Thursday, June 29, 2006

Vicky Vengeance v. Victoria's Secret

One of my favorite bands of all time, Sleater-Kinney, announced they are breaking up a couple days ago and officially broke my heart a little. If you aren't familiar with their uncompromising feminist attitude and unbelievably kick ass music, I strongly recommend you find a CD of theirs and give it a listen.

First off I want to give you some context for this post and then we'll get going on some healthy ranting. The first major protest that second wave feminists put on was of the Miss America pageant in 1968. It was the first time second wave feminists stepped into the media spotlight crowning a sheep Miss America and throwing bras, makeup, high heels etc. into a "freedom trash can" to show that the pageant was demeaning to women and celebrated a vision of womanhood the ladies in attendance were sick and tired of. While some people thought the tactics they used were a little too rough around the edges and spur of the moment, it made many women realize they weren't alone out there in their frustration.

Flash forward thirty years and the Miss America pageant is out of business and off network TV, although there are still a lot of rumors about it's future. Many people have sited that feminist protest as a major reason for it's steady decline in popularity, but I think the cause is much bigger than that and it illustrates very well the general cultural shift that's taken place since second wave's heyday.

You may notice that the same network that carried Miss America now televises a yearly Victoria's Secret Fashion Show special that plays to millions upon millions of viewers. You'll see no competition for educational scholarships or questions testing the women's intelligence or talent during the Victoria's Secret show. Instead of the evening gown frills, the crown and scepter, we've been handed million dollar diamond encrusted bras (I don't know about you, but OUCH keep the sharp things away from my breasts please), angel wings, and oodles of flesh. This progression serves as an interesting mirror of how America has digested and distorted the messages of feminism through the years. Instead of being shackled to your husband and children, dressed up in a notion of femininity dependent on being, well, dependent, passive, pleasant, and dutiful, you've now earned a thong and stilletos and an encouragement to use your sexuality to get what you want, be aggressive, be emotionally estranged and uncommitted. After all, it's worked for the boys for such a long time.

But wait, my massive metaphor (about to collapse under its own weight any minute now!) goes further! You might be pleased to find out that there are in fact people protesting the Victoria's Secret fashion shows and their stores all over America. Huzzah! But it's not a feminist group who is running these protests my friends, it's an environmentalist one.

Before I go a bit further with my critique I'm going to go ahead and slap a big disclaimer up right the hell now. If you're skimming this, STOP! READ THIS before you comment:
I am aware of the existence and awesomeness of eco-feminism. I think environmentalism is an extremely important, necessary, bad ass movement on many levels. I also understand how environmentalism often impacts third world women and just women in general in a big, big way. There is plenty of room for overlap and coalition-building between movements here and I understand that protests have to set their sights on practical, achievable goals. The End.

Continuing on, a group called ForestEthics is the one who has been picketing Victoria's Secret under the oh so scandalous campaign name, "Victoria's Dirty Secret." Apparently VS is the number one catalog distributor of non-recycled paper sending out millions of catalogs a day. As far as I can tell from their website, which I encourage you to check out for yourself, the main goal of this campaign is to get VS to switch to recycled paper. To be fair, they do list reducing paper use altogether along with their other demands, all of which focus on using more sustainable, less damaging types of paper.

Call me a bad sport, but calling for VS to change the paper they use seems a little ridiculous to me. Given the close analogy I see between Miss America and VS, I find it extremely disheartening to know they aren't being protested because their catalogs totally objectify women and turn, not only trees, but WOMEN, into easily consumable products in the capitalist machine. While I understand that environmentalism is the primary focus of this group, that doesn't mean the feminist dimension of this campaign couldn't or shouldn't be taken into account.

If a racist organization who featured broad racist images and stereotypes in their material was the number one catalog distributor in the country, people would be extremely pissed off if the main demand of ForestEthics was for them to switch to recycled paper because that demand trivializes the larger weight of what that corporation is promoting. It's less about which cause you choose to prioritize, environmentalist or feminist, and more about the fact that this should clearly be a feminist issue on many levels and this organization is not only ignoring that, but implying that it doesn't matter to begin with. Replacing the paper VS uses isn't going to change anything about the sexism they promote with their millions of catalogs and further, although I would be happy about the trees being saved, if this campaign is successful I can't stand to think about the news stories and press releases congratulating them on what a great company they are for being green friendly.

I also like how this activist group has chosen to use the images of women and men wearing lingerie (because what's more ugly and absurd than a man in a woman's clothing?) to promote their campaign. It reminds me of those infamous PETA ads, "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" featuring a host of naked supermodels to promote animal rights. It's not as extreme as those ads were and I understand that these ads are meant to be amusing parodies of Victoria's Secret ads, but it seems to me that using a very thin, scantily clad woman in your advertisements is still using patriarchal tactics to draw attention to and support for the campaign. In using men in lingerie to be funny and provocative, I also see hints of both sexism and transphobia.

Here's my idea for reducing the amount of paper AND sexist waste products that are out there right now. According to Wikipedia, Playboy has a distribution of at least 3 million. That's 3 million magazines being sent out every month with a higher page count than the Victoria's Secret catalogs and that is only one pornographic magazine of hundreds. How about we protest Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, and every other porn mag that is not only destroying natural resources, but hurting both men and women on a daily basis by eroding our capacity for positive sexual connections?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

To Bitch, Or Not to Bitch

It has been raised by one of our incredibly savvy readers, Mr. DG, that it's a little confusing that Vicky and I go 'round using the word "bitch" like we do, limited mostly to the verb form.

Regardless of part of speech, it's certainly something that I've agonized over. Should I really use a phrase like, "I totally bitched her out," since it's A) sexist and B) like, omg, SOOO Valley?

Speaking of the Valley, as a Southern Californian, I would like to point out that the phrasing and dialect you hear on certain WB and Fox shows is more or less exactly what I sound like when I speak out loud. A common conversation with Vicky about pornography, say, goes a little something like this:

Me: "Dude, porn totally fucking sucks."
V: "Totally."
Me: "Like, you know, why are guys such loser dumbshits anyway? Like, can't they just, like, totally stop being dumb?"
V: "Yeah, like, seriously. They're such fucking losers. Fuck 'em."
Me: "DUUUUDE! Ohmigod, yeah, like I am SOO with you."

Obviously, we are scholars. Like, I am totally wowing you right now, I just know.

Here's an example of what I, in my native tongue, might call a "bitchfest." Today I had to go to a meeting with a bunch of other people from my new job. I was put in the position of having to make nice with my co-workers, most of whom have worked together for several years. So what did I engage in? The complete and total bitching out of our superiors. Thus a quick and easy bond was formed.

The problem I have with giving up the word "bitch," other than the obvious fact that "bitch" is used as a slur against women, is simply that I can't think of any better word for a replacement. "Bitching" is more than mere complaining or kvetching or airing of grievances. Bitching is always petty, often exaggerated, and mostly without merit. I think it isn't fair to falsely call "higher-minded" complaining "bitching" when it is not. Some arguments and complaints and criticism aren't coming from a petty place, and whenever people call all of women's complaints "bitching" they are clearly fuckers. And if I complained about such fuckers, that wouldn't be bitching, that would just be righteous, dude.

Using this definition still leaves me with a problem, because if the behavior is so shallow, shouldn't I stop engaging in it? There's obviously nothing feminist about it. For instance, today, after joining in with the "bitching" about our superiors, I felt shitty. So it's not only something that is harmful to others, but it's clearly harmful to me (and I don't like harming me). Talking shit can get some appreciate laughs, but it can also give you a gossipy, mean -- nay, bitchy -- reputation.

As a mean feminist, sometimes I argue things from a high-minded position. But other times, I just bitch. I don't want the two things to be confused, though. I don't want my criticisms to be dismissed as just "bitching" on my part. Since hey, who says even mean bitching can't offer up some sound points, right? Telling the truth bluntly, being straight-forward: these things have gotten me called "bitch" more times than I can count.

I'm not asking for us to "reclaim" the word bitch. I'm just asking for sympathy in regards to the limits of the English language and a nod of tolerance towards our personal colloquialisms. If anyone has a better suggestion for the "bitching" that I'm talking about, please let me know.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Yes, I Admit It, I'm An Edithist

Alright, I can't take it. In solidarity with Edith, here's my take on some of the crazy shit E has been saying.

First of all, let me respond to this bit of loveliness: "The young & very naive Edith is actually bringing women down." Hmmm. I like how being young is a really relevant point of criticism of someone's opinion. Yep. Edith sure is the bigot on this one.

I also like this jab: "Now if some impressionable little girl has the misfortune of reading your blog, she may just come to the conclusion that unless she partners up with a woman later in life, there is no way for her be a feminist in any shape or form." Yep. I know that when I was an impressionable little girl the worst thing for me was reading feminist essays and debates. How dare someone tell a little girl that giving blow jobs is anything BUT empowering and feminist!

Second of all, our blog is certainly an open space for dialogue and just plain old bitching. Feel free to critique what we say. We encourage you to argue with us and disagree with our thoughts. But for crying out loud, would you fucking read our posts before you launch into a tirade about how "She is saying that the only way you can want the world to be better for women is if you sleep with other women" or just go ahead and assume we are just like some other woman you know who's been a real bitch to you. Pretty please?

Last I checked, and I do check often, I'm mostly straight. And also last I checked, I was a co-author on this blog. Yes. Edith the "Heterophobic" One (nice turn of phrase there), as I so often like to refer to her, has partnered with me on this blog just to throw you all off of her terrible, terrible homosexist (look I can play this game too!) trail.

Also note how Edith's precise words in her post are, "Heterosexuality is NOT implicitly feminist." Allow me to define the word implicit since E was so kind as to define feminism for us. It means "the implied content of something, contained in the nature of something though not readily apparent." Seems to me there are both sexist and feminist straight people out there. And it also seems to me that nothing about someone's sexual orientation or their choice to actively participate in the giving of blow jobs implies anything about whether or not they believe in the need for equality between men and women. Note how Edith was responding to people who did in fact claim that blow jobs, the act itself, were specifically feminist.

Further, it seems to me that lesbian separatist feminists aren't exactly the people in power in the feminist community or, you know, in ANY community. As far as I know, there aren't any steadily growing armies of lesbians who are about to convert you to their ways at gun point. I'm not a lesbian, but I completely respect how essential lesbianism might be to some women's concept of what a feminist is. You know why? Because I believe that every woman has a right, and should be encouraged whenever possible, to create their own definition of feminism even if that is "mean" at times, even if that definition can be exclusionary. We ALL have our own criteria, as E so kindly demonstrated for us by noting that, according to her definitions, Edith is a sexist bitch. If that's how you feel about it, great. I'm just glad you're a feminist in the first place.

We ARE allowed to decide what feminism means to us on our own blog. And by all means, we love hearing your responses to us, explaining how your feminism differs and why. That is how the feminist community grows and changes. There are all different kinds of sects within feminism, there are all different kinds of people who are feminists. We may write things in an inflammatory way, but I assure you we are aware of that diversity and we love it.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me, Guess I'll Go Put On Some Cherry-Flavored Lip Gloss and Suck Dick

I've been having a busy few days. In no particular order, here's some things that have been bugging me lately in my small-minded, petty way:

1) The fact that more people like to spin their focus on how "dumb" Britney Spears is as opposed to how big of an asshole Matt Lauer is;
2) Why "size 36" men's shorts are considered to be "small" and yet are apparently bigger than the "large" version of that shorts for women, which is the very large size 14 at my local outlet department store;
3) And why is it that those shorts for men cost $25 and the women's cost $35;
4) And why the women's shorts don't have cargo pockets, when they are clearly needed;
5) The unfairness of having to spend my tip money buying khaki shorts for my new job;
6) And why I can't be on the blogosphere for more than thirty seconds before I'm accused of converting the young, impressionable minds who read this blog (all three of you) into becoming lesbians. I am also responsible for the downfall of feminism, and apparently don't want men (straight, I assume) to call themselves feminists or fight for feminist rights. No kidding, I thought that would take at least a month. I am totally flattered that my meanity has already been discussed and digested into such sweeping provocation. Be still, my heart.

If I were mean* or at least a masochist, I would point out some things I find perplexing or, at least, inconsistent, in this blogger's diatribe. But really, far be it for me to pass judgment on someone's rant in response to something I didn't actually say, which from what I gather, is something like, "Don't call yourself a feminist if you suck dick and like it." This might encourage more discussion on the topic of this sexual practice that I, for one, would like to avoid. It's becoming daunting entering certain comments' threads. Here's a tip: if you wouldn't tell your best friends the kind of details you tell to relative strangers on the internet, OMG, don't. My best friend and blogging partner, the mostly heterosexual Vicky Vengeance, doesn't even provide me with as much detail as I've read in this latest drama-fest. That's because we respect each other's gag reflexes, so to speak. Oh damn, look at me, talking about what I said I wasn't going to, making bad puns. Guess I AM a hypocrite.

But to answer one question: yes, celibates are uber-feminists. Particularly the uber-feminist ones. Next week, I'll tell you about how joining a convent is the most under-rated feminist choice of all time. I might link you some choice options.

*Meaner than I already am, anyway. Some people appear to be busily trying to one-up me in the mean department, which personally offends me, but politically makes me glad and feel like I may be on to something with this "mean feminism" movement, if it were something that I felt like I should make into a movement, which I don't.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Who Is That Handsome Stranger?

So I was talking to my girl Edith and she was poking me with her internet poke-y machine, being all up in my grill. "Pull your blogging weight bitch," says Edith. Which made me think about how cool it would be if "a blog" was a unit of measurement, since it's obviously a much cooler word than "gram" or "pound." How much does a bunny weigh? Why 2.4 blogs children! How much patriarchy can Vicky take before her head 'splodes? Why .00001 blogs! Clearly I am a scientist and you should all worship me as such.

Anywho, after much deliberation I come to you today to address the topic of female facial hair my fine, furry friends.

I happen to have a moustache. Not a big one. Just, you know, a wispy one that's big enough to give my upper lip a humble dose of 'tude. For many years I've taken a pair of tweezers to my face on a semi-regular basis like some might stroll through their garden, delicately plucking at the weeds. Of all the many, many things that I was self-conscious about through junior high and high school, my moustache hits the top of the list with a fucking bullet. Indeed, for a period of a couple years one of my most characteristic mannerisms was to put my hand over my upper lip whenever I thought someone was looking at me too closely. Then I realized, oh adolescent curse, that just drew more attention to it.

Still, I used to be very reluctant to just get rid of my facial hair. Indeed, my mom used to literally chase me around the house with an electric facial hair remover. These episodes would usually culminate with her holding me down with one hand and using THE DEVICE on my face with the other while I howled in pain and distress. Yeah. She still regularly tries to bribe me with cold hard cash so I will get my "jungle-like" eyebrows waxed. Whether my resistance came from an early, just budding feminism or an instinctive impulse to keep all objects with spinning circular blades away from my fucking face the world may never know.

I also remember overhearing my mom talking to a friend from church who we'll call Joy (insert gossipy, super image-conscious stereotype here). Joy was telling a story about how she was at the supermarket once and saw this woman with a fully developed beard. With lurid and vicious detail, Joy described a brief moment when she looked into the eyes of the bearded lady (a.k.a. beast) and registered what she called, "a look of utter defeat." Joy gave a tragic shake of the head and both women made that wooshing, clicking noise of pity and shame you may or may not be familiar with. That image of the bearded lady in the supermarket is still a very vivid one for me today because it was one of the most blatant messages I received that to display your masculinity, instead of hiding it and pretending it wasn't there, was to fail as a woman.

According to an old Bitch article, "Growing Pains- Female Facial Hair Gets Plucky" from Spring Aught Five, "41 million American women between the ages of 15 and 74 have removed unwanted facial hair within the past six months, and approximately 22 million American women remove facial hair at least once a week." Which is a pretty crazy statistic if you ask me. Think of what a huge amount of women that is! But there's hardly anything more taboo and ugly by our cultural standards than facial hair on a woman. Because, corollary, there are few things more taboo than a woman who isn't all woman or, taking things a bit further, a man who isn't all man:

It's easy to look at Frida Kahlo self-portraits and gush about how feminist and ahead of her time she must have been to include her monobrow and facial hair in the portrait. But let's think about that for a minute. Is it true that one of the boldest feminist acts of all might be the simple choice to proudly display a moustache? What's so captivating about the Kahlo self-portraits isn't just that she had the ovaries to resist being ashamed of her facial hair, but that she had a moustache and was still SEXY AS HELL in a big poofy dress because, let's face it, Frida Kahlo was hot. She captured the awesome potential of both the feminine and the masculine.

Now, not all of us are graced with Frida's bone structure and I thought I might google the topic a little more to get some fun facts about other regular and not so regular women with facial hair. Wikipedia has an entry about bearded ladies with this charming tidbit: "The bearded woman has been a phenomenon of legend, curiosity, ridicule, and more recently, political statement and fashion statement. A small number of women are able to grow what may appear to be a beard. This is usually not truly beard growth, but simply dark facial hair." Huh. Simply dark facial hair. Since that's not what a beard is? I'm confused.

With a little more digging I came across this fascinating website about historical bearded ladies who performed in various circus sideshows all around the country. Don't these women sound completely, ridiculously awesome?

You may have also happened to notice some pretty hot pictures of feminist celebrity JD Samson of the band Le Tigre, sporting her signature mustache that has turned her into a lesbian pin-up of sorts (note above picture of Prince for freaky resemblance):

I also happened to find this delightful website of famous actresses who sported some facial hair falsies for various roles. I particularly like the photos of Rebecca Romijn-Stamos with a full beard. Sure, she looks hot cartwheeling around in a full-length blue body suit in X-Men 3. But surely, SURELY, it cannot hold a candle to the extreme hotness of Rebecca with a full set of honey blonde whiskers.

Frankly, the world wide web has inspired me to do away with my regular moustache plucking regimen. And yet, I too, want more than a moustache now. If you, like me, are ready to take the next step I strongly encourage you to buy some of these fine wares or, if you're feeling particularly advanced, please partake of what has simply been labeled The Neptune Wig.

Hopefully this post has tickled your feminist whiskers for the day. My parting advice to all my feminist friends (and enemies too I suppose), "Go with glory, oh bearded ones!"

Saturday, June 17, 2006

You All Can Blow Me. Or Not.

Much ado about Twisty's latest drama-fest at I Blame the Patriarchy. Basically, Twisty says that blowjobs are gross, and that women don't like them. People have maintained that Twisty was just having fun and expected her readership to laugh politely and go, "Oh, Twisty." But maybe Twisty hasn't noticed that she is apparently the most read feminist blog online, or something.

Everyone who has been criticizing Twisty, in their varying ways, thinks they're being controversial or whatever, but, uh, they're not. Wow, challenging a minority opinion! You're a big kid now!

At first, I admit, I wasn't too keen on this new argument. Not because I disagreed, but because I really kind of thought this was just done to stir up some shit. And then I remembered, wait, I'm a mean feminist, I should be supporting this! Identity re-realized, I decided to rededicate myself to meanity anew. (But whew! That was a close call! The nice feminists almost has me, there!)

Mostly, people don't like Twisty's (totally right-on, in my book) opinion because it insinuates that there's nothing feminist about being a heterosexual. To which I counter with, "duh." Isn't that obviously true, gang? Heterosexuality is NOT implicitly feminist. In fact, you could argue that heterosexuality is implicity sexist, but I'm not. I think heterosexuality, while never having the ability to be feminist, can certainly be non-sexist.

Yeah, it's "easier" for us lesbians, in this one tiny bit of feminist discourse (as opposed to how it's easier for heterosexuals, everywhere else, in all contexts). I'm sex-critical, gang. So you know what, I'm not going to conclude that all sex practices are okay and non-sexist. I'm not going to conclude that any way you get off is super fine. I'm not going to call orgasms feminist liberation this morning. So yeah, there are ways of having sex which are not feminist, and there are ways of having sex which are feminist.

As always, as with anything I have ever said on the webz about pornography, prostitution, BDSM, stripping, makeup, shaving, bra-wearing, and so forth: no one can do everything perfectly feminist (or even non-sexist) in their life all the time. We are human, and we are victimized 24/7 by a horrific patriarchy that does not allow us to make any pro-feminist decision without scads of backlash. It is not right to tell a woman that she must choose to make only pro-feminist decisions at the expense of her sanity and health.

In my book, there's nothing hypocritical about being a feminist and making sexist choices (if you are female) because I don't blame the victim (women) for not being able to live an ideal, sexism-free life because for most (if not all) of us, that is just impossible. You do the best you can do.

What I DO object to is pretending sexist practices are feminist. Maybe blowjobs are a sexist practice all the time, though I think it's possible that they differ on context. They're certainly not pro-feminist, however, so let's stop pretending that they are. Let's stop pretending that everything a feminist does for pleasure is somehow feminist.

And most of all, please people, stop pretending as though Twisty or ANY sex-critical individual has the power in feminism, not you. Whoever defends the practices/ideals of the mainstream is always the one with the power. And whoever defends the idea that sexual liberation means doing whatever you want sexually, is defending the ideals of the mainstream. And what's the mainstream ruled by? I'll give you a hint: it starts with a "p." Vicky has pointed out to me that most of the bad things in the world start with a "p" so really, if we were really radical, we should get rid of "p"-words all together. But I'm not a letter blamer, so we'll hold off on that for now.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Atheists Don't Respect You

I was halfway through my fucking post on atheism and my fucking computer decided to just pass out on me, like a guy who’s had a hard day boozing and beating his bitch and can’t even stay awake to rape her that night. My fucking computer is such a fucking typical sexist male. Fuck. If I make less sense this time around, it’s not my fault, it’s my asshole misogynist computer’s.

You all want me to write about sexism and(in) atheism, and I didn’t understand what the appeal was at first but now I think I get it. It’s a common argument, after all, about how religion is sexist. It’s a somewhat less common argument about how religion can be feminist. But atheism pretty much gets a pass on any feminist interpretation because if we argue, for instance, that atheism isn’t feminist or is sexist, then what are we saying? Are we saying that the only way to be feminist is to be religious? But what about all that documented religious sexism? None of this seems to make any sense at all!

Indeed it doesn’t, because we’re playing that same zero sum game that makes some feminists a bit peevish about my saying that makeup isn’t feminist. If makeup isn’t feminist, and I like makeup, that must mean I am not feminist? Well fuck you, Edith!

Man, I would be mad at me too if that were my conclusion! But I’ve simply maintained that we don’t live in an either/or universe and we don’t live in a world where our actions never contradict our beliefs and vice versa. I’m not as concerned with how feminist and anti-feminist choices reflect on your personal identity; I’m concerned with how feminist and anti-feminist choices reflect on women and men in a society as a whole.

Having said that, let’s talk about the personal identity of the avowed atheist. First of all, most people are not avowed atheists, and that includes most atheists. If you don’t believe in a higher power, you’re an atheist. There are an awful lot of default atheists out there that probably wouldn’t call themselves “atheists.” Lapsed Catholics, secular Jews, cultural Muslims, and general “celebrate Christmas and Easter because they’re fun traditions but chuck all that religious stuff other than a few pretty songs” might all be called default atheists, but I don’t know if they would claim that term as their own. In any event, people sometimes willingly engage in religious practice and don’t consider themselves apart of that religion and many people don’t engage in any religious practice yet do consider themselves part of that religion. Kind of like some people are involved in pro-choice or domestic violence activism but don’t call themselves feminists, while others don’t do anything explicitly feminist yet happily call themselves feminists based on their beliefs.

By the way, this probably won’t be the last time I compare feminism to religion. I get that that pisses people off. I’ve heard some of the arguments – feminism isn’t a religion because it is not about worshipping some infallible being or code; feminism isn’t a religion because we aren’t offering up explanations of how the world came to be or what will happen in the world’s future; feminism doesn’t employ the mystic or the supernatural or use allegories; feminism doesn’t expect itself to be a higher purpose and does not consider its followers “chosen” or “saved” or “enlightened” in the spiritual sense; feminism does not deny other forms of beliefs as unmitigated heresy.

I could go on, but you should be getting the picture: it’s not so hard to argue that feminism is a religion if you know a bit about either feminism or religion. So why does this comparison bother some of us so much?

I believe the reason this bothers us is because we are greatly uneasy with religion. Most of us will say that we are tolerant of other religions besides our own but really, we’re just lying. Atheists that have no special allegiance to another religion (usually the non-default atheists in this case, as most default atheists tend to still defend the religion they grew up with) are generally the most intolerant of religion of all. Why? Because a person who considers herself an atheist as an essential part of her identity (in the classic psychology exercise, where you’re asked “Who are you?” over and over, each time expected to reveal another part of your identity [i.e., “Who are you?” “A woman.” “Who are you?” “A sister.” “Who are you?” “A feminist.”], an identity-defining atheist would say “an atheist” within the first dozen) also considers as an essential part of her identity as someone who is against religion, or anti-religion. This may seem like, DUH, to you, but it’s very un-PC to point out that anyone is anti-religion in progressive climates where everyone is generally (falsely) tolerant of religion. People will get all worked up and resentful, like the little hypocrites we all are.

If you disagree with me, you just might be an atheist, default or otherwise, because most religious people who deal happily with the secular world will get this. Here’s a common scenario: feminist woman tells religious Muslim woman that she totally respects her religion. Muslim woman looks at her and smiles, but might be thinking something like, “If she respects my religion so much, then why doesn’t she practice it? Does she think I really appreciate being condescended to like this, being told my beliefs that she so obviously does not share are being ‘respected’ by her? Like I somehow need her respect?” If the religious woman says anything, the secular woman will likely be really confused and try, earnestly, to explain how she really does respect her beliefs. And the religious woman might keep getting mad, because obviously she can see through this. Fellow feminist congregants, how many of us “respect” someone who is anti-feminist? How many of would take seriously an anti-feminist who says that she really “respects” our beliefs? How many of us might feel a wee bit uncomfortable and wonder, perhaps openly, that if she respects feminism and feminists so much, WHY. ISN’T. SHE. ONE?

So back to moral codes – atheism does not have one. Religious people argue that moral codes are what keep societies from not totally going to shit. Atheism, like anarchy, is a totally free-for-all philosophy. A person can have whatever morals a person wants, which you know, is both the appeal and the problem. Though the same could be said about religious people, because really, how many times has hell really been any kind of deterrent? The fear is more if a person has nothing to believe in or live for, then why bother developing morality at all? We could get rid of guilt! But of course, most people, without a religion, develop a different kind of belief system. But what if you didn’t? What if we really did get rid of right and wrong? What if ethics were totally left up to every individual?

Now I don’t know about you, but as a member of the religions Judaism and Feminism, that scares the shit out of me. Let me tell you how much I trust my fellow person: not a damn bit.

Other things about atheism could be argued to be sexist, like, oh, say, the classic positioning of atheism as “logical and rational” and religion as “irrational and emotional.” Guess which one is male, by the way. Does that make you feel loved there? I always love it when a feminist woman, an atheist, goes on and on and on about how patriarchal and bad and wrong a religion is because gee, I guess that’s really easy to say when A) you can’t say much anything definitive about atheists because they ALL BELIEVE WHATEVER THEY WANT, so uh, yeah, that’s bound to include a fair share of sexists, B) you get to get off on denouncing religious folk as having all these stereotypical feminist traits (without calling them that, of course) yet somehow religious folks are the sexists not you, and C) congratulations, you just alienated over 90% of women on the planet. Because, guess what? Most people have a religion! Guess what else?! More women are religious than men! Isn’t that something!

Makes me wonder if this whole slamming religious people thing is really just a veiled attempt at having a little fun with woman bashing. Makes it all the weirder when a person bashes religious folk in the name of feminism, doesn’t it.
The powers that be (pun intended) would like me to remind you that, of course, just like atheists are sometimes sexists, sometimes not, religious folk are sometimes sexists, sometimes not. And as mentioned earlier, some people are religious in belief, others in action. Religion has always had a big woman scene in it, regardless of the level of fundamentalism. But just remember: if atheists say that all religion is unreasonable, and most women are religious, then atheists are saying that most women are unreasonable. Or at least, most women have unreasonable beliefs and are involved with unreasonable organizations. But don’t worry, hun. They still totally “respect” you.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Gimme Gimme Castration

Hello, world of super professional radical feminist blogging! SO nice to make your acquaintance. The pleasure, it is all mine, I assure you.

So for my debut post I thought I would write a little bit about sexism in the music scene and how a ton of supposedly liberal hipster kids are total sexist assholes who would put your garden variety Republican dude to shame. Allow me to set the scene a little. You have cheerfully decided to buy tickets to whiny indie emo boy band Y who we will refer to here as The Erections because you like that one song they do, "Nobody's Jeans are Tighter Than Mine." The list that follows contains just a few of the choice things you might encounter while you're there:

* An obnoxious as hell mosh pit. Now I've had this fight with many different people, but the truth is, YES mosh pits are sexist. They aren't a reflection of how into the show you are. They aren't about rebelling against mainstream culture. They take place completely at the expense of women in the audience and they're often an explicit demonstration of just how privileged and silly indie/punk boys are. Most of the time at a show, once a mosh pit starts somewhere you will see an immediate exodus of the women in the area to avoid having some asshole boy's bony white flesh shoved straight into your boobs. And, funny enough, most mosh pits start at the front of the crowd. What does that mean for women? It means you get shoved to the back (that might ring some bells for any of you fans of first wave feminists) or you yourself have to get involved in the melee and fight for your place if you want to stay there. I don't know about you girls, but when I'm in the mood for some good old-fashioned violence, why I just turn to my abusive partner or my friendly neighborhood rapist! Why bother with a mosh pit when you can go straight to the source of patriarchal violence on a daily basis? All expenses paid folks!

* A series of couples glued together around the crotch region or positioned so that the MALE behind the FE-MALE can drape his massive hairy arms around the woman's neck and shoulders. "I love you just so much I can't bear to let you out of my loving stranglehold Baby." Worse, you may also see a pair of straight girls making out/flashing their tits for the benefit of their cheering drunken boyfriends. Oh, and the rest of us of course. Gee, aren't we lucky?

* A lot of hair spray, high heels, and those "d.i.y." shirts that people cut to hang off their shoulders and display their artful clavicles. I realize this blogosphere topic is like, soooooo last week, but here's my angle on the hipster beauty standards specifically. As Edith, my charming co-conspirator, partner in crime, etc. etc. has previously noted in other forums, fashion is fashion people. Strange how wearing thick black eyeliner still entails actually WEARING eyeliner! What an odd coincidence that all the most beloved, oh-so-indie girls you usually see are stick thin. Just like the most beloved, oh-so-mainstream girls! "Sure, I model at Suicide Girls because I am so empowered in claiming those alternative beauty standards where I continue to shave every follicle of hair off my body," says indie girl. And naturally, we all have our rituals and we all have our certain image we are projecting out to the world and we all have to struggle with what our friends and our family and our culture blah blah tell us is pretty. Of course we do. But you've gotta recognize that being a dirty hippie IS an image, being an indie kid IS an image, being a girly girl IS an image, and whatever image you so choose, own that without having to pretend so hard that you're above it all because, news flash, you're not. Not all these looks are created equal in my mind, but they're still all about appearance and brand of attractiveness as identity, as statement. Kinda uncomfy when you think about it like that huh?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Joanna Russ wins

I know I know, I still need to talk about what sexist jerk-offs some neutral, non-biased, Mr. Logical atheists are (but that should give you a clue where I'm headed), but for right now, please read this insanely awesome post over at Feminist-Reprise, okay? Just do it for me, and for Joanna Russ who, if I already weren't totally committed to Kate Millett, I might just be tempted to take on as my FFF.

Shiny Happy People Flippin' The Bird - More on Being Meanies

I've been rereading Kate Millett's Sexual Politics for the third time because, um, that's how I roll. Anyway, I'll be doing a series of posts on Kate Millett soon, because I just can't help it. I hope it's not too boring. I also hope I convert you, if you're not already a big Kate Millett fan.

It's come to my attention that my FAQs had neither any questions or answers in any degree of frequency. In fact, one might argue that having any sort of FAQs in a blog that has been around for two weeks might be a bit optimistic. Let's be really honest: FAQs in a first post? Wha-at?! What kind of bullshit is that, you fucking poseur?!

As a mean feminist, I am mean even to myself.

But basically, I didn't really explain the purpose of this blog because I thought it was obvious. Like, it's to be feministy! And mean! But I guess "feminist" and "mean" mean different things to different folks, so I'm posting this as a bit of a clarification.

"Mean" feminism is not so much a description of this blog and its future contents as a warning. This is not a safe space. I realize that safe spaces are very, very important. Happily, there are many safe spaces for feminists out there online, some of which I have listed in a disorganized way among the links over there on the right (check 'em out). Personally, I question the ability for the internet to provide any kind of literal safe space for anyone, period. That said, some spaces are still arguably "safer" than others, and I respect that.

What do I mean about this blog not being a safe space? Well, part of it is based on who I will let comment: anyone. Another part is that all posts are open to everyone to read. But more specifically is that this particular blog, unlike many others, is open to unfettered debate and discourse. I hope never to have to use my authority to shut anyone up or down. If you want to tell me off, you can. If you want to tell someone else in my comments off, you can. If you want to suggest a rant on something you don't have the guts to totally take on yourself, I will laugh at you, and point, but go right ahead.

Really though, I'm hoping it doesn't come to a whole lot of nastiness (and don't think I don't realize that I'm being WAY naive in thinking that anymore than five people will ever read this itty bitty blog). Mostly I'm just hoping people will allow themselves to be critical and not engage in a lot of false flattery. And I really need this.

I know, I know: in-fighting is bad for feminism. Lots of feminists say this. But I think in-fighting is ONLY bad if it becomes so taboo that we repress our resentments, quietly seethe, and then explode in total violence. Call me crazy, but I think if we actually SAY what's on our mind, regardless of how reluctant we are to say it, we're all far better off in the long run.

But like I said: mean feminism is a warning, not a law. Not everything here will be mean or controversial or even remotely interesting to anyone other than me (like my Kate Millett posts, I bet). 'Cause like, dudettes, it's a blog. And blogs are often not very interesting to anyone other than the blogger (whoa! Now THAT is controversial).

Now a total 180! I am pleased to report that this blog is now totally, like, a team! My aforementioned life partner Vicky Vengeance has joined this blog! She and I have had many dual projects together, like being co-DJs at our college radio station for about a minute before I got kicked out of school for going crazy again, handing out Rock Her Vote pins at a zine conference full of suspicious cool kids who looked at our shiny happy faces like we were The Man, and calling each other on the phone when we're supposed to be on a date with someone else. Let's hope this one is less short-lived and less altogether depressing than those other collaborations!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mean Feminism 101

I was talking to my best friend, Platonic life partner, and smartest person in the universe a few minutes ago, Vicky Vengeance (this communication happened online, while she was "working" at her "job" [which is what she's been doing since she "graduated" from "college" in "December"]). I was asking her what she thought I should blog about for my non-introduction first post, otherwise known as the "second post." (God, I love quotation marks. And parentheses. And fragments, and starting "sentences" with conjunctions.) With her help, I've come up with a list of topics I will have to address really soon before I forget what I wanted to say, and these topics include:

Kate Millett, my all-time favorite famous feminist, and why she rocks more than YOUR all-time favorite famous feminist (or FFF);
The general ickiness of Gay Pride;
Why I'm a racist (and you are, too);
The crazy California trinity of Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer, and where they're going wrong;
Sexism in environmentalism;
How much I hate boycotting as an activist (non)action;
How much I hate Day of Silence as an activist (non)action;
Lesbian chauvinism, as introduced in Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs;
Sexism in atheism;
Various specific criticisms of current anti-porn radical feminism (criticisms which I won't yet reveal -- let's make it a mystery!);

And tons more! So, stay tuned! If anyone is reading this, let me know which topic you'd like me to rant on next.
As Vicky said, "Oh, so many ways to be offensive, so little time." And I say, welcome to mean feminism.

Now on with the show.

Vicky herself has provided me with my first rant o' meanness. Vicky lives in that bastion of feminist thought called Salt Lake City. I live in another bastion of feminist thought, Los Angeles, so we live veritable misogyny-free lives. Her friend, who I'll call Claire (because I like the name), took a big fat dump on Vicky yesterday, calling her "self-centered." According to Claire, Vicky is "self-centered" because she makes all of her relationships focus on Vicky, and not on the penis -- er, man -- she is currently dating. Furthermore, Claire claims that this stems from the fact that Vicky is an only child so she doesn't, like, know how to focus on anyone other than herself.

Woe be to Vicky.

Now let's talk a bit about Claire. Actually, scratch that: let's talk a bit about Claire, and Claire's relationships. Claire is a young 20-something who has grown up, like Vicky, in that venerable Salt Lake City. Claire majored in women's studies and calls herself a feminist, proudly. Claire is fat, and is, like most of us fatties, not 100% comfortable with that. Claire likes to date penises -- men -- who are much older because Claire believes that older men = "more mature." (Y'see, men in their thirties who date women in their twenties are, clearly, "mature.") Claire meets these suave dudes at bars. These dudes like to have sex with her but don't take her out anywhere or introduce her to their friends because, um ... well, it may have something to do with the aforementioned fat.

Winners, clearly. But these are smart dudes, Claire retorts! They are grad students! They "know who Foucault is"!

Vicky has more patience than I do. When I have friends being so ridiculously used by assholes like that, I willingly risk fucking up a friendship to say things like, "THEY ARE TOTALLY USING YOU! THESE GUYS ARE ASSHOLES!" So I don't have a whole lot of friends.

What really amazes me isn't so much that Claire has found herself in such a typical female-gettin'-shat-on-by-misogynists position. It's interesting to me that, once again, I see things in terms of the nice feminist / mean feminist dichotomy. What Would A Nice Feminist Do? A nice feminist would not yell or otherwise freakout towards this woman. A nice feminist, when being berated by a woman who is obviously so low about her own life, would not throw that shit in the other woman's face. Vicky, being told she is "self-centered" by a woman who clearly never thinks about her own self, might want to hold back on offering that kind of judgment if she's to be a nice feminist. Vicky should definitely stand up for herself, of course! But she shouldn't flip things back on Claire and tell her things like, "The only reason you're so angry at me is because you're upset that you can't have the same kind of relationships with the egomaniac jerks that YOU date." A nice feminist knows that the best kind of truths are the ones that women uncover for themselves. A nice feminist knows that lecturing a woman like that tends to go nowhere.

But I'm not a nice feminist. Neither, really, for that matter, is Vicky. When someone comes at me, flying around with their shit, I point out their shit. Because really, why does Vicky have to take that kind of abuse? Why does Vicky have to get flogged by this woman just because this woman is clearly being used by some seriously shitty assholes? And is Vicky supposed to just go, "Yeah, these guys are assholes," without adding, "but you really need to stop seeking these kinds of assholes out. Date some guys your own age, and really, who gives a fuck if some dude has heard of Foucault? Shit, if all that guy talks about is Foucault anyway, that should be a warning sign, should it not?" I think that addition there is necessary. Yeah, it's judgmental. Yeah, it's unwanted. And yeah, it'll piss off Claire. But god knows she needs to hear it. And that is what mean feminists do: we tell the shit to women that the nice feminists won't tell because they don't want to further hurt women. Admittedly, we don't want to further hurt women, either. But we count ourselves among women, and damn, nothing hurts a feminist woman more than hearing another woman in pain and being told that a nice feminist can't really can't say anything about it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Introduction. Welcome to my blog!

For a while now, there has been an intense, crazy explosion of radical feminist blogs on teh intrewebs. So I thought, you know what the internet REALLY needs? It needs another blog full of ill-formed, half-baked, contradictory opinions of a young, white, middle-class female college student.

I have tried and tried to resist this lingering, nagging feeling within me that says, "Edith! Marking your territory with the occasional comment on the feminist blogosphere is not enough! You need to step up and get with the program!" My lingering, nagging feeling likes to speak in mixed metaphors like that. That's only part of the reason why I have been resisting it, however. It's also because:

1) I am really lazy. I never finish what I start. Like, will I even finish this post? (Or this list?! I'm only on number one!!)

2) I tend to make things controversial because I really, really like controversy. This makes me, not only a bad feminist, but a sick person.

3) I'm mean. I have absolutely no ability to make long-term friendships because I usually feel some kind of need to tear people a new one, even if that means tearing a new one on the person who just baked me some brownies. See, I told you, I'm sick. So uh, don't bother baking me brownies (I conclude, lamely).

4) I change my opinions a lot. I'm sort of like that really jerky guy who's INSISTENT that the capital of California is Fresno until you get out a map and explain to him sweetly, that it's Sacramento, clearly. And then he's like, oh, well, whatever. No apology, nothin.'

And all right, I'm already bored with the list. And furthermore, I'm getting off the subject, which should be something like WELCOME! And MEET EDITH!

So here are some FAQs involving my blogger identity that I'm going to go ahead and answer. Keep in mind that I'm making this up as I go:

Q) What's your deal?
A) Good question. I'm a radical feminist which means, if you're so inclined, you can go ahead and put me in that section in your blog rolls (I say, shamelessly). I'm anti-pornstitution and I tend to look unfavorably upon anything I see tainted with the taint of the patriarchy.

Q) So what makes you so mean anyway?
A) From what I've been told, the reason I'm mean is because I yell and have verbal temper tantrums. These are sometimes directed at other women and other feminists.

Q) But how can you call yourself a feminist, much less a radical feminist, if you're willing to be verbally violent towards women?
A) Another excellent question, collective subconscious. I believe that anger is healthy -- like, really healthy. But that's not answering your question.

Q) No, it's really not.
A) Okay, here's how I see it. Like, you can believe that women are essentially good people, and that all women are victimized by the patriarchy -- OR you can see that women are essentially bupkis (neither good nor bad), but they're still victimized by the patriarchy.

Q) Uh, not following.
A) Wait, wait, okay?! If a woman is producing porn, she's victimizing other women, right?

Q) Right.
A) But she's still a woman herself, right? So is it okay to yell at her?

Q) Well, maybe. But there are better and more mature ways to go about that because you're obviously not going to change her mind just by yelling. You're going to put her on the defensive.
A) That's probably true. But is yelling okay? Even if it's not helpful?

Q) ...
A) Let me try an even shittier example. If a woman, who calls herself a feminist, enjoys taking cardio-striptease classes, is it okay to butt in with my unwanted opinions regarding how she's letting herself be taken advantage of by some fucked up porn culture and she's involving herself in something that fetishizes a horrific kind of job that fucks over -- literally -- women?

Q) I thought I was supposed to be asking the questions.
A) Yeah, we kind of broke that format a while ago.

Q) Yeah, I wondered. Well, for starters, I don't know if it's really all that cool to just butt in with your unwanted opinions like that. I mean, maybe if she were talking to you about how awesome her class was, then maybe you could say something. But isn't that really condescending?
A) Which part?

Q) The part where you judge her entire lifestyle and insinuate that she's somehow a crappy feminist.
A) Oh, that part. Yes, I think I probably AM being condescending. But what of it? You still haven't really answered my question.

Q) Which was, again?
A) Is it okay for me to yell at her?

Q) Sigh. Yeah, I just don't know, Edith. Why do you want to yell at people anyway? Do you really want to alienate women from feminism like that?
A) Hey, I'm not trying to convert anyone. I don't think we should go around and picket people and trick them into somehow admitting they're a feminist so we can give them a cool T-shirt.

Q) So I guess the whole "you can catch flies better with honey than with vinegar" saying doesn't really have any effect on you?
A) None whatsoever. Bah.

Q) Except apparently it does, since I'm still you, and I'm bringing it up, right?
A) Now you're giving me a headache.

Q) At least I'm back to being the one asking the questions again.
A) That's what you think.