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Member since: Mon Aug 23, 2004, 10:18 PM
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Patriarchy and the ‘Crisis of Masculinity’ by Sam de Boise

Very decent read.

The idea of patriarchy is, furthermore, complicated by the idea that ‘men’ and ‘women’ do not represent mutually exclusive, or even natural, categories. Our knowledge of sexual difference is itself rooted within specific forms of knowledge that do not necessarily tally with experiential realities. The ‘two-sex’ model, or the idea that men and women represent fundamentally different bodies which determine our opportunities, are themselves a product of numerous historic changes in medical, legal, scientific, economic and social professions. As intersex and transgender individuals have also demonstrated, supposedly ‘natural’ sexual differences, defined in terms of reproductive organs, are open to contestation.[7]

As Raewyn Connell argues, men’s notion of ‘masculinity’ is constructed not in relation simply to women or ‘femininity’ but in relation to other men along axes of class, race, ethnicity, disability and sexuality.[8] Her theory of ‘hegemonic masculinity’ suggests that adherence to certain cultural constructs of gender is the means by which some men protect their privileged positions. The initial formulation of patriarchy, based on a binary of men and women, was too over-generalised; white, heterosexual men (over the course of the 20th century at least) tended toward denigration of gay and black men’s practices to construct their own gender identities, not just women.
Furthermore whilst some men dominate military, economic and social institutions, this is not the core issue; it is the means by which culture shapes and legitimises men’s everyday behaviour into appearing natural that enables certain inequalities to continue. Barriers to economic opportunities for women are often no longer (directly) legislative, however informal barriers are still maintained through how men act in their workplaces; this is not determined by their genitals, but through years of reinforcement. The importance of this is that it places the focus on men’s practices, at all levels, as explanations for continuing inequalities without resorting to essentialist ideas of sex differences. In this case, relations of domination and subordination are much complex and often unconsciously reproduced than the concept of patriarchy allows for.

In Defence of (the Concept of) Patriarchy

So far I have suggested that gender oppression is not the only form of oppression, ‘men’ and ‘women’ are contestable categories, and gender identity is constructed in relation to myriad social factors, not just the ‘opposite’ sex. In addition, the fact is that some men do not have economic power over some women, and some men have been made distinctly economically powerless. Since the 1970s we have seen heavy industry and mining (areas of ‘traditional’ working class male employment) decline and the 2007 financial collapse and ensuing austerity measures have impacted on male employment figures. Similarly some women’s rise to elite positions has given the appearance of ending men’s virtual occupational monopoly in many professions, despite the fact women are still in the minority.
However this does not render the concept of patriarchy obsolete; neither does it suggest a crisis of masculinity.


Allison Moon Talks Girl Sex 101, New Book For Queer Woman

Girl Sex 101 is an innovative and unique project created and spearheaded by Allison Moon and illustrated by kd diamond. Described as "a road trip in a book," Girl Sex 101 seeks to combine fiction, comics and sex education as a resource for queer women in a way that no other sex education tool has done before.

Moon notes that Girl Sex 101 embodies "feminist, pleasure-positive, and consent-oriented sex education to help women of all orientations and experience levels understand their bodies and those of their partners." It also features the opinions, expertise and experiences of over a dozen educators in order to make Girl Sex 101 an expansive and inclusive resource for all queer women, regardless of how they identify.

While the Kickstarter goal for Girl Sex 101 has been met, Moon has extensive plans to push both the project and message of Girl Sex 101 further with the additional funding. The Huffington Post caught up with Moon last week to discuss the structure and functionality of Girl Sex 101, what she hopes the book will accomplish and they way it will revolutionize sex education resources for all queer-identifying women.

The Huffington Post: Give us a bit of background on Girl Sex 101 -– what was your inspiration for the book? Allison Moon: Girl Sex 101 originated as a workshop that I taught live for, generally speaking, what I would call baby dykes and young queer and questioning women. It started at Burning Man in 2007 and it became really clear to me that there was a need for this kind of information in a much larger way than I anticipated. So I started traveling with the class and I taught it at workshop spaces all over the country and Canada. I decided that I wanted to transform the workshop into something more accessible, because everyone doesn’t have access to a sex-positive, feminist, sex toy store in their town in order to get this information. I wanted to be able to bring a diversity of voices in, as well, so I decided to turn it into a book with a lot of illustrations and guest experts speaking about specific topics that inspire them around the topic of girl sex.


On Two-Year-Old’s and Rape Culture

This morning I encountered content like this.

On a good day, when I drive to work, my drive is less than 5 minutes. I barely have time to digest anything on the radio, and I often ride in silence, soaking up my coffee and letting the caffeine kick in while I transition my mind to work. But today was different. Today I got stopped by a train, so I decided to turn on the radio. Hooked by a catchy song, I found myself dialed in to a nationally syndicated radio program, “Kid Kraddick in the Morning,” which continues on even though its namesake host passed away earlier this year.

After the catchy song that hooked my interest ended, the DJ’s came on with their usual morning schtick. Making jokes about being tired, avoiding work, etc. But then one DJ launched into a story about his two-year-old son. Apparently, he and this son were shopping at the mall, when they encountered some super cute teenage girls dressed in their school uniforms, complete with short plaid skirts (an everyman fantasy, apparently. Yes, Britney Spears, etc., we see you). Yes, the DJ was careful to note these details. While the DJ was browsing some of the goods at a kiosk in the mall, his two-year-old son wandered over to these young women, reached up under one of their skirts, squeezed this girl’s bum, and let out a resounding “honk.”

Now two-year-old’s do come up with some crazy things. They repeat inappropriate things that they hear. They mimic actions they see. And sometimes you really can’t predict what in the world a kid will do! But I must say, questions were already percolating in my head like, “Where did this kid see something like this?”, “Where did he learn that this was something boys do?”, etc. But I was willing to give this dad the benefit of the doubt: maybe he was just as surprised as we all were by his kid’s actions. Maybe he would rush over to these young women and apologize.

But the story went on.

Instead of being embarrassed about what his son had done, this DJ was laughing it up and celebrating his two-year-old son’s masculinity. He recounted that, when the young woman turned around, shocked that her bum had just been grabbed in public, his son just grinned and said, “Bye” and walked away. After which the rest of the DJ’s on the morning show proceeded to make copious amounts of jokes about how this two-year-old was a “playa” and liked to “hit it and quit it” and “knew how to treat the ladies.”


The disbelieving of women

Earlier this year, two male television hosts from The Netherlands decided to go through simulated labour contractions to have a small inkling of what childbirth might be like. The video, which shows them writhing and screaming in agony, went viral on social media, attracting many comments from men who, it appeared, had just had the realisation that childbirth was indeed rather painful after all. The two Dutch TV hosts are not the only men to have done this. The narrative seems to pan out in a similar manner each time -- the men begin their journey happy and intrepid, sometimes even cocky, and end up wracked with pain, expressing a newfound respect for mothers. The audience is delighted, and the videos make their rounds.

Yet, one question continues to bug me -- why did these men feel the need to 'experience' it for themselves before they could acknowledge the extent of the pain of childbirth? What astounds me is that despite the well-known fact of the agony of childbirth, a common theme of doubt lingers among these men. Before undergoing the simulation, Zeno, one half of the Dutch duo, wonders, "Do you think the pain will make us scream?" Another video contains a pre-simulation quote from one of the participants -- "According to women childbirth is the worst kind of pain there is. But did you know, according to men, women exaggerate everything?"

This, I believe is the heart of the matter. Disbelief, the curse of Cassandra in Greek mythology, is a curse that has fallen on, and continues to plague women today. Represented in popular culture as either unable to fully understand or articulate her own experiences, or scheming and manipulative, or else histrionic drama queens, or simply irrational, society has been conditioned to take women's words with a pinch of salt. The default reaction to anything a woman says seems to be to disbelieve her, unless faced with incontrovertible evidence.

If you are a woman who holds and expresses strong opinions, particularly online, you'll be able to relate to this -- the unceasing demand from men for us to present them with academic studies to back up our points. Now, not for a second am I denigrating the importance of using hard evidence in an argument, or the citing of one's sources. Yet, when men are constantly asking women -- and only women -- for sources during casual conversation, and in a challenging, sneering manner at that, something else is certainly at work here, and it isn't simply a passion for academic rigour.


11 Coming-Out Responses That Will Warm Your Heart

These are all awesome; the first one;

“Dear Mrs [Name redacted],
I wish to write to you about the biggest thing I carry. I’ve been carrying this since middle school and it’s a been a huge weight on me since I discovered it. The knowledge of my sexuality has been with me for about six years now, and it was a burden for a great deal of time.
It wasn’t until recently that I started to slowly lift this off of my shoulders. I’ve carried this for so long because of fear. I’m afraid of certain people finding this weight. I’m afraid of them finding the weight and thinking differently of me. Thinking negatively of me. Hating me. That’s why I carry it. I just don’t want to be hated. Or even worse, kicked out of people’s lives.
I want things to stay the same, but I want to get rid of this weight. It’s weighing me down and keeping me from greater things, but again that fear comes into play and makes me think differently. The fear forces me to burden myself by carrying it even longer.
Thankfully I’ve been able to set down minute portions of it, by sharing the knowledge that I’m not “normal” per society. I’ve received mixed emotions. Some couldn’t care less about the knowledge. Some liked me even more for it. And ultimately, some detest me for it.
But I care not for those who detest the knowledge. They can go off into their sad little world full of bigoted hate. I couldn’t care less for them. I’ve been able to shave off a great deal of what I carry, but sadly, a bit remains. The bit that is reserved for my family.
They will be the hardest ones to share the knowledge with, for I don’t know how they will accept it. I have no idea if they will think nothing of it, or if they will reject the love I offer them and disown me as their son, or brother, or nephew.
That, like much of this cold, dark world, can finally remove this weight from me, liberate my world, is the first great victory in my life. That is the day I just can’t wait to see.
Best regards,
[Name redacted]”

The teacher’s response:
“I am honored to be a witness to this weight being lifted off. You are an amazing, dynamic, compassionate, ‘with it’ young man who will give the world a gift just by you being you offering your love and spirit.
If people choose not to be comfortable with your honesty – their loss my friend – their loss.”


Lady Scientists Organize Mass Wikipedia Edit to Honor Ada Lovelace Day

All the way back in 1842, when humans still spent all their time huddled around in the dark, gnawing on potatoes and reveling in abject confusion (basically), brilliant genius Ada Lovelace penned the world's first computer program. Nowadays, Ada Lovelace is a women-in-STEM hero; annually, we honor her and celebrate the achievements of all women in STEM.

Sadly, though, Lovelace stands out as a glaring exception to the rule: in most accounts of the history of scientific achievement, there's a striking paucity of female names. So, very fittingly, Anne Fausto-Sterling and Maia Weinstock (both of whom are women scientists) are hosting a mass Wikipedia edit this Ada Lovelace Day. The event is meant to improve the online encyclopedia's coverage of female scientists.

The lack of lady scientist representation has been around since time immemorial, and it hasn't gotten much better in recent days. As an example, Fausto-Sterling recalls when she was first hired as a professor of Biology at Brown:

“At one point I was taken out to lunch by a senior history professor. I think he meant well and was trying to be encouraging but the way he encouraged me was to say, ‘It’s really exciting that they’ve hired a woman scientist but this is the first time it’s been possible because before your generation there were none.’”
That's obviously not true. Women scientists have existed for as long as male scientists have — their achievements just have not been valued or discussed in the same way. Changing that perception is important. According to the Ada Lovelace Day website, a study conducted by psychologist Penelope Lockwood found that women benefit from having female role models more than men do from having males to look up to. In the words of Lockwood, "Outstanding women can function as inspirational examples of success, illustrating the kinds of achievements that are possible for women around them. They demonstrate that it is possible to overcome traditional gender barriers, indicating to other women that high levels of success are indeed attainable.”


Why We Love Angry Men, But Hate Impassioned Women

Ever notice how anger helps a man command a room, but it often has the opposite effect for women?

While the former comes off as passionate, the latter is often remembered as emotionally erratic, an outcome predictable enough to make any woman angry. (Can someone say vicious cycle?)

But there may be a way out, if a new book by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut is any indication. In Compelling People, the authors posit that what makes individuals captivating is their ability to communicate both strength and warmth, but they recognize that it's a fine balance — and that balancing act is trickier for women.

As a passionate feminist writer who covers gender in politics, this wasn't news to me. It's hard to remember in the wake of Sydney Leathers, but before Anthony Weiner went into complete and utter auto-destruct mode, he was highly regarded by voters for his audacity and unflinching boldness. I remember working in a non-profit organization in D.C. where my coworkers would huddle up at lunch to watch the emboldened congressman ripping Republicans to shreds on the floor over a law for 9/11 heroes, or women's reproductive freedom, or public funding for NPR. The more he lost his temper, the more he rose in stature to us.


So someone explain to me

Why do certain people continue to espouse outdated and simplistic anthropological theories of human development? Usually I'll trash a thread the minute I see that shit, because you'd have to teach a class to get their head out of their ass, not that that would work, but "alpha male"? People really believe that Edgar Rice Burroughs bullshit?

I could link to a number of essays and studies but I'm going to work.

I just find it completely strange.

Native Women Push for Access to Emergency Contraception


[Audio: Walking through a drug store]

Sarah Mirk: This is Sarah Mirk. I’m in the Walgreens on the corner of 33rd and Killingsworth in Northeast Portland, and I’m looking for Plan B One-Step, which is supposed to be available over-the-counter. And I’m in the aisle that has lots of condoms and lube and Vagisil and somewhere around here should be Plan B. There it is, right there. It’s on the top of the aisle in a purple box. Plan B One-Step emergency contraception: $51.99. You can just take the box to the counter. That was easy.

My visit to Walgreens in Portland, Oregon was how getting Plan B is supposed to go. In June 2013, the Food and Drug Administration approved the brand-name emergency contraceptive to be stocked on pharmacy shelves across the country for women of all ages. No prescription needed, no asking someone to get it from behind the counter. No age limits. Just grab it like some aspirin, and be on your way.

But for some women, getting emergency contraception is not so simple….

SM: This is the Dancing in the Square pow-wow, an annual Native American gathering put on by the Northwest Portland area Indian Health Board. It’s a celebration that brings together local tribes. But it’s also a chance to raise awareness about important issues facing Indians living in Oregon and connect them to healthcare resources. For many Native women, getting emergency contraception isn’t always as easy as walking into Walgreens.

Jessica Leston: People don’t know the difference between emergency contraception and medical abortion, and there is a lot of non-education around the subject.

SM: That misunderstanding is the first problem, says Jessica Leston. She’s the clinical programs manager at the Northwest Portland area Indian Health Board, the group that helps put on the pow-wow. Plan B and other types of emergency contraception, actually prevent pregnancy from happening if taken within three to five days of unprotected sex. They do that by delaying or disrupting ovulation, which means they’ve helped millions of women avoid accidental pregnancies.

In Native American communities, access to Plan B is crucial, says Charon Asetoyer, executive director of the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center, based in South Dakota.


Things to Say Instead of 'That Takes Balls': A Definitive List

Okay. I am officially bored of this conversation about what we should say instead of "he's a pussy" or "that takes balls" if we want to talk about weakness or pluck without undermining our commitment to female empowerment. Because, YES, it is kind of sucky when lady-parts are stand-ins for wet, sloppy shittiness and man-parts are stand-ins for having the bravery of a mighty lion. (Not to mention the fact that dude lions are total Hufflepuffs who don't even DO SHIT EXCEPT BRUSH THEIR HAIR AND TAKE A NAP. Whatever.)

But Betty White clearly already handled the balls thing, and Dan Savage cornered the market on pussy, so why does this biz still come up all the goddamn time? It's one of those things that becomes a stand-in for actual conversation because people are too tired to make up new stuff to talk about—like when you want to make a joke without burning any brain-calories, so you just pretend like you misheard someone, like, "Ohhhh, you're taking your dog for a walk!? I thought you said you were going to take your BLOG for a CLOCK and I was like, what!?!?!?!?" No. (Enough of that, by the way. Unless it's a really, really good one.)

Anyway, what reminded me was this piece at the Bygone Bureau, which is actually a funny little satire on this whole conversation:

Since my heroine is a feminist, in order to avoid saying the more male-centric phrase “That takes a lot of balls,” I am considering that she should say “That takes a lot of clit.” But this substitution doesn’t ring true to me. Size doesn’t necessarily matter in terms of the clitoris’s ability to feel pleasure, or in terms of a woman’s fertility. And so, to say, for example, that “She has a ten-inch clit” doesn’t have the same gravitas as “He’s got huge cojones” or “He’s got a ten-inch penis” (although a ten-inch clitoris would be quite something to behold) . In any case, trying to find another phrase is mind-boggling – what part of the female anatomy would be the equivalent?

So ANYWAY, even though that was a joke question in a joke essay, I thought I might as well try and answer it once and for all—because what would be better than never talking about this ever again, and also avoiding the word "clit" in my work Inbox for the rest of my life? In the interests of balancing out our abundance of anti-woman colloquialisms, I've come up with a list of all the ball-substitutes you'll need for any occasion. And best of all, they're completely gender neutral! I AM NO FEMALE SUPREMACIST!

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