Nothing I try to do can work the same way

9 03 2017

I don’t know how deep these cracks go.

I noted at the end of the last post that I didn’t see what was always there, but the real kicker was less or not just the lack of sight but that I thought I did see: I thought I knew what I did not.

This isn’t just about thinking that racism or sexism weren’t that bad: I knew, knew, that it was bad, but that knowledge had not, somehow, been fully absorbed—tho’ I thought it was.

I hate head/heart binaries, so I’ll go with head/body: I had all of this knowledge tucked safely into my noggin, then the election came along and cracked my skull, and it all flooded down my spine, into my guts, and buckled my knees.

My body was not prepared for the blow.

To put this in less somatic terms, my sense of self is based on some notion of awareness (which, oy, creates all kinds of problems for me. . .), so I try very hard, intellectually, to maintain an awareness of my inability to be aware. I try to keep in mind that I’ll think I know more than I do, so, y’know, best not to run too far ahead of myself. And while I sometimes fail at this I sometimes also succeed, I sometimes remember there’s more out there.

And maybe that’s where I went wrong: Because I did sometimes remember about the out-there, I forgot that there’s also something in-here, in me, which affects how I experience that knowledge. It’s not just or even primarily emotional, but more basic, ontological.

The failure to see is painful; the failure behind that failure, even more so.

I’m fond of quoting Leonard Cohen’s line from “Anthem”: There is a crack in everything/that’s how the light gets in. Maybe so, maybe so. But if the light is to reach all the way down, then so, too, will the crack.

This is not the worst thing, but it is a hard thing. If I can manage it, there’ll be a reckoning ahead.





Keep it down now

20 12 2015

So much concern about black people and brown people and gay and lesbian people and transpeople and women people insisting that they’re people and you know who’s really got it bad?

But seriously, you know who can’t take a joke? White guys. Not if it implicates them and their universe, and when you see the rage, the pettiness, the meltdowns and fountains of male tears of fury, you’re seeing people who really expected to get their own way and be told they’re wonderful all through the days. And here, just for the record, let me clarify that I’m not saying that all of them can’t take it. Many white men—among whom I count many friends (and, naturally, family members nearly as pale as I)—have a sense of humor, that talent for seeing the gap between what things are supposed to be and what they are and for seeing beyond the limits of their own position. Some have deep empathy and insight and write as well as the rest of us. Some are champions of human rights.

But there are also those other ones, and they do pop up and demand coddling. A group of black college students doesn’t like something and they ask for something different in a fairly civil way and they’re accused of needing coddling as though it’s needing nuclear arms. A group of white male gamers doesn’t like what a woman cultural critic says about misogyny in gaming and they spend a year or so persecuting her with an unending torrent of rape threats, death threats, bomb threats, doxxing, and eventually a threat of a massacre that cites Marc LePine, the Montreal misogynist who murdered 14 women in 1989, as a role model. I’m speaking, of course, about the case of Anita Sarkeesian and Gamergate. You could call those guys coddled. We should. And seriously, did they feel they were owed a world in which everyone thought everything they did and liked and made was awesome or just remained silent? Maybe, because they had it for a long time.

Rebecca Solnit can think and she can write and if I were the jealous type I’d be jealous that she gets paid to do the work I can’t be arsed to do but I’m not particularly jealous so instead I’ll just read her and sigh Ahhhhh.

~~~

h/t PZ Myers; update: fixt hed





I think I have to send you a reminder

30 11 2013

I learned something today.

That t-shirt that guy was wearing at the gym? The one that said WOMEN LIE on the front, NUMBERS DON’T on the back?

Apparently those are lyrics from a Jay-Z song—although the complete line is “Men lie women lie, numbers don’t.”

Which may get Mr. Carter off the hook, but not the stupid bastard who made the t-shirt, or the stupid bastard who was wearing it.

He was a big guy; I gave him the stink-eye.

But I’m sure it was just meant to be funny. So, so funny.

~~~

I was grumpy the other night reading TNC’s post on Alec Baldwin’s bigotry, noting that

We’re all condemning him for what he says about gay men, but not so much that large chunks of what he finds so awful about gay men is that they act like “little girls” and “bitches”.

Like females. How degrading for a man to be feminine. What a great insult to a man to be called woman.

Can we note the great insult to women? Can we call that bigotry, too?

TNC, to his credit, has written about sexism from any number of angles, noted it in the original post, and re-emphasized the connections between anti-gay and anti-women sentiment in response to my comment, so I’m not calling him out. He’s doing the work.

But it’s still worth noting that a) attacking someone for being gay is bigotry; b) attacking a gay man for acting like a woman is a bigoted thing to say about gay men; c) which makes women the worst thing for a man to be; d) which makes women what, exactly?

~~~

Unlike other forms of bigotry, anti-women bigotry can’t be divorced from intimacy.

Swedes might believe they can live in a better society without Danes and thus try to eliminate all Danes from their state (and the world); their genocide, as terrible as it would be, would not in fact make Swedish life and society impossible. I might argue that it would make Swedish society worse, much worse, but even so, it could continue.

Men who hate women can’t live without them (us), however. Get rid of all of the women and you will, eventually, get rid of all of the men, as well.

And, given that most men are straight, even those who don’t think much of women don’t want to get rid of us entirely: MRAs are not interested in celibacy. So they hate us and they fear us and they want us, and they hate and fear because they want.

Is it easier to confront bigotry which is, somehow, separable? I don’t know exactly how to say this—because I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say—but it seems as if the lack of choice (at a very basic, sexual, level) in the interaction between men and women makes it far harder to call out sexism as bigotry.

~~~

I’ve never particularly liked the “men-are-so-clueless” types of jokes, whether told by women or men. They strike me as lazy and demeaning, and, worst of all, unfunny.

Women lie/numbers don’t? Not funny.





And furthermore, I don’t like your trousers

3 06 2013

Ohhhh my:

Demetri Marchessini, a Greek-born shipping tycoon who gave [British political party] Ukip £10,000 this year, . . .teamed up with a photographer a decade ago to find “unattractive backsides”, in the words of the Observer writer Liz Hoggard, on the streets of London and New York.

Marchessini wrote in Women in Trousers: A Rear View: “I adore women and want to see them looking beautiful. Everyone has the obligation to look as attractive as possible. It pains me to see women looking terrible.

“Walk along any street and you see women using trousers like a uniform every single day. This is hostile behaviour. They are deliberately dressing in a way that is opposite to what men would like. It is behaviour that flies against common sense, and also flies against the normal human desire to please.”

. . .

Marchessini warned that women are undermining their chances of finding a partner by wearing trousers. “The more women dress like men, the less they are attractive to men. If a man finds a woman attractive, he will find her legs sexy even if they are not perfect, simply because they are her legs. Women know that men don’t like trousers, yet they deliberately wear them.”

~~~

h/t Slactivist Patheos, HerbsandHags





Come out, come out wherever you are

26 07 2012

I’m half-out as a bisexual.

Andrew Sullivan has been banging away at the fact that the late Sally Ride chose not to come out as a lesbian while she lived, and getting a fair amount of push-back from readers; he’s holding firm.

My first reaction to his original column was What a dick.

I read his column every day and link to it with some regularity, so I’m not unfamiliar with his habit of making everything about him. (It’s annoying, but it’s his blog, and, frankly, I’m probably even more guilty of the Me! Me! M-Fucking-E ME! approach to blogging. So.)

Anyway, that initial reaction was along the lines of He really doesn’t get how hard it is for women in male-dominated fields; sexism piled with homophobia might have been too much. I modified that reaction somewhat as I considered that she could have come out after she left the space program, could have come out in the past few years, and that maybe it would have been better had she been as out to the general public as she apparently was with intimates.

Still, I think Sullivan does discount both the dynamics of sexism and temperamental differences regarding revelations about one’s private life. He implies that she labored in the closet, and that now we know that her real lesson to young lesbans was and is: duck and cover.

But we don’t, in fact, know that this was her lesson. Just because she wasn’t out in a dramatically public way doesn’t have to mean that her “real” lesson was “hide away”. There is, after all, a difference between discretion and shame.

As unfair as I think Sullivan is in his autopsy of Ride’s relationship to her public persona—he didn’t know her, didn’t know her motives—I do nonetheless have to wonder about my own half-outing.

I could be cute, I suppose, and say that as a bisexual I could only be half-out, but what I really mean is that I’m out to some (all of my friends in New York & some of my colleagues, some of my non-New York friends), not to others (family, students), generally ambiguous in reference to any (hypothetical, sigh) partners, and will answer truthfully if asked directly by someone who I don’t think is crossing any lines in the query.

Who I don’t think is crossing any lines: This is the kicker, isn’t it? What if a student would ask? A boss? Would that person be crossing a line?

Or should I be the one who crosses the line by coming out to, say, my students and everyone I work with? I have no fear of discrimination at work, and no great worries of adverse reactions from my students, but I haven’t come out fully at the office or in the classroom* in part because I don’t think it’s any of their business. I like my privacy, and I don’t think openness in some areas of my life requires me to display every aspect of my life.

(*There’s also the matter of the appropriateness of revealing personal information in the classroom. I do offer bits from my life if they’re relevant to the subject at hand, so it’s not out of the question that my own sexuality would be relevant in some discussions; just coming out a propos of nothing—Hi, I’m your professor and I’m bisexual!—would manifestly not be the way to go.)

But—and here is where Sullivan and everyone else who argues for the urgency of coming out makes sense to me—by not saying anything, I allow others to draw false inferences of my sexuality, a falseness under which I may duck and cover and which has social implications. I am uneasy, still, with the inferences others may draw if I come out as bisexual, even as I am also uneasy with the assumption by others that I’m straight.

My reasons for not slamming that closet door behind me, then, has less to do with social opprobrium than my own fear of the personal reactions to a personal revelation. I don’t think anyone in my family would really care all that much, or, to be honest, really be surprised—any surprise might be that I’m bisexual and not a lesbian—nor do I think that the few friends who I haven’t told would care much, either; if they would, their distress would likely center on how long it took me to tell them, not what I told them.

And, of course, that it’s been a number of years since I’ve become bisexual only makes the conversation now even more awkward: Why didn’t you say something earlier?

Sigh.

I struggle with what to reveal and what to tuck away in so many things; unlike almost every other of those things, however, this one is not just about me.





He said, shut up

11 12 2011

Belle Waring brings it, again, at Crooked Timber:

10 Problems Women Need to Fix Before They Can Complain About Problems With Popular New Software, On a Blog

by Belle Waring on December 7, 2011

1. Female Genital Mutilation, Everywhere, Ever.
2. Women Getting Raped in Far-Away Lands, like Afghanistan. AND YOU DON’T EVEN CARE!
3. Growing Gender Imbalances in China and India (Also known as “Where’s Your Precious Right to an Abortion Now, Missy?”)
4. Sexist Islamic Law Codes (“Wait, why just—” “Shut up.”)
5. World Hunger (But not through those programs where they only give micro-payments/loans to women on the basis of research that it is more effective.)
6. Lack of Access to Clean Drinking Water For The World’s Poorest Citizens, Because, Hey, While You’re There.
7. Africa. Is Some Shit Just Fucked up There, or What? Get On That.
8. Access to The Most Basic Knowledge About Human Reproduction and Assistance of Midwives Can Lower Peri-Natal Deaths Tremendously, But Please Don’t Tell Anyone About Contraception or Abortions.
9. Forced Prostitution, Sex Slavery, Human Trafficking.
10. Are We Seriously Just Not Even Trying to Go to Mars Anymore? Really, Though? We Made it to The Moon in Like 5 Years With Some Slide Rules and Horn-rimmed Glasses and Shit, and Now All We’ve Got is These Weaksauce Telescopes Peering Back in Time. What the Fuck? Mars, Bitches!

Now you know, ladies. Sorry any sexism in developed nations up to and including your own personal experiences of sexual assault didn’t even make it on the list, but better luck next time!

I’ve disdained what I’ve called “hierarchies about suffering”, and the term “oppression Olympics” may also be applied (in reverse, or sideways, or something); either way, the point is clear: Shut. Up.

Tch.

What was that line from Serenity? I aim to misbehave.