The Fem Spot

All the world is a sandbox

Posted in Feminist Theory, queer theory by femspotter on July 24, 2008

July 24, 2008

I resent post-feminists. Really, they should be called anti-feminists. I don’t like people saying there’s no need for a feminist movement anymore. It’s just not true.

If you insist, you can be critical of the third wave of feminism because it lacks a central goal. The first wave yielded suffrage and the second got us equal opportunities in the workplace and abolished legal sex discrimination…allegedly. But the reason that we have a third wave of feminism is because the second wave didn’t finish it up. And while I am grateful for “equal opportunities” at work and laws that punish sex discrimination, I know there’s still more to do.

The goal of third wave feminism, however ambiguous, is to make the world a place where women can acheive happiness in whatever form it may come. If you object to calling feminism as it exists today a “movement” or even a “wave,” I’ll oblige and call it…er…a “party.”

And at this party, I’m not asked to leave anything at the door. I don’t give up my girlish whims when declaring my feminist ideals. I’m married…to a man. I have men friends. But when I look around and see how some men are treating some women, I know that I am right to be a feminist. (It has perhaps become a dirty word, like liberal…I’m that too.) Ultimately, I just want women – all women – to be happy, bra or no bra.

Case in point: CNN.com just posted an article about sexual assault on American female troops. See?

It starts when we’re young. Little boys often resent the little girls who can run just as fast as, if not a bit faster than, they can. Some boys believe that they’ve inherited the Earth. They have a role to play – a gender role – and that involves them always being stronger, faster and smarter than girls. That means that little girls are supposed to be smaller, softer and more ignorant than boys. And little gay boys…well, the Earthlords don’t quite know what to do about them.

So the arrogant little straight boys set up shop in the sandbox on the playground, around which they build a feeble fortress that signals “keep out” better than it poses a physical barrier. Bucket of sand after bucket of sand are stacked at the box’s approaches, and little girls and little gay boys know that they aren’t welcome.

Well, I would have none of that, I imagine. I can picture me (a tall, chubby bruiser of a girl) sauntering up to the fortress and slamming a fist into the sand wall, sending shards of course dirt everywhere…into their eyes and up their noses. It makes them cry. I shattered that gender barrier in more ways than one.

But wait! I lie. Not about being a big little girl, but about shattering the wall. I desperately wanted to play in the sandbox but they wouldn’t let me in. I didn’t make them let me in, and I didn’t make them cry. I cried. I ran away.

Because I did – because many little girls ran away – the sandbox got bigger and bigger over the years until it contained practically the whole world. And we feminists are starting from scratch as adults, trying to shatter the gender roles, while the next generation of Earthlords is conquering new sandboxes and declaring it a straight boys’ world.

Feminism will always be a necessary tedium, whatever the post-feminists say.

The United States military is one such expanded sandbox that requires the attention of the feminists. It has kept the fortress intact for many years, unwilling to evaluate the quality of life for female soldiers. The article states: “But the large number of women serving today in Iraq and Afghanistan is forcing the military and Department of Veterans Affairs to more aggressively address (sexual assault and harassment).”

This begs the question: why weren’t they addressing it before?

It’s not enough that one woman claims to have been raped or abused by a fellow soldier, it must be many. So now we have: “Of the female veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who have walked into a VA facility, 15 percent have screened positive for military sexual trauma.” And: “In January, the VA opened its 16th inpatient ward specializing in treating victims of military sexual trauma.”

Did you know this? I didn’t know this. Our military keeps the sand walls strong and high so nobody can peek.

The article tells the stories of a woman harassed by a U.S. soldier – that would be like “friendly fire” – and one who was raped by Iraqi enemies. All told, the 2006-07 fiscal year saw 131 reported rapes and assaults in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that’s probably less than the actual number of occurrences. A 2006 military survey found that of those women surveyed who indicated they had experienced “unwanted sexual conduct,” only 20 percent said they reported it.

I guess it really doesn’t matter what the final tally is.

It doesn’t matter because one rape is too many!

We get it. The Earthlords don’t want us in their sandbox, and they sure as shit don’t want us in their military, on their police force, in their law firms or at their construction sites. The problem is that, now that they know how to wield their anatomical differences (i.e. superior physical strength, penis, and raw testosterone) to do maximum damage, they’ve decided to hurt and abuse those women who encroach on their play space. And that’s not to mention what they do to gay men and women, which is in some cases worse: the violence against Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena resulted in their deaths. In the case of Shepard, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney didn’t want Matthew in their bar. And as for Teena, John Lotter and Marvin Nissen didn’t want Brandon (nee Teena) in their (read: men’s) pants.

Is it possible to identify the factors that make little boys point and shoot imaginary guns before they’ve ever seen one on television? My brother, the psychologist, has explained to me that the point and shoot mechanism is a display of aggression common to both sexes in the first years of life. “Give a group of kids one toy, and they’ll either share it or fight over it,” he says. But more often, they fight.

On the playground, kids are prone to organize themselves according to their relative levels of aggression. It’s called “social stratification.” They have a caste system, but instead of basing their peer assessments on money or beauty, they look out for and align themselves with kids wielding the same level of aggression. And psychologists haven’t yet finalized the answer to the question: Is it nurture or nature? This means that they haven’t decided whether kids behave as they’ve observed their parents do, or in a way that their minds and bodies compel them to.

It’s probably a little bit of each. But this makes it almost impossible to solve. Trying to get the Earthlords to let us lowly girls into the sandbox is like trying to get an egg inside a bottle: you have to change the climate. Heat in the bottle reduces the pressure inside it enough to let the egg slide through an opening that was previously too small.

So that means that the weaker caste should throw firecrackers into the sand fortress.

Yeah…more violence! Won’t that solve everything?

No, it won’t. The Earthlords will just build higher and stronger walls of sand.

And that’s why we still need a feminist…party.

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