textualdeviance: (trapped)
Dear The World:

Asking you to stop requiring people to be either butch or femme doesn't mean I'm denying those gender identities to others.* It certainly doesn't mean I'm denying gender identity itself. I'm not trying to take away your lipstick. I'm just asking you not to support a cultural paradigm that says I'm a worthless, pathetic creature (or should at least have the decency to identify as butch instead) because I don't wear it.

See also: just because I'm an atheist doesn't mean I'm trying to burn your church down, asexuals aren't anti-sex, blah blah blah.

This isn't like voting, where abstaining can have negative effects on others. It's just a matter of how one goes through the world on a personal level. If you can't enjoy playing a game without coercing everyone else into playing it, too, the problem lies with you. It's possible--really, it is!--for people to be different and yet have equal value in the world.

*Assuming those identities are, in fact, natural or at least freely chosen. If I see someone who's trying to do the femme thing but it's obvious she's not happy with it, and is only doing it because she feels obligated? I'm still going to call her on it.
textualdeviance: (Default)
Avoiding going in to work, even though I have to. Have already put in a request to terminate the contract. Will see how that pans out.

Realized something sad, though: part of the reason my career hasn't taken off like I'd hoped is that I've not been fired up to get a better job. Why? Because for the last five years, I've been thinking I was going to become a parent within a year or so, and I didn't want to commit to anything long-term or intensely involved if I knew I was going to be taking a year+ off to wrangle a little one. Had the attempts at making a tiny human on our own worked out as I wanted them to, the kid would now be in pre-school, and I'd be pursuing something far more rewarding than button-monkey contract work. I chose contract over permanent because it was flexible enough to allow me the time off I was going to need.

And as each year has gone by without that tiny human showing up, I continue to be stuck in limbo, not able to find something better because I have to wait.

If there were any way for me to make the kind of money M does, he'd be happy to take the parental leave instead. It's not like we're married to the idea of splitting parenting duties by gender, after all. But practically speaking, his paycheck is absolutely necessary, and I can't make even half that, even if I did get a better job, so I'm the one who gets to stay home for a while.

For the record, I'm not opposed to people who choose daycare, either because they have to work or want to. I'm also not opposed to people who have nannies or au pairs around to enable them to work as well. I'm not planning to be around my kid 24/7 until she starts school. Hardly. But we can't afford a full-time in-home nanny, and since I don't have a truly fulfilling, well-paying job right now, there's no point in blowing 80% of my paycheck on daycare just to enable me to go to a job I'm not excited about. That and really: I've waited this long to have the experience of being a parent. I may as well actually have that experience, y'know? I want to get to know this new little person, not spend 40 hours a week in an office wondering what she's doing. M's already done the parenting thing with his siblings, so he's not as jazzed about that--though he is looking forward to having his own kid. But yeah. I do want to be more directly involved while my kid's little.

The only thing I worry about is whether I can light a fire under my career when the time comes again. I'm guessing my only option is to do whatever I can to get one or both of my books published, so I at least have that going on to fill the gap, and make certain that I have something more on my CV for that time than changing diapers.

Which leads me to a final thought: Ages ago, someone asked me when I was going to have kids, and I told her, "Oh, not for a while, yet. I want to make some contributions to the world, first." She glanced over at her kids and said, "Those are my contributions to the world." I get that I kind of offended her, but honestly? I think she was full of shit. It is of course a difficult and laudable job to turn a tiny human into a functioning, self-sufficient adult, but if that's the only thing you've ever done, you've not actually made something of yourself. Living your life through another person--partner, child, etc.--isn't making your own mark.

If you have dreams of what your children will be when they grow up, and those visions include something besides parenting, why don't you have those dreams for yourself, too?

Frankly, I've not achieved nearly the amount of things I wanted to before I became a parent, but time's too short now to wait any longer. So for now, I get to put aside the development of me in favor of the development of a tiny human. I'm doing this voluntarily, of course, but it's still kind of sad.
textualdeviance: (Default)
Thought experiment:

-Gender (like race, orientation, etc.) is a key part of who someone is, and shouldn't be ignored in an attempt at equality.
-It is, however, a cultural construct. It's not something you're born with, but something you develop over a lifetime of both cultural/social influence and personal choices.
-Therefore, the gender identity one has, and wishes to be recognized by others as a true part of oneself is likely to be different for each person. It's not a given, for instance, that every woman wants to look pretty. That may be a part of a given woman's gender identity, but it's not a hard-coded aspect of gender identity itself. Because there is no such thing.
-Because some gender-coded traits and behaviors are negative, that means that if one chooses to embrace those things, one may well be criticized for them.
-And therein lies the wisdom: recognizing that being criticized for a given negative gender-coded trait/behavior isn't the same thing as bias against one's gender identity in toto, or against the idea of gender or gender identity in general.

Ergo:

Criticizing how someone chooses to express their gender identity isn't a criticism of all people who have that gender identity, nor of the idea of gender identity itself. So yes, I CAN tell a teen girl that spending more time doing her hair than she does on her studies is stupid. Being mindlessly vain isn't a defining characteristic of all teen girls. The ones who choose that as part of their gender identity don't get to hide behind the idea of gender identity itself to avoid criticism for that choice.

(This post brought to you by my being so damned tired of clueless women arguing that it's sexist to call them out on their shitty behavior, just because said shitty behavior is supposedly feminine.)
textualdeviance: (Default)
Am slightly obssessed with this topic in the last few days in the wake of John Scalzi's not-gonna-say-"privilege" post about privilege. (This included two of my own followups on my quasi-legit blog.)

Need to actually do paycheck work today, but thought I'd throw this out as a mental exericse on the topic:

All other factors being equal, who's going to have it harder in life:

An MTF, who had the advantage of male privilege as a child, but the disadvantage of expressing characteristics of the underclass gender

or

an FTM, who had the disadvantage of being female as a child, but the advantage of expressing characteristics of the dominant gender?

Obviously, each person will struggle merely due to being trans, but does the extra shitstorm that comes with being a "girly" boy (as opposed to a tomboy, which is something relatively accepted) erase all other privilege that boy would have had merely for having boy bits and being identified as a boy by others for most of his childhood? Does the fact that FTMs often have male-coded traits/behaviors that enhance power and self-sufficiency (vs female-coded traits/behaviors that enhance dependency and submissiveness) give him a boost?

There are, of course, several living-room pachyderms inherent in this topic--essentialism, for instance--but assuming that femininity/female sex = cultural disadvantage and masculinity/male sex = cultural advantage, does that actually translate to advantages for FTMs before they officially transition? Or would the expressed-gender advantages be rendered moot by the perceived-sex ones?

There are, of course, personal reasons for wondering this. Sometimes I think being a tomboy made my life significantly harder, because my culture violently enforces femininity (though not quite as overtly violently as it enforces masculinity for boys), but it also made my life easier in some ways, because my nature aimed me toward an economic-self-sufficiency-centered life instead of a economic-depdendency-centered one.

Hm. Something to think about.
textualdeviance: (Eowyn pen)
Ran into some essentialist bullshit today (of the "women warriors are 'mannish' and therefore gross" variety.*)

Really damned tired of how we categorize traits and behaviors that support self-sufficiency as "masculine" and traits and behaviors that support dependency as "feminine."

Even more tired of the notion that women don't need to adopt "masculine" power because they have "feminine" power via the ability to sexually attract straight men and bear/nurse offspring. Such "power" is an illusion: it lasts only as long as the woman wielding it has those weapons available. Once they're gone--once she loses aesthetic appeal or reproductive capacity--she's left with nothing unless she has other skills. Women who spend the majority of their youth on aesthetics or childrearing, rather than on getting their own education, job skills and other self-sustaining experience, are utterly screwed once they hit 40 and can no longer lure shallow men into providing for their needs.

Even if you have the best husband ever (hi, M!), who really does support you, and pledges to do so no matter what you look like or whether you're rasing his kids, what happens if you lose him or lose his ability to support you? What happens if he loses his job or his ability to work? What happens if he becomes seriously ill or dies? What happens if, against all promises, he changes his mind and decides to leave you for a 20-year-old trophy wife? Shit happens. And if you don't have a contingency plan in place that relies only on YOUR skills and experience, you are setting yourself up for catastrophic failure.

I wish more young women understood this, because it's heartbreaking to see so many who obviously wasted their teens and 20s being acceptably decorative and fecund getting utterly lost when they can't get men to support them anymore. There's a reason that poverty disproportionately affects women--and especially single mothers. If you don't have the ability to support yourself (and your kids, if any) entirely on your own, you are completely screwed. Alimony, child support, survivor benefits and insurance don't go far, and welfare certainly isn't reliable. Your own job skills are all that really stands between you and being homeless if you lose your man and aren't young/pretty/fertile enough to get another one right away. If you have no job skills, you have no hope. It's that simple.

FWIW, I agree that there's no point in women adopting the worst of "masculine" traits in a bid to gain power. But when your culture's power-granting structure is built on some of those traits, if you don't adopt them, you have no power. Period. In a culture in which power is held largely by combat, for instance, people without those skills have no power. Women, therefore, who learn to become warriors aren't trying to be men. They're trying to survive.

*Yes, this was a Game of Thrones thing. General grousing about Arya and Brienne. General support of the idea that women in that culture should only be trying to gain power via sex and marriage with powerful men. Barf.
textualdeviance: (Default)
A couple of hipster chicks are apparently upset at a meme calling them out as geek poseurs, and are crying sexism (because having your geek cred questioned is just like rape.) Hooray.

Have written at length on it on my other blog, but I have a few, more-personal notes to make about it, too.

Specifically, I cannot express exactly how much I hate it when conventionally attractive, cisgendered women whine about how oppressed they are when they're not taken seriously by some group or other. Honestly? STFU. If you are femme, attractive, white, straight, healthy and at least middle class, the chances of you actually suffering from oppression in any real way are next to nil. Quit pretending you're more oppressed than those of us who really DO have to struggle to be taken seriously because the gene fairy didn't smile on us.

What angers me the most about this is how they seem to want the best of both worlds. They not only want to be judged on the merits they've actually worked to achieve, but want the extra competitive boost that fitting social ideals gives them. I can't count the number of times I've seen someone who's actually more qualified for something get passed over for someone who sort of fits the bill, but also has perky tits, and who does everything she can to play them up.

And of course, when this chica runs into someone who's not just indifferent to her attempts to show off her assets, but actually sees through that bullshit, she starts bellyaching about sexism. But, but, but, you don't understand! You hate me because I'm byoootiful and that's not fair! No, honey. I don't hate you because you're beautiful. I hate you because you know you're beautiful, and do everything you can to make sure everyone else knows it, too. Making a fuss about that tells me where your real priorities are, and if it's obvious you care more about what brand of shoes you're wearing than the topic at hand, you're not going to win my respect.

Wearing a low-cut shirt or a ton of makeup as a way to try to impress someone is the femme chick's equivalent of casually flashing a Jaguar keyring or yammering on about who your parents are or what Ivy League school you were legacy admitted to. If what you're trying to sell me on is something you didn't actually work to earn, I'm not only going to be unimpressed, but I'm going to show you the door. If you're not concentrating on your actual qualifications and are instead trying to impress me with what you're wearing, I'm going to wonder what you're trying to hide.

I'm not saying that people who just happen to have been born with good bone structure shouldn't be taken seriously. On the contrary, I think that judging people on bone structure at all is stupid. So when you're trying to convince me that I should do so, I'm gonna get turned off. I'm not judging you on your looks, but on your character.

And that? Is not discrimination.
textualdeviance: (Whole Lotta WTF)
Sometimes, I feel like feminism has failed. We've worked for so long to try to convince girls that there is life beyond being mindlessly decorative and servient, and yet they still persist. And even worse, they still reinforce that in other girls, by bullying the girls who aren't pretty enough, or who would rather focus on their schoolwork than on dating.

Thing is, I get it. I get that we do still live in a sexist world, and that means that women who have made themselves fuckable/marriageable (according to sexist jerks) are going to (seem to) have an easier time getting by in life. It's absolutely true that, initially, young women who are more attractive and willing to serve the selfish jerks in their lives are going to survive better than young women who have spent more time developing their brains. I get that millions of girls see that most of the most "successful" women in pop culture are ones who have succumbed to the beauty myth. And when you don't feel like you have a lot of other power--you're poor, for instance, or won't be able to go to college for some reason--then seeking power via traditional roles for women does seem like the path of least resistance. It makes me sad when a given girl or young woman feels she has to do that stuff to herself to survive, but I understand it.

What makes me angry, though, is when those same girls and women feel they need to perpetuate that pressure on others. It's not enough, apparently, that they themselves feel the need to shut off their brains and waste countless amounts of time and money trying to be appropriately decorative. They have to bully other girls and women into doing that, too.

Why? Why do this? Isn't there enough of that pressure already from industry that wants to capitalize on our self-hatred, and insecure men who fear independent, self-sufficient women? Why do we also have to punish each other for not obeying those cultural edicts? What is there to gain in life from forcing other women to hurt themselves for the sake of "beauty" and domestic servitude?

The only thing I can think is that it's some sort of protectionism. The girls who have already gained something in life from their adherence to these standards have a lot to lose if those standards change. If, for instance, they've neglected schoolwork in favor of prettying up, if the standard changes so that a girl will be more successful if she's getting good grades, it means their own personal power is going to evaporate. If the standard for being loved and getting laid changes so that having good character and a good mind trumps having a tight ass or being willing to birth a lot of babies and play housewife, then those women who have focused exclusively on the latter are going to find themselves partnerless. I'm sure there are dozens of women who look at me, and get angry that a fat, entirely non-domestic chick like me can be happily married when they've wasted half their lives plucking their eyebrows and getting bikini waxes and are still single.

Also, it's probably a matter of expending so much effort to live up to those standards that one doesn't want to feel like all that work was for nothing. Granted that once these women hit ~40, they're going to find that out anyway, once they get pushed off for young mistresses and trophy wives. But before then, I'm sure it's frustrating to consider the idea that maybe spending thousands of hours, tons of cash and a lot of blood, sweat and agony on making yourself into an ideal vision of sexist perfection is actually a big waste.

And, truth is, the standards ARE changing, if ever so slowly. The more women we have in leadership and power positions who obviously didn't waste their youth reading fashion magazines or being someone's docile little wifey are proof that such efforts are going the way of the dodo. So it may be that the sudden surge in pressure to be pretty and domestic is just the flailing of those who are seeing their sources of power slipping away.

But, even though things are changing, it's still frustrating here on the ground to see so many individual girls and women suffering at the hands of their peers. The bullying is awful, and it really needs to stop. I just wish I knew an easy way to make it so.
Tags:
textualdeviance: (More You Know)
An awesome friend had an awesome poster idea this morning, so I made it:

Clicky to embiggen

textualdeviance: (Default)
What with this whole KomenCorp/Planned Parenthood funding debacle, I'm seeing an uptick in folks talking about abortion. Most of this is sensible, of course--I try to stay away from places where people think women are obligated to go through pain, misery and the risk of death for the sake of an amorphous clump of cells--but I've also seen a bit of the "oh, abortion is such a tragedy" sort of thing, too.

Ugh.

Abortion is NOT a tragedy.

You know what really is a tragedy?

-The fact that contraceptives aren't 100% effective, healthy, free, and readily available to anyone who wants them.

-The fact that so many girls and young women think their sexuality is the most or only valuable thing about them, or who are afraid to say no to sex they don't want, or to ask their partner to use contraception.

-The fact that so many boys and young men think that marriage and fatherhood are inherently weak or uncool, and that sexual conquest without respect for their partner is a badge of honor.

-The fact that we don't immediately remove children from abusive homes, and lock up sexual predators for good.

-The fact that sex education is incomplete, wrong, or utterly nonexistent for millions of kids because we've allowed religion to trump science, and because we treat sex as something inherently dirty and immoral.

-The fact that we don't have universal health care which would improve reproductive health across the board, and also ensure that women facing an unintended or complicated pregnancy don't choose abortion solely because they otherwise couldn't afford the medical costs.

-The fact that many poor women choose to abort solely because they can't afford to raise the child.

-The fact that we have a horrible cultural split in how we see mothers: as either saints or demons. We create a cultural standard in which mothers are revered beyond any other role a woman can play, and then wonder why so many girls and young women choose motherhood before they're ready. And then, when they have gone down that path, if they didn't do it the "right" way, we call them lazy sluts, leeching off the government.

-The fact that adoption is a minefield of both cultural stigma and overly-complex (and expensive) bureaucracy, making it incredibly difficult for women who want to choose that to find waiting families. (Seriously: don't get me started on the horrific class divide involved; so many girls/women adopting out only because they can't afford to parent, and so many parents of modest means unable to adopt because they can't afford it. Gross.)

If we weren't such a borked country, the number of abortions would be next to nothing because the number of unintended or problem pregnancies would be next to nothing. But because we are so borked, it's ridiculous to call abortion a tragedy when it's quite often the best solution under far-more-fucked-up circumstances. Abortion will and always should exist, because there will always be circumstances in which it's necessary. But for the love of FSM, why can't we fix all that other stuff that has the rate so damned high to begin with?
textualdeviance: (Default)
Am already failing in my promise to myself to not read comments, because the ones on this article about strange men approaching women? Made me want to scream. So, SO angry at the sense of entitlement from the guys there. (Side note: Was also grousing about entitlement in fandom over on Tumblr today.) Amazing how so many of them seemed to think they have some sort of inherent right to attempt social contact with everyone they see. Just. No. Merely being in meatspace is not a 10-foot-high neon sign that says "HAI, PLEAZE MAKE FRIENZ WITH ME" and no-one--not a single person--is obligated to be overtly social with others just to go about their daily business.

I think what bugged me the most from those guys was the insistence that if they weren't allowed to approach strangers, they'd never get a date. Which just ... OK, unclear on the concept doesn't even begin to cover it. It's kind of telling that these guys are clearly so socially stunted that they can't seem to find a date via other activities, and have to resort to desperately chatting up complete strangers. If you can't even hook up with someone you meet at church or a bowling league or a book club? You have far deeper problems than chicks on the street telling you to fuck off.

Now, of course there are many folks who are interested in hooking up with strangers for mostly-physical encounters. But virtually all of them go to places/do things that are conducive to that sort of activity. The vast, VAST majority of women, and even most men, who are just going about their business in meatspace aren't actually interested in hooking up with people they know nothing about, and--this is key--who know nothing about them. And this goes for friendships, too.

If a total stranger approaches me in meatspace, I assume they're either going to harrass me or try to scam me or sell me something. Why wouldn't I assume they're just friendly and want to get to know me better? Because they know jack shit about me based solely on what they can see of my physical self. I dunno about y'all, but I'd prefer to socialize with people who know at least a little more about me than the shape of my body, the color of my hair and what I happen to be wearing on a given day.

Contrary to the argument put forth by the jackass commenters over there, NO, this does not preclude socialization at all. Hardly. Every single friend I have I met through a common interest or activity of some sort. Fandom. Chorus. Gaming. Politics. Classes. Friend-of-a-friend. Hell, I met M on a BBS. I'm perfectly happy to chitchat with "strangers" in those situations because we already have a non-physical basis of interaction. If someone approaches me online, chances are they've read something I've written, participated in a discussion with me, know we share an interest in something. Likewise, if a fellow chorister or even someone at Pride or something talks to me, there's already something more there for us than just two bodies. THAT is what starts meaningful social relationships. Not someone babbling away at some poor, half-awake person in line at Starbucks.

I, like virtually every other woman on the planet, have been objectified my whole life. I have been told that my body is the most important thing about me--often the only thing about me that matters. I've been told that my relative attractiveness is cause alone to either adore me or hate me. And y'know what? I'm really not interested in giving any of my valuable time and energy to people who think that way. My body is part of me, not the sum total. And if you're someone whom I'd actually like, you're going to be someone who understands that, and who would therefore want to get to know me better than a chance meatspace encounter could possibly allow for.

Yes, of course I'm flattered when people are physically attracted to me--it's rare enough these days--but I'm really not interested in hooking up with someone who becomes interested in me only because of how I look. Physical attraction should be part of the whole package, not the entirety of it. If I just want to get off, there's a guy upstairs who's usually happy to help out, and a couple of electronic devices if he's not. I don't need that from some nameless person on the street who just wants to stuff their face in my tits.

Now, it could well be that not everyone who would approach me in generic meatspace is a shallow idiot, and I might miss out on a potential friend. But y'know? If it means I'll avoid being harrassed by the other 90% of the people who'd approach me thus, that's a risk I'm willing to take. I'm a very social person, and I'm always open to making new friends, and even open to the possibility of more than that. But only if they're going to be genuinely interested in me. And a person who thinks physical presence alone is enough of a commonality to approach me? Ain't that.

ETA: I think I can boil this whole thing down to this: No-one is entitled to other people. You don't get to demand attention, love or sex from anyone who isn't willing to give it voluntarily. And only when one is in a specifically social space should one assume that other people there will be open to social advances from strangers. You're at a singles/cruising bar? Sure, you can ask if you can buy someone a drink. You're at the grocery store? Not so much. You are entitled to pleasure in your life, sure. What you're not entitled to do is to take that pleasure from anyone you choose, regardless of whether they've made it clear they're up for that.
textualdeviance: (More You Know)
I can't help but think that so many cultural and economic problems would evaporate if we simply got rid of the idea that the best caregiver for children in virtually all cases is their biological mother, and that they need her to provide 90% or more of their care.

Think of how much easier it would be for fathers to care for their kids without having it called "babysitting" or otherwise being denigrated as unmanly.

Think of how much easier it would be for same-sex couples or single gay folks to be considered good parents.

Think of how much easier it would be to get children away from abusive or neglectful parents.

Think of how much easier it would be for women to get better education and job skills, and therefore financial independence.

Think of how much easier it would be for people dealing with infertility to get the services they need, including egg donation and surrogacy.

Think of how much easier it would be for adoptive parents to be considered a child's "real" parents, and for adopted kids to understand that they weren't abandoned or unloved by their bio mothers.

Think of how much easier it would be for a mother to be considered a good parent even if her partner or daycare provider is caring for the child for several hours a day.

It's not just sexist, but bad for children and families in general to keep clinging to the idea that the mere act of incubating a fetus makes you the world's best parent, and that that should subsequently constitute the entirety of your identity and sense of self. Not all women were born to be biological mothers, and not all biological mothers should be primary caregivers or parents at all. This has been borne out time and time again by solid research. So why do we still hammer on it under a completely false ideal of a woman's natural purpose?
textualdeviance: (Default)
In my head in the last few days is a whole bunch o' stuff about mean girls' terrorist tactics and people in oppressed classes idolizing members of such who have gained power via violence and other things (including things that further oppression) and people who feel entitled to abuse the weak and taxes being the dues we pay to live in a civilized world and goddammit libertarians are selfish, ignorant asshats who refuse to acknowledge the help they've had in life and ...

Butcha know? The sun is shining, I'm feeling pretty healthy today and I have other things I wanna do. The world can wait for my bellyaching.
textualdeviance: (WTF Tasty Bite)
Just because a guy gets a boner for you doesn't mean you have any actual power over him. Your twat is not kryptonite.

If you want to feel truly powerful, stay in school, get a good job and achieve financial independence that has nothing to do with something as fragile as what you look like.

Because trust me, if you make it to 40 and the only thing you have going for you is that your formerly perky tits used to please shallow men? You're screwed. And not in a fun way.

If you want to fuck around like a crazed weasel because you enjoy it, please do. I will cheer you on every step of the way. But if you're tarting up primarily because it makes you feel in control? Don't. Because you're not.

Sincerely,
Been There

P.S. The same goes for women who think they can marry into power and then just sit back and play wifey while he takes care of everything. Several million divorcées struggling with money and single parenthood would beg to differ. Being a kept woman--whether for sex or domestic duty or both--is no longer a woman's only or best career option. Pick something else, or expect life to suck ass when you're older.
textualdeviance: (Flamewars)
Based on a Slate article someone linked on Twitter ...

I think some pro-choice folks are being a bit disingenuous about their definitions of life. Truly, unless there's something biologically wrong, a fertilized egg is a form of human life. A very tiny, barely formed version, but yes. It's alive, and it's human, and barring the thousands of things that can go wrong with a pregnancy, it'll emerge as a separate human being in ~40 weeks.

An abortion, assuming an otherwise-healthy zygote/embryo/fetus, is therefore the willful killing of a potentially viable separate human being.

But you know what? I can live with that. Because I don't think every human life, in and of itself, is sacred. I think we should avoid killing if at all possible. I think we should exhaust all attempts at diplomacy before we engage in war. I think we should exhaust all attempts at rehabilitation before we serve the death penalty. I think we should do what we can to heal and mitigate pain and suffering before we consider euthanasia.

But I also think that the quality of life matters more (significantly more, in some cases) than life itself. And that includes the quality of life for those affected by the other human in question. If killing a dictator means the end of suffering for the thousands under his regime, then so be it. If the only way to save people from a guy on a killing spree is taking him down, fire away. If the only organ donor for a dying man is someone who can ill afford the risks of surgery for the donation, then fine. The guy dies. And if the only way a girl or woman with an unintended pregnancy will go on to have a healthy, productive life is by killing the embryo inside her, then go to it.

We are far, far too squeamish about death in and of itself, and spend far too much effort on avoiding it, when we should be focusing on improving the quality of life when we have it. Am I going to die sooner because I can't stand the severe pain and exhaustion that accompany hardcore workouts? Probably. Do I care? Not really. I'm mentally healthier than I would be if I spent hours suffering humiliation and pain in a gym, and that alone is probably cancelling out at least half the potential damage associated. I'm generally a long-range sort of person, but there truly are some things for which the shorter-term negatives vastly outweigh longer-term positives. Abortion, for the women who need to choose it, is one of those things.

I spose this is where my utlitarian sensibilities kick in. I want the best quality of life for the maximum number of people, and on some occasions, that does mean that a few outliers may end up getting screwed. And honestly, I have no problem with that. An embryo that may someday become a separate person does not have greater value in the world than the owner of the uterus that it's camping out in.

Which leads me to the other issue I have with prolife rhetoric: the fact that the majority of their efforts are concentrated solely on the pre-birth life of existing embryos, and not on the lives of people who are already born--even babies. You don't exactly see them lobbying for universal healthcare for kids, right? So if some poor urchin dies of a curable illness because her parents couldn't afford care, oh, well. But heaven forbid allowing her mother to have aborted the thing in the first place, rather than suffering through the agony of watching her suffer and die and not being able to do a damned thing about it. In the minds of the people who believe this is OK, they justify it by saying that the suffering of a child is proper punishment for whatever sins her parents committed--having sex, being poor, etc. So much for their championing of innocents.

The greatest lie of the prolife movement is that they don't spend even an iota of effort on helping to prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place, which would prevent millions of abortions. If they really cared about those embryos, instead of using that caring as an excuse to moralize about the behavior of the girls and women carrying them, they would do everything in their power to make sure they never existed in the first place. They'd be working on foolproof contraception. They'd be working on universal mental health care. They'd be working to end rape. None of this screwing around with abstinence education. They KNOW that doesn't work, and yet they flog away at it anyway, because their real goal has jackall to do with life, and everything to do with controlling women's sexual freedom, either for religious reasons, or out of some twisted concept of encouraging "personal responsibility."

I imagine that there are some prolife folks who really are walking the talk, and doing everything they can to stop abortion before it's even necessary, and to ensure the health and well-being of the children who might otherwise have been aborted. But I'd be shocked if they constituted more than 5% of the number of people who describe themselves thus. And until those folks become the majority of the movement, I'm always going to call bullshit on any rhetoric spewed about the sanctity of those innocent zygotes.

Comments screened because I'm not interested in debating this topic. Any arguments to the contrary would simply make me reiterate what I've said above, and I hate having to repeat myself.
textualdeviance: (Beardy Connor Not Amused)
(Inspired by some ongoing discussions about slutty Halloween costumes for little girls)

So tired of people assuming that being anti-objectified-sexuality means being anti-sex.

I wish there were an easier way to explain the fact that hardcore specialty porn is actually less damaging to women's sexual autonomy than dressing six-year-olds as sexy vampires.

90% of the women (and men) involved in niche porn are there because they enjoy the activities in question, have an exhibitionist streak, and like getting a bit of money to do something they'd be doing already.

90% of the women doing swimsuit calendars do them because they've been taught from birth that being a brainless, non-autonomous object is not just the primary thing they're good for and the only way they're going to make much money, but the ultimate expression of female sexuality.

And as someone who likes actual sex, and thinks every consenting adult ought to have as much of it as they'd like, that pisses me off.

I'm not against depicting women in sexual situations. I'm against a cultural definition of female sexuality that takes all the fun out of it for the women in question. If your primary experience of sex is laying there like a mindless mollusk while some guy uses your body as a sex toy with a heartbeat, you're missing out. And yet that's exactly what we keep training our girls to believe women's sexuality is all about.

I am not one of the conservative harpy brigade who wants to lock up girls in chastity belts until their wedding nights. I am not interested in "protecting" kids from the very idea of sex. I am interested in a model of sexuality that encourages autonomy, and a holistic sexual self-definition, because that's the only thing that allows for truly good sex.

Sue me, but I mourn for the millions of women who have had very little good sex in their lives because they've never known there was something else out there. I mourn for the millions of women who think the only way to get laid at all is to tart up, catch some drunk guy in a club, and get exactly 30 seconds of aimless humping before he rolls over and snores. Oh, ye woeful women. Stop dressing up in a way that only attracts such useless lackwits. And for the love of fuck (literally) stop dressing your daughters that way, too.

Side note: Really also tired of the people complaining about these slutty costumes only b/c of the idea that they're just attracting pedos. Um, hai? Sexual predators don't need their victims to be dressed like that. Burqas don't protect women from rape, and slutty costumes aren't putting your kid on a platter for the nearest creep in a van (or, more likely, "kindly" Uncle Charlie.) What BOTH do, however, is rob the women/girls in question of a chance to have a good sex life on their own terms, because such practices teach them that their sexuality exists for someone else's control and pleasure, rather than their own.
textualdeviance: (Bridal Illusions)
So, I wanted to write a followup about this post I did over here, but M just came home, and I'd rather go hang with him instead.

So, in place of my usual metacultural babble, just imagine that I've said something profound about how pop culture not only encourages asexuality or immature sexuality in girls and young women, but grossly underprepares them to deal with the hardcore sexuality it conversely instills in young men.

Or, in other words: There are legions of 16-year-old girls out there who really don't get that that 25-year-old idol they crush out on probably has three dozen favorite porn sites and is into stuff they've never even heard of.

(And, even sadder: When they do figure this out, said girls have a tendency to go way overboard in trying to adapt to this, and end up doing stuff they really don't want to do just to make these guys happy. Bleh. :( )
textualdeviance: (*headdesk*)
Not even put in the adoption agency paperwork, yet, and already I'm dealing with people who think I'm Doing It Wrong.

This is, of course, outside of the people who already think that because:

1. I'm 40

2. I'm fat

3. We're queer/non-gender-role compliant

4. We didn't have the ingredients to make one from scratch, so we're buying pre-baked (which, 4.5, means there won't be breastfeeding. OMG!)

5. I'm planning to work (after the first year or so)

And probably a bunch of other stuff that I can't even think of right now.

This particular round of the YDIW circus has been brought to you by my defense of folks who use doulas, nannies, au pairs, etc., and our own plans to have some outside help, because I know my own limitations, and know I won't be able to handle it all on my own once M goes back to work.

I have my theories about where this particular sort of thing comes from,* but regardless of the motivation behind it, it's freaking annoying. Really, my kid is not going to be emotionally stunted if some of her 2 a.m. feedings/changes come from someone other than me or M. Virtually every new parent has SOMEONE around to help out--usually family.** But some of us don't have that luxury, and hiring out is our best option. Having a "stranger" changing some of my kid's diapers isn't going to hurt her one bit. Having a primary caregiver who can barely think straight because she's extremely sensitive to sleep deprivation? Far bigger problem.

Meh.

I already know we're going to face a lot of slings and arrows due to the laundry list of YDIW stuff above. I just didn't expect it to happen this early, and also didn't expect it from people I consider friends.

I'm financially secure, well educated, in a stable, long-term relationship, emotionally well-adjusted (even though that took a while) and, though I don't have a lot of practical experience, I do have a crapload of academic knowledge on what makes kids tick, and how best to turn them into sane, productive adults. I am, as a matter of actual fact, far better suited to parenting than a lot of people who are lucky enough to be able to make their own kids. The mere fact that I'll be asking someone else to do 20% of the early work of keeping the kid alive isn't a deal breaker, folks. Not having the capacity or even desire to be with your kid 24/7 doesn't mean you shouldn't have one. One may as well argue that it's bad parenting to send your kid to a public school instead of teaching her at home. (If you can't be bothered to do your child's education yourself, then why have one?!)

Honestly, I get criticism of people who really do have little or nothing to do with their kids. People who have them just out of obligation or as a status symbol or w'ev, and have no intention of spending any time with them? Yeah. I get that. But this is not some upper-class, park-the-kids-upstairs-with-a-governess thing. I'm not shipping them to boarding school as soon as I can. I'm just getting a bit of help because I have some physical limitations and we don't have family around. That's all. This is not a crime, really.

Aside from a few basic rules, like don't smack your kid around or drown them in secondhand smoke, there's a really huge variation in parenting methods that will produce healthy, functioning adults (which is, let's face it, the goal of parenting, right?) A stable home life, for instance, is the single greatest predictor of mentally healthy kids. We have that. Our kid is going to get plenty of love and attention, she'll never have to worry about her next meal or a roof over her head, and we're never once going to call her names or use violence to try to control her behavior. Having strangers dealing with a percentage of her early basic maintenance is not going to harm her in the slightest.


*Mostly: "I had to suffer through x, so everyone else should, too!" Where x = everything from starvation dieting to natural childbirth to a house with no running water. Sue me, but I'd rather spend my time helping end suffering for other people than martyring myself solely on principle. I've had enough Puritan suffering-is-noble guilt for one life, thanks.

**It's interesting that you almost never see this type of criticism of people who have family helping out. It's only when a "stranger" gets involved that people get fussy. Park the kids at grandmas for a week? No problem. A pre-school for your three year old? EVIL OMG.
textualdeviance: (Whole Lotta WTF)
I am not "threatened" by your femininity. I simply find it irritating that you not only feel you need to adhere to your culture's prescription for rigid gender roles and presentation, but that other women are required to do this, too.

No love,
That tomboy who dresses "unattractively"

Seriously? I fucking hate women who reinforce sexism, especially if they're doing it with the excuse of A) Essentialist bullshit about how this is how women "naturally" are, and by denying our "true" femininity, we're being sexist ourselves and/or B) Going off about how true feminism means not only respecting her "choice" to tart up/be a domestic doormat, but going along with her plan to require the same of every other woman (or at least create an army of femme peer pressure to encourage it.)

Just because I'm not interested in looking/acting like Barbie or June Cleaver does not mean I'm a traitor to my gender, asshat. Modern Western ideals of femininity have jack shit to do with what we actually are as human beings. Instead, they have a lot more to do with cultural conditioning to make us (and men) believe that we're naturally best suited to be mindless spooge receptacles and/or baby machines. No, of course there's nothing wrong with sex or parenthood, but presenting those things as if they're inherently feminine or somehow essential elements of the life of anyone who has a vagina? Is bullshit. Knock it the fuck off.
textualdeviance: (Rachel)
I really don't get how people can argue, with a straight face, that anything a given woman does is inherently feminist merely because she's female.

Women are not magical beings imbued with perfect instincts to know when their actions are being influenced by negative things like...oh...pervasive cultural sexism. We're just as subject to that brainwashing as anyone else.*

Waking up and recognizing how not just the behavior of others, but our OWN behavior is shaped by our environment is a key part of feminist enlightenment. Running away and perpetuating the denial that noooo, yer smrt, you couldn't possibly be influenced by those nasty old media messages or cultural upbringing or blah blah blah? Is not feminist enlightenment.

That denial is understandable, of course. The first part of feminist enlightenment is realizing how oppressed women really are. The second part is realizing that you've participated in that oppression. That fucking hurts, lemme tellya. It's like waking up and realizing your whole life up until now is one big scam. You end up questioning everything you've ever done and experienced, wondering how even subtle, seemingly innocuous things may have led you to act in a way that keeps the hamster wheel spinning.

Unfortunately, it's necessary for all of us to go through that process, because coming out the other end of it is the only way any of us gets to actual empowerment, and the ability to really work for change.

Periodically shutting off the sexism radar is understandable and healthy. We'd all be suffering with some fairly serious depression if we didn't do that regularly. But we can't go through life living entirely in that fog if we want to make things better for ourselves and others, and letting go of the idea that any of us has 100% free will and makes untainted choices is absolutely necessary for that work.

Yes, it's scary as fuck to realize how out of control of your own life you really are, but if you're ever going to get back IN control of it, you have to have that realization.

*FWIW, yes, this also means that men often aren't 100% responsible for perpetuating sexist behavior on their end, too. It's the guys who know better and still act like assholes who deserve the kick.
textualdeviance: (More You Know)
Looking out a second-floor window earlier today (I spy on the birdfeeder that way sometimes), I noticed some strange body language from the parking lot of the park across the street.

I couldn't hear what was being said, but it looked like a young couple was having some sort of mild argument/disagreement. Not unusual in itself, but for what was happening physically: He kept trying to hold her/kiss her, and she kept backing away, shrugging him off, etc. It wasn't necessarily abusive/violent in itself, but it did unsettle me--enough so that I watched carefully until they got in their car and left, to make sure that nothing worse happened. (The park was otherwise empty, so there would've been no other witnesses had something bad gone down.)

Only slightly related, I also saw today that some of my favorite actors have been participating in a "Real Men Don't Rape" campaign. Which is awesome, of course. But in combination with the earlier event, it made me realize something: Many--maybe even most--people who rape don't realize that that's what they're doing, because they've been conditioned to expect resistance as part of a "normal" mating dance.

It took me years to learn this, of course, but now that I have, it seems so very simple to me, and I wish this was the message we could get out:

Consent obtained via wheedling, bribing or threatening is not actually consent. If you have to try to convince someone to have sex with you--regardless of the method you use--you're not getting real consent, and you need to stop.

Granted that a jury isn't likely to convict you of rape just because you were an asshole who convinced your girlfriend that she'd be breaking your heart if she didn't do the deed, but still: If the other person involved isn't equally excited to be there, then that's definitely something less than full consent. You don't want to just not hear "No"--you want to hear "Yes! Yes! Yes!" And without the slightest hesitation.

Granted that some awful people actually get off on violating consent, so that's what they go for, but I'm willing to bet that a lot of people who do this don't realize that that's what they're doing, and it's because they don't understand that the only true consent for physical intimacy is when everyone involved is 100% happy for it to be happening.

I don't know whether that guy today had or would have ever done more than what he did, but I'm guessing he at least saw absolutely nothing wrong with what he was doing. The woman he was with wasn't specifically saying no to his attempts at physical intimacy, nor was she seriously resisting. She just wasn't welcoming those attempts--she wasn't returning his affection in any way. She kept increasing the distance between them, crossing her arms over her chest, etc. And I doubt he even saw that, because he'd been conditioned to believe that that sort of avoidance was normal.

Short meta postscript: Entitlement )

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