Archive for the Feminism Category

Birth Control, Hobby Lobby, and Common Sense

Posted in Argumentation, Feminism, Government, Healthcare, Philosophy, Politics with tags , , , , , on July 8, 2014 by Xajow

Recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby does not have to pay for providing birth control to its employees. Some people have claimed this is next door to fascism. Others have claimed this is an open door to anarchy. And many have claimed this closes the door for access to birth control for the employees of Hobby Lobby. None of those claims are even remotely close to the truth. Continue reading

Project August: Day 1 – “Can a Submissive Be a Feminist?”

Posted in D/s, Dominance, Feminism, Project August, submission with tags , , , , on August 1, 2013 by Xajow

What is Project August? Well, here at Liberate One World Headquarters, Project August is my plan to post every day in the month of August of the year A.D. 2013. But that is not all. Every post during the month of August will be a response to a post on some other blog. Yes, you could see your blog mentioned right here at Liberate One. Continue reading

Time Magazine, Breast Feeding and Feminists

Posted in Feminism, In the News with tags , , , , , , , on May 13, 2012 by Xajow

This past week a lot of noise was made over the cover of Time. Here is the cover in question:

a mother breast feeding her 3 year old son

Time Magazine cover of Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her 3 year old son

And yes, that is her son, who is almost 4 according to the Los Angeles Times. The question on the cover is interesting. “Are you mom enough?” Reading through the comments at various sites is also interesting. Some people cannot believe that the woman would allow her son to keep breast feeding. There are accusations that this will somehow give the boy a breast fixation. As if that does not already happen with boys who were weaned at an early age. And apparently some people are very squeamish about the image. Or shocked. Or both. Really? Images of women in bikinis or bra and panties (or less) are found everywhere, even on the occasional magazine cover, but this image is shocking? I don’t get it.

More interesting is the reaction some feminists have apparently had to this growing trend of some women taking their motherhood very seriously. One of the articles I came across was at the Time magazine site. It is titled “Why Breast-Feeding Isn’t the Bugaboo”. Apparently some European woman with no children wrote a whole book about how women who breastfeed and stay home to care for their children are ruining the struggle against the patriarchy.

In The Conflict, a provocative new book that was a best seller in Europe and is predictably making waves in the U.S., leading French intellectual Elisabeth Badinter argues that women have become newly enslaved by biology — more specifically, by their breasts. The ideological pressure to nurse a child — in the name of all that is natural and good — has had the nefarious effect of keeping women in their place, at home, far more effectively than any maneuver men might dream up. “Sexist men can celebrate: we will not see the end of their reign any time soon,” writes Badinter. “They have won a war without taking up arms, and without having said a word. The champions of maternalism took care of it all.”

Pooh yi. Got that, ladies? If you want to nurse and rear* your child, you’re letting the sexist men win! I said it before and I’ll say it again. That kind of talk just exchanges one kind of paternalism for another. Apparently women who want to be free to make their own choices in life have to not only fight against the patriarchy of sexist men, but now also against the matriarchy of women who know better than you do how you should live your life.

Why do some feminists try to tell women how to behave? Go read Animal Farm by George Orwell. No, it is not really a book about feminism, but it is about people (well, animals… it’s a metaphor… or a parable…  just go read the book already) who claim to fight for freedom only to end up falling into the same behavior they fought against. Anti-socialism as only a socialist could write it.

Anyway, I sympathize a little with Jamie Lynne Grumet and other “attachment parenting” mothers. They are going to get called names and have people tell them they are wrong and stupid and foolish and impractical. People do the same to libertarians all the time. I’m not advocating for “attachment parenting.” I do not know enough about it to have an opinion about it. But I know what it is like to be judged by people who do not know me or what I think, but talk and act like they do. It will thicken one’s skin. Eventually.

Oh, and, uh, happy Mother’s Day.

*Yes, I said rear. Corn is raised. Children are reared.

What Is This “Fifty Shades of Grey” I Keep Hearing About?

Posted in D/s, Feminism with tags , , , on May 5, 2012 by Xajow

Someone mentioned to me the other day something about a scene in a book called Fifty Shades of Grey. It sounded intriguing. And then my mind moved on to other things. Earlier today, my Google News page listed articles about this book. Didn’t someone mention that the other day, I thought. Yeah. So what is this? I clicked a few links, and it gets more interesting by the minute.

I don’t mean the book. I have not read it, nor even purchased a copy. But the news about this is interesting. More interesting still are the opinion articles that seek to condemn the book.

Apparently the book is a novel about a woman who ends up in a Dominance/submission relationship with a man. And not a mild one either. Apparently this novel includes some explicit BDSM scenes. The interesting part is that the relationship is not, as seems typical in fiction of various sorts these days, a Dominatrix and a man who wants to be abused. Rather this Fifty Shades of Grey book is about a woman who chooses to submit to a man as he seeks to control her almost completely, if the descriptions of the book are to be believed.

And apparently the popularity of this book has some women scared. Several of the links via Google were to opinion pieces that were swift to insist that the book was somehow a setback for feminism. Whitney Frink, over at msnbc.com, says

Some argue that the storyline (and graphic sex, no doubt) provides escapism for its readers. I would have no problem with this rationale if the book wasn’t gaining popularity on the idea that it’s both fun (“mommy porn”) and positive (“a true love story”).

[…]

I’m no Gloria Steinem (I do like a door held for me once in a while), but the feminist in me was clawing to get out as I read “Fifty Shades of Grey.” If S&M is your thing, be my guest. If vapid books are your thing, to each their own. If it helps awaken your bedroom imagination, so be it. But let’s not tout this book as anything other than the big step backwards that it is.

She does not actually explain why someone should not find the book fun and romantic. She just seems to assume everyone would agree a book about a woman submitting to a man is a “big step backwards.” Though why is it is a step backwards she also does not explain.

Gina Barreca at the Hartford Courant says,

Women are pretending that they are the virginal heroine (with the all-too common name of “Anastasia Steele” — don’t you know, like, 12 women with that name?) whom he chooses as his object of desire.

Except “desire” is maybe not the right word for it: maybe “target” or “victim” would be more accurate.

And maybe “bondage” is a just sexy word for “degradation.”

1) I don’t know many women named Katie Scarlett O’Hara either. Sheesh. 2) Clearly this woman feels threatened by the book. Or at least its popularity. Apparently she is one of those feminists who cannot fathom why a woman might choose to submit. Indeed, that a woman might choose that offends her sense of feminism. She starts her column with this:

A hundred years of the women’s movement and what do we have? Women sneaking off to read “mommy porn” on their Nooks.

Wouldn’t our suffragette grandmothers be proud?

Why women choosing their own sexual fantasies and/or lifestyle is somehow anti-suffrage, Ms. Barrecca never explains.

This book must be some kind of awesome to have some women so afraid of it.

But Ms. Barreca lives in a strange place. She says also,

Women are encouraged by our culture to look for men who will provide them with an identity, even if that identity is “slave.”

They are? Where is this going on? Somewhere this must be, because over at Salon.com (where Tracy Clark-Flory talked to Dominatrices about the book) is this quote:

[Melissa] Febos, who considers herself a feminist and also has submissive fantasies, says, “I still live in a culture that floods my consciousness with instructions to be a passive, sexual object; that my only power rests in my sexuality as defined by men’s desire,” she says. [sic]

Where do these women live? In the 1950s? In the U.S. culture of 2012, images of strong women are everywhere. Very nearly the only BDSM images one ever sees in the mainstream media are of Dominatrices punishing men. There are strong women in comedies, crime dramas, sci-fi, fantasy, medical dramas. Some of the most popular authors of our day are women. Women hold places of power in politics and corporations. Yeah, I know, it’s still a male dominated society, but don’t tell me females are not told be strong independent women all the time, all over the place. Because they are.

Any feminism that does not allow for women to voluntarily choose to submit in a non-abusive relationship is not feminism. If women are to be free to choose their own lives and free to own their sexuality, then we cannot also say to them, “but these choices are unacceptable and if you choose one or more of them then there is something wrong with you.” Why should we not say that to them? Because that would just exchange one kind of paternalism for another.

I suggest those who frown upon submissive women should try not to be afraid of strong women. There is more to strength than being bossy. And not all bossy women are strong, just at not all bossy men are strong. If what I am saying offends you, I suggest further that is your problem, not mine.

Domestic Violence and Gender Inequality

Posted in Argumentation, Feminism with tags , , , , on November 6, 2011 by Xajow

I was perusing through some articles over at The Spearhead, and I came across an article about the terms used in describing domestic violence perpetrated by men and by women. Apparently, according to someone named Lisa Larance, the founder of something called the RENEW program, men batter and women use force because only men use violence for long term control in a relationship. And apparently, according to Larance, women use violence to take “temporary control” of “chaotic or abusive or battering situations, rather than having the ability to effectively and truly coercivly control their partner.” She says so in a short radio interview available at the other end of this link.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not in favor of beating up women. But let’s be clear here. Larance is essentially excusing a double standard by basically claiming that women who “use force” are justified in doing so. She claims this distinction is necessary to understand the differences in motivations of individuals who engage in domestic violence. How does classifying domestic violence based on gender help anyone to understand the individual motivations? If you want to understand the individual motivations, then you have to assess it on a case by case, i.e. individual, basis and not classify by gender before you have even met the person involved.

The kind of reasoning Larance uses is just plain ol’ ridiculous. The way she explains her argument indicates, to me, that she thinks even when women “use force” they are still the victims. She claims men “batter” for long term control of the partner while women “use force” to gain control of a situation. I am sure some women do. But let’s be clear. Larance is expressing, indirectly, prejudice against men and in favor of women. Even if you think she is justified to do so, it still a double standard. Which is to say, hypocrisy.

An alcoholic who drinks a lot of whiskey is not going to stop being an alcoholic if you get him to start drinking a lot of rum instead. Gender inequality is not solved with more gender inequality. If the goal is getting men and women to treat each other as individuals and not according to cultural gender roles, then let’s treat them that way. Setting up women as some sort of perpetual victim class who never “batter” ain’t gonna get you there. And just because you can cover over uncomfortable truths with word games does not mean you should.

Roger Ebert and Feminism

Posted in Feminism, Philosophy on December 9, 2010 by Xajow

In my limited looking around the internet, I occasionally read Roger Ebert’s blog. One of his recent entries is titled “An affront to the eyes of God.” He uses what I like to call the “authorities agree with me” argument. In talking about Mary Magdalene, he touches on the old idea that Jesus was really in love with Mary Magdalene by saying that while “most people know” John was called “the most beloved disciple […] a great many modern Biblical scholars believe that his name was substituted somewhere along the line for Magdalene’s.”  Makes me wonder if Ebert thinks a great many scholars believe in the Priory of Sion too. He probably doesn’t, but I wonder all the same.

Ebert uses the post, predictably in this era and culture, to discuss patriarchy. Notably he avoids bringing in the word misogyny, but he implies patriarchy is inherently misogynist nonetheless. “To put it bluntly, I believe the world is patriarchal because men are bigger and stronger than women, and can beat them up.” “There must be something abhorrent to some men in the ideas of female rights and equality. Does it threaten them? Does it diminish them?”

Also of interest were some of the comments made about his post. “This is a brave article. It’s a shame more opinion makers do not attack the entrenched patriarchalism in our societies,” said commenter dmar91. In what world does this person live, I have to wonder. “This inherent misogyny that seems to run through so much of life on Earth is one of the many reasons why I gave up religion altogether,” said commenter Alex in Chicago, as if somehow without religion there would be no misogyny. Commenter Noah M quoted something or someone called “L’Ennemi” (which seems to be French for “the enemy”) as having said, “The irrational fear men have of women is one of the most tragic and evil things that has come about in all of human development. We will be a great species only when we can eliminate that fear.” Which makes me laugh. The irrational fear men have of women? Really? In my experience, people who say things like that are usually individual women who have an irrational fear of men. It’s always somewhat amusing to me the way some people who claim to be for equality among people talk in terms that generalize and dehumanize.

In my quick scan of the comments at the Ebert blog for the “An affront to the eyes of God” post, one of the saddest I saw came from the commenter thelittlepecan.

Roger,

YES, Yes, yes!!!

In doing research for a paper recently, I quickly discovered (to an extent I had not realized before, even though I was raised Southern Baptist) that women make quick work of themselves.

When women have been convinced that strength comes from submission, there is little need for men to protect their status quo. So many women (especially the religious right) willingly hand over their equitable future.

This reminds me of the old saying, “None are so hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” But not for the reasons the commenter might think. She essentially equates submission with handing over ones equitable future. An equitable future is, presumably, one of fairness and equality, but also, if we use the commenter’s apparent reasoning, one where women never submit to men.

The problem with the comments and with Ebert’s post is the underlying assumption that there is something inherently unfair and oppressive in a woman being submissive. There is a notion underneath all this talk of patriarchy and misogyny and equitable futures that no woman would ever be submissive if submission were not forced upon her by men. It is a variation on the old “I know what is best for everyone” arrogance. Yes, the religious structures Ebert and other complain about are guilty of that arrogance, but in their reaction to it Ebert and the others end up staking out similar ground.

Equality is not going to be achieved by pitting women against men or vice versa. It will not be achieved by pitting feminists against non-feminists. It will not be achieved by pitting misogynists against misandrists. I watch people complain about inequalities. They always complain about the group and that group. This group hates and/or fears that group. The complainers want this group and that group to be equal in all things all the time in every situation. What is often missed by the complainers (besides the fact that sort equality is never going to happen) is that part of the problem lies in thinking of people as groups.

Oh I know, someone is scoffing and saying that I just don’t understand how hard it is to be a woman and how easy men have it all the time. Even if that were true, so what? Life is full of obstacles. And no matter how disadvantaged you may think women are, being a man has plenty of difficulties too. Oh but women don’t make as much, women aren’t respected in this or that, women aren’t blah blah blah. So change it. I’m not saying there are not inequalities that should be addressed. Of course there are. That is not an excuse, however, to define for other women how they should behave or what they should want or what should make them happy.

If you want equality, stop thinking of people as members of groups. Think of people as individuals. Some women do not want to submit. You should still acknowledge that some some women do want to submit. It is possible to be a feminist woman, to believe that women and men are of equal worth and should be free to choose their own paths, and to choose to submit to a man. It is possible to be a feminist man, to believe that women and men are of equal worth and should be free to choose their own paths, and to be a Dominant. Women are not liberated from an oppressive patriarchy by putting them into a “this is how feminists/equal women behave” box. That just exchanges one set of fettering rules for another. Until women (and men) are allowed to be individuals, they cannot and will not be equal or free.

A “woman problem” or a “thinking problem”?

Posted in Feminism, Philosophy on October 5, 2010 by Xajow

According to Jennifer Armstrong at Entertainment Weekly, the movie “The Social Network” has a “woman problem”. Why? Because “the way the women who do exist in the film are depicted is horrendous, like, ’50s-level sexist”. Really?

The first example Armstrong provides is this:

The shiniest example of female-dom is Rooney Mara’s idealized-woman-figure Erica Albright, who dumps anti-hero Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and, in a way, inspires him to start the company that eventually takes over the world. When Mark blogs nastily about her breast size and works out his rage at her by inventing “Facemash,” a viral hit allowing Harvard students to compare the hotness of co-eds on campus (before first considering comparing them to farm animals), it’s noted in the movie that this does not make him popular with female students. But that all seems to change once he invents the wildly popular Facebook. Then, we’re treated to a sequence in which a girl named Christy Lee (played by Suite Life of Zack & Cody‘s Brenda Song, in her I’m-not-a-kid-star-anymore moment) and her friend approach Zuckerberg and his business partner, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), because they’re the guys who made “the Facebook.” Oral sex in a public restroom ensues before Zuckerberg — inspired by a tense run-in with Erica — decides to expand the company. As he hands out orders back in his dorm room to his programming buddies, the girls look on blankly, until finally asking if there’s anything they can do to help — and being pointedly turned down, the floozy jokes of the otherwise geeky scene. Christy Lee will steal her most memorable moment on screen by setting something on fire, the ultimate crazy girlfriend.

One gets the impression Armstrong wants you to think this is all somehow horrible and offensive. I have to wonder if she would be offended by women rating the hotness of male students or blogging nastily about men’s penis sizes. But of course, that isn’t what is supposed to spark your ire. The bit where  Zuckerberg and Saverin are approached by women for starting Facebook seems to be where Armstrong starts her whining in earnest. As if somehow this is not how many women act, as if this is just some sort of patriarchal fantasy. But worse yet is that the women get turned down when they ask if they can help. Should the men have lied to the women? Should the men have patronizingly give the women some make-work to keep them busy? Would that have been less sexist? I doubt it.

But that isn’t the silliest part of her article. This is:

The Social Network certainly provides, if nothing else, strong evidence that we still need feminism, that we need to inundate boys with it in particular — and that we need to nurture math and science skills in girls more than ever before, so they have as good a chance at changing the world as these guys did.

Really? We need to inundate boys with feminism? That’s her solution? Oh yes, and nurture math and science skills in girls. Basically she is saying we need to brainwash children and to manipulate girls into being more interested in math and science so that women like Armstrong can lay claim to some sort of fantasy equality that has less to do with equality and liberty than it has to do with settling some sandbox level resentment that girls are just as good as boys.

With what sort of feminism is it that Armstrong wants inundate boys? That women should be respected? That women offering themselves as sex objects should be turned down? That women, who seem to have no problem with denigrating men or rating them or commenting on penis sizes, should not have men comment on women’s bodies or say mean things about women? Seems to me Armstrong has it backwards. Maybe the women in the story would have been depicted differently if some of them had been as concerned about being treated like honorable and intelligent women as Armstrong is about fixing the boys.

And yes, that is part of my objection to Armstrong’s solution. Her language makes clear that she thinks males need to be fixed by overwhelming them with feminism while females need to be helped by trying to get them more interested in math and science. Notice what she says. We need to “inundate boys” with feminism, but we need to “nurture math and science skills in girls”.

inundate – a verb meaning to overwhelm as if with a flood.

nurture – a verb meaning to feed, protect, support and encourage.

Her attitude is clear. Males must be overcome while females must be carefully cultivated to prove they are just as good as males.

If girls and women are going to be free to chose their own path in the world, shouldn’t we be letting them decide if they want to pursue math and science rather than artificially trying to “nurture” it in them? Don’t get me wrong. I am all for teaching girls all the math and science they can handle. But basically Armstrong’s approach seems dehumanizing. It seems to say, let’s not treat children, both boys and girls, as individuals with their own minds, but rather as pawns in some sort of getting equal with men game. Is that really what we need to be teaching our children? No, it is not.