The Radical Notion

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

No Girls Allowed, Part 1 April 30, 2009

My female readers will surely be familiar with the following scenario: you’re reading something, preferably nonfiction and not very formal, so that the author frequently addresses the reader to explain things, joke around, relate anecdotes, etc. Obviously you, the reader, knows that said author has probably never met you in his life (and it is a ‘he’ in this case), but nevertheless, while reading the book it’s expected that you and the author will form something of a rapport – an imaginary relationship, if you will – wherein the author is relating facts or a story to you and you’re indulging him because you find the subject matter and his way of relating it interesting.

Most of the time, it’s also assumed that anyone with an open mind and interest in the book topic would be welcome to read the book – and ostensibly, that’s true. I’m sure most book authors – certainly the authors of the books I read – are happy to get all the readers they can. Even if royalties and publicity were not motivating them, I want authors of things I read to have at least a nominal commitment to empathy and openness, with a distinct lack of hate or hang-ups vis-a-vis any particular group. There are plenty of authors who wouldn’t feel that way, but I try not to read things they write.

So. You’re happily zipping along, learning new things, wrapped up in the narrative, and then – BAM! All of a sudden the illusion that the author was speaking just to you, or had you in mind at all when he was writing this, is gone. The author has, completely unintentionally, revealed that the only readers he had in mind when writing this book were people like him – in short, people who were straight males. It’s not his fault, really – one of the hallmarks of privilege is that the privileged group is viewed as the default. In a joke, it’s never a woman who walks into a bar – unless, that is, the joke revolves around her being a woman. The majority of characters in books, movies, TV are men – unless there’s a reason for them to be female (like a love interest or to act as a gendered foil to a main character). And so on.

One of the most common ways that an author can make me acutely aware of my own lack of male privilege is by invoking our old friend, the male gaze. This excludes female readers in two possible ways:

  1. It establishes the idea that everyone views women  – and ONLY women – as sexually attractive and appealing beings. Of course, there are many women who are attracted to other women, but a good deal more are not, and as we’ll see later, I think it’s pretty clear that these authors are not directing their words toward queer women.
  2. Much more insidiously, it communicates the message that a woman’s primary value is dependent on her physical appearance. If she’s attractive, than she’s wonderful and deserving of rhapsodic waxings-on about her breasts and thighs and rosy cheeks (she should be honored!). If she’s unattractive (to the writer, of course), then she is an affront to humanity who should be stamped out , mocked, or at the very least locked away where no one can see her. By forever bringing up the topic of how a female character, celebrity, or other personage appeals to the author sexually, he unwittingly reveals his subconscious belief that women exist primarily for male consumption.

Women who are not sexually interested in other women get hit with a double whammy here, but anyone who doesn’t fit the template of “straight male” gets some shrapnel. Anyone who isn’t attracted to women (for example, gay men) suffers from number 1, and anyone who identifies as female is slapped with number 2. As one of the aforementioned double-hitters, I feel confident in saying that number two is much worse. Better to be ignored than actively belittled.

Want to see some examples of what I’m talking about? I know you do. Here are just a few of the ones that have given me a psychological hypnagogic jerk in the past couple of months. (more…)

 

Guest Post: Science Rage April 9, 2009

Filed under: Guest Post,Science — theradicalnotion @ 11:26 pm
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Today we have a special occasion: a guest post! This post is by my friend who chooses to go by Boku-Chan; she is a college senior majoring in computer science who plans to go to graduate school in Indiana next year. She’s also a chinchilla owner, magnificently angry feminist, and a generally fascinating personage. Her post today is on a subject near and dear to my heart, but one I don’t get to write about very frequently: science.

I’ve been having some private rage issues in the last two days, but it’s gotten a lot better since I’ve decided on a grad school and gotten some thesis work done and actually talked to my advisor. But today something perked up my latent rage: science.

Not rage about science, of course, as science is a wonderful thing, but someone’s misunderstanding of the purpose of scientific research. This blog, while it seems to be generally an okay feminist blog, has a post about stem-cell therapy entitled “If it’s already broke, don’t break it more”. (more…)

 

I* Hate My State April 8, 2009

Filed under: Politics,Republicans,Same-Sex Marriage — theradicalnotion @ 3:21 pm
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04/08/2009

‘Traditionalist’ Rhode Island Gov Joins Anti-Gay Marriage Campaign

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A group against gay marriage has a very prominent politician in its corner. Gov. Donald Carcieri and his wife, Sue, joined the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Organization for Marriage Wednesday morning at the State House as it launched its new media campaign.

This, my dear friends, is why I predict that Rhode Island will be the last of the New England states to legalize gay marriage. Because a large portion of the state’s population has no problem with this shit. A lot of people that I went to school with wholeheartedly agree, and I’m sure they’re welcoming this new and novel approach to treating minorities like crap. RI is odd in that it’s stalwartly blue, but fairly anti-gay, anti-choice, etc. in its legislature and in the cultural zeitgeist. (more…)

 

This just in… April 7, 2009

Filed under: LGBT rights,Politics,Republicans,Same-Sex Marriage — theradicalnotion @ 11:45 am
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The Vermont legislature has overriden Governor Douglas’ veto of the same-sex marriage bill passed last Thursday. The Senate passed it 23-5 and the House just squeaked through, approving it 100-49. As compared to Iowa’s legalization (just 4 days ago!!!) this is less groundbreaking in that Vermont is a stereotypically hippie-dippie state unlike steadfast, corn-fed, All-American Iowa, but this is revolutionary in a different sense – this is the first instance in which same-sex marriage has been legalized through the legislature rather than the courts, indicating widespread popular support. The right wing can’t whine about “activist judges” this time*. And they actually overrode the governor! HAH! Way to stick it to him. (more…)

 

Body Hair In Commercials April 6, 2009

As apparently body hair is my bête noir, please allow me to share with you three FOUR recent commercials that dealt with the PHENOMENON that adults grow hair on their body on places other than their scalp and their perfectly arched eyebrows.

This first one is by Boost Mobile (via); the thesis of the commercial seems to be that their product is less “wrong” than others. The main character in the commercial says that her luxurious armpit is “not wrong”, but it’s ambiguous as to whether or not we are supposed to take that at face value (she’s right, body hair isn’t wrong!) or laugh at her (dude, her armpit hair’s three feet long! WTF?). In any case, insinuating that if women were to let their body hair grow, it would be even more rampant and uncontrollable than that of men is both idiotic* and does nothing to stop the perception that the only thing that stands between a woman and utter bestial hideousness is a Schick.

Speaking of which (via)… (more…)

 

Blogroll Updated

Filed under: Meta — theradicalnotion @ 1:06 am

I realized that a lot of my friends actually look at the links posted on the right-hand side over there, and as such, I decided that it was incumbent upon me to update the list with even more Links of Awesomeness™. There’s new ones in every category, so click with impunity!

 

Derailing For Dummies April 5, 2009

Filed under: Feminist Blogosphere — theradicalnotion @ 9:35 pm
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Just updated the “Commenting Policy” page to include this new link: “Derailing For Dummies” (via).

From the website:

You know how it is.  You’re enjoying yourself, kicking back and relaxing at the pub or maybe at the library; or maybe you’re in class or just casually surfing the internet, indulging in a little conversation. The topic of the conversation is about a pertinent contemporary issue, probably something to do with a group of people who fall outside your realm of experience and identity. They’re also probably fairly heavily discriminated against – or so they claim.
The thing is, you’re having a good time, sharing your knowledge about these people and their issues. This knowledge is incontrovertible – it’s been backed up in media representation, books, research and lots and lots of historical events, also your own unassailable sense of being right.

Yet all of a sudden something happens to put a dampener on your sharing of your enviable intellect and incomparable capacity to fully perceive and understand All Things. It’s someone who belongs to the group of people you’re discussing and they’re Not Very Happy with you. Apparently, they claim, you’ve got it all wrong and they’re offended about that.  They might be a person of colour, or a queer person. Maybe they’re a woman, or a person with disability. They could even be a trans person or a sex worker. The point is they’re trying to tell you they know better than you about their issues and you know that’s just plain wrong. How could you be wrong? (more…)