Patriarchy Isn’t Working for You

Once again, I am angered by the articles I read. Happy Friday!

Today, I read two articles that upset me greatly, each demonstrating the damaging effects of gender stereotypes. In the first one, How to Tell If a man’s penis is In the Right Placethe author draws a confusing analogy between people with penises in women’s bathrooms and  a “politician jizzing where he shouldn’t.”

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Ok? This is the extent of his argument–don’t listen to people who don’t want penises in women’s bathrooms because…….they’re all conservative hypocrites? No. And please don’t conflate female solidarity with conservatism–there’s nothing conservative about it. I would argue it’s way more conservative to keep silencing women the way we have been for centuries.

The patriarchy machine needs you to silence dissenting opinions–it keeps the gears well-greased!

In the second article, Stop the “Women in Tech” Hysteria, the author laments ladies lamenting there aren’t enough ladies in tech. She goes on to state her views on what men and women are each “made for” and that we need to stick to what we’re good at. I believe I’ve already stated how I feel about the term “hysteria” but in case you missed it:

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“Blow me to Bermuda!”

Sophia (the author), the patriarchy needs you to buy into bullshit gender stereotypes so you can be used as a human step-stool and believe me, you’re nothing more. You and women like you are brainwashed into getting down on all fours and letting your betters (men) ease on up the corporate ladder. Do they all succeed? No. Are all women who are “successful” by conventional standards happy? No. But neither are the brainwashed step-stools.

You two are being used and abused and you don’t even know it. People like you are tools of the patriarchy–you’re like hall-monitors that tell the rest of us to pipe-down and get in line. Well you know where that line leads to?

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That’s right, the fucking meat grinder–where all the “yes” men and women are ground up and used as fertilizer for the next crop of human step-stools!

Luckily, if you’re brave, you can step out of line any time. Only catch is, once you’ve stepped out, you can’t get back in. You’ll be shunned, ridiculed and targeted for your disobedience. But you’ll be free.

Director, Guillermo del Toro said something very wise when he was asked about gender inequality. He said that the system wants us to buy into our differences so we hate each other. This type of distraction makes us easier to control. He uses a fitting analogy of a huge elephant being constrained by a rope tied to a very tiny stick.

His point is not lost on me and I believe both of these authors could benefit from reflecting on it. The system that’s in place benefits greatly from us hating each other; because while we’re busy bickering, we won’t notice the vampire that is the patriarchy feeding off of our very life force, sustaining itself upon our ignorance, our denial and our hate. Wake up. Step out of line. Fuck power.

Shrinking to survive: A former trans man reports on life inside queer youth culture

Important story that needs to be heard.

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Max Robinson is a 20-year-old lesbian who recently detransitioned after 4 years of hormone replacement therapy. She underwent a double mastectomy at age 17, performed by plastic surgeon Curtis Crane in San Francisco. Max reports that her gender therapist at the time, Dr Shawn V. Giammatei, wrote letters verifying the immediate medical necessity of these treatments.

Max currently works to provide direct support to developmentally disabled adults living in group homes; she detransitioned on the job in December 2015. Her novel Laika, which tells the story of the little stray dog who was sent outside Earth’s atmosphere in a Soviet satellite, is available digitally or in print here. In addition, Max and her partner collaborate on many graphic art and creative writing projects.

 Max, like many young lesbians of her generation, was led down the path to FTM “transition” as a teen, effectively short circuiting her…

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Masculinity Examined in “The Mask You Live In”

From the writer and director of Miss Representation, Jennifer Siebel Newsom brings us another stirring look at the damaging effect gender stereotypes have on our society. With commentary from mental health experts, educators, advocates, men in prison for murder, parents and children, The Mask You Live In examines the concept of masculinity and how it is reinforced in our culture. The movie addresses the effects of gender stereotypes on mental health, violence and relationships. Must-sees, both of these movies are streaming on Netflix now.

Voices at an exhibition

Fascinating analysis of gendered voice performance.

language: a feminist guide

Last week I went to see the Wellcome Collection’s new exhibition ‘This is a voice’, which explores, among other things, ‘how the unique grain of the voice locates us socially, geographically and psychologically, and how the voice can be dramatically altered by treatment and training’. The exhibits relating to this theme deal with subjects ranging from accent reduction to ventriloquism. But in this post I’m going to concentrate on two pieces which consider the way voices are gendered.

In Chris Chapman’s 2016 video ‘Voice and identity’, Adele, a trans woman, and James, a trans man, talk about the way their voices changed during the process of transitioning. Their personal reflections are intercut with explanatory commentary from a speech and language therapist, Jen Read.

One of the first points the video makes is that altering the way they sound is much more difficult for trans women (who make up around 85%…

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“Confirmation” Movie Review and Reflections on Sexual Harassment

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The new HBO film Confirmation details the events surrounding the sexual harassment claims brought by Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas during his confirmation for the Supreme Court. I was too young when the trial took place to remember any of it now but I thought Kerry Washington and Greg Kinnear as then senator Joe Biden turned out excellent performances. The movie has been met with harsh criticism citing the filmmakers’ agenda to perpetuate the “bogus war on women” in order to bolster Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency.

The reception of the movie and the reception women like Hill get in the public and in the media is precisely why women like me choose not to come forward about issues of sexual harassment. During my time at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, California I was repeatedly sexually harassed by a trusted coworker. My coworker, a middle-aged shop teacher at the school, took my confidence and trust in him and abused it by making inappropriate sexual comments towards me in and outside of the workplace. Up to that point, I considered this man a confidant and a friend. When he began telling me how sexy I was, I became uncomfortable and wrote him a letter asking him to stop.

It was not until later that I realized he had groomed me with compliments, playful joking (some of it sexual) and listening to me when I was struggling and in need of support. He also confided in me, sharing personal feelings and experiences, thereby creating pressure on me to accept and excuse his behavior. I confided in my supervising instructor but did not divulge details. She was supportive and asked him to stop visiting our classroom. He proceeded to approach me multiple times at work asking me to discuss the situation with him; one such time consisted of him sitting directly behind me during my lunch hour and saying nothing. Needless to say, I was extremely uncomfortable and declined his request.

Like many other women, I beat up on myself. I felt stupid and ashamed of choices I’d made in my relationship with this man. I kept most of it to myself out of embarrassment and fear of being judged. I had one friend who supported me regardless of the circumstances and vehemently identified him as a predator.

I still struggle with this today and watching Confirmation brought up a lot of feelings regarding my abusive past. I know in my head that what he did was wrong. I know that if another woman had come to me in the same situation, I would tell her that nothing she could do would warrant that type of behavior from him–not to mention he was more than 20 years my senior and he had introduced me to his wife and son. I would tell any other woman that his behavior was inexcusable and that he was a predator.

Victims will often experience multiple abusive relationships over their lifetime. I still blame myself for much of it, wondering “What’s wrong with me that this keeps happening?” Even so, I know that predators are skilled at what they do. They know what to look for and how best to attract their prey. Most of the predators I’ve had the misfortune of knowing are adept at luring people in with sweetness, compliments and favors much like pimps lure girls into prostitution. The “kind” or “benevolent” predator is just as dangerous if not more so than the predator who seems suspect. By the time one notices the betrayal,the damage is done and there’s no undoing it.

Finally, perhaps the biggest reason for this post is to put some of the blame where it belongs–on him. So I will say:

Damn you! Damn you for making me so fucking uncomfortable at my job and in my skin. Damn you for whispering in my ear how sexy I was in a room full of our coworkers so I could feel embarrassed and ashamed and COMPLETELY alone. Damn you for asking me to “help you” get your massage license–I fucking trusted you. Damn you for waiting until I was naked on your fucking table to tell me that if you were “2o years younger” and how “bad” I was for needing more pressure on sore muscles. One of the reasons I work out is so I can defend myself against disgusting losers like you! Fuck you for introducing me to your wife and son before coming on to me in your house. Fuck you for making me feel safe and understood and appreciated and then reducing me to NOTHING with your fucking come-ons! I hate you. I hope you get hit by a truck or saw your fucking fingers off or misfire your nail gun into your groin you piece of shit! Fuck you. If there is a hell I hope you fucking burn in it!

 

Victory!? Women Get to Share Space with Men!

If you thought this was going to be about bathrooms–gotcha! It’s about the proposed changes to the $20 bill. I say “proposed” because the original idea was to give women their very own bill but after some consideration they decided we could settle for sharing with a man instead. In another article from the Ms. website, victory for women was proclaimed in the announcement that Harriet Tubman will share the $20 bill with slave-holding president Andrew Jackson. Not only that, but other notable ladies like Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Paul get to share space on (the back of) the $5 and $10 bills as well!…..in a few years…

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“yay.”

For the Love of Disposables

I just read an article published on the Ms. Magazine website entitled Some Bloody Good Feminism for Earth Day. The authors espouse the benefits of reusable menstrual products and the potential harms of disposables to the earth and to women. While I am an avid environmentalist and feminist, I really love my disposable pads and tampons. I’ve tried alternatives and I find that they just don’t meet my needs.

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I agree that the materials used in menstrual products should be of the highest quality and should be 100% biodegradable. I also agree that they should be free from tax and free in any facility that has public bathrooms. I think giving women as many options as possible for their comfort and health is absolutely essential. I do not, however, believe that the burden of saving the planet through the use of reusables should fall upon women who would otherwise prefer disposables.

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“It’s all good….I got this!”

 

If pads and tampons harm the earth, steps need to be taken to curb that. If they’re potentially harmful to women’s bodies, that needs to stop as well. However, women have long been made to shoulder the burden of others’ irresponsibility and I don’t see how this situation is any different. Periods are as normal and natural as any other bodily function and should be no more expensive or cause any more harm to the environment than any other sanitary product (i.e. toilet paper). If a menstruating woman decides she wants to go the reusable route, awesome, but save the “do your part” speeches for state legislatures and companies that produce disposable products–the burden should be upon them, not women, to make high quality products that do not harm the earth or women.

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“Girl…I got you covered.”