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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Babe, is this Sexist?

Only a couple people voted this time around, but the choice was unanimous.


Which really?

- Hahaha!!! Period hormones make women crazy emotional!!! Which they do know that irritability (and other symptoms of PMS) happen before periods start right? Hence the P for pre-menstrual.  Also, not all women have PMS.
- Those "dangerous" comments (and some of the "safer" ones) are just plain offensive no matter how calm a person is.  A lot of them are straight up gaslighting.  Really, try those with me any time of the month, I'll still rip you a new one.
- Some of the "Safest" comments like "Here's my paycheck".  Because all women want is money amirite?  So we can afford the bonbons.  Why would we get married or have sex if not so we could have someone financially support us?
- And really, yes wine is awesome, and a drink at the end of the day helps one unwind.  But booze as the only way to calm a women down?  Cliched relating of women and wine? Really?

Sooo Sexist!

This week's "Babe, is this Sexist?" was influenced by the recent "Really? With Set and Amy"

Post your submissions for next week's Babe, is this sexist? in the comments.  We'll pick our favorites and let you know!

If you also want to vote, visit the Facebook group next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to vote for your favorite submissions.  Also, please feel free to resubmit options that weren't chosen!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Buffet Feminism

By: Liberate Zealot

There's a lot of jargon when it comes to feminism (just like any area that has had extensive thought and writing) and what types of feminists there were/are.  There's the waves: first, second, third, forth, fifth? (which are we in now?).  And then the different feminist theories about where oppression (either sexist or otherwise) springs from, and how best to combat it.
  • Radical feminism where the belief is sexism and other oppressions come from the Patriarchy and unequal relationships between women and men.  Lots of discussion about gender roles/stereotypes/norms and gender as a performance/construct and what the meaning of gender (women/men) means and how it relates to sexism.  
  • Socialist feminism believes that sexism is aided and abetted by capitalism (which profits off the free labor provided for by women) and posits that to end discrimination against women we must also end capitalism.  
  • Liberal feminism focuses on individualism and legal battles to overcome sexism.   
  • Difference feminism believes in men and women being ontologically different versions of the human being, and is apparently more popular among Catholics who are feminists, or interested in gender theories. 
  • Sex-positive feminism, also known as pro-sex feminismsex-radical feminism, or sexually liberal feminism focuses on sexual freedom, and embraces various sexual minority groups. They oppose legal and social efforts to control sex between consenting adults.  They often see attempts to control or curtail sex as an attempt to control women.
  • Libertarian feminism conceives of people as self-owners and therefore as entitled to freedom from coercive interference.
  • Separatist feminism, which is often conflated with rad fem (and can easily go along with it) focuses solely on women and girls, and doesn't believe that men can positively contribute to feminism.  Some separatists believe in a physical separation, while other's focus on political/intellectual separation.  This form isn't very friendly to straight relationships.  
  • Anarcha-feminists believe that class struggle and anarchy against government require struggling against Patriarchy, which comes from involuntary hierarchy.
  • Black/PostColonial feminism seeks to distinguish itself from and challenge other forms of feminism, which often focused on, and were lead, by white/western women. There's a lot of different branches and approaches within this large branch of feminism. 
And there are other forms of feminism and feminist theory besides these!  Also, all of these types of feminism have various branches and off-shoots.  For example, radical feminism has given birth to separatist and sex-positive approaches to feminism.  This often leads to confusion within (and outside of) feminist groups about what someone means when they identify as a certain type of feminist, or a feminist in general.  Sometimes it leads to feminists telling others that they can't be x type of feminist for whatever reason.


There's also the fact that different approaches and theories are more practical for different situations.  When I'm discussing child rearing/education or rape and rape culture I make use of radical feminism.  When fighting against the US War on Women I focus on legal battles and freedom of choice, so liberal feminism is the best to employ.  When fighting for queer rights my focus is on sex-positive feminism. Since I believe in intersectionality and try to stand for all women I try to follow and practice black/PostColonial feminism (though in this case it's following the thought of others who experience racism and the effects of imperialism/colonialism).  When I fight against economic inequality (which does effect women differently then men) I make use of socialist feminism. 


And maybe it's because I've been raised Catholic by a cultural/agnostic Catholic, but this cafeteria style approach seems normal to me.  I can't follow every tenant of every feminist theory, and sometimes one is more applicable then another.  And so I'm a Buffet Feminist.  I pick and chose what's best for the circumstances I see.  The different systems of oppression (patriarchy, racism, colonialism, classism, heterocentrism) all intersect and overlap, and so does my feminism and feminist approaches.  


There are dozens of feminist approaches and theories, each with their different side dishes and flavors.  So I'll pick and chose from the established theories and find the combination that best suits my life and views.  And as I learn and grow I'll try new dishes, my tastes will change, as will my precise feminist identity, but I'll always be a Buffet Feminist.



Saturday, 25 February 2012

How to get her to suck *content warning*

The following is cross-posted from the Damsel in de Tech blog. Click here to see the original.

This little charmer of a headline was waiting in my Spam mailbox this morning. Rather than see what glorious (read: gross/rapey/triggering) wisdom and/or product they have to offer, I thought I'd take the opportunity to offer my own sage advice.

How to get her to suck:
  1. When in her presence, or posting anywhere online where the intended female may view your comments, reinforce gender stereotypes and laud women who do the same, whilst simultaneously complimenting and slut-shaming women you find sexually attractive. Make sure that you put out as many messages as possible, post them all over your Facebook wall, tweet them, blog about them, etc. Make sure she cannot escape reading them.
  2. Compliment her on "not being like other girls" any time she does something misogynistic. Use it as a compliment of the highest order. Encourage her to prove how much better she is than other women, especially if that means degrading other women in the process.
  3. Sexually harass her. If she reacts badly, tell her it was a joke. Get other female friends to tell her to lighten up. Keep this up until she accepts the sexual harassment as complimentary, ordinary, and something to look forward to. Encourage her to brow-beat other women who speak out against sexual harassment.
  4. Tell rape jokes around her. Commend her if she laughs at them. Encourage her to tell some herself. Applaud her for being so "edgy" and "not like typical girls" and "just one of the guys".
  5. If she has a grudge or grievance with another woman or girl, encourage her to slut-shame them. The other person's sexuality doesn't even need to be remotely connected to the issue. The more acrimonious her slut-shaming, the more you should laugh and cheer her on.
  6. Have movie nights where you watch sexually violent and degrading movies and make fun of the female characters who are brutalized in these films. If she acts uncomfortable or tries to leave the room, make fun of her, saying "it's only a movie." Make sure she knows her feelings of discomfort are both unwelcome and completely unwarranted.
  7. Any time she is mildly unhappy or not enthusiastic, accuse her of being on her period. Use her objections as proof of her being visited by her Aunt Flo. If she admits to being on her period, say "I knew it", and make a generalized statements about how menstruation makes women inferior to men. Make sure she laughs at the joke, otherwise it's further evidence of her menstrual moodiness.
  8. Don't let her do anything for herself. Whether it be changing a tire, changing the channel, updating her computer operating system, or anything other than shopping, cooking, and child-rearing. If she doesn't let you do things for her, accuse her of being an uppity feminist. If she does let you, use it as proof that women can't do these things.
  9. Always use her as an example of her entire gender when she's doing something wrong/ bad/ weird, etc, and as an exception to the rule any time she does something good/ right/ cool, etc. Make sure she agrees when you point these out. If she doesn't agree, go back to #7.
  10. Make exaggerated and sexually-charged comments about women in the media who benefit from personal trainers, plastic surgery, and air-brushing. Point out all the flaws in women you see at the grocery store, on the news, online, etc. Make sure to add a few digs here and there about her complexion, figure, hair, and how they don't match Angelina Jolie or Megan Fox. If she remarks on the personal trainers, etc, go back to #7, and/or any of the other tactics.
  11. Ensure she's never confident in her own opinion. Even if she's 100% right. If she has evidence, say she's misunderstanding your original point, or that her evidence doesn't quite apply exactly to the particular way you've phrased the issue. Correct her at every opportunity. And when she looks to you for validation, point out that she's not confident. 
There. Now, if you go through all of the above steps with the intended woman or girl you were originally posing the question about, she will be one sucky human being. Or, she'll stop returning your calls and completely block you out of her life and devote the rest of her days to feminism and challenging schmucks like you. Really could go either way.


Now, if you are looking to know how to get someone to consent to sexual activity for you, here's a couple pieces of advice:
  1. Be a decent human being.
  2. Treat them like they're a decent human being.
  3. If they expresses interest in you beyond friendship, try kissing them first. If they're not interested in kissing you, then stop. 
  4. If they kiss you, ask if they want to go any further. If you're not comfortable verbalizing what you want, stop. If they're not comfortable verbalizing what they want, stop. 
  5. Accept that sometimes, no matter how nice or decent or charming or helpful or attractive or rich or funny or brilliant or utterly amazing you are, the person you like won't want to be sexually intimate with you. Or may only want to be sexually intimate with you once. Or in a limited way. It happens. No amount of advice will get you beyond that point, because the other person has a right to not want to be with you for any reason at all, even if they can't or won't verbalize that reason.
This advice may seem counter productive insofar as it won't necessarily "get you laid". That's ok. Sex isn't something you're owed. It's not something your partner is owed. It doesn't have to be in the context of a long-term, monogamous, heterosexual relationship, but it does have to be with enthusiastic consent by everyone involved at all times. 

Consent and respect and very sexy. If the person you're interested in doesn't seem to think so, time to move on, because your boundaries and safety are important, too.


Friday, 24 February 2012

Busting the Myth of Erotic Pedagogy

The following response was written by an individual who attends Grant MacEwan University, but who is not personally affected by the paper due to attending a separate campus.

Click here for more information regarding the paper.


By: Dainty Chainsaw

When an instructor teaches a class, we assume they are there because they know the material, can impart knowledge and utilize that information to their students. We do not assume the instructors are there to obtain sexual gratification and to establish a sexual relationship with them.

In a recently published paper, Cameron Fraser, a professor in Grant MacEwan’s Bachelor of Applied Communications in Professional Writing program, and Davinda Garvin, a student in his class, espouse the concept of “erotic pedagogy,” claiming that no legitimate learning environment is possible without it. The authors state that, in their views, erotic pedagogy is about breaking down hierarchical power dynamics, allowing for an intensified desire to both learn and teach. They stress that “sexuality emboldens students to challenge knowledge, and the professor to reciprocate and build on this intellectual growth. Indeed, we argue that it is only through the erotic that the power gap between professor and student can be overcome.”

Bullshit. As the saying goes, if your product was any good, you wouldn't need sex to sell it. Socrates is widely regarded as one of the most effective teachers of all time – and as far as anyone has been able to discover, he wasn't sleeping with any of his students.

Who's the victim? Co-opting activist language is en vogue.

The following is cross-posted from the Damsel in de Tech blog. Click here to see the original.




Who's the boss? Who's the victim? Evidence of a feministicalogical conspiracy
to enslave teh menz? You be the judge...

I'm not the sort of blogger who is able to keep on top of every new topic that comes along. Not least of all because there's so much shit that happens all the time. If this were a full-time job, I'm still not sure I could do it. I'd likely miss deadlines as I cowered under my covers, hugging my teddy bear and softly singing to myself, "It can't rain all the time".


Actually, it probably can.

So, given that I'm not trying to keep up with the minutiea, sitting back and watching from a slight distance provides some clearer perspective on overall trends that I've been noticing (I'm certainly not the only one, as you'll see, because I'm quoting posts from Manboobz.com).

For example, it's interesting (read: ridiculous & depressing) that the term "victim" is being simultaneously misappropriated and maligned by groups and individuals who wouldn't know what it is to be a victim if it came up and slapped them upside the head (which would be ironic, because then they'd be victims of assault). I know that this isn't just something that MRAs do, I just know that I'm more aware of their hijacking of the term because I find it deeply offensive and obnoxious.

They seem to have recognized that people tend to sympathize with "victims". So, in wrenching sympathy from those who deserve and need it (i.e. - people who have been actually victimized), they've adopted a tactic of "Don't sympathize with them! They're chowder heads! Look at us! We've got hangnails because women are teh debbil! We don't like it when people criticize us for being so shitty, so we're going to co-opt their language unironically to excuse and pretty-up our abuse."

One of the more frustrating things about this tactic, is that genuinely nice people who actively work to support survivors of various forms of violence and oppression don't always know how to react to it. When someone states they are being oppressed or victimized, the standard response from good people is to try to support them and work with them to alievate what it is that is affecting them. When it's cis people claiming that the existence and acknowledgment of trans people are oppressing them by "reinforcing negative gender stereotypes by trying to conform to the opposite-sex" (I shit you not, I've seen that argument), good people are often gobsmacked into silence. Like, what do you say to such a bizarre misappropriation of the language of anti-oppression work?

Here are my suggestions for how to deal with people who usurp activist language to justify their bullshit:
  1. GIF party - when people are being absurd, sometimes the only logical and sane response is a lolcat
  2. MEME party - similar to GIF party, but can also be done without pictures. Eg. - "What is this? I don't even"
  3. Short answers, "That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard." - unfortunately, while this is often the first response that comes to mind, it often leads the OP to demand that you "prove" what they said is false, inaccurate, misleading, batshit insane, etc. Sometimes that can be difficult in the moment, because their claims are just so bizarre that no rational breakdown rebuttal immediately comes to mind.
  4. Post links stats and studies to the contrary - this can be helpful when you are so gobsmacked you can't formulate a response other than to point to someone else who has already laid out an eloquent response
  5. Ask questions. This can be very helpful in getting over the initial "O_________O" response. Keep asking questions, like: "How exactly does recognizing and honouring the experiences of transgendered persons negatively affect you as a cis woman?", and "And you came to this conclusion how?" and "And how has denying and ignoring the existence of oppression helped women so far?" and even "Are you posting ironically? Because it's pretty bang-on if you're being facetious in order to highlight the absurdity of the claims of those who find it expedient to discount their own levels of privilege."
  6. Take a break. I know that with discussions online, sometimes 5 minutes can feel like an eternity, and any time away from the topic can feel like the other side is "winning" by filling up the conversation with venom that echoes when not addressed. But, seriously, if you're gobsmacked or your face is turning red because you are so irate that someone could post something so offensive, it's ok to take a break. Often, with a bit of distance (even as short as 5-10 min) comes greater clarity in how to respond. And, in your absense, it's possible someone else will also chime in and put into words what you have been trying to express. Allies are awesome that way.
  7. Stop responding. This may be counter-intuitive, but sometimes it can be very effective to let a ridiculous comment stand on its own without comment. Posts can echo, and sometimes the silence that follows can be more powerful than any other response.
  8. Copy and paste. If you've been posting online about social justice issues for any length of time, chances are you've repeated yourself, and perhaps have repeated yourself so many times you can't be arsed to type the entire response out again. That's why I started updating a document with my most-common arguments. No sense reinventing the wheel. If people are going to keep lazily rehashing insults and out-dated arguments from a half-century ago, then you're allowed to repost something you said last week.
  9. Build a group of allies. I've got a great collection of amazing people that I rely on as a sounding board and comic relief when dealing with these issues. Sometimes I'm too close to the issue or too upset to respond in a timely manner, so I go to them to see if they're able to respond, instead. It's not 100% assured someone is around to respond, but having people there to vent to helps regardless.
Now, I'm sure there are many other ways to address these types of arguments, and your mileage may vary on any and all of these suggestions. Whatever happens, know that you're not insane and, yes, they are really maliciously co-opting activist language, and yes, it really is fucking offensive. But at least you're not alone.



Thursday, 23 February 2012

MST3K, self-care, and recycling tropes about "today's criminal youth"

The following is cross-posted from the Damsel in de Tech blog. Click here to see the original.

I'm not sure if it's a mid-winter thing, but it seems that myself and many of my allies are approaching burn-out. For myself, it's pretty understandable, since I've been active online this full year battling rape culture in the name of Slutwalk, aside from battling marginal employment, mounting debt, and the regular demands of adulthood. This past year has been quite a feminist education, for I've encountered every kind of triggering, misogynistic, regressive, patriarchal sludge the internet has to offer, and then some. This was also the year I learned about MRAs. And all that gets to me.

Part of my self-care is to watch Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Seriously. I used to watch it on the Sci Fi channel (you know, before they spelled it wrong), and then around 2002, in Napster's hay day, I started finding and downloading episodes. It took me about 5 years, but I was able to acquire every episode from every season, plus the movie. Shhh. Don't tell. I mean, er, I bought them all. Ye-ah...

My favourite episodes have got to be movies from the 50's and 60's that hype the evils of "today's youth". Those lousy beatniks and their crime sprees. Those are what was wrong with the country! Because, goodness knows, there were no out-of-control teenagers in the 20's or 30's! Oh, noes, those were the real good ol' days. You know, during the Great Depression. Wait.

Realistically, there were no "good ol' days". Any period can look glossy and inviting with the passage of enough time to smooth over the rough bits. Heck, I look fondly upon the 80's and early 90's, but we know they weren't all sunshine and lollipops.

Now, for the uninitiated, let's take a look at those crazy kids from the 50's and 60's and check out the roots of those who are currently running our country *cough*intotheground*cough*.

Season 1, Ep. 12 - Untamed Youth


Season 4, Ep.15 - The Beatniks

Season 5, Ep. 7 - I Accuse My Parents

Season 5, Ep. 22 - Teen-Age Crime Wave

Season 6, Ep.15 - Kitten with a Whip

And there are more. Many more. But you've gotta look for them. Bon appetit.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Babe, is this sexist?

So the voting (over at the Feminist Armchair Regime's Facebook Group) ended in a tie, so we're going with the one that was created by a major company for advertising.


And ewwww!!!

- Objectification of women, comparing them to cars. Women are not commercial products, okay?
- A very young looking model. She looks about 18, but could easily be younger. That's not sexist in and of itself, but considering the context it's pretty creepy.
- Suggesting that sleeping with virgins is preferable to sleeping with an experienced woman. Unless they're super hot and young, then experienced women/girls are ok.

Super, super sexist!


Post your submissions for next week's Babe, is this sexist? in the comments.  We'll pick our favorites and let you know!

If you also want to vote visit the Facebook group to vote for your favorite submissions.  Also, please feel free to resubmit options that weren't chosen!



Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Signing

By: Liberate Zealot

Content Warning: rape/rape culture, homophobia

Every week brings something objectionable into the world, or some important bill or law up for debate/vote.  I can't write equally about all of these (the whole Hive Mind working constantly couldn't address everything).  But what I do try to do is sign petitions for the various causes I care about.  Here's a sampling of what I've signed this past week.

Focus on the Silver Lining


Content Warning: Stalking, abusive relationships


This is J-Cat, we're fostering him for a friend who has to leave the state for a while.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

On Intersectionality and the Impossibility of Separating Identity

By: Liberate Zealot

Intersectionality in the identity of people is
"an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. Similarly, if a Black woman is harmed because she is in an intersection, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination […] But it is not always easy to reconstruct an accident: Sometimes the skid marks and the injuries simply indicate that they occurred simultaneously, frustrating efforts to determine which driver caused the harm (KimberlĂ© Williams Crenshaw, 1989. P149).
I'm extremely lucky to be as privileged as I am.  I have white, class, able bodied, and cis-gendered privilege.  And these privileges (along with the privilege of caring, active, and informed parents) have made the areas I'm not privileged (the intersection of roads of discrimination that I inhabit) much easier to bear.  The accidents happen less frequently, have less serious consequences, or are repaired quicker than if I didn't have all these other privileges.  However, the accidents do happen, and the roads of discrimination exist and intersect in ways impossible to untangle.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Adventures in Job Hunting

By: Malanka Sveta

                I have been a stay at home mom for two and a half years, but when my partner was recently injured I decided that now was the perfect time to get back to work.  Part time at first, of course.


                Key to a successful job hunt is the right kind of resume.  For me, an adequate resume makes me attractive to potential employers who are looking for my specific job related experience.  A good resume opens doors to new and different kinds of jobs (not what I am looking for at this point).  And a great resume weeds out employers I have no desire to work for.  I have a great resume.

                I have taken my resume to a few places with no hits, which is fine.  But within 10 minutes of dropping off my last resume I had a call back because of my reason for leaving a specific past job.

                Have you ever had a soul-sucking complete waste of your life humanity destroying they could not possibly pay you enough for what you have to do job?  I spent 18 months as a bill collector for Equifax and, after the company decided to sell the collections portion of their business, Canadian Bonded Credits Limited.  It was, without a doubt, the worst time of my entire life.  I did not get paid enough for the impact it had on me.  I did not get paid enough for the changes it created in my life.  I did not, could not possibly, receive adequate compensation for all of the tiny erosions this job had on my psyche.  The only moment of my job I enjoyed was the receipt of a letter addressed to "The Equifascists".

                I have this on my resume.  It will remain on my resume until long after I have retired.  I have considered making it my epitaph.  My reason for leaving is "Sought more merciful and compassionate employment, perhaps something like euthanizing healthy lovable puppies".  I never want to work for anyone who 1. has no sense of humour, 2. does not appreciate sarcasm, and 3. does not understand how harmful that specific job can be to a certain personality type.  And I will never have to because there are enough people out there who get it, and some of them are working in management.

                Never underestimate the power of a great resume, because sorting out the kind of people you wish to work for is best done prior to the wasted time of an interview.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Taking up space

The following is cross-posted from the Damsel in de Tech blog. Click here to see the original.

One issue that I've seen crop up quite often, is who feels justified in taking up space.


Representation of the patriarchy? You be the judge.

Persons who have grown up facing various kinds and levels of oppression are often taught to diminish themselves, to shrink away, to not gather attention lest they incur the wrath of more outspoken privileged folk. Naturally, there are many exceptions to this, just as there are folks who have grown up with the benefit of every privilege out there who are quite shy and try their best to stay out of the spotlight.

This phenomenon often becomes apparent in popular traditional media, online social media, and in-person conversations. Really anywhere there are two or more people having a conversation, there's the opportunity for this dynamic to pop up of one person dominating the conversation for no better reason than they're louder and feel more entitled to having their opinion heard.

Part of my process with working on dealing with oppression against me and understanding how my privileges may contribute towards the oppressive status quo, has been to be more mindful of how often I speak up and when.

I'm boisterous at heart and can put my thoughts together quite eloquently, and so it's not infrequent that I will put myself and my ideas out there. I especially try to ensure that I stand up and am heard when there are other privileged folks dominating the conversation and spreading myths, stereotypes, and other fallacies that are harmful and oppressive. I do not want theirs to be the only voices heard, because I recognize that a lot more read/ overhear these conversations than contribute to them and because I want to lessen the potentially triggering effects of unchecked victim-blaming, etc.

That's one of the frustrating things about challenging people who have not checked their privilege. If you have no emotional investment in the issue, of course it's easier to speak up and keep blathering on with the same erroneous points even when given evidence to the contrary. If you're a physically-fit, cisgendered male, then of course it's easy for you to espouse how all women need to take self-defense classes to avoid rape, regardless of how problematic and victim-blaming your tone and approach is. If you've grown up with everything being given to you and never had to worry about where your next meal is coming from, of course it's easy to think of sex workers as being foolish to work on the street instead of indoors, or lazy for not finding other work, or deserving of being a target of assault for the situation "they've put themselves in".

As a slight aside, when one is commenting from the outside looking it, it's so easy to say with confidence that if they were in a particular situation, they'd know exactly what to do.


Protip: If you're about to tell someone you'd avoid being raped by turning into Rambo, you're not being as helpful as you may think. 

On the other side of the coin, I try to make sure that I'm not the one who is speaking over people whose voices need to be heard on an issue. As good as my intentions may be, if I see that there are other commentators who are addressing an issue, I try to step back and allow room for them.

Now, that's not to say that if someone identifies as a survivor of sexual violence that I'll give them a free pass to slut-shame or perpetuate rape myths or victim-blame. One can be a survivor and an abuser, or at least perpetuate problematic attitudes, all at once and I do think that needs to be addressed when it comes up. Allowing someone to spread toxic attitudes because of their past experiences neither helps them nor will change the culture that has facilitated the abuse against them.

Either way, whether I'm trying to put my voice out there to keep arrogant and wrong dudebros from taking over the space, or trying to ensure I'm not the one taking over to the detriment of the oppressed groups being discussed, or a combination thereof, it's a continual work in progress.

Despite my confidence in myself and my opinions and my education around anti-oppression work, it's not easy to keep putting myself out there in the face of all those people who feel no shame in their victim-blaming, rape apology, in gas lighting survivors, and derailing important conversations. It's taxing, it's tiring, it's frustrating, and some days I feel like I'm crawling uphill against an avalanche.

But, that's kind of proof that it's all the more necessary to keep taking back that space when it gets encroached upon by patriarchal caca doodie heads. Because, if I'm not lending my voice, then their ignorance and hatred will echo, and that's exactly what feminism and humanist activism aims to correct. It aims to change the prevailing tone from one of misogyny and rape culture into one of equality and consent culture.

When in doubt, bring in the lolcats.

Babe, is this sexist?

We're going to try to have a weekly installment where people can submit images, statements, movies, or whatever that they think might be sexist and the Hive Mind of the Feminist Armchair Regime will give you our pithy take.

Here's an image of a children's toy to get the ball rolling:



And holy Batman is it sexist!  In fact, I'm surprised the girl in the picture isn't a little bit darker so as to read obvious Latina/person of color.  Because, we all know what type of women have cleaning trolley's amirite?  We could have gone for racist and sexist, Double Bonus!

Post your submissions for next week's Babe, is this sexist? in the comments.  We'll pick our favorites and let you know!


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

With a little help from my friends

The following is cross-posted from the Damsel in de Tech blog. Click here to see the original.

You know what I've found makes coming across trolls and misogynists and anti-feminists and general caca doodie heads easier? Friends.


More specifically, aligning with allies. Someone can be a bff and still fall into the categories above. A lot of people put up with a lot of unseemly bullshit from their friends because of their shared history together, the positive things their friends offer seem to offset the negative, mutual friends that keep them together, or any other of a bazillion reasons.

No, aside from just friends, it has been a godsend for me to have found a solid group of feminist allies. I've been fortunate enough to have gathered a group of allies from all over the world that I've "met" through the Slutwalk movement and other online activism pages on Facebook, without whom I think I would have long ago gone off my nut and set my laptop aflame.

Allies help to reassure us that,
"Yes, that was an extremely sexist comment. You're not over-reacting. Your reaction and your anger is valid. They're gaslighting you.",
or that,
"Yup, he's a misogynistic troll. We've come across him before and have seen him derail every conversation like this, so it's not your debating style that's the issue; it's that he's a jerk."
 or even,
"I know what you're trying to say, but the way you tried to phrase it was quite problematic, so I can see why you got that negative reaction. Let's work out your message here, in private, so we can deconstruct where you've gone off the rails a bit."
Having allies is about getting a group of people together that can help you maintain your sanity in the face of some really horrific issues. Having allies can help you become a better ally yourself by surrounding yourself with people who will call you out when you're making problematic statements but also who can help you understand why your statements were problematic. Having allies can be about getting people together to start GIF parties at trolls to reduce the triggering effects when they descend upon pages dedicated to survivors of sexual violence. Having allies has been one of the best ways for me to learn more about feminism and issues people are facing all over the world.

How does one build their network of allies?

In my case, it's largely been through Facebook, via Slutwalk pages whilst arguing against misogynists who drag out the tired rape myths and try to pass them off as "safety advice", and on feminism pages whilst arguing with dudebros who are adamant that North American women are more privileged than men and if they really want to address inequality they should help women in Iraq, etc.

In the real world, I've also met a lot of amazing allies through volunteering with rape crisis centres. By their nature, most rape crisis centres are set up in a feminist framework, and a large part of their crisis line volunteer training focusses on feminism in order to inform the volunteers about the societal issues that perpetuate rape culture and affect survivors of sexual violence. This is because one cannot adequately support survivors of sexual violence unless they fully understand the societal context in which these survivors are trying to get by - one where police perpetuate rape myths and disbelieve survivors' reports, one where survivor's sexual histories and clothing are used against them in court, one where friends and family all-too-often rally around the perpetrator because it's less uncomfortable to assume the survivor is lying than that someone they love and respect is capable of committing grievous acts of sexual violence.

Learning about those issues is intense. Ripping off the bandaids to resensitize onself in a society that encourages desensitization and rape jokes is painful. Gathering an adequate support system in order to deal with those issues and so many others that come up once the learning process starts has been vital to me and a big part of my self-care.

Other parts of my self-care? Manboobz.com, Icanhascheezburger.com, and Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

Problems with Valentine's Day

By: Liberate Zealot

Content Warning: stalking, rape culture

I love dressing up, chocolate, good food, romance novels, wine and other romantic things, so you'd think I'd be all over Valentine's Day.  So not the case.  Valentine's Day is not just "not for me", I have major objections to the method and meaning of the whole day.

The accouterments of Valentine's are problematic.  Chocolate is often produced in slave like conditions by child workers.  Flowers are grown in South America where women work for limited pay and in unsafe conditions.  Then there's the prevalence of blood diamonds that make jewelry shopping ethically difficult. But, there are Fair Trade options, so this alone is not enough to ruin Valentine's Day for me.

However, there's also the problem with Grand Romantic Gestures and the stories around them.  One day of romance, one grand gesture, isn't enough to make a good relationship.  It's the everyday caring, support, and love that matters (and that Valentine's Day fails to celebrate).  I don't like the idea that if you don't do something dramatic on this one day then you're a bad partner (partially because there's a certain amount of classism involved, though that exists with every material driven holiday).   And then there's the stalking aspect of grand romance, which some people really went with this year.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Welcome!

Pull up a chair and join the queer/straight/Canadian/British/USian/Dutch/radical/sex positive/socialist/liberal/buffet/third wave/fourth wave feminists of the Hivemind.  We met through engaging in various feminist areas of Facebook and after months of battling trolls, insightful conversations, gif parties, educating ourselves and others, creating a safe space, and sharing and caring we decided to make a blog.  We love food, art, dance, bonbons and tushy rubs, cats, MST3K, knitting, science, the law, and (of course) equality.