lunadelcorvo: (Buffy Training)
:::Edited to clarify at the asterisk:::

In conversation with someone I respect today about the #YesAllWomen, I mentioned the “M&M” analogy (imagine a bowl of M&Ms. Only 10% are poisoned. Grab a big handful. No? What’s your problem? Not all M&Ms are poisoned….) as a counter to the “NotAllMen” response to YesAllWomen. I was informed that viewing every male I encounter as a possible threat, as potentially hostile, and as a potential rapist/attacker/abuser/harasser was “not a productive way to establish relationships.”

No kidding, ya think? Tell me something I don’t know!

While this person is someone I respect tremendously both in terms of intellect, reasoning, ethics, and all around decency, to get this response from him was painful and disappointing.

It is true he (yes, he) was not in my life when any number of relationships went bad, and I feared for my safety, feared getting hit, was hit, was stalked, was verbally abused either in the relationship or for ending it; but he has heard all these stories. He also was not in my life when the tow truck driver who had my car on his truck and was driving me 135 miles through the middle of nowhere spent most of that time telling me in graphic detail what he wanted to do to me with the hand from which he’d lost the outer two fingers, but he was with me three years later when I next needed a tow in Chicago and the same man showed up, easily recognized by that hand. Although, come to think of it, he told me then he’d never really believed me until he saw the man himself.

He was, however, in my life when I was almost driven out of my Master’s degree following rumors of impropriety between myself and a male professor with whom I had dared be friends. He was in my life when I woke up in the middle of the night to find a stranger with a knife and a flashlight standing over my bed trying to pull the covers off of me.* (I never knew who he was; and I never felt comfortable in that neighborhood again.) He was in my life when my elderly disabled mother was traded by her roommate to a drug dealer to rape in order to pay off a $50 debt.

So it was a shock to me that he could still protest, almost 20 years into our friendship, that approaching every male I meet as potential threat was a problem *I* had, a flawed approach on MY part, failure of MY reasoning skills, and yes, unfair to men. As enlightened as I otherwise find this person, he pounced on my approach to men as a problem; because Not All Men. *sigh*

Yes, of course I know that this dynamic is a poor way to begin relationships, be they personal, professional, of transitory. EVERY woman knows this. But, as #YesAllWomen has so poignantly shown, we also know the price for rejecting this approach. We are told as young girls to be careful of every man we meet. We are told not to do a thousand things that will put us at risk. And I’m not talking about sex without a condom or skydiving, here. I’m talking about all the things large and small that woman calculate all the time. It’s late; should I find someone to walk me to my car? I need to be sure to let my friend or family know I have arrived safe and didn’t get raped going home a few blocks at night. I pay attention to how I walk if I’m alone at night; remember, don’t walk like a victim. Keep your keys between your fingers so you have a weapon. Yell ‘fire’ if you are attacked, because you have a better chance of actually getting help than if you yell ‘rape.’ We all know the drill.

And let’s not even start talking about the professional world. I have never, in any of the jobs or careers I have had, been assured of fair treatment as a woman. I have been harassed, marginalized, underpaid, “gal-Friday’ed,” propositioned, threatened; the usual litany. All women have experienced some kind of misogyny or discrimination. That’s what #YEsAllWomen means!

That is the reality that men cannot ever truly grasp; no more than I, however much I may care and want to make it better, can ever really grasp what it is to be a person of color. It’s just not my reality, and the best I can do is accept that it is a reality in which I will never participate, and accept that I do not deserve to be above suspicion in terms of my behavior on race until and unless I demonstrate that I’m not racist. I don’t have the right to co-opt the discussion of race by defending my not-racism. And I sure as HELL don’t have the right to tell a person of color that viewing all white people with caution is a “poor way to move in the world.”

Not that I haven’t done just that. I have “but not all white people’d” with the worst of them, with the best intentions. I have been guilty of this as surely as I have been guilty of racism, in ways I could have understood had I been paying attention, and in ways I probably could never understand because I live inside white privilege. But that’s just it. If you live inside a privilege, you don’t get to tell those who don’t share that privilege that their fear, caution, or misgivings are a “poor approach.” Very few people wear signs identifying them as racists. No one wears a sign identifying them as a rapist, an abuser, or a misogynist. And like racism, sadly for both, misogyny can be dangerous, even fatal. So yes, women do, and at present, have to assume that because 10% of the M&Ms are poison, this M&M could, in fact, be poison.

And no, that doesn’t mean I hate men, or view them all badly. Is it unfair to men? Hell yes, it is. Misogyny hurts men, too. But I’m not going to bet my life and safety to assuage the butthurt of some man that’s offended because I regard any male I don’t know as a possible threat. Don’t like it, my male interlocutor? Be the change. There was a kerfluffle a few years back about a police department that had lost the trust of the community because they had not acted to remove corrupt officers. I think this is much the same situation. Nobody WANTS to live in a world where they can’t trust the police, and of course, no one thinks every police officer is corrupt. But as long as some are, you just can’t know. As long as some are, this one *might* be. As long as people who report corruption are ignored or disbelieved, do you really feel comfortable trusting any random officer with your life?

But remember, only 10% of the M&Ms are poisoned. Eat up!

* Just to be clear, while this was a terrifying incident that stayed with me for years, I was not assaulted. I woke up, and with all the good temper I usually show when woken in the middle of the night, began cussing the guy out and demanding the get the &*^% #$@! our of my house right the hell &*^%$ now. Not the response we are taught to have, I know, but in this case, it clearly derailed his power fantasy, and after backhanding me across the face, he fled into the night, letting out my four cats in the bargain. And it does not escape me that had I followed the advice we are given for how to handle such circumstances, which is "don't fight back, survive." I would have been raped....
lunadelcorvo: (Grrrrr!)
So two stories came up on my FB feed today, and together, they made me see red. They are unrelated stores, and I will link to them both:

The first is about a heroic teen who saved a friend from a drunk driver: ”Teen saves friend from suspected drunken driver, gets hit instead”

In the first story (which was also carried on other news outlets), the main takeaway seems not to be that a teen boy risked his life by pulling a friend out of the way of a drunk driver, saving her life at the cost of some serious injury to himself. No, the takeaway is that that poor kid saved the bitch’s life, and STILL ends up in the ‘friend zone.’

And the second wasn’t a story, but a video someone shared: ”The Sex-Starved Marriage: Michele Weiner-Davis at TEDxCU”

If you don’t have the stomach for watching the TED talk, I can summarize: wives, stop mistreating your husbands, if he wants sex and you don’t, just live by the Nike motto, and 'just do it.' Yes, she actually said that. Just do it. In the comments, she said “What's 15 minutes out of your life when you consider the great benefits to your spouse, your relationship and your well being?” She did say it’s not just a problem with women, but I all her examples were women, so….

Now the problem with the friend-zone is one I have been railing about for a while. The “friend-zone' is essentially the idea that women are sex-dispensers into which so-called “nice guys” put niceness coins and therefore rightly expect sex to pop out. And if a woman is not romantically interested in a guy, even if he is (always by his own assessment, I notice) a 'nice guy,' he has been unjustly consigned to the ‘friend-zone,’ a pitiless realm where good men are denied sex by the women they desire. It’s misogynist claptrap of the highest order, but it simply won’t go away.

The fact that roughly half of the comments on the first story revolved around how the “poor kid” was “friend-zoned for life” reveals the horrifying prevalence of the idea that there are times when a woman, not otherwise interested in a man, is obligated to give them sex. This is simply wrong. What’s more, it’s a prime specimen of sexist troglodyte rape culture.

There is NEVER an occasion in which a woman (or anyone) is obligated to have sex if she does not want to. There is NO amount of emotional blackmail, guilt-tripping, whining, or false entitlement that makes that expectation OK. Period. Full stop.

Now I am not saying that the kid in the story is guilty of this; the interviews don’t say. But certainly this is how this incident is parsed in the public conversation, and therein lies the problem.

So how does the second item figure in? This woman, who claims to be a sex therapist, essentially accuses married woman of friend-zoning their husbands. She doesn’t use those terms, but it amounts to it. She says that the person who wants less sex/sexual contact needs to just do it. Just do it. If you don’t want to, if your sex drive suffers from age, hormones, fatigue, whatever? Too bad. Do it anyway, you might even end up enjoying yourself. Isn’t it worth a few minutes of your time if he’ll be happier and easier to live with?

I can’t begin to say how wrong this is. This IS rape culture. Yes, she claims it’s not only women, but all her examples are women. And honestly, while I do know that men can suffer from low desire, I’m guessing the numbers are far from even. (I’d be delighted to be proved wrong; Medscape says 26-43% of women experienced low sexual desire compared to 13-28% of men; Archive of Sexual Behavior reports a far higher lifetime prevalence of low sexual desire among women (16%) than men (4%)) So please, spare me your slipshod veneer of ‘I’m speaking to guys, too.’ Shall I define ‘privilege’ for you?

Essentially, what this woman is saying is that if you are a woman who has a lower sex drive than your spouse, you are broken, you are selfish and unfair, and you are hurting him and courting divorce. (The entire video, outrageously, is couched as divorce avoidance advice; don't get me started). Spouses are entitled to sex, so you have to provide it. In this formulation, being married is only one more set of circumstances in which women are obligated to put out whether they want to or not, and in this case, their relationships, home, and family may depend on it. ‘How dare you expect a man to stay in a relationship with you if you won’t give him sex? It’s only 15 minutes out of your day…’ HOW IS THIS EVEN OKAY?!

Gee, wait a sec, don’t we have some word for unwanted sex? Let me think…oh, yeah, RAPE. Oh, it’s a choice? It’s a choice to provide sex in exchange for financial, emotional or social stability and security? Oh, that is different. But don’t we have a term for exchanging sex for some other consideration? I know there’s something….oh, yes; we call that prostitution. A man doesn’t have to leave a $50 on the dresser for a woman to be aware that she is prostituting herself.

Having known women who struggle with unequal desire in their relationships, I have seen the damage this does. Women who struggle with this end up trying to ‘just do it,’ and end up feeling cheap, used, objectified and ashamed, to say nothing of losing trust and intimacy with their partners. They struggle with feeling defective, broken, and unworthy because society (and, often, their spouses) tell them the inequity is their fault, and that it is their responsibility to fix it, to pay up and put out. They struggle with spouses who equate sex with caring, and use guilt and emotional manipulation to make them feel that ‘if they really cared, you’d be willing to have sex as often as I want it.’ It’s toxic, and it’s regressive, and we, as a society have to stop perpetuating this idea.

What is so terribly, horribly hard to understand here? What is so complex about women having sexual agency that is so hard to wrap our heads around? Are there actually men out there that WANT women to ‘put out’ when they don’t want to? (Don’t answer that; the obviousness of the answer is the whole problem!) But haven’t we fought this out by now? Hasn’t it been established that no, women do not have to lie down and shut up when men demand it, no matter the circumstances? Haven’t women struggled long enough with blame, guilt, and labels like ‘frigid’ or ‘cold fish?’ Do we really expect women to simply accept that dispensing sex is their function in life, and is more important than their own self-worth, their own sexual selves and sexual agency? Because I thought we were in 2014, not 1714. (I’m beginning to think I’m mistaken on that point, however….)
lunadelcorvo: (Pro-Choice Mom)
([livejournal.com profile] kickthehobbit posted this, and [livejournal.com profile] doctoreon re-posted it, and now it's my turn.)

If you're not pro-choice, and you are vocal and proud about not being pro-choice (including such lines as, "I don't understand how anyone could be pro-choice"), or if you allow discussion to happen in your journal that contains such gems as accusing George Tiller of being a "baby killer" that performed late-term abortions for fun, or allowing awful, awful trolling comments regarding what sluts and whores any woman that would ever have an abortion is?

I AM GOING TO DEFRIEND YOU.

If you want to foster discussion in your journal, fine.

If you are pro-life, and proud of it, but are respectful of those of us that are pro-choice, that's also fine. I won't defriend over either of those.

But if you're going to let people make ignorant-ass comments in your journal about how all abortions are totally wrong and 'oh my God how dare anyone ever get one', and also that George Tiller (who helped people like this and this) was a murderer, not bothering to step in when they start to attack one another or otherwise don't "foster" discussion so much as blindly attack anyone that comments back to them, citing irrelevant court cases in an attempt to prove that late-term abortion happens for reasons other than the mother's life/health being at risk/the fetus having deformities that are incompatible with life . . . that's not OK.

If you're going to let your journal turn into a pro-life circle jerk, then I'm out of here. Because seriously? Don't you fucking even try to play the, "But I am all for women's rights!" card when you're trying to restrict access to abortion.

I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but the only moral abortion is not your abortion. ALL ABORTION IS MORAL.

Brought to you by [livejournal.com profile] kickthehobbit.

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Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities

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