The Radical Notion

Encouraging women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians

Facebook and Gender May 14, 2010

Filed under: Meta,Pop Culture,Uncategorized — theradicalnotion @ 10:56 am
Tags: , ,

So criticizing Facebook, especially its latest iteration,  is kind of like . But I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw their latest bit of WTF?!

The first block is covering a completely unambiguous "lady name", btw.I delisted my gender a while back, just to mess with them (same reason I delisted my sexual orientation; if it’s something you have a right to care about, you probably already know). Facebook was not so much of a fan of the non-gendered TRN, but eventually they stopped begging and shut up. Now most of my profile page is a sea of the third-person plural (“TRN waggled their scurvy tongue ’bout Alexander Hamilton’s recent tales”) or just sentences structured in a way that doesn’t require a pronoun at all, but apparently Facebook (or at least the Pirate English version) is unable to cope with all my activities in a gender-neutral manner. (more…)

 

Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex), Pt. 2 February 27, 2010

Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex), Pt. 1 found here.

Note: I briefly had this post under password protection, as it dealt with some personal/intimate details and feelings. If you read the post and have strong opinions on whether or not it should be publicly published, please drop me a line in the comments (I can delete your comment after if you want).

[trigger warning]

This is a continuation of the sentiments expressed in the other day’s post, Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex). In it, I describe how when I was younger, I assumed pretty much any sexual media to be “sex-positive” and empowering, as some sort of “take that!” to the social conservative, decidedly sex-negative movement. I conflated objectification and rape apologism with empowerment and sexual freedom and agency, in part because none of the former words were in my vocabulary at the time. I discussed how the lack of feminist terminology in popular discourse, or the misunderstanding of same, leads to the phenomenon of all criticism of pornography, etc. being labeled as prudish and anachronistic, and had I realized that at least some of the criticism was based on ideas I would actually agreed with, I would have come to certain realizations much earlier.

Today, I’m going to discuss more thoughts about sex I had at that age and how they were influenced by popular culture and education, so this is your fair warning to leave if it’s something you’d rather not hear about (Hi, Mommy!).

When I was a teenager, one of the paramount themes in representations and discussions of relationships was sexual intimacy (shocker, I know). I was lucky enough not to be in an area of the country or religion where abstinence-only sex education or purity pledges abound, but the impressions I got were still mixed, at best. In discussions with health teachers, other adults, friends, and of course almost all popular media, the following messages were disseminated:

  • Teenage boys are the horniest creatures on the planet. They are perpetually masturbating, or thinking about it, and this is both completely acceptable and very funny. In almost no situation can a teenage boy control his sex drive, whether this means becoming aroused at an inappropriate times or trying to “get” sexual activity from a hesitant (female) partner.
  • Teenage girls are boy-crazy, but any sexual contact with said boys is a result of peer pressure. The vast majority of girls don’t masturbate, which is why any discussion of it is both rare and considered much more”shocking”. Teenage girls can’t control their emotions and fall hopelessly in love with boys at the drop of a hat, which leaves them vulnerable to being “made” to do something they’d rather not (have sex). This is not a funny thing in the same way that boys humping apple pies is, but the girls aren’t pitied very much either, because as the possessors of a lower libido they are the Designated Kill Switch for any teenage sexual activity, which is universally considered to be bad unless we’re just talking about boys having sex with nameless figures, in which case it’s cool and funny. Any girl who fails to properly control her boy’s sexual urges is to be blamed and shamed; any indication that she might have actually invited or (gasp!) wanted said sexual activity should lead to even more blaming and shaming. The terms “fast”, “loose”, “easy”, “whore”, and “slut” should be employed whenever describing a girl that someone thinks might have wanted sex, or had sex, or been “made” to have sex, and are universally acknowledged as the worst things a girl could ever be.

People were not entirely without sympathy for the female half of the population, though. We also received frequent admonitions and instructions on how and why we should “resist” our potential boyfriends’ inevitable (and inevitably unwelcome) sexual advances. I remember distinct moments in health class, for example, where we all discussed what we would say if our boyfriend told us “you would [have sex] if you loved me” – the proper response was “if you loved me, you wouldn’t make me”. A boy who is trying to have sex with a girl who doesn’t want to (pretty much all sexual activity was assumed to fall into this category) is inconsiderate and not a nice person, and it might even be good for you two to have a Serious Discussion About Your Feelings, but breaking up with a boy who was pressuring you into sex was a last resort (don’t want to be a prude! And all boys are gonna do it anyway, so do you really want to be alone?). (more…)

 

Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex) February 25, 2010

Terminology (or, This Isn’t Sex), Pt. 2 found here

There comes a time in every grown-up’s life when they have a sobering revelation: their parents were right.

Well, maybe.

One of the things I’ve noticed during my Feminist Journey ™ is how I’ve become critical of things that I used to think were totes cool. Well, okay, that’s not news, but I have more, I swear! I’ve become critical of things I not only used to be interested in, but used to support because I thought they were progressive, or empowering, or some vague force for good in the world. Case in point: Cosmopolitan Magazine.

15-year-old TRN: OMG there’s this magazine that talks about SEX and it’s right there in the CHECKOUT LANE and it acknowledges women’s libidos and doesn’t call them sluts and helps them have better sex and become Fun, Fearless, Females! Clearly this is not only hot, but AWESOME. I feel so morally superior to all those prudes who don’t want me to read it, because they’re afraid of SEX, especially premarital sex, and especially the ladies doing it. They just don’t like women being happy with themselves as sexual beings! I feel validated in being a female with an actual sex drive! Cosmo is the best magazine ever!

22-year-old TRN: OMG I immediately die a little inside when I meet someone who takes Cosmopolitan seriously. I can’t believe I ever liked that magazine. Sure, it does manage to stray away from the Madonna-whore dichotomy of women’s sexuality, but that’s about the only good thing I can say about it. Its sex tips are not only repeated every month, but completely ridiculous. It’s so heteronormative that I don’t think I’ve ever, in the dozens of issues in multiple languages I’ve read over the years, seen a single mention of a non-heterosexual romantic or sexual interaction. It promotes hackneyed gender stereotypes and “relationship tips” (I once read one where they advised women to pretend not to be able to do certain things, i.e. open jars, in order to help your man feel manly). Oh yeah, and they’re also rape apologists.

Obviously, there are many reasons why I think differently now then I did in middle and high school. But you know what? If someone had actually said the latter paragraph to me when I was at the height of my Cosmo phase, I might have listened – probably not as much as I do now, but I would have least understood the idea that there were objections to Cosmo other than OH NOEZ LADIES HAVING SEX AND LIKING IT. It’s gotten to the point (documented well by Ariel Levy) where the social conservatives in our society are demonizing sexuality and fetishizing virginity so much that any frank depiction of sex, particularly with women involved, comes as a relief (you think women should cover up all their skin? Well, I’m going to get NAKED!). Of course, it’s usually a false idol, as objectifying women and portraying them as perennially thin, hairless sex machines just dying for a good “pounding” is neither novel nor particularly helpful. But I wonder how much of the criticism that when I was a teenager I mentally labelled as “socially conservative” (or “prude”, or whatever the hip terminology was) was actually based on principles that I would agree with now. (more…)

 

If there’s one thing we can say with certainty about all college women… October 3, 2009

…it’s that they love hot pink!

Twelve housepoints to whoever can guess which entry this is from!

Twelve housepoints to whoever can guess which entry this is from!*

What better way to portray pioneers in women’s higher education (that are still producing better outcomes for female students than are co-ed colleges) than as rejects from Barbie’s Dream House?

Oh, if only. Can you IMAGINE how much more awesome our underwear pillow fights would be?

Oh, if only. Can you IMAGINE how much more awesome our underwear pillow fights would be?

(more…)

 

No One Cares September 29, 2009

[Trigger warning]

You know, you can think and write about patriarchy and rape culture and misogyny all day long until you think you’ve really got a handle on it, and all it takes is for someone to come along and give you a swift kick in the pants for everything to go completely to pot and you have to start all over again.

See, here’s the thing. Women are trained to fear rape. A lot. It’s something that women take completely for granted – it’s expected! – but that nobody who hasn’t lived as one can ever fully understand.

Don’t walk alone at night! Don’t get drunk in public places! Don’t wear revealing clothing! Don’t take a drink from someone you don’t know! Take self-defense classes! Walk confidently! Don’t wear your hair in a ponytail! Hold your keys in your fist so as to have a makeshift stabby implement to gouge out your attacker’s eyes! Don’t park next to big vans! Don’t sleep around with a lot of boys!

Yadda yadda yadda. One of the most chilling things we can realize is that rape is every bit as common as we were told it was – if not more – but that doing all those preventative measures really doesn’t do shit. Because by telling women that as long as we follow all of those rules – ALL of them – we’ll be safe, we lull ourselves into a false sense of security. Anxious security, of course, because there’s tension between “I’m not supposed to be drinking in public” and “I’m a grown adult who should have every right to do so”, but as long as we follow all. those. rules to the letter, we’re safe. And every time we hear about somebody who was attacked, a lot of people’s first instinct is to analyze the story and see where she went wrong. Was she drinking? Was she wearing a short skirt? Did she go home with somebody she’d just met? Well, there you go! Victim-blaming helps those who aren’t victims yet get on with their lives, because as long as you can pinpoint the “rapeable” behaviors, and keep from doing them – ta-da! Of course, not coincidentally, this also feeds right into the patriarchal narrative of women being responsible for men’s sexuality and not having the right to go around living their lives without running the risk of being assaulted, but hey – as long as we can sleep at night, right? (more…)

 

A Good Patriarchy September 13, 2009

Filed under: Feminism,Meta,Pop Culture — theradicalnotion @ 9:57 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I know that the common perception of feminists is that they’re histrionic, hysterical, humorless women who enjoy “playing victim politics” because viewing themselves as martyrs is the only way to bring meaning to their empty, loveless, joyless lives.We eagerly hunt down or completely fabricate instances of psuedo-discrimination, (because nothing gets you more power than saying you don’t have any), and by “playing the gender card” and getting people to feel sorry for us, we hope to take over the world (and kill all the men lolz).

Shockingly, I don’t agree with this viewpoint (spoiler!). Obviously, I don’t agree with any of it, but one point in particular that I want to discuss is the “enjoying” bit. The whole idea that we “look” for things to get pissed about is excellently debunked by Liss at Shakesville here, and I heartily concur. I do not spend my days combing through websites and books, eavesdropping on people’s conversations, watching films frame by frame, in order to catch any minute instance of someone not being “P.C.” so that I may pounce and say “ah-ha!”. And if/when I find something, it doesn’t make me happy. (more…)

 

On Credibility

Filed under: Feminism,Meta,Relationships — theradicalnotion @ 2:53 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Okay, so here’s the thing: I am a huge nerd.

No really, I am totally that person who, at the slightest provocation, will start to go about social insects or childbirth in America or the history of syphilis, because I think it’s just that cool. Thanks to a rabid curiosity about the world, a fairly good memory, and nearly constant Internet access, I have become a veritable well of quasi-useless factoids. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and in elementary school a good portion of my interactions with classmates were them asking me for homework help.

I’ve met a lot of people, in a lot of different contexts: different jobs, different schools, different social events, and as would any person, I’ve made a variety of impressions. It would be grossly misleading to imply that everyone I’ve ever met has liked me; I’m obviously not an impartial judge but can imagine that some of my negative traits include a grating sense of self-righteousness, over-prurient sense of humor and a not insubstantial amount of social awkwardness. However, there’ve been very few interactions with people where I felt that the other person saw me as too stupid. Yes – obnoxious, annoying, boring, lazy, inconsiderate – but not slow-witted or unintelligent. Whatever people’s other feelings about me have been, I’ve managed to go through my life having my intelligence relatively unassailed by would-be doubters (or if I haven’t, I’ve obviously been too dense to notice a lot of it).

I can assert that yellow jackets are wasps rather than bees, that tetanus doesn’t actually come from rust, or that rabies is the only disease that can be prevented after its transmission without people batting an eye (except perhaps in disgust). There is, however, one thing I can do that can completely change the way a person is interacting and speaking with me, so that in a moment I go from “pleasant, acceptably well-informed person talking to me about ______” to “OMG HOW DID I EVER LISTEN TO THIS PERSON AS SHE’S CLEARLY NUTS.” That thing, of course, is to say something feminist. (more…)

 

 
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