Thoughts and feelings: on the verge of rapid global change

I wrote the following a few days after the inauguration.  I did not post it at the time, but have decided to now since the sentiments are still valid.  Given that it has only been one month since the inauguration, for those of us who are concerned with social justice and feel a general sense of compassion for living beings, it feels like eternity.

This is how I feel and have been feeling about the unknown political landscape.  I had tried to stay away from NPR, I do not have cable so I do not watch news, I get my news from feminist sites on social media which I have also been avoiding.  I have tried to isolate myself from the changes that are stirring in our country and all over the globe, but I still find myself overwhelmed with fear.

I think about our feminist foremothers and what they must have endured for basic human dignity and how easily that can and very well may be taken away from women.  On a personal level, I think about what I endured for basic human dignity and I refuse to live as I did before.  I will not do it.

Consequently, I find myself plagued with anticipation about what might come.  Because the future is unknown, I do not find it particularly beneficial to consume myself with what may or may not happen, but the future comes on its own and the future is nearly here bringing in the next leader of our country.

Fears:

I am very fearful of the time of conservatism we are about to enter into with Donald fucking Trump as our new president.

I saw on the TV at the gym that congress voted to begin the repeal of Obamacare – ostensibly, they will not get rid of Obamacare without a replacement, but it is frightening to think that things might be the same or worse than they were before.

My mom was sick with cancer for many years, and I think about how much she had to pay for treatment and how difficult and stressful it was when she was already sick and had to deal with doctors, insurance companies, state insurance, copays, deductibles, “pre-existing conditions” stipulations.

It’s so horrible to think about how it was before and to think that I may end up going through the same.  My only hope is that this era of conservatism will propel us into a time of social justice/activism/change and that Trump will only be in office for four years.  That is not to say that activism is not happening now, but hopefully the people who are complacent in their idleness and ignorance right now will be moved to take action in the near future.

Trump has had so much support and has built a team of people around him who will bring us into a fascist state.  Stating these facts is not just a tactic to build fear.  The fear is real and increasing in those of us who are marginalized in society.

NPR reported that Trump’s approval rating is only at 37%.  Do these polls matter?  What matters more is who is in that 37%.  Who has the social power to make someone with such low approval ratings secure the most powerful leadership position in the world?

In a class last semester, someone discussed in their presentation about a culture of “non-truths”.  This is how politics will manifest moving forward.  We will just have to assume that anything communicated to us from the president or anyone he has approved to hold office is likely making statements that are in no way evidence-based.

As a woman, I am fearful that I may have no more reproductive rights.  I am fearful that men will see that our President, a global world leader, sexually assaulted women and will get away with it — and that is only what we know of, which it is likely he has probably done much worse.

As women, we are not safe in public and we definitely also are not safe at home.  Where, then, should we go to feel safe and have a minute of peace of mind?

I am fearful that I will have to live the way I did before — hating everyone and everything because I may be suppressed in every aspect of my life — the life I thought I had escaped from.

I am fearful that if I were to get married, maybe my husband would feel entitled to me and my body and my children’s bodies — since society gives him that entitlement — maybe I will have no way to escape.

I do not think these are unreasonable or unrealistic fears.  This is what has been and continues to be and now we have a world leader saying it is ok to treat human beings poorly — that women are ornaments and sex toys and replaceable/disposable — that violence is how we demonstrate power and dominance over others.  This can apply to people and/or nations — doesn’t really matter.

I hear about how much we will expand our military — how many lives will this destroy?  How many lives should we feel ok about destroying “over there” and here at home?

I see vets and they are fucked in the head.  Many are people who had hard lives or needed ways “out” of their living situation and the military offered that to them (although, the military also targeted them).  Then the resocialization process of the military fucks them in the head in new ways.

It’s so painful to see these people’s lives destroyed — and that’s just here where some vets can at least get an education and have homes.  How much more pain do we cause to the people “over there”?

All of the “others” we literally blow to pieces — we destroy their homes and families and any sense of security they may still be clinging on to.

How horrible that people want to do more of this? and cheer and chant and clap their hands in support of murder on a mass scale.

Even if we don’t “kill” these “others” until they are actually physically dead, we destroy their lives and spirits and then hate them for it.  We confine them to refugee camps and let them suffer and we can see that they suffer but instead of seeing “them” as humans, we want them to suffer.  We say they deserve it.

I have two students from Iran.  We held an info session with an immigration attorney to talk about CPT/OPT paperwork.  They were advised not to leave this country.  They started our program late because Iran would not let them out, and now there are trapped in.  They do not know the next time they will see their families.  I started crying and went to the restroom because I was overwhelmed by their obvious worry.  I kept looking at my students and they are not terrorists, they are not bad human beings at all.  One of them cares more about his skinny jeans and hipster hair more than anything.  The other student from Iran caught me on the way out and asked if I was ok.  I started crying again and told her how sorry I was that she had to experience this.  I saw how hard it was for my family to be divided.  For seven years, my uncle, his wife, and his daughter were in three different countries — only one example among many I saw, and one example that turned out well since they were reunited, many others never have that opportunity.  How horrible is it that we divide up land and people and families over invisible lines that were created by men.  My student told me that Iran was in a good place until “that crazy president came in” (Ahmadinejad), and that their country never bounced back after that.  That is the trajectory we are on here in the US.

I feel saddened and do not feel that there is any comforting way to address what is and will be happening in our country.

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I’m sorry for being sorry: the devaluation of feminine traits

I’ve recently been seeing a lot of articles in my Facebook feed about how women need to stop saying “sorry.”

On one hand, I understand the push for women to stop apologizing for existing.  In a male-dominated society, men feel entitled to physical, mental, and emotional space, and women are expected to accommodate for that.  Women are so fearful to offend these men, that they feel compelled to constantly apologize for any discomfort or unease they may have caused.

Additionally, in order to be successful in a male-dominated society, women have to pander to the male ego and apologize for any misstep whether actualized or merely perceived.  We teach ourselves, in order to be labeled a “bitch,” to apologize for things that men do all the time — interrupting, talking loudly, bumping into someone, taking up space while sitting on a bench.

On the other hand, to be truly competitive and to get into these male-only spaces of higher level leadership, it is necessary for women to adopt masculine traits.  As a result, women are now being told that constantly apologizing for their behavior is a negative thing.  We do not want to be perceived as weak or easily intimidated or lacking strong leadership abilities — essentially, we should not be apologizing for doing the things that society has told we should do our entire lives, we should apologize for being women.

What I find problematic about being sorry for being sorry is that I do not really see what is so wrong with being sorry.  We consider it a negative thing because we devalue femininity and women and apologizing is a feminine trait.  If I interrupt someone, that is rude, I should say sorry to acknowledge that I interrupted and will let the other person continue.  However, because men will statistically interrupt more often and women will statistically apologize and back down more often, it is not in my best interest as a woman to do those things.

What is ideal, though, is that instead of women feeling compelled to adopt masculine traits, men should adopt feminine traits.  How nice would it be if I sat down at a bench at the doctor’s office and a man saw that I had little space, closed his legs, and said “Sorry, do you have enough room?”  I would greatly appreciate if, instead of cutting me off when I speak and shouting at me, men would apologize and stop talking while I finish my point.  Are these things inherently bad?  Or do we consider apologetic behavior simply because women are generally the ones who do it?

Rather than assimilating us all to adhere to masculine traits so we can fit into male-defined concepts of “success,” it is more reasonable to say that men should adopt feminine traits.  As caregivers, we are socialized to be kind, gentle, quiet, accommodating.  Just because patriarchy insists that we need a dichotomy of feminine/masculine to compliment each other does not mean it is true.  It is possible to have a society where people are just kind and caring and open to accommodating for other people without having to juxtapose femininity against the “Subject,” masculinity.

Sisterhood is still powerful

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by Rosie Redstockings

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It all started when Owen Jones, being a bell end, wrote a really offensive article in The Guardian. He was responding to the news that MP Simon Danczuk had been caught watching hardcore pornography and, being a bell end, Jones argued that Danczuk had done nothing more than show himself to be “a human being with flaws”. “Why should we care?” asked the bell end, since after all “it’s the political flaws that matter”, and the sexual exploitation of women is not, it seems, a political issue.

It was infuriating. Jones was rightly criticised by many feminists on twitter, and was so angry that they had the nerve to criticise HIM, darling of the lefty media, he ended up accusing lesbians of being homophobes, and feminists of being right wing religious fundamentalists. Right. Thanks dude. I’m not here to go over the rights and…

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Josh Duggar is a child molester, but Jesus forgave him

FUCK men’s religion(s).

Within the patriarchy exists a number of institutions designed to maintain male privilege and access to women’s bodies.  Religion is one such institution.

The religions that currently exist are ALL male-created and -defined because the spiritual practices that valued women have been obliterated from human pre/history.  The patriarchy is so pervasive and effective that knowledge of traditions that cultivated relatively egalitarian societies has been expelled from any sort of record.  There are efforts of reclamation, and certainly the feminism I identify with places an emphasis on reclaiming women’s knowledge and spirituality, but the practices and texts are certainly nowhere near as centralized and institutionalized as men’s religions.

Apparently, Josh Duggar from 19 Kids and Counting on TLC (which apparently considers women nothing more than breeders for men’s offspring), has admitted to molesting girls when he was a teenager but Jesus came into his life and forgave him and so now we’re all good and everyone else should forgive him too.  What really pisses me off is that he is quoted as saying, “I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life,” reflecting the blatant selfishness of pedophiles.  Who gives a fuck about his life being ruined?  I sure as fuck don’t — I care about the girls he molested, including some of his sisters, and the fact that this ONE person has the ability to ruin the lives of MULTIPLE human beings.

These girls will have to live everyday with this trauma, navigate through life trying to understand what it means to be in a healthy relationship, and possibly grow up hating their bodies.  They might struggle with depression and anxiety or might act out in hypersexual ways — also from a lack of knowing healthy sexual relationships.  According to Duggar’s statement he and the girls he molested all went to therapy which may or may not help these girls deal with their trauma.  So because of the selfish acts of this man, these girls had to go through the male-defined and -controlled medicalization of the mental health field at an early age.

Boys and men grow up in these environments where they are taught that it is ok to sexualize and exploit girls and women but if you get too crazy with it (or caught), it’s ok because Jesus will come into your life and forgive you.

Jesus does not exist.  God does not exist.  These are male-created justifications for exploiting others and destroying our Mother Earth.  God did not write the bible, men did.  And the authors of the bible were not good people either.  They were man whores and violent, greedy, murderers and yet we are expected to overlook their discrepancies so people will overlook the horrible things men do in real life as well.

So fuck men’s religions and fuck Josh Duggar for thinking that he is forgiven.  He is not — what he has done to these girls will be carried with them the rest of their lives.

 

Review: Mad Max

I am going to write my review on the movie Mad Max:  Fury Road even though I know there is already a lot of discourse about it.  However, I rarely see movies and happened to see this one so I actually have some pop culture knowledge that is relevant to this moment in history..and I do mean HIStory.

1.  Mad Max:  Fury Road or Furiosa:  Fury Road?

I’ll begin my feminist critique with what I feel is the most obvious of the absurdities of this film, and that is why the fuck is this movie called “Mad Max” and not “Furiosa”?  Max has no significant role or purpose or presence in this film except that he offers Furiosa a hand every once in a while, although he certainly is not the (s)hero of this cinematic masterpiece.

2.  Furiosa the Matron

Apparently, the MRAs are upset with this movie because of the strong female lead in this movie, but they can sleep tonight knowing that the patriarchy is alive and well — including in this film.  This movie was actually really depressing because while Charlize Theron’s character is clearly the lead, she also takes on a “matronly” role to the wives and to Max as well.

The wives are a group of five women who are essentially the sex slaves of some fat fuck leader of the Citadel.  I don’t really know the specifics because the movie itself does not go into detail about who these women are or where they came from, their main purpose is to satisfy the male gaze.

After a long elaborate vehicle chase, violence, and a dust storm frenzy, Furiosa escapes the Citadel with the five wives as does Max only to find the wives who are all tall, thin, infantile women who look like runway models wearing small pieces of sheer white fabric dousing themselves with water..conveniently enough.  Unsurprisingly, the wives really have a minimally active role with few lines and are the reason for all the violence between the leader (whatever the fuck his official title is) and Furiosa.  Implied here is that men are willing to fight and destroy all of their resources for women.  Assuming men actually do destroy all of their resources for women, it is not the women they are protecting, it is their property and their entitlement to women’s bodies as their property.  Furiosa’s role, then, is to liberate the wives, who are so invalid that they cannot liberate themselves and have to depend on Furiosa wholly to escape.

3.  Charlize Theron the Matron

There is a difference.  Furiosa is the character, Charlize Theron is the actor and they get two sections to point to the significance of casting Charlize Theron as Furiosa.

At some point in her past career, Charlize Theron would have been cast as one of the tall, thin, childlike wives.  But because she is now older according to media/Hollywood definitions, she is cast into a mothering role to the younger women and to the lead male in the film.  Furiosa concocts the plans to escape, she delegates duties, she is highly respected and valorized by the wives and by Max as well.  She is the firm hand that makes everything possible in this makeshift family.  Furiosa is the mother, Max the father, and the wives are their children to protect and care for.

4.  Cock fights

Walking out of the theater, you feel as if you had just witnessed two full hours of a major cluster fuck of large vehicles, large men, a fucking guitar player that never seems to fucking die (why he even exists is beyond me), and some ugly as fuck male leaders all participating in a major fucking cock fight where everyone loses.

This movie will bombard you with so much shit simultaneously it’s hard to even comprehend how it made it through whatever the governing bodies of movie approval and release are.  The perpetuation of hypermasculinity and violence against women is integral to the film and is why I am certain that all the rednecks loved it.

Here is my critique.  I am not willing to waste any more time on this discussion.  I can’t believe I paid money to see this.  Fml.

The past is the present: legacies of violence against women

I had a dream yesterday morning that I was at my grandma’s house, where a lot of bad things happened when I was a child, and in my dream the neighbors and their friends were trying to break in and rape me.

Because of my experiences I am always on edge and fearful of my safety and worry about what will happen next.  It’s not just something anyone is scared of, it is because I am a woman that I constantly fear what men will do to me, and this fear permeates all aspects of my life as it does for many women.

I woke up upset and sad and angry that I am having dreams like this.  These traumas of childhood are not something that are isolated to a specific time frame and then go away.  It pisses me off when people say that “everybody has a story”, “everybody has shit from their past”, “you can’t let things that happened 20 years ago weigh you down”.  I don’t fucking care because it’s not true that everybody has bad shit in their past and it doesn’t change how I feel.  There are, in fact, people who are “well-adjusted” and ostensibly happy who have not experienced trauma.  They aren’t having nightmares about sick shit like this.

Additionally, I think it is perfectly fine for people to hang on to things that happened 20 years ago.  Why should I suddenly stop being angry about things in the past?  What happened in the past has affected me, my relationships, and still affects my *current* mental, emotional, and physical health.  I have a right to be angry so fuck people who tell me to let go.

Narrative: men who just want you to let that shit go…

Me:  “Men are unpredictable creatures.”

Man:  “I’ll tell you right now that if you don’t let that go you won’t be happy or able to let go of your past…”

Me:  “It’s not about letting go or my past.  It’s my experience and has always been my experience and the experience of lots of women

Feminism is integral to who I am and has explained all of my experiences to me.  When I found feminism, I finally felt good about who I was because I was always told that who I am is bad.  I was also able, believe it or not, to let go of a lot of things and understand my mother’s choices (or lack thereof), and because of feminism I was able to have a good relationship with her the last few years of her life.

Feminism has also made me a better, more patient, and more compassionate person.  And even though I am angry, I like who I am and am unapologetic for it.  I also have confidence in myself and don’t feel like I need someone else to make me feel complete.  I come from a very disadvantaged background and only made it thorough college and grad school because I found something I am passionate about and people who encourage me when I had no support anywhere else.”