equality

Feminism Roots And Egalitarianism: Inequality And Sexism

I do what I can to talk about feminism. Sometimes it’s helpful, sometimes I feel that it’s just a nuisance and my ideas aren’t really contributing anything. I’m not going to stop talking about it. I think feminism is perhaps the most important movement around right now. I also think we’re doing kind of a bad job of talking about it properly. In this post I propose a few methods of changing our dialogue so we can move forward. I’m not trying to redefine feminism, rather I’m trying to examine the root of it and expose exactly what it is that makes it so important. I read a lot about people speaking out against feminism, and that discourages me. I’d like to see that change. So maybe I can start by saying what I think. If you find this helpful, good, share it with your friends, use my ideas, go for it, change the world. If you think I’m just doing it all wrong and you hate it, good, your thoughts are also important and you should share them. But let’s not settle back into the same pattern we’ve been in lately of one side yelling at the other.

Today I came across a link on my Facebook feed that led me to this quote:

My response to the “I am not a feminist” internet phenomenon…
First of all, it’s clear you don’t know what feminism is. But I’m not going to explain it to you. You can google it. To quote an old friend, “I’m not the feminist babysitter.” But here is what I think you should know. You’re insulting every woman who was forcibly restrained in a jail cell with a feeding tube down her throat for your right to vote, less than 100 years ago. You’re degrading every woman who has accessed a rape crisis centre, which wouldn’t exist without the feminist movement.
You’re undermining every woman who fought to make marital rape a crime (it was legal until 1993).
You’re spitting on the legacy of every woman who fought for women to be allowed to own property (1848). For the abolition of slavery and the rise of the labor union. For the right to divorce. For women to be allowed to have access to birth control (Comstock laws). For middle and upper class women to be allowed to work outside the home (poor women have always worked outside the home). To make domestic violence a crime in the US (It is very much legal in many parts of the world). To make workplace sexual harassment a crime.
In short, you know not what you speak of. You reap the rewards of these women’s sacrifices every day of your life. When you grin with your cutesy sign about how you’re not a feminist, you ignorantly spit on the sacred struggle of the past 200 years. You bite the hand that has fed you freedom, safety, and a voice.
In short, kiss my ass, you ignorant little jerks.
– via viralwomen.com

It’s been a long road for me to move from a religious right-winged fundamentalist to an outspoken, left-wing advocate for equal rights. It’s taken me a long time to adjust my views, and this path has been fraught with confusion, conflicting emotions and setbacks from those around me. I’ve been writing about feminism now on my blog for a while. I’ve written about it elsewhere in public forums, and I speak about it quite often in discussions and online. Social media is more of my platform for change than it is a way to keep in touch with people. It’s been hard, but it’s been worth it.

And that’s just me, one nearly insignificant guy with an opinion and a love for words.

I can’t imagine how hard it is for other people.

So when I see things like this, the “Not a feminist” wave that seems to be sweeping the internet, my blood boils over. When I see one person dismiss the entire feminist movement of the last two centuries with a joke about rape or bitches or women am i rite? I go crazy. You sire, have no idea what you’re talking about, I politely remark, crack my knuckles, take a sip of water and clear my throat. I then proceed to tear down everything they ever thought they knew and replace it with a more informed, updated and smarter perspective.

Well, in my imagination that’s how it goes. In reality, I kind of get brushed aside a lot. Maybe I should be less obvious that I’m about to start ranting.

Still, there must be something to it, right? Feminism is everywhere today, you can’t not run into it, so there must be some force at work that provokes people to declare themselves “not-feminists.” I don’t want to be the guy who has to define feminism, yet again, especially since, well, I’m a guy defining feminism, but maybe we should have a bit of a talk about that.

What exactly is feminism? The idea that men and women should be equal, right?

What does that mean?

“Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. This was a definition of feminism I offered in Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center more than 10 years ago. It was my hope at the time that it would become a common definition everyone would use. I liked this definition because it did not imply that men were the enemy. By naming sexism as the problem it went directly to the heart of the matter. Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult. It is also broad enough to include an understanding of systemic institutionalized sexism. As a definition it is open-ended. To understand feminism it implies one has to necessarily understand sexism.
– Bell Hooks, Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics [emphasis mine]

dblf-bell-hooks-1988-BWPhoto

I like this quote. I think it is important: ending sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression. That’s good, that’s what feminism should be about. Unfortunately, that’s not what a lot of people think it’s about. Feminism seems to give off the impression that it puts women above men.

And the catch is…

it kind of does.

But we look at that in the wrong way. Any program that tries to benefit someone who needs it must put them before others. Homeless shelters don’t offer beds for rich people. We don’t build wells in New York.

The problem with our treatment of feminism is that we hold it to a standard it isn’t even categorized under. We expect feminists to cater to everybody as though every problem laid before them is of equal importance. This is simply not true, or would it be fair even if it were. There’s another idealism that a lot of us haven’t heard of (it’s still new to me). Egalitarianism, as in, the idea that everyone should be treated equally. This is usually how we define feminism, but that’s just not accurate enough anymore, as evidence by how many different definitions there are for feminism and how many people still misunderstand it, and how we’ve just gotten ourselves into an even bigger mess with anti-feminists and Men’s Rights Activists. Our working definition just doesn’t work. Feminism is not the idea that everyone should be equal… not quite.

Feminism begins with the premise that sexism exists.

If I may be so bold to propose this hypothesis, I think the reason feminism receives so much blowback is because we haven’t done a good enough job explaining it. Most of us can agree that equality is important, paramount, and yet we’re still having these arguments. Allow me to express this philosophically.

Premise 1: everyone should be treated equally (egalitarianism).

Premise 2: women are treated unequally.

Conclusion 1: therefore women are at a disadvantage in the equal treatment of everyone.

Premise 3: to fix this, we need a different approach, one that acknowledges the mistreatment of women while still pursuing equality.

Conclusion 2: therefore feminism must take a slightly different approach than egalitarianism.

This is a rough premise/conclusion summary, but it works.

Feminism cannot work unless we acknowledge the premise that women are beginning at a disadvantage. If we treat everyone equally starting now, we’ll still be left with an unbalanced system. In order to fix that, we need to spend some time working to eradicate the sexism that unbalances our society. This is where the feminist movement came in.

Acknowledging the existence and pervasive influence of sexism is no fun. Nobody wants to do it. I think this is our first challenge. This is why we spend so much time talking about sexism, why we have so many awareness-raising events, why we can’t just shut up and enjoy things. It’s why we complain when an otherwise awesome movie still has a predominately male cast, or when a TV show disrobes its female cast but doesn’t disrobe its male cast. It’s why we push for female voices in the media, why we can’t let anything slide.

Because if we let sexism off the hook, feminism itself becomes useless.

feminist

Famously, the actress Shailene Woodley is not a feminist. For a while, neither was Taylor Swift. Why? By all means they seem like they should be feminists, after all, both of them support the idea of equality (Swift, of course, is now an outspoken feminist). Woodley however, subscribes to egalitarianism, and she may actually be ahead of the rest of us. I have no problem with Woodley’s defence of her views, she’s actually spot-on, she just doesn’t identify as a feminist. Perhaps she shouldn’t.

It doesn’t really matter though, because sexism is still rampant in society. And feminism is the view we use to deal with that.

Fact is, women are at a disadvantage. Men run around freely, suffering almost none of the blowbacks of sexism because we’re perpetuating it. It’s our fault. Yes, sexism hurts men too, and so we need to bring that to light as well. Feminism, in this way, works for everyone.

Feminism is for everyone, absolutely.

However, we need to recognize that sexism absolutely exists, because if we don’t, then all of our efforts, all of us who band together under the banner of feminism, well, we can’t really get much done.

I never used to be aware of how much sexism there is in the world. Now I am more aware every day, and it’s difficult. It’s not easy at all. Some days you just want to crawl back into bed and forget about all the problems we’ve created for ourselves. But we can’t. It’s up to us to fix this. It’s amazing what we’ve done just this year. It’s also detestable how many setbacks we’ve seen happen. My guess is this all goes back to that very same problem, we just don’t understand why we need feminism so badly.

We just don’t see how unequal the world is.

Feminism rests on the premise that women have a disadvantage to men, and that is what we’re fighting to change. We can’t focus on equality for everyone until we actually have a society that lets us do that. It would be like trying to build a free-market in a society that doesn’t even have a town.

So if you’re not a feminist, I’m sorry, but you don’t understand what you’re talking about. You need to do more research. Feminism is perhaps the single greatest movement of our time and it’s happening right now. We need everyone to understand what it is, understand it clearly, and know that when you declare yourself to not be a feminist, you’re hurting us because that sets us back and renders our efforts spent on nothing.

You want equality? Good, so do we. But the road to get there is longer than we think it is.

Guest Post – “Bisexual Erasure and Why I Haven’t Come Out”

A friend of mine sent me the following article and requested that I host it on my blog. This friend wishes to remain anonymous and since I feel their story is both well-told and fitting for the content of this site, I have included it below.

 

“I hate being LGBTQA. For those of you that do not know, LGBTQA stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Asexual. Most of you have seen these initials in its shortest form “LGBT”. I hate being part of this group because most people don’t understand, and even the enlightened ones do not understand it fully. They don’t get that every single letter of this initialism means something to someone.

Heterosexual people, and even non heteros, tend to believe that there are only two options. Black or white, right or wrong, straight or gay. The same is true whenever straight people accept gays or lesbians. They tend to think that there is always the man or the women in a relationship, because that is how they wrap their head around that alien idea. So the more effeminate man will always be the woman in the relationship, while the butch woman will be the man. They often ask “Who is the man/woman in the relationship?”, without stopping to think that the answer is “Both”. “Do you like men or women?” Both Bisexuals and Asexuals suffer from this classification, as they fall into “All of the above” or “None of the above”, while Questioning will say “I DON’T KNOW” and flip the table.

The thing is… I don’t consider myself either gay or straight, and I don’t think a lot of people understand that. My best friend, insists that I am just gay, despite my claims that I’m either bisexual or the more comfortable “questioning”. I must also add that she is a woman, so for her the idea of having a G.B.F. (Gay Best Friend) is inherently appealing. She’d usually start conversations with “faggy,” or diminutives of my own name. Today I received a text from her that started with “Passive”. I most also add that I am not passive, and that she was already making assumptions on my sex life.

The reason this controversy started, and why I felt compelled to write this post was because I was tagged in a picture with a friend. A friend that happens to be openly gay. She said she could immediately tell by the picture he was gay. I said that he was, but immediately telling her that he was just a friend of mine. Then I made the mistake of asking her if she could tell by how I looked at that picture if I was gay (she refuses to call me bisexual). One should never ask questions they don’t want to hear the answer to.

“You can tell right away.”

I hate being part of the LGBTQA community, but I hate more that I instinctively want to pretend that I am not. Because my first reaction was to remove that tag, or to hide it from my timeline. I hate to admit this, and I immediately felt ashamed of it. I told myself that there was nothing wrong with it. So I went to my hidden posts to unhide my photo, and what I found out was appalling.

I apparently usually hide from my timeline pictures where I am tagged next to my gay friends. Friends that I am not even in a relationship with, as if being next to them will make everyone believe that I was gay by association. I hit a low point today, and I felt ashamed, but not because of my sexuality, but because of my shame.

I am a 23 year old man, and even though I am already a bit experienced and most of my sexual encounters have been with men, I do still consider myself either Bisexual or Questioning. I have never had a serious relationship in my life, and I simply do not want to put myself in either category yet. I know I’m not strictly straight, but I am not purely gay either. I still am attracted to a lot of women. I am also attracted to a lot of men.

There is a term called Bisexual Erasure, which is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll still explain because that’s what I do. Basically it is the thought that bisexuality does not exist. You are either gay or straight. Once you go gay you are automatically gay your whole life, never to be straight again. If a gay man or a gay woman suddenly feels attracted to a person of their same gender, then they feel like it was just a phase, or worse, that they are cured of their homosexuality. The thought of being bisexual never occurs to them. Bisexual erasure is common in both straight and gays.

How does Bisexual Erasure affect me? In the environment I live in at the moment, whenever I tell people that I am bisexual, they will automatically put me in the gay category. And it is that fear of being classified as gay that doesn’t allow me to choose A or B. The fear of experimentation makes me want to avoid either altogether, which has seriously put a strain on my intimate life. Have I never wanted a boyfriend because I do not want to be seen as gay? Do I reject the idea of having a girlfriend because I think that I’d be lying to her? And am I bisexual or just deeply in the closet and in denial? Or am I just, as many people would put it, a pussy?

I hate being LGBTQA, because it has always been LG. And I hate having to choose a side.”

 

 

I am a cis, heterosexual, white male, which to a lot of people puts me in the “privileged” category. I may not feel like that is fair, but I think it is. My life isn’t easy itself but so what? I still get more advantages than a lot of people and I’m not even aware of it. This is why I decided to post my friend’s story. Keep in mind that this is clearly a very personal story that my friend shared, and I don’t want to see anyone jump on it for its cultural depiction of gender norms that may not completely comply with feminism or gender equality all the way. My friend lives in a different part of the world than most of my readers and deals with things differently, and that’s okay. We can’t change the entire world all at once, or at least that’s not practical. We can change the world but it will take time.

The topic of bisexual erasure, I think, is important. We’re so used to things being the way they are just because that’s “the way they are” but that’s not a default starting position. We didn’t just spring into existence five minutes ago with everything that we consider to be normal set this way intentionally. It took us a long time to get here and along the way we’ve picked up some terrible habits.

It frustrates me when people try to offer explanations for things while completely ignoring social development, psychological evolution or cultural change. I used to be one of those people. I’m glad I’m not anymore. It’s still difficult at times. I still say ignorant, hurtful things. I’m working on it.

We need to start acknowledging the differences between people. We have to stop assuming that there is any such thing as normal. What is normal? Popular? Not really. Loud? Obvious? I don’t think so. More and more we are discovering that there is no real unifying measure between people other than being humans. We discover new things about mental health every day, we learn new things about how society works, has worked… could work. Sitting back and declaring a certain group of people “abnormal” will never get us anywhere but backwards.

So I am sharing this story today because although I do my best to speak out, I don’t have much authority to share in the actual experience of being anything other than heterosexual and cis and white and male. All I can do is try to convince people to open their eyes to the experiences of someone else outside of their ignorance-is-bliss life. It worked for me. I’m sharing my friend’s story because they can talk about things I can’t, things that need talking about.

I hope you find this helpful, at least a little bit. I hope you’re with me on trying to make the world more understanding.

 

 

 

Title photo:
“Sex-sexuality-venn” by Jokestress – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sex-sexuality-venn.png#mediaviewer/File:Sex-sexuality-venn.png

Go Topless Day: Still Relevant

August 23 was Go Topless Day and it appeared to be a smashing success. Women were encouraged to bare their breasts to rally for equality, and men were invited to go shirtless as well, or, as many lovely gentlemen did, to wear a bra. This is exciting to see. In July I wrote an article on public breastfeeding (found here) where I discussed what the law actually says about women going topless in public, and the social implications that would have (hint: almost none), as well as why it’s such a big deal anyways.

Now that it’s getting cold out, there’s not bound to be any nipples of either gender out in public for another three seasons, so why bring this up again? Well, during the winter months we have a lot of adjustments to do within our mentality. Is the female form really so stigmatized that we automatically associate it with sexual provocation? Why is the male form not perceived similarly? Maureen Ryan wrote a great piece on the female gaze in television where she discusses why we treat women as sexually desired objects for us to look at, but men are not such a visual feast. That seems unfair to all straight women out there, not to mention gay men, who feel robbed of the sensation of sexy visuals in the naked form. I mean if you’re going to stare at someone’s body, at least be consistently fair about it, right?

So why is the naked body sexually pleasing anyway? That’s probably a question for an awful lot of overlapping sciences, but from a sociological perspective, why then do we treat it as something profane? Aren’t all the great works of art done about the naked body? They aren’t even exclusive to the female form, if you trace back the history of art you see patterns where at some times the female form was naked and the male clothed, while at other times, the opposite was true. Surely the artists saw great beauty in their subjects or otherwise they wouldn’t have wasted their time. Not to say the naked form is the only source of beauty, but it certainly is a predominant inspiration. Which raises the question, are all artists just disturbed creeps?

Certainly not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all, or so they keep telling us. So you can put up a giant statue of Satan with an erect penis (probably a NSFW link) but if you’re a woman you can’t take off your shirt on a blistering hot day. Tell me, what’s the difference? The statue has been taken down, although some are protesting for it to be put up again, but does it constitute a work of art? If so, then why is a living being scandalized for possessing natural body parts? If not, then, well, why is a living being scandalized for possessing natural body parts?

In no way am I saying we should all walk around naked. One person’s comfort is another person’s privacy, and nobody should be pressured into taking any clothing off that they don’t want to. I’m also not saying that men shouldn’t be allowed to take off their shirts. All I’m saying is that it’s unfair to expect half the population to adhere to a rule that doesn’t actually make any sense and isn’t even necessary. What do we think is going to happen? Do we really believe that the only reason women don’t walk around naked is just because they can’t? Maybe they don’t even want to. Maybe if we made it legal for women to bare their breasts, nobody would. Have we even tried that?

The rule is irrelevant, really. We’ve got almost a year until the next Go Topless event. In that time, can we not learn to focus on something else?

 

Read more on the event from the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/24/go-topless-day-_n_5698006.html

 

 

 

Photo Taken From: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Video+Women+Topless+returns+Vancouver/10145458/story.html?__federated=1

Open Letter to Sam Pepper

Click for Laci Green’s tumblr site

 

YouTuber Sam Pepper released a disgusting video called “Fake Hand Ass Pinch Prank” where he sexually harasses random women on the street, in public, films it, and laughs at their reactions.

This is unacceptable.

Other YouTubers including Laci Green and Mr. Repzion have started a petition against him, which I will share below. The link takes you to Laci’s tumblr page. As well, I’ll post Mr. Repzion’s video response right here:

In lieu of Sexual Assault Awareness Week I thought it was appropriate to bring this issue to light, if you haven’t already heard of it before. Sexual harassment is a HUGE deal that needs to be dealt with and it starts with awareness, not in the vague sense, but a specific understanding of what exactly harassment is, why it is wrong, and how to help end it.

Remember, unwanted attention = harassment. In a world where women are continually abused sexually, as well as in other ways, we need to take action to prevent further cases of sexual assault. Not all assault is rape. It can be ugly comments, sexism in the workplace, or inappropriate jokes at someone’s expense. We’re all equal here, it’s time to start acting like it.

Please check out the petition from Laci Green below:

 

Original post from Laci Green’s tumblr page (lacigreen.tumblr.com):

“An Open Letter to Sam Pepper

Hi Sam!

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter.  As fellow YouTubers, we have much respect for others who put so much hard work into building their channel.  It’s not easy, and you should be proud!  That said, we’ve noticed that in your success, there has been a lack of respect in return…namely, for women and girls.”

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Celebrity Nude Leak – Sexism Surfaced

August just couldn’t end on a good note. After the severely troubling and still continuing issues in Ferguson, the internet ran amok with nude photos – stolen photos – of multiple celebrities, a crime that swept the front pages of every news site I’ve come across and filled my twitter feed with responses ranging from angry to frighteningly gleeful. Many have protested but others have celebrated, bringing to light the ever present rampage of sexism in our modern world and society’s obsession with stripping celebrities of their dignity as human beings.

Honestly, I hesitated to write this post, hoping that we could look past this incident with enough disdain to discourage it from happening again. At least we could show the world that this was no big deal to us and deflate the enthusiasm regarding this topic. It is now apparent that this will not happen. As it stands, this cannot be ignored, but how can we speak about the issue without drawing further attention to it? What might we do to voice our disgust without making yet more people aware that these photos exist, are out there, and are easily accessible?

Celebrities take nude photos. Wow, what a shocker. Even Jennifer Lawrence, precious, innocent Jennifer Lawrence. Yet therein lies one of the many problems. Expecting someone like J-Law, known for her quirkiness, her sense of humor, and her outspoken views on body image issues to suppress her sexual side is blatantly problematic and an indicator that society will not condone women to be sexual beings, and should they dare to express that side of them, they ought to be humiliated and punished. August 2014 hit us with one of the biggest two-punches against feminism in recent years. Beyoncé’s performance at the VMA’s, proudly standing in front of a FEMINIST sign, in her full power, unashamed and bold, was one of the great images of the year. A short-lived victory. Only one day later, the Emmy’s propped Sofía Vergara on a rotating stage as a sexual puppet for all to gave at. And then this leak. Calling it a leak is itself a misnomer, this is a crime, pure and simple. A property theft where the stolen property is not just a photograph, but a woman’s body itself. No surprise. We’ve been using women as property for so long, the mere suggestion that a woman might be more than eye candy sends many into a frenzy of ignorant rage.

The truth remains: women are people. Three words, not a difficult sentence to digest, but apparently a concept so foreign to us it may as well be completely extra-terrestrial. Nobody has to explain that men are people. Nobody. This is never an issue. Why does having a different anatomy change everything so drastically?

The jokes have run from somewhat clever but misplaced to horrendous and it is clear to me that this problem isn’t going anywhere. There will undoubtably be more leaks this year, and we will see more celebrities exposed in the future. People have been taking nude photographs since people have been taking photographs. Before that people made nude portraits. Before that, I’m sure people made nude other things. Taking a nude photo is not a big deal, not an anomaly. It is definitely not something worth getting into a fuss over. So why was this such a big deal?

Linda Holmes said it.

We know celebrities are naked. Despite all our continuous obsession with discovering how “celebrities are JUST LIKE US,” we actually know this. We don’t need a magazine to tell us insider information about their lives to know that they also eat, date, shower, go to the bathroom. We know this. So we also know that they must take naked photos of themselves.

This is blatant sexual abuse. This is a lack of consent. This is hearing “no” and thinking she means “yes.” This is the appeal of the forbidden taken too far. Way too far.

This is just the surface.

The larger issue remains, as long as women cannot gain equal treatment with men just because they are a woman, we will never live in a fair society. This extends to racial treatment and LGBT treatment as well. It even includes treatment of the elderly, the disabled, the disadvantaged. Everyone not part of “the norm” – which is almost everyone, by the way, as cis, white, middle/upper-class males is not that large of a group – is affected. All these groups, everyone who strives for equality, for equal treatment, can call themselves a feminist. Beyoncé made this clear. How quickly have we forgotten.

Do I dare say that nobody looked at these photographs out of curiosity? Nobody accidentally stumbled across them looking for porn. No, we stood by and looked precisely because we knew the offended didn’t want us looking. This is participation in abuse. It hurts to know that, and this is not an accusation intended to punish. The deed is done and no point remains in reprimanding anymore. The people have spoken out and by now many have likely realized what they did was wrong. We must understand the crime. We must look inward and open our eyes.

Many will not do this. The jokes in the comment sections on websites still swarm in, the sexism, the victim-blaming.

“If they didn’t want us to see their nude photos, they shouldn’t have taken nude photos.”

Excuse me? Your empathy is broken, please see a doctor. I’m not always the most comfortable with being out in public, and sometimes I don’t want people to look at me when I’m trying to decide what I want to eat while I wait in line, but that doesn’t make it my fault when others look.

A poor analogy, but the best attempt I can make, because there’s no real comparable issue. Actually, let me try this one on for size:

Flowers do not exist for the sole purpose of humans looking at them and thinking they are pretty. Flowers are part of the ecosystem, playing a vital, essential role in a larger picture. Without flowers we all die. Do you know who flowers are important to? Bees. Do you know how a bee sees a flower? It looks something like this:

Left: How humans see a flower. Right: How bees see a flower. (click photo for BBC article)

Flowers serve a purpose far, far greater than being pretty for people to look at, or pleasant for people to smell.

Women also serve a purpose far, far, far greater than being an object for men to look at, play with, and discard at will.

Does that satisfy you? Is this a metaphor that will finally crack through the sexism prevalent in society? I suspect for many it will not. If I can reach at least one of you, then I have done my job, but I will be disappointed that I could not reach more.

Enough is enough. Time to begin respecting women as free-willed creatures of equal worth and measure to men. If this photo theft doesn’t illustrate the problems women face on a daily basis – the fear of abuse, the inability to walk on the sidewalk without being harassed, the inability to dress how they want instead of having to conform to various and conflicting “standards” laid down by people wishing to control the women in their lives, the blame for other’s actions, the constant denial of opportunity, the ever-increasing financial disadvantages, the dismissal by the legal system, the accusations from irresponsible boys, the judgement on physical appearance, the name-calling, the slut-shaming, the fear for basic safety, the inability to be taken seriously, the disempowerment, the sexual suppression, the physical attacks, the leering eyes of onlookers, the sexualization by the media, and on and on – then I don’t know what will.

What does it take to start a revolution?

It takes you, and you, and you. It takes everyone who believes in fair treatment, everyone who believes in love, everyone who believes in hope for a better future, to stand up and say we will not take this anymore. It takes women and men, it takes the disadvantaged, the ignored, the minorities. It takes those in positions of power, it takes those with the ability to start change, it takes those with influence. It takes an entire people to unite and come together in the name of humanity and progress.

It starts with the one and continues to the many. So you have the responsibility. You hold the torch.

What you do with it will define today and change tomorrow.

 

 

Anti-Porn Group Rallies Against “50 Shades of Grey”

I never read 50 Shades of Grey, nor do I really intend to, but I sure am intrigued by the movie. The trailer looks slick, if more than a little generic, Dakota Johnson is a pretty good actress, I liked Sam Taylor-Johnson’s NOWHERE BOY so I’m interested in seeing what she does. I don’t much care about Jamie Dornan but what can I say, I’m not into dudes. I’m sure there are people who disagree with me, and fine, whatever floats your boat.

The fun doesn’t stop there though. Morality In Media (MIM), an anti-porn group, released a statement urging young women not to go see this movie.

The newly released trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey deceives the public with a visually appealing melodramatic love story that romanticizes and normalizes sexual violence.

The main character is a childlike, mousey, young woman, lacking confidence and capability, who becomes the target of a powerful, intimidating, older man who puts her under contract to serve as a sexual “submissive.”

The implications of such a relationship—abuse of power, female inequality, coercion, and sexual violence—glamorizes and legitimatizes violence against women.

The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey among women sends a message to men that this is what women really want. Even more dangerous, it also sends the message to women that they can “fix” violent, controlling men by being obedient and loving.

A warning to the women lining up to see this film: There is nothing empowering about whips and chains or humiliation and torture. Women as a group will not gain power by collaborating with violent men. Women would be serving only as an agent to further their own sexual degradation, handing themselves on a silver platter to exactly the sort of men who want to use and abuse them, and take away their power.

In a voiceover in the trailer, Christian Grey warns Ana, “I am incapable of leaving you alone.” “Then don’t,” she purrs in reply. Again, he warns her, “You should steer clear of me.” Is this really the kind of relationship we want our daughters, relatives and friends willingly entering into? With a stalker and a batterer? Do we really want our sons to become Christian Greys, practicing a violent masculinity that degrades men as well?¹

Fun, isn’t it?

There’s really only one statement I kind of agree with there. “Is this really the kind of relationship we want our daughters, relatives and friends willingly entering into?” I’m not exactly psyched about imagining my friends entering a relationship like this, but I’m also not particularly enthusiastic about imagining my parents having missionary-style sex. I mean, it’s their life.

But that’s not even the point. The key word here is willingly. I mean MIM used the word themselves. This isn’t from the book, this is MIM literally describing Christian and Ana’s relationship as consensual. As in between two consenting adults who can make their own decisions without needing Mommy watching over them. What part of this do you not understand? People. Can. Do. What. They. Want.

They’ve kind of always done that. Crimes are illegal, people still do them. Other acts aren’t illegal, but frowned upon, people still do them. Further acts are totally acceptable, and people still do them. You’re kind of missing the entire point of being a grown-up if you think people need to be regulated.

Oh my bad, I forgot, Christianity is automatically the only source of morality and if you don’t do what the Bible says then you have to be moderated.

Since when is that the case? Even in the Bible they didn’t force others to do what they said. I mean, sure, they coerced them under threat of death, but that was still the risk the individuals took.

When that didn’t work, they just massacred entire civilizations. Is MIM suggesting we should slaughter anyone who watches this movie? I didn’t think so, because that would be crazy.

 

That’s not the only issue with MIM’s statement. Somehow we seem to have arrived at this ridiculous dichotomy where some people think rape can be defined as any kind of sex that doesn’t look like their kind of sex, and the other group who seems to think that everyone should be having a different kind of sex because it’s acceptable. Everyone else in between seems to have fallen quiet on the issue (probably too busy actually having sex to give a fuck – see what I did there?)

Rape is bad. Very bad. But BDSM is not necessarily rape, just as married sex is not necessarily consensual. It’s on an individual case by case basis. This is why we have to understand that one-time consent does not equal infinite consent, and why we raise awareness, and why we try to encourage rape victims to come forward and provide a safe space for them, and so on. Rape is a very serious, very seriously mishandled topic, but cornering it into a one-or-the-other definition that allows certain fundamentalist small-imaginative organizations to condemn a movie for being… what, a form of entertainment?

Like, watching two consenting adults get it on in rather interesting ways is capital-B BAD, but watching two non-consenting mostly naked dudes cut each other’s heads off in equally “interesting” ways is somehow totally fine?

 

If you want to go see 50 SHADES OF GREY, that’s your prerogative. I’m not going to stop you. If you want to start a whip collection, buy a leather suit with holes in weird places, get some handcuffs, chains, spikes, all that stuff, what do I care? I don’t. If you want to be blindfolded and tied up, again, you’re the one doing it, not me, so I have no business to tell you if you like it. I can tell you if I like it, but that’s about as far as it goes.

Because here’s the next problem: rape fantasies are not rape wishes. According to Psychology Today, about 4 in 10 women admit to having rape fantasies… at least once a month. Does that mean that 40 percent of women want to be raped on a monthly basis? N-O! This is not what fantasies are for! Fantasies are our imagination, ways to test out our psyche, ways to stretch what we feel comfortable with. Sometimes I fantasize about flying, that doesn’t mean I want to jump off a building.

And what’s up with MIM thinking this movie attempts to “normalize” BDSM? Where have they been living? BDSM has been around for a loooong time, my friends. It’s just not something people talk about because of other people like you who condemn anyone who mentions it. Just because you think being a good Christian means only having missionary sex doesn’t mean… well actually it doesn’t mean anything.

 

What about feminism? Is 50 SHADES OF GREY anti-feminist?

What????

Feminism is about equality. It’s about people being able to do whatever they want regardless of gender, sexual orientation, social position, etc. It’s not about making women badass motherfuckers and making men finally feel the scorn they’ve deserved for so long and… I hope you see my point. EQUALITY means EQUALITY. It doesn’t mean some reversal of roles, it means an even playing ground. Asking this question about a movie just seems so petty.

Yes, some movies perpetuate misogyny and condone patriarchal dominance, but so do some books, music, video games… cultures, philosophies, religions… ideologies, scientific studies, family dinner conversations…

It’s not any one particular thing’s fault or credit for being feminism or anti-feminism.

If you think the movie is anti-feminist, then use it as a springboard for your platform. Why not? If you think the movie is empowering to women, run with that. Get the conversation going. At least the trailer ignited us, right?

 

But my point is, MIM’s statement seems to just brush past the entire possibility of a dialogue and try to enforce their own belief system down everyone else’s throat. Movies depict things that happen in real life. BDSM happens to be one of them. Accept it.

 

Anyways, you can watch the trailer below:

 

 

 

 

 

¹ http://www.mediaite.com/online/anti-porn-group-warns-against-women-lining-up-to-see-fifty-shades-of-grey/

 

A Response to “Just Pretend This Dead Lion Is A Human Baby, And Then You Won’t Be So Upset”

So this blog post has been popping up on my feed a lot lately:

Screenshot 2014-07-05 11.26.45

Click Photo for Link to Post

 

For anyone who doesn’t know, Kendall Jones has attracted a lot of controversy for posting photos of herself with big game trophies.

Those original photos shocked me, but it was nothing compared to what came next.

Matt Walsh wrote a long-winded post on the controversy asking why we are more upset about the killing of wildlife game in Africa than the killing of millions of babies in America.

*siiiiiiiigh* Do we really have to go over this again? 

I tried to avoid it as long as I could since the article riled me up like very few things have lately. I’m usually a pretty patient person, but this hit my threshold immediately. Now it’s all over my feed and people are talking about it and there’s more people defending Walsh with misconceived notions of what they’re saying and a complete misapprehension of the actual point than there are people willing to have a real discussion, so it’s time for me to put my opinion out there or I will go insane trying to hold it in.

So I decided to go over Walsh’s post point by point in hopes of bringing to light some of the problems with his arguments and opening a dialogue so we can stop with the dichotomy of “you’re a sinner” vs. “you’re an idiot” that seems to be ruling the Internet now.

(You can click the above photo to get to Walsh’s post. If for some reason that isn’t working, you can click HERE instead.)

 

Settled in? Let’s begin then.

 

Matt begins by setting the stage. Fair enough, I won’t reiterate the background story yet again.

Here’s Kendall’s opinion, according to Matt:

“Kendall defends herself by saying that the hunts serve two purposes: 1) feeding hungry villagers, and 2) conservation.”

I highly doubt that she’s actually helping feed anyone very much, but I won’t argue with that. I do take issue with her thinking she’s somehow helping wildlife conservation by killing endangered species, but I’m willing to cut her some slack. Somebody else can (and probably has) brought this to her attention.

But the real problem is when Matt says,

“I also think they make for some pretty cool Facebook photos, but that’s just me. At least, I prefer these over the pornographic garbage that clutters half of my newsfeed on a daily basis.”

This is the first clue that Matt doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Excuse me? You have porn all over your newsfeed? I don’t think so. I think really you’ve seen photos of girls wearing the clothes they want and you’ve taken offence because your pastor told you that a book said that a man said something that’s been reinterpreted so many times by now that you could start an Internet fight over this. Calm down, Matt.

Now if Matt wants to call his Facebook feed pornographic, I guess he’s allowed to do that, and it’s a different topic entirely so I’ll avoid it, but it immediately gives you a deep look into Matt’s brain. He thinks that society’s values are all capital-W WRONG. Pictures of dead animals = cool! Pictures of girls = porn!

Matt, this is not porn, okay? Get over yourself.

Matt, this is not porn, okay? Get over yourself.

What??? Okay, I’ll leave that issue aside and move on.

 

“We’re surrounded by death and evil, but we don’t complain until someone shoots a cheetah? That seems a bit arbitrary, if you ask me.”

Um, no, just no. We’re not surrounded by death and evil, what a terrible thing to say about your own countrymen. That seems a bit arbitrary if you ask me. But even if we are surrounded by death and evil, that’s not a good reason to allow cheetahs to die. Is that what you’re saying? That we should shut up about the death of cheetahs because it makes us hypocrites? Why don’t we shut up about all social rights because we spend too much time on the TV. Why bother about anything?

Immediately after that, Matt says,

“Many of the liberal blogs having a meltdown over Kendall Jones are the same ones that spent a week hailing Emily Letts, who filmed her own abortion. ‘What kind of monster smiles after killing something?’ they say about the woman posing with a tranquilized rhino, but not about the woman giggling while an abortionist executes her baby.”

(Note: The above link in the quote, which I have included, takes you to Matt’s blog post on Emily’s video. For Emily’s video itself, Click Here There’s nothing shocking or disturbing in her video, she just films herself)

First of all, I’ve read Matt’s post, and it is really, inhumanely mean to Emily. That’s just not nice, Matt, I thought you were supposed to be kind and loving toward everyone. Isn’t that what Jesus said?

Second, Kendall is hunting endangered species for sport. Emily is making an informed decision that is hers and hers alone to make about something that will profoundly affect the health and well-being of both her and her baby.

Third, anytime someone puts a camera on me, no matter what I’m doing, I giggle like I’ve lost my mind. I don’t think it’s fair to say Emily is laughing maniacally because she’s, as you so brilliantly put it, “executing” her baby.

Fourth, Emily did something very brave by taking a stand for women all over America. She helped promote equality because women have a right to do what they want with their bodies without men dictating their actions. This doesn’t mean they can go on a shooting spree without facing the consequences, this means that they can make their own decisions. As for your knee-jerk reaction to compare a killing spree with getting an abortion, there’s quite a difference, but I’ll get to that later, so hold that compulsion in for a while, okay?

Matt, you’re coming across as an asshole so far. But okay, maybe you’re angry about something you believe in and that anger is accidentally seeping into places you never meant for it to go. Fine, I do that too sometimes. Let’s keep going.

Matt continues:

“The whole dynamic is just deranged. Has the world ever known a culture as delusional as ours? Has a society ever been so confused?  I’m no anthropologist, but I have a hard time believing that any previous civilization could have developed such a perverse mix of hedonism and puritanism.  We’re told we shouldn’t bat an eye when a network sitcom centers an entire episode around teenage gay sex, but at the same time, we should be thin skinned and innocent to the point where news channels have to deliver disclaimers before airing the word ‘redskins.’

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!!!!!?????!!!!!!

Let me break this down for you.

Protesting a television episode about gay sex = sexism.
Freely using the word “redskins” = racism.

How can you possibly think that we should get angry because there’s gay sex on TV (by the way, Glee is far from being the first television episode to feature gay sex, you seem way behind the times, sir) but we should totally be okay with blatant racism? Do you not understand how discrimination happens?

Of course we shouldn’t bat an eye if an episode of a popular TV show is about gay sex. Gay sex is a thing that happens. TV shows tend to be about things that happen. What if it was the Nature Channel doing an episode about how some monkeys have gay sex with each other, would you be upset then? Maybe, but probably not, because according to you, they’re just animals so who cares right?

I’m not telling you that gay sex is okay (although that’s what I think), I’m simply telling you that of course we shouldn’t care about if a TV show does an episode about it. To compare that to the use of the word “redskins” is absurd. Face it, America is pretty racist and it’s about time someone does something about that. Most people don’t even realize how racists the word is, so OF COURSE we should have to deliver disclaimers before using it.

Do you not understand at all how change happens? How progress happens? Apparently not. But to be fair, you’re using the media yourself (a blog) to try and affect change so I have to hope that you understand it a little bit. Fine. I’ll let you have that.

And maybe you do understand what I’m saying, but you’re trying to draw parallels to back up your point. Again, I understand that, it’s a good technique if you use it right. Maybe you just didn’t hit the bullseye this time.

Next point, please.

“Because that’s what this is: insanity. It’s not even that our morality is inverted or reversed – even that would be too logical. What we are experiencing is nothing short of moral anarchy. Now that we’ve made a mockery of virtue and a religion of death, we are left with nothing to be truly outraged about. So we become the violent answer to the man who gets home and releases his pent up anger by kicking his dog; we get home and release our pent up righteous indignation by killing the man who kicked his dog.”

Nope, sorry Matt. This is ridiculous.

This is not moral anarchy. Moral anarchy would be everyone doing whatever they want. This is informed consent. This is democracy. I know you don’t believe in either of those things but your opinion doesn’t really matter when your facts are wrong. Don’t call things anarchy when they aren’t.

I have no idea what you mean by making a religion of death. That’s probably the stupidest thing I’ve heard all week. Nobody’s worshiping death or claiming that death told them what to do. Calm down. We haven’t made a mockery of virtue either, as again, being virtuous has nothing to do with agreeing with your personal beliefs which, by the way, you haven’t even really spelled out yet let alone defended. All I really know so far is that you’re angry with what everyone thinks, but I don’t really know what you think (I’m only really making assumptions about what you think).

The man kicking his dog analogy doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. It’s clever though, but meaningless.

Is this the kind of thing you're talking about?

Is this the kind of thing you’re talking about?

Moving on…

“Personally, I don’t care about Kendall’s hobby either way.”

Fair enough.

“[The majority of those who oppose Kendall], by any reasonable estimation, are either in favor of, or largely indifferent to, the murder of babies. They see the killing of ‘endangered species’ as the greatest act of evil, second only to verbally opposing gay marriage, and perhaps now third to calling an overbearing female “bossy.”

It’s not that they value animal life over human life, necessarily. They are humans themselves, and I’m sure, given the choice, they’d gladly choose their own existence over even the most endangered of sea turtles. They also generally recognize the Holocaust or 9-11 to be tragedies far more serious than a wildfire that wipes out half of a forest’s native squirrel population.”

Oh, Matt. This was a very, very dumb thing to say. You just revealed yourself with absolute clarity to be homophobic and misogynistic in the same sentence, not to mention ill-informed, ignorant, and immoral.

But you probably don’t understand why I’m saying that. I’ll go step by step.

  1. Killing endangered species, deliberately, is a heinous act. Are we actually debating this? Humans, the number one threat to the survival of all other life forms, are consequently the only life forms with the capacity to save endangered species so naturally the responsibility falls to us. Are you suggesting we kill whatever we want just for fun? Are you unaware of how many species are gone forever because of exactly that? How could you even suggest that it’s okay to eliminate entire species from the tree of life?
  2. Verbally opposing gay marriage is what’s known as discrimination against someone based on their sexual orientation. It’s an infringement of basic human rights. Most free-thinking people consider it to be pretty reprehensible. If you don’t agree, fine, but keep it to yourself if you don’t want to be labelled homophobic or bigoted. This is something people don’t seem to understand: you have the right to your opinion (say, being gay is wrong) but you do NOT have the right to take away other people’s rights because of said opinion.
  3. Where have you been for the last hundred years? This is women’s rights 101. Calling a women “bossy” for any reason other than that she’s actually your boss and is taking advantage of her position = sexism. Get up with the times, Matt. Take a Women and Gender Studies class. Please, don’t play this card.
  4. Given the situation, anyone would probably choose their own life over the life of an attacker. So would an animal. It’s called the survival instinct. But that’s not even what you’re suggesting. You’re suggesting that people value human life over animal life because they wouldn’t voluntarily die to save endangered turtles. What??? Why would they do that? That’s not even a realistic scenario, but even if it was, nobody who is dedicating their life to saving animals would just decide to quit and die. But even if the situation arose and it turned out that the only way to save a certain species was, say, to donate all of your blood. Actually… a lot of people would gladly do that. A lot.
  5. Of course the Holocaust and 9-11 are more tragic than a wildfire. A wildfire is an act of nature that is part of the circle of life. It’s unavoidable. Acts of terrorism, on the other hand, are 100% the product of human brutality. A wildfire is not lifeforms killing other lifeforms, the Holocaust was. I call bullshit on your part, Matt. Shame on you.

By the way, Matt, you haven’t even gotten to your main point yet. I’m 2000 words into my response so far and I have to say I’m pretty disappointed by what you’ve had to say about stuff that isn’t even yet relevant.

“I’m not saying that they don’t sincerely love animals, I’m just saying that it’s easier to love animals. It’s easy to be pro-animal rights, which is why so many people are. It’s difficult to stand for human life. That’s really the only rhyme or reason to what is rejected and embraced in our culture. We take the easy route.  No matter what. Convenience is the key — convenient values, convenient virtues.”

Ooooh, I get it, you think this all boils down to convenience. Okay, never mind, we’ve got to your point. Sorry man, I jumped the gun on my last paragraph.

Wait, you think this is all about convenience? Huh? I’m sorry, it’s easy to be pro-animal rights because it’s difficult to defend human life? Why, yes, it is difficult to defend human rights, especially from people like you, Matt, who wants to take away a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body. That’s why it’s so much easier to defend animals.

You go on for two whole paragraphs talking about how babies are so damn inconvenient, compared to say, a leopard. See, we have to take care of babies for 18 years. 18 whole years!

18 years? Are you kidding me?

18 years? Are you kidding me?

Look, Matt, you must not like having fun, because you seem to be suggesting that all humans want is to be able to have fun without any consequences. Guess what? That’s exactly what we want. That’s what everyone wants. Humans want to be able to have fun. It’s not that hard.

Oh but that’s not okay with you, is it? You need people to have consequences. You need there to be some sort of terrible punishment in order for your world to make sense because otherwise you’ve wasted a lot of time denying yourself pleasure that you could have had for free. Isn’t that your reasoning? Matt, that’s silly.

Okay, maybe that’s not your reasoning, but that’s what I’ve heard from so many people who share your views that I feel this isn’t an unfair assumption to make.

Either way, I’d just like to point out how flawed that reasoning is, if not for you, than for the other people out there who feel this way but maybe aren’t quite sure why.

See, morality doesn’t come from the threat of punishment. Morality comes from the will of humans. Even if you believe that God handed down rules from on high, then it’s not immoral to break them because you will be punished, it’s immoral to break them because you deliberately decided to. Does that make sense?

So when people want to do things that are fun without having to face the potential consequences of that fun, well, that’s not an act of morality at all. That’s just called desire.

Everybody wants to have sex (a generalization, yes, as there are exceptions, but a fair generalization nonetheless). But see, people don’t have abortions because they want to have sex without consequences. At the very least you have to admit that that’s what birth control is for. If you’re going to argue this, please argue with the correct information.

Okay, that’s enough, I want to move on. I can go into more detail about morality, but I’d rather discuss that in a post that’s more focused on morality. Let’s keep going.

“As a eugenic society, we teeter always on the edge of psychopathy. Our acceptance of infanticide eats away at us, under the surface, inside our souls. We fear the loss of our own humanity, so we lash out every once in a while, and pour out all of our tempered moral outrage onto someone — anyone — who can give us a nice, safe outlet. Whether it’s a hunter, or a supposedly ‘homophobic’ reality TV star, or an actually racist NBA owner, we unload our vast reserves of righteous fury, reveling [sic] in the opportunity to prove to the world and to ourselves that we still have standards. We still care. We still feel.”

Whoa, that’s some pretty dark stuff. Our acceptance of infanticide eats away at us inside our souls?

Red flag on the play.

Here’s the definition of infanticide taken from Goggle:

in·fan·ti·cide
inˈfantiˌsīd/
noun
1. the crime of killing a child within a year of birth.
2. a person who kills an infant, especially their own child.
And now the definition of abortion, again, taken from Google:
a·bor·tion
əˈbôrSHən/
noun
1. the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Hmmm. Those are different things, Matt. I’m sorry, but you’re incorrect. We’re not committing mass infanticide.
I’m not sure why you think we’re somehow misdirecting our angst onto other issues since each of the issues you mentioned (you picked bad examples though) is its own issue that deserves our “righteous fury” and not some sort of ill-guided attempt to assuage our guilt.

“It’s all a charade, of course. And the Indignity DuJour will soon be replaced by something else, as we flutter quickly from one puffed up atrocity to the other, never stopping long enough to ask any serious questions about it. Never letting the noise die down quietly enough to have a real conversation about anything.”

Look, I agree that our attention spans these days are very short, but that’s not really the issue at hand. The fact remains that you seem to be quite ignorant of society right now as the opposite is actually true. There are many, many, many people who are adamantly fighting for human and animal rights. In fact, this is a really exciting time to be alive if you want to be an activist. We’re in the midst of a revolution and it’s kind of awesome (but frustrating). So for you to say this is just kind of insulting to everyone out there who really does care about something and is trying to affect change.

No hate here

No hate here

 

“We are very sad that a woman killed a lion — why?

Because the lion is endangered?

Because it’s ‘majestic’ and ‘beautiful’?

OK, why does that matter? There are other beautiful things, there are other animals. We [sic] do we need these? Who cares if they are exterminated from the face of the Earth?”

Jesus, Matt, where does it stop? You’re just making yourself look bad (or worse). Who cares? THE VERY PEOPLE YOU ARE CRITICIZING CARE. How can you ask that question?

But it gets worse because you continue this nonsensical rant of “rhetorical” questions while all the while the answer to them is staring you right in the face.

“Because it will upset the ecosystem? OK, but who cares about the ecosystem? Why does the ecosystem matter?

Because all living organisms depend upon it? OK, but now we’re back at the original question — who cares about the living organisms?

And why do we instinctively place some organisms over others? Why aren’t you upset when I kill cockroaches, but you would be if I killed a bald eagle?

What is life, anyway? Why does it matter? What makes it valuable? What makes some life more valuable? Why is your neighbor more significant than the tree in his front yard?

Why do we weep when a life is taken? Why do we usually celebrate when a life is born? Why are you here? Why was the lion here? Why should the lion be treated with dignity? Why should you be treated with dignity?”

Matt, you happen to be arguing with animal rights activists. I think you’re the one who’s more upset when you kill a bald eagle than when you kill a cockroach, not the people you’re addressing. In fact, I think you’re the one who doesn’t know how to place value on living things. I know I know, these are all “rhetorical” in your mind, but they aren’t. They have simple answers, answers you could get from the people you’re criticizing by asking them honestly instead of sarcastically saying they’re stupid and hypocritical.

But here’s where you really deliver the full brunt of your ignorance.

“If you answer these questions, you can only come to one of two conclusions: it’s all meaningless and nothing matters, or life is inherently sacred, especially human life.

Confront these mysteries and you will either end up a suicidal nihilist or a pro-life zealot.

There’s really no room in between, despite our fevered desire to find one.”

Wrong on all counts, Matt. Not “wrong” as in morally-wrong, or I disagree-with-you-wrong, but simply incorrect. Like saying 2+2=5 incorrect. This is what’s called a false dilemma. You’ve preposed that there’s only two possible outcomes to answering these questions and that there is absolutely no room in between.

FalseDilemma

That’s just ignorance on full display. There is lots of room in between. There is a whole spectrum of in between. In fact, you can’t really be one or the other. It’s almost impossible to be 100% suicidal nihilist or 100% pro-life zealot. You almost have to be in between.

But even barring that, neither conclusion follows from the questions you’ve asked. Protesting the killing of animals does not equate meaningless, nor does protesting abortions equate the sanctity of life.

And even barring that, you still haven’t backed up your assertion.

So let’s move on now from the questions you’ve been asking.

You never explicitly stated what this argument is about, but you have inferred it, and I think you’ve done so clearly, so good on you for at least not being obscure about your views.

 

I believe, and correct me if I’m wrong, that you think abortion is murder. Am I right? I think I am.

And because of that belief, you think that abortion should be illegal. This is what I’m assuming you’re arguing for.

But Matt, making abortion illegal will cause more people to die. I know you don’t understand how that works, but just hear me out.

Making abortion legal, or illegal, has almost no effect on how many abortions occur. Either way, women still get abortions. Okay, that’s a statistic, whether you like it or not. The legality of abortion is not really a substantial correlation on the quantity of abortion.

So why make it legal? Why make it illegal? Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

Well, you say you believe in the sanctity of life, don’t you?

Then shouldn’t you do what you can to save lives?

 

Let’s look at some stats from the World Health Organization:

  • After declining substantially between 1995 and 2003, the worldwide abortion rate stalled between 2003 and 2008. [1]
  • Between 1995 and 2003, the abortion rate (the number of abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age—i.e., those aged 15–44) for the world overall dropped from 35 to 29. It remained virtually unchanged, at 28, in 2008. [1]
  • Nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, and nearly all unsafe abortions (98%) occur in developing countries. In the developing world, 56% of all abortions are unsafe, compared with just 6% in the developed world. [1]
  • The proportion of abortions worldwide that take place in the developing world increased between 1995 and 2008 from 78% to 86%, in part because the proportion of all women who live in the developing world increased during this period. [1]
  • Since 2003, the number of abortions fell by 600,000 in the developed world but increased by 2.8 million in the developing world. In 2008, six million abortions were performed in developed countries and 38 million in developing countries, a disparity that largely reflects population distribution. [1]
  • A woman’s likelihood of having an abortion is slightly elevated if she lives in a developing region. In 2008, there were 29 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years in developing countries, compared with 24 in the developed world. [1]

(This information is taken from the WHO website. The article was published in January of 2012, you can download it here: induced_abortion_2012 or go to the WHO website. )

When you legalize abortion, you give access to safe abortions. This means that the mother is less likely to die as well as the child. That’s a better risk, isn’t it? I mean, just mathematically, that’s saying you could save one life or lose two lives. MATH.

As well, where abortions are legal, contraceptives are more accessible. That means you can prevent the need for abortions in the first place. (by the way, Matt, abortions happen because of pregnancy, not because of irresponsibility or a lack of morality. Cause + effect.) So again, legalizing abortions = less abortions = saving more lives.

Now, there’s some science to abortions as well. See, most of the time when a woman’s egg gets fertilized by a man’s sperm, it doesn’t really matter because the fertilized egg fails to implant in the lining of the uterus, and it gets flushed away by the body. Is that an abortion? Is a woman’s period an abortion? I sincerely hope you don’t think that, Matt.

But that’s science, and honestly, I have a working understanding of it, but I’m not very good at explaining it yet, so I’m going to refer you to a post that does a much better job.

This post also talks about the statistics I just mentioned, and goes into further detail about how to actually cut down on the abortion rate, which you equate with murder. So allow me to redirect you:

Screenshot 2014-07-05 15.46.47

(Again, if the picture link doesn’t work, here’s an alternative: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/how-i-lost-faith-in-the-pro-life-movement.html)

Alright, Matt, I think I’ve talked almost enough. There’s just a few final points I want to make.

Ultimately, we’re not really the ones affected by the debate over abortion. We can’t have abortions. So immediately, we kind of lack perspective. Here’s the thing, a woman should be allowed to make her own decisions.

What about babies? They can’t speak up for themselves.

At the early stage that most abortions are performed, fetuses don’t even have nerves, which means they can’t feel anything. There’s nothing really to snuff out. As I said before, a lot of fertilized eggs get “aborted” by the body but nobody’s angry about that.

So where do you draw the line?

You and I don’t.

Society does.

We’re a part of society and we both have our right to vote on decisions made by society, but really, it’s not up to us as individuals to tell others what to do. If a woman wants to get an abortion and society says it’s okay, then it’s okay for her to do that.

Society used to say it wasn’t okay and not only were millions of babies being aborted anyway (abortion is not a new thing, Matt), but the mothers were also dying.

Then society realized that this was a dumb idea, and now there are less abortions occurring and less mothers dying as well.

How can you say you believe in the sanctity of life if you support death?

 

Truth

Truth

 

I’m calling you out on your ignorance, Matt, but please understand, I don’t mean that as an insult. I mean that you just don’t know. Maybe nobody told you, or maybe you didn’t want to hear, but you’re missing information. You don’t have the facts. You’re clinging to a belief system but you don’t seem to know why. Well, now I’ve told you. It’s up to you whether or not you hear.

“So I’m not telling you what to think about these things, I’m only telling you that you need to think about them.

And, once you do, maybe your priorities will change a little bit.”

I couldn’t agree more, Matt.

 

 

Do Your Boobs Have Magical Powers?

Why are boobs such magical things?

Answer: they’re not.

Okay, mammary glands produce milk and milk, as well all know, never stops. It’s full of calcium and vitamin E, and… well, cow milk is anyway. We don’t exactly drink human milk after a really young age.

(okay, “mammary glands” makes me think of sea lions and that makes me giggle and I need to be able to actually work right now, so I’m just going to say “boobs” from now on because somehow that doesn’t make me giggle so shut up)

But somehow boobs are magical. Boobs are mystical orbs of wonder and imagination. They’re like Willy Wonka if Ol’ Will was a set of twins and actually did something useful instead of torturing children with succulent goodness but demanding them not to touch and slowly weaned out the weak until only one survived.

Kind of takes on a different meaning now, doesn’t it?

 

“Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” Oh dear God…

All jesting aside (I’ll never look at Willy Wonka the same way again), boobs occupy a special place in society. You can watch someone stab a needle through a human’s eye on network television or you can watch men strip off all of their clothes until they’re down to underwear that really doesn’t leave anything to the imagination and nobody bats an eye. But a woman’s nipple? They’d riot in the streets.

But we all know this. The double standard is nothing new. Boobs are bad, right? Jesus doesn’t approve, or whatever they taught you in Sunday School (that’s what they taught me but my childhood was pretty messed up that way so I don’t really know what normal is).

So let’s start debating the issue, beginning with CON-BOOBS!

WHY BOOBS ARE BAD!!! [Or: Why Society’s Boob-Standards Are Totally Fine The Way They Are]

  1. A woman has a right to cover up whatever parts of her body she wants. If she wants to keep her boobs private, that’s her business. This has a flip side that I will address later.
  2. Society determines standards. As much as we’d like to think that we’re all rebels who “don’t do what society says,” if that were actually the case then we wouldn’t have a society to begin with. You can’t rebel against something that nobody even follows. So if society says that boobs are stigmatized, then they are, and really, as a society we’re under a bit of obligation to uphold that stigma.
  3. Boobs do not play a role in reproduction, but they are still a large erogenous zone and we generally think of erogenous zones as areas that should be kept “bedroom-ized” (thumbs up for making up words).

Okay I’m wracking my brain to come up with good reasons for this list because I want to give each viewpoint a fair shot, but I’m having a hard time taking myself seriously. You see my points though, right? Boobs are “scandalous” because… well, because they’re “scandalous.” It’s going to take a psychological overhaul of an entire generation in order to change that. I just want to point out that there really are some legit reasons why we put so much stigma on boobs, and that’s okay.

Now, for the other side, the PRO-BOOBS!

WHY BOOBS ARE GOOD!!! [Or: Why Society Needs To Let Go And Love The Bosom]

  1. A woman has the right to be treated as a human being, not as a sexualized object just for having a physical body. If a woman is confident with her body and doesn’t feel that she should have to cover up her chest, then she shouldn’t have to cover up her chest. 
  2. They are much better looking than their floppy counterparts, the ball sack. Yep, I went there. The guy equivalent of boobs (man-boobs don’t count) is that floppy package in their pants. Nobody judges men for having floppy things, but we judge women for that? #logic
  3. I don’t know what idiot came up with the idea that men are hormone-enslaved lust machines (I’m looking at you, Christians), but the idea that women have to cover up their chests because it’s “modest” is a bunch of BS. It doesn’t matter how much clothing a woman wears, some dude or dudette (holler at me, lesbians) out there is going to be getting turned on. The same goes for the reverse: a woman could walk around stark naked and there’s going to be people (who are totally attracted to women, by the way) who don’t feel a thing. Modesty has nothing to do with the amount of clothing you wear.

Well, I tried. I tried to make some sort of compelling argument, and I think I addressed the ideas that I wanted to, but I just can’t keep this up with a straight face. There’s too much potential for comedy here and I’m getting confused. So let’s bring the list to a close and just chat a little bit, yeah? It’s cool, we’ll just shoot the breeze for a while.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m in favour of women being allowed to do whatever the hell they want in regards to their bodies. But I do understand that there’s a huge amount of stigma attached to the way we as a society view women, particularly when it comes to sexuality, and that stigma isn’t just going to go away overnight. It must come from somewhere, and I think we need to understand that before we can find a solution.

If it wasn’t for the ENDLESS DISCRIMINATION against women, this wouldn’t be such a big deal. A simple health class in grade 6 could get rid of the stigma once and for all. But we’ve got to face the centuries of oppression and that’s something a little bit more difficult to undo. How do you educate young girls and boys that boobs are completely natural and not automatically sexual if everywhere around them the world screams the opposite?

And that’s the key difference.

Are boobs magical? No. Are boobs sexual? Sure.

But not automatically. Not intrinsically.

Sexuality is fluid and subjective. That’s where our problem comes from. We’ve got to convince far too many people that boobs are not in fact the bane of sexual purity (whatever that means anyway) for this to be easy.

Let’s play hypothetical situation. I’ll put myself up as a target.

I’ve never been to a nude beach, so I imagine if one day I did, I would probably spend the whole time staring at people. There, I said it. I’m sorry, but it would just be such a weird situation to find myself in.

But I also think that’s a completely normal response to new situations.

After a while (I hope not a long while) I would stop staring, right?

THIS DOES NOT MEAN I’M DESENSITIZED!

This just means I’ve adapted to my surrounding and realized that there’s nothing bizarre about seeing naked people all around me. It’s only bizarre because I make it so, and once I stop doing so, it becomes pretty normal. But I’m still a sexual creature. I haven’t been damaged somehow because I reached my boob-quota or whatever.

This seems to me like a pretty simple hypothetical. Can we agree on that?

But can you see how this would be such a huge undertaking on a societal level in order to get people to the point of accepting nudity as normal?

(by the way, I’m not saying we should all walk around naked, the line has to be drawn somewhere I guess)

And yet, we still haven’t solved the problem, because we’re still making one tiny assumption that rottens the whole thing.

We’re assuming that women want to walk around topless all the time.

Because maybe they don’t. Or maybe they do. Or maybe some do and some don’t. Or maybe… no, that’s all the possibilities right?

It’s not a matter of should or shouldn’t. It’s a matter of could. If given the opportunity, I would be that most women would not opt to be topless and it would have NOTHING TO DO WITH SOCIETY. It’s a personal matter, as it should be. And thus the opposite should also be personal. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SOCIETY AT LARGE.

We’ve just convinced ourselves that it does.

And so the cycle continues.

“It’s inappropriate.”

“It’s natural.”

“It’s sinful.”

“It’s an infringement on free expression.”

Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

 

So why does society sexualize boobs? I don’t know. Some people try to argue that it’s because men breastfeed but women also breastfeed, so that doesn’t make sense. Maybe we should just blame marketers, but they just prey off trends, so it’s not entirely their fault either.

I think we just dropped the ball over many years. A collective shrug. One unconscious decision after another where we gave a little ground at a time until we forgot we used to occupy an entire country.

 

I’m not saying we should all go topless. I’m not saying we should wear more clothes. I’m just trying to raise the public consciousness so we can ask ourselves why we value the things we value. Why do we consider modesty to be what it is? Why are boobs sexualized?

And if your boobs do have magical powers, do let me know because I love being proven wrong.

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this free-form rant of a post. I enjoy talking about controversial topics in controversial ways, but I don’t want to offend people for no reason. Please realize a lot of what I say is meant to be taken either with a grain of salt or a regular dose of laughter. I’m on your side.

Stop Telling Other People To Stop Complaining That Other People Are Judging Them (Did You Follow That?)

We’re all aware of the prejudices that happen in our world. We have protests popping up everywhere against progressive, rational thought, preventing people from getting equality, and hindering the development of our species.

We also have a new generation that is more accepting than the one before it, more open-minded, more kind.

And yet this generation also tends to be a little bit self-focused and forgets about others. Not necessarily selfish, keep in mind, but just a little bit ignorant about the fact that there are other people who see things differently than them.

Maybe it has something to do with the widespread apathy that runs rampant through society in the age of the Internet. I don’t know, I don’t have statistics to back this up, but I get the impression that people tend to care about far less things than they used to.

All of that leads to us kind of losing our ability to recognize that others might think differently. It’s strange to think that in the cultural melting pot that is the Internet, that we wouldn’t be exposed to the viewpoints of others, but somehow we’ve gotten too good at filtering things out and we’ve reached the point of filtering out too much. Surveys show that millennials just don’t care about homosexuality or government or race the way previous generations did. It’s not so much that they accept it (although many do), it’s that it doesn’t register to them as an actual issue.

As a result, we seem to have lost the ability to deal with issues of oppression when they do arrive. Why is it that when someone speaks out about discrimination against them, instead of taking them seriously, we tell them to stop complaining because, “everyone suffers, you are no different”?

EXCUSE ME???

When I first started coming across this kind of reaction, I was angered. How dare you minimize the suffering of one person by trying to puff up your own suffering in comparison.

That’s fair on both sides of the issue. But that’s not my point.

I started thinking about how come this seemed to be such a common response to discrimination.

We’ve lost sight of what it means to actually be different. I think we’ve forgotten, in this era of “acceptance” that there are people out there who are not like us. Even though we have access to every culture via the Internet, we don’t take advantage of that. We still hang out with the same kinds of people online as we do in real life, to a certain extent (and speaking generally).

Someone speaks out about women’s rights, and suddenly we have the Men’s Rights Activists telling women to stop complaining because men have problems too.

Someone professes to be an Atheist, and the Christians tell them to stop complaining because Christians are prosecuted too.

Someone comes out as homosexual and the straight people tell them to stop complaining because straight people are prejudiced too.

None of these are necessarily untrue. Men have problems, Christians are prosecuted, and straight people have to deal with stereotypical gender roles as well.

But all of them are completely missing the point.

It’s not about you in that moment, it’s about the person who feels they are being oppressed. Listen to them, they deserve that at least. I promise you, they’re not lying to get attention. Even if they are, it’s still probably an issue that needs someone to speak out about. They know firsthand what they’re talking about so take them seriously.

If we could all stop trying to minimize everyone else’s difficulties because we feel our own aren’t getting their proper due, and just start listening to each other, we could all start solving things together.

Wake up a little bit. The Internet is amazing, but it works for us, no matter how much we’d like to believe The Matrix has already happened (is that what we want to believe?).