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.

Political Chess: Ann Romney, GOP’s Sacrificial Pawn

It was inevitable, once the GOP realized that their war on women was hurting them politically, that they’d seek to use the rhetoric for their own gain.

It’s ironic, but not surprising in the least, that they’d use women as pawns in the process. They did this, of course, to avoid accusations of sexism. But it’s still sexist.

The icing on the cake is tapping into the old working moms vs. stay-at-home moms “fight.” A fight that (guess who?) misogynists began, in order to divide women, pitting us against one another in a faux fight for supremacy.

Why does it matter? Ultimately, it doesn’t. Save for, of course, the policies and societal expectations that force women to make these “choices” and receive criticism no matter what “choice” women make.

If the GOP were smart, they’d reverse course on the anti-women stances they’ve taken. But they want to have their cake, and eat it too, I suppose.

Sorry, GOP. You can’t perpetuate inequality and sexism–and expect women to support you. You’re waging a war on women. It’s not simply rhetoric. It’s fact.

Now, you’re exploiting misogyny to perpetuate the same.

Women aren’t buying it.

 

Little Bits of Freedom

Last night, at work, I burped. And I didn’t excuse myself.

“Gross! Say excuse me!” One of my coworkers said.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I won’t apologize for natural bodily functions.”

This drew everyone’s attention. One coworker argued that “excuse me” wasn’t an apology. Another opined that it was the polite thing to do. Another asked me if I never excused myself. Later, when I burped in the gym, and excused myself, my coworkers that work out with me pointed it out, and praised me. I told them that, yeah, I do actually excuse myself sometimes, because that’s what society expects people to do, and there are some situations where you are obligated to follow cultural rules to the minutia.

In this instance, it seems totally absurd to refuse to apologize for–and be ashamed of–my bodily functions. I’ll admit it sounds like a childish rebellion.

But you know what else I won’t apologize for? You know what else I won’t be ashamed of?

My menstrual cycle. My body fat. That fact that I poop. The shape of my body. My sweat. Or anything else that my body does, or is.

I won’t hide my pad in a pocket when I walk to the restroom.

I won’t continually flush or play music to mask the sounds of the feces exiting my anus and dropping into the toilet.

I won’t rush for a paper towel when I start to sweat during a workout.

I won’t eat before I go out on a dinner date.

I won’t cover the scars on my arms, legs, stomach, and back.

I will not exfoliate or pick the calluses off my hands.

I won’t hold back a grimace or a groan when I fucking hurt, ow.

I refuse to stop using Icy-Hot patches to soothe my menstrual pain, just because I reek of menthol, and that’s just not how a woman is supposed to smell, good gawd.

I’m a human being, and I poop, pee, bleed, sweat, groan, and stink like everyone else. I have lived my life, so I have scars. I am a human being, so I have body fat, my own individual shape, and I eat when I’m hungry.

I refuse to hide all of that, just because of some stupid cultural, misogynistic expectations of women.

A Few Tips For Engaging in Facebook Debates

1. Consistency. Trotting out the latest tropes about women, people in poverty, and immigrants while insisting you’re the furthest thing from a misogynist is not going to help you make your case.

2. Show me, don’t tell me. Talking about how awesome an advocate you are for women while arguing for legislation that will roll back women’s rights ain’t gonna convince me for shit. I will consider the telling a flat out lie, and take the showing for what you really are.

3. Bingo! Get me a bingo on the anti-feminist bingo card, and I will cease taking the discussion seriously, and begin to mock you.

4. Playground. If you do the above, and then act all surprised when I get angry and respond angrily, I will conclude that you’re nothing but a troll. I’ll call you on your stupidity.

5. Be nice! Don’t act like an asshole for the entire discussion, and then cry foul when I stop treating it like a civil discussion. Admonishing me to be nice while acting like a jackass is also pretty misogynistic.

6. Sob story! Don’t tell me how haaaaaard it is to be you. I don’t really care at this point. You’re just trying to score points. I will not play the “who’s life is worse” game. I’m not really believing your sob story is the truth, either.

7. Store clerks look at me! MRA whining? Really? You’re really going there? Don’t go there.

8. I know everything! No, you really don’t. You have a whole hell of a lot to learn. Just by telling me you know allll about feminism already, so why the fuck would you waste time reading Feminism 101 blogs, tells me you know nothing.

9. Feminazi! Fucking really? Stop talking. That shit disgusts me, as it would any decent person. You lose your decent person card.

10. Olive branch! You’re not extending me an olive branch. The only way to end this amicably is to apologize, and shut the fuck up and listen. Clogging up my inbox with your trash isn’t making peace–you’re just trying to hide from the rest of the facebook world what a jerk you are. Transparent, you are.

This, my friends, is how I spent my evening. What a waste of time.

Single Women Don’t Vote Enough?

I’m a member of One Million Pissed Off Women on facebook. Their mission statement is thus:

“Founded in April of 2011, OMPOW’s Goal is to take action to bring about equality for all women. OMPOW plans to bring the Public Spotlight on Elected Officials and our Political Parties through accountability for their actions directly impacting women. We intend to work to eliminate discrimination and harassment against all women, in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society.”

Today, OMPOW has pissed me off. This graphic was posted:

Turnout of Single Women graph

 

Ahem.

I have a problem with this graphic. It has a very “don’t like the war on women? It’s your fault, bitchez!” tone to it. That kind of victim blaming bullshit has no place on a feminist page.

I have a bigger problem, however, with some of the responses in the comment section. There’s a whole load of “there’s no excuse for not voting! Ever!” and “If you don’t vote you deserve what you get!” sentiments flooding the comment section.

Again, this bullshit has no place on a feminist page.

Victim blaming much?

First, the obvious: attacking single women for their failure to vote, and telling them that they deserve what they get is the very height of stupidity. We’re all in this together. “We” get what “they” get. Where does this division of “us” and “them” get us? Nowhere. Divided. Defensive. And not paying attention to the war on women. It zaps our energy as activists. And for what? For some “I’m not that girl!” validation. Whoopee.

Secondly, this broad-scale attack ignores the myriad of issues that keep single women away from the polls. A few examples:

  • The GOP’s attack on voting rights–including voter ID laws, purges of registered voter rolls, shortened early voting, student residency challenges, requirements for proof of citizenship before registration, and more. All of these things affect women–as a class, we’re poorer, we’re the majority of university students, we’re immigrants, we have several jobs. Make it harder to register and vote, fewer people vote.
  • Women are more likely to be poor. When you’re struggling to survive, your focus is on your multiple part-time jobs, your bills, the sad excuse of a clunker you call a car, and hoping beyond hope that nothing goes wrong, because you will be fucked. Taking time off work to vote is a luxury when your boss can fire you whenever, for whatever, and there are fifty applications sitting in the office for people that can replace you just like that. And oh, look! From the link: “Only a quarter of all adult women (age 18 and older) with incomes below the poverty line are single mothers. Over half of all poor adult women—54 percent—are single with no dependent children.
  • Poor women are also less likely to have a state-issued ID. If you don’t have one, and you want to vote? The link has a nice mathematical equation that demonstrates just how many hoops a young woman would have to jump through: “1 person
    + 1 birth certificate
    + 1 marriage license
    + 1 utility bill
    + 1 trip to the DMV
    = 1 vote”

If you don’t have those? Welp, guess you don’t get to exercise your duty as an American! Just sayin’.

Third, let’s come back to the whole division thing. This graphic, and the ensuing comments, is yet another verse in the “kids these days!” song. It’s old. It’s tired. Young (aka unmarried) women vs. older women. Third wave feminists vs. millennials. This shit is a strawman, set up to degenerate young women and to set us against one another. Did anyone wondering at the source actually attempt to find where these numbers came from? Judging from the comments, I’m guessing not.

Check out the note at the bottom. VoterParticipation.org. Let’s check it out, shall we? The organization is called the Voter Participation Center, formerly known as Women’s Voices, Women Vote. I found, on the website, a fact sheet where it appears the statistics in the graphics came from. It does not appear, to note, that the graphic originated from VPC.

Remember: statistics are not the full story–they can be misrepresented depending on the agenda of the presenter. Whatever douchebag created this graphic wanted to project a message that young (unmarried) women are ruining America for women (fucking bitchez, ALL YOUR FAULT!). Looking at the rest of the statistics, however, it doesn’t seem so much like we are Ruining America, after all:

 In 2010, unmarried women lagged 11 percentage points below married women in voter registration, which translated into lower turnout by 15 percentage points.
o In 2010, 72% of married women were registered to vote (40.5 million), compared to 61% of unmarried women (32.4 million).
o In 2010, 54% of married women voted (30.2 million), compared to 38% of unmarried women (20.3 million).
o Had unmarried women voted at the same rate as married women in 2010, an additional 7.8 million voters would have participated.

Let’s remember the points I made earlier in this post, about women being poorer, especially single women, and all the barriers that poor women have to overcome in order to vote.

Not so bad, I don’t think. These numbers aren’t far off from participation rates in the general population. They’re better, actually.

It’s too bad that we can’t see the raw data. Check out the note at the bottom of the VPC factsheet. “Voter Participation Center and Democracy Corps post-election survey used for 2010 results. Results for other elections come from Edison/Mitosfky/CNN exit polls.”

Hmm. A news media outlet poll. Very credible. And so very carefully selected, with minimal error margins, I’m sure.

Let me issue a challenge to OMPOW members:

If you want higher turnout for young (unmarried) women, then I challenge each member that commented on the graphic to personally register five women. That’s not all–register five women to vote, ensure that they have a ride to their polling place on Election Day, and help them get all the documentation they need.

Stop the degeneration. Stop the attacks. You see a problem? Get out there and do something about it.

I’m Not One of “Those Girls!”

Not that long ago I would tell any guy I met, at some point, that I wasn’t one of “those girls.”

Those six words, standing alone, are completely innocuous. They mean nothing. Put them in context, however, and it was a dog whistle. They told people that I was cool. I was laid back. I didn’t do drama. I didn’t gossip. I didn’t obsess over clothes and make-up and boys. Shit, I didn’t even own any make-up. I proudly told my guy friends I didn’t even know how to put it on.

I also proudly declared that I didn’t have a whole lot of female friends. Too much trouble, I said. Too much drama.

Those six words also told men (and other girls like me!) that they could freely trash women, and I’d more than likely jump right in.

I thought that I was cool–that my guy friends liked me better. Oh, I wouldn’t have told you that–that wasn’t a conscious thought. I would have said that I simply got on better with guys. It was just how I was.

Ugh.

I was full of self-hatred. Everything feminine about me, I despised. I wore sports bras exclusively. Skirts? Fuck that shit. Bright colors? Oh, no. That shirt would be cute…if it were black. My grandmother hated taking me clothes shopping.

What did all of this posturing, self-hatred, and degenerating of my own gender yield me? A few pats on the head from a bunch of assholes.Ooh, validation! From misogynistic jerks! Yay!

What did it cost me? A lot. My self-worth, for one. And a good many friendships.

Those days are behind me now, thankfully.I’m fortunate in that I call a good many of fabulous, brilliant, funny, passionate, beautiful women friend and sister.

Every time, whether we’re sharing a pot of tea, a pitcher of beer, running errands, cooking, or talking, happiness fills my chest until it spills over in a smile. There’s nothing quite like the bond between women.

It’s freeing to be able to discuss menstruation and get a knowing smile and shared experience in return. (Much better than a face wrinkled up in disgust and an obnoxious “EW!”)

It’s gratifying to burst in the door from a date and blurt out, “Oh my god, we were having sex and I QUEEFED, and I started laughing, and I COULDN’T STOP. Then it happened AGAIN and I went completely hysterical and he finally just rolled over I CAN’T BELIEVE IT.” and laugh together ’cause she totally knows how it is.

This? Is so much more fulfilling than not being “one of those girls.”It’s much more gratifying than condescending pats on the head.

I still can’t apply eyeliner to save my life, but now I have friends that are more than willing to help, should I get the urge.

To Those Defending Misogyny

Yep. Pretty much this.

One of the most frustrating things for me, as a feminist, isn’t that there are sexist douchebags out there. There are, in abundance. They’re assholes.

What’s frustrating for me is, that there are plenty of people out there who spend copious amounts of time defending said assholes.

“Yes, but!” “Yes, but!” “Yes, but!”

Stop it.

You’re a decent person. You know this is fucked up. Just say so. Why side with assholes? Why defend them?

You make sure we all know just how awesome and respectful and progressive you are.

But guess what?

If you’re defending the misogynistic assholes, you’re not awesome. You’re not respectful.

You’re an asshole.

You’re not on my side.

You’re not on this fifteen year old girl’s side.

You’re siding with the assholes.

What? You don’t like that? Then stop defending them.

See how easy that is?