The Radical Notion

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

Dr. George Tiller, 1941-2009 June 3, 2009

I know I’m kind of a day late and an hour short on this story, but it’s taken me a couple of days to process. For those of you who have been living under a rock with only sporadic Internet access, Dr. George Tiller, a doctor at the Women’s Health Care clinic in Wichita, Kansas, was murdered in his church on Sunday. As Cristina Page, author of one of my favorite books, writes in an editorial for the Huffington Post, this is the first casualty in the near-inevitable upsurge in domestic terrorism directed at abortion providers in the United States since Barack Obama’s election. Abortion clinics have already experienced huge increases in harassing phone calls (1401 in four months versus 396 in a year in the Bush administration), blockades, stalking, and other tried-and-true tactics that the anti-choice movement uses to intimidate women seeking abortions and those who would provide them.

When I first heard the news on Sunday, I was surprised but not shocked – coming as it does on the heels of the DHS report on the growing danger of right-wing extremism in the country, I had braced myself for the worst. I was angry, certainly, and sad in an abstract way, as one is whenever hearing about someone who’s died, but my attention was mostly focused on monitoring the maelstrom in the progressive blogosphere. I read lots of things I hadn’t known about abortion availability, and the extent to which anti-choice activists will go to get their way, and became increasingly outraged. As I think I have made clear, I feel very strongly that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy is paramount, and those that would campaign to remove it from her get on my shitlist right quick. I started collecting and bookmarking and compiling posts, planning one of my own on the matter. One thing that I noticed in several posts (such as this excellent one from Shakesville) was the mention of personal sorrow on the author’s part – something that I couldn’t really identify with. I mean, I was super-pissed, but heartbroken? Weeping? Not really. It’s not that I’m heartless – on the contrary, I’ve been known to bawl during Disney movies and Buffy season finales without reservation – but I just didn’t feel personally affected by the event. There were some vigils held across the country last night, and I could have gotten to one very easily, but I just didn’t think I’d fit in. I wanted statistics and scathing analysis, not some pseudoreligious sobfest. What would be the point? So I stayed home, and I read some more. (more…)

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To say “I’m Sorry” would be a lie… June 1, 2009

Filed under: Relationships,Teh Interwebs — theradicalnotion @ 5:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

So, I’ve been puttering around the Interwebs, as is my wont, and getting inspiration for all sorts of TRN-worthy blog posts, but this afternoon I got distracted and started wandering around Askmen.com. I’m not linking, both because you can find it if you want to and because honestly, I think the world has enough people who read it already. For those not in the know, AskMen is a site for men, by men, and about men’s problems (namely, dealing with women). And I do mean dealing with them  – there are advice columns in which “Doc Love” tells you how to properly manipulate a woman into staying with you, complete with Important Capitalized Terms and percentages and frequent references to “Psych majors” using language and terms that I, a Psych major, have never heard in an academic setting. There are mentions of “Womanese” and “the fact that women do 90% of the dumping” and “every woman has power over every man, ever, and you just don’t know it” and “if these tips don’t work for your woman, she’s clinically insane. Get out and head for the hills!” and “would you let your woman have an abortion?” and before I get all ranty, let me just cut myself off and say that several blogs could be written with the sole purpose of describing the shittiness of this website. But I’m a glutton for punishment, so I read some articles, alternately cackling and sighing, and then decided to really grab the bull by the balls and search for the money word. (more…)

 

Trolly Fun May 14, 2009

Well, it’s finals season, and I don’t have the time or energy to make any posts for the next week or so. But! I am always thinking of my loyal readers, so I thought I’d share with you the latest trolly comments I’ve received. Apparently, my troll makes a habit of going onto liberal blogs and acting like a douchenozzle, as s/he crashed a thread about homophobic slurs here in March. I don’t exactly know how s/he found my humble little corner of the Internet, but I’m honored and proud to host hir. Unfortunately, as can be read in my commenting policy, I have a low tolerance for misogyny, illogical arguments, and just plain asshattishness, so I am forced to not approve “KillCommies” ‘ comments. Sadface. However, I would love to share them with you, in case people didn’t believe that female bloggers are harassed more frequently and angrily online.

Unfortunately, as I do not have the time to write an actual post, I really don’t have time to feed the troll and get my jollies on – not that it would make any difference, as this one is clearly not playing with a full deck of cards, and is just super-super pissed at all the wimminz and their voting and their pants-wearing and their sheer audacity of writing a blog. But! That doesn’t mean I can’t post the comments myself :). (more…)

 

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…)

 

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…)

 

Our Fearless Leader Speaks (about some things) April 5, 2009

Okay, so Obama has actually made a public statement about that law that stripped away women’s rights in Afghanistan, publicly condemning it while at the G20 conference (via).

I’m glad that he took a firm stance on women’s rights being human rights, and an important thing regardless of one’s culture or religion; only time will tell if his speaking out against the law will actually do any good. Karzai, for his part, has promised to review the law, but to me it doesn’t sound like he’s planning on actually changing anything rather than attempting to cover his ass (emphasis mine).

Karzai did not mention Article 132 [the infamous “marital rape clause”] during a news conference Saturday. But he said he had studied the law earlier in the day and that “I don’t see any problems with it.”

He complained that Western media outlets had mistranslated it [which would imply that the women’s rights issues were exaggerated, except…]. He read an article of the law during the news conference that appears to restrict Shiite women’s right to leave their homes, though Karzai underscored a provision that allows women to leave in emergencies.

Call me a militant feminazi, but if the least misogynistic thing you can say about your new law is that it lets women leave the house when it’s on fire, you’re doing it wrong. (more…)

 

I am not…a member of the Family ‘Felidae’ January 26, 2009

I am not a cat. When I have an argument or physical altercation with another woman, it is not a catfight. It is not sexy or funny any more than it would be if two men were fighting, or a man and a woman. If I say angry words to another woman, it is not an occasion to say “meow” or to hiss. Maureen Dowd, irksome though she may be, is not “much better at meowing at her own side”, nor does she have “cat-wit”. If a woman or girl of any age is being petty or mean-spirited, she is not being “catty”. If I get a new boyfriend or lover (or get him to make a commitment), I am not “sinking my claws into him”, nor am I entrapping him as one would do prey. (more…)