Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fallon Fox Wins Again

MMA fighter Fallon Fox, who I wrote about here, had her first nationally-televised fight this past weekend.

She won the fight via submission in the third round, and the entire fight is available to watch here at Yahoo Sports.  Her opponent, Allanna Jones put up a good fight and, a couple of times, appeared close to submitting Fox.

Fox's current professional record is 3-0. Congratulations to her as she continues her successful career.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Stuff

I recently read an article with this first sentence:

"[Founder of White Student Union] insists he's not racist."

Yes yes, don't they all.

That's always such a telling a insistence, isn't it? It's like when you hear "No offense but," and just start bracing yourself for a shit-ton of really mean stuff to be said.

These are "truths" of privileged folks:

Nobody's racist unless they belong to the KKK. Nobody's homophobic unless they belong to the Westboro Baptist Church. And nobody's sexist unless they're feminists, who of course hate men.

In other news, I've moved on from watching L Word re-runs and am now watching, for the first time ever, Arrested Development.  Does hivemind like this show?

Some aspects of it are funny, but others are problematic.

For instance, why dear gawd why does it require a narrator? Doesn't that break the "show don't tell" rule of writing?  It insults the intelligence of its audience to, say, have a voice-over telling us things like, "Now Michael is heading to the banana stand, where his son works."

On the bright side, it turns out that I think Portia de Rossi is a funny actor. Who even knew? (Lots of people probably, but I certainly didn't).  The writers should go meta though, and make her character the one in her marriage who's secretly gay, rather than her character's husband (which, at least in my opinion, would be way hotter).

Thursday, May 23, 2013

On Avoiding the Comments

Continuing the Internet civility theme, Heina at Skepchick argues that people should not actively discourage others from engaging with people acting abusively online if they want to engage with such people.

For instance, common refrains on Internet are "avoid the comments" and "don't feed the trolls." Acknowledging that it's valid for people to choose not to engage, Heina also writes:
"If someone really is commenting in bad faith, allowing their comment to stand without a peep in the way of disagreement can serve as unintentional validation. The audience following along at home can readily assume, at the very least, that everyone is okay with what was expressed. Worse, they might assume that the opinion is not only valid but also representative and acceptable. Who is really that gullible, you ask? How about children, or adults who, for whatever reason, are socially isolated?"
I agree.

Relatedly, I used to engage in a non/anti-feminist forum that runs two versions of posts - one which allows "regular" commenting and one that does not allow "hostile" commenting.  The thinking seems to be that having "no hostility" threads might foster dialogue between feminists and those who are critical or, dare I say, hostile to feminism.

The moderators, when I have participated there in the past, seemed perplexed that I would check out the abusive commentary directed toward myself and other feminists in the "regular" thread and then, based on the cite's condoning of hostile commentary in those threads, refuse to comment even in the purportedly non-hostile threads.  

As a blogger myself, I get that bloggers don't necessarily agree with everything that's said in comments to their blogs, even if they don't jump into the commentary to explicitly say so.  Yet, by framing the hostile threads as "regular," it often seemed to me that these threads were actually the "what anti-feminists say when they're venting and don't care about dialogue with actual feminists" and, therefore, more candid.  And, when abusive and hostile comments were continually allowed without reprimand in "regular" threads, it certainly lent itself to the impression that the entire forum itself was dominated by anti-feminist readers and blog owners who condoned the hostility, if not the opinions themselves.

Anyway, it's an interesting idea to suggest that maybe we do to some degree have a social obligation to actually counter people acting abusively when we are able to - mentally, physically, and spiritually.

A couple of months ago, I posted this video of bystanders intervening when a waitress was loudly being rude to a same-sex couple and their children in a restaurant. I also asked commenters how they thought they might respond in real life to such incivility had they witnessed it. Interestingly, Maggie Gallagher(!) claimed she would have called the waitresses behavior inappropriate and stood there until a supervisor showed up. Yet, Maggie has also made a living out of publicly making statements similar to the waitress', who said "I think they need a dad" to the same-sex couple in front of their kids.

So, I wondered, was it the content of the waitress' speech or the waitress' approach that Maggie objected to? Did she object because it maybe made opponents of LGBT rights look "bad" and "mean"? Or, was she sincerely concerned about the welfare of the same-sex family?  I have no idea.  I'm not going to try to parse that one.

Just as people behave abusively online in many different ways and for many different reasons, so it seems to go with bystander intervention as well. In an excellent article about the history of "trolling," Whitney Phillips writes:
"...[T]he division between trolls and regular Internet users is hardly clear cut. Compartmentalizing bigoted speech and behavior within some poorly-defined online non-category—'trolling'—that somehow manages to subsume every unpleasant interaction on the internet while establishing a clear demarcation between the 'them' who trolls and the 'us' who does not only obscures that fact, and precludes serious conversations about systemic harassment and bigotry. If it’s all the trolls’ fault, in other words, if they are the clearly aberrant bad guys, then we don’t have to think about how our actions feed into and are fed by the same prejudices that give rise to these kinds of aggressive behaviors—namely racism, classism, sexism, and trans- and homophobia, to name a few."
Again, this point circles back to the point I've made before that people can be problematic in some contexts and friendly in others, which seems absurdly obvious to even write. Even members of the Westboro Baptist Church, after all, can be seen as nice sometimes.  That kind of thinking doesn't seem too popular as the US political climate and the so-called "culture wars" invite us to think that people like "us" are 100% good and people like "them" are 100% evil.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Salon Piece on Ego and Revenge in Wikipedia Editing

This piece by Salon writer Andrew Leondard was pretty interesting and troubling.

In it, he does some investigating into problematic, conflict-of-interest-y behavior by an active author/Wikipedia editor, who also purportedly engaged in sock-puppeting and pseudonymity to back himself up and edit biographies of his literary rivals.

I often use Wikipedia as a handy go-to source if I want to find information quickly about a topic, but I nearly always look at the links that purport to support whatever's being said, and I often read the Talk pages to see the extent to which content has been debated and edited.

I often see Internet users, especially those engaging in online debate, use Wikipedia (often without citing it) to kind of act like they're maybe talking off the cuff about different topics. That's the nature of Internet non-face-to-face communication, I suppose, as we can all at least somewhat appear as though our knowledge runs much deeper than it actually does.  And, along those lines, I suppose we can maybe convince ourselves at times that we're all set on a topic once we read its Wikipedia article.

So, related to the Salon piece, I think articles like it serve as important reminders of how Wikipedia's form, so to speak, can't always be separated from its content.

The site has incredibly extensive rules and procedures around the general topic of civility, moreso than on any other site I've seen on Internet, and yet in terms integrity, the information on the site continually remains suspect.  That's not, like, a huge Startling Revelation to say.

Indeed, I think that in order to remain relevant, entities are going to increasingly have to put resources into grappling with Civility On The Internet issues rather than pretending or wishing these issues didn't exist.  So, I guess this post is part of my ongoing interest in how entities respond to human behavior on Internet.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Online Game Tries Tribunal to Increase Civility

Via Ars Technica, the gaming company that made League of Legends, a massively multiplayer online game, has come up with an interesting way to manage abusive comments.

The moderation seems to consist of a Tribunal process, which was designed and implemented by staff on the gaming company who hold advanced degrees in psychology and related fields. The Tribunal is described as follows:
"The Tribunal is basically a community-based court system where the defendants are players who have a large number of reports filed against them by other players. League players can log in to the Tribunal and see the cases that have been created against those players, viewing evidence in the form of sample chat logs and commentary from the players who filed the reports.

 Cases in the Tribunal were evaluated independently by both player juries and staff from Riot Player Support. In over a year’s worth of cases, Riot found that the community verdict agreed with the decision of the staff moderators 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent of the time, the players were more lenient than Riot’s staff would have been (players were never harsher than the staffers).

Riot’s takeaway from the Tribunal experiment was that League players were not only unwilling to put up with toxic behavior in their community, but they were willing to be active participants in addressing the problem. This success inspired Riot to assemble a team of staffers that would make up its formal player behavior initiative, launched just over a year ago."
It's an interesting concept and implementation, and cool that the company devoted resources to taking civility and the safety of its participants seriously.  As I've blogged over the years and engaged in many different forums, I'll admit that I've often secretly wished that there was some sort of Internet Court who one could appeal to in Internet Debates who would authoritatively tell everyone that I was right and that someone else was being a total ass.

I've found that oftentimes, the presence of just a few people can really disrupt an entire community or conversation, by continually acting in a toxic manner and it's particularly frustrating when those who actually hold power, via their ownership of the forum, condone such behavior.  In my experience, if I'm finding a person to be problematic, other people often are as well, even if they don't publicly say so. And, over the years, I've also acquired a certain skill in recognizing when a person is going to become a problem in a conversation and, if moderation is not taken seriously in a forum, when I should therefore dis-engage (or take other actions).

League's experiment analyzed player chat logs and gathered data that allowed the company to predict with "up to 80% accuracy" which players would go on to show bad behavior. The article states that the company doesn't plan to pre-emptively ban such players. However, the capacity for that sort of pattern-recognition is interesting to note. After all, the language we use is often a good indicator both of how we think and of the extent to which we care about the effect our words have on others. (See also, On Sock-Puppeting and Entitlement).
In addition to imposing bans on abusive players, the system also explored imposing positive rewards on those who were civil. Players could earn kudos from other players, which would contribute to their overall Honor status. 

Lastly, the article didn't mention sexist and misogynistic commentary, which somewhat concerns me. The article alludes to homophobic and racial slurs, as well as the more general "bullying." Yet, cultivating hostile environments toward girls and women can sometimes be its own sort of hivemind, especially in gaming culture, and even in communities that more readily "see" the problematic nature of other types of abuse.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Another Military Man In Charge of Sexual Assault Response Charged with Misconduct

So, the third military man in 2 weeks, in charge of sexual assault response, has been charged with boundary-violating misbehavior.

Like many feminists, I'm not surprised by these circumstances. I'm also not surprised that some people are, apparently, surprised.

A few months ago, at the now-defunct Family Scholars Blog, someone started talking about sexual assault in the military. It was a tangential discussion on a post about another topic, so I can't find the conversation immediately, but that's beside the point.

In this conversation, one conservative young guy added a contribution that was somewhat fawning of the US military, suggesting that rape was primarily a problem among other, less disciplined armed forces of other countries, and he ended by opining, "I'm sure we can trust that the US military is doing all it can to address this problem."

..... wut?

My response to him was, in that forum, a tepid, "And you are basing this opinion of yours on what, exactly?" And, I then proceeded to reference actual court cases suggesting that the military, actually, was doing very far from "all it can" when it comes to sexual assault.

I'm sure my response was deemed "mean" or "aggressive" or something and therefore ignored so Clueless Privileged Guy wouldn't have to feel the discomfort associated with re-thinking his groundless assumptions about the world, but my larger point here is that it's been my experience that this guy's opinion is not particularly rare in the US, particularly among those who buy into narratives about the US military being, monolithically, a noble, glorious institution full of chivalrous heroes.

I think good people can be, and are, in the US military. I, at several points in my life, seriously considered joining myself, even during the discriminatory time of DADT and even when multiple narratives told me that I wasn't wanted there because I'm a woman and gay.

But, I also think that people who do good things in some contexts, perhaps even heroic things, can do bad things in other contexts. Just as people who are really mean in some contexts, can be nice and good in other contexts. I mean, is that even contentious to purport?

Despite the simple, binary narrative that's encouraged in US political culture in terms of left v. right, liberal v. conservative, Republican v. Democrat, With Us v. Against Us, Good v. Evil, people don't actually fit so neatly into those boxes.

And so I quote Twisty, for truth:
"Despite lofty romantic narratives alluding to honor and quiet heroism and national pride, military culture is ultimately grounded by mores that place a higher value on group cohesion through dominance than on compassion, justice, or truth. These mores are necessary both to foster the required fierce sense of tribal unity, and to permit the execution of the required acts of intimidation and aggression — acts that would be considered psychotic under any other circumstances. Mounting body counts on all sides obfuscate the very concept of 'greater good.'

The thuggy, murdery, cannon-foddery nature of the wars becomes more difficult to ignore, while simultaneously the sexual assault rate climbs: coincidence? I think not. It’s nice that the president 'has [the victims'] backs,' but if he thinks that it’s even possible to extirpate violent behavior from a tight-knit culture based on violence, that dude seriously needs to answer the clue phone. As these relentless wars drag ever onward, it is to be expected only that fewer and fewer members of the military will be able to survive such extreme cognitive dissonance with their moral compasses intact. Warfare debases all humanity."
War is, in principle and practice, the violation of boundaries, albeit for some purported greater good and even though the people waging it might be good people in many contexts. Having legitimated the practice of violence and boundary violating, it should not be a surprise that those who are trained in it sometimes fail to distinguish who is and is not deserving of having their boundaries violated.

Friday, May 17, 2013

So Back Then It Was Center Men or STFU, Too, Then?

So, it turns out that MRA dipshits have been around for at least 100 years.

In his 1913 tome The Fraud of Feminism, after noting several average, alleged physiological sex differences between men and women, "journalist" and "philosopher" E. Belfort Bax sneered:
"It is the fashion of Feminists, ignoring these fundamental physiological sex differences, to affirm that the actual inferiority of women, where they have the honesty to admit such an obvious fact, is accountable by the centuries of oppression in which Woman has been held by wicked and evil-minded Man."
We see this attitude today, don't we? When we advocate for equality or, hell, even decent treatment for women, some men distort the argument we're making as a ginormous, sweeping accusation of all men everywhere in all of time being horribly sinister.

What it is is projection. When we understand that many MRAs and anti-feminists actually hold sweeping, supremacist views that basically amount to waiving around a giant Men Are #1 foam finger, we understand that their egocentricity demands that they believe that their "opponents" hold similarly unfair, sweeping views about women's purported supremacy over men.

For instance, in Chapter 1, Bax begins:
"The dominance of men [before feminism] seemed to derive so obviously from natural causes, from the possession of faculties physical, moral and intellectual, in men, which were wanting in women, that no one thought of questioning the situation."
.... dun dun dun, until feminism, that is.

He then proceeds to devote chapter called, predictably, "The Anti-Man Crusade" to railing against how British laws of 1913 were so horribly unjust to men and in favor of women.

At a certain point, the text itself reads quite like an old-timey parody of modern MRA-ism, with Bax doing what amounts to the early 19th-century equivalent of whinging about Bumbling Male Characters On Sitcoms. He writes:
"...[W]e see the legislature, judges, juries, parsons, specially those of the non-conformist persuasion, all vie with one another in denouncing the villainy and baseness of the male person, and ever devising ways and means to make his life hard for him. To these are joined a host of literary men and journalists of varying degrees of reputation who contribute their quota to the stream of anti-manism in the shape of novels, storiettes, essays, and articles, the design of which is to paint man as a base, contemptible creature, as at once a knave and an imbecile, a bird of prey and a sheep in wolf's clothing, and all as a foil to the glorious majesty of Womanhood."
Unfortunately, like his modern-day brethren, he fails to connect the dots as to how any of this is the fault of feminists or feminism.  Indeed, I reckon that the SupremeFeminaziConspiracy had even less control over the "storiettes" of 1913 than they/we do today.

That he does not, for instance, indict gender traditionalists for saying that men are inherently this and women are inherently that, that he does not indict the predominant religions of his day for promoting absurd notions of "gender complementarity," and that he does not indict "scientists" of his day who promoted the idea that men and women were essentially opposite suggests, of course, that like many of today's MRAs, the primary critique about feminism is that it, horror of horror, doesn't sufficiently center men and only men, all the time men men and more men.

This notion crops up, time and time again.

Well, anti-feminists say, if feminists are gonna push for changing views about women, it's also women's work, and primarily women's work, to push for changing views about men as well. And, as long as feminism does not sufficiently center men, men will seek to destroy it, critique it, or ignore it until it does, while pretty much ignoring every valid point that any feminist ever says about how maybe women are and historically were marginalized.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Going to the Movies

So, last night I voluntarily decided to watch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

I wish I had something more intelligent to say about it other than, wow, just what we all needed, another movie about white dudes doing dudely things with other white dudes and, like, one white lady character and one black man, both of whom only have speaking parts because of their respective relationships with the white male savior.  Ker-pow!  It's like when you think about it, Vampire Hunter's narrative perspective has more in common with traditional historical narratives than it maybe would admit.

And really, I'm not sure the movie deserves more intelligent commentary than that, actually.

But wait, there's more!

Because this time it's a vampire edition of the Male-Centric, Non-Bechdel Action Movie (MANBAM?) genre.  Buffy, in my opinion, is a major defining context for all things vampire related in US pop culture. Accordingly, any subsequent vampire-related shows or movies that go back to relegating women to marginal roles stands out as a serious regression.

But then again, I suppose a movie called Chattel Wives and Fugitive Slaves: Vampire Hunters would give too many white men a Big Sad to be considered a viable project?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Welp, it turns out that I have to be on some pretty strong meds for some persistent sinus issues I've been having and, spoiler alert, they are making me a bit loopy and REM-sleep-deprived.  Consequently, blogging and conversation here will probably be a bit light, sporadic, and/or about random, spontaneous topics. (This is Internet, what could possibly go wrong?)

Anyway, as a fun fact, when I was an undergrad, I was regularly sleep-deprived, entirely of my own volition and wanton ways (insert whatever definition of wanton in there, for who am I to fail to live up to the image that some anti-gay folks have of The Reckless, Selfish, No-Self-Control Gays).

I'm much older now and much more into Getting 8 Hours of Solid Sleep per night, but I do remember back then having convinced myself that 1 hour of nap sleep bestowed upon a person the equivalent benefit of 4 hours of regular sleep and that I could, therefore, get my regular sleep in during the hours of 4-6 am, take a 2-hour nap later in the day, and actually come out with a net positive of sleep hours in the long run.

Aren't you so glad you read my blog today?  Feel free to talk about whatever.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fringe and Astrid

I'm glad I read Ana's post on the TV show Fringe, because she articulated many things that I find problematic about it, even as I continue to watch it

My current pet peeve of the show is the writer's oblivious and obvious treatment of Astrid. While the other characters, Peter, Walter, and Olivia get to be relatively well-rounded actual human beings, for the most part, Astrid, the show's only regular woman of color, mostly exists to be a Little Helper to the white protagonists.

Like, if someone had sufficient time and willpower, hours-long movies could probably be made of Fringe clips wherein Walter makes a huge-ass mess and Astrid responds with, "I'll clean that up," or of someone else needing something and Astrid saying, "Let me get that," or of Astrid looking sad for another character's troubles, while no one appears to know or care anything at all about her.

See, unlike with Astrid, we know the histories of Walter, Peter, and even Olivia. We know their personalities. We see them having relationships and love interests. We know their fears, their likes, and their preferred foods. We know very little, if anything, about Astrid.

And, as Ana notes, despite "babysitting" Walter for years on end, even though she's a talented FBI agent, Walter repeatedly calls Astrid by the wrong name, even though he doesn't have trouble remembering other people's names.

Like, do the writers just not realize they treat Astrid like total shit?

She's right up there with Angela Montenegro as being the Most Underrated, Taken-For-Granted, and Unrecognized Talent on their respective mystery-solving teams. (Seriously, while Hodgins is in back exploding watermelons for fun or whatever, Angela's already used her computer program to perfectly reconstruct how it was impossible, given the 13 bullet ricochet angles, for the gun to have been fired from the balcony and, therefore, their suspect is the wrong guy).

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday.... Fun?

I love this blog, Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh.

And her latest post, on depression, is at once spot on, humorous, and heartbreaking.

Leftist Gender Warrior wishes you all a nice weekend.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Gender Police Are Going to Be SO Pissed!

Welp, this book, What Makes a Baby?, is sure to make many folks fall ass over heels onto their fainting couches whilst clutching their pearls and simultaneously screeching "PC gone awry!"

It's crime? From the linked Atlantic article:
"The book is deliberately and insistently inclusive—which means that it does not presume a 'normal' one-fertile-mommy-one-fertile-daddy household.

Indeed, the book doesn't even mention the word 'mommy' or 'daddy'. Instead, What Makes a Baby explains that 'Not all bodies have eggs in them. Some do, and some do not;' and that 'Not all bodies have sperm in them. Some do, and some do not.' Similarly, sex isn't so much tip-toed around as it is relegated to one unspecified option among many. 'When grown ups want to make a baby they need to get an egg from one body and sperm from another body. They also need a place where a baby can grow.'
Silverberg's goals here are very deliberate and (in the reader's guide) carefully spelled out. He wants to include all children, regardless of whether they have a mommy and daddy who had sex, or adopted them, or whether they have two mommies, or two daddies, or (as Silverberg mentioned in the guide) a trans daddy who gave birth to them, or any of a myriad of other possibilities. The book, then, tries not to impose one truth, but rather to open up possibilities and conversations."


It's quite threatening to some "traditional family" advocates when the reality that families exist that are not in the format of a married man and woman raising their biological offspring together.  Undoubtedly, this book, recognizing the real life existence of real life other types of families, will be framed as an "attack" of sorts on "traditional families."

Again, I reference projection, and how considering the possibility of one's political opponents engaging in it can be rather insightful.

For, rarely do "traditional marriage" advocates, even when directly asked, have tangible solutions or alternatives to offer non-traditional families - particularly same-sex headed families - to address our needs and marginalization in a society that centers and privileges the heterosexual married family. It's as though in their ideal world, non-traditional families (and individuals) should either assimilate or not exist at all.

A Creepy Anti-Choice/Anti-Gay Thought Experiment

Catholic Leader Denies Reality

Is Extermination the End Goal?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Quote of the Day

"From March 7 – April 7, I documented everything blatantly sexist anyone has said to me. None of these comments were provoked, none of them were replies to something I said, none of them were at all out of the ordinary and the vast majority of them (an original count of 77 images) have been taken out so that this post isn’t as long as it probably should be. This is a 10-picture indication of what it’s like to be a woman who endorses game culture, every single month." 

-Alanah Pearce, videogame journalist, in a post entitled "30 Days of Sexism"

[Content note/Spoiler alert: sexism, harassment. Obviously]

During her experiment of Being Female On Internet, Pearce received, and documented, comments such as "I would like to see her boobs" and "Yo bitch! Do you swallow?"

To tie today's post into a post from earlier this week, Rush Limbaugh recently boasted about his role in, purportedly, killing feminism. What an incredible display of privilege, juxtaposing Limbaugh's commentary with Pearce's, when men can yuk it up fantasizing about feminism's demise.

Anyway, to end on a more positive note, Pearce also wrote:
"Honestly, just seeing one down-vote [on sexist comments] or having one person stick up for me is a part of the reason I’m still here and I’m not going to stop fighting. Every single person has the power to fight sexism."

Like I've written before, I don't blog about feminism primarily to convince men that I'm right and that they're privileged or wrong or sexist.

At a certain point, many men are just going to have to recognize all by themselves that being an ally, if they even want to be one at all to women, will involve them feeling discomfort at times about them maybe being called out for harboring some internalized sexism or icky thoughts themselves even if they're otherwise Really Great Guys. It will have to involve men calling out other men for their shit when they can, instead of assuming that that's Women's Work. I mean, who here thinks that a man who says "Yo bitch! Do you swallow?" is going to listen to a woman who calls them out, anyway?

And, of course, to quote the great Jenny Schecter, "It's not my job to make you a better man and I don't give a shit if I've made you a better man. It's not a fucking woman's job to be consumed and invaded and spat out so that some fucking man can evolve."

So, yeah, I said I'd end on a positive note, so.

Basically, I'm far more concerned with snuffing out patriarchy's/kyriarchy's gaslighting by, in whatever small way I can, letting other women know, "I get it. You're not crazy for thinking that's sexist."

Related: What Would You Do If You Witnessed Bigotry?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Brittney Griner's NYT Op-Ed and Bullying

[Content note:  Discussion of bullying, self-harm]


In this piece, Griner talks of the racist, sexist, and homophobic bullying she endured growing up, as well as her consequent contemplations of suicide.

Although perhaps some people might think that women's sports are a bastion of tolerance, oftentimes they're not. I experienced similar bullying growing up as a female athlete. As a girl who was good at sports and, thus, a "tomboy," boys and girls alike knew all the right triggers to try to keep me in my place. Do we really need to re-hash the slurs? I don't think so.

Usually, bullies had the approval of adults and authority figures who, through their silence, were complicit in the bullying themselves. Others were active participants in it. I grew up post-Title IX in a place where, like many parts of America, many people - men, especially - loudly resented "their" boys' teams having to share athletic facilities, fields, equipment, money, and courts with lowly girls. When that's the entitlement boys were being taught, they learned that they were justified in ridiculing female athletes.

One adult. It would have taken one adult to have intervened and it could have changed my life back then for the better.

Instead, I spent years largely feeling alone, isolated, and hated during my teenage years. I spent a year considering tangible ways I could maybe kill myself.

While male athletes were celebrated, female athletes were made to feel like we were taking resources and attention away from boys - the ones who really deserved such things. And, I knew no openly gay people, even as people speculated about some of my various female "dyke" coaches, some of whom, it turns out, actually were secretly gay.

I don't have some big epiphany of a hero stepping in and saving me, but things did gradually get better, as I reflect where I once was and where I am now.

And, as I've engaged with, yes I'll say it, anti-gay people on the Internet who have seemed infinitely more concerned with not appearing bigoted than they have with not actually being bigoted, I continue to question how many of them can truly appreciate that talking about gay rights, for many of us, isn't a mere esoteric, intellectual debating exercise wherein it's "fun" to parse how if we just maybe understood this one Christian doctrine "better" we could maybe see that maybe it doesn't quite technically meet a definition of anti-gay so won't gay people just be a little more "charitable" in throwing around the word "anti-gay"?

I also continue, admittedly, to process my anger at those who believe that it's Christians and Poor Tim Tebow who are the Real Victims of bullying in the US, in which they constitute a majority. Not that Christians can't be bullied, but you know, false moral equations and simple-minded cartoons rarely embiggen the discourse about culture war topics.

So it goes.

My best wishes to Brittney Griner as she heads toward her professional basketball career.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Welp, Time to Close Up Shop

'Cuz yet another anti-feminist, this time Rush Limbaugh, has declared that feminism may be "dead."

His evidence is a Super Scientific article in the conservative Washington Times, which cites a poll of Internet users stating that 28% of Americans identified as feminists. Nevermind that 57% of respondents would identify as feminist when presented with the "dictionary definition" of the term, today I want to observe how this declaring of feminism to be "dead" happens from time to time and perhaps infer some lessons from it all.

The claim about feminism being dead is never, first and foremost, a reflection of reality.

That seems weird to have to say, but I think maybe some anti-feminists don't really.... get that? Or, do people exist who actually believe that Rush Limbaugh, or any anti-feminist, has the power to erase feminism, let alone actual feminists who actually live in the real world, from existence just by saying it aloud?

The claim about feminism being dead is a fantasy. A wish. A dream. Nothing more. And purveyors of it seem to be unwilling or incapable of distinguishing between reality and their own imaginations.

Yeah yeah yeah, who cares, I know.  It's just Rush Being Rush.

However, whether we like it not, he and his viewpoint are influential.  Rush has certainly done much to stigmatize feminism and feminists, I agree with him there as he proudly boasted about it, with his long history of using his large platform to feed into white (especially) male (especially) anger, entitlement, and false sense of victimhood. His audience and small-time bloggers take their cues from him. Take, for instance, the Christian male blogger who doesn't actually know anything about feminism, but who loves referring us as "hairy-legged feministas" and "abortion lustists."

The Illusory Superiority with which he influences is, of course, so typical of anti-feminsts that it's not even all that fascinating (indeed, why women might be fans of his, let alone married to him, fascinates me much more than Rush himself or his rhetoric does).  But alas, I do enjoy pointing out the self-indulgent, cartoonish stereotypes about feminists that anti-feminists like Rush continually draw. It's like, hmmm, whenever they talk about feminism, what hodge-podge will they throw at the wall to see what sticks?

So, the first lesson here is that the way a person characterizes (or generalizes about) feminism is a good indicator, to me, of their knowledge of the field.

In his latest screed on feminism, for instance, Rush shows how he oh so truly has his finger on the pulse of modern feminism by citing "bra-burners," referencing Gloria Steinem, and fantasizing about How Very Angry they/we must be about this poll.

What next, is he going to call us lesbians who worship Valeria Solanas? I mean, the nuance is just so lacking, his rhetoric so unserious, and yet, such a man is one we are supposed to take seriously as having insight into the ups and downs of feminism these days?

Ha ha ha, okay.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the biggest failing of many anti-feminists isn't that they critique feminism or think it's stupid, it's that they don't bother to understand or learn about feminism well enough to render adequate critiques of it in the first place.

I mean, from whence did Rush even glean his knowledge about feminism? Which feminist texts has he read? Which feminist blogs does he read?  Which feminists does he regularly engage, so he can be kept honest in his "counter"-arguments? Can he find anything redeeming about any aspect of feminism, or is the entirety of it so very threatening to him that he has to lazily and wholesale dismiss the entire field?

His comments, not only this latest but also his previous, about feminism, suggest to me that his "knowledge" about feminism is incredibly superficial, not nuanced, and largely caricatured. As much anti-feminist commentary is, I'll add.

I've been in or seen so many conversations with anti-feminists who will casually offer a mansplanation along the lines of, "Feminists who believe in gender rolls [sic] would probably call me patriarchist, or whatever." So, I guess another lesson here is that it can be somewhat productive to directly call the ignorance, so at least the ignorance is highlighted.

For, when I've asked such folks to elaborate upon their knowledge base regarding actual feminist works, as opposed to MRA interpretations of such works or Wikipedia summaries, such folks are often stopped in their tracks (*cricket cricket cricket*).

Lastly, when we consider this Illusory Superiority and the nonchalant way that ignorant people nonetheless feel so entitled and competent to dismiss an entire field and get away with it, it becomes apparent how truly privileged and rewarded the anti-feminist viewpoint is.  Like, people - men and women alike - have built really successful careers out of doing it.

Indeed, while feminists are oft accused of Just Making Shit Up in pursuit of social engineering, political correctness, and turning men into arch villains, those accusations actually start to look a lot like an enormously successful bit of unexamined projection on the part of many anti-feminists.

Related: So, You Want To Teach the Lady Feminists?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Dissident Group Ordains Woman as Priest

From Reuters:

"In an emotional ceremony filled with tears and applause, a 70-year-old Kentucky woman was ordained a priest on Saturday as part of a dissident group operating outside of official Roman Catholic Church authority.
Rosemarie Smead is one of about 150 women around the world who have decided not to wait for the Roman Catholic Church to lift its ban on women priests, but to be ordained and start their own congregations.

In an interview before the ceremony, Smead said she is not worried about being excommunicated from the Church - the fate of other women ordained outside of Vatican law.

'It has no sting for me,' said Smead, a petite, gray-haired former Carmelite nun with a ready hug for strangers. 'It is a Medieval bullying stick the bishops used to keep control over people and to keep the voices of women silent. I am way beyond letting octogenarian men tell us how to live our lives.'"
I actually support the right for private organizations to define their own membership policies and rules, even as I find it unfortunate that some organizations, particularly powerful ones like the Roman Catholic Church, create policies that align with the preservation of unearned male power and privilege.

Thus, I also support women and allies like Smead to continue subverting rules in this manner and putting pressure on the Church to stop promoting the notion, whether explicitly or implicitly, that men are more divine and closer to god than are women. Indeed, that her ordination causes so many people, the Pope and Internet commenters alike, to flip the fuck out is, in my opinion, precisely why it should be done.

Women's ordination in such a sexist, male-dominated institution as the Roman Catholic Church must be truly threatening to male power, male superiority, certainty, and the purported "natural" order of things if it continues to be met with such resistance.

Indeed, I saw many commenters responding to this story by riffing off the Church explanations for why only men get to be priests -  a woman priest is an "impossibility," they say. On that note, it's interesting to observe the parallel point when, say, same-sex marriage is discussed.

Despite the fact that, for instance, legal same-sex marriages actually exist in the real world, some Catholics (and non-Catholics too, but this particular article is about Catholics) claim that same-sex marriage is, like women's ordination, in an "impossibility" because, they circularly argue, marriage can only exist between a man and a woman.

In the same way, only men can be real priests because a buncha men in the Sacred Men's Club have decided that the only real priests are those who are men.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What I'm Getting You All For Your Birthdays*

So, this movie is a thing.

Featuring such stellar women's advocates as Phyllis Schlafly and the Ladies Against Feminism, one review of the movie, The Monstrous Regiment of Women, purports:
 "Today, the feminists are our monstrous regiment. Feminists tell women not to submit to a husband, to avoid having children, and that they should listen to their inner voice and chase a career to find true fulfillment. This twisted and irrational teaching has led to disaster for American women, leading many into a frustrating, isolated existence."
I think my fave part about this movie's Amazon page is that 3 out the 4 reviewers giving it 5/5 stars are men.  The movie was also written by a man. Ha ha ha, of course! Can we get a conflict of interest up in here?

Related: RationalWiki's entry on the movie.

(*Just kidding. But if someone sent it to me, I would definitely review it!)