Your dick is not an assumption

Hypotaxis

I’ve been pretty up front on this blog about the fact that my impetus to create it arose from abject horror at the way lesbian communities (in particular) were being colonized/destroyed. Suddenly, organizations and publications that previously focused on the needs of women, on topics of import for women, were now focused squarely on the interests of males who feel like women. Such interests – pronouns, access to hormones and surgeries, entry into women’s restrooms, theorizing on penises – are in no way important to women’s liberation or women’s actual experiences. They may be very important to trans folk, but they have precious little to do with the issues actually facing women. And yet, women are expected to take these issues on in spaces that once were for and about them. Very few people are outraged over this, because very few people truly care about women and fewer still care…

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Forgiveness + Positive Thinking = Eating Shit

Trust Your Perceptions

Every patriarchal religion has a Forgiveness Clause. Forgive! It’s Holy! Get Whole again!  Why even the Dalai Lama says forgiveness is good for you. And not only that, any psychologist who spent all that money getting the paper-thingee to sit and listen to kinda redundant incest/depression tales will tell you the same: Forgive! Because it’s the only way you’ll heal…

The congregation and the couch-client, we all know, are primarily FEMALE. — Women trying to find succor from the layer upon layer upon layer of psychic/spiritual damage patriarchy inflicts on all women. The forgiveness clause is for us (and the kids later on with their damn class-action lawsuits). Do men forgive? Have the Palestinian patriarchal command forgiven the Israeli patriarchal command? Did the English Airforce forgive the German Infantry? Have the Crips forgiven the Bloods?? HELL NO. Men don’t forgive. Forgiveness is for gurrls. Men do war. Because men understand forgiveness as capitulation, as an admission of…

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Reason Fails

As with many victims of domestic abuse, you spend a lot of your mental energy in “reasonableness”. These are the people that you love, that you have trusted and counted on. These are the people that know you – that spend time with you, have included you in their lives, have shared deeply personal, even intimate moments with you. These are people that love you.

It is unreasonable that these people should hurt you. So there must be reasons that they do. There must be something you are missing. There must be something that they have simply misunderstood, and if you are patient and explain it all to them with great clarity, with charts, graphs, well-vetted resources from the best experts available to you, then they will understand and stop hurting you.

If you become disabled, and find out that you have a terminal illness, there are even better reasons why they should not hurt you. Look, I’m dying, so that should make you happy that I’ll no longer be this burden in your life that you loathe so much. But even your illness becomes another reason for them to hate you, to treat you badly, and to attack you. Your illness becomes “manipulation” and “an excuse” and they are justified in hating you even more. They are justified in ignoring your simple requests, little things that you need to stay alive and stay sane while you are going through the most grueling crisis of your life.

But they don’t see it that way. Your requests are filed under “you always make your shit our problem” or “you expect us to put you up in our home”. It is the avalanche of screams and accusations over the simplest of requests, the very gentlest of attempts to resolve and achieve compromise, that are sometimes the most devastating. You don’t expect a reaction of such sheer size and weight.

You can’t. No one can. And when you are in crisis, you need reason. You need to be able to have some tiny corner of order in a landscape that is nothing but chaos.

When people that you have loved and counted on punish you for needing their help, there is some point when you have to realize that these people are not good people. They are not your friends. They do not love you. They don’t, and they never will.

It is very, very difficult to hear this message while you are in the middle of being abused as I am while I am writing this. It is very, very difficult to believe that you have any value when you are surrounded by a room full of people telling you that you are worthless through their words and actions. It is very, very difficult when another family member, who has not spoken to me for a year, decided to start up attacking me again via text message when she heard, through her son, that I had been attacked today.

The cruelest thing that we do to women is to isolate them, to cut them off from real support, from real community, because they are married, or single, or the wrong color, or a mother, or not a mother, or Christian, or not a Christian. The cruelest thing we can do is to try to reason out that a person who is in crisis isn’t really in crisis, because they aren’t being pummelled by a bad guy in this very exact moment. When someone says they are crisis, and if we care about them, we should drop everything and listen to them. Sometimes that person in crisis has no escape, and no alternative, but one final unthinkable act.

And that is where reasonableness will sometimes lead us. You cannot reason away or reason with something that is rooted in horror.

Assange upholds pro-rape ideas

Feminists opposing an Assange-led Wikileaks Party

Over a period of years, Assange has both personally expressed ideas which vilify feminism and Sweden’s limited anti-rape laws, and has paid lawyers to assert that rape is not rape.

Although his defenders frequently try turning all discussions about this issue to whether he is guilty of the serious crimes Sweden is conducting a criminal investigation over, the issue for feminists is broader.

Feminists’ aim in passing anti-rape laws and campaigning for a better approach to rape cases by the state is not merely to promote better handling of rape by the judicial system, but also to reinforce public understanding that rape is wrong.  When high-profile activists spend several years exerting their considerable influence to encourage their supporters – many of them young men – to repeat rape excuses, myths and ideology and to vilify anti-rape laws – this has a detrimental effect on public consciousness, and sends the feminist…

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She Can’t Even Swim

I live with a verbally abusive father. Before anybody gets all choice-y choice on me, it is not my choice to be here. I have been unable to find work for 6 years. When you are out of employment for that long, good luck finding anyone who will hire you. Add to that the lack of a college degree, the fact that my skill set (administration) is largely automated now, I am, in a word, screwed. The chronic, life-debilitating illness that prevents me from working 40 hrs/week is another story. As is the fact that I’m not “sick enough” to get on disability and would have to claim mental illness as well, in this case anxiety, a diagnosis that would effectively end my ability to have inroads in politics, or be considered for serious writing jobs, among other things. 

So Dad’s a peach. Except not. He has always been a proud sexist, and raised his three daughters to believe they were inferior to men. So it is no surprise that all three of us are, more or less, failures in business, failures in employment, and failures in general under a capitalist structured world, while my two younger sisters are successes as mothers, because that is the only thing women were good for according to my Dad. Which is why, in his mind, I am an utter and complete failure all around.

 Instead of acknowledging how his indoctrination and lack of support left me outside of any academic track, it is apparently my fault that I don’t have a college degree. He and Mom pulled me out of public school and put me in a private school when I would have started middle school. My education was effectively over at that moment, because the “school” was a church with some of the parents “teaching” us. There were no kids my age. I was lumped in a room with three boys, all in grades ahead of mine. I effectively skipped 6th grade not because I was so brilliantly smart, but because they couldn’t be bothered to teach me my actual grade. It was just so inconvenient for them.

 I don’t think I need to give you the entire history after this point to fill in the picture for you. I graduated from highschool a year early, the only person in my class. Because of the church’s indoctrination cementing my father’s, I truly believed that the only options for me were marriage and baby-making. Of course, there were no men my age, and I had no idea how to “get a husband”. So I did the only thing available – I went to the Bible College associated with our high school. I went there for two years. It was not accredited, and it was not a school. It was little more than three sermons a day, five days a week, with a terrifying compulsory prayer meeting every day where you were randomly selected to perform prayer before the equally terrifying head of the school, a man who could have given Napoleon a run for his money.

 After I finished my two years – not even graduating because one teacher lied to me about class requirements – I went back home, because I still, at 19, had no idea what to do with my life. And my parents were, of course, of no help there. Not once had they ever talked to me about careers, or jobs, or school, or paths of any kind. Because women were only good for making babies, I wasn’t worth the effort.

 Keep in mind that I had, throughout my childhood, demonstrated immense natural talent for a wide array of skills. I taught myself how to sight read music at age 6, and sang along with the church choir, soprano, alto and sometimes tenor parts. When my grandmother got a piano a couple of years later, I taught myself 2.5 years worth of piano lessons in less than 12 days (spread out over 2 years of bi-annual visits, between which I had no piano and couldn’t practice). In gradeschool I was always placed with the advanced students, and showed high aptitude in literally every subject. The “teachers” in secondary and high school all thought I had quite a talent for writing, and should pursue it. But we had no literature courses because literature was “of the devil”.

 So I ended up back at home. I was there for less than 4 months when my mother kicked me out because I didn’t want to run errands for her one morning before going to work at my crappy retail job. Since I had nowhere to live, I called some friends at the Bible College and they gave me a bed there. After Mom begged me to come home, I did one weekend while they were out of town. Less than a few months later, she threw me out again, this time after going through my belongings and finding a pair of pants (at the time, she believed that pants were “men’s clothing” and it was a sin for women to wear them).

 I had somewhere to live for a short while after that, and then yet another place after that one. I had to find another job, what turned out to be my first secretarial gig. This was just before computers made their way into offices. I supported 11 people all by myself, and built an office from scratch. No prior experience, just my native intelligence and natural ability to organize, to parse workflows and understand how to make things work. So of course they screwed me over.

 Fast forward to my relocation from SC to Atlanta, which I did because after getting screwed by everyone that I had ever known, I had little else to lose. I asked Dad if he would agree to help me go to a tech school in Atlanta where they taught you how to run recording studios. He somehow agreed, which really shocked me, since he hadn’t agreed when I asked him to send me to a regular college the year before. Maybe he just wanted me far away where he didn’t have to think about me any more. As it turned out, the college program I signed up for didn’t have night classes, which meant that I couldn’t find work other than at convenience stores, a prospect that terrified me. Dad agreed to help with my rent if I found roommates, which I did. I lived in a slum with no furniture except my twin bed.

 Just after the first semester, I heard that my younger sister wanted to go to school for architecture (a field she didn’t stay with), and I dropped out so she could. I struggled to find work and retail was all there was. When a roommate ran up a $500 phone bill and left without paying, I lost my phone. This was before cell phones. When I was too sick to get in my car and drive the 2 miles to the closest payphone, I got fired from my retail job. Eventually I got another administrative job and stayed on that track for 25 years. Because of what I now know is lupus, I didn’t have the strength or energy to work a full time job and go to school at night, so school was put on indefinite hold. Meanwhile, nobody ever encouraged me to pursue goals, or even think about them, because I had income, a roof, and that was enough. Eventually she’ll get married and then she won’t have to worry about it anyway. Right?

 Wrong. I was raped by the second guy I had a relationship with, among other unspeakable things he did to me. I couldn’t bring myself to date for 9 years. When I did, that guy raped me. So that’s 14 years, the prime years when women “get a husband”. So I was even a “failure” at the one thing I had been taught I was “good for”.

 Fast forward to 2006, when I lost my job due to cutbacks, and couldn’t get a good paying job after that, because I have no college degree, because I’m not young enough for those “sexy” jobs in technology, because I’m a dinosaur in today’s world. Because my skills in project management, organization, logistics, and the like are not enough to get me hired. These are considered peripheral skills to “real jobs”, the ones you need a degree for.

 I applied for financial aid a couple of years ago, and was immediately approved because I have made between $1,000-3,700 a year for the last 6 years. Huzzah! Ironically, I couldn’t apply for college because I didn’t have the $35 application fee nor the funds for gas to travel to and from class.

 And for those last 6 years, I have been trying anything and everything to build my networks, to develop new skills in social media and tech, to expand my knowledge of politics and try to gain inroads there (even contemplating running for office whatajoke), getting the odd job here and there, finding a client who has literally kept me alive for the last 3 years and been the only source of income, a client who is borrowing from his parents to pay me, a well nearly dry.

 And today, again, my father screams and yells at me because he is going to abandon the house I’m living in, because he wants to go on endless vacation with his new girlfriend. And I’m in the way of this. He can’t sell the house, so he’s going to let the bank have it. He doesn’t want to feel any guilt about leaving me on the street, so he tells me I am garbage, that I have been “wasting money” and taking advantage of his good graces. That I owe him for all those years of growing up, and times he helped me financially because I couldn’t get a good paying job, and because he has been paying an electric bill and internet bill for me (leaving out that he’s using it himself of course). He can’t scream at me anymore when I ask for a piece of broccoli, because I got food stamps. Yes, he screamed at me when I asked for something green to eat instead of the free bread he got from the grocery store garbage. I am not kidding.

 So while I have been struggling mentally, emotionally and physically to get my feet under me, to find some way to get back to a place where I can support myself, he knocks all of it down, yet again, as he has done over and over and over and over for the last 5 years. And he goes back to his endless vacation, and I am left broken and battered, unable to remember what I am fighting for, feeling like a complete and utter failure at everything that I do or have ever done.

 Because this is how patriarchy works. The water is made too deep for us to find a place to stand, and while we desperately tread water, there’s the man pushing our head under. “Look how worthless and inferior she is! She can’t even swim.”

Opting Out

This important work by a feminist atheist blogger demonstrates why we, as feminists, must be more determined than ever to take a stand and work together for a better world for women.

anthonybsusan

Note: I’m overwhelmed by the response this blog has gotten! If your comment has been trapped in moderation, sorry about that–I work full time and didn’t expect my blog would get this level of attention. I’ve left some particularly atrocious comments up because I feel they prove my point. So, survivors, trigger warnings ahead.

There’s a subculture with a healthy Internet presence, centered around passionate advocacy for a particular ideological cause. It has several popular male leaders. These men enjoy comfortable jobs, speaking engagements and publishing credits. That places them in a position of power in this subculture, and they’ve got the dedicated followers to prove it.

And then these leaders are accused of abuse: sustained sexual harassment, even rape, all directed at women, an under-represented demographic in this community. Rather than treat these allegations with respect and serious inquiry, there is backlash. These women, people say, are sluts. They…

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Women Are Owned

Globally women own approximately 11% of the world’s resources. The fact that very few people have a problem with this statistic is, in itself, evidence of the crucial and systemic nature of the problem.

Women aren’t allowed to own property. This is the reality. But that reality is usually covered with a fog of capitalism. It goes something like this:

“Women are so busy raising children that they don’t have time to go to college or get a full time job. That’s the reason why women don’t own land or houses. It’s because they are sacrificing for their children. After all, this is how women function. They always put babies first. Because something magical happens in a woman’s body that makes her want to be pregnant and have children. So it is natural for men to own the land and keep it in trust for future generations, for his heirs, because women are not suited to provide for children.”

This, of course, is a load of bullcrap. But it’s amazing how a lie, oft-repeated, starts to sound like the truth. And humans have been repeating this lie for thousands of years.

When one lives as an oppressed class, the multiple layers and dimensions of that oppression become very visible, as though someone walks around highlighting each and every one with a bright florescent marker. The more women fight the system, the more they learn how oppressive it is, and the more they learn how little they can do on their own to change it. But for those not living inside that oppression, they will believe that it doesn’t exist. They will call the oppressed liars and “hysterics”. They will call you this while they take away your opportunities for advancement. They will call you this while they beat you.

Women learn very early in life that we do not own the spaces we live in. That we do not own our possessions, our time, or even our thoughts. Women learn that we own nothing at all, and that everything is given to us by a man – a father or grandfather or uncle. All of our stories are about men, about male heroes, about patriarchs and boys. If a woman is present it is to support him, not herself. A woman learns from her very beginning that she can’t exist unless there is a man in the story. For girls raised without fathers, this lesson is exceptionally hard, for they learn that they have no identity, and no self, because there is no man present, and hence no owner to protect or anchor them in the world.

Our minds and our bodies do not belong to us. Women are taught that their vulva and vagina are not meant for them, but for the man that will one day fuck them. Until that day, the woman’s vulva belongs to her father, and he decides who she will or will not “date”. He may even “claim” her most intimate spaces for himself as his property and right. This happens far more often than we care to admit. That it happens at all is because of the belief that female children belong to their fathers. Estimates range as high as 6,000 children are raped every day by their father. The vast majority of those assaulted, destroyed by the man who protects them, are female.

Women are taught that the only purpose of the female genitalia – the genitalia that they were born with – is for the pleasure of men. It is not always such an overt training, and would probably be more accurate to say that such overt indoctrination is rare. In some fundamentalist circles this is precisely what is taught, and women who experience pleasure at all are labeled “depraved”. Most of the time, though, the indoctrination forms in more subtle ways through ignoring women’s pleasure altogether and pretending that it – women’s pleasure – does not even exist. It is solidified through pretending that a woman’s body isn’t even a woman’s body, but rather an object for and of sex itself. Woman is not human. She is daily, hourly, minutely proclaimed to be a thing.

When sexual biology is taught in school, is there any discussion of women’s pleasure? Men’s arousal, pleasure and ejaculation are certainly discussed, but for the women, it is passive – arousal, if discussed, is framed as preparation for insertion of a penis. In this framing, woman disappears. She is absent, not even a footnote in her own life or in her own body. She does not exist unless there is a penis involved. Is it any wonder that so many teenage girls fight for the attention of an admired male when her entire world screams at her that she can only exist in his gaze?

This suits the pro-porn outlook very nicely, which is wholly focused on male pleasure and female degradation, happening simultaneously. Our world is saturated with this, and that saturation begins when children are in gradeschool. Some of us saw our first pornographic magazine before middle school, in the days before internet. Such pornography is much more prevalent now, and far more violent. Where “gonzo” porn used to be abnormal, now it is abnormal to find a porn video that is not violent and degrading to women.

In porn, you can’t have male pleasure without female degradation. This message is reinforced in the way that sexual biology is taught in school. Men are the aggressor, the actor, the instigator, and women are the passive receptacles of men and the penis.

The message is clear: women do not own their genitals – men own them. It is reinforced by calling a woman who has sex a “slut”. It is reinforced by shaming a woman who has been sexually assaulted by multiple men. Such a woman has failed to act according to her place. She has failed to find a proper owner, and has been “claimed” by the mob of men and their uncontrollable animalistic desires. She has failed – not society, not the men who brutalized her. She has failed to find ownership and thus protection, so deserves her ridicule and shaming.

Women do not own. Women ARE owned. And this status is cemented by strict social structures that segregate women away from male-dominated arenas such as engineering, mathematics, sciences, technology, politics, sports and property ownership. Not coincidentally, all of these areas are where the total of human social power reside, which enforces the notion of women’s inferiority to men, and ensures, quite easily, that women never attain social power at all.

If women want to be free, we must teach girls that they are autonomous, free, and not owned by anyone. We must teach them that their lives are defined by their womanity, that life is not defined by men. If we want a society where women can live in freedom rather than in fear, we need a revolution in our thinking. We must free ourselves, and we must also demand that men free us. Women must stop thinking of their bodies as vessels of male pleasure, and spend time in self-reflection, and self-action, to understand their own happiness without men. We must stop asking for permission and take our rightful place as full human beings. We must demand recognition of who we are.