Saturday, January 31, 2009

"My House Is Not On Fire"

So sometimes I worry about my friends. I worry about everyone who just. doesn't. understand! about why this whole feminism thing is so important. And I get angry about it. In theory, I understand that not everyone will think like me or even agree with me, and it doesn't make them wrong. But when it comes to this, and especially when it comes to other women who are deliberately, bilssfully ignorant about the shit that happens all around us, it's hard to keep a level head.

Case in point: my friend B. We have been friends for years and are used to each others' quirks. I was visiting her yesterday and while reading teh interwebz, I saw this post from Hoyden About Town and was bitching to her about the tendency of advertising to treat women as interchangeable body parts. Her response: "I don't care about that stuff. I'm not a feminist, Lemur, you know that." 
"Yes, B, you are. Do you like going to college? Choosing who to marry? Having a career? Owning property? Hell, getting to vote?? Feminists did that. You're a feminist."
"Okay, fine, but I'm not as much of one as you are. I don't care about that stuff, Lemur. I'm not angry about ads and commercials and stuff like you are- they don't affect me. I don't leave the house (and she really doesn't if she can help it), I don't watch TV or read magazines, I don't watch the news. That stuff is just depressing, and I'm happy where I am."

At this point I lose my patience. I tell her about the Global Gag rule, the HHS "conscience rule" that Shrub just passed, about 9 year old child brides in Afghanistan, about rape culture, about the effects of popular media. 
I finish with, "This stuff is allowed to happen because people don't want to worry about it. Because people sat back and didn't care about it, until at some point we realize we've lost all our rights, we're in too deep, and there's no way to fix it. 
Maybe you don't care about these ads, but they care about you! They make you into a demographic, a commodity, an object. This stuff affects how the world sees you, and even though you don't realize it, they affect how you see the world! Your boyfriend, in the other room? He's a good guy, yeah. These "stupid, unimportant ads and stuff" affect how sees you, and me, and himself. No one is immune. This IS important, and someone has to care about it."

I can see by her face that she feels that I'm lecturing her, trying to browbeat her. I can tell she's annoyed, put out, not listening. She doesn't understand, and I feel like crying. I don't know what I can say, what the magic words of realization might be. I can't make her care, but I am baffled that she doesn't. How can any woman not care about this?

I feel as though I am telling her: "The house is on fire! We have to do something!" And she only says: "I am in my room, the door is closed, and it's not warm in here at all."

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Be A Man"

Sorry I haven't updated- still no internet at the house, and still more sick than well. I understand now that seasonal depression thing some people go through. Never thought I'd miss SoFlo, but dear Goddess I just wanna be warm again.

...Anyway. Today's rant is on something I've been seeing in Christian websites just lately (I was looking for a feminist book review and my Google-fu went awry). Actually, I see it all the time whenever Fundies get together and discuss how The Liberals Are Ruining Society. It's this: "We have to encourage our men to be men!" Or some equivalent. Has anyone else noticed this creepy meme?

One commenter on (which I will not link) babbles happily "Sometimes my friends who have a “super sized” family like I have sit around and discuss that our large families have forced our husbands to step up to the plate and become a man. They shoulder immense burdens for the sake of their families when they could’ve limited their family’s size through sterilization, the IUD, or the pill and used their wives as objects while they pursued personal interests." 
Yeah, that truckload of brats "forced him" to step up and work back breaking hours to feed all those dependents. Good thing, too- who knows what would've happened if you hadn't been there to add to the world's overpopulation. It's not like he was probably a decent guy from the start or anything. But without all those kids, he might've pursued *gasp* outside interests- like friends, a hobby, or career ambitions. Hey, we all know having a shit-ton of kids prevents an otherwise irresponsible, unfaithful man from chasing other women and/or divorcing his wife and leaving her with 5 kids to feed. Also, good thing to know that the woman who's basically a uterus on legs doesn't feel like an object! Whew! I'm so relieved.
She also adds a cute little aside about how she makes a MUCH better chocolate chip cookie than hubby, but golly, he's her best taster! Tee hee! Cause he's a man and, you know, they love to eat but can't cook! Those menz- they'd starve without a wifey in an apron! 
Excuse me while I go throw up.

And now the church is saying than men aren't manly enough, and that, obviously, old-fashioned gender roles and huge families are the ticket to making them "step up and be men".
I'm guessing what that means is: they should be responsible, loving, considerate, and do their best to care for and protect the ones they love. Be strong enough to take care of their kids, homes, and livelihoods. Treat others as you'd want to treated. Not act like 35-year-old children, not act as though the world and everything in it is their personal toy. 
Great. Awesome. I couldn't agree more. Except... why is this the purview of men? Why do we need to go back to traditional gender roles? Aren't these qualities important for, um, everyone? What- responsibility and steadfastness are only desirable if you have a penis? And us laydeez are just supposed to stand back and giggle/applaud, or something?

Ick. Is it just me, or does that logic not resemble our Earth logic?
Look, my thing is- what is a man, anyway? And why do we make boys work so hard to conform to that narrow ideal? Why can't a woman work and support her family (wage gap aside)? Why can't a man be the one to take care of and nurture his kids? 
Why, other than that we're taught from a young age "this is how things are"? Why is it so important to 'be a man' when what we should all be striving for is to 'be a decent human being'?

Well, catholics and fundies? I'm waiting.   ...Bueller? Anybody?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Banging My Head Into A Wall For Fun

"Lemur, why don't you want kids?"
For the same reason I don't bang my head against a wall for fun.

When my Ferret and found our own place, I was relieved. Her folks were very nice to let us stay there while we got it together, but there were 7 people, 1 bathroom, 3 dogs, and 2 small children.
I don't like kids. I can manage them, in small groups. I tolerate them. I occasionally even think they're cute. But seeing a baby in a stroller does not make me wish for one myself. I seem to lack the maternal imperative. Obviously, we need some around to continue the species; obviously, some people find fulfillment in having kids. Don't get me wrong- I'm happy for those who're happy with kids, who are good parents for good reasons (I can't define "good reason", but I know all the bad reasons). 

So, no kids for me. The world does not need my parenting skills- any kid I unleashed on the world would be a world-conquering tyrannical despot or a constantly-stoned couch-philosopher. It's safer this way, really. And I don't need kids. I have plenty of walls handy, thanks.

What drives me nuts is all the people who smirk and say "Well, you're young. You don't know what you want. Just wait til your biological clock starts ticking. Who'll look after you in your old age? Don't you want a family?" Any or all of the above. Like I haven't thought about this for years. Like I'm not capable of NOT wanting kids. Like I don't have reasons for not wanting them. Like I haven't thought of all this before. 
I have a plan for all this. My plan is: Have my finances set up to take care of myself in my old age. And have friends, who'll visit me in my dotage. If my biological clock (which I'm not convinced exists) starts going "cuckoo!" and I start wanting kids around, I'll join a mentoring program. Oh, and as for "family"? I have a family. Besides my immediate family and the family I'm marrying into, there's also my own family: me, Ferret, and our fuzzies. We're our own family. Small but happy. Yay for us.

I wish people would consider adoption more often, though. I know there're all kinds of problems with the system- one of the biggest that in many (most?) states, LGBT folks can't adopt. But I think the biggest problem is that we're still stuck in this medieval mindset where kids were a necessity (for work on the farm) or a point of pride (look, my penis is manly and virile!) or a point of fear (the family name will die if I don't have kids! [never mind that usually a woman's family name disappears into obscurity]). These, and all the other stupid excuses to BREED, DAMN YOU! don't make sense to me.

Hey guys? Screw your genes. The world doesn't need them. If you're worried about your race or religion "dying out" or "being outnumbered", you're a bigoted asshole, and the world REALLY doesn't need your genes. And any talk about "bloodlines" is ridiculous. This isn't the Middle Ages, you aren't European Nobility. In this age, paternity's no longer a life-and-death issue. Let's see, what else? Most of you don't have farms; if you need help, hire it. Your penis is not that damn important- no, really it's not. Nobody cares. And unless you or your ancestors have done something particularly noteworthy, even your descendants won't remember you, and you won't know them. If you did do something important, you'll be in the history books anyway and you'll be remembered, no kids needed. If you're that worried, make a couple million dollars, endow or donate something big, and give it your freaking name. There ya go.

I can't tell people what to do. I can't suggest we all stop reproducing (although I think we could benefit from a slowdown for a couple generations). I can roll my eyes at people with families of 5 or 6. Don't you guys know when to stop? Think of the homeless kids you could provide for! Hell, think of your carbon footprints and stop making more consumers! Damn, people! 
Er. Anyway.
Think. Adopt. Use protection. And for Gaia's sake when someone tells you they don't want kids, congratulate them!