like, why is it so laughable and absurd that people whose experiences with, say, sexism, might also be keen on including racism and/or transphobia and/or ableism, etc, whenever they talk about it because, for them, all those factors have a dramatic influence on how sexism manifests in their lives and the kinds of struggles and challenges it imposes on them
words like “intersectionality” and “kyriarchy” provide an easy verbal shorthand for such experiences
you cannot demand that someone generalize their lived experience so that it’s more comfortable and familiar for you, which is exactly what you’re doing when you shit on people for wanting to name and be conscious of all they face on a day-to-day basis. and that’s not even mentioning the arrogance inherent in presuming that your preferred terms and concepts are just inherently inclusive of everyone’s experiences! you seriously cannot run around saying “no no no those are useless words, that’s just patriarchy and that’s just misogyny and you’re a twit if you insinuate otherwise, because if you had a good reason for doing so, I would already know about it.”
I’m all for legitimate critiques of the terminology we use, but ffs those are pretty sparse and obtuse when I do see them, which is definitely less often than I see people rolling their eyes without explanation or acknowledgment that there may be something going on behind those word choices that is beyond them
and yeah, I really do think it has a lot to do with white arrogance and the idea of who gets to define words, their worth and their value, and I swear to god if I see anyone trying to talk about what’s going on re: the latina tag in terms of sexism without also discussing the equally important roles of racism and xenophobia, I will find you and puke all over you
My dad once told me a story about how, when working for The Government back in D.C., he was shown what was at the time their brand new way of evaluating job candidates. The candidates were placed in a room together and given a problem (engineering, I think) to solve. A woman almost immediately came up with the right answer, but she was shouted done by this dude who proceeded to lead the rest of the group into a completely erroneous approach. The guy who showed my dad this explained that they subsequently hired the dude who was wrong, because the point of the exercise was actually to identify people with great leadership capabilities! Even if they were bullying morons who didn’t know how to fix things.
I don’t remember how long ago that was, and I feel pretty sure the flaws in that approach must have exposed themselves soon afterwards, but I think the mindset is definitely still out there. At the very least, it’s a great example of how even very intelligent and capable women are often penalized for the way they’ve been socialized to behave.
Anyway, I got to thinking about this after being driven to my wits’ end by a coworker yesterday. He is actually pretty intelligent, but he has a horrible habit of looking at problems, randomly fabricating a cause, and then spending the rest of his troubleshooting time justifying his conclusion. What makes it worse is that he can articulate his “reasoning” in such a way that it sounds very convincing to people with less technical knowledge, or those who are feeling uncertain, but if you listen closely, it’s complete fucking nonsense that collapses under scrutiny. Unfortunately, we’re so understaffed and undertrained that his bullshit is taken at face value more often than not. Several of us spent precious time cleaning up after him yesterday, and that was after I went out of my way to show him that what he was saying about an earlier incident made no sense, in the vain hope that maybe he’d be shamed into being more careful. No such luck.
It blows my mind because I never make assertions like that unless I have a good body of evidence to support my conclusions. There’s a very fine line between “pushy competent bitch” and “pushy ignorant bitch”; an error every now and then will be forgiven if it was made in good faith, but just balls-out making shit up and then arguing about it? That’s not a luxury afforded to women, especially in male-dominated industries. I’ve met so much men who do that and have no apparent fear of negative consequences, and if they DO experience negative consequences, they blame it the other party’s inability to comprehend their brilliance. It’s not universal to men, but I sure have seen a lot of men who don’t do it shy away from confronting men who do.
I don’t want to be a stupid jerk, but man, I do envy that unassailable and well-protected confidence.
When I was in Iowa, I attended a Q and A with Junot Diaz. I think it may have only been intended for members of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, but idgaf my friend is in it and I really have a lot of complicated love in my heart for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
It started off rather well; my convictions are against applauding men for saying thing women have said forever, but I can’t not be thrilled at seeing a Pulitzer Prize-winning author say “Dudes really suck at writing women!” in a room full of pretentious writer dudes. And there was much discussion about that and about race and ethnicity and being a PoC author scrutinized by an elite white audience.
But then something odd happened. A woman in the front asked him something about how he was able to write a character like Yunior, who treats women very coldly. She used the word “sociopathic”, I think. Now, I haven’t read This Is How You Lose Her yet, but, based on the other two books, I really don’t think pointing out that Yunior treats women in his life pretty shittily is controversial. It certainly astonished Junot Diaz, though. How, he demanded, could one think that oof Yunior? Sure, he’s chronically unfaithful, but why are people so hung up on the infidelity? Don’t you notice that Yunior was molested as a child, and thus he is doomed to chronicle women’s pain? Do you really think a male character who obsessively documents the suffering of women could be sociopathic?
I was all rigid in my seat, because of course they fucking can, Junot Diaz! There are a lot of men out there who can accurately observe and describe the condition of women and still be abusive, misogynistic fucks. And why shouldn’t we care about infidelity? The costs are almost always greater for women, even more so for poor women who may be reliant on the men in their lives for financial security of some kind. It matters! How could you have just spent 20 minutes spouting off on how men need to really question and examine their own privilege before they can write good female characters, and then freak the fuck out because a woman doesn’t view your protagonist the way you think she should?
And, you know, while I agree with him that rape is a totally valid focus when exploring racial tensions of the New World, I’m really not all that impressed that you explore it via two male characters, neither of which were explicitly revealed to have been sexual abuse survivors, not in the first two books, anyway, but whose abuse you describe as “the secret engine” driving their actions. I can both see exactly what he means and be grossed out by it.
Anyway, he did redeem himself at the end somewhat when he straight-up said that writers’ workshops were making young writers excessively focused on impressing other writers and not prospective readers, which I appreciate deeply. I’ve got zero interest in engaging certain demographics, and writers’ workshops are always chock full of those kinds of people. Fuck that shit.
I have complicated feelings about Junot Diaz, man
I always think it’s worthwhile to point out how effectively women are socialized to view male partners as Certificates of Achievement in the Art of Womanhood. Men are raised to believe that female companionship is their birthright. Hence, a man rejected by a woman he is attracted to will likely complain about what a stupid, ungrateful bitch she is for turning him down, whereas a woman is likely to ruminate on how ugly, awkward, selfish, unsexy, fat or unfeminine she is. Both attitudes hinge on the notion that male attention is something women should be grateful for. Women who complain to their friends about their partners leaving messes around the house are very likely to be told that they should look at the big picture (you’ve got a man, be grateful!) and count their blessings (your silly feelings place you at risk of losing your prize!). Rarely if ever are women told that the men worth having relationships with are the men who listen to them respectfully, discuss items of contention without resentment or hostility, give their opinions honest thought and consideration, and then follow up by making reasonable changes in their behavior as necessary. Such sensitivity risks getting a man labeled as effeminate or pussywhipped - i.e., a man that women should find unattractive. It benefits the patriarchy to portray men and women as so fundamentally different, so incapable of interaction as equals, that all women can hope for is tolerance and inexplicable affection, strung along with the cheap promise that he might change, if you can make him love you enough. This amounts to nothing less than grooming girls and women for a lifetime of subservience in a culture that normalizes abusive, manipulative, and exploitative behavior.
Long story short, there is no amount of physical attractiveness or personal charisma that makes unexpectedly sitting in cold piss puddles when you go to take a shit worthwhile. Demand better.
*While it’s a bit outside the scope of this post, it’s always worth noting that this same dynamic often reproduces itself in homosexual relationships, if only for the sheer lack of alternative models of masculinity. It’s just as inexcusable there.
I’m not acting like I’m entitled to do whatever I want, no matter how it affects people. I am saying that I ought to be entitled to express my relationship in the way I want.
A Dom calling his/her sub “bitch” in public, because it is an aspect of their relationship, makes you uncomfortable. Okay.
Two girls kissing makes many people uncomfortable. Two guys kissing makes many people uncomfortable. Two people kissing, period, makes many people uncomfortable. Someone using a pet name for someone else in public, no matter what it is, makes many people uncomfortable. Someone smacking the ass of another person makes many people uncomfortable. Many aspects of many different relationships make many people uncomfortable for many different reasons, and I don’t rightly see why your personal offense or discomfort ought to take precedence to what another individual, or couple, wants to do.
And I would really appreciate it if you would drop the condescending tone with me. I’m actually attempting to have a conversation here.
these are false equivalencies, things have different cultural meanings, people have a responsibility to each other, and not every gut reaction is wrong. i think that’s all i want to say on this subject tonight, it’s not fun for me so you win if you want.
This bullshit is why I refuse to interact with the BDSM community, and feel all stabby when they talk about how enlightened they are when it comes to sexuality. (We ask for consent! Give us a cookie! Don’t you dare express concern for another person’s well-being, or disgust at public use of a misogynistic epithet, because that’s totally like homophobia!) Exhorting people to ignore potential abuse because someone might be in a D/s relationship is pure sociopathy, and the insinuation that a D/s relationship could never include unhealthy elements is just plain ignorant.
brittanibotulism, did you fail analogies 101? Goddamn. OK, I will attempt to converse with you.
Two people of the same sex kissing makes many people uncomfortable because the uncomfortable people are homophobic. Hearing someone refer to their partner as “bitch” makes many people uncomfortable because the uncomfortable people in this latter situation are aware that the public degradation of a partner to their face is one sign that they are being abused, or the uncomfortable people are trying to discourage sexism/misogyny—neither is analogous to the same-sex kissing scenario.
Here is a scenario that’s analogous to the original “bitch”-witnessing one, using the same privilege/oppression axis that you provided (homophobia):Some friends are hanging out together. One of the friends, who is not queer (same-sex attracted)—let’s call them L—refers to another friend, who is queer, as “fag” or “dyke” instead of their name. A few of the other friends present call L out on L’s homophobic language. Some of the friends who call L out are queer, and hearing homophobic slurs stings them, and they worry that such a proud display of homophobia means that L may escalate past verbal homophobia if unchecked. Others are not queer but they think homophobia is ugly. L then says, “HOW DARE YOU POLICE ME. YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO ASSUME THAT THEY AND I HAVE A PRIOR ARRANGEMENT, AND THEY LIKE IT WHEN I CALL THEM ‘FAG’/’DYKE.’ P.S. Fuck your feelings, I don’t give a fuck if I made you very nervous with my degrading and queer-violent speech.”
ykinmk and I would be an abuse-enabling, misogyny-enabling person if such a kink-display did not make me suspicious.
The problem with this is that you’re assuming aggression to be masculine. You’re thinking within the same paradigm. While I’m admittedly less familiar with Joanna Newsom than PJ Harvey or Courtney Love, I think the point here is not that Newsom is misunderstood because she’s less “loud,” more convoluted, and thus more feminine, but that she’s less loud, more convoluted, and thus more intellectual.
The reason why people fail to pay attention to Joanna Newsom may be due in part to your stereotypically American anti-intellectual sensibility versus sexism. My caveat is, of course, that I’m not writing off sexism ENTIRELY; I’m simply drawing attention to other potentially mitigating factors and also pointing out that associating aggression with masculinity and quietude with femininity in your meta-critique is just as problematic as the critique is, in the first place.
I’ve said time and time again on this blog that aggression or anger or rage and other emotions Newsom explores aren’t inherently masculine or feminine. But you cannot deny socialization and its effects on the expression music (i.e. my discussion of male versus female energy). There is no use denying that Joanna’s music is ostensibly very “feminine” (for example, she plays the harp, probably the most highly gendered instrument in existence; but, of course, she constantly breaks that perception with her awesomeness). And maybe she has been socialized, as some of the other female artists mentioned in the article, to to express her anger and more “masculine” emotions in less confrontational ways. And that’s what I was hoping to get at with my commentary. Why didn’t the author mention any of that? So, I don’t think I am following and thus reinforcing the paradigm. I am questioning it (maybe not as explicitly here as I have rather frequently on Blessing All the Birds) and also drawing attention to the fact that feminine socialized behaviors are undermined and scorned in our society, but male ones are praised and imposed on everyone. That is my problem with the author. She ignores socialization patterns and then rebukes women who not rise above them or who chose to work within them and perhaps subtly destroy them and prove nothing should be working within the gender-binary in the first place! It’s also important to consider that Newsom is obsessed with how people perceive femininity, how femininity might be oppressive, but also how when people try to police femininity, they are denying women some of the only pleasure they are permitted (see all of Have One on Me).
But your point about intellectualism is spot-on. And we also have to consider how an intellectual woman scares people just as much as an angry woman.
I don’t even understand how it’s in question that Joanna Newsom is dismissed on the grounds of her femininity. She is widely perceived a a kind of fairytale creature with long hair and carefully chosen wardrobe that does not challenge conventions of attractiveness. She does not scream or growl, and her voice is quite unlike the other women mentioned here, very high-pitched in a way that is reminiscent of both young children and old women. For all this, she gets dismissed as a novelty act, which is a damn shame given how intense her lyrics actually are.
Monkey and Bear is a fine example of her brilliance; Newsom takes advantage of her storyteller persona to create a depiction of emotional abuse and manipulation that is painfully familiar for any woman who’s experienced it, and yet I suspect many people are thrown off by the fact that the lyrics concern talking animals who have escaped a circus. It is likely that she’d be taken more seriously if she screamed her injuries directly at the audience. Her approach is far more subtle, and offers the listener the choice of ignoring the social commentary altogether. I don’t think this is a cop-out; rather, by doing so, it echoes the reality that it is remarkably easy to dismiss abuse happening around you, and the abuse that is happening to you. It is a double story that reflects the double stories women rely on to survive.
Go Long is the first song of Newsom’s that I fell in love with, and the one that converted me into a fan. I was still reeling from the dissolution of an incredibly unhealthy relationship, it was all too easy to recognize the extraordinary sadness and anger evoked by destructive masculinity when it is performed by a man you care about. This is an excruciatingly female song, written from a perspective I think very few, if any, men can truly understand. Newsom clearly does not spend much time worrying if her music is accessible to men, and that no doubt contributes to how easily she is dismissed.
Finally, Newsom is the victim of unremarkable misogyny. Sometimes it is a worshipful misogyny, i.e., those fans who are so invested in her image as some sort of minor goddess they refuse to consider the fact that Baby Birch is about an abortion that the narrator affirms was ultimately the correct choice, despite her obvious regret that it had to happen at all. She has spoken several times about how she hates to be judged solely on the imagery she uses, rather the the content and artistry of her work, and that is no doubt because her work is about women’s minds, and women’s perspectives, with no bones thrown for listeners who want her to be more clear, more explicit, less “mysterious”. The irony of it all is that Joanna Newsom rarely conceals her meaning or intent. It is up to the listener to shed misogynistic thought patterns, internalized or otherwise, and empathize with the rawness of the emotions and ideas that are not unique to Newsom, but that have rarely been so coherently conveyed. It requires the listener to trust that a woman has something to say in between all those big words and pretty images, and that it really may not be very nice or comforting at all.
Mississippi voters will be allowed to decide on a ballot measure that defines “personhood” from the moment of fertilization, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled last week. The measure could potentially outlaw abortions, birth control, in vitro fertilization and stem cell research across the state.
Abortion-rights advocates say they worry that the language of the initiative is so broad and vague that its effects could go far beyond outlawing abortion. The measure could be interpreted to outlaw the birth control pill, for instance, because the pill can sometimes prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. They also say the measure could outlaw in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and emergency contraception for rape victims, as well as discourage doctors from performing a lifesaving miscarriage treatment when a woman is suffering from potentially-fatal pregnancy complications.