley she performed as evidence.

I watched it, and I just don’t see it.

I want to like her (Beyoncé), and I do admire her strength and physicality combined with a definitively female form, but I don’t particularly care for her singing, and her videos/dance routines sidle and strut right up to the borderline of pornography (right around minute 7 of the video).

http://www.mtv.com/videos/misc/1066933/mtv-vma-video-vanguard-medley.jhtml#id=1729744

The banner “Feminist” at the end, with her standing triumphantly in front of it bothers me in particular. Are you truly a feminist if the primary methods you use to proclaim your message is your beauty and your body? Are you a feminist just because you say you are? Is it just me?

***

I’ve actually struggled with this dichotomy a little bit before, for two different reasons.

First, and most obviously, is the desire for women to have the right to appreciate/value their own bodies, to embrace their curves, to take agency for their own lives and choices, to own and be proud of their sexuality, etc. etc. BUT it seems that we should be able to do that without being expected to wear clothes that are skin-tight, expose our midriff, slit up to here or down to there, with shoes that are bad for our backs at best and possibly outright harmful to our feet, ankles, or knees. At the same time, it seems that we should be able to wear whatever we want without necessarily broadcasting ourselves as “available,” which might be construed as “asking for it,” and for which women are then blamed.

Wet Seal/Sex Kitten ad

Wet Seal/Sex Kitten ad

I have to teach my daughter how to dress not because there is anything inherently wrong with what she wants to wear, but because of the possible perceived message that might be received by an unknown and unidentified Other Person (male) and the risk that he then might act on his misperceived message without taking steps to appropriately verify it with the supposed sender. This doesn’t really seem fair to me. It also seems that men should know that a women wearing high heels and a short skirt aren’t “asking for it,” unless they actually, well, ask for it. Wow. The dichotomy just got even more complicated, and now seems to be a trichotomy. Or worse.

Maybe I’m over-thinking it.

Secondly (?), and probably more importantly: isn’t feminism (supposed to be) about more than sex? Equal pay for equal work, equal opportunities, family dynamics that don’t expect women to be primary maid/chef/dishwasher/child rearer while also employed outside the home? How about battling for the possibility that what might be construed as a “feminine” approach to leadership (cooperation, team-building), combined with acceptance of women who display “masculine” traits (assertiveness, confidence), might actually be just the thing that many businesses/academic departments/governments need?

At one point in the BlogHer post, the author writes: “Beyoncé consistently puts forward a message of female empowerment that is firmly centered on the feminine divine*, holding up women as powerful sexual agents of their own (forgive me) destinies, talents and desires. . .What’s more, she positioned her sexual empowerment as ‘feminist’ with the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoken word interlude and text background affirming the feminist message that girls be allowed to own and control their sexuality, just as boys are, without worrying that they are threatening men.”

Fine, yes, fantastic, I totally agree. But is that really the first and most important thing that most of us are talking about when we say we’re feminists?

Maybe at one point in the medley Beyoncé actually did get into the topics of “. . .all roles of the divine feminine*, from seductress to lover to mother to teacher, presented it as Capital F feminist. . .”  but I just couldn’t get that far.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a prude. I’m proud of my cleavage, I’m proud of my curves, I love sex, and can curse like a sailor when the situation warrants it (dropped plates, knitting problems, bad drivers).  I just think there are more layers to feminism than sexual empowerment. Besides wishing more of our discourse could revolve around these layers, I actually think it’s harmful that so many of the discussions seem to need to start with sexual empowerment issues and hardly, if at all, go beyond.

As women we need to learn to stand up for ourselves, to be proud of the qualities that make us who we are, no matter whether those qualities are “masculine” or “feminine.”  Everyone needs to learn acceptance of those qualities in everyone else — nurturing, assertiveness, thoughtfulness, ambition. Everyone needs to stop labeling things by gender — no such thing as “toys for girls” vs. “toys for boys” or “jobs for girls” vs. “jobs for boys.” Jobs need to be awarded according to someone’s ability to fulfill them; household tasks need to be divided fairly; boys need to be taught it’s okay to express their feelings or to cry and that they need to cook and do dishes and clean the bathroom just as much as the girls do; girls that it’s okay to be proud of their accomplishments, to assert their opinions or ask questions without apologizing, not necessarily to have children.

Then everyone can call themselves a “feminist,” except we won’t need that word anymore.

(*gag; I feel the same way about this expression as I do about “Bucket List” and “panties.”)

18
Aug
14

a sociological study, of a sort

I’m looking for an image of a woman carrying a tray to use as a cutout for a feminist-inspired art piece I’m considering. It will portray a woman going through life, weaving her way through images of things that cause her to lose little slivers of herself — children staring at computer screens, bosses scolding , husbands staring at football games on television, domestic chores competing with individual and/or professional pursuits, etc. I’d tell you more but I don’t want to give away my idea.

So I search for images at bing (trying to avoid being tracked, although bing seems to be as bad as google these days).

Just do this:

Go to bing.com, click on images, and then search for “waitress.”

If that isn’t revealing enough (pun unintended, but appreciated for its irony at this point), now go back and search for “waiter.”

It’s hopeless.

***

I’d feel badly for myself, but if you live in any number of regions around the world (Syria, Gaza, West Africa, Ferguson, Missouri)* you’re likely to be a victim of persecution, violence, ebola, etc. etc. First world problems, mine, although the (mis)treatment, exploitation and unappreciation of women, extended backwards, can lead to some pretty horrifying acts. Beyond the obvious problems of rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, one must include forced/child marriage, exploitative pornography, clitoral circumcision, requiring women to cover their hair or their bodies or their entire selves

womaninburka

This creeps me out. And makes me angry. Very, very angry.

or forbidding them from going out in public without a male relative as an escort. How about the right to raise a child without worrying about them being kidnapped or forced to become a child soldier or to die of some easily treatable disease? What about the right NOT to give birth to a child when so much of society seems bent on forcing you to, without helping with any of the things that come after.

Compare those things to fighting for equal pay for equal work? Equal opportunities for professional advancement? Equal distribution of household or child rearing chores? Who am I to complain?

But let’s go back to those images for a moment. Most of the women are in scanty “uniforms,” standing in provocative positions, gazing lasciviously at the camera. That’s funny, I thought I was searching for “waitress” — you know, someone who delivers food on a tray? I didn’t realize (duh) that “waitress” was a euphemism for seductress, slut, woman-who-exists-purely-for-the-pleasure-of-the-male-gaze.

Am I the only one who thinks this is a problem?

*We tell ourselves we’re made “in God’s image” to make ourselves feel better, but I just don’t see what could be further from the truth. As a species we ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

08
Aug
14

Even we* are getting it wrong

A friend, who is also a friend of mine on Facebook, struggles with many congenital health issues. She seems strong and fearless, and is clearly smart and funny and basically quite a happy person, despite what many would see as a myriad of “disabilities.”

Today on Facebook she posted a picture of herself in a beautiful dress with the statement “Feminists are ugly? Me thinks misogyny lies….”

The comments are about how pretty her dress is, where did she get it, she’s “rockin’ it,” etc.

***

Yesterday, Only Daughter came to me with yet another question about her appearance: does her hair look longer? should she get plastic surgery to create a crease in her eyelid? (NO!!!) does she have long legs? I told her, with more than a bit of exasperation in my voice, that I was putting a 6-hour moratorium on any statements, pronouncements, observations, or questions having anything to do with her appearance.

***

Last week Only Daughter was given a bit of a hard time for not being interested in a young man (?) despite the fact that he’s “so cute!!!!”

***

Am I the only one who thinks that THESE AREN’T THE THINGS THAT MATTER?!?!?!?!?!?

The other day I stumbled across something along the lines of “It’s not my job to have you find me beautiful.” Or something like that.

And I thought, “[word I can’t say] yes!”

Feminism has nothing, abso@#$inglutely NOTHING to do with how we look.

Whether we are interested in another person romantically, or in terms of friendship, or trust, or respect, should have NOTHING to do with how THEY look.

We, ALL OF US, have to stop this.

Starting now.

*we meaning feminists; even us. Sigh.




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