Tag: Feminism

My Underdogs, or “Over-There Problems”

I have recently come to understand what people mean when they talk about white feminists. So much is a statement about the color of their skin though that is certainly a major contributing factor but a statement about their attitude. A white feminist is the opposite of an intersectional feminist.

If you LARPed as I do you may have heard the phrase “that’s an over there problem.” It’s primarily used to indicate that whatever task has been presented, whatever non-player character has been sent to beg their help while certainly pressing in an in game context, is far too much trouble for them in and out of game context.  The players involved simply do not wish to walk that far or exert that much energy. It bothers me and for some time I have not been able to put my finger on exactly why, besides the fact that it was a phrase which could be uttered without anyone thinking you were a total jerk for letting that poor NPC die because you were lazy…because “not everyone can be a hero.” Well no, not everyone can be a hero, but at least then can not sit back smoke cigs and watch the NPCs get slaughtered like it’s nothing.

But I think the reason it really bugs me is that it’s not just a LARP thing. To the ‘white feminist’ issues of racism, heterosexism, cissexism, and ableism constitute an over there problem. These are real world situations and while the player characters in a LARP can often afford to ignore the distressed farmer due to their meta knowledge that it is merely a game, we have no such luxury as regards real world social justice. The white feminists has the luxury of separating these things from their feminism because these things do not directly impact their own lives as much as sexism does, and so do not regard these problems as real. No, not everyone can be the hero, but if inequities don’t at least bother you, if seeing people act in reprehensible ways doesn’t at least make you think less of them, then you’re either not engaging with the world, or you’re a ‘white feminist’

This came to me in the form of a nasty surprise when during the discussion of race a person I had previously considered to be an ally and a good feminist referred to the act of my calling out a serious case of racism, as inappropriate.Considering a person who said racist things to be a racist, was wrong, because I could not hold others to my lofty standard of, well of not spewing racist crap, and I was further wrong in ‘attacking’ one of the nicest people on the board, they say, for telling her I considered her behavior of excusing racism instead of admitting that the person she was defending was being a total racist, to be reprehensible, and to make her complicit in said racism. And this is what was said…

“I know you’re very passionate about your underdogs but…” Wait: MY underdogs? That phrase has stuck with me for months, dancing at the back of my mind like a horrific taunting child.I barely made it past that phrase, but it was the beginning of the end. There wasn’t enough backing. It became an internet pile on and I was underneath. I left the group, and not on good terms, but it was clear from then on there was no point in staying. The few good people there were too invested in their friendships with the ‘white feminists’ to speak up.

But lets back up for a moment unpack that idea:

“MY underdogs.” I’ve been given ownership in this phrase of marginalized people because what, they’re pets? You can’t own people, we’ve been thru that crap already. So what does it really mean? It’s a way for the speaker to indicate that she belives that no one involved in this conversation, no one in this facebook group, cares about these people but me.

“My UNDERDOGS.” Underdogs are people you expect to loose, and no one makes a fuss when they do. They were smaller. They were weaker. They weren’t as skilled at the sport, or game at hand. They’re so brave just for fighting, and sometimes they eeke out a win by some unconventional means, but no one’s kidding themselves that the underdog is as good as the perennial winner. To these white feminists, women were an oppressed class, but people of color, disabled people, transgender people, these are people to be pittied like the underdog, for their differences which make them less.

This is why we need intersectionalism. Feminists, all feminists, need to recognize the validity of other axis of oppression and be willing to stand up against that which does not personally affect them, for no other reason than that seeing that injustice perpetrated makes them ANGRY. We need to take it more personally when oppression is happening in our presence, even if it’s not ‘your’ fight. There is NO SUCH THING as an “over there problem,” and they’re NOT MY UNDERDOGS.

Get with it, or get out of the way.

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That’s Not How Being a Human Being Works!!!!

So, in the wake of the Stuebenville convictions, and the pitiful sentences handed down, I attempted a conversation with my boyfriend this morning about rape culture…

Mayo: So now all the news outlets are going on and on about the poor widdle rapists and how their lives are ruined. UGH.

DB: Wait, Are you SEROUS?

Mayo: Yup.

DB: But that doesn’t doesn’t even make any SENSE!!!!

That’s my DB. He’s a good person. Not a “Nice Guy” but a genuinely good person. He’s also very sheltered by his privilege. Apparently this morning, in conversation with me, was the first time he’d discovered the sheer prevalence of rape culture. To DB, the adherents of such behavior are few, far between, and about as universally ridiculed as openly racist people shouting racial slurs on the street corner, rather than approximately as multitudinous and tacitly approved of as homophobes and transphobes, who still think they don’t “count” as bigots because they’re right, and God is on their side. But even as sheltered as he is, it took him less than half a second once provided a window into Rape Culture, to intuitively understand that it’s fucked up wrong. This is why he’s a good person.

Mayo: It doesn’t have to make sense, they’re MRAs.

DB: I don’t understand how they can even TRY and say that it was her fault. She was unconscious!!! How does an unconscious person agree to sex?

Mayo: They don’t understand the concept of enthusiastic consent. They’re on about how she didn’t clearly and firmly say “no” so it wasn’t rape.

DB: What’s enthusiastic consent?

Mayo: The idea that she doesn’t have to say “NO,” but the lack of a “YES” means there’s no consent.

DB: But there IS no consent without a YES!!!!!

At this point the poor dear is incredibly flustered and incredibly shrill. He’s never heard of enthusiastic consent because he’s never heard of any OTHER kid of consent. Either she said yes, completely in the absence of any type of coercion, or it’s not on.

Mayo: I know that, and you know that, but you’d be surprised the number of people who don’t get that, and that’s where you get these kinds of people on the internet moaning on about how the girl should take responsibility for her part in her own freaking rape, and be punished along with the boys who did it.

DB: But… that’s not how consent works! That’s not how being a DECENT PERSON Works!!! THAT’S NOT HOW BEING A HUMAN BEING WORKS!!!!

Now what’s the point in relaying this story, beyond the fact that it’s mildly amusing his brains breaking like this? The point is that even as divorced as he is from it, DB provides proof of the existence of rape culture. He and other children raised like him, somehow isolated from and blind to such influences, don’t even comprehend the idea. There is no overriding human nature that creates these ideas in the minds of men. They are not reacting as is “natural” to a society that has “stripped their manhood” or denied them sex. They are raised on the idea that they are somehow entitled to sex, and that women’s default position is not NO but YES, they are TAUGHT Rape Culture. It’s not something that just happens, and there IS another way.

And we need to stop teaching them that, and teach them how being a human being REALLY works.

8^/

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Thanks, but No Thanks

Dear Girly-Girls,

Now there’s nothing wrong with being a feminine lady if that’s who you are, but I’m not. I’d hardly class myself under any circumstances as ANY sort of lady. I’m female, that’s clear, but the gender role of “lady” is one I simply don’t fulfill nor do I have any compunction to do so. Gender is a spectrum and “Lady” is an extreme end of that spectrum. I fall closer to the middle. That’s who I am and how I live my life. I’m a female bodied androgyne, and I’m very comfortable there. Can’t wrap your head around that? Then I’m a full grown “Tomboy” or a “one of the guys” or what have you. That’s the space I occupy and I’m comfortable there, except when someone forgets this status and tries to enforce cis-woman behavior or dress on me… and that’s where this gets annoying.

See, a lot, not all but a lot of you Ladies, Girly-Girls, Pretty Women, seem to be under the mistaken idea that my more “plain” mode of dress is indicative of low self esteem, a lack of a feminine role model, or some other defect on my part, and that I can be taught to take “better” care of my appearance.

This is patently erroneous.

People tell me I should wear makeup. I would look so pretty. They want to put it on me, but after the first few times I let someone, it’s just a waste of my time. I’ve recently been asked to try on someone’s high heels, as if I’d never worn anyone, and I’ve done it. They’re always surprised that telling me how good I look up on stilts doesn’t make me suddenly want to wear them all the time. I still feel like I’m going to turn an ankle up here. It’s still not healthy. I still want my loafers back PLZTHX. Putting me in a dress will not make me feel like “the woman I am,” because who I am does not depend on what I wear, and I’m NOT a “woman.” Thanks.

So yeah. I’m not pretty, and I don’t want to BE pretty. Sometimes I want to be adorable… but that’s not gendered, and that doesn’t mean I don’t care about how I look, or that I look down on pretty people, or that I think I’m ugly or anything like that. There are just other forms of looking good that feel better on me. Thanks but no thanks on the pretty-girl lessons please. I’ll wear a dress when I please… and pants when I please.

I’m a damned dapper person and that’s exactly how I like it.

8^P

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