feminism

This Week

This last week of May has been an incredibly depressing one. Last Saturday, May 23rd 2014, a man filled with hate against the women who supposedly scorned him shot and killed six people. He terrorized a college community not unlike my own. He left behind a manifesto detailing his rage against women and how he was going to “kill all the blonde sluts”.

Many news outlets are saying this young man was ‘incredibly mentally disturbed’. That may or may not be true. But the fact is that he might not have been as mentally ill as we’d like to believe. I understand that many people don’t want to accept that this sort of thing can be perpetrated by someone who is ‘normal’. Only someone who isn’t themselves would go out and shoot randomly into a crowd of students walking down the street.

The vehicle of the alleged shooter is pictured at one of the crime scenes after a series of drive-by shootings in the Isla Vista section of Santa Barbara

But the terrifying reality that no one wants to admit is that this young man believed, truly 100% believed, that his misery was due to the fact that women would not have sex with him. He believed that somehow women owed him, that they were responsible both for his misery and also for relieving it.

Many prominent writers and journalists have written about the shooting. There have been calls to reevaluate gun rights and mental health issues, those are all well and good. Those are things that most certainly need to be addressed in our society as mass shootings become more and more common. But there are other underlying factors that are being ignored.

Women were the target for this shooter. Yes, men were wounded and they died and the loss of any human life is a tragedy. I do not wish to discredit the lives of men but it is imperative that the public recognize that this man was out to hurt women specifically. And our society did nothing but urge him on.

The shooter was involved in groups known as Men’s Rights Activism (MRA) which is a group of people who, instead of focusing on real issues that affect men around the world, blames women and feminism for any perceived slight against the male gender. What the MRAs tend to forget and gloss over is that men have been the dominating gender for the entire course of history and it’s only been within the last few hundred years (in America at least) that women have had autonomy at all.

If only it were that simple...

If only it were that simple…

The worst part about the MRAs is that there are men’s issues that are very important to women, even feminists! (Shocking I know!) The way men are treated in custody hearings, the fact that male rape is severely underreported, the wording in laws that sometimes makes it impossible to charge a woman with rape against a man, prostate cancer rates are up, men are victims of domestic abuse as well as women, men suffer from eating disorders that aren’t reported, and so on. These issues are important and our society doesn’t want to talk about them. But neither do the MRAs, they’re too busy blaming feminists and women alike for their “woes” that they can’t get laid.

The one Urban Dictionary entry I agree with

The one Urban Dictionary entry I agree with

One of my favorite authors, Chuck Wendig, blogged about the issue in a piece called “Not All Men But Still Way Too Many Men“. This piece is thoughtful and well written but many readers jumped down to the comments section and (assumedly ignoring the name of the author as well as the photos of him on the site) concluded the Chuck was in fact a woman. The comments on that article and his follow up “Burning the MRA playbook or #YesAllMRAs” were closed due to the fact that many MRAs decided it was a perfect place to intimidate Chuck (who again they believed to be a woman). There was name-calling, insults, and just general hate. These are not people who care about the equality of all humanity as they claim. They are bullies spewing hate across the Internet.

The most dangerous thing we can do is ignore these people. I’ve had many conversations with men whose knee jerk reaction to my explanation is “Well I’m not like that and the men I know aren’t like that. It’s just ignorant people being ignorant.”

NO.

These people are more widespread than you could ever imagine and some of the most prominent people in our society feel like way towards women. How else can you explain the fact that almost every female friend I know has been assaulted either sexually or verbally? How else do you explain men honking and yelling at me from cars while I walk to work in broad daylight? These things are connected and our society is building towards a breaking point. If you truly feel that you are not like this man then stand up and add your voice behind ours. We don’t need you to speak for us, we need you to speak with us.

Have a conversation with any woman in your life and ask her what it’s like to walk home alone at night. Listen and understand that her experience will mirror millions of other experiences all across the globe.

Understand that I hesitate to write this blog and leave the comments sections open for fear of harassment or rape threats.

Understand that I hesitate because I wonder what a future employer might think of my ‘radical’ views.

Understand that I have to consider that someone might be able to find me because of the information I have on this blog and hurt me.

The point of this post and others like it is to point out that a horrible tragedy happened. A young man felt women owed him something and when he didn’t get it he went out and murdered people. But more specifically he targeted women in his manifesto and videos. The conversation around this event must include the hatred this person held for women simply because none of them wanted to have sex with him just as it must discuss gun control and mental health awareness. There were signs that were missed by a wealth of professionals and this was a young man who had every resource available to him.

Women responded to this event by creating the #YesAllWomen hashtag as a way to vent their frustration with the violence we experience on a daily basis. I suggest anyone who reads this article goes and looks at the overwhelming amount of evidence that men (not all men but still TOO MANY MEN) do not see women as their equals or even as people in many cases. We are more than your girlfriends, your wives, your sisters, your daughters, your neighbors. We are people and our voices matter.

Men – Second Class Citizens?

So this happened…. Suzanne Venker has declared that there is a war on the White American Male. I can bullshit.

You can read the article here. The portion below is my response…

As a young woman reading this article I find it very disturbing. I have been raised by conservative and religious people my entire life. I am realizing that this is not the only way to live my life. Does this mean I hate traditional values? Of course not.

I will begin by stating that I am a feminist. To me this means that I believe in equal rights for EVERYONE. Not only women but EVERYONE. If at anytime you feel as though I am being unfair towards a group please feel free to point it out after you have referred back to this point.

The idea that the White American Male is under attack is ludicrous. A quick look at any American history book will show that it is white men who have been in control of this country from the beginning. How can you be oppressed by something you created?

I understand where this misconception came from. Women have come out of the woodwork lately to cry that they are being oppressed and they feel that things are not fair to them. I would agree. It is incredibly disheartening to know that I cannot go out into the work place and command the respect a male colleague with the same experience would simply because of my gender. However, this does not mean that women are suddenly trying to push men underneath them and rise up and put men into the place where women once were. That is the exact opposite of feminism.

Feminist stereotypes are that we are men hating, lesbians, who never shave, and can’t take a joke. I have been in a committed relationship for three years with a man who loves me very much. In our relationship I am the primary provider. Does this mean I lord this over him? Of course not. He would not do that to me if he was paying for the bills. Why? Because we compromise. We work together.  I shave regularly in case you were curious.

This is not to say that there are not those people out there. But they do not make up the whole. I want to live in a world where nothing matters but my skills. My gender, race, age, physical beauty, physical deformities etc. should not interfere with how I am looked at by other people. They simply do not matter. Do I rub the fact that I am able to have children in my partner’s face? No, it simply isn’t important to me. It isn’t who I am. Who I am is what I think and how I see the world. It has nothing to do with the outward appearance of my body.

Men are not being oppressed. You are simply seeing women act as men have for the last century. We are working hard to get a place in the world. Do not fear the minority but rather listen to the majority of women in your life, especially the young women, you will hear stories of every day sexism that will amaze you.

Do not harden your hearts to the things that happen around you. Be open to everyone’s opinion and they will be open to yours.

I need feminism because…

Why do YOU need feminism?

I need feminism because my dad still believes it is ok to pay a woman less money for her work because she ‘might get pregnant’. He believes that since the company knows this is a possibility they are recouping their possible losses by paying women less.

What if I never have children?

You will, he says.

Ok well, for the sake of argument, what if I don’t have children while I’m with that company? Should my lack of pay be rewarded back to me?

No.

Why?

He had no answer. At least not one that satisfied me.

I don’t want to go out into the workforce knowing that I will be discriminated against for my chromosomes. I can work just as hard or harder than any man I know.

The world isn’t fair. Feminism aims to make it fair.

Kickstarter, sexism, rape culture, and other scary stuff…

UPDATE 6/21: Kickstarter has released an apology and a statement explaining their inaction. http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/we-were-wrong

They are also donating 25,000 dollars to RAINN which is a project to help combat sexism. 
Original Post 6/20

You all might have seen this little gem floating around the internet about Kickstarter and a project called “Above The Game” by Ken Hoinsky. Probably not so if you haven’t take a little time to read about it here and here and here (especially the last one) and get acquainted with what this man is saying. I’ll wait…

Done? Ok how many of you felt really creeped out and disturbed?

I’m not sure if one can really describe how this type of behavior makes a woman feel. Or a man. Or anyone who doesn’t like to be talked about like a piece of meat. This man’s words literally make me feel nauseous. If a man ever approached me in any place and talked to me in the manner that this man outlines I would not only feel uncomfortable and scared, I would be downright pissed off.

It isn’t just the fact that he is spewing this nonsense over the internet or even publishing a book about it. It’s been done before. There are literally thousands of books, websites, magazines, radio talk shows, etc. on this kind of ‘pick up artist’ stuff. What really upsets me is that this man used Kickstarter, a crowd source funding tool, to raise over $17,000 in order to create this book. That means that people actually pledged money towards this atrocity. That scares me more than anything. That money could send someone (like me) to college for a year. It could finance my whole life for one year. I could do amazing things with that money and I know people who could change the world with that money. Instead it is being used to fund a ‘book’ that, in my humble opinion, comes off as a manual for sexual assault. This opinion has been asserted by several other bloggers around the internet and it becomes more and more disturbing because Kickstarter won’t remove the project. I have not done the adequate research yet and this is just a rant right now, but here you can read a bit more about the situation.

Also in case you were interested here is the link to the subreddit where this man and many others post about how to seduce women. I will leave you all with a couple of quotes from the posts by this gem of a man….

WARNING! LANGUAGE/TRIGGER WARNING



“Decide that you’re going to sit in a position where you can rub her leg and back. Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances.”

“Make her push your hand away as you get closer to her vagina.”

“Pull out your cock and put her hand on it. Remember, she is letting you do this because you have established yourself as a LEADER. Don’t ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your dick.”

So ya. This is a really scary thing to be seeing. It’s frightening to think that there are people out there following this advice. Now Ken does mention that if a woman says no that you should back and “try again”. Let’s think about this for a moment. Legally consent requires three things: a verbal consent, both parties are sober, and the consent is given without fear of consequence. We all know that there are thousands of cases of sexual assault where consent is fuzzy at best. Both parties were drunk, one party verbally said yes but was afraid of consequences. These things mean that consent was NOT given.

As a woman I would be very frightened if I knew that any man I dated had read this book. I would not feel safe, I would feel as though he thought of me as a piece of meat or property. Something to be conquered. I do not believe for one moment that Ken believes that women are equal to men in any way, especially sexually. He portrays us as frail and sexually naiive, and most importantly his writings advocate ‘token resistance’. This term is used to describe exactly what Ken talks about in his books. That women will resist but they don’t really mean it. It is a part of the game. This is not true.

(I do not mean to exclude men in this post at all. I understand that men are assaulted just like women are. However I feel that this ‘book’ is aimed at women so that’s what I’m talking about.)

I could go on and on about how I feel about this incident. But I don’t really know if the majority of the world cares. So many people will just shake their heads and move on. That is what scares me more than anything. people don’t realize that we are living in a culture that is ok with this type of behavior. It is ok for a man to treat a woman like this. If you believe differently then stand up and say something. Get involved with the people at EverydaySexism on Twitter and Facebook. Start #shoutingback and get pissed.

This is not the world I want to live in and it is not the world anyone should have to live in.