Feminism: It’s a Way of Life

Tonight, at work, a supervisor from another department came over and was chatting with us. He kept referring to us as “girls.”

Oi, I thought.

Finally after the third, fourth, or fifth time, I responded:

“Girls?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Ladies. Is that better?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

And that was that.

At “lunch,” another coworker and I were trying to figure out where to eat. He suggested Wendy’s or McDonald’s.

“I can’t eat at McDonald’s.”

So we went to Wendy’s.

I’ve been boycotting McDonald’s ever since the company blamed an employee for being sexually assaulted.

Every day, I live out my principles. Sometimes I fuck up. But I’m always aware, and I always try to do better. And I’m not an anomaly.

Feminism is not a girl’s club. It’s not about hate, or bitterness. It’s a value system.

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My Writing Ethics and Consent Culture

My feminism isn’t just a set of political or social beliefs. My feminism permeates every aspect of my life, including my writing. It’s not only a frequent topic of my writing, it also informs how I go about it.

Regular readers may have noticed an increase of personal narratives on this blog. Specific stories from my life that either serve as an example of the need for a specific political or social policy, or to demonstrate how I came to be where I am.

I have a policy–if I want to write about a personal experience that involves another person, I will ask their permission before I post. I write under my own name, after all. I chose that–to be public and open with my identity. The people around me chose no such thing. Even if I use pseudonyms or vague descriptors, which I do, the people in my stories could still be identified. I need their consent before ever taking that risk. If no consent is given, I will not write that post.

So far, I’ve been given consent every time. What has surprised me is the reaction I get from the people I’ve asked. When I asked my father yesterday for permission to write about the divorce in my last post, he responded that it was my life, and that I had a right to write about it. I replied that it is his life too, his experiences that I’m sharing with the world. He smiled, and told me to write.

I was surprised that it seemed so absurd to him that I would ask his consent. Is asking consent so out of our habits? It shouldn’t be. In a way, I’m saddened by his reaction. I’m not disappointed in my father by any means, on the contrary, my father is a great man, and I’m proud to be his daughter. I’m saddened that asking consent does not seem to be, well, just one of those things you do, always, in our culture.

It’s not just about making sure that you have a partner’s consent to have sex. It’s about getting consent before involving others, to put it crudely. It’s about considering the effects of your actions on other people, and involving those people in your decision-making.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Others have made the point that health insurance is a part of women’s wages, wages that we earn–not a privilege benevolently bestowed on us by men who may revoke it at any time, because taxpayers and religion.

I agree with that point–I’ve said it many times in face to face arguments and on facebook over the last month.

Women have an established right to equal pay for equal work. Allowing employers to restrict our access to birth control is a violation of that right.

We earn our health benefits. No matter how icky you may find our cunts, and how we use our cunts, you cannot restrict our access to the health benefits that we have earned by our work.

The debate on birth control is merely a new verse in the same old song. This is nothing more than the next attempt to take away the rights of women to be free and to choose our own destinies.

Abortion: Not a Granted Right

I had an epiphany while reading Cunt this weekend. In Cunt, the author, Inga Muscio, talks about her abortions–all three of them. The first two were at a clinic, the third she induced herself.

My epiphany is this:

The Supreme Court did not grant women the right to an abortion. Nor did any of the other men in various parliaments and legislatures around the world.

Abortion is. It always has been, and always will be.

It is as much a fact of life as menstruation, masturbation, and sex.

This is so much more than “abortion will continue, whether or not it’s legal.” It will, it’s true, but more than that.

Abortion is not simply a medical procedure that doctors perform on women’s bodies. Only recently in human history have men been involved in abortion at all. Its had many names throughout history, in different cultures. But it was always the domain of women.

Women “kept their period regular.”

Women “brought on the courses.”

If you read carefully in literature, in myths, and in memoirs and histories, you will find it.

Men have not “given” it to us, nor can they take it away.

We will fight you in legislatures, and outside clinics, to keep abortion legal and accessible, absolutely. But abortion is ours. It is a part of our history. It is a fact of our lives. Abortion won’t go away. No more than you can take our monthly flow away. No more than you can keep us from masturbating.

Our uterus’, our ovaries, our vaginas, our cunts, cannot be taken away. Can’t have them. Our periods, our reproductive capability, our miscarriages and our abortions. Can’t take ’em.

Interview on Sunday Night Safran

Earlier this week, I was interviewed for the Australian radio program, Sunday Night Safran, on Triple J. It’s broadcasting live at the moment–it’ll be available as a podcast tomorrow. When the podcast goes live, I will update this post with a direct link to it.

Edit: The link is up! Check it out here. My interview begins about twenty-one minutes in, and lasts for about fifteen minutes. If you have the time, listen all the way through. The guest before me had a fascinating story.

Recap: I was interviewed because of my position as a pro-gun-rights feminist.

Correction/Clarification: In the interview I said one could not own a handgun until the age of twenty-one. (Please correct me if I’m wrong!) A person over the age of eighteen may own a handgun if it was given as a gift, but may not carry it until they reach the age of twenty-one. Edit: Felons are also prohibited from buying and carrying.

Other Comments: The other guest, Sofia Stefanovic, said something at the end of the segment that I would very much like to respond to: she said she’d be afraid, were she to own and carry a gun, that she’d grab it and point it at someone when she was irritated or frustrated with them. She used as an example how she’d lobbed a pen at one of the hosts when he said something that irritated her.

I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to respond to this, because I’m sure it’s a very common fear.

When you carry, you are very acutely aware at all times of your weapon. You are aware of its power. You are aware that you can frighten, hurt, and kill someone with your weapon. Your handgun is not a thing you ever treat lightly–certainly (and obviously) when handling it, but also when carrying.

I can only describe it as there being an invisible bubble around your weapon. Should I get the urge to throw something at an annoying friend, my hand would never stray to my weapon. I’d be more likely, should I get the urge, to grab for the pen. However. When I carry, I am also very aware of my behavior, my body language, my facial expression, my language, and my actions. I am extremely careful not to do or say anything that may be construed by others as being a threat to their safety. I am more reserved. I moderate my hand gestures. I watch my tone. I am careful to be polite. If my favorite song plays while I’m grocery shopping, I’m less likely to be silly and dance to the beat. I make eye contact and smile. I avoid resting my hands on my hips.

Being a responsible gun owner begins before one ever purchases their first gun: you reflect, considering your own maturity, impulsivity, and temperament. If you find yourself unable to be completely, 100% sure that you will handle your gun with all the respect it demands, then you don’t purchase a gun in the first place.

That self-reflection doesn’t end there. It’s a continuing process. It’s something I do every time before I reach for my Ruger. Carrying a gun is an enormous responsibility. It is a heavy weight on one’s shoulders. If I find that I do not have the strength to carry that burden that day, I leave my weapon at home. I close my eyes and hope I don’t need it, every time I decide to leave it at home. Because you know what? Some days I just want to pretend that the world is safe. I want to be a carefree 20-something woman. I want to be silly and dance in the produce section at the grocery. I want to be passionate and accompany my speech with grand hand gestures.

But if, during one of these reflections, I ever found that I might pull my weapon in any situation that does not threaten my life and my safety, I would sell my gun–because I would no longer be trustworthy or responsible enough to call myself a gun owner. I hope that day never comes. But it is something I must ask myself, in order to honestly call myself a feminist, responsible gun owner.

All in all, I had a fabulous time on the show–and I’m absolutely delighted and very grateful for the opportunity. I can’t wait to discuss it with my readers!

Logistical note: When the podcast goes live, I will post the time stamp marking when my interview begins. I will also do my best to get a transcript up as soon as possible, which will also be edited into this post. Edit: I plan on working on the transcript tomorrow. It is rather late here at the moment!

I may also add other comments (or edit ones already written) once I can listen to the broadcast. Memory is a funny thing, after all. I’ll note any changes and edits for those who may read the original post and return later!

On Being Naive

Recently, I’ve been called an “idealist,” in a scoffing, “you’re so naive about the way the world works” sort of way, in addition to being accused of having a “skewed view of the world” by several different people, in discussions of a few different topics.

Perhaps I am an idealist, but I certainly don’t have any “skewed” view of the world.

Rather, I expect more. I have high standards, for myself, and for others.

I don’t believe I should accept the world as is, because “that’s how it is.” That is because I believe in doing the right thing. I believe in conducting my life with integrity. I believe in respect. I believe in paying forward all the things that my mentors have taught me.

I have had a multitude of experiences that have taught me the importance of empathy, compassion, integrity, respect, activism, and recognizing that nothing is simple.

I give to others exactly what I’d want for myself–including a verbal smackdown if I fucked up.

I am not perfect, but I always strive to be better.

There is always a story. Much of what I’ve learned has a story behind it–personal experiences that have radically changed me. Truly awful experiences that have convinced me to change something–my views, my behavior, or something about the “way the world is.” I’ve met, worked with, befriended, or was taught by so many amazing people, and they have changed me, too. I’ve had amazing experiences that have changed me as well. I am indebted to all of those people, and all of these things.

The people who scoff at my supposed naivete are vastly underestimating me. And, you know? That’s alright. They haven’t gotten to know me, for the most part. Once they do, if they do, they’ll change their minds. Many people have changed their minds about me–and some of the people who, in the past, thought I was mean, or rude, or ignorant, are some of my closest friends today. We learned from one another–even if we don’t agree. And that’s fine. My friends are precious to me, and I’m so glad we took the time to look past our differing views of the world. I’m glad we took the time to understand one another, because now? We know better-we’ve learned, not just about “the other side” but also that behind the politics, we’re good people. I’ve changed minds; they’ve changed mine.

I’m a better person for it all–and you know what? I still have high standards. I still have boundaries. I still have deal-breakers.

If that means, to you, that my worldview is skewed–that doesn’t say a whole lot about me.

Should You Base Your Support on a Candidate’s Religion?

Earlier today, I was thinking about a question I’d like to ask some of my Christian friends:

“Should a Presidential candidate’s religion really be a factor when deciding who to support?”

My answer? No–one should not base one’s decision on a candidate’s religious beliefs. But then I turned the question around: Should I choose a candidate based on their identification as a feminist?

That was harder for me to answer. There is, of course, a difference between the two identities. Feminism is not a religion–it’s a set of ethics, a political ideology based in equality. Religion is based around one’s beliefs in God, or gods, and the afterlife. Ethics are a part of religion, but they are not central to the identity.

There is another difference–in American politics, a candidate isn’t viable unless they identify with a particular religion: Christianity. Not so with feminism. In fact, it is likely that a candidate’s feminism would interfere with their viability.

I would dearly love to have a feminist President–however, I cannot base my support on a candidate’s identification with a certain group. I certainly couldn’t realistically, since there are so few openly feminist politicians in the first place.

When it comes down to it, the identification isn’t what’s important in a candidate. A person’s ideology could be feminist without that person adopting the label, after all. (That would be another difference from the religion question.)

What’s important is the candidate’s position on policy issues, their beliefs on the purpose and scope of government, and their ethics.

That’s what makes so much of the primary races so troubling–too little focus on policy, and a lot of the candidates’ various Christianities, whether they’re the right “kind” of Christian, and the degree to which those Christianities influences their daily lives and their policy positions.