Men For Women (and other goofy ideas)

I’ve got to put up a little fight for the male feminists (…fe-man-ists!).  I know some people will be turned off by the word feminist because it has been demonized by the Rush Limbaughs of the world.  And, as happens with many social-activism movements, the radical element is now in the driver’s seat–partly because, rather than standing their ground, reasonable people walk away when the lunatics start screaming.

" I would soo rather be collating TPS reports right now."

But the feminist movement wasn’t originally about male-bashing or even forcing women int0 the workplace; it originated to liberate women from being confined to homemaking, discrimination and harassment in the workplace, being unable to explore and express their sexuality, and the stigma of coming forward about rape and domestic violence.

I’m in favor of that kind of feminism.  And I believe a lot of other men are, too. (We have got to stop letting extremists set the agenda.)

Besides, there is more to this than gender equality.  It’s about separating ourselves from stereotypes.

I feel like women have several ways of doing that.  Sure, some have been corrupted and others have been defamed and we have to take those expressions back.  But Men don’t really have much of anything.  And we have as many societal pressures as women do–they are different, obviously and men’s issues don’t really involve empowerment, but they exist all the same.

Now–to be fair–I enjoy sexist jokes as much as racist ones.  I’m not “offended” by these stereotypes and I don’t think they should be eliminated from the media or any such goofiness.

I would just like the argument made that this is not representative of all guys–just dumb, misogynistic guys.  Because there is a distinction.  Almost every adult male in my social circle who has children is actively involved in raising his kids, in roles ranging from baby-daddy/baby-mama drama to the traditional nuclear family; there are even a couple of single fathers in there.

Naturally, the women play a central and active role, too.  I’m just saying these are good boyfriends, good husbands, and good dads–good guys in general, NOT the sex-crazed, functionally incompetent, troglodytes beer addicted, co-ed conversation allergic men portrayed on network sitcoms and Carl’s Jr. commercials.

All I’m asking is, where’s the pink ribbon for the good guys?

Only not a pink ribbon so much as an energy-absorbing, platinum dragon-scaled battle-gauntlet, but you get the idea. 🙂

What Women Need

This post was inspired by a rant on Sinister Blog and the subsequent comments and responses.   I’ll be reiterating some of the ideas discussed there.

Why do Republicans hate women?

The answer is, they don’t.  They just hate strong independent women. They hate women who think they are the equal of men.  For them this hate is justified; men are physically stronger.

Might makes right.  Right?

Leaving aside the fact that pretty much any woman is capable of picking up a .357 and turning your dome into a stadium, we live in the age of information and technology.  Brains are far more important than brawn.  (And for those of you who would argue that women aren’t as intelligent as men, I would say that this is the point where I must beg your leave so that you may return to digging in the mud with your mighty fine stick.  Never argue with fools, I says; let them run and play.)

For the rest of us, we need to understand how we got to this point before we can truly determine where we need to go.

1. Back Story

Religion, as in nearly all things in our culture, plays a significant role in the subjugation of women.  Religion didn’t give birth to misogyny, it merely justified it.

Back in the hunter-gatherer days, marriage didn’t really exist, not the way we consider it today.  Groups of people stuck together for protection and to raise young but there was, generally speaking, and so far as we can tell, no higher purpose.

As hunting and gathering gave way to farming, the importance of owning stuff increased.  People wanted to pass their lands on to their kids.  A fertile wife could provide lots of children to help out around the farm.  So a “good woman’ (i.e a virtuous woman) had value.  Monetary value.  A virtuous woman was one about whom their could be no controversy regarding the paternity of children.  The easiest way ensure this was by marrying a virgin.   Thus a virtuous woman was either a virginal woman or a faithful mother and wife.  At the same time, nobody wanted this other woman to take the family’s hard-earned (and often hard-fought for) possessions, so ownership passed from father to son.  A woman was considered an asset, like a sturdy mule.

So marriage wasn’t always the wondrous union of love-struck souls it supposedly is now; it was a business transaction.  This social contract was codified pretty much unanimously in the western religious texts:

Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

-Deuteronomy 5:21

We always quote the first part, but not the rest.  Kinda changes the meaning, doesn’t it?  And remember that the Old testament is a canonical religious text for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  There are other texts that demand a woman’s submission to man, but Deuteronomy clearly illustrates the idea that a woman was viewed as a man’s property, like his slaves, his animals, and his land.

2. Present Predicament.

Like all things, the role of woman has evolved over time.  What has remained constant, however, is that in nearly every return to cultural piety, the status of women is greatly reduced.  There currently is an effort to return to those times once more.

Unlike many other issues of social injustice, gender discrimination is not confined to religious fundamentalism.  It is far more pervasive and goes to the core of our culture itself.  The true liberation of women requires a fundamental redefining of gender roles.  Women can take care of themselves and no longer need men to provide for them.  When a man can no longer hold over a woman provision for her lifestyle, he is forced to use other, less developed skills to maintain her favor.  It gives women much more control in relationships and other social interactions.

Additionally, women have increasingly become legitimate competitors in the professional world.  Women graduate from high school, college, and graduate school at higher rates than men.  Women also tend to get better grades in school.  More young women have become disinterested in starting a family, preferring instead to pursue other interests.

"It'll be fun, sweetie. I promise."

Then comes the scary part: women asserting their sexuality.  Women have become increasingly free to explore and express their sexual desires and interests.  And it turns out, women are as kinky and perverted as men (over 30% of all pornography is purchased by women). That all sounds fine and dandy…until your girlfriend breaks out a surprise apparatus she wants to try on you.

Things can get a bit confusing.

I believe this confusion has led to resentment from men and women alike.  The backlash seems to have started sometime in the 1990s when women’s liberation was rolling along.

CSI, PSA, or TMZ?

I started hearing terms like feminazi catching steam.  “Shut up and make me a sandwich” jokes started making the rounds again.  Then corporations began doubling down on the glass ceiling.  Equal pay became an unreasonable demand because women are hormonal and unreliable employees.  In the media, women became increasingly portrayed as victims of physical and sexual brutality or objectified for their sexual beauty.  Pornography got flat out violent.  Slut shaming became vogue again.  And now, reproductive decision-making is being taken out of women’s hands and given to the state.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to see the interconnectivity between these events.  They’re man’s way of reasserting gender dominance.  Unfortunately for its proponents, this reassertion is nothing more than a last desperate gasp.  In the end, the War on Women will share the same fate as the Jim Crow south.  The extreme vestiges will linger; the rest will die.

3. Looking Forward.

As with any movement in social justice, action must be purposeful and deliberate.  And in the push for women’s rights we are doubly obstructed.  Women are as confused by the redefining of gender roles as men.  Many women conform to the male-driven ideal of sexual objectification and submission to remain appealing; many other women conform because they agree with it.  Plus, many women are confined by their own guilt and shame about their sexuality.

"We're hot, right?"

The problem is we cannot, as a society, empower women; women must empower themselves (see Rihanna & Chris Brown).  Society can only give women tools: the information and social programming that will allow them to suffer neither fools nor abuse by a fool’s hand; and to explore their own individuality without constraint or societal judgment.  Women’s liberation is not about making every woman a bisexual-chic big city professional; it’s about a woman being accepted for whatever she chooses to be.

If we truly love women as we claim, we will all work (and fight) to ensure such a future.

Finally, A Loophole For Rapists!

Virginia State Senate Motto

As we all know, one of the biggest challenges we face as a society is coming up with a socially, and more importantly, legally acceptable excuse for raping a woman.

American juries consistently find the ever popular excuses she was asking for it or she wanted it irreconcilable in lieu of subsequent events, despite a woman’s dress, reputation, or behavior at the time. (Damn libs.)

Furthermore, the excuse that she don’t listen–while often true–is inexplicably regarded as insufficient cause for engaging in the forced penetration of an unwilling female.

In a perfect world, the truly free rapist would not have to resort to such harsh tactics as threats, intimidation, brutal violence, and murder.  Issues surrounding uppity women and male inadequacy could be resolved in a simple display of physical dominance.  Without shaming, without public mockery.  No more fleeing prosecution or fending off advances from amorous cellmates for exercising your God-given right to express your sexual superiority.  (I mean, can 20,000 years of human history be wrong?)

Well, fret no longer.

The ambitious and enlightened senators of the Virginia legislature have shown us the way.  In January, the Virginia State Senate passed a law requiring women seeking an abortion to undergo a mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasound.  In other words, before she can get a abortion–which is her legal right–she must be penetrated–with or without her consent–by an ultrasound wand in a procedure that serves no medical purpose whatsoever.  The legislators’ justification?  The women have it coming.  According to a Virginia legislator forced to speak on condition of anonimity, women seeking abortions, “consented to being penetrated when they got pregnant.”

Virginia State Legislature's Punishment for Harlotry

There’s the rub.  (And the Marquis De Sade himself couldn’t have said it any better.)

Rape can at least partially be defined as penetration without consent.  If consent is negated by previously engaging in sexual intercourse, every non-virgin woman is fair game!  (Sure, the strict Constitutionalists may demand impregnation as a stipulation, but Rick Santorum has some innovative ideas on precisely when life begins that should provide lots of wiggle room.  Besides, in the first trimester you can’t really tell.)

So, three cheers for the Virginia legislature.  *Sniff!* They’re all growns up and doing the rapists proud.

Now, throw that ski-mask and that duct tape in your backpack and get out there!

Happy hunting.

(Transvaginal ultrasound image from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/medical/IM04391.  Misogyny image from: http://www.noethics.net/News/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1594:2010-oscar-nominees-for-best-performance-as-a-judicial-misogynist-&catid=186:academy-award-winners&Itemid=103.  Unified bitch theory image from: http://www.gandalf23.com/?m=200709&paged=2.)

Republicans Hate Women

Incendiary assertion?

Here’s the proof:

How on earth do you justify this? Fundamentalism is second only to corporatism in threatening the progress of America.  (Man, I feel a rant coming on…)

The Chivalry of Rick Santorum

The battlefield roils.  Explosions erupt in the frighteningly near distance.  A gamut of firearms blurt angry chatter from vantages hidden by the smoky haze.  In the middle of it she stands, knock-kneed, heels akimbo, pack thrown to the ground, and her M16 dangling from the crook of her elbow like some clunky designer bag.  Wailing to the sky, she tries to pull fistfuls of her hair out at the root as the mascara streams black rivers down her face.

This is the inevitable fate from which hate-mongering presidential hopeful Rick Santorum hopes to spare our military servicewomen.

Marine Gunnery Sergeant Michelle Mollen could probably stomp a mudhole in Rick Santorum without really trying.

After a yearlong investigation, the Pentagon has decided to loosen its restrictions on women serving in combat…somewhat.  Female soldiers may now be permanently assigned to battalions in support positions.  They still can’t serve directly in combat, but they are allowed to be closer to the fighting.  This decision is not groundbreaking; it’s not even news.  Women have already served in these positions for years as “temporary” attachments.  It’s the job sector equivalent of passing your probationary period.

A young girl reacts upon hearing the future Rick Santorum has planned for her.

Not good enough for Santorum.  His incontrovertible authority on the psychological handicap that is womanhood has forced him to make the not-ludicrous assertion that women are too emotionally unstable for combat (sorry, for support in combat).

It seems Ol’ Santorum’s mercy–much like his bigotry–knows no bounds.

Never thought I’d miss the days of Dan “Potatoe” Quayle (or that he’d be such a harbinger of Republicans to come).

(Santorum image from: http://themoderatevoice.com/133837/the-rick-santorum-that-america-doesnt-know/  Marine Gunnery Sargeant Michelle Mollen of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines Regiment image from: http://abcnews.go.com/US/women-fight-iraq-afghanistan-preclusion-ground-combat/story?id=13716419#.TzVWoeQmySo  Dan Quayle image from: http://www.lifewith4boys.com/2011/09/dumb-celebrity-quotes.html)