Feminists Don’t Hate Men, We Just Don’t Like You (if you’re a jerk)

Oh, look, it’s a condescending book written by a male teacher toward feminist students, with such gems as “feminist scholar is an oxymoron” and “why do they hate us?”

Ah, yes, the standard “why do you haaaaaaaate us?” whining whenever a feminist questions something as unfair, or expects to be treated like a full human being and, you know, respected as much as a male student.

I tried to read the free bits on Amazon, but I just couldn’t do it. I got as far as the TOC, with section titles like “Why Feminists Hate Men Who Aren’t Gay.” Look, when you act condescending, smug, and superior toward women, don’t be surprised if they don’t all like you. Particularly when you’re a college professor who’s smug and condescending toward your students. It’s especially “fun” to be a student who’s a target of a professor’s ire because your grade depends on this person’s opinion of you.

So, yeah, if you’re ticking off all the feminists on campus, could it maybe, just maybe, not be because feminists are evil man-hating hags, but because you started the hate-fest by tossing around terms like “feminazi” or because you’re, in some way, acting like a sexist butthead? Heck, I haven’t even met you, and I already don’t like you. It *could* be because you’re a man, but wait, let’s look at this. I don’t harbor any seething hatred toward my husband, brother, male coworkers, male friends, male relatives, male classmates past or present, random guys in my neighborhood, male waitstaff or store clerks, the male mechanic who fixes my car, or that nice dude who sweeps outside my office building, who always smiles and says hi to me. So, the logical proposition of “male” = “Kelly hates you” is soundly proven false.

Hm…why might I not like this guy? Oh, right “feminist scholar is an oxymoron” = “you just called me stupid” That’s it! Of course, it’s because I’m a man-hating feminazi that I can’t read five pages into your work without wanting to vomit. The fact that you just made sweeping generalizations that negate my hard work, good grades, intelligence, and probably general worth as a human being clearly has nothing to do with it. /eyeroll

So, it turns out that feminist women (using a sample of one) treat guys as individuals (hm…just how we’d like to be treated) and get along great with ones who are reasonable people and dislike ones who…wait for it…are jerks. Yep, clearly I’m mean.

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Boosting the Signal

I’m not sure it’s really “boosting the signal” to relay something from a popular blog on the fatosphere to my little blog that probably has three readers, but hey, this is important, and every little bit helps.

I’ll spare you all the rant on how insurance companies are pretty much evil personified and cut straight to the chase. Sofia has an eating disorder and is trying to get better. Her insurance company approved only a tiny portion of the time she needs at a residential treatment center. She has a lawyer working on the case, trying to get the insurance company to pay for the full stay, and her lawyer feels it’d be best for her to remain in treatment throughout the appeal process. And that’s really flipping expensive.

So, if you want to help her out, go here.

I know there are a kajillion worthy causes out there, and I don’t want to put pressure on anyone. Just, if you can help, and you feel like this is a place where you want to, well, there it is.

A couple fantastic quotes on fear

“Blaming a large and diverse group of individuals for the terrifying actions of a scant minority is wrong. Fearing people because they look or move or dress differently than you is also wrong. That fear is what keeps us apart; that fear is what destroys understanding and leads to arguments and fistfights and endless, endless, endless wars.

Don’t let this fear rule you; recognize it when it happens, accept that these assumptions exist within you, and learn to see the circumstances of it clearly. Why am I feeling this way? Where is the feeling coming from? Is my fear appropriate to this situation? Fear is kneejerk — it relies on adrenaline and a lack of critical thinking. It is best fought with compassion and an open mind.”

The full entry is here.

It reminded me of another that I really like, from Babylon 5.

Every day, here and at home, we are warned about the enemy. But who is the enemy? Is it the alien? Well, we are all alien to one another. Is it the one who believes differently than we do? No, oh no, my friends. The enemy is fear. The enemy is ignorance. The enemy is the one who tells you that you must hate that which is different. Because, in the end, that hate will turn on you. And that same hate will destroy you.

Whose living room is this?

As far as discussion on the internet goes, a common analogy is that someone’s blog or website is basically their living room. It’s used both to encourage people to be polite, and to remind folks that, no, the first amendment has nothing to do with speech on someone else’s site, and yes, a site owner or moderator has every right to kick you out if you act like a butthead.

With most sites, the analogy works just fine. And then there’s Facebook. Facebook is this weird trans-dimensional space where everyone’s living rooms overlap. I post something to my wall, it shows up on yours as an update.

This means that when people say things that are hateful, in their own space, as they more or less have a right to, it shows up in my “living room” too. (I say “more or less have a right” because Facebook’s terms of service are supposed to prohibit hate speech, but they aren’t necessarily always applied.) I’m not sure how to deal with this. If someone were really truly in my living room (or on my blog), I’d have no problem telling them to stop, or politely but firmly disagreeing. But they’re not. They’re in their own space, and yet what they say gets into my space as well.

My problem is not just that these sorts of comments irritate me, though that’s a huge part of it. I also feel that if I sit back and say nothing when people are saying things that are hate-filled and verifiably untrue, that I’m essentially accepting those things. And yet, at the same time, it’s not my place to be the Facebook cop and make everybody play nice based on my standards of “nice.”

I made the mistake, recently, of saying I thought a post about Park51 was in bad taste because it was really disrespectful toward someone else’s religion. That unleashed a stream of vitriol from someone I don’t know, which I’m not really sure how to respond to. I don’t think I was out of line, though it probably would’ve been wiser to keep my mouth shut. So, part of me wants to smooth things over, but I don’t know that there’s any way to do that without apologizing for being in favor of religious tolerance. Or without ignoring, and essentially accepting, some of the totally baseless assumptions that came out (for example, talking about people “moving to this country and the complaining” as if there aren’t plenty of Muslims who are natural born citizens). The other part of me would like to actually call out that sort of BS, but I know I can’t do that without it getting even uglier.

From a technological standpoint, the thing that irritates me is that there’s no way to hide one specific post of someone else’s from my wall. It would be way easier to deal with if I could do the same as I do with obnoxious e-mails, delete and move on. But the X button on another person’s post hides them from your wall completely. I did have to do that with one person, but I’d prefer not to as a general rule. I’m not really sure what the right answer is in this situation.

Stretching My Faith, and maybe other lousy puns

I found this through the grapevine. The yoga instructor mentioned apparently knows, or at least went to school with, one of my Facebook friends. (She may or may not know someone who knows someone who was in a movie with Kevin Bacon.)

I always get fairly irritated at Christians preaching against yoga. Yes, it’s related to religious practices that aren’t Christianity, but any modern practice of yoga that I’ve gone to is either straight-up exercise, or is very neutrally spiritual, not throwing out any contradictions but giving you threads that you can relate to your own beliefs, whatever they might be. And for me it can be a prayer. I’ve discovered that the length of time it takes me to sing the doxology (“Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost. Amen”) is a good length of time to hold a stretch. This is done under my breath, because a lot of my yoga is done in brief spurts at work, trying to fend off the sciatica and wrist issues that are the hazard of an office job. So, something that, for me, brings back mindfulness and thoughts of God into a stressful day is unChristian? I don’t buy it.

Besides which, if we’re obligated to reject any practice with religious roots outside Christianity, we’re going to have to give back that celebration at the end of December, particularly the bit with bringing trees indoors. Easter is 99% ours, and we can probably keep it, but we may need to ditch the bunnies and eggs (fertility symbols). We may also need to change the name, just in case Bede was correct about Eostre and not just making her up.

Also, the rest of Christianity should maybe ditch the days of the week and the days of the month too, all named for Roman or Germanic deities, like the Quakers did way back. (They seem to run a hundred or two years ahead of the rest of us in a lot of things–by *1790* for example, Quakers weren’t allowed to own slaves.)

Or we could maybe embrace the crazy idea that other cultures and religions and schools of thought besides Christianity have come up with valuable stuff. (Like, for example, a lot of key mathematical concepts come from either ancient Rome or the Islamic world.) Seriously, Christianity and the cultures that are predominantly Christian do not have the market cornered on good ideas. And the idea that I have to say that, that it isn’t blazingly blindingly self-evident, well, gah…

How I Became Pro-Choice, Part 1 of ?

So, for a while now I’ve wanted to explain how I went from being extremely anti-abortion to being pro-choice. This took place gradually over years, and there were a lot of reasons for it, so I wasn’t quite sure how to start putting it together. So, I’m breaking it into smaller pieces. I’m not certain how many, really. As many as it takes.

The order won’t necessarily be sequential, either. This post, for example, talks about one of the last nails in the coffin of my pro-life-ness. I’d previously defined myself as pragmatically pro-life, basically acknowledging that a lot of women’s options as far as preventing pregnancy are crap, and as long as we’re going to teach abstinence only in schools, and have insurance companies cover viagra but not birth control pills, and do a crappy job of helping out people who can’t afford to raise a kid, having abortion be illegal would be complete BS.

A couple years ago, I started reading Shapely Prose. Not only did I learn about the revolutionary concept of fat acceptance, I also got an education in the basics of feminism. I had considered myself mostly a feminist before that, without knowing more than a rough summary of what that meant. And I usually caveated it with “not that I really count as a feminist, because I’m pro-life.”

Anyway, it was after I’d developed a major blog crush on Kate Harding that Dr. George Tiller was murdered. And I read about Operation Rescue’s comments, which can pretty much be summed up as callous and evil: We really hope this doesn’t negatively affect our ability to keep intimidating and harassing people. So…terrorism. You’re for it, then. Nice.

Between reading that, and reading these stories about the situations people are actually in when they have late-term abortions. This was a sad and scary revelation for me, because all I’d ever heard on this topic was the rhetoric around partial-birth abortion, nothing about the fact that it’s pretty much always done for major medical reasons, not somebody changing her mind at the last minute. In a lot of cases, these abortions are essentially taking a baby who isn’t going to survive off life-support, rather than condemning them to a short and excruciatingly painful life. That analogy brings up a whole host of other contentious subjects, but when the life support apparatus is a *person,* it should be her call.

Around the same time and from a lot of the same sources, I started reading about crisis pregnancy centers, and learning that they are often sources of misinformation and manipulation.

I went to an evangelical church since I was a teenager, and having heard that crisis pregnancy centers were there to help women in desperate and difficult situations. I remember thinking that they were a good thing, a “money where your mouth is” kind of pro-life stance that was actually compassionate and helpful.

So, between those two things, the realities of late-term abortion and the dishonesty used by crisis pregnancy centers, I felt betrayed in a pretty personal way. I thought about the change I’d collected in those little baby bottles for CareNet, in a program sponsored by my church, and I felt kind of ill.

I already had more than a little bit of cynicism toward the more fundamentalist parts of Christianity at that point. And I was familiar with the evil and vitriol spewed by guys like James Dobson and Jerry Falwell. So I suppose I shouldn’t have really been surprised that I’d been lied to, systematically and deliberately.

And as much as I felt used and betrayed, all I’d been conned out of was some spare change. How much worse for a pregnant woman who goes to a crisis pregnancy center who lies to her about the risks of abortion, or withholds her test results to make it harder for her to get one. Or promises support and provides help, right up until the point where she can’t abort, then tosses her out to fend for herself.