something I’ve noticed, usually in feminist spaces

A writer will say, “so this happened to me once.” And then they start to etch out a theory, probably just about a lightbulb moment in their own personal development, and it becomes a Thing. Heaven forbid, a Feminist Thing. And there is bound to be one or two commenters, usually only one (or none) that is articulate enough to get their point across without getting held up in moderation, who says, PROVE IT. Like, I don’t care how many women self-report having this exact thing done to them, you can’t prove that it’s a gender thing rather than a dynamic between two individuals that has nothing to do with their gender.

That’s the thing with social sciences though. It’s observation based, and like behavioural sciences, you can’t go and “prove” that something tends to happen specifically because of a social force (say, sexism) rather than oh, Totally random, Every time. You can even take it a step farther and say that women just complain about it more, but that it happens to men roughly equally. Iunno! Maybe some women’s nerves are just rubbed raw from EVERYTHING FUCKING ELSE.

So I think that is just pretty insulting, and it goes along with so many of those preconceptions about feminists that they are always making shit about gender that isn’t, and they are looking for stuff to get mad about. But also, and here I wonder if people who pull the stupid “prove it” move know how oppressive they are being, it kind of _is_ a perfect way to shut down a conversation because THERE IS NO WAY to provide the evidence. I’m not sure if they know it, but people actually do make it impossible to move forward when they behave like this. It’s more than like what they say on derailing for dummies, that you have to submit a certain kind of peer-reviewed scientifically documented phenomenon (as if that were even possible) for them to think over and determine whether or not you are actually being discriminated against (remember, they are objective! You are not!) Because there is no such thing. In addition to being a dick to the person who makes the observations in the first place, you are out-of-hand dismissing the entire realm of social theory. You could pop up in absolutely any discussion relating to social sciences and say “prove it! Can’t? I win. BOOYA”

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Add comment March 9, 2011 ginginbonbon

Lindy West’s kinda ironic Sex and the City 2 review

Hooooo boy. I used to like Lindy West’s writing and I thought it was probably a pretty good review, but only because I had to remove and like, completely annihilate anything resembling the lens thru which I usually try to interpret things, around her whole “rape it to death with a stiletto” part. At the end, girlfriend is so exasperated with the movie that she demands to be veiled and have all her holes sewn up. Remember that? Funny!

Tell me, am I turning into a total stereotype myself or did I just grow the fuck up, because I managed to make it through the whole review without even wanting to laugh? I don’t find Sex and the City offensive, but Lindy’s comments scared the shit out of me? WHAT IS GOING ON?

In the comments after, if you slog thru the hordes crawling all over each other to lick Lindy’s ass, there are a few complaints about how we all can’t stand the women of SatC because they upset our feminist sensibilities. AIYAAH! See, the thing is, the Sex and the City characters are just that, characters. To whine that they do a disservice to us, as women, because they are rich and out of touch and they like shiny things and they did xyz with a man is fucked up because that’s trying to make them out to be a whole lot more than characters, as in you know a vehicle used to TELL A STORY. I don’t have to be personally offended by how shallow they are because hello, they don’t represent me or some other woman or all women just because they are female and they are in a movie for fuck’s sake. Let me say that a person would also have to be a crappy “feminist” if they expect to sit back and allow the stupidest mainstream movies to champion their social justice causes instead of, like, contributing some meaningful commentary and discussion themselves? But posting stuff on the Stranger website is totally productive! (For the record I don’t bother anymore. What a bunch of maroons).

Yes, it’s conspicuous that the SatC franchise is prolly the only recent blockbuster-maker that comes to mind that passes the Bechdel test (and does it? even?) but let’s not confuse the issues. A real critique would uncover lots of problems with SatC I’m sure, but it wouldn’t look anything like this review, and actually it wouldn’t have so much to do with the vejazzle bling of Middle Eastern women. I promise.

My world is changing, guys. I kind of can’t even believe I’m typing these words. Honestly I think what Lindy said is about a million times more vile than any of the stupid shit that transpires anywhere in Sex and the City. I guess people can be talented, funny or smart (or think they’re way superior anyway, I’m not sure anymore) and still be assholes in the end. By asshole, I mean, using the most unspeakable, horrifying things that are done to women to illustrate thru hyperbole how much it displeased her to do her job as a movie reviewer and sit thru a fucking movie, with female leads. PartyDONE, Lindy West. You suck now.

Add comment June 4, 2010 ginginbonbon

and that shit ain’t funny

I saw a thing on the internet this morning that was supposed to be a clever and hilarious composite of women’s magazines. This post isn’t exactly about that image, which is too gross and mean to even touch on my lovely blog. But it did get me thinking about a few unproductive conversations I’ve had about Stuff Women Like (à la Sex and the City).

You see, I pretty much get painted into a corner with shit like this. We’re talking about women’s magazines, right? Let’s look at some of the options:

If I agree that god those magazines are so stupid and shallow, and people who like them deserve our scorn, I’m essentially trying to distance myself from “those women” (and men? What are they gay or something? EW AMIRITE) and admitting that they are worthy of contempt. I shouldn’t have to do that. Even if I were able to successfully separate myself from other women every time someone told a sexist joke or disparaged women, not only would would it still be sexism, but I would be playing right along with it.

It’s really hard for me to explain, because the more I try to unpack how sexism works the more I realize it doesn’t make any sense or have a standalone, internal logic, and then it just looks like I have a giant chip on my shoulder. But it’s kind of like this. Women are often judged as having inconsequential, frivolous interests like getting their nails done, instead of caring about important things, and when they do it somehow reflects poorly on all women, or all women who get their nails done, as well as getting one’s nails done. By association. With women. In case you thought that was a coincidence. Note that sports, video games and other more traditionally masculine things are usually excluded from this list of meaningless pursuits. It’s one of the many ways that feminine=inherent and feminine=bad. Alternately, one might believe that those dumb people who read trashy magazines INCIDENTALLY happen to be almost exclusively women, and also they totally don’t have to be like that, yo. The system supports both contingencies. But come on. CHICKS are supposed to like this stuff, and at the same time when we do we’re vapid.

So what else is there? Take your pick:

– override all gendered social conditioning, become “neutral” and immune to injustice and extract myself from this conversation (and this culture);

– be girly, or not, in a few of the expected ways, or not, and be made fun of and diminished because I’m an easy target no matter what;

– take exception and spend all morning trying to verbalize why, agonize over whether I’m being oversensitive and/or just looking for someone or something to be angry with, deal with the constant pressure to explain myself properly, wonder if I’ve actually gotten through to someone or maybe they just didn’t want to talk about it anymore;

– tbc?

1 comment May 7, 2010 ginginbonbon

old ass studies in Feminist Therapy

From http://fugitivus.wordpress.com/2008/04/17/female-traits/: (my comments are in blue)

This is from an article titled “Feminist Therapy: Redefining Power for the Powerless,” by Adrienne J. Smith and Ruth F. Siegel.

“Increasing evidence indicates that the differences between women and men in their expression of power are due to status rather than sex. According to Frieze, Parsons, Johnson, Ruble, and Zellman (1978, p. 304) status is ‘a hierarchy of inferiority and superiority on some dimension or set of dimensions.’  Because ‘male in itself means higher status’ (p. 305) the two variables of gender and status are almost completely confounded. Unger (1979) in an extensive review of the literature on status, gender, and power, shows that ‘male-female relationships are essentially similar to relationships between high and low status individuals and thus status is a more parsimonious explanation of behaviour than gender.’ (p. 6)

“Women ‘get what they want’ through indirect, covert influencing techniques, often using the assigned sex-role-appropriate behaviors of helplessness, dependency, coyness, and appeal to emotions. Under the oppressive constraints of patriarchy, women, who are low-status people, use second-class power tactics that usually are not acknowledged as power (McClelland, 1975). Even when women achieve their objectives, therefore, both sexes continue to see a woman as powerless. The frequent attribution of women’s successes to luck and men’s successes to skill is evidence that neither sex believes women have sufficient abilities to control their own lives.

Contrast this interesting theory with contemporary evolutionary psychology, when someone writes an article saying that women behave in certain ways because of fundamental biological differences, and that since they control men through sexuality, there is no need for feminism or even parity. [And this crap gets a hell of a lot more mainstream exposure than the shit I have to go dig up on the internet.] Hmmmm Iunno does using feminine wiles to get resources from men (traditionally, things like security, money and not getting abused as much) seem like a sound power structure? Even if, say, we could explain away all behaviour with only evolution and biology–it wouldn’t change the basic (ethical) premise of feminism, that we are equals. Or is the jury still waiting on Science’s findings?

One of the most basic exercises in Ethics programs is to design/imagine a society, and then ask yourself if you could live as any one of those citizens, and if you consider all of their individual situations acceptable, then the society is just. Being able to rationally observe and understand someone else’s experience does not mean you lack objectivity. If you reject what people say as too subjective, the problem isn’t their point of view, it’s yours; it means you aren’t ready to listen. I don’t think I have ever seen a scientific study or an appeal to my rationality used to serve any interest in equality, although those tactics are frequently used to justify things that are unfair, especially when it comes to social structures. We see it in every aspect of life where one party has power over another and therefore an interest in maintaining that power. Look at economics. The same techniques are used in the subjugation of women.

Add comment April 23, 2010 ginginbonbon

so.

we went to a sex party last night… we were the only ones to remain fully clothed. The hired “dancer” was really high on something and almost burned the house down. There was a game of naked twister. Lots of clam. Old people in vinyl underpants doing it. A giant cage with a yoga mat inside. It was surprisingly not creepy! I just blocked out all the peen, successfully. A+++ totally worth it.

Add comment February 21, 2010 ginginbonbon

craaaaayzay cross-posting

http://la-riz.livejournal.com/153068.html

Add comment November 10, 2009 ginginbonbon

redirect!

I don’t really volunteer in mental health anymore, since I’ve been too busy trying to live my life for the last 6 months or so, and also I’m not planning on having a career in the field anymore and I’m totally selfish like that. I am going to keep this blog to post my verbal diarrhea, tho. I leave little squirts of comment all over the internet (Gin Gin Bon Bon on dog blogs, the Stranger articles and Slog posts), but I want a place to put down actual articles, other than my OKCupid profile I mean.

I had one of those annoying conversations with an old friend where he was all harping on the “but men and women are so different on a fundamental level” thing. This really chaps my ass, but it took me months to lay out the reasons why. Here they are.

First of all, when someone says that men and women have behavioural/psychological differences that are rooted in biology, it does seem kind of like a common sense concept. Thing is, people often use that “argument” to partially explain pathologies, too, like how the vast majority of rapists are dudes, and it’s because they have these urges to contend with that women just don’t. That’s a whole nother angry post for me–I’ll need a couple more years to elaborate.

Anyway. When biological differences are pointed to, I’m going to pretend it isn’t some bullshit evolutionary psychology crap and what’s actually being referred to is innate behaviours and not the learned ones. When men and women grow up with the same opportunities and are subjected to the same expectations, then we can talk about that, but for the time being you are just gonna make me really mad. So yeah, let’s say we can put the nurture part of it aside and deal with actual biological differences: that men and women have different drives, their brains work differently, they have different ways of processing information, which translates into different ways of going about their business and expressing all those things. That says that men tend to do it in ways that are particular to men, and women, in their own ways. That’s statistics, right? Studying populations, not individuals. Because on an individual level, all of that breaks down. What about men who are more like what you’d expect a woman to be like, and vice-versa? HOW INCONVENIENT!!! People who don’t fit aren’t likely to be very enthusiastic about this fascinating population study, because you’re marginalizing them. (And why are you doing that? Read on, readers.) What you’d really be saying is, some men and women aren’t like the generalizations you have come up with. Fine. And people who do fit the stereotype might not really give a shit about all this, but it’s not because what you’re saying has any value, it’s because they’ve got the privilege or the will to be as intellectually lazy about gender politics as you do.

So what is the point again? The only time anyone’s going to be having this kind of conversation, where a guy quips “but men and women are different,” is when people are hashing it out, in person or over the internets. They’re all going to be individuals. No one participating in the discussion is a population or group. No one is even going to be representing a group, unless all of the members of that group have asked to be represented (hint: it’s not going to be “all the men/women in the world”), or unless maybe you are a giant fucking misanthrope. When you interact with humans you are not dealing with statistics or populations or groups, you are dealing with individuals, who might like to be treated as such.

It’s interesting that some people feel targeted during conversations about gender, and try to explain behaviour using scientific research they might not know that much about. Conversely, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a girl say “WHAAAAAT, I’m less of a logical thinker than you because I’m female! That’s why I don’t get it! It’s biology!” Awfully convenient, isn’t it, that all these “biological” differences make men the more practical, funner sex to be, while at the same time TOTALLY ‘SPLAININ WHY SOMETIMES THEY DO BAD THINGS. Hm. Wonder why that is.

Also, I’ve (momentarily! I am human!) had all these questions brushed aside by being told that I’m exceptional. Yes, blush, I am, but really, are you still referring to that faceless mass of women, all over-emotional-like and who can’t be trusted with management positions?? Still sexist. Sorry. I’m glad you can make the distinction between “Gin Gin Bon Bon” and “women”. The same thing can be done for every single other woman out there. See how that works?

People scoff at feminism as the radical notion that women are people, but the same people can simultaneously believe one or ten or a thousand women to be an acceptable representation of all women, or at least all the women that count when they’re trying to get their warped little point across. Still begs the question, what is the purpose of saying that men and women are different? Could it be to reinforce the opinion you already have about men and women being a certain way? How on earth could that even be remotely linked to promoting a sexist agenda?… It certainly does make it easier to continue treating them differently, because according to your research they have different needs and tolerances that can be neatly divided along gender lines (except when they can’t, but I guess we never resolved that, did we). It’s very useful, actually: it means you can continue to be a sexist moron, because science is on your side.

I would really like to hear about a positive use for this idea of “women” that we’ve all made up in our heads. I’m a feminist, so I’m a pessimist you see. Someone still needs to tell me what’s actually good about bringing up the fact that men and women are so naturally different, as opposed to why it makes us feel good to say so. TIA.

6 comments November 10, 2009 ginginbonbon

toi?

notre sortie a été assez ordinaire hier, on a mangé dans un petit resto du coin. Il pleuvait fort et nous sommes toutes les deux encore un peu grippées de la semaine passée. Par contre, en revenant on est passé chercher un ami dans une autre unité, où S. m’avait dit qu’elle était restée auparavant. Ensuite on a pris le tunnel souterrain. C’était un peu surréel, j’ai bien aimé.

Rendues dans son unité, je me suis pointée à la salle de bains du personnel pour mettre mon manteau et mes bas dans la sécheuse, et S. est repartie avec son ami. J’étais assise sur l’autre sécheuse, en train de manger une clémentine, et un des patients, plutôt âgé, est venu s’asseoir près de moi. J’étais nu-pieds et pas de bonne humeur, et je lui ai demandé s’il pensait qu’il pouvait être là (la porte de cette salle est verrouillée d’habitude, mais une infirmière me l’avait laissée entrouverte puisque j’avais comme toujours oublié ma clé). Il est très difficile à comprendre ce monsieur mais j’ai pu comprendre quand il m’a posé la même question, si je pensais que je devais être là (dans l’unité). Je ne me souviens même pas ce que j’ai répondu. J’ai dû bégayer quelque chose à l’effet que je suis bénévole, tout en rougissant.

Add comment March 30, 2009 ginginbonbon

Wanted.

So I brought in that Angelina Jolie movie to watch at the unit as per S.’s request yesterday. I got there in between the two posted visiting hours, ie not during visiting hours, and I had forgotten to bring my key as is my custom most of the time. [However. S. is probably just used to using the buttons to ask for the door instead of waiting for me to unlock them. I don’t know who she hangs out with other than me who would even have a key. I find her really autonomous, all things considered.] It was a new nurse/whatever who asked what my deal was at the door (cc camera and intercom phone) but I was buzzed in no problem. She was young and pretty and quite frankly didn’t seem to fit in well with the rest of the crew. I think she wouldn’t allow S. to go downstairs and buy herself a snack. There was a little bit of something going on at the big nurses’ station plexi window interface, but I missed it. I try not to make things like that my business.

Apparently they were already watching a movie on one tv and the other one is supposed to play regular tv and not another movie. I was not aware of this. I thought we would maybe have a problem. I mean I don’t know, the staff seems to like things to be a certain way. Anyway, I said that I didn’t know, and that I had rented the movie just for this today, and I think some of the others might want to watch it too, and it was fine. I tried to use submissive, appeasing body language. I love doing this and being aware of it now, it makes me feel sneaky and manipulative and superior, although if you work in mental health you are probably trained to recognize that kind of crap. Still, it works better than acting like a bargaining teenager. Which I suppose is how I would act if I were staying there and subject to the staff’s authority as opposed to visiting on a volunteer basis. Anway. The BBB that works on the unit unlocked the shit for me. She told me not to bring any horror or gore movies. I think this is funny, but I’m sure I shouldn’t.

We kind of got in trouble anyway because as it turns out Wanted has a lot of exploding heads and bullets ripping through bodies in slow motion and stuff. It could make them violent. I really was the only one who sat through the whole movie though, S. watched most of it with me but the others just sort of drifted in and out of the room. One of the nurses was really into it when she was watching but she was only there for parts of it, and she was pretty annoying asking questions about what was going on.

S. has really come to life over the past few weeks, she is much more lively than before.

Add comment March 23, 2009 ginginbonbon

La semaine passée, on est allé jouer aux quilles

Je crois avoir bien frotté ses boules.

😉

Add comment March 23, 2009 ginginbonbon

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