As a Favor to Me, Do This Favor For Ben

Women, I swear that I will never ask you to do anything like this again, but as a favor to me, please tell Ben about your experiences in math class.  Ben, if we do this for you, you have to promise a.) to spend some time perusing this blog and b.) listening to women when they let their guards down.

Because, see, what’s happening right now is that it feels to me very much like you’re saying that, no matter what I tell you–that I experience being a woman in this society as being bullshit in ways it doesn’t seem to me men have to face–you refuse to give my understanding of my own experience as much weight as you give your own experience, even though you aren’t a woman and I am.

I could whip my dick out and tell you that I have a minor in Women’s Studies that compliments my double major in Literature and History (though, sadly, was little help with my Russian minor) and that my master’s thesis necessitated an intimate knowledge of feminist theory, and that I relied heavily on the works of the French feminists and their thoughts on écriture féminine in order to prove my point about the fallacy of the non-linearity of hypertexts and other forms of experimental fiction all as my way of showing that I know what I’m talking about, but I’d hope that you’ve been a man long enough to see that for the bullshit move it is.

What I want is that when I tell you about my experiences, you take them at face value and that you ask questions that aren’t premised on the supposition that I’m either too stupid to understand that there’s really nothing much wrong with our society in regard to gender or that I’m making shit up.  I don’t want to have to act like a man or talk about my experiences in the way you’ve come to expect the Truth to be delivered to you in order for you to take what I say seriously.

So, why aren’t there more women computer scientists?  Is it that women don’t want to be computer scientists or is it that we’re told, repeatedly, that we suck at math?   Shit, Ben, even Barbie had to get in on the “math is hard” message for girls.

I, myself, discovered that girls sucked at math when I was a junior in high school and there were nine people in our calculus class, taught by the man who also taught computer science, and three of us were girls.  We had to sit in the front row, because ‘girls have a harder time with math than boys do,’ which was, apparently, code for ‘I like you to sit where I can openly stare at your tits and regularly brush my crotch against your arms or back as I’m checking to see how you’re doing on your test.’

Guess which class we regularly skipped?  Guess which three people in that class were not about to be stuck in a computer lab in the basement with that dude?

But, you know, I’m sure the reason none of the three of us went on to be computer scientists or other math-intensive professions is just because we didn’t want to.  I mean, yeah, we didn’t want to, but not because of something inherent to computer science.

You can’t just look at the choices women have made and extrapolate from that that women are doing what they want to do and that because you don’t see any real injustice, none exists.

And I’ll humor you, because I’m willing to put up with a lot of stuff that’s hurtful if I believe that the person spouting it doesn’t really intend to be hurtful (which is one of the reasons I was so pissed at Steinem.  She knows what she’s doing; she knows how hurtful it is and she said it anyway), but it’s grueling, really, to both have to fight against obvious bullshit and repeatedly show that bullshit to people who are obviously smart enough to see it for themselves.

So, I can’t, at the end of the day, promise you that you’ll get any other women to participate.

But you might.  And I’d ask that you just listen to what they’re telling you about their experiences.  Just about this one thing.  I’m not even asking that you change your mind.  You can still think I’m full of shit.  But just listen and ask yourself if you really can say for certain that women don’t want to be computer scientists.

Two Things I Hate

1.  I hate when you can see that you’re being stupid about a situation, but you just can’t get over being stupid.

2.  I hate when being stupid will come closer to bringing about a situation that you fear, and you can see that and yet you continue to act stupidly.

What good is self-awareness if you can’t use it to keep from being a dumbass?

Afghan Again

I’m having a real problem with my current afghan.  I haven’t ever made one like it before.  I’ve never even crocheted with cotton string/yarn and I didn’t know how to do a half double crochet until just last weekend.

But as I work on it, I’m repeatedly overcome with the most overwhelming sense of deja vu, that I have indeed made this very afghan before, but last time, the spots were navy blue, the field was white, and the borders were a variegated blue and white thing, again, yarn that I had dyed myself.

I even dreamed about this afghan, which is somehow that other afghan last night.

It’s creeping me out.

Maybe I’m over-caffeinated.  I’ve noticed, recently, that, if I have too much caffeine, I become convinced that everyone in my family is a worse driver than me, so maybe this is just more of that weirdness.

Gloria Steinem, With All Due Respect, Kiss My Butt

If you haven’t read Gloria Steinem’s piece in the New York Times, go on over there and read it. I’ll be here when you get back.


Okay, seriously, fuck you, Steinem.

Where to start? I pick the end.

What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.

Really? That’s how you want to play it? That voting for Clinton, because she’s got a vagina, is radical? Really. What’s radical about how she voted for the Iraq war, a war that has had devastating consequences for women, both Iraqi and American? What’s radical about using your husband’s job as an argument for your job qualifications? Is there something particularly radical about shopping around for a state that will elect you and moving there, rather than running in a state you’re actually from?

Because, I have to tell you, I’m not seeing it. I’m seeing a politician playing politics and I, as a voter, will be voting for the politician I think best able to be president. That might be Clinton; it might not be.

You may ask, can’t I see how groovy it is that Clinton is running for president? Can’t I see how important it is that I, as a woman, recognize this historic event and vote with my cooter, not with my brain?

No, you see, I come from Tennessee, home of Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black, women who are in office and not very devoted to assuring that other women have the same freedoms they enjoy. You see, just because someone has a vagina, it doesn’t make them good people.

Second, and more importantly than your little intergenerational pot-stirring is this:

That’s why the Iowa primary was following our historical pattern of making change. Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter). [Emphasis mine.]

Steinem, again, fuck you. Dirty, dirty, dirty shame on you.

You were born, according to Wikipedia, in 1934, which means you lived through the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Did you, perhaps, as you were penning your little NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL, not reflect back on how, even though black men were ostensibly given the right to vote a half a century before women of any race, black people of all genders were openly and systematically denied that right until half a century after we–you and me, white women–were guaranteed ours?

Did it not once cross your mind the deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner happened in 1964–over four decades after we–you and me, white women–got the right to vote?

Did it never occur to you that black women didn’t, by and large, enjoy the same right to vote our foremothers did? And that you, by framing it as some kind of competition for who has it the worst–black men or “women”–basically just said to every black woman in America, “My experience as a woman is the experience of women in America, not yours.”

I mean, it’s gross that you would, after saying out of your own mouth, that you’re not advocating a competition for who has it the toughest, turn right around and use your column to advocate a competition for who has it the toughest, with Hillary Clinton as the winner, but to just basically erase a whole swatch of history you lived through in order to do it?

Shame on you.

Sincerely, with my whole heart, shame on you.


p.s. For those of you who are still confused about why women of color feminists are often wary of white feminists and tired of giving us the benefit of the doubt when we say thoughtless stuff, it’s because we pull shit like this all the time and have for as long as there’ve been feminists in the United States (see Sojourner Truth telling white feminists that their concerns are not the concerns of all women clear back in 1851). I mean, sincerely, Gloria Steinem has enough power in the world that she can get an editorial in the New York Times that basically rewrites the last hundred and fifty years to make it seem as if women (read: white women) have had a tougher row to hoe than black men and it runs. It runs as if it has meaning and imparts anything useful to the conversation and when people criticize it (Andrew Sullivan, I’m looking at you), they criticize it for being about victim politics.

Okay, yes, but what about the fact that it’s bullshit? It’s a lie about history. That doesn’t alarm anyone?

p.p.s. Also, the implication seems to be that, if we’re electing folks on the criteria of how radically they’ll change American politics, Clinton, because she’s a woman, is more radical than Obama, because he’s a black man, but people, please. Either one is going to be a weird new thing we’ve never seen before–a President who isn’t a white man.

Let’s not underestimate the coolness of this moment–where a woman and a black man are both viable candidates for president.

Edited to add:  GoldnI takes up the intergenerational vote for cooters or you suck as a feminist problem with the editorial.

Our Bodies, Your Selves

Thanks to alert reader, JP, we learn that the anti-abortion crowd is trying a new approach–“Ladies, don’t you see? When you have an abortion, you not only end the potential for a new life, you potentially make a man feel bad, maybe not today, but someday, in the future!”

I don’t have anything more insightful to say than Scott’s saying over at World-O-Crap, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be the first one to use the “Our Bodies, Your Selves” title, because, really, how funny is that?

You’d think that thinking people would be embarrassed to advance an argument that can be summed up in LOLcat as “I r the patriarchy. Do wat I want.” But I guess not.

Scott says:

But I’m sure these testimonials aren’t just cynical histrionics designed to restore mens’ traditional property rights over the uterus and its contents. And to prove it, I’m willing to make this offer: I will happily accept that we have abortions if, whenever a woman dies in childbirth, the father is immediately executed.

Oh, silly Scott, don’t you know?  It’s perfectly fine for a boss to take credit for the work of his underling.  The problem is just getting it codified into law that women are men’s underlings.

Sorry, this just tickles me so much.

And, just think, if it’s not about men taking control of uteruses… uteri… back from those women who just can’t be trusted with them, how much fun we can all have.  Say I feel personally invested in you and your future, I’m going to take a lot more interest in making sure our prostate is healthy.  How often can we schedule those exams?