Category Archives: Feminism

A day off

A man’s day off is his day off. A woman’s day off is time to catch up with the housework.

That quote flew past me the other day on Facebook. I can always tell what material I’m getting from Facebook and what’s from Twitter – Twitter gives me good solid reality-based journalism to work from, Facebook gives me shirt snappy stupid quotes. I thought that Twitter was for short and snappy, but people there know the joys of the link. Anyway. I digress.

This kind of junk gets fancy titles like hetero-normative gender essentialism. It has a basis in historic reality, it is true, but it reinforces gender roles in a way that should just not be happening. It should be held up as the bullshit it is, emblematic of outdated thinking and only brought up to laugh at or learn from. Instead, it’s paraded out with a knowing ‘right, ladies’ and a wink. It’s embarrassing.

I like to live in my little progressive Twitter bubble, where stuff like this is frowned upon and looked down on. But stepping out into a more real-world Facebook, with a more diverse group of people, it reminds me that we still live in the era of cave-men in some ways.

This has been a rambling way of saying that men do not exist to do man-things, and women do not exist to do chores. People of all genders relax and do chores in varying measures, and those measures should not be expected to be defined by old-fashioned gender constructs.

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Get the sand out of your vagina

One Katy Perry has made a music video that involved turning people who did not please her Egyptian Queen persona into sand. It’s a bit odd really, but not objectionable . . . oh wait.

The first suitor, bedecked in gold jewelry, approached the throne and offered a ridiculously large diamond. For reasons that I didn’t quite make out, he did not please Queen Katy, and she turned him into sand and he blew away. Still not particularly objectionable, or not to me. But to Muslims, blasphemy has occurred. One of those gold chains bore the name of Allah, and turning the name of Allah into dust is not a popular move in the Muslim world. Protests erupted, and the video was carefully censored to remove the offending bit of bling.

This kind of protest frankly baffles me. As an atheist, there isn’t any holy symbol or text to defile, so I don’t have any real parallels to help me put myself in their shoes. But I guess that the reaction to this is so pervasive and strong that it causes huge protests. Maybe it’s just a Muslim ‘thing’ that I can’t quite fathom.

Predictably, where there is Muslim outcry there is secular and Christian backlash, which can sometimes be told apart, and others not. Today, I’m guessing that what I’ve found could be from either camp. It’s a photo meme, with a screenshot of the offending video and the caption

Dear Muslims,

It’s a goddamned necklace. Get the sand out of your vaginas. What are you doing watching Katy Perry anyway?

Sincerely, Rational People.

I find this reaction a touch problematic. It says ‘the best way we can insult you is by painting you as female’. What the hell, “Rational People”? Is a chunk of nasty sexism rational? Nope, and if you don’t see that you don’t have any business calling yourself rational. Intending to demean men by giving them female characteristics is not insulting to those men, but to the half of the world that are female. There are more women than there are Muslims, and you’re telling every one of them that their femaleness is just worthy as an insult. For shame.

This kind of thing is rife in secularist/atheist/rationalist/etc communities. They get so wrapped up in pulling down the walls of theism that other issues are allowed to creep in unchallenged. If they’re not core atheist/anti-theist concerns, then they’re not given the time of day.

The world of atheism and related fields is still one dominated by straight white men. That tends to mean that there’s not much time for women, or people of color, or LGBT/queer people. That’s changing slowly, but what we could do with in the mean time is for straight white men to start thinking a wee bit about issues outside their immediate environs. They don’t need to be feminist scholars, but they need to start noticing the small ways they denigrate and invalidate the groups pushed out to the margins of the white male world. Little changes would make quite the difference.

So, “Rational People”, hold fire on making your meme photos for a wee while, and think about the groups that should matter to you that you might be damaging. And if you don’t think it’s important to respect women as much as you respect men, then there’s probably wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, and friends that would all like to have a wee chat.

I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry . . . because I’m a horrible person.

An article crawled its way into my online life this afternoon (also, my browser doesn’t think that ‘online’ is a word. Irony?). It was a rather unpleasant article, with the primary purpose of making the author (and people like her) feel superior, and anyone who’s made different choices in life feel unworthy.

The writer makes the claim that marriage and motherhood are not things to be celebrate, because they’re ‘super-easy’. Anyone can do them, she says, so why should they be celebrated? She bewails the lack of celebrations for promotions, landing dream jobs, backpacking through Asia (ignoring completely that people have parties all the time for such achievements. Apparently if it’s not an institution going back generations it just doesn’t count) She wants to celebrate only the extraordinary, because the ordinary, the average, don’t deserve it.

She turns to denigrating housewives in particular, claiming that what they do is essentially worthless. “Men don’t care to “manage a household.” They aren’t conditioned to think stupid things like that are “important.”” . . . I do wonder who does her cooking and cleaning.

The devaluation of the ordinary in favor of the extraordinary is not right. Extraordinary things should be celebrated, because they are extraordinary. No-one in their right mind thinks that special things should not be celebrated. But apparently some think that ordinary people don’t deserve to celebrate the things that are important and life-changing to them. That’s a bit nasty and a bit rude really. Ordinary people are just as entitled to celebrate the significant things in their lives, and just because some snooty high-flyer believes that what they do has no value, it doesn’t make their big moments any less special.

Beating up on the wife and mother has one major drawback – we need them. We need women having babies to continue existing. I have no idea how she thinks that would happen in her perfect world of high-achievers. Stork theory revisited? Moving on.

Feminism is not pouring derision on other women for their life choices. When someone writes an article like that, it sets feminism back a step. It makes the ideals of equality and tolerance look frayed at the edges. Women beating other women down is cruel, and it’s counterproductive. Not everyone is going to be a CEO, or a chairman, or the head of marketing at Apple. It’s impossible. There have to be average people in order for there to be anyone above average. And putting down all the people that support a high-flyer is not nice. Horrible even.