Pointlessly Gendered Products

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Dangerous Sports

I haven’t really kept up with the sexism in the Olympics, mostly because the nationalism bothers me so much I don’t even watch them anymore, but I suspect there are still some sports in which women aren’t allowed to compete. Perhaps because of the tired, old, and fucking patronizing ‘You could get hurt!’

This from the sex that makes beating someone senseless part of the game.

And has its reproductive vitals hanging by a thread at bull’s-eye of the body with nary a half-inch layer of fat for protection. (What’s next in the evolution of the male, a brain growing outside the skull?) (Oops, been there – )

The sex that got the girls’ and boys’ bicycle designs backwards.

And competes on the pommel horse, voluntarily.

Do I need to point out that women’s musculature is generally more elastic, rendering it less prone to injury?

And that women seem to have a better developed survival instinct? We duck. We run the fuck the other way. And we don’t make insupportable claims about our opponent’s sexual preferences or those of her parents.

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

The Proverbial ‘Walking Alone in a Park at Night’

In a rape trial, that the woman was walking alone in a park at night has been considered relevant – presumably it’s a mitigating circumstance: the accused can be excused for thinking she wanted it if she was walking alone in a park at night.

What!?  Why? Why is it that a woman walking alone in a park at night is understood – by men – to be implying consent to sex with any and all men?

Are parks designated sex zones?  I suppose in a sense they are.  Lovers often meet there for clandestine encounters.  Yeah, for consensual clandestine encounters.

Okay, but parks at night are also popular mugging zones, perhaps because of the poor lighting which makes escape easier in the event they are policed.  Okay, but a woman walking alone in a park at night is more at risk for rape than for purse-snatching.

So why is a woman walking alone – ah, is that it?  A woman unaccompanied by a man is unowned?  Up for grabs?  Literally?

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

Show a Little Initiative!

If you just do as you’re told, you don’t get promoted, you don’t get advanced up the ladder, because you’re not showing initiative.

Yeah right. Every time I showed some initiative, I got fired. Or at least reprimanded.

Then I realized that’s because there are different rules of advancement for men and women. Initiative in a woman is insubordination, especially if her boss is a man.

Then I realized later, much later, there are no rules of advancement for women: do X, don’t do X; do X, do Y — doesn’t matter, either way you’re not advanced.

Quite apart from the likelihood that the positions you get aren’t even on a ladder of advancement.

‘You can’t get there from here’ comes to mind.

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

Dolly

Wilmut’s team named the sheep cloned from a single adult cell “Dolly” because that cell had come from a mammary gland.  I’m tempted, on that basis alone, to cast my vote against human cloning.  I mean, if that kind of short-sightedness or immaturity is going to be running things, they’re bound to go horribly wrong.

Did they really not foresee that “Dolly” would become headline news?  Or did they not even recognize how juvenile they were being?  Mammaries = women = mammaries.  We are not seen as people, or perhaps colleagues, certainly never as bosses.  Really, need I go on?  This is all so old.  And yet, grown men, brilliant men, on the cutting edge of science, who become headline news, are apparently still forcing farts at the dinner table and snickering about it.

So, cloning?  I don’t think so.  Not until the other half of the species grows up.

(Then again, since cloning means we finally don’t need them at all, not even to maintain the species, let’s go for it.)  (Could it be they never thought of that either – that cloning makes males totally redundant?)

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

Arrogance, I think

Fresh from the office of my supervisor who persists in gently giving me unsolicited advice, despite being neither older nor wiser, I’m struck by Rousseau’s tone (in his “Marriage”):  “Extreme in all things, they [women] devote themselves to their play with greater zeal than boys.  This is the second defect.  This zeal must be kept within bounds.  It is the cause of several vices peculiar to women, among others the capricious changing of their tastes from day to day.  Do not deprive them of mirth, laughter, noise and romping games, but prevent them tiring of one game and turning to another.  They must get used to being stopped in the middle of their play and put to other tasks without protest on their part.”  I have as much trouble imagining the absolute certainty, the arrogance, required to initiate, let alone sustain, such pontification as I do imagining myself putting an arm around the shoulder of the guy who works in Accounting, and telling him what he should be doing with his life.  Even if I were his supervisor.  I simply could not go on and on like that, not even to students, nor even to children.  Not even at forty.

At least not without the qualifier ‘I think…’, that recognition of subjectivity – the absence of which is the presumption of objectivity, of omniscience.   Can you spell ‘ego’?  I recall one of my philosophy professors stroking out every single ‘I think’ in my paper, calling it wordy, but no doubt judging me to be lacking in confidence or certainty to ‘hedge’ so much.  But his corrections left me with lies – with presentations of opinion as fact.

And I now recognize that omission as the quintessential male lie; it’s how we come to consider them as authorities, on everything.  Refusing to accept one’s ideas as personal means refusing to accept the possibility that they’re incorrect or insignificant.  (Particular shame on epistemologists for this.  I now understand that, compared to my philosophy professor, I was subscribing to the more mature epistemology – by not arrogantly equating or ignorantly assuming that my (subjective) thoughts and perceptions were the (objective) thoughts and perceptions.)

Or maybe the absence of the ‘I’ is simply the denial of, the failure to take, responsibility.  Compare “Your postal code is indecipherable” to “I can’t read your postal code”: the first, without the ‘I’, doesn’t even consider the possibility that the fault may rest with the reader.

Perhaps there’s yet another explanation.  Owen Flanagan notes that “Insofar as reflection requires that we be thinking about thought, then an ‘I think that’ thought accompanies all experience” – but he goes on to qualify that, saying, “There is no warrant for the claim that we are thinking about our complex narrative self.  We are not that self-conscious” (Consciousness Reconsidered 194).  Well.  He may not be.  But I am.  And I dare say men in general may not be that reflective, but women are.  (Actually, I suspect some men are that aware – and they omit the ‘I think’ quite intentionally because of the effect.)

 

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

 

Feminist Shakespeare, anyone?

Those of you interested in a feminist take on Shakespeare, chris wind’s Soliloquies: the lady doth indeed protest is free, limited time only probably.

What’s wrong with being a slut?

slut, n. Slovenly woman, slattern

slovenly, a. Personally untidy or dirty, careless and lazy, or unmethodical

slattern, n.  Sluttish woman

Not what my mother meant when she called me a slut.  For whatever else I am, I am tidy, clean, careful, industrious, and methodical.  Quite methodical.  So just what did she mean?  I don’t know.  I really don’t.  I asked her, but of course she refused to discuss it.

1.  Maybe people call you a slut if you have sex before you’re married.  This poses a bit of a problem if you don’t intend to get married.  Did my mother expect me to remain a virgin all of my life?  Surely not.  Besides, that would reduce marriage to a license for sex, and I’m sure she (and many others) would object to that interpretation.

However, even if I did intend to get married, what’s wrong with having sex before I sign on the dotted line?  A little knowledge and experience might make for more realistic attitudes – less disappointment, frustration, and anger.  Not to mention regret.  Call it informed consent.

And actually, if Jane did have a little sex with Dick before she married him, I don’t think my mother would call her a slut.  She might be pissed off that Jane didn’t follow the rules and wait, like everyone else – like she – did.  And if she could get beyond herself, she might be angry with Jane for exposing the lie that marriage – i.e., religious and civil law – has a monopoly on love and/or that love must be recognized by law before it can be expressed physically.  (Though we do seem to allow its psychological expression before marriage.  Interesting implication then about which is considered to be more important.)  But she wouldn’t call Jane a slut for having a little sex with Dick – hm –

2.  Maybe people call you a slut if you have a lot of sex.  Well certainly after marriage, that’s okay.  Though my mother may tsk tsk a bit, she wouldn’t call Jane a slut.

What about a lot of sex with Dick before their marriage?  Well, I think my mother would tsk tsk a little more loudly, but still she wouldn’t cry ‘Slut!’

Okay, what if Jane had sex with not only Dick, but also with Tom and Harry?  Aha.  I think we’ve got it.

3.  People call you a slut if you have sex with a lot of different people.  Before marriage or after marriage.  Now why is this such a problem?  Multiple partners increase the risk of disease, yes, but my mother’s tone for ‘Slut!’ wasn’t quite the same one she used for ‘Take your umbrella!’  (Not that umbrellas prevent disease.)

a.  Insofar as one has sex in order to reproduce, multiple partners may make paternity harder to establish.  Or it may not: if Tom is Black, and Dick is White, and Harry is Asian – or if Tom had a vasectomy, and Dick used a condom –

Nevertheless, why is uncertain paternity a problem?  Why does it introduce an element of immorality?  Given that the amount of quality time a man spends with offspring known to be his is only negligibly more than that which he spends with offspring not known to be his, the not knowing wouldn’t seem to result in much of a deprivation.

However, given that financial support and inheritance is determined by genetic lineage, uncertain paternity opens the door to – what?  Not exactly fraud, but misappropriation of funds?  So I’m a slut because my behaviour may put some guy’s money into the wrong kid’s hands?  Is that what it’s all about?  There’s got to be a less ridiculous explanation.

(And if sex for reproductive reasons is considered the only ‘legitimate’ sex, then not only must one call lesbians sluts, but one must call all married people who have sex more than once every nine months sluts.)  (And if consistency in thought matters at all, then women who use multiple samples from a sperm bank are also sluts.  Though a few minutes with a turkey baster might not qualify as ‘having sex’.  Despite the similarities.)

b.  Insofar as one has sex for pleasure, multiple partners is immoral because because – it’s a sin to have too much pleasure?

Actually, this may not be that far off the mark.  My mother also disapproves of my being semi-retired at twenty-two.  Apparently I’m supposed to work 40 hours/week for 40 years before having the leisure time to read and go for long walks every day.

In fact, I suspect the force of the insult reflects the perceived injustice, the underlying envy: ‘Slut!’ means ‘That’s not fair – you’re breaking the rules – I  had to limit myself to one man!’

But I think there’s an even better explanation.

c.  Insofar as having sex is making love, someone who has sex with many people shatters the romantic myth of Mr. Right.  It either says there’s more than one Mr. Right or sex isn’t just making love (see 3.b above).  And of course both proclamations are to my mind more realistic and more rational, indeed more mature, than the alternative.

First, isn’t it rather weird to consider that, sexual intercourse, the ultimate expression of love?  I mean it seems as arbitrary as touching one’s big toe to another one’s nostril (except that there is, presumably, a little more physical pleasure involved).  It seems to me that a lot of other things – continued support in one’s chosen field, for example – are far greater expressions of love than the mere giving of a few minutes of physical pleasure.

Second, if the objection is that I’m having sex, making love, with someone I don’t love, well then half the married women in the world are sluts.  How many people stay married even though they don’t love each other any more?  And how many of those people still make love, still have sex?

Third, though one may well want to give pleasure to the person one loves, why stop there?  Why should we be ungenerous?  Should we not want to give pleasure to other people as well, people we like?  And why not also to people we don’t know – what’s wrong with giving pleasure to people we don’t know?  And all this applies equally to getting pleasure.

Fourth, even if one does restrict sexual pleasure to the beloved, do you really believe you will or can or should love only one person, consecutively or simultaneously, in your entire lifetime?  However, loving two or three may not make one a slut – so how many is too many?  In fact, it may not be only the quantity that upsets my mother –

4.  Maybe people call you a slut if you have sex with someone you just met.  I suppose the argument could be that Mr. Right is less of a risk than Mr. Goodbar.  Well, in two-thirds of all marriages, Mr. Right will beat his wife at least once.  That sort of takes care of that argument.  Furthermore, my mother didn’t seem concerned about my safety so much as my morality. (And, actually, now that I think of it, she seemed concerned not so much about my morality as about her own).

Of course, if it’s sex for reproduction, then it seems to make sense to know something about the biological father.  But who can judge how long it takes to find out all the important things?

But if it’s sex for pleasure, does it matter whether you’ve just met?  I can have lots of fun with a motorcycle I just met.

And if it’s sex as love, well I guess if it’s with someone you just met, the definition of love is stretched a bit.  But then again, aren’t those who believe in Mr. Right the same people who believe in love at first sight?

My guess is, however, that ‘someone you just met’ is taken to mean ‘with anyone’.  Which is, in turn, taken to mean ‘with everyone’ –

5.  People call you a slut if you have sex with anyone and everyone.  This is interesting because I think that under this definition, there are very few sluts indeed.  It is rare, very rare, for someone to have sex with anyone, to have no criteria for choice, to be totally indiscriminate.  One, almost every one discriminates on the basis of sex – that is to say, almost everyone is either heterosexual or homosexual.  Two, most women discriminate on the basis of attraction; those women who don’t, that is those, such as prostitutes, who have sex with men who are not sexually appealing to them, discriminate on another basis: ability to pay.  Three, I don’t think I’m alone in not having sex with a person I suspect of being diseased.  Four, I don’t have sex with someone if I think they might be physically violent.  And five, I don’t have sex with a person who wants to impregnate me.  So far from being indiscriminate, my behaviour is very discriminate.

It is important to note that my discussion so far has not included men.  There are some very good reasons for this.  One, the word ‘slut’ applies to women only.  There is no equivalent for men.  ‘Stud’ is perhaps the closest in denotation, but it is exactly opposite in connotation: positive rather than negative, complimentary rather than insulting.  This of course is very interesting because it reveals a double standard.  And I could dismiss the entire question of what’s wrong with being a slut by merely drawing attention to that duplicity.  But one, I wanted to examine the standard that justifies the insult by itself, independent of any other standard.  And two, there is no doubt that the standard by which men are judged is equally deficient and therefore of dubious value in proving a point.

Nevertheless, a comparison at this point might be rather interesting.  My behaviour, I’ll argue, is not only as discriminate as that of most men, it’s far more discriminate.  One, men do not seem to restrict themselves to women they find sexually attractive: sex for men is not just a sexual thing, it’s a power thing; so they’ll have sex in order to display dominance, in order to conquer – and sexual attractiveness, therefore, becomes irrelevant.  Two, I don’t think men are very concerned about having sex with women who are diseased: not one that I have been with has ever insisted on a condom; indeed, most did not want to use one, even when supplied by me.  Three, they are no more discriminate concerning the next criterion: men do not seem to consider possible physical violence (yet how easy it would be to reach over for a knife in the back when he’s about to come, to give a quick twisting wrench instead of a caress).  Lastly, the possibility of pregnancy does not seem to matter either: apart from the sad absence of condoms, no man has ever asked if I’m using contraception, indicating either a confusion or an indifference as to purpose.  So it appears that men are far less discriminate.  Indeed, of all the men I’ve ever asked, only one said ‘no’.  Does that make them sluts?

 

 

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

 

Whereas very few boys grow up looking forward …

“Even if we don’t think of women wanting to BE married, we at least think of them as wanting to GET married. … Whereas very few boys grow up looking forward to the day that they’ll be a groom.  There is no “American Groom” magazine.  G. I. Joe does not have a little tux with a cummerbund … ”  Singlism, Bella DePaulo, p.103

Let’s Talk about Sex

[This one’s a little old, as you can tell by the Salt-n-Pepa reference, but still relevant, I think.  Sigh.]

Disc jockeys generally come in two sexes: male and female.  So what, you may think, sex doesn’t matter.  Oh but it does, so sad to say.

I used to deejay for weddings and other parties, and on any given night, one or two of several things might happen.  For a long time, I never gave them much thought.  But when all of these things happened during a single night, it suddenly seemed clear to me that all those hitherto separate things were, in fact, related.  They were all related to my sex.

On the night in question, I had agreed to fill in for a friend, to do his regular gig at a basement bar.  When I arrived early for a show-and-tell with his system, I was immediately struck by – size.  Mike and I had started out as deejays at the same time: we went through the training together, we apprenticed with the same outfit, and then we each bought out our identical systems and started our own businesses.  I had pretty much kept the same system – a couple cassette players, a search deck, a mixer, an amp, and a pair of 12″ x 16″ speakers on tripods, with a microprocessor.  Mike, I saw, had added.  And he’d added big: he now had two pairs of speakers, each 3′ by 2′, a second amp of course, and a couple CD players.

What is it with men?  They get suckered in to the ‘bigger is better’ mentality every time.  (And it’s not just immature, it’s dangerous: look around – continual growth is not good, we can’t keep expanding, getting bigger and bigger, using more and more.)  I asked him if the smaller set-up wasn’t loud enough, if he’d gotten too many complaints.  Of course he had to say no.  But this looks better, he says.  And that really pisses me off.  Most people – most men – are stupid that way: they see Mike’s huge array of equipment, compare it to my little set-up, and figure he’s a better deejay.  There’s no logic to it.  And either Mike knows it and he’s taking advantage of it (and making it that much harder for the rest of us who refuse to be taken in by size) or he doesn’t know it and he’s just as big a fool as the rest of them (unknowingly at my expense).

Whatever, he walked me through and in a few minutes I was fine – unless I got a lot of requests.  And this is another problem with more, more, more: there were at least four different places to look up a title – there was one directory for the old cassettes, a separate directory for the new cassettes, a third directory for the CDs (except for the ones which weren’t listed anywhere), and a fourth ‘hits’ directory.  This is crazy, I thought as he left.  I took some time to familiarize myself with what was where, and saw a ridiculous amount of duplication – there had to be at least a hundred songs I could find in at least two places.  And altogether he had ten times more music than he could ever hope to play in a night.

Well, the requests started coming in at 10:00.  The bartender told me to play Seger’s “Rock and Roll”, “Dance Mix 95”, and the “Macarena”.  Gee, none of those would’ve occurred to me, thanks.  Then the other bartender came up and asked for something.  A little later I got a note with seven or eight titles on it.  It occurred to me at that point that I was getting a lot more requests than Mike usually got.  (He had said this gig would be a piece of cake.)  And I wondered, is it because I’m a woman, so people think I’m more approachable?   Or is it because I’m a woman, so probably I have to be told what to play, because I probably don’t know.  (And half the time it is just that: I’m told, not asked, to play such-and-such.)

At around 10:30, this guy came up to chat.  He opened with ‘So are you Mike’s helper?’  Excuse me?  Mike’s helper?  I told him no, I have my own business (I gave him my card), I’m just doing this gig for him tonight as a favour.  The guy continued the small talk.  I was trying to be polite, but I was also listening for the end of the piece, and trying to find at least one of the requested songs in at least one of the directories or boxes of music – and then it dawned on me that this guy was really trying to stretch out the conversation, he was, in fact, ‘hitting on me’.  And I was, in fact, trying to work.

The same thing happened again later on.  Only with the second guy, we got into this ridiculous competition of ‘I know more about deejaying than you.’  I’m sure you know the type, there’s one in every crowd who comes up to tell you ‘Yeah, I used to do this, how many watts do you have?’  But this guy really wanted to win – and it occurred to me that this man-woman thing was getting in the way again, it was complicating simple shop talk, he refused to lose to a woman.  Listen, I’m trying to work here –

And then this third guy came up and said, ‘Play some rock, this stuff is shit.’  I smiled and said, ‘This shit was requested but I’ll certainly put on some rock for you.’  I did so within two songs.  He came up again, and this time sat himself down in my chair, behind my table (I’ve never seen anyone do that to a male deejay).  He told me he had been drinking since 2:00.  He thought he was bragging rather than proclaiming how pathetic he was, and I realized, geez, he’s hitting on me too.  ‘Play some rock,’ he said again.  I said, ‘I’ve been playing rock, what specifically do you want to hear, what do you mean when you say ‘rock’?’  ‘Any rock,’ he exploded, then insulted, ‘Anyone knows what rock is!’  He came up a third time, and said he’d taken a survey and no one wanted to hear this shit (“Dance Mix,” requested three times), play some rock and roll!  By now, I was just trying to ignore him.  I’d already played Seger, Springsteen, the Stones, Cochrane, and Adams; I’d played Tragically Hip and Pearl Jam; I’d played Hootie and I’d played the Smashing Pumpkins.  This was one drunken asshole I would not be able to please.  He persisted from the end of the bar, yelling ‘Rock and Roll!’ every time I put on some dance or country (also requested several times).

I almost lost it when at around midnight the bartender came up and asked me to play some rock and roll – ‘He keeps asking us to come up and tell the girl to play a little rock!’  Any man pushing forty would be, I think, insulted to be called a boy.  Wake up call, guys: most adult women are just as insulted to be called a girl.

Shortly after, the first guy came back up to tell me he thought I was doing a fine job, he saw the shit I was getting from the other guy.  Part of me wanted to take that at face value, that was a really nice thing to do.  But another part of me was thinking ‘Yeah but he’s only nice like that because you’re a woman’: there’s a subtext of either making the moves on me or patronizing me.  (Did he think I was about to burst into tears?  Actually I was thinking about just hauling back and decking the drunk – but I didn’t want to have to pay Mike for damage to his equipment.)

The night finally ended and I left.

The next night, I had a wedding to do.  And it was just like any other wedding I’d done, but after the previous night, well, it was just like that night…

‘I don’t think this is gonna go, you should play something faster,’ I heard someone say to me.  I looked at him and wondered if he thought his being male and my being female gave him the right to criticize, to give advice to someone old enough to be his parent.  Thirty seconds into the (slow) piece I’d chosen, the dance floor was full.  Have I proved myself?  Of course not – I just ‘lucked out’.  ‘Again’, I mused sarcastically.

Another guy came up, walked around my table, and stood beside me.  No, he didn’t have a request, he just wanted to introduce himself, say hi, how’s it going.  He stayed, in my way, for three whole songs, oblivious to my suggestions that he join the party, it looks good.

A little later, an older guy, fifty-something, gave me a gentle warning, ‘You can’t please everyone, but just try a bit of 50s and 60s.’  ‘I know,’ I told him, not pointing out that I’d already done a 50s-60s set, ‘I’ve been doing this for over five years now.’  ‘Oh you have?’  He is so surprised.  What, do I have ‘novice’ written on my forehead?  Did the way I set up my equipment suggest that I didn’t know what I was doing?  (Single-handedly and in fifteen minutes flat.)  No – I’m female – so it just goes without saying that I probably don’t know what I’m doing.

I just wanted to be a deejay.  But people, especially men, kept insisting by their behaviour, that I was a female deejay.  Sex shouldn’t make a difference.  But they make it make a difference.  Do male deejays get questioned?  Are they expected to chat pleasantly while working?  Do they have to deal with a constant stream of guidance, advice?

Frankly, it’s irritating, it’s insulting, and it’s exhausting.

 

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

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