Apr 9, 2007 6

¡Feminista!

Feminist Kermit

It pains me to confess this, but for a slice of my misguided youth, I referred to myself as a humanist.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I love skeptics, literally. While I hew to the woo, myself, I’m extremely pro-atheist: they tend to be smart and open-minded, which makes them very, very good in the sack. But I wasn’t using the term to refer to my (non-)beliefs: I was (incorrectly) using it to explain why I was not a feminist.

So my embarrassment comes in two flavors: first, that I was a sloppy hypocrite, submitting my beautiful mother tongue to the kind of abuse I’m quick to criticize in others (especially xenophobic chucklehaids who blather on about the importance of us all speaking “American”); second, that I even momentarily abandoned the sisterhood. Mea culpa, ladies, and it won’t happen again.

Sadly, oddly, of course-ly, I got careless because I had it so good. As a white, American consumer who came of age after eight incredibly privileged years of private, all-girl schooling and the Second Wave of feminism, I was able to take much for granted. And oh, how I did, from the water that came out of the tap of my own, private bathroom (and the janitor who came running when it didn’t) to the assumption, assumption, that of course I would run the agency some day if I wanted to, Dad. Duh. (Rolls eyes, shoves fist into Doritos bag, returns full attention to Bullwinkle rerun.)

Since it turned out that I had even less interest in than I did aptitude for the game of advertising, I quit long before there were any ceilings in sight, glass or otherwise. And being cursed neither with extreme good nor bad looks, I really wasn’t exposed to much in the way of overt misogyny. (Well, an old Italian man tried to grab my boobs in a caretaker’s shack on Murano once, but I was more startled than offended. I mean, he was like a thousand years old, for chrissakes. It was probably considered a compliment at one point in his sorry lifetime.)

Somewhat complicating matters, a lot of sisterhood-y stuff makes me cringe. No, I’m not one of those Delusional Donnas who says she can only be friends with guys. I like the dudes, provided they’re not exceptionally dude-ly. I also like the ladies, provided they’re not too lady-y. I’m not a girly girl or a manly girl or a womanly girl, I’m a person, dammit, and as such, I like spending time around other people with whom I share significant areas of overlap. I have friends of all genders (if you met them, you’d understand.) Provided you don’t like sports, this could mean you, no matter what you’re packing in yer khakis.

But for as apolitical as I usually am, and despite all the nasty baggage that F-E-M-I-N-I-S-M carries, I’ve had to throw down again. There are just too many he-man woman-hater clubs out there. Hell, there are too many she-man woman-haters. Tune in to my girl, Laura Schlessinger, if you don’t believe me. And if you have the stomach for it. (Come for the unshakable defense of children; stay for the potshots against the Great Liberal Unwashed!)

In case you’re wondering, it was this Kathy Sierra business what finally tipped me to go public. Say what you want, if you’re a dude you can usually say what you want without having vile, violent threats of a sexual nature heaped upon you. But if you’re a woman in Man Land, a.k.a. anything besides recipes, lipstick or frilly underpants? Apparently it’s only a matter of time. I mean, Sierra writes about marketing and computing, stuff that shouldn’t even remotely trigger this kind of vitriol.

There have been a couple of misogynist-flavored comments left here on communicatrix-dot-com. Initially, my first response was to flare up with monstrous umbrage. After months of schooling at the feet of Twisty et cie, though, I think I’ll just answer with links. Or, as my new best friends at Feminism 101 say, “hand the newbie a cluestick”…

xxx
c

Bonus linkage:

Feminism 101 FAQs (aka the Introductory/Survey Class, aka a Cluestick)
I Blame the Patriarchy (aka the Advanced Class)
Good take on misogynist mishegoss on the Guardian (via Dave Greten in the comments)

Image by digitaura via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons (By-NC-ND 2.0) license.

Posted in: The Political Ones

Neil April 9, 2007 at 12:10 pm

Uh-oh, does this mean I can’t compliment you on your hair anymore?

communicatrix April 9, 2007 at 12:13 pm

Oh, please, Neil. You’ve met The BF. He’s the one whose hair you should be complimenting.

Dave G April 10, 2007 at 6:27 am

Agreed, the Kathy Sierra harassment was *vile*

As a guy who argues politics online from time to time, I’ve received my share of angry anonymous commenters. If one of them leaves a message that is worth a damn, I’ll let you know. People that don’t have the courage to have their words attached to their name are cowards.

But, as a guy, I’m privileged in that I don’t have to anonymous people physically or sexually threatening me. This is not a luxury that female writers have and I can’t believe the level of abuse they receive. It’s not right.

This is a great article on the problem:
http://technology.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,2051580,00.html

communicatrix April 10, 2007 at 11:24 am

Dave – thanks for the support and the link. She *did* write a great article. I’ve added the link to the post. Not a fight I wanted/expected to take on, but bullying like this can’t be suffered in silence.

Mario Vellandi April 11, 2007 at 12:42 am

Nice to see your stand on humanism/atheism. I am from a humanist/buddhist school of thought.

Re: KS. That blows. If I were a woman, I would brush aside most crap talk. But if someone is a fanatic and affects my ability to effectively work and live…Grrrrr, I’d be hella upset. All I could do is seek solace and support to alleviate fear and pain.

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