The Fem Spot

Privilege, shmivilege

Posted in Feminist Theory, Personal Essays by femspotter on May 12, 2010

May 12, 2010

Over the past two years as I have blogged about my feminist concerns and read those of others, I have become increasingly wary of the word “privilege.” It gets wielded an awful lot in feminist circles, most commonly attached to the word “male.” “Male privilege” is the go-to term when a feminist doesn’t have a fact-based argument to oppose one made by a man, feminist or otherwise. “Oh, there you go inflicting your male privilege on us,” is not uncommon to read in the feminist blogosphere. (Incidentally, for making this observation, I shall now endure scrutiny from other feminists who will call me an “MRA” – Men’s Rights Activist.)

I am not interested in eroding the rights of men; merely enhancing the rights of women.

I was asked to leave one feminist blog and have been blocked from two threads on another. How did this happen? I thought we all wanted the same things. In each case, it seems that two concepts of privilege became wedge issues between me – strange, proactive feminist that I am – and others: male privilege and United States privilege. Let’s define privilege for clarity’s sake:

priv·i·lege

a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most

I find that privilege is something that is often unique to each individual, unless you’re talking about privileges granted a class or faction under the law. For instance: I am privileged to give $20 to this charity, while he is privileged to give only $15 because he makes less money than I do.

In the first case, I accused a blogger of “hating men.” She spammed me. Okay. It wasn’t good for me to stay there anyway. I had just learned I was pregnant and had simultaneously observed some very negative attitudes about motherhood in that arena. Additionally, the group of radical feminists who frequented that blog seemed convinced that transsexuals (male to female) are ruining feminism for ciswomen (born women). I found this hateful and counterproductive to the feminist cause. One particular argument back and forth consisted of a “you have more privilege than I have” war, which is ultimately futile because it’s simply impossible to prove which group (cis or non-cis) has more privilege than the other; it’s subjective. The transsexual women were arguing that to be cis is to be privileged, while the ciswomen were arguing that transsexual women wield leftover male privilege from before surgery. The ciswomen demanded that transwomen stay out of women’s public restrooms because they are a rape threat to women with original vaginas. And they also claimed that being a born woman comes with no privileges in and of itself, hence the constant use of the term male privilege. (I have decided that motherhood is the ultimate privilege of women; and even if one can’t physically give birth, serving as a mother – step-, caregiver, etc. – is a privilege of our sex because it is an endeared and exalted position amongst our class. I never felt more empowered as a woman than the day I took my first pre-natal yoga class with a group of mothers-to-be. We are goddesses!) I think that being a feminist and also hating being a woman cannot coexist in one body. Ergo, you either learn to love your womanhood, or you give up your claim to feminism. This is one reason I welcome transwomen into the fold: hey, you want to be a woman, more power to ya!

All of this warring over privilege read as completely absurd to me and I found myself crying several times because of the lack of tolerance being executed by the so-called radical feminists writing into that blog. Hate, hate, hate… When the moderator sent me an email and asked me to leave, I complied without hesitation, especially considering the contradiction: she had spammed me on a thread for accusing her of misandry, and yet her blog’s sub headline is “a nice cool sip of misandry, on a hot day” and she had confessed in one thread (emphasis supplied):

frankly, i think that if my partner and i ever broke up, that i would probably not be able to be with another man due to my increasingly “radical” feminist beliefs. we have both changed over the years and are still compatible for the most part, and he also hates men which is to his credit! he knows what i mean when i say that men, as a group, suck. he doesnt take it personally. he is also a first-generation american raised in abject poverty so has more compassion and didnt/doesnt have a lot of the privileges normally associated with white men. which works for me, as i dont think i could tolerate most “normal” (entitled) men anymore. but i am pretty much resolved to having him has my last male partner, no matter what happens to him, or to me, or to us as a couple in the future.

I fully respect this statement as something one ruminates about during a voyage of self discovery. I do that here in my space and am entitled to do so as she is in her space. What’s of particular interest to me about this revelation – aside from the fact that it proves I am right about this blogger hating men – is the use of the concept of privilege to justify worth. “Men, as a group, suck,” she claims, but she exempts her partner because he has the least amount of male privilege that men inherently come with because of his lowly economic status, and thus has greater human worth. Because this group believes that cis womanhood contains no privilege over manhood, to them, even a man suffering economically, physically, socially, mentally, etc. still has more inherent privilege than does any woman, even the most economically, physically, socially or mentally elite woman.  And because women lack privilege, they have greater worth than men. It’s an interesting theory, but I reject its practical usage because it is just that: a theory. It makes assumptions about personal goodness based on wealth; and I’m sure we can all agree that poor people aren’t inadvertently good and giving to others without conscious intent just as wealthy people aren’t heartless by default. I believe that theories such as this keep healthy, happy women from helping women who are less fortunate. More than a few times, I witnessed radical feminists on this blog declaring that it is the job of men to fix the world for women because women have no real power/privilege (paraphrase). I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to wait for men to rescue me and other women from any place of abuse or subjugation. Men really don’t have as great an incentive to “rescue” women, as a class, as I do.

That’s the first banning from a feminist forum I endured. I’m intrigued by it and it’s good to vent now, but ultimately, this experience did not damage me. I’m no victim, but I have carried around a lot of anger about my second negative online experience in the feminist blogosphere (as follows), and that isn’t good for me – especially pregnant me.

In my ignorance, I didn’t realize that many disabled people don’t like the use of the term “healthy” because they think it is a judgment upon them: they can’t be healthy by certain standards because of their disabilities. So when I commented on a blog post on another site – a heavy traffic site to boot – about what’s wrong with skinny, and suggested that a healthy standard rather than a too skinny standard in Hollywood would benefit the whole of American, and perhaps international, womanhood, I was surprised to find myself accused of ableism. Another commenter and I tried to explain that “healthy” for our purposes simply meant not starving to fit the standard of beauty, but the damage was done. One writer even accused me of personally attacking her because she is very thin and cannot gain weight; and I must have responded at least three times that if she’s not starving herself she’s not perpetuating a negative standard for women. It got very hostile over there even though I had the best of intentions, as did others, I’m sure.

An insult like “you’re an MRA” is easy enough to laugh at. It’s ridiculous. But, considering my professional status as a special needs writer, the accusation that I am ableist hit me pretty hard, especially since I didn’t know if it were true, entirely or in part. There are many schools of thought on this: all able-bodied people are ableist until they become disabled; all people, disabled or otherwise, should try to make healthy choices to maximize health whenever possible (don’t smoke, don’t eat fatty foods in excess, etc.); the idea of “health” is a judgment, and more. Somehow, even with the best of intentions, I had come across as prejudiced against the disabled…and I know that to be untrue even though I am still struggling to understand the various approaches to the concept of health. I did a lot of soul-searching to make sure I was earnest in my commenting. I researched heavily the “healthy” debate and brought my findings to my boss. This experience was one to learn from: not because the accusers were right and I was wrong, but because I was not making my points clearly and instead was causing offense.

I began to get angry in this second feminist space when the thin woman wrote:

I also made the mistake of reading part of your blog. Apparently you also believe women who get raped while drunk are at least partly responsible for getting raped. Quite nice. Not only are women responsible for having eating disorders, but we’re responsible for men committing sexual violence against us.

Alright, that fact that she claimed to have read “part of” my blog should have red flagged for me right there. But I got really angry at being misrepresented yet again by this same poster. I wrote in to defend myself:

You are totally wrong again about me with regard to rape. TOTALLY! And I’ll thank you to STOP misrepresenting me. I do not believe that a woman who gets raped is ever at fault for her rape. EVER. I do believe in telling young women to avoid becoming intoxicated in environments where they are with men they do not know. I do tell the young women I know to protect themselves. This is not equivalent to telling women it’s their fault. Getting drunk in an unsafe environment is a mistake I made many times in college. And I repeat for the last time: women are not to blame for their eating disorders, only for starving by choice to fit the rigid standard of beauty our planet upholds, as I have done (starve) as well. I am not some sanctimonious asshole who sits in front of a computer screen without experience and blames women for all of our woes. I am a real woman with real issues and real ideas. If you misunderstand them because I have been unable to express myself clearly, try asking me questions about them rather than condemning me.

However, this comment was never published. I wrote to the moderators asking them to publish it. I received no response. Again, I question the relevance of the “feminist” label if you are prone to silencing women in feminist forums.

In another thread, “Dear USians on the Internet,” one of the moderators banned me for making a tone argument. I think that means that I dared to infer tone from posted comments. (Shrug.) But this didn’t happen until the U.S. privilege debate began. The post was a complaint from an Australian feminist about how (some) Americans are rude to foreigners online – and “USian” is apparently the politically correct term per this writer because the U.S. has robbed other (North and South) American nations like Mexico and Canada of the “American” designation; personally, I didn’t realize Canadians for instance were desperate to be called American and I had always taken for granted that we call ourselves Americans in the U.S. because the word America actually appears in our country’s name (U.S. of A.). I’m sure some Americans are very rude online. But what shocked me about this, especially juxtaposed next to the skinny thread, was how offended the writer of the post was when comments came in complaining about how closed-minded this post was. Were we possibly just in the middle of a misunderstanding again, jumping to conclusions about people’s beliefs rather than asking them to clarify them?

ME: I just think this kind of negative posting leads to a mob/ganging up commenting spree. We all have valid perspectives. We all have good intentions, don’t we? Sometimes we misunderstand each other. But we shouldn’t be hateful in this forum, which, as I understood it when it was recommended to me, is a safe place to discuss women’s issues and concerns.

THIRD PARTY: Also, it’s amazing how people come out of the woodwork to complain about privileged folks being stereotyped/spoken down to/condescended to/etc. when there is never the same volume of reaction to nonprivileged folks being treated the same. It is an outrage for the privileged person to be given an ounce of the same treatment that they drench nonprivileged people with every single day.

ME: “people come out of the woodwork to complain about privileged folks being stereotyped/spoken down to/condescended to/etc. ” (Third Party), not all Americans are privileged folks and their ignorant declarations on the Internet may result from their lack of financial or educational privilege.

THIRD PARTY: Actually, yes, if you are from the US, you have a privilege. US privilege.

What I make of this privilege argument is the same as what I make of the other: all men of all levels in the socioeconomic structure in which they live have more inherent privilege than all women, and likewise all Americans of all levels in the American socioeconomic structure have more inherent privilege than all or most other countries on Earth. This reeks of ignorance and prejudice in both cases. While I can somewhat wrap my mind around and even agree with the male vs. female assessment of privilege because it is universal and historically true that men have ruled the world – even though, as I’ve written, I think this argument is problematic and useless beyond academia; I need to make a very important distinction between classifying men and women as distinct collectives versus classifying Americans as a collective: there is way too much diversity involved amongst designated “USians” to simply blanket us with possessing a U.S. privilege. For starters, the statistic that 25 – 40,000 people die in the U.S. every year simply from lack of health insurance, which was thrown about during the healthcare reform debates of 2009, already divides us into strikingly different levels of privilege: the insured (read: privileged to receive medical care as needed and desired) and the uninsured (read: not privileged to receive medical care as needed). So when we’re talking about health and the right to live one’s life, already we’ve come to a point where we can clearly state that not all Americans possess “U.S. privilege.” Another example: if you’re a fisherman working in the Gulf of Mexico, your livelihood has just been wiped out for perhaps years by the recent oil spill. Where’s your U.S. privilege now? (Probably, in the same place as that of the Katrina victims still residing in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers: up the asses of our wealthiest one percent!)

Speaking of healthcare, you might be surprised to know that American expectant mothers such as myself also find themselves disadvantaged below other countries when it comes to our motherhood privilege. According to Save the Children, the U.S. ranks as only the 28th best place on Earth in which to be a mother:

Why doesn’t the United States do better in the rankings?
The United States ranked 28th this year based on several factors:
•• One of the key indicators used to calculate well-being for mothers is lifetime risk of maternal death. The United States’ rate for maternal mortality is 1 in 4,800 – one of the highest in the developed world. Thirty-five out of 43 developed countries performed better than the United States on this indicator, including all the Western, Northern and Southern European countries (except Estonia and Albania) as well as Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine. A woman in the Unites States is more than five times as likely as a woman in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece or Italy to die from pregnancy-related causes in her lifetime and her risk of maternal death is nearly 10-fold that of a woman in Ireland.
•• Similarly, the United States does not do as well as many other countries with regard to under-5 mortality. The U.S. under-5 mortality rate is 8 per 1,000 births. This is on par with rates in Slovakia and Montenegro. Thirty-eight countries performed better than the U.S. on this indicator. At this rate, a child in the U.S. is more than twice as likely as a child in Finland, Iceland, Sweden or Singapore to die before his or her fifth birthday.
•• Only 61 percent of children in the United States are enrolled in preschool – making it the seventh lowest country in the developed world on this indicator.
•• The United States has the least generous maternity leave policy – both in terms of duration and percent of wages paid – of any wealthy nation.
•• The United States is also lagging behind with regard to the political status of women. Only 17 percent of seats in the House of Representatives are held by women, compared to 46 percent of seats in Sweden and 43 percent in Iceland.

Now, I’ll admit that perhaps the only reason Save the Children bothered to explain why the U.S. came in as low as it did is because we have a great public relations machine at work: the U.S. and yes! certain “USians” claim that the U.S. is a superpower, militarily, socioeconomically, etc. This is a bit of a fraud: image conquering truth for all the world to witness. As an American mother-to-be, I confess that I am hiring birthing help (a doula) outside of the health insurance network (to the tune of $1,400) to help avoid many of the surgical impositions placed on women during childbirth automatically by the Western medical establishment; I am not receiving any maternity leave pay during my “disability” leave from work, though I am entitled to collect disability insurance for up to six weeks; and my job is not protected by federal law, which means that my company can choose to downsize me during my absence, putting me in the position of having to find a new job and raise a newborn baby simultaneously.

Now, before you send me hate mail about what a big, whiny baby I am – a white “USian” with truckloads of socioeconomic privilege, know this: I know I’m privileged. I don’t claim to be less privileged than Afghan or African women, etc. I don’t spend much time making the comparison because I think it’s a useless comparison to make. I had a great education – apart from an appalling lack of herstory, always enough food and a roof over my head, loving support from family and friends, opportunities to work and earn my living as well as give some of it away to charities I am compassionate toward, and access to medical care at every stage of my life. I’m not complaining about labels of privilege being forced upon me; I am complaining that some people would try and force the assumption of my privilege onto others. Just because I am a privileged American doesn’t mean that ALL Americans are privileged. I am perhaps one of the last of a dying breed: the American middle class. So, when Save the Children, decides that Norway is the best place on Earth to be a mother, I don’t immediately assume that all Norwegian mothers have Norway privilege… I just strongly consider moving there. (Hey, I’m no patriot! I too think the U.S. at large is full of itself.) That doesn’t mean, however, that hating the U.S. or any of its ill-mannered online representatives is what should pass for feminism in the blogosphere.

It is undeniably safe to use the term privilege when you are speaking about yourself; but beyond that you run the risk of making a lot of assumptions and those assumptions can often lead to prejudicial treatment of others. I wonder if you’ll agree with me that the greatest privilege that a person can ever experience is knowing the value of him- or herself to be equal to that of others. And the real value of feminism is that it can ensure that every woman knows her worth and her right to a happy life – that she is entitled to human egalitarian privilege, which is greater than the rights known by other forms of life; not by begrudgingly taking away the rights of others – of men and transsexuals or members of other races or dwellers of other countries, etc. – but by raising up the wonderful aspects of her self and her femaleness, those aspects that make her a valuable member of collective society: her motherhood, her sisterhood and her ability to love and care for others.

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30 Responses

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  1. faemom said, on May 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Fascintating post. I never liked debating privilege because it is subjective. It’s painting a group of people alike. To say all men have male priviledge is to forget that being poor or disabled or a different race would effect those “privlieges.” And I had no idea there was a US privilege. Developed country privilege, but not US privilege

    • femspotter said, on May 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm

      I don’t know if this person was just being snarky or if people actually use this term “U.S. Privilege” all over the world. I’ve been to Europe and Mexico and never encountered any U.S. hatred that I can recall, although maybe people are good at hiding it. When I worked in France one summer, I didn’t encounter it and I was not a tourist businesses had to suck up to. (Shrug.)

      I just keep thinking about people with disabilities or without jobs, etc. and how unhappiness is unhappiness wherever one is geographically (not that all disabled or jobless people are unhappy)…I just think it’s narrow minded to assume all Americans are well off. If you’re homeless and you sleep under a bridge, what difference does it make what country you’re in? You’re still homeless. And I don’t know where this seemingly feminist blog got off on posting such observations and theories about Americans as feminism.

  2. Mom said, on May 14, 2010 at 6:22 am

    I find the blog concept not unlike the phone concept. Truly nice people can be incredibly ugly when hidden behind the mouthpiece, be it a telephone or a computer screen.
    I think you have seriously considered whether you miscommuinicated your points and have made reasonable attempts to clarify your points. Some time people can’t or don’t want to be reasonable.
    It’s interesting to note that a classic problem with censorhip is that the one doing the cesnosring has frequently not read all or ANY of the material they are choosing to attack.
    I find this piece to be a kaleidoscope of interesting ideas and hope you will continue to consider, analyze and critique the world around you.

    • femspotter said, on May 14, 2010 at 7:20 am

      Thanks! As blogging is being considered the fourth wave of Feminism, it would be nice to find a place to communicate with other Feminists. But most places are unregulated so you do get a lot of posters with no ability to separate emotion from critical thinking…and thus a lot of cruelty: like dissing moms and motherhood in general. The thin woman applauded my banning from the “USian” thread and I thought, “That’s okay? But suggesting that we are being angry with each other is not?”

      There’s also a lot of ass-kissing that goes on in these places, so it’s probably a key ingredient to success to come in and hold your tongue except for complimenting the bloggers until you’re well-known. I guess that’s the case pretty much anywhere; but you KNOW I don’t do that! I voted for Olive in the “Little Miss Sunshine” Pageant after all.

      You can always learn something from experience…even the experiences you later laugh at. ;)

  3. big little brother said, on May 17, 2010 at 10:18 am

    “There is impact and there is intention…only that latter can be controlled by the speaker…so all we can do is try to gauge the impact of what we say and do before we do it” (a teacher of mine, Professor and Practicioner of Clinical and Experimental Psychology)…one of the hardest classes and lessons that I have had on my journey was my Diversity Seminar…it was entirely experiental and very painful personally and socially (I was routinely used as an example of Male Priviledge, Straight Priviledge, White Priviledge, US Priviledge, Socioeconomic Priviledge, and JudeoChristain (Protestant) Priviledge) but I can say that I am more aware for it and that is good. Although, we strayed away from the term Priviledge and used the term Power.

    Actually, the only one that I was not used as an example for was Able Body Priviledge which lasted ten minutes because I was accused of hiding my disability, which from my point of view if anyone had asked is…I don’t consider myself disabled, I just think there are some things I cant do and some things that I can…and with my knees heavily braced up, with a lot of ibuprofen and ice on hand, I can get out and do most things. Always though there is the constant fear of knowing each step could put me back in surgery, physical therapy, and spending 8 months learning to walk again but I do it because I want to live and do and I try to accept my fear as a natural process. The Arthritis, which is surely degenerative, and misallignment of my hips, knees, and feet; chronic pain, and the lack of reflex in my right leg(I blame it on my genes…mom and dad, lol) is minor in the scope of physical disability and still limiting to me. Also for some reason people seem to think that when you are physically disabled you are also cognitively/emotionally disabled that is frustrating. So, once it was determined by the group that I can hide the disability and rely on my other priviledges and power I was again the bad guy…that was an interesting afternoon because as the teacher told me later on, she wanted me to get mad and to fight back, I responded with, “It makes very little difference to me what most people think of me…the only kind of respect that I need is self-respect and that is according to my measures not any socio-cultural standard”. People are going to believe whatever they want to believe…I have seen people fight tooth and nail against what amounts to be decades of scientific evidence in order to cling to their particular beliefs…and I image it works in reverse too. We all see the world the way we were taught to and the way we choose to, which is all based on our nature and our nurture but I digress.

    Anyway the teacher used to say “the road to hell is pave with good intentions” in an effort to get us to think downstream and outside of our worlds. She said that we each live in our own bubbles, something my personal and clinical experience definitely reinforces, some bigger than others I think…mine is huge and it can still barely contain my ego, hehe! Our worlds collide with each other and sometimes it is rougher than other times. My teacher routinely pointed out to us, the students, that miscommunication is almost inevitable and that it can be managed when both participants are willing to try. Sounds like you ran into some folks who were not willing to try, for reasons that may never be known, even to them, and that is too bad, I think. Glad that you tried though…in the end it is all that we can do…try.

    • femspotter said, on May 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm

      Wow, blb, I never think of you as disabled either. I think you reinforce what I was saying about privilege being a very personal/individual thing to assess. What does U.S. privilege mean to you? Why is it a privilege to live in the United States even if you are poor, uninsured, ill, unhappy, etc.?

      Yes, I tried. I am glad of the opportunity to vent now. Our minister’s sermon yesterday in church was essentially about choosing when to complain about our woes and when to think about the woes of others. Christ’s example was to pray for our benefit even when dying on the cross. I am trying to limit my complaints for myself to only those that really stick with me, causing anxiety, and this was one.

      • big little brother said, on May 18, 2010 at 9:02 am

        I have never really thought much about US priviledge to be completely honest and that is probably because I have it…I image it is tied to the cultural view that we are the “best” nation on the planet…and perhaps the worldview that we have opportunity, abundency of resources, and even opulence (which some of us do). It may also refer to the belief that we live in the first truly free country, but mostly I think it is tied to something deeper. I think it tied to the history of this nation, the sung and far too often unsung songs. Establishing a collective way of life on the shores of this continent, shores that broke culture and religion like waves hitting the rocks, and still finding a way to bind together. The fight to become a nation against impossible odds, the race from coast to coast, industrialization, scientific revolutions, touching the stars, and coming back down again. But also the wars, the struggles, the things we would rather not remember…smallpox blankets, slavery, segregation, assassinations, the trail of tears, internment camps, drafts, government experiments on the citizens, and eugenics to name a few. All of these things would not have been possible if in the beginning we (collective US consciousness) felt that we were not destine for something more, a belief that has been and is continuing to be perpetuated as entitled to more. I think US priviledge is more of an attitude, the ability to say “you know I might be starving, poor, and down on my luck but this is American and I can get back on my feet…this is not some military state or communist dictatorship, this is America the land of the free and the home of the brave…” I think it is an attitude that our ancestors earned with blood and tears, something most of us take for granted and definitely something that we don’t understand. I think it used to be about self-respect and now it I think it is about arrogance because we are disconnected from it…but that is just my opinion.

      • femspotter said, on May 19, 2010 at 7:51 am

        Right, but if you say you have it, you must know what it is. I think I have white, middle class privilege.

        I’m glad I’m living in a family of patriots. The husband told me this morning that he thinks the U.S. has major problems, but he’s glad/proud to be American. I’d like to move to Europe or Australia and enjoy a more socialized form of government than we have here. I prefer the pacing of Europe to the U.S. – although they seem to drive like maniacs over there too. :D

        I think “U.S. privilege” is a fraud.

      • big little brother said, on May 19, 2010 at 9:31 am

        I don’t think that we always understand the things we have and I would guess that most of the time we don’t…history can surely provide examples of that. Heck we have developed a phrase to fit that concept…”you don’t know what you have until it’s gone”. I’m not sure that things are that much smoother in Europe or Australia. There will just be different problems and a different kind of privilege. We certainly don’t own the market on privilege…

        I think if you were to think about the countries on the earth as members of a family the US is among the youngest, probably a preteen in terms of its identity development, and for many years considered the “golden child” of the world. Sure other countries and cultures didn’t always like us but they did trade with us and they did lean on us for financial support, military support, and humanitarian aid. I take the whole subject of privilege with a grain of salt…everyone has privilege over someone else; its of course always easier to see what you don’t have.

        I would liken the criticisms of US privilege to similar attacks leveled against the British from the 1600 up unitl WWI. They were the worlds security, bread basket, and pocket book too, hell we became a country in part Im sure because we were reacting to English Privilege, Colonials did not have the same rights as citizens living in England and other parts of the empire.

        I think all privilege is an illusion, that doesnt make it less real, and it is at this point in time I think a necessary illusion…it binds people together it helps to create ingroup cooperation and outgroup conflict which promotes growth and development, sometimes not always positive. I think it stratisfies what would otherwise be complete chaos, it is essentially social herding…not much different than the social structure of high school…It is not always pleasant but I think it does cycle…

      • femspotter said, on May 19, 2010 at 10:29 am

        I wonder if U.S. Privilege could be deemed entitlement privilege. We in the U.S. think we are entitled to our Declaration of Independence inalienable rights. Women in parts of Africa and China don’t feel entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness the way that I do. Although, point of clarification: I don’t think that only I and other Americans are entitled to healthcare, freedom of religion, etc. I think everyone on Earth is.

      • big little brother said, on May 19, 2010 at 11:19 am

        I think privilege leads to entitlement surely and I believe that we should all the same rights as well and maybe that is what people are talking about. This is our way of life and it works for us, marginally sometimes and I say marginal because we don’t all have the same rights in this country.

        Maybe our privilege is believing that all others ought to share our beliefs…while I think that all people should have those rights, it is not for me or my culture to say what is or is not right or wrong about another persons culture. We have a history of doing that which may come across as privileged. In either case I think you are on to something here but I am at a loss in this medium. Im better face to face. I wonder what someone who is not from the US would say about what US privilege means to them?

      • femspotter said, on May 19, 2010 at 11:35 am

        I asked a friend of mine who is from India and she told me that foreigners only know of the U.S. what they read in the newspaper and see on television. A recent story about a 15 year-old girl prostituting her 7 year-old sister in New Jersey was buried deep in the New York Times. That’s not something your average Indian reads, she told me. Ergo, we get our media spin here and “know” what we “know” about India for instance based on the priorities of journalists and the same goes for people living outside the U.S. That’s what I was talking about when I mentioned our big P.R. machine: we have an image of being affluent across the board so people may believe the U.S. is homogeneously wealthy even though it is not.

      • big little brother said, on May 19, 2010 at 12:41 pm

        true, spin happens everywhere…

        in regards to wealth, its a strange perception for Americans to hear, I think, and it has been especially strange when I have heard it as many of the people I know live way below the poverty line. On the other hand it is also important to consider that even the poor and homeless in this country can have and in many cases will have access to social services. Most of my clients are living on state insurance, food stamps, shelters, half-way houses, live/work programs, job assistance, cash assistance for housing/utilities, and many other state and federal programs. So I guess the stereotype about the poor/homeless in this country being better off than the poor/homeless in other countries may have some basis in fact. I’m not sure I would buy that argument, I think poor is poor and starving is starving no matter where you live but, there are many countries that don’t do even half of what we do for the poor and the homeless. Still I think we can do more.

        Out of curiousity what did your friend tell you about her personal experience with American mainstream culture (socioculture, socioeconomic, and sociopolitical) and individual Americans? Her experience free from what she has read or seen on tv.

      • femspotter said, on May 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm

        Well, her job puts the two of you in similar circles so she denies the existence of a blanket U.S. privilege. I remember talking with an Iranian exchange student once who echoed that the media plays a large role in what Iranians think of Americans. When she had gotten here, she was surprised that all Americans don’t carry guns and beat up on each other because that’s the picture she’d been given.

      • big little brother said, on May 19, 2010 at 10:52 pm

        well as I said earlier Im not sure I buy the notion of privilege at all on any level. There are certainly power differentials and I think there is attitude and what people would call patriotism in place of US Privilege and I also think you find that with natural born citizens in every country, I also think it is mostly subject to group think as most privilege is, Individuals can accept almost anything, groups of people have trouble, they herd together

        …for the most part I think privilege and power are not thought about by the public at large, most people are not aware of the footprints they leave as they walk. Most people don’t stop to think about the impact of their actions, thoughts, and beliefs.

    • femspotter said, on May 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm

      Also, what do you think about the concept of cis privilege, being born into the appropriate body for your inner gender? I think there is definitely privilege there as it’s never been a struggle for me to feel that I “fit in” to the female role (as opposed to the male role) that society assumes of me. I never wanted to be “father” instead of “mother” or be expected to hold back tears, for instance. However, as a queer theorist, I have to say that my ideal world would be a place where transsexual surgery isn’t necessary for people in this unfortunate predicament because the assumption of gender no longer exists. Ergo, you can be the most masculine woman or feminine man you want without fear of hatred, violence or criticism. In the long term, masculine/feminine terminology and the word “gender” itself wouldn’t get used anymore. What say you? Dying to know here!!! :)

      • big little brother said, on May 18, 2010 at 10:08 am

        Well, another one I can honestly say I have never thought of…I guess personally and professionally I would say…it is not your inner gender that is the issue…it is your outer sex that is not congruent…my understanding is that people who opt for the surgery or hormone replacement are seeking to have the exterior reflect the interior, a choice not a requirement… gender is personal, fluid, and part of a person’s personality…sex is biology and generally believed to exist in two fixed categories, truthfully it appears to exists along a continuum…Far to often society confuses sex with gender…for example…I would best be described as relatively gender: neutral leaning towards feminine, sex: male… I would describe one or our paternal cousins as gender: masculine, sex: male.

        My limited experience has shown me that therapy is required before surgery or hormone replacement is performed to make sure that the person is doing it for his or her-self. I wish it were that simple but acceptance by the world at large, family, and friends is always part of the decision. I am inclined to say “to hell with society” but that is not something that everyone is comfortable with and capable of.

        I have never had to worry about “fitting in” in that respect either and my philosophy has always been best summed up by Nietzsche. “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the PRIVILEDGE of owning yourself”.

        I think, I hope that some day it will be possible to make the decision because it is truly want they want free from outside influence…I’m not sure that gender and sex will not exist in the collective awareness so much as they will be accepted for what they are, meaningless…same as all the other variables, priviledges, and powers…when you peel back the layers and strip away all the pretence what is left is a thing…not male or female, masculine or feminine, child or adult, able or disabled, white or black or brown or yellow or green or purple, believer or non-believer, citizen or non-citizen…in the dark we are all the same…just things struggling to find our way, to have a purpose, to be connected…in the end I think that is the only thing that matters…and all the things that make us different become all the things that make us the same…if we thought like that, I think there would be no war because there would be no fear, there would be no unknown…

      • femspotter said, on May 19, 2010 at 7:54 am

        I wonder, if gender assumption were eradicated, would people still feel they need the surgery to be happy? Cosmetic surgery would still exist. Would people feel they need different sex parts like they “need” a nose job?

        BTW – I am not comparing transsexual surgery to cosmetic surgery for our present social circumstances…just when there’s no longer hatred shoveled at those who don’t exhibit gender/sex uniformity, should that day ever come.

      • big little brother said, on May 19, 2010 at 9:36 am

        I think that at that point…it becomes a completely individual decision and is thus impossible to answer. I think people would do it if they did it, because it made them feel more balanced, whole, congruent, etc with self and not with others… Some people may not and others may there is really no way to tell I think.

  4. The Destructionist said, on May 20, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    While watching the latest news about the BP Oil spill, a frightening thought came to mind: what if we can’t stop the oil? I mean, what happens if after all the measures to cap the pipe fail, (i.e., “Top Hat”, “Small Hat” and “Top Kill”). What then? An accident this problematic is new territory for BP. The oil pipeline is nearly a mile down on the ocean floor, accessible only by robots. Add on top of that the extreme pressure at which the oil is flowing out of the pipeline and there you have it: the perfect storm.

    Moreover, scientists also claim that they’ve found an enormous plume of oil floating just under the surface of the ocean measuring approximately 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick. (I’m no math genius, but I bet one of you reading this could figure out just how many barrels of oil that is…)

    There are new estimates that the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico is anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil a day: that’s a far cry from BP’s estimated 5,000 barrels a day. If BP’s estimates are correct, the total amount of oil now in the Gulf would be approximately 150,000 barrels (or 6,300,000 gallons). That’s barely enough to fill 286 swimming pools: sixteen feet, by thirty-two feet, by eight and a half feet deep. That wouldn’t cover an area the size of New York City, let alone an area the size of Delaware. Obviously, the spill is much larger than we are being led to believe. If the leak can’t be stopped, in a year’s time, we’ll have roughly 18,250,000 barrels of oil (or 766,500,000 gallons) in our oceans, killing our marine and animal wildlife. Such a calamity would be environmentally and economically disastrous. I’m not a religious man, but I pray that BP and our government work fast to end this catastrophe.

    http://www.calculateme.com/Volume/Barrels(Petroleum)/ToGallons.htm

    http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2010/05/17/latest-news-from-the-oil-spill-in-the-gulf-of-mexico-is-grim/

    http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/05/20/scientist-says-oil-spill-is-leaking-100000-barrels-of-oil-a-day-not-bps-estimate-of-5000/

  5. April said, on May 21, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    This is such a fantastic analysis of the way that the feminist blogosphere operates.

    I especially appreciate what you wrote about factcheckme and her radfem blog. I’ve read a bunch of her posts and commented (and actually not been yelled out of the space once or twice!) before, and I appreciate a lot of what she says. But on a recent post of hers about Andrea Dworkin’s “Intercourse,” I was “spammed.” For what? Starting my comment to the post by explaining that I admittedly don’t typically agree with everything she says, but how a comment she made about the negative– and often deadly– effects PIV sex can have on women really resonated with me. I then went on to describe how, while I saw her points and they resonated with me, I felt the need to defend my decision to be in a heterosexual marriage, and my enjoyment of PIV sex.

    I was accused of being condescending in the tone of my defense, which, looking back at the comment, I can understand. factcheckme and other commenters accused me of using the Not My Nigel” argument, and one was encouraging (yet also condescending) me to not be discouraged by the negative comment,s but to stay on and “learn” or something.

    I felt that I needed to apologize for my condescending tone, and also stick up for myself in light of the fact that I am happy in my marriage, and that while my husband may not be the perfect replica of FEMINIST, his progressive leaning ans willingness to try to understand my feminist perspective is what caused me to remain happy and willing to remain in our relationship. I then said that I was certainly not there to troll, apologized for my “newbie-ism” when it comes to “radical feminism,” made it clear that I was still learning, and then honestly told factcheckme that I enjoyed reading her blog, even when I didn’t agree with some of the things she says.

    The comment was not published, but rather responded to with a declaration that she “spammed” me for being a “fun-fem” or whatever who went on a “passive aggressive tirade” about something or other.

    It was especially illuminating to read your excerpt of a comment she’d made about her own heterosexual relationship, because I’ve often felt the same way– if my husband and I went evolving similarly, and we were to end our relationship, I’m not sure that I’d have the patience for another heterosexual relationship, simply because my personal feminism has evolved past the point of being able to deal with just any guy’s run-of-the-mill misogyny. The only reason I can deal with my husband’s displays of unintentional misogyny (I’m so obviously not willing to deal with unabashed and obviously deliberate sexist behavior or discussions) is because I understand him to be a reasonable, equal-minded– though obviously male-privileged– person, and a person who comes equipped with his own deep-seated issues related to gender, and harmful expectations that are related to his gender.

    I felt similarly to you with that whole experience. For one, I had made the prideful and stubborn decision to not give a crap about her blog anymore and not read it, because I was upset that she was so knee-jerk and uncompassionate in her responses. Also, the comment environment is clearly hostile ground that I don’t have the thick skin for at this point. But I still felt really hurt, and unnecessarily attacked. It also felt stupid to be so upset by something on the anonymous (in her case) internet, when I had just written my post about how the feminist blogosphere is inferior to “real life” when it comes to understanding other peoples’ perspectives.

    There were so many other things about this post, namely your analysis of privilege, that I want to also talk about more, but I just wrote a novel as a comment and my fingers hurt and I have to pee, so that will have to wait for another time soon ;)

    Anyway, great post; I so relate and love how clearly you articulated so many things.

    • femspotter said, on May 22, 2010 at 8:26 am

      Oh, April…thank you very much. I did not know that you had been to Femonade. I was the first person to comment there, and I watched the atmosphere get very hostile over the following three months. Yes, some of what they talk about is very interesting. But overall, I was able to discern what they are against (men, most women, “fun fems,” transsexuals, moms, porn, armed forces, etc.) and nothing that they are for. It seems they don’t like being women and see no inherent value in femaleness; which is contradictory to “being” feminist, in my book. I love being a woman! They kept accusing me of being sarcastic – nope!, a fun fem – even after I told them I don’t like that label because it sounds dismissive, an MRA, Sarah Palin – after I mentioned that the veterans in the U.S. have substandard healthcare, which I know because my brother (blb here) works at a veterans’ clinic – GEEZ, I’m not pro war! – (and incidentally, I don’t think there is anybody more dangerous to American feminism than Sarah Palin), and poked cruel fun at Faemom for being a mom. Oh, and they dissed my husband and marriage too!

      Still, I was more upset by the shenanigans on Fasciste (that’s Feministe)!

      Can you post a link to your feminist blogosphere post? I want to read it and comment.

      Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about privilege!!!

      Lastly, I have learned that, even though radical feminists are the fringe, these commenters at Femonade are not the majority of that fringe. I don’t think all radical feminists hate the way that they do. What are they good for over there? They keep championing that radical feminists are pulling the dead weight of the feminist movement, but all they do is engage in traditional cronyism: they’re as bad as the Bush administration. If you have a dissenting view, you’re bound to get stuck with a negative label. If every feminist shared their hatred for men, for most women and for transsexuals of either destination sex, we’d be good for nothing: certainly not missionary work or academic study. You can’t heal the wounds women have suffered if you hate everybody.

      I understand deciding to be a “political lesbian” or “lesbian separatist,” but I pity the poor lesbian who falls in love with a heterosexual woman pretending to be an actual lesbian because she hates men. Is that wrong of me?

      Loved hearing from you!

      • April said, on May 22, 2010 at 3:43 pm

        Here’s the recent feminist blogosphere post. I wrote a post about an earlier Feministe thread that got out of control fast on my former blog, too.

        “Fasciste”… haha! I love the nickname. I’ve started commenting over there pretty much only when I want to pick a fight with someone for being unnecessarily rude, melodramatic, or otherwise hateful.

        I don’t think radical feminists like factcheckme are the norm. I was interested in her perspective for the most part, and could respect the lesbian separatist viewpoint from a lot of the commenters, but I’m disappointed that her views are so… loud. People like her give the rest of us bad names.

        As far as the lesbian separatist thing, I’m not sure that most women who choose to only be romantically involved with other women are necessarily being deceitful about their decision. It’s my understanding that they’re honest about it with partners, and are likely to be in relationships with other “political” lesbians. But then again, I don’t actually know any lesbian separatists, so I could be wrong.

    • femspotter said, on June 22, 2010 at 4:47 pm

      So, FYI, I read your comment and the resulting nastiness on Femonade…don’t see what was so wrong with your comment. Why have an issue with the quotation that yes! some people find Andrea Dworkin “nutty?” And she accuses “fun-fems” of lecturing radfems about what they fail to consider, when that goes both ways. Additionally, I hate this “not my Nigel” bullshit, but she’s exempted her male partner on the grounds that he grew up impoverished…so basically, she’s a hypocrite, although I know that doesn’t take away the sting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: they are a bunch of man-haters over there and that’s really counterproductive…especially when they say things like “men are moral agents” and they should fix the inequalities that exist between men and women. Hate, hate, hate. It’s not a good place to be.

  6. Danny said, on September 10, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    I wish I had been around when the discussion was still going. Just wanted to say that as far as I’m concerned while examining privilege can be useful in figuring out what inequalities are at work (and need to be fixed) as you say its just gotten to the point where its devolved into a silencing tactic to shut out people who don’t tow the right line.

    And my sincere apologies for crossing paths with factcheckme (I knew who you were talking about as soon I saw you quote, “a nice cool sip of misandry, on a hot day”). I decided she was not worth talking too when she said “As a white dude, you don’t have any say in what’s offensive to people of color and women” and then deleted the comment I tried to post telling her I’m not white. Just be glad you didn’t cross paths with one of her buddies Julian Real. That guy is the poster boy for self loathing manhood.

    • femspotter said, on September 11, 2010 at 3:23 pm

      That is rather fascist of her!

  7. Genderqueer said, on October 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I like your blog, and want to clarify that I’m not a rad-fem. I am what they would snakily refer to as a fun-fem, since I support porn workers’ and sex workers’ rights and enjoy porn. (They would say I am “subjugating myself” by watching it.) I also date transwomen, and as a ciswoman doing this is “sleeping with the enemy.” And while I don’t much like P-in-V sex for myself, I’ll leave other people’s opinions on the matter up to them. So yeah, I’ve lost my rad-fem cred. Oh well, I won’t be crying about it anytime soon.

    However, I took exception to a couple of the things you posted.

    You wrote:

    “and they also claimed that being a born woman comes with no privileges in and of itself, hence the constant use of the term male privilege. (I have decided that motherhood is the ultimate privilege of women; and even if one can’t physically give birth, serving as a mother – step-, caregiver, etc. – is a privilege of our sex because it is an endeared and exalted position amongst our class.”

    I generally find motherhood to be a reviled and degraded position outside of the liberal upper-middle class. It’s seen as thankless work, and we hold most mothers to impossible standards we ourselves can’t attain. We love the “bad mommy” trope, and the news is filled with examples of “bad mommies” for the world to see so we can all shame them. Deadbeat dads don’t get the same scrutiny. And if you want to see how little guys think of their mother-wives, watch how hard men howl in protest when they have to pay child-support or alimony after a divorce. Many guys don’t think what you’re doing is work.

    I would therefore say that men have inherent male privilege because they don’t have to guard against motherhood, rape, and STDs that cause cancer when they have sex. And they never need take on a role that is largely reviled or regarded as thankless work that should not be compensated, outside of the liberal upper-middle class. Conservative men view pregnancy and motherhood as just punishment for sex. Why do you think they are working so hard to take our abortion rights away?

    You wrote:

    “I think that being a feminist and also hating being a woman cannot coexist in one body. Ergo, you either learn to love your womanhood, or you give up your claim to feminism. This is one reason I welcome transwomen into the fold: hey, you want to be a woman, more power to ya!”

    I take exception to this definition. I hate to pull out the “you just don’t understand” card, but people who stick to one gender role and are happy in it don’t understand those of us who don’t and aren’t.

    I hate several aspects of being female, including:

    •menstruation (painful and, to me, disgusting – and many other women agree. We’re just not allowed to admit we hate menstruation because the women who find it a spiritual and beautiful experience accuse us of hating ourselves. We don’t. We just hate being in pain and passing blood “down there” for days. Pretty simple.)

    •the threat of pregnancy (I would never want to go through that, and all the solutions to ward it off, condoms excepted, ruin my health, as would pregnancy, so I generally just avoid P-in-V with bi men I date. Oh, and the lovely expectation that every woman is dying to have hundreds of babies that docs still share? Please. Treat me as a person, not as a fertile womb.)

    •the constant threat of rape (happened to me once, and I was victim-blamed while he got off and was cheered)

    •being treated as a sex object rather than a person by many men I meet, and being hated by women because they think I’ll steal their man (Neither gender knows I don’t date straight men, and if they were worried about it, how about an honest conversation? Nah, that’d never happen. Ha!)

    •Just generally thought of as lesser (less competent, less trustworthy, less rational, more hysterical, more emotional, more demanding and nagging, more deceitful, and I could go on) because men and women both have more confidence in males – as friends, as co-workers, as bosses, and so on. I am the reviled, mistrusted gender. The typical female gender role also encourages that my gender act lesser and get less in return. Why do you think women’s magazines want us to focus so much on makeup and pleasing men? The media keeps sending us the message, over and over again, that this is all we’re good for.

    So while I might look femme, I’ve taken on a lot of male roles in my life (breadwinner, bill-payer, non baby-haver) and communicate in a way that is considered unfeminine and threatening (direct, assertive, eye-contact). I feel like a non-defined gender, and I often leave the “gender” part blank on forms. The female one doesn’t suit me, but society’s expectations of a male don’t suit me either.

    Genderqueer people are seldom understood in society today, and no one knows what to do with them, because they don’t conform to gender-role expectations. I work to fight gender roles. But I like myself just fine. What I don’t like is the typical female roles or behaviors I am expected to embrace.

    But my shorter point is, if someone like me has to renounce their rights to feminism simply because they find many of the female biological and social roles to be horrible fits, and don’t find the “woman” label to be entirely accurate, then aren’t you doing similar to the rad-fems who assert that transwomen and men can never be feminists? (“Not my Nigel.”)

    • femspotter said, on October 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      Wonderful comment! I especially love how you personify the uselessness of calling oneself a “feminist” these days, since you subsequently have to qualify the label: sex-like, transgenders-like, men-like, gender-dislike etc. Isn’t it enough just to want equality anymore? Aparently not, since the world is too varied and complicated for a simple solution to the pervasive condition of inequality.

      I generally find motherhood to be a reviled and degraded position outside of the liberal upper-middle class.
      I don’t disagree with you here. That’s why my wording (I have decided that motherhood is the ultimate privilege of women…) stresses my own inner definition of motherhood, something that I know many women and men regard as loathsome. And yet, cultures are full of mother-worship: the Virgin Mary in the Christian religion (plagued with other issues for women, I know – see “The ugly truth about Mary”) or Durga in Hinduism (who even dominates the first three days of Navratri, happening now); actually, most Hindu godessess represent the sacredness of motherhood. Sure, motherhood can be used to enslave women – it does put us in a vulnerable position, physically and emotionally. But I love being a mother, and I love being a woman. My feminism starts from here.

      Two of your “hates” are relevant, I think: menstruation and unwanted pregnancy. That’s biology and, mostly, we can’t do away with it without medical intervention. But your other “hates” (threat of rape and disrespectful treatment from men) are status-related and that’s what we want to eradicate, no? So you don’t really hate being a woman, per se; you hate being a woman in a male-centric culture. Is that more accurate? If we didn’t have these threats to our safety and were generally regarded as equals, wouldn’t we love being women as much as men love being men (or we assume they do)? As for menstruation and unwanted pregnancy, yeah, I agree…they suck! But I wouldn’t want to deal with nocturnal emissions or voice change or shaving my face every day or random erections, etc. either. (GEEZ – you couldn’t pay me enough to have a penis! I prefer my neat and hidden lady bits, thank you!)

      It’s difficult for me to find things in common with most radfems since they have all these rules: no sex with men, no motherhood, no menial labor – and certainly no stay-at-home labor, no make-up or revealing clothing, etc. I don’t want to ask women to follow my rules. I think that’s what men have done forever…so why elect a supreme class of radical women who get to tell other women what to do?

      As for your specific situation, I agree that you should live your life in a way that feels natural for you. I’d hope that my traditional “femininity” (ha ha! – not a given) and your traditional “masculinity” would keep us on the same team: the let-us-women-be-happy-and-diverse-too team.

  8. Genderqueer said, on October 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Oh and a few other thoughts:

    –I read your blog again and saw you support eradicating gender roles as well. Sorry for my misunderstandings above. I do feel the need to clarify my preferences and show how I think, but I now understand we’re fully on the same page regarding gender roles. My apologies…I should work on reading more before I rush to comment. If you want to edit what I wrote above, go ahead. I definitely don’t think you’re being the same as rad-fems and didn’t even above, so I shouldn’t have asked the question. I just got hung up on the language.

    –US privilege is a big old joke. We live in a corporate kleptocracy, and our citizens are being sold to the highest bidder. In our country, the corporation’s rights reign supreme over our own. If this is such a great, privileged nation, why are we so low on the list when it comes to health, infant mortality, distribution of wealth, and equality for women? US privilege is just another means to get more people divided and angry at each other.

    –Dworkin is on another planet. Just because she was abused by men doesn’t mean her views are the universal truth. It’s insulting to insist that any woman in a heterosexual relationship is subjugated and unaware of it because rad-fems hold Dworkin up as truth. If you want to see something extra-scary, try arguing with a self-loathing male who lectures you, a genderqueer, pansexual ciswoman, that you’re self-loathing and self-subjugating for watching porn or championing sex-worker rights.

    I have had that conversation with those types of men, and I always finish with the old “If you don’t want to watch porn, have heterosexual sex, or fight for sex worker rights – DON’T! But QUIT policing everyone else because of some academic text you read and took as fact.”

    –Political lesbians…yes. I’ve dated my share of women who could only get between the sheets when drunk enough not to care that I don’t have a penis. I think some of them wanted to be bi because “bi is cool,” and others wanted to be welcomed into the “cool lesbian fold” and get jiggy with the politics. I need all the allies I can get, but please, not at the expense of my feelings, and not at the expense of my health, when I find out you’re concurrently getting busy with a long line of men you haven’t told me about. That’s just not fair.

    Dating women who are lesbians because it’s cool or political is just about the worst. It’s exactly like dating a gay man who’s trying to be straight because he thinks it’s the most socially acceptable thing to do.

    –As a mother, how would you work toward improving men’s (and society’s) views of motherhood? As someone not cut out for motherhood, I might not come up with the best solutions, since I’m not in that role, though I’ll say that universal healthcare, daycare, and a social safety net will go a long way. And should be a MINIMUM requirement to start, The stats on how poorly this rich first-world country fails in maternal health and infant mortality is just too damn telling.

    The MRAs scare me most on this issue. They seem to be calling for female genocide, and even those who aren’t, view women as giant inconveniences who they have to “put up with” to get sex. I would love to see prostitution legalized mostly for the health and protection of the prostitutes, but also so these MRAs could just get their rocks off and go away, instead of tricking a woman who wants a husband and family into thinking they support her.

    • femspotter said, on October 2, 2011 at 4:49 pm

      Dating women who are lesbians because it’s cool or political is just about the worst. It’s exactly like dating a gay man who’s trying to be straight because he thinks it’s the most socially acceptable thing to do.

      Exactly! I can’t think of a better way to hurt somebody than to dangle love in front of their face and then rip it away because of something you already knew existed. So when you “come out” as a political lesbian, aren’t you just a hetero who hates that you want sex with men? That’s not fair to the lesbian you’re pretending to be attracted to. Let’s call a spade “a spade.” Political lesbians are really spite lesbians.

      As a mother, how would you work toward improving men’s (and society’s) views of motherhood?

      Where to begin… Actually, I think this is more a capitalist issue than a sexist issue. Countries that have worked motherhood, and fatherhood, into the tax code don’t seemingly hate it. In a capitalist economy, it’s worthless. It can’t be quantified with a monetary value.

      My husband decided to take out a life insurance policy once we had our daughter because he is our primary breadwinner (half of my salary goes to daycare and the rest to family/Ellie activities). I asked him if I should take out a policy too…but there really isn’t a policy out there to replace my value as mother, wife, laundress, chef and ego-fluffer. I don’t resent any of these jobs. But my country does. The United States sees me as practically worthless on paper.

      I think beefing up paid maternity leave makes sense. We punish working women who elect to have babies. If they’re part-timers, their jobs aren’t protected and they can claim a disability wage but no pay during pregnancy. Three months leave for full-timers is a joke. I am lucky that my husband makes a solid income, but I don’t take this for granted. I had an amazing first year with my daughter and only recently put her in daycare two days a week (I’d previously worked from home). My employer has been loyal to me throughout. This is certainly not the norm. Many women can’t afford childcare and work outside the home, and they’re stuck. So, as capitalists would see it, not only did they not make “enough” money to begin with, they now earn nothing. There’s just no profit margin in motherhood, I guess.

      I can’t do anything about how people perceive me in my role as mother; I’m probably doing a lot of things wrong, according to some. I think the best thing I can do is love my daughter and love being a mother. I do. That love is great PR, no?


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