Au Lecteur

That’s what she read – July 25, 2013

Posted in Feministing, That's what she read by aulecteur on July 25, 2013

I just started following the Good Men Project with an eye to widening my perspective on feminist issues and how gender stereotyping affects boys and men (and how it in turn affects women – vicious cycle). I’m disappointed GMP shared this letter, which I agree is apologist and normalizing.

I don’t know who the anonymous writer is but I sense that he’s just a seemingly nice guy who likes to have fun and maybe someone I’d hang out with. But he is a rapist. Rape defined as having sex with someone who does not or cannot consent. He’s not a monster lurking in dark alleyways or stalking women on their way to their cars. He’s a normal dude at a party and he’s a rapist. Because he has sex with women who do not or cannot consent.

So there it is. A rapist who is admitting to rape but because of rape culture (yes, it exists), he’s able to rationalize his behaviour and make non-consenting women culpable because we don’t punish perpetrators, we blame the victim and blame it on the a-a-a-a-a- al-co-hol.  The critique states: “I know that I talk a lot about rape culture, but you guys? This is rape culture right here. It’s articles like these that make men feel better about raping women. It’s articles like these that contribute to victim blaming (if a woman doesn’t want to be raped, she shouldn’t drink so much, right?) It’s articles like these that normalize rape, that make rape seem like a by-product of enjoying oneself, that make rape seem inevitable and uncontrollable.”

I wonder what my man friends think of this article. Let me know!

The article on GMP I’d Rather Risk Rape Than Quit Partying, The Good Men Project, December 2012

The critique: “I’d Rather Risk Rape Than Quit Partying” – Rape Culture and The Good Men Project, The Belle Jar, December 2012

 

That’s what she read – June 1

Posted in Feministing, That's what she read by aulecteur on June 1, 2013

I read a bunch today but got stuck on this one about how women are often shutdown by emotionally manipulative jerks. Huge kudos to the author. This is a fantastic piece.

Why Women Aren’t Crazy, GoodMenProject.com, Sept 18, 2011

This article uses one of my favourite terms for emotional manipulation: gaslighting. I learned this term years ago, probably in that second-year women’s studies class I took as an elective while doing my undergrad in Mass Communications. The term spoke to me because a) it’s from a movie (Gaslight, 1944, starring Ingrid Bergman), b) I’ve been gaslit my whole life. Growing up I was always told that I was too sensitive. Countless family dinners ended with me leaving the table to cry in my room. I ran away from home (to the backyard) when I was eleven because I felt so emotionally about the uprooting of a tree in our backyard. I remember feeling scared that I was so upset. I didn’t want anyone to know I was freaking out about a tree. I probably thought obviously I’m too sensitive if I’m this upset about a tree (was it even about the tree? I don’t know), and because we didn’t really talk about feelings in my house, I didn’t know what to do about it and nobody helped me express myself.

I relate to an example in this article. The author talks about a friend who worked for a boss who made comments like “Can’t you do something right?” or “Why did I hire you?” and when she reacted and told him those comments weren’t helpful, he told her to relax, that she was overreacting. I was in a similar situation for 2 years, enduring the abuse of a boss who would cut me down at every turn, nothing I ever did was right. The author says “Abbie thinks her boss is just being a jerk in these moments, but the truth is, he is making those comments to manipulate her into thinking her reactions are out of whack. And it’s exactly that kind manipulation that has left her feeling guilty about being sensitive, and as a result, she has not left her job.” – Yes. Exactly. Every time my boss (full disclosure: it was a woman) cut me down, I thought it must have been something I did; don’t take it personally, it’s about the work. And so I stayed for 2 years. Two years of discounting my feelings because I must just be too sensitive. And because I didn’t have the tools to deal with my emotions and the stress, I drank a lot. Ah, avoidance.

Another more recent example of how my lifelong experience with gaslighting affects me today. After I blogged That’s what she read yesterday, a friend, a feminist, texted me that I should be proud of him for not making a comment about how my feministy post was anomalous against the other most recent posts, which are all recipes. He writes:

“You should be proud of me. I had enough self restraint to not comment on your blog post about all your other posts belonging in the kitchen ;)”

Obviously my clever friend was joking. If I had reacted to him as I felt, he would have said it was a joke. The winkie face meant it was a joke, that I was to take no offence. The point I’m getting at is that after years of being told I’m too sensitive, I second guess my reactions to things and do what I think the other person wants instead of being true to myself. I constantly defer to others because I lack confidence in what I want because I’ve been treated as irrational my entire life. But don’t even listen to me because, you know, I’ve been on my rag for like 20 years, so you know, bitches be crazy.

And that sarcasm? Yeah. I’ll work on that.

Long story short, gaslighting. Don’t do it. Just be respectful of other people’s feelings. If you say something rude or insensitive – or something you wouldn’t say to a man – and she responds standing up for herself, please don’t ask her to sit down and shut up.

 

The Case For Vegetarianism Delivered By A Toddler, NPR, June 1, 2013

Something fun now. This is a video of a three year old who has been asked by his mother to eat octopus gnocchi. But octopus are animals…and if we eat them, that means they’re dead. Chickens are animals, cows are animals, pigs are animals…It’s a very rational argument why he doesn’t want to eat the octopus dish. Parenting win at the end.

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It’s pro-choice or no choice

Posted in (R)evolution, Feministing by aulecteur on May 9, 2013

Today was a difficult day.

I saw this picture on my Facebook news feed this morning.

It reminded me of the atrocity that is the so-called “Respect for Life Day” in Ottawa. It’s a day when thousands of Evangelical Christians from across the country descend on Parliament Hill to cry shame at those who would dare defend a woman’s right to self-determination.

I love and hate the sign that says “Abortion kills children.” Love because it seems like an obvious statement and clearly the person holding it is a crackerjack slogan writer (moron). But I hate it because actually abortion halts the growth of a fetus (nobody is killing children at an abortion clinic) and saves lives/quality of life, so your sign is just wrong.

This man was complaining to the police officer that the pro-choice group was allowed to rally on the Hill with the anti-choice loudmouths and sheep. He would think that women and anyone who disagrees with him should be shut up. Pro-choice or no choice. It’s not any more difficult than that. And choice includes access to family planning education.

This is my favourite photo from the day. I think this is the best message. There are too many children in the world already who don’t have proper homes. And by proper, I mean any place where they can live and be loved and cared for a raised to be happy, healthy and kind.

What are YOU looking at?

Posted in Feministing by aulecteur on April 21, 2012

I rode my bike to work again today. It’s been working out pretty well. It’s not hot yet so I can bike in my work clothes and long coat – tres chic. I’m usually wearing a skirt – with leggings and a long coat, hakuna mattata.

Today, my skirt was a little too restrictive to allow for the full range of motion required to peddle a bike, so I had to hike it up. (Making me the girl with a short skirt with a lonnnnng jacket. na na na na na na). Anyway, all this got me thinking about that Globe and Mail article from last month called “Why men can’t – and shouldn’t – stop staring at women.” One day, Ian Browne, a middle-aged, male features writer, needed to write something for his column. Instead of trying a little harder that day, he wasted his word count on perving out about girls bums, particularly a 20-something riding a bike in a miniskirt. He used anecdotal evidence from his own pervings and the misguided pervings of others to reason away the objectification, and disembodiment of women.

Disembody: (v.) Separate or free (something) from its concrete form.

Two weeks later, Margaret Wente, another middle-aged columnist with the Globe and Mail decided to chime in from her perspective and in defence of Browne. She said he was brave to speak up about the harmless male gaze. She extolled the erotic power of a hot 20 year old girl. She said she missed being ogled now that she’s old, wrinkled, saggy, and unlovable. Poooor Margaret Wente. You got old and ugly and the world stopped loving you.

Wente’s defence of Browne relies on the ageism argument. She completely misses the point that 1. the male gaze should not be the source of a woman’s identity and self-perception;  2. why does perception of beauty count first? The point is to embrace your value as a person, a whole person not just body parts and male wish fulfillment. The point is to not feel dejected because you no longer fit the socially constructed ideal of beauty.

Margaret should talk to Ashley Judd who speaks so well about this issue of internalizing patriarchal attitudes about what a woman should be. The message we should be telling women and girls is to value themselves outside the looking glass and that it’s not okay to reduce a woman to a hit list of disembodied parts.

If you still don’t see the point, read this amazing response, laden with sarcastic hypocrisy, to Browne’s article by Jezebel contributor Lindy West, “The Top 29 Reasons Why It’s Okay to Creepily Stare at Women’s Butts.”