Aug 23

(No title)

“Rape on campus occurs with such alarming frequency that most colleges now incorporate sexual awareness training into their freshman orientation practices (apparently students not only must learn how to find their way around campus and how to use a library, but they must also learn how not to rape their classmates)” (Michael Kimmel, Guyland, p57-58).

(And apparently authors must learn when to use gender-neutral words and when not…)

Aug 05

Permitting Abortion and Prohibiting Prenatal Harm

Permitting Abortion and Prohibiting Prenatal Harm

I think abortion should be allowed. And I think prenatal harm (especially that caused by ingesting various legal and illegal substances while pregnant) should not be allowed. Some accuse me of hypocrisy or, more accurately, maintaining a contradictory position: either women have the right to control what happens to their bodies or they don’t. No problem. Women, and men, have that right except when it causes harm to someone else: I can move my arms any way I want except straight into your face.

Ah, you may jump up and down, you said ‘someone else!’ So the fetus is a person! That’s why you’re saying prenatal harm is wrong! So that makes abortion wrong too! You can’t have it both ways!

Yes I can. The fetus can be a person and it may still be okay to abort. Killing in self-defence is permissible; killing in mercy is permissible. So if the pregnancy or birth poses a risk to me, I can kill the fetus. Or if the fetus is discovered to have some awful excruciatingly painful genetic disease, I can kill it. (I should kill it.)

Not only does being a person not mean I can’t kill it; not being a person doesn’t mean I can harm it. It’s wrong to hurt a chipmunk, barring extenuating circumstances, because it can feel pain.

And in any case, I would argue that personhood is not all-or-nothing. Sentience, brain activity, the ability to communicate, the capacity for rational thought, consciousness, interests – all of these attributes, typically proposed to determine personhood, exist in degrees. So creatures can be persons in varying degrees.
And since personhood is typically established in order to establish rights, it makes sense then to assign fewer rights to ‘lesser’ persons. While there is cause for concern about the impact of such an argument on ‘disabled’ people, I believe this slippery slope should and can be avoided. For example, if a mentally disabled adult lacks the cognitive competence to vote, that right is justifiably denied. But it doesn’t follow that other rights, such as the right to a livelihood, also be denied.

In fact, we already assign rights according to various capacities and competencies: children, because of their lesser capacity for rational thought, and perhaps also because of their lesser interests, do not have voting rights; only a few adults, because of their superior knowledge and fine motor skills, are awarded operating room rights. The acceptability of aborting a being with minimal personhood would not then contradict the unacceptablility of harming a being with considerably more personhood.

In fact, going back to the matter of the right to control one’s body, it might be reasonable to consider, in the case of pregnancy, the boundaries of one’s body to be somewhat elastic. While the woman generally has the right to control her body, what is considered ‘her body’ changes through the pregnancy parallel to the changes in the personhood of the zygote/embryo/fetus: the less it is a person, the more it is her body; the more it is a person, the less it is just her body. Thus aborting when ‘her body’ is very much just her body may be acceptable, whereas harming when it is not may not be.

In addition to rights and personhood (though personhood ‘reduces’ to rights), there is another, perhaps better, consideration: consequences. Barring the capacity to feel pain, as long as there isn’t going to be a human being who will at some future time suffer from any prenatal harm – that is, if the woman decides to abort the pregnancy – such harm, whether caused by the woman or some third party, isn’t a wrong. In fact, assuming no such capacity, and given that it is has no interests or desires (which might justify pain, making it morally acceptable, as in the case of vaccination), it’s weird to even call it harm. (Do I harm a virus when I take cold medication? Or cancer cells when I receive chemotherapy?)
However, if there is going to be such a human being – that is, if the woman decides to continue the pregnancy and give birth – there will be an infant, a child, an adult who will suffer the consequences, which can range from vomiting, inability to sleep, reluctance to feed, diarrhea leading to shock and death, severe anemia, and excruciating pain, in the newborn, to the more permanent growth retardation, mental retardation, central nervous system abnormalities, and malformations of the kidneys, intestines, head, and spinal cord (Madam Justice Proudfoot, “Judgement Respecting Female Infant ‘D.J.’,” Madam Justice Proudfoot). Add to this the consequences to others, and the wrongdoing increases: the healthcare system (the rest of us) may have to pay (dearly) for newborn intensive care (Mathieu, in Preventing Prenatal Harm: Should the State Intervene?, estimates the average cost of prenatal intensive care to be about $2,000/day); the education system may have to deal with one more ‘special ed’ student; chances are the welfare system will be involved (Oberman, in “Sex, Drugs, Pregnancy, and the Law: Rethinking the Problems of Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs,” estimates the cost of lifelong care for fetal alcohol syndrome to range from $600,000 to $2.6 million ); and so on. Thus there is no contradiction in holding that abortion is morally acceptable and prenatal harm is not: generally speaking, abortion does not lead to morally unacceptable consequences, whereas prenatal harm does.

Of course, consequences to the woman must also be considered. For example eating a well-balanced diet is little to ask to ensure a healthy newborn, and giving up alcohol for nine months is well ‘worth’ a newborn free of mental retardation. But staying in bed for nine months may be too much to ask just to ensure the birth is not a week premature, and giving up life-saving treatment may not be worth the mere possibility of a healthy fetus.

[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]

Apr 14

Why Do Men Seek Arousal?

So I’m reading Robert Jensen (Getting Off: Pornography and the end of masculinity), and he says porn is intended to provide sexual arousal.

Sexual arousal? Not sexual satisfaction?

If you’re not aroused in the first place, why would you intentionally try to get aroused?

Because then you’ll just have to find a way to deal with it.

If you don’t happen to be itchy, you wouldn’t intentionally go sit in a patch of poison ivy to get itchy. Because then you’ll just be uncomfortable until you can scratch. If you’re not hungry, you wouldn’t intentionally fast in order to feel hungry. I don’t get it. It makes sense only under three conditions.

One, the state of arousal is itself pleasing. This may be true, but since men seem to prefer ending the erection to maintaining it all day, I’m rejecting this possibility. The arousal is clearly just a means to an end.

Two, the satisfaction of sexual arousal is mind-blowing—a pleasure far beyond the satisfaction of an itch or hunger. If that’s the case, and if men are therefore intentionally seeking arousal in order to achieve that pleasure, we’re talking addiction. Which, actually, makes sense of a lot. Imagine that boys become naturally addicted to something (the endorphins released with orgasm) when they hit puberty, and that they stay addicted well into their forties. Their gross misconduct (look around—this is not the best possible world)? Explained. Imagine that the best supply of the pleasure is a female body. Their misogyny? Explained.

No doubt only cultural conditioning keeps them from seeking castration. Which takes us to three: the socialization we put males through from day one ensure that sexuality—arousal and satisfaction—is not just a physical phenomenon. It’s inextricably bound with their identity, their self-esteem, their self-respect. Sex arousal and satisfaction are measures of masculinity. And masculinity is the measure of (a) man.


[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]

Nov 07

Men and Words

As a result of a recent exchange on a blog in which I felt insulted enough by the patronizing tone taken by the moderator that I decided not to participate any further, while another commenter (a male) responded with a mere “LOL”, I asked yet another commenter (also a male) why he thought our reactions were so different. “Don’t men know when they’re being insulted?” I asked.

His response? “We know, we just don’t care. At the end of the day, it’s just words on a screen. Most of us don’t expect to convince anyone else, this is a social event of sorts for people who like to talk about stuff.”

He went on to say “We don’t expect to change anything, we’re just engaging in venting, observation, and entertainment. If we learn something new, all the better.”

I find this horrifying. Words have meaning! Meaning is important! At first I thought maybe that’s just a philosopher/non-philosopher thing, but then I recalled conversations with male philosophers in which I similarly felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously, in which I felt like, the man nailed it, “entertainment”.

I don’t feel that when I speak with women on these matters. So it’s a sexist thing, not a philosopher thing.

But it’s not that men don’t take women seriously, it’s that they don’t take each other seriously either. Suddenly their attitude toward debate—it’s a game—makes sense.

As for the convincing, the changing, maybe that’s a non-teacher-non-social-activist thing, but again, if it’s a male thing, then again, it’s horrifying. No wonder the world isn’t getting better and better: the people in power aren’t talking, thinking, acting to make it so. Their discussions on policy are just “venting, observation, and entertainment”!

I wonder if at its root, it’s part of the male relationship to words. Women are better with language, so it’s said, whether because of neurology or gendered upbringing; men are better with action, so it’s said, again whether by neurology or gendered upbringing. So that would explain why women consider words to be important, and men don’t.


[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]


Oct 15

The threats regarding Sarkeesian’s talk

This just posted at feminist philosophers:

An email sent to Utah State University officials threatens to terrorize the school with a deadly shooting over a talk to be delivered by feminist critic and Tropes vs. Women in Video Games creator Anita Sarkeesian, Polygon confirmed with the school’s Center for Women and Gender Studies. . .

“If you do not cancel her talk, a Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out against the attendees, as well as students and staff at the nearby Women’s Center,” the message reads. “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs.”

The Montreal Massacre, also known as the École Polytechnique Massacre, took place in 1989 in Canada. Marc Lépine, who the email references, killed 14 women, injured 10 and killed four men in the name of “fighting feminism” before committing suicide.

The sender claims to be a student at the school, and adds “you will never find me, but you may all soon know my name.”

This latest threat marks yet another in a growing history for Sarkeesian herself and women in the video game industry at large. In August, following the release of another episode of her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series, Sarkeesian fled her home after receiving “some very scary threats” against her and her family. During GeekGirlCon, which took place this past weekend, officials confirmed to Polygon that a threat was made over her appearance there.


WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU GUYS SO AFRAID OF??  Seriously.  Answer me that.

Why are you so afraid of what we say that you have to kill us?


[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]

Oct 02

When does the magical metamorphosis happen?

Our brothers were bossy know-it-alls, and they did cruel things to us and to animals.

The boys in our class taunted us and always got into fights with each other. They were rude and forever demanding to be the center of attention.

In high school, they became socially awkward, struggled with the material, and became fascinated with sports.
In university, they used pick-up lines (i.e., lies) to impregnate us, seemingly unaware of the immensity of the consequence. In the lecture hall, they were always so full of self-importance, so full of themselves.

So how is it that they become our supervisors, our MPs, our CEOs? How is it they get to be in charge of things? How is it they come to have power?

Why do we think they magically become competent, mature, responsible— When they graduate? When they put on a suit?

Because apparently we do think that. I saw that magic with my own eyes happen with my brother. He graduated, put on a suit, bought an attaché case, and suddenly the world was his. His entitlement.

When did that metamorphosis happen? When did he become so qualified? So worthy?

We commonly joke that ‘B students’ become our bosses, because they’re the ones that go in to business, whereas the ‘A students’ go into the humanities and the sciences.

We’ve got it wrong. The ‘C students’ go into business. The ‘B students’ go into the humanities and the sciences. The ‘A students’ were girls. And they’re nowhere to be seen now.


[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]

Sep 11

Men Need to Reclaim the Moral

Something I noticed when I taught Business Ethics, primarily to male students, is that men seem to think ethics is ‘a girl thing’.  What?  What?!  (My god, that can explain everything!)

Men routinely insult other men who express concern about doing the right thing—“What are you, a fucking boy scout?”  Note that boy scouts are children.

Worse, men who raise ethical questions are accused of going soft, being weak, being a bleeding heart.  Note that these qualities are associated with being female.  It’s thus emasculating to be concerned about right and wrong.  What?! 

Apparently, Mom is assigned the role of teaching the kids right from wrong.  And, of course, anything Mom does is held in contempt as soon as a boy hits twelve, so this may partly explain why men eschew ethics.

Right and wrong is also the arena of priests and we all know priests aren’t real men.  They’re celibate for god’s sake.

Ethics presumes caring, and real men don’t care.  (They especially don’t cry, tears being evidence of caring about something.)  They may protest that they can’t ‘afford’ to care; they have to make real decisions about profit and war, and feelings just get in the way.  As if ethics is all, only, about feelings.  (Where did they get their education?  Oh, they didn’t.  We don’t actually teach ethics.  Except in a few university courses.)

The problem is men run the world.  And it’s not going well.

Isn’t it about time men reclaim the moral?  If rising above the gendered worldview is too much, then just redefine your terms a bit—and for gawdsake Man up!  Consider (and then do) the right thing!

[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]

Sep 07

Not a feminist? Feminism isn’t important?

Just so you’re ready for the next time some woman you know says they’re not a feminist or they don’t think feminism is important or what have you…memorize feimineach’s reply:

Really, feminism is a load of rubbish is it? How’s going to university working out for you? Looking forward to getting a job and earning a wage, are you? Appreciating your full access to birth control, I suppose? Ah, enjoyed the pub last night, I see. Voting about AV in May, are you? How do you think you got to enjoy all of the above?

Sep 01

Stop Being Complicit in your own Subordination

Although our cautionary ‘Don’t blame the victim’ is very important in the context of assault, I think we have overgeneralized.

And although I would certainly put more blame on men than on women for our sexist society, because it is men who are in a position of dominance, I do think women are often to blame. 

We have agency. 

We are not idiots.

And often we are not coerced.

And yet often we are complicit in our own subordination.

We speak in a higher register than is actually necessary and thus come across as child-like.

We smile more often than we need to and thus cancel the importance of our words.

We endorse the importance of our appearance by wearing make-up to cover blemishes and wrinkles and by constantly dieting.

Worse, we emphasize the sexuality of our appearance—by reddening our lips, emphasizing our breasts, exposing our legs—as a matter of daily routine.

No one coerces us to do any of that.  Coercion is implicated when you allow yourself to be assaulted by your live-in partner because that’s the only way to feed your kids, when you do not refuse because someone has drugged your drink, and when you shut the fuck up because otherwise he’ll kill you.  Coercion is not implicated when you wear high heels and a dress.

Cultural conditioning, social expectation, peer pressure—my god, you can’t resist that?  Grow a spine!

I’m suspect of claims that one would be fired if one stopped performing femininity.  (Try doing so in small increments.)  (Try suing.)

I imagine that yes, one might not get hired for some jobs if one doesn’t perform femininity, but hey—apply for a job somewhere else. 

But yes, since Hooters pays more than Walmart, I may be asking you to make a sacrifice—for the greater good.

Because only when men don’t see us as hooters will the female sales associate at Walmart be considered for a managerial position.  It seems to be all or nothing.  If men see us as sexual, they see us as only sexual.  If we have sexual power, we won’t have any other kind of power—political, economic, social.

So please, don’t use your sexuality to get what you want.*  It just makes it harder for the rest of us to be considered persons, with interests and abilities other than having sex and having kids.

Yes, I know you can use your sexuality to get what you want.  Men are idiot children when it comes to breasts, buttocks, and legs. 

But make no mistake.  They are in power.  Over us.  They own most of the property, they hold most of the managerial positions, they hold most of the political positions, they make more money than we do…  And they typically don’t concern themselves with ethics (speaking up about doing the right thing gets them accused of being a boyscout, of going soft….), and that adds to their power: they will not hesitate to hurt us.  Just take a look at contemporary porn, which is thanks to the internet viewed by most men, often starting younger than you might think.  (You are, you become, what you expose yourself to.)

So please, just don’t do it.

Don’t wear make-up and heels.   Don’t even expose your legs.  Unless you’re sure you’re not being sexual about it (don’t shave).  Present yourself as a person, not specifically a female person.

And don’t expect a man to pay your way for anything.  Only invalids and children need to have someone else pay their way.

Don’t even accept it because you think he’s just being nice.  He’s not paying your way to be nice.  He’s paying your way to express his superiority (just watch how angry he gets when you insist on paying his way) and to underscore your need for him, your dependence on him.

And unless you really like kids (did you want to become a nursery school teacher?), don’t have them.  In our society, there is no stronger, no more complete, trap into subordination.  Because then you will need him.  Then you will become dependent on him.  Which will triple his power over you.  (Because look, you can’t take your infant to work with you, so you will need someone to look after it while you’re out earning rent, and that will cost, probably as much, or almost as much, as you make, so you still won’t have rent…)  (Better to form an alliance with another mother; you can work eight hours at your job while she looks after yours and hers, then she can work eight hours at her job while you look after hers and yours.)



*I’ll respond in advance to all the sex-pozzie accusations that I’m a prude, that I’m anti-sex, that I don’t like sex.  You know what?  You’re right.  I  am anti-sex.  I don’t like sex.  Not as it typically occurs today.  Which is primarily for men’s pleasure, often via women’s pain (physical and psychological– anal penetration, vaginal penetration without sufficient lubrication, often accompanied by humiliation, degradation, insult…).  Sex for women’s pleasure wouldn’t even involve the penis!  The clitoris (which is not in the vagina or the rectum) best responds to tongues and fingers.



[Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist is a feminist blog, often radical feminist (radfem), always anti-gender and anti-sexism.]

Aug 17

Reporting What Women Do

What if for just one year, the media reported 90% of the time what women were doing instead of, as is now the case, what men are doing?

Not because what women do is better, or more newsworthy, but just to see how it would change our outlook, our world view. 

The news might be more boring.  But then, hey, what does that say? 

It would likely involve a lot less death and destruction.  Ditto. 

It probably would have less to do with money.  Again…

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