June 10th, 2005

A hairy situation

Answers for the masses

It's that time again, time for more answers to the questions that plague mankind by mankind's greatest genius. Me.

If you missed my last installment you are a fool and there is very little hope for you in this world. On the other hand if you are a loyal reader you know that you are free to ask any questions you might have at the bottom of this entry. Therefore this paragraph serves no purpose except to mock the no-hopers. Consider yourselves mocked.

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Fight the good fight, not the dirty one.

Dear womenfolk who want to be taken seriously as citizens, workers, and people of intrinsic value equal to that of any man,

talking about your vaginas is not the way to achieve this.

I mean it.

I don't quite understand why such a significant portion of feminism has driven off into this particular ditch, but it's both sad and perplexing. I blame the Vagina Monologues.

The Vagina Monologues aren't bad in and of themselves, though I have absolutely no interest in seeing the play, but they're an example of the same pointless puerility we see in so many other areas of pop-culture. Claiming that you are a "Vagina warrior" will not make the darker sides of male sexuality go away. You can say the word vagina for 12 hours a day 350 days a year and it won't end rape or sexual harassment or any of the rest of it. It also won't end the glass ceiling, get women into congress, or make men get pregnant. It really really won't.

Now if you're doing puerile chanting for puerile chanting's sake that's fine, toilet humor is great, but as a movement it'd be about as effective as black people holding a "I love my dark nipples" rally.

I've heard all the arguments promoting this sort of behavior. It demystifies the vagina (No it doesn't, good sex-ed classes do that), it forces people to acknowledge the vagina (If you've ever been inside a men's locker room you know that the vagina is well acknowledged at this point), it 'takes back the vagina from those who seek to dominate it via sexual violence and rape (No it doesn't, self-defense classes, better policing of rape, destigmatization of rape, all do that. A "Vagina Warrior" pin does not, unless you stick in the rapist's eye.) There are others of course, among them that it gets attention. The thing is that getting attention for attention's sake is a mark of distinct immaturity. It's what babies do.

Where vagina warrior pins garner good attention it's from people who already agree with the feminist philosophy. To people who are not sympathetic they are just an offensive excuse to delegitimize the movement. I read conservative writing, and clever persuasive (if morally reprehensible and intellectually dishonest) writers like Mike Adams use the puerility to convince people to dismiss the arguments and to get others to do the same. In other words you cut off potential allies through lashing out verbally at your enemies.

Smooth move.

Adams has a few legitimate points. How do you think "Penis warrior" pins would go over with the feminist crowd? Not very well, huh?

What focusing on the vagina does is ghettoize feminism from the mainstream culture. It also bogs it down in a mindset that is no longer congruent with the realities of our society. Are women still oppressed in some ways? Yes. Some of them are biological (periods and pregnancy are not the fault of men) some of them are social (Women are still discriminated against in the workplace and expected to do more work in the home than men are.) On the other hand women now make up a disproportionate percentage of college students and recent graduates, get better grades, and by some measures are better compensated for certain types of work (A never-married woman can expect to earn more over her lifetime than a never-married man with the same qualifications.)

The gaps are closing. That being said those that are still there must be addressed. There are a lot of important issues to fight for on the feminist front. The maltreatment of rape victims that still goes on in our society is a national, and in fact a global, disgrace. We need to work on eliminating workplace sexism (such as symphonies have done to a degree by conducting blind auditions) and rebalancing the load in terms of domestic work. There are lots of ways to get attention for those issues without resorting to rants about genitals.

There's nothing wrong with the vagina, or the word vagina, but sexualization of the public sphere is not in and of itself a good. The sexual revolution was something of a mixed bag in terms of its results. It lead to greater freedom, which is good, but also more STDs, greater numbers of children raised in fatherless homes, teenage pregnancy, and a host of other social ills. Sex is a natural thing, a pleasurable thing, but a dangerous thing and a thing that has consequences as well. We don't need to sexualize everything to make a point. Puerility is not the same as political activism, and not an effective form of it.
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    Hey Ladies
Masa of the force

Jobs Ahoy

I met with my ex-boss today and the meeting went well. He didn't object to anything on my resume and even suggested some things I could add, which was really good. It means that I can try to get a job above entry level this go round having some experience under my belt. That's good. He also suggested some potential stuff that could be interesting, and I came up with a BRILLIANT new idea for a script that I think could be pitched very well, but I'd need a gay writing partner and ironically I don't really know any gay writers in real life. Too bad.

I'm really tired these days. Could be the heat, could be the fact that I haven't fixed my sleeping pattern from the ankle injury. I'm also so obsessed with writing I don't want to go out and see anybody at all. Hmm.

Happiness is an hour of wakefulness with closed eyes and a fluffy pillow.
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A hairy situation

Conservatives, DEFEND YOUR BOY

Stuff like this makes my blood boil.

It is fine for Jeff Jacoby to argue that companies of today should not have to pay reparations for sins of slavery, especially when the sins in question weren't even carried out by the company in question. On the other hand when he starts to talk about how the companies that did own slaves did so in an era where it was a legal and widespread practice his argument jumps the rails of reasons and heads over to "Massively insensitive fuckwad-ville."

Slavery was legal and common in the South, and it was a HUMAN TRAGEDY. These people who whine incessantly that legalized abortion is genocide (Genocide against the unborn carried out by the most brutally evil people on the face of this earth....MOTHERS) cannot seriously argue that legalized slavery was morally acceptable.

But they do.

Because deep in their conservative hearts a lot of Southerners think that slavery should still be legal today. They don't see what the big deal was with emancipation. That's part of what the glorification of the confederacy is, and anyone who says different is a LIAR. The confederacy was ABOUT slavery, and modern "rebels" are would-be slavers.

I had a white southern woman once tell me that "They" (The negroes) were happier during slavery than they are today. She looks around at the ghettos and drug problems and sees not, as a reasonable person does, the remnants of man's inhumanity to man, an unhealed sore caused by slavery, but rather a bunch of niggers who can't handle their freedom.

She is not alone.

I think Jeff Jacoby is with her.

Jacoby argues that blacks today never suffered from slavery so they don't deserve reparations. But our contemporaries have suffered from slavery. They suffered during reconstruction when they were second-class citizens or worse (Many blacks from those times still survive today.) They suffer from injuries done their families which caused generations of harm. They suffer from their ancestors having no property or education to pass down to them. Those who immigrate here from Africa in the post-slavery era suffer from racism and marginalization.

To fail to recognize this is to implicitly give slavery the nod of approval. That is something we should not do. It is fine not to support reparations, there are many legitimate arguments against them, but it is not fine to ignore or trivialize the wounds of the past.

Later in his article Jacoby claims that to hold America to be in debt for slavery today is equivalent to holding African Americans in debt for being freed. This is a ludicrous statement. For one thing freeing the slaves was undoing a harm that had already been done to them, it did something to balance the ledger but it hardly made up for the years of harsh servitude. For another the Northern whites didn't just swoop in and free the slaves. They initially didn't want to do so at all, and only made that choice out of strategic necessity*, and they did not do so alone. Thousands of black soldiers marched with them and lost their lives in the process.

Jacoby has a patronizing attitude towards slavery and its fallout that is typical of many conservatives. A fundamental part of the confederacy was the belief that blacks were inferior people and deserved their lot in the world. It was endemic to the confederate philosophy, and remains so among confederacy worshipers today. It is a dark dark undercurrent running beneath much modern conservatism.

And it is ugly. So ugly.

Conservatives, DEFEND YOUR BOY.

*This does not mean that the civil war was not about slavery. It was. It was about expansion of slavery into new territory, an issue that both rankled abolitionists and, perhaps more to the point, would have politically benefited the South over the North.
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