Tag Archives: feminism
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Love is Love.

26 Mar

Love is Love.

I killed some time this morning making my own little piece to show my support for marriage equality. It’s every couple I could readily think of, gay, straight, bi, trans, queer, etc. Everyone’s written the same, because we all deserve the same chance to marry or not. There are couples on here that I know support marriage equality, there are couples on here that probably don’t, and might be pissed that I used them without permission. The inclusion of these names doesn’t mean that they support marriage equality, it simply means that I think they deserve the right to marriage equality. It’s coming for you, whether you want it to or not.

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When is a hug not a hug?

25 Mar

Trigger Warning: Discussion of rape culture, sexual assault

 I’ve been thinking about rape culture a lot lately. Fun, right? But with Steubenville (and its appalling coverage) in the news, it’s kind of hard to avoid. I’ve been thinking a lot about the advice I’ve given and received over the years about being a single gal in the city. Don’t walk around drunk by yourself, stay out of dark alleys, be aware of your surroundings, always have a weapon (or something that can be used as a weapon) handy. Don’t make yourself a target. To some degree, this is just common sense to try to avoid any kind of assault/mugging. And while I don’t want to support a society that actively tolerates rape culture, I also thoroughly enjoy not being assaulted. How do I find the balance between not making myself a target, and feeling like that shouldn’t be solely my responsibility? I’ve been thinking about this even more after a recent incident.

A couple of weekends ago, I found myself having a delightful late-night stumble through the alley behind my apartment building, clutching a box of freshly-procured pizza. I had moved in earlier that day, and celebrated by having some friends over for drinks.  By drinks, I mean that I single-handedly consumed an entire bottle of white wine, leaving me pretty incredibly wasters.

Within sight of my door, I heard a slurry male voice, “Hey, can I have a hug?”

I turned to see a dude (dare I say bro?), arms slightly extended, ambling towards me. Let me restate, I was drunk. So drunk that I was literally hugging my pizza box flush to my chest in order to avoid dropping it. And the first thoughts through my head were, Stupid, stupid, stupid. This is the night you get raped. This stupid fucking asshole is going to grab you and rape you in a dark, puddle-y alley, and probably steal your pizza. I could barely walk straight, yet I was trying to see if he had a weapon in the hand that was angled away from me.

Spoiler alert: I did not get raped.

I backed away as quick as I could and made Wolverine claws with my keys (years of leaving campus after midnight have made me especially good at this). I told my new pal Huggy McInappropriateReactionsToSocialCues that no, he could not have a fucking hug, and that it was really creepy to lurk in alleys asking people that. He in turn told me I was a hateful person.

“Why, because I don’t want a complete stranger invading my personal space? Because I don’t know you and don’t want you anywhere near me?” (I’m a surprisingly articulate inebriate – ask any of my friends, the drunker I get the more impressive my vocabulary becomes.)

He stopped walking towards me. “Why are you so hateful? Your heart is filled with hate.”

I know, I know. Don’t feed the trolls. But I find it hard to keep my mouth shut when confronted with them in real life. I told him to go away and stop harassing innocent pizza-carriers in alleys. He continued to yell after me that I was a hateful human being who would never find happiness (which apparently only comes from hugging creepy strangers at one in the morning).

At this point, I would like to hop back on my rape culture-point with a handy graph:

What I drunkenly thought:

What Drunk Bro drunkenly thought:

Oh fuck, a random dude is approaching me, asking for close physical contact. Will he back off if I say no? Probably not. Where are my keys? Can I swing them at his face and run before he has time to grab me? If I give him my cash will he leave me alone? I shouldn’t have come back this way even though it’s a half-block closer. If I scream, will anyone hear me? Will anyone help me?

Hey, it’s a lady. I want a hug. If she doesn’t hug me, she’s a hateful bitch.

I’m not sure this graph really needs explaining, but I’d like to expound on a couple of points. First, I have grown up in a society so deeply entrenched in rape culture, that if a random guy asks me for a hug, I will automatically assume that his intention is to hurt me. This is dangerous because it makes my adrenaline flow. Because if he hadn’t stopped walking towards me, he would’ve gotten a complete janitor-ring of keys in the face. Or a kick in the balls. Or pepper-sprayed. And this makes rape culture dangerous for everyone.

Second, Drunk Bro has grown up in a society that is so permissive of rape culture that he is incapable (at least while drunk) of seeing any woman who does not want him touching her as anything but a hateful bitch. I’m assuming this would be the same guy who would, in a more sober state, tell me to smile when I walk past him (What if my dog just died? What if I just don’t feel like smiling? My facial expressions are not here for you aesthetic amusement). Who would not stop hitting on me until I said the magic words (“I have a boyfriend”) because he couldn’t fathom a woman who would be able to pass up his manly charms unless she was already spoken for. And I know I’m making a lot of assumptions, but damn it, I should be able to walk home without dealing with this shit.

I don’t think that Drunk Bro is representative of the males in my neighborhood, or men in Denver, or men in general. The friends I was drinking with were all guys, all of whom got just as shit-faced as me, and managed to not invade my personal space. My boyfriend was appalled when I told him this story, interrupting when I related that Drunk Bro had asked to hug me to say “You mean grab you? Because when a stranger wraps his arms around you that’s not a hug, that’s a grab”. And maybe Drunk Bro didn’t have any intentions past hugging the random lady he saw walking by. But it didn’t occur to him that I would perceive that as a threat, and I couldn’t afford to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Aside

My private feminism

28 Feb

I’m re-posting this from Tumblr. What are your feelings on separating a name from a movement?

“By definition, feminism is ‘the principle that women should have economic and social rights equal to those of men’. Given this definition, a Harris poll recently found that 71 per cent of all women in the US identify themselves as feminists. The most common comment from young women who are asked about feminism is ‘I’m not a feminist but…’ The ‘but’ usually goes on to include a laundry list to the effect of-‘I want equal pay; I want access to better jobs; I want to have the right to choose whether to have an abortion’. Essentially, these women aren’t ready to join a feminist movement of women and men because of the stereotypes attached to the label but they want to reap the benefits from it.”

The F- Word, by Amy Richards and Julie Parker (via sallydraperbitch)

If people are paranoid about the word, but are ok with the concept, would it be possible to just ditch the word and keep the concept?  Once a word has negative connotations attached to it, they become very hard to shake.  Would it be possible to create routes of action that are feminist in nature but not in name?  Could that make them more subversive, to remove the most recognizable and objectionable aspect, but leave everything else in place?  I mean, the Girl Scouts is not marketed as a feminist organization, but from all the women that were once girl scouts that i know, it certainly was a feminist organization.  Is the word more important than the concept?

Just something I’ve been thinking about.

(via themundaneworld)

[The following is my response.]

The word isn’t more important than the concept. The word is the concept. The word feminism encompasses a history that includes the 19th Amendment, Roe v. Wade, as well as the ongoing fights for autonomy over our own bodies, equal pay for equal work, etc. To sever the idea from the word would be to deprive it of over 100 years of history. And for what? Because when people hear the word “feminist”, they automatically picture a bunch of angry, unshaven man-haters? So. Fucking. What. There will always be people who are uncomfortable with change, who are narrow-minded and bigoted and scared. Changing the word “feminism” to something else in an effort to get scared, narrow-minded bigots on board seems wildly counter-productive.

As far as the but-feminists (“I’m not a feminist, but…”), they’ll get on board or they won’t. The goal of feminism is equality and change, not recruitment. Yes, I personally find it frustrating when people (especially women) try to distance themselves from the term “feminist”. However, I have to remind myself that part of this big crazy idea that I so fervently believe in is choice. And that includes the choice of what to label yourself. The Freedom Riders didn’t come back from Mississippi and proclaim that equality would only be extended to those who were on the buses. Susan B. Anthony didn’t just want votes for one generation of women. Harvey Milk didn’t believe that gay rights should stop at the San Francisco city limits. Just because you don’t identify as a feminist, that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve the same rights that we’ve been fighting for.

So, what if, instead of trying to change the word “feminism”, we tried to foster a culture that has a better handle on what it actually means? What if, instead of bending to the societal pressure that feminism is somehow gauche, we just ask about it? “Oh hey, you’re a feminist? What does that mean?” I guarantee you’ll get a different answer every time. Words have power. So why should we give ours up?