Girly Thoughts

March 31, 2008

Just when you (and I) thought it was over, Victim Blaming, Part 4

Filed under: Gender,sexual assault — judgesnineteen @ 12:47 am

Somehow I totally forgot to mention one of the basics of anti-victim-blaming: rape usually isn’t about lust.  This belongs in D, as a refutation of why the men are sex-crazed beasts idea doesn’t work, or in Part 1, where I talk about why telling women to be careful doesn’t actually help that much.  But again, as long as you get it, it doesn’t matter if I mess up my own organizational system.

Have you ever been so horny that you wouldn’t have minded violating a person if it would get you laid?  Me neither.  (If you answered yes, you have some thinking to do.)  It takes more than just really really wanting sex to rape.  You have to either not understand rape (not know what kind of consent is needed, not realize that rape actually hurts people) and/or you have to have some other emotion going on, like anger and the desire to express power.  Makes sense, when you think about rape as a weapon of war and so on.  Not that that proves it, because there could just be several types of rape, but it makes sense together.

These people probably have their own issues and probably need help of their own, but the coupling of anger or power with sexuality looks to me like a symptom of our culture’s, and most cultures’, messed up characterization of what it means to be masculine.  When sex is described as nailing, screwing, hitting, banging, scoring, conquering, something is fucked up.  When men can’t express emotions in front of other men like love and sadness without being ridiculed or having to make up for it with anger or drunkenness, something is fucked up.  And we wonder why we have a rape problem.  “Oh, it’s probably because of the way girls dress.”  Yeah.  I bet.  (FYI: sometimes women who cover from head to toe get raped.)

When you understand the anger/power thing, you understand that dressing and acting modestly might not make a difference (I only add in “might” because I’m assuming some men direct their misogyny especially towards those they view as “sluts”, not for their irresistibleness, but for their denigrated status in patriarchy), and you understand that rape is not a compliment.  Some people think rape means the victim was sexually desirable because they think rape is just like regular sex except for the minor detail that someone didn’t consent, and this leads the real assholes among them to tell women they think are ugly that they would be lucky to be raped* (FYI: all kinds of unattractive people get raped), and it probably also leads a lot of people to have less sympathy for victims than they would if they knew better.

Remember, rape hurts.  Physically, emotionally, psychologically.  If it doesn’t hurt someone for some reason, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t really rape, but in general, it does an amazing amount of damage.  Rape survivors need support.  They often blame themselves and don’t need any help from you in feeling guilty, dirty, or wondering if it was their fault.  That’s not a law of nature, it doesn’t have to be that way, it’s the result of all this victim-blaming: our culture’s messages about rape make women (and men, but again, I’ll treat that more fully later) who have been raped afraid to speak up because they know they’ll be scrutinized and blamed, and it puts them in the mindset that they could have avoided it, they could have stopped it, somehow it’s their fault.  That’s psychological abuse, plain and simple.  By definition, no one asks to be raped.

*The idea that the compliment of a man saying you’re pretty should outweigh the injury and insult of rape is a whole ‘nother problem related to the message girls get sent that their worth is directly related to what people, and especially men, think of them, especially sexually.  This is great for our self-esteem.  Even better is when men turn around and make fun of girls for caring about their appearance too much.  Can’t win sometimes.

March 30, 2008

…and now I need to write a paper

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgesnineteen @ 4:15 pm

Allllll that being said, I need to go back to homework, and if I check my blog I won’t do that.  So I’ll be gone for a few days, comment as much as you want, but don’t expect a reply right away.

Sometimes I wonder if I would be more motivated to do my homework if I wrote it in this little box for writing blog posts instead of on Word.  Like if I could convince myself it was procrastination instead of work…

Victim Blaming, Part 3

Filed under: Gender,sexual assault — judgesnineteen @ 3:58 pm

To refresh your memory, this is going to be about reasons why people might not believe D and E, that is, that men who rape should be convicted of a crime and that women who are raped should be treated as victims and given whatever help is needed.

D has some overlap with C, which is the belief that what happened wasn’t really rape. Specifically with C2, because if a woman is “promising” sex or is a “slut”, then maybe she didn’t consent to the sex, maybe it was against her will, but she deserved it anyway, she forfeited her right to say no, and therefore the nonconsensual sex wasn’t a crime and the man shouldn’t be punished. If a person sees it that way, it belongs here. If they believe that it’s impossible to rape a slut (this often comes in the form of the belief that it’s impossible to rape a prostitute), it belongs in C. It’s kinda fuzzy, but I don’t think it makes a difference where you put it, as long as you think about it.

Another case in which there’s overlap is in marital rape. Marital rape has been very, very slow to be outlawed, and there are still some problems with some of the laws and some countries that haven’t made it illegal yet. I figure some people think that getting married means giving perpetual irrevocable consent to sex at any given moment with your spouse, and so husbands by definition can’t rape wives. But maybe also some people think of it as wives owing husbands sex (marital duty and all) and so even though they technically haven’t already given consent, it’s not a crime for a husband to force sex on an uncompliant wife. In case anyone is wondering whether marital rape “really counts” as rape, look at the effects it has on its victims: Women raped by their intimate partners are more likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than those who are victims of physical violence and those who were sexually assaulted by someone other than one’s partner (Plichta & Falik, 2001).” Now, what know-it-all anti-feminist can tell me how women can avoid marital rape? Do you think if they would just dress modestly and get dinner ready on time it would all be ok? Or do you think maybe this is at least one case where the burden to stop rape is totally on the perpetrators and the society that gives them ideas about how men should treat women? (Dear god, someone’s going to tell me women only get beaten and raped when they deserve it and I’m going to have a heart attack.)

Anyway, there’s another argument for D: men are sex-crazed beasts who can’t control themselves once they see a little cleavage (or a little leg, or an unprotected virgin, or whatever). Therefore, when they rape, they shouldn’t be held accountable for it. First of all, this is offensive to men – well, it should be. My boyfriend finds it offensive, but the guy in the link sure doesn’t. He basically says men have no moral agency (despite himself being a male religious leader!) but instead of following all the logical steps from that to come to other conclusions about men, “He said women were ‘weapons’ used by ‘Satan’ to control men.” I don’t think these people really believe that men can’t control themselves. I think they believe that women are magic – black magic (cue Jimi Hendrix). Not necessarily literally, but I think they believe that women have the power to lead otherwise righteous men astray, and that once the women have started applying their magic, the consequences are ineluctable and women should know that and take full responsibility for starting the chain of events. I think this is again related to the reduction of a woman to her sexuality, and equating women with sex. You get people who are afraid of their sexual desire, and because their sexual desire is towards women, they consider women and sex practically the same thing. You can see this sometimes in the way people use women as a metonym for sex. These people don’t bother to stop and think that half the world’s sexual desire is towards men.

But in response to that, some would say, “But testosterone! Men can’t overcome their sexual desire, and women can!” And so I must admit that some people actually do think men are sex-crazed beasts who can’t be held responsible for their actions. I guess that’s a legacy from the Victorian era, and it gives us the gift of Woman as Gatekeeper (or, as I like to call it, Vaginakeeper. Except that kind of sounds like a new menstrual cup) and Man as Initiator. This sucks, because pre-written scripts for people to follow on the basis of their genitalia don’t work, and because this idea causes some sexual assaults in the first place. Woman as Gatekeeper puts the burden to say no on the woman, making the man think that a lack of no means go ahead, and Man as Initiator means that the man feels he’s supposed to keep pushing until he gets a firm no, or otherwise he’s not manly. It also means women are afraid to say they want sex and and to talk openly about sex, which creates other problems. But back to the point – why should we not believe that men can’t control their impulses so women have to pick up all their slack? Because it’s not true. If any man would like to argue that it is true, you’re going to first have to admit to me that you’re a rapist, or would be if the women around you weren’t so good at fending off your attacks and locking themselves in their rooms.

Then why do we put all the responsibility on the woman? Why do we think teaching women to be careful will work but teaching men to ask won’t? Even when we know that sometimes women are careful and still get raped, while no man who asked and respected the answer raped? Because putting all the responsibility on women preserves male privilege. Men can keep saying it’s not their problem, they don’t have to deal with the reality of rape, don’t have to hear about it or learn about it, don’t have to try harder or start respecting women more, don’t have to feel uncomfortable with the idea of belonging to a group that oppresses another group, and then say that it is the problem of women and they have to follow this list of precautions to deal with it. Blame it on biology and ignore the fact that the social structure is causing it (one of the favorite plays in the oppression playbook). Then men are off the hook and can keep pretending sexism doesn’t exist, because they don’t have to see its effects.

If this weren’t about protecting male privilege, if this were really about protecting women the best way possible, then women would not just be taught how to avoid rape (as if that were completely possible), but also what to do if they were raped – how to avoid getting an STD or getting pregnant after a rape, how to preserve evidence so that they can prosecute their rapist and protect future potential victims. But as much as I had heard about how to dress and act, I had never heard how to proceed in the event of sexual assault until I became a feminist, and as much as our society is concerned about teaching women to fear, it’s not always terribly concerned about putting money towards (properly) processing rape kits – sometimes, but not always. (By the way, roughly how to proceed is on my page Stuff Everyone Should Know.)

Now onto E. This is perhaps the saddest one for me, although really, we’ve got some stiff competition here. Some people think that women are property. They want their wives and girlfriends to be faithful, but they define faithful differently than I do. To me, faithful is an attitude and actions follow it. To them, faithful is a physical state. To me, if someone is touched against their will, it was against their will, which means their attitude, their desire to be faithful, didn’t change, and so they are still faithful and guiltless. To them, if someone is touched against their will, they are tainted, whether they want to be or not. Therefore they reject women who have been raped. I’m sure it must be incredibly painful to know your significant other has been sexually violated, and I can imagine it stirring up complicated emotions, but it can’t be as bad as being the victim him or herself, and to abandon and scorn (not to mention leave destitute) a person at the time when they need support the most is something I cannot defend. Furthermore, I think some people who react that way do so not out of the complicated feelings of dealing with rape, but out of “honor.” Putting “honor” above the rights of a person is abhorrent.

I would like to close by acknowledging the well-meaning people who will read this and get nervous that if feminists get their way, we’ll have women stripping and passing out drunk in the street. First there are the people who are nervous about that because they find it immoral. They need to relax a little bit and accept the fact that people will do things from time to time that they disagree with. Then there are the people I was really trying to acknowledge here, the ones who are afraid those women throwing caution to the wind will be their loved ones and who fear that their loved ones will mistake what should be (men shouldn’t rape naked drunk women) with what is (some men do rape naked drunk women). Although I stand by all my arguments as to why that is not what we need to focus on and yet what we always focus on, I promise not to persuade any women to do risky things just for the sake of being feminist, or even oppose (certain) self-defense classes and the like. Being risky and being feminist aren’t really related, that’s just a misunderstanding of the point of talking about victim blaming. People seem to think that when I say all of this, I’m saying it to women about how they should act, I guess because that’s who we usually talk to when we talk about rape. But I’m talking to you, men. And I’m talking to the women who aren’t the victim, the amateur (and professional, for that matter) commentators of all sexes and genders, because as much as I want women to do whatever they can to take care of themselves regarding rape and everything else, I know that we also have to get the rest of the world to stop blaming someone for their own rape after it has already happened. It has to stop. I know you mean well and some of you don’t belong in any of the other categories, you’re just genuinely concerned for the safety and well-being of those you care about. Good for you. I’m just trying to open your eyes to the fact that the way the most people think is common sense for how to protect them may not be the best and is definitely not the only way. I’m not secretly a misogynist trying to trick people into advocating policies that will create more rape; I really think the views I’ve espoused here would help, not hurt, women.

Victim Blaming, Part 2

Filed under: Gender,sexual assault — judgesnineteen @ 12:32 pm

Because victim-blaming and sexism are linked, and because the vast majority of rapists are men, I’m going to discuss the scenario of a man raping a woman here. I intend to write separately about male victims, and again about female rapists, later on.

Also – I’ve been using the terms sexual assault and rape pretty much interchangeably. In reality, the terminology varies from state to state, but generally rape means penetration of an orifice and sexual assault means anything else sexual, both of course done without consent.

Finally – in my explanations I say “men/women are supposed to…” a lot. That means the patriarchy wants them to, society sends them messages that in order to fit into society properly, they should. It is of course not what I believe in. People get other messages as well, nothing is black and white, but these are strong parts of our culture that I think most people notice pretty easily.

Now. To think that a rapist should be convicted and a woman should be helped, we have to believe that:

A. A sexual act occurred involving this woman.

B. This particular man was the one involved in the sexual act.

C. The woman did not consent to the sexual act.

D. A man who engages in a sexual act with a woman against that woman’s will has committed a crime.

E. A woman who is engaged in a sexual act against her will has not committed a crime.

Thus it stands to reason that any victim-blaming or rapist-excusing behavior would stem from disbelief of one or several of these ideas.

Interestingly, A is usually not contested, at least not from what I overhear in the blogospere. I’m sure there are some cases where the defendant says nothing at all happened and the spectators agree with him, but they don’t seem to catch on much. Presumably a woman wouldn’t make up having had sex, even non-consensually, first because of the evidence problem, and second because women aren’t supposed to be having sex.

B is also not a terribly controversial one. If the woman really was raped and she’s just got the wrong guy, it was probably a stranger rape, which is less controversial because it fits the idea of rape-by-physical force on an innocent virgin walking home that is much more popular than the idea of a nice guy taking advantage of a drunk girl or not understanding that consent needs to be affirmative or a husband taking out his anger by rape. The first scenario can still lead to victim-blaming, but if B is the problem, that’s more the fault of the technique used to find the suspect than the fault of the woman. I can’t see a good reason why any woman would purposely prosecute the wrong guy, letting her real rapist go free (ok, I just thought of a scenario, but that’s just because my mind likes to find a way to make anything implausible true), so it was probably an honest (though horrible) mistake and therefore not a reason to vilify her, although of course we need to try to fix this problem.

C is where things start to get interesting. So interesting, that I have to have a sub-list to keep track of everything.

1. Enter the term “regretted sex.” Maybe she consented at the time, and then regretted it later. That’s plausible enough. It probably happens to both women and men. But then people say, and therefore, she decided to falsely accuse him of rape. What? Ok. I’m sure it happens sometimes. Everything has happened once, I usually assume. But if you regretted sex, why would you want to make a controversy out of it, why would you want to testify about it in front of a court, why wouldn’t you want to just forget about it? I see two possible reasons. One is that you could convince yourself that it really was rape if you were able to convince others that it was, and that way you could ease your conscience or whatever part of you is bothered by the regretted sex. I can see that happening rarely, but not very often. When you think about how few rape victims report rape, you have to imagine it’s not something most people get into lightly. That must be more than just “regretted” sex to drive you to such extremes, not to mention to totally throw the guy you wish you hadn’t slept with to the wolves (or attempt to, anyway).

The other possibility I see is that the woman thinks the man will tell everyone they had sex and doesn’t want to be seen as a slut, so she tries to make herself seen as a victim. One important thing to stress here is that this situation is the product of patriarchy. If women were not “supposed” to be virginal and were allowed to express and enjoy their sexuality as much as men are (but without going too far, as sometimes patriarchy has men do) without being labeled “sluts” and being subject to hatred and contempt, the prospect of people finding out that she had sex would not bother her any more than it would bother him. On the flip side, if men weren’t pressed to prove their masculinity by having treating sex as a way of “conquering” women, he would be less likely to tell the whole school that he had sex with her. Thus, if this problem does exist, it’s not the fault of feminists; very much the opposite. (I don’t understand when male rights activists want situations like this to stop and yet oppose feminism.) If it does exist, of course the defendant should be let off the hook. Feminists have to avoid the trap of being so un-victim-blamey that they become falsely-accused-blamey. But the reality is, false accusations are a minority of cases (even according to those who say they’re much higher than the accepted numbers). And fortunately, our court system considers the defendant innocent until proven guilty, so no matter what feminists say, in the absence of evidence, if the court does its job properly, the defendant will be let off the hook. In light of these two pieces of information, I think it would be wise to stop hounding alleged rape victims, since most likely, the defendant will not be wronged. It will happen sometimes, and that’s tragic, but what happens much more is that real rape victims don’t get justice. In any case, this problem is the reason why we have trials in the first place; it’s a real concern (unlike many of those to follow), but we know that already and are already using a system that is supposed to take that concern seriously.

2. I have a new hypothesis that some people think that real true consent actually is given at some point before either the woman tries to initiate a sexual act or the man tries to initiate one and the woman gives affirmative consent. (This woulc be a good time to look back a couple of posts at my post on consent if you haven’t seen it, so you’ll know where my opinions are coming from.) Obviously some people believe that not screaming no means yes. So that could lead them to think they are being totally fair in ruling that this is not a case of rape, if she admitted to not having said no. But I think it goes even further than that. I think some people have gotten it into their heads that if a woman smiles, or flirts, or wears a miniskirt, or goes into their room alone, or gets drunk with them, or takes off their clothes (note: the ruling in the link was later reversed :), or starts doing one sexual act, that they already have consented to another. This is wrong for two reasons: first, consent to one act is not consent to another, and you have to actually give some sort of yes to some form of question that is clearly about sex for it to count as consent to sex. Second, consent can always be withdrawn, so even if I get to a party and find a guy and say “I want to have sex with you,” he doesn’t have a license to rape me because if we get naked and then I say I changed my mind, the consent is over. If we get in the middle of it and I say stop, the consent is over. (Same goes for him, of course.) If people don’t understand these three concepts: consent is affirmative, consent to x != consent to y, and consent can be withdrawn at any time, they are liable to call rape consensual sex and call rape victims liars and probably sluts.

But I’m interested in why people would reject any of those three principles. To me, it looks like a whole lot of regular old male entitlement. That means they come from the idea that some men have that they deserve sex, that it would be practically a crime against them for a woman to “promise” sex (by smiling, flirting, wearing a miniskirt, starting to have sex, whatever) and then renege. This is just a messed up world view. First of all, let me introduce you to your right hand. Next, get over yourself. Women do not belong to men and the men who think this way, sorry, they’re just wrong. The antidote for this is respect for women as human beings, not sex objects.

But perhaps some people think not that what the woman should have done was “promise” sex and then follow through, but to not “promise” in the first place. Perhaps they see rape as the just punishment for women who do things that hint at sex, and think that the threat of rape is necessary to keep women in line, acting modestly and chastely and so on. This is simply the other side of the same coin. People who divide women into virgins and sluts will see the former paragraph as being about sluts and this one as being about virgins. If you’re not completely immaculate and virginal, you’re a slut, as there’s nothing in between. If there’s nothing in between, there’s no playing your role halfway – consenting to something and then stopping, or looking like a “slut” but not acting like one. If someone starts to play the role of slut, they must be one, and sluts say yes to sex every single time, so they can’t possibly be raped. If someone wants to be a virgin, they have to really be a virgin; otherwise they deserve what they get. Again, the antidote is respect for women: we need to understand that women are sexual AND more than sexual (full human beings) at the same time. They don’t have to choose one or the other. Having sex or acting sexual doesn’t mean they forfeit their rights.

This is getting long, so I think I’ll cover the even more depressing D and E later.

March 29, 2008

Victim Blaming, Part 1

Filed under: Gender,sexual assault — judgesnineteen @ 9:36 pm

I have another post in the works on this topic, but I felt the need to respond to some people on another blog and I figured it would be better to put some of what I already had written up here rather than to write it in a comment and then post it here again. Here’s the relevant section:

Belief: Women know they can get raped, so they’re supposed to be careful and responsible. If you don’t protect yourself, not only should you know better, but it’s actually your fault, to the point that it’s not completely the rapist’s fault.

This is an important distinction. The line between empowering women to watch out for themselves and blaming women for the crimes of others against them is a fuzzy one sometimes. But look. Let’s say you leave your door unlocked for a few minutes and someone steals your computer. Happened to a friend of mine a couple years ago. You might say, “What were you thinking? You have to lock your door every time you leave, even if you’ll be back in five minutes!” But you would never say “I don’t think the thief should be prosecuted. After all, you left your door unlocked. You were asking to be robbed*. It’s your fault.” No, she wasn’t asking to be robbed. We know very well that she didn’t want to be robbed. And the thief is still completely at fault, even if she did something dumb and could have protected herself better. But there’s giving her some of the blame by saying she should know better, and then there’s giving her some of the blame to the extent that you would let the rapist go free if you were on the jury. AND PEOPLE DO THAT. Do jurists let thieves go free because someone forgot to lock their door so it’s really their own fault/they wanted to be robbed? Because that would be news to me.

Also, I don’t know about you, but I sure didn’t say “What were you thinking?! I can’t believe you’d take risks like that! Shame on you!” when my friend told me about this theft. She was in tears, she just had her computer stolen. What kind of heartless person would I be to start telling her to feel worse about it? And what good would it do, now that the damage was done? But people say things like that women who have just been raped, which I have to imagine is a hell of a lot worse than being robbed, and even more irreversible.

I also had a friend of a friend who jaywalked – already definitely her fault, definitely something for which she should be blamed, because it’s against the law – and got hit by a car and put into a coma for months. She’s out now, but will never be the same. Yeah, I got more careful about crossing the street. But I wouldn’t shame her for it, look at her! Who could rub it in her face? People must not realize that rape hurts, or they wouldn’t be so willing to treat people who are already suffering so much like criminals. Or…well, I’ll leave my other theories for later.

And of course, let’s not forget that women have been told all of this “don’t do this, don’t do that or you’ll get raped” their entire lives. I don’t want to hear any more about how I need to protect myself, I fucking know. You don’t think when I went to get coffee with a guy and he ended up taking me to his friend’s apartment that the first thing that went through my mind was “Dear God please don’t rape me”? You don’t think we all clutch our keys when we walk at night, you don’t think there’s a reason girls travel in packs, you don’t think my school gave out rape whistles as if that was going to fight the very real problem of sexual assault on college campuses (which is not the kind of sexual assault that whistles generally help with)? I fucking know, we all fucking know. You know what people don’t know? Men don’t know what counts as sexual assault. Surveys show that more men will write that they did x, x fitting the definition of sexual assault, than will write that they actually did commit sexual assault. Which either means they’re in denial or they just don’t realize that what they’re doing is rape, and I’d think it’s some of both. So how come there’s still so much more emphasis on teaching girls to fear than on teaching guys to ask?

And, PEOPLE GET RAPED WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING “WRONG”. Yes, that happens too. One more reason why education is more effective than fear-mongering. Besides the fact that a lot of fear-mongering focuses on jump-out-of-the-bushes stranger rape instead of the more common acquaintance rape.

But instead, when you try to teach people about consent and sexual assault, guys complain. A lot. “But IIIII would never rape anyone!” First of all, a lot of the guys in that survey “would never rape” either. Secondly, we can’t tell who’s going to rape by looking at them, so be a teensy bit compliant and help us educate whoever would rape. Thirdly, it’s really not that much to ask, considering you want me to think about what every drunk asshole would think he was entitled to do to me based on my clothing while I get dressed every day, considering you expect me to go everywhere with a chaperone after dark, considering rape ruins people’s lives. Fourthly, not being a rapist doesn’t earn you a medal. You can still learn things like how to intervene if someone else is going to be assaulted, etc.

In the end, I think there’s more affecting the victim-blaming point of view than just “well, the world isn’t perfect, you have to take precautions,” because that sentiment is applied very differently to rape victims than to people in other situations. But I’ll delve into possible explanations later.

*Is “robbery” only when a weapon is used? There was no weapon, for the record. I just might not be very precise in my terminology.

Why you should demand your rights, and why I’m not a patriot

Filed under: American politics,Race — judgesnineteen @ 6:46 pm

Look what the extreme right is saying about Condoleeza Rice’s acknowledgment that *gasp* America has a racism problem.

I’m much more well-versed in how sexism looks than how racism looks, and so, although I should have seen it coming, I did not expect all this “Stop getting uppity, black people! You should be grateful that your ancestors were brought over here as slaves and that you have had to deal with the consequences of that extremely unequal start and the racism ingrained in this country, because, after all, it was white people that freed the slaves! And look at how bad off Africa is now!”

I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but I can’t help it: white people freed the slaves because white people were the only ones with the power to free the slaves. If black people had been able to free the slaves, it would have happened a whole hell of a lot sooner. And plenty of white people were against freeing the slaves. Should black people thank them for lynching, segregation, and disenfranchisement too? What’s next: Martin Luther King was secretly a white man?

And, of course, white people also had a little something to do with the ethnic wars and poverty in Africa, and we’re keeping up the good work with the global gag rule and the farm bill (which I actually think might be a little better now).

But anyway, I’m going to unsurprisingly bring in feminism to look at what’s going on here. The level of ignorance and…I don’t even know the word for it…in the “thank us, black people” sentiment stands unrivaled, but there is something in common between this and something women get told a lot, and probably every oppressed group, especially in the US. It goes a little something like this: “Don’t push your luck. Just be glad you get this much.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I live in a place and time where I can go to school, own property, get a job, initiate a divorce, and press charges against anyone who may try to sexually assault me (not that I would likely have any luck in getting them convicted, but I could at least try). I’m thankful to the white men who benevolently bestowed upon me the right to vote strong women like Alice Paul who went on a hunger strike to get white men to give in to giving me the right to vote. But I’m not going to be content to have 50% or 80% or 99% of the rights I should have. Rights are the minimum, people.  They are owed.

And I think this applies to the situation of black people and other minority races too. We have to stop letting people tell us, all or any of us, that we’re asking for too much. I know it’s hard for women because 1) asking for more is not “feminine” and 2) we’re already afraid of being labeled crazy feminists (which really just means “unlikeable, especially by men” which is supposed to be one of the highest insults for a person who is supposed to derive her worth from what others, especially men, think of her). I think it’s hard for minorities because, well obviously they’re vigorously shouted down any time they hint at wanting more, and they have to play along with the powers that be in order to get ahead, too.

So it’s tough, but I think when you explain to a reasonable person (I mean some people are just hopeless, but they’re only a loud minority) that it’s not being greedy to want all the rights people are supposed to get, it works. The only situation I can think of in which I’ve seen problems is when you’re talking about women in the context of Christianity; then the focus on sacrifice can, with some people, complicate matters. But usually, the harder part is to convince people that these groups don’t currently have all the rights that other people get. Because the people who aren’t oppressed usually don’t notice the oppression, and sometimes the people who are oppressed believe the lies that cover it up, and anyone who starts out thinking that way is likely to want to continue thinking that way because changing your mind is uncomfortable, believe me.

Plus there’s the fact that America is the best country in the world. (No I don’t think that, but my 11th grade US history teacher did. On the first day of class he told us that we could argue about whether or not it was true, but if we couldn’t convince him that it wasn’t, we weren’t allowed to argue about it for the rest of the year. Yes, BEFORE we learned the history we could argue; WHILE we learned the history, such blasphemous notions were not allowed.) So there’s another element here of patriotism nationalism working against complainers. Not only “how dare you challenge my privilege?” and “how dare you challenge my belief system?” but also “how dare you complain about America, the paragon of freedom and democracy?” Except “free” doesn’t mean “includes slavery”, now does it? In fact, I had never really thought about it, but our national anthem was written during slavery. Land of the free? That’s pretty offensive to all the people who were very much the opposite of free at the time. Shows how we tell history from the eyes of white men. (And that, Mom, is why we have Black History Month but no White History Month.)

The United States of America is a country with its fair share of problems, and a lot of responsibility due to its position in world politics (and the way it just went to war on a country without the UN). It may make us feel better to idealize it, but it doesn’t do anyone any good, except those who deep down don’t care about anyone but themselves and benefit from the oppression of others. And I happen to like the US. I’m in the middle of a semester abroad and I really miss home, despite how every time I read news about it I get angry. I’m used to the US, it’s mine in some way. I promise not to move to Canada even if John McCain wins. (But please no.) However. I fail to see any good in “patriotism”. It’s one of those qualities that’s widely held, where I’m from, to be a virtue, and that I’ve secretly never seen much virtue in. (The other one that comes to mind is faith, as in “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Why on earth is it good to believe things for no reason? Even at my most Christian, I could understand how it would be virtuous to trust God once you were convinced, but I couldn’t understand why believing based on nothing in the first place would be a good thing.) To me, patriotism is just so much granfalloonery (see Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut). And it leads to crap like “America is so much better than Africa so thank the white people for taking you here!” That just takes racism at home, makes it stronger, and then applies it to the world instead of at least quarantining it here.  Think of all the things we could learn from a continent so different from our own if we’d stop thinking we’re better than everyone else (actually, if we wanted to learn from people who we treated horribly and ignore, we could start with the original inhabitants of our own continent).  And for all the panic over the label “racist”, the way anyone who says the n-word in any context gets fired, even blatant racism is still allowed, obviously. The panic only serves to help people remember to pretend to not be racist, so that white people can continue to tell themselves it doesn’t really exist. But sometimes they don’t even have to pretend…why is Rev. Wright bigger news than Pat Buchanan?

March 27, 2008


Filed under: Gender,sexual assault — judgesnineteen @ 8:38 pm

I’m gonna start by promising to warn you if I ever give details of rape cases – not like, legal details, but details of what kinds of inhumane things people do to each other – because although I think my skin has gotten thicker since I’ve become a feminist and read a lot more about rape than I certainly ever had before, I still have my moments when I read something that I just can’t take. Happened last night, I’m still trying not to think about it, which is one of those zen-like impossible tasks – focusing on not focusing on something.

So. Rape is sex without consent. Unfortunately, we can’t all agree on what consent it. Some people think “without consent” means “NOOOOO! [kick] [scream] [punch] [scratch]”. Some people think “without consent” means “No.” Some think it means the lack of “Yes.” (Also called “affirmative consent.”) Some think it means the lack of “mmmmm yeaaaaaaah.” (Also called “enthusiastic consent.”) I fall in between yes and mmmmm yeaaaaaaah. The first two are of course examples of lack of consent, but I think the consent needed for sex is affirmative, ie, that without some form of yes, it’s rape. That’s why we say “without consent” instead of “with kicking and screaming.” I don’t think the yes needs to fit a particular predetermined shape – initiating something is a form of affirmative consent; saying “I love it when you do that” (without a “but…”) is affirmative consent; nodding in response to a question mark look is affirmative consent. Not doing or saying anything is not affirmative consent. If you want to have sex with someone who will be completely neutral, they make dolls for that.

Now I’m going to have a question and answer session with myself in which I try to think of all the problems people have with affirmative consent and all the reasons why we should abide by it anyway. The “you” I’m talking to is assumed to be the one initiating the sexual activity. “Sex” means any sexual activity; I’m not into privileging penis-in-vagina (or as I like to think of it sometimes, vagina-around-penis) sex.

Problem number 1: “But stopping and asking about everything kills the mood.”

Solution: mmmmm yeaaaaaaaaah does not kill the mood. Raising your eyebrows as your reach towards a body part in a nonverbal question does not kill the mood. Asking if he/she likes it does not kill the mood. Talking about boundaries before things get heated up doesn’t kill the mood because the mood isn’t on yet, but it does make the sex better once you get to it. If you’re awkward, I’m sorry, but that’s not an excuse for sexual assault.

Problem number 2: “But sometimes girls say no when they mean yes.” I can’t remember ever having seen this argument applied to a male, but if that were the case, the same solutions could apply.


a) If she says no because she’s not comfortable enough with her sexuality to say yes, some talking is in order, as well as some serious societal change, but that part will take longer and you don’t have to wait for it to have sex. Women should not have to be the gatekeeper just because society tells them to; women should not feel like it’s bad for them to want or show that they want sex.

b) If she says no because that’s how she flirts, keep flirting with her, but don’t do what she’s protesting against. I think in most cases like this, she expects her no to actually work, and to be kind of teasing, but only temporarily. Play until she stops saying no and gives you some kind of yes, which will probably be nonverbal. Or see c).

c) If she gets off on the idea of you doing something to her as she’s still protesting, you need a safety word. This is ok to act out, but only if you do it safely, and having agreed on it beforehand.

d) If none of the above apply, she might be laughing while she says no just to take the edge off of her rejection of your advances. Sometimes, we mean no. But it can be hard to say that. Enter problem number 3.

Problem number 3: “It’s their responsibility to say no.” If they’re smart, this comes with the pretend-feminist: “after all, women have agency, right?”

Solution: Stop being an asshole. Yes, of course we should all be strong enough to say no whenever we need to, but some of us aren’t. Yes, those of us who aren’t should work on it rather than just accept it. But that’s beside the point, because this is about your responsibilities. If you’re going to touch something that doesn’t belong to you, you get permission FIRST. That includes other people’s bodies. To act otherwise is to say, I’m just going to assume everyone wants to have sex with me, by default, and if they don’t, they’ll have to alert me that something out of the ordinary is happening. That’s called entitlement, and it’s assholey. It’s also assholey to do whatever you can get away with instead of caring more about not violating another person than about getting off.

Problem number 4: “It’s different now that we’ve been together for a while.”

Solution: Actually, that’s true. The first time you do some sexual act with a person, boundaries have to be made more explicit than they do the 57th time. By then, some assumptions are ok. But consent still matters. Look for cooperation and other simple nonverbal signs of consent; in their absence, check if everything’s ok, if he/she wants to stop, etc. Couldn’t hurt to talk to each other about what kind of consent you require for what kinds of activities. And of course, “no” or a safety word must always be respected. No relationship is a free pass to sex whenever you want it, and no one ever loses their right to withhold or revoke consent for any reason, at any time. Your partner’s body is not your possession. That’s why God gave us masturbation.*

Problem number 5: How can affirmative consent be applied to the ability to withdraw consent at any time?

Solution: Withdrawing consent does have to be a little bit more on the saying no side, because you can’t be constantly asking and saying yes throughout sex, but any good partner should check if things are ok if the other person seems to stop liking it at some point. This especially applies if you know your partner has been sexually assaulted before, as they can get flashbacks during sex but may not be able to tell you to stop.

Now, back to this issue of not being able to say no when you want to say no: am I the only one this happens to? I mean you hear arguments like, if someone cooperates with sex but it’s because they’re at gunpoint, it’s still rape, they just couldn’t say no because they were fearing for their life. That’s obviously true. But I’ve never been held at gunpoint. I just have this problem where if I’m not asked verbally, I can’t say no verbally, if I don’t know the guy very well. At least not until either I have a chance to talk myself into doing so, or the guy surprises me/pisses me off enough that STOP! just flies out of my mouth. I’m not talking about intercourse here, just guys touching me. I know I’m capable of being direct if they are (real conversation: guy: Do I have a chance with you? me: No.), and I’m capable of saying no in nonverbal ways, but somehow it seems like there’s a barrier between indirect communication and direct – verbal “stop doing that” – communication that I am so loathe to cross that it feels like I’m incapable of it. I think the barrier is the fact that it means being openly in conflict with him, whereas if I can just walk away or move his hand or drop a hint, somehow it feels like we can still pretend we’re on the same side. I figure it must have something to do with socialization, both in my particular culture and (sheltered) subculture, and as a female (sugar and spice and everything nice=good, bitch=bad). Of course, I think these guys should give me some sort of out, form some sort of question, before getting all touchy with me, instead of either not caring how I feel about it or assuming that if I smile at them it means I want sex, or that if I don’t punch them in the nose it means everything’s ok. But for my own peace of mind, and to have something to do in the meantime before all men learn what consent means, I’d like to figure out a way to get myself past this problem. You’d think being such a feminist…

*Fun Bible verse of the day: 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. It’s Paul disagreeing with me on whether or not your body belongs to your partner and whether or not it’s ok to say no when you don’t want to have sex. It is at least equal to both partners. For the record, I think going on a sex strike in order to get something is probably really unhealthy for a relationship, but not having sex you don’t want is probably very healthy; sex shouldn’t be something you resent. I think it’s a terrible idea to make someone feel guilty for setting boundaries in their sex life. I also think Paul likes to ignore the possibility of a troubled marriage; some spouses are abusive, some spouses have medical problems, some people have histories of being sexually abused. Can you imagine telling a woman whose husband rapes her that God will be disappointed if she refuses him sex? Gosh, that sounds like it means he’s ok to rape her, since she’s not supposed to say no anyway. I’m sure no one has ever interpreted it that way, though. That’s why marital rape has always been a crime. “In a study of battered women, Bowker (1983) found that they ranked clergy members as the least helpful of those to whom they had turned for assistance. The emphasis of some religious institutions on wives’ responsibility “to obey their husbands” and the sinfulness of women’s refusal to have sexual intercourse with their husbands, perpetuate the problem of marital rape.”

March 26, 2008

Separation of Religion and State, etc.

Filed under: Christianity,Gender,LGBTQ,Religion — judgesnineteen @ 12:39 am

This post and its comments got me thinking, as did reading Pharyngula lately. God that story about Richard Dawkins and the movie Expelled was hilarious. So, you can probably tell I’m not real big on Christianity. Rather bitter, actually. But I know, despite not being able to comprehend, that there are people who find a way to reconcile Christianity with serious human rights. I don’t mean just “it’s fun to submit to your husband so it’s not bad, and he’s supposed to love you so no worries”, I mean actual feminist, pro-LGBTQ Christians. I’m glad to have them on my side, that being the human rights side. Or to be on their side rather, since most of them probably got there first. If they’re not going to deny people their rights, I don’t see any reason for me to oppose them. I can disagree with them, but as long as we all believe in the right to freedom of religion, that’s not a problem.

I haven’t actually done my research on this, but I can imagine that people like this exist in all religions. And if that’s possible, then I see no reason to oppose any religion per se. That’s handy, because I do want to fall into that freedom of religion camp.

But what about the people who interpret a religion as against certain human rights, and still follow it? Well, I still don’t have the right to tell them what to believe, nor would I have much of a leg to stand on in trying to prove that I’m right and they’re wrong. It’s one thing to prove that evolution works; keep working on that. It’s another to prove that there is no God. And it’s even another to prove that one moral code is better than another. I know what seems plausible to me, what seems right to me (to a point, anyway), but I can’t tell people that just because something is really unlikely, they can’t believe it.  You can believe in anything you can think up, really.

But I can push for the separation of religion and state so that they can’t enforce their anti-human rights beliefs on other people. That depends, of course, on getting the state to protect human rights in the first place, which so far we haven’t fully accomplished. But we can keep working on that, and we can say no when any religion wants to enact state laws that violate human rights. That will include saying no to laws that would privilege one religion over another or force people to practice something that is specifically religious, because of the religious freedom right.

Problems come in when people interpret their religion as not just being against a certain right, but as being against the separation of religion and state itself. Actually, I think even when they are just against a certain right you could get legal issues. Like if a religion said, you have to sacrifice a human every year or you will go to hell. That would be problematic, because the law won’t allow it. The religious people can say, we won’t make anyone else do human sacrifices, we’ll just do them among ourselves, voluntarily. But the state would still see a murder. Or at best, a suicide. I guess they’d probably get away with it if they could prove that the sacrificed person sacrificed themselves all on their own, and the sacrifice was always “successful.” I don’t know why I’m trying to figure out how to get away with human sacrifice. Ok. So.

1. You have a problem when the religion says “you have to do x” and x is against the law.

2. You have a problem when the religion says “you cannot do y” and y is obligatory under the law.

3. You have a problem when the religion says “you have to found your state on this religion.”  Gentler but still problematic versions of this would include the concept that you have to get others to adopt and live by your morality.  If Christians would read the Bible they probably wouldn’t think this, but a lot of them don’t and do think that God made it their business to get other people to act Christian, by legal force if necessary.

So what do we do in those circumstances? Do we say, sorry believers, rules is rules? Or do we say, well, as long as it’s really suicide…? Or do we say, ok, anyone who belongs to this religion gets special laws just for them? Do we go so far as to set them up in their own state?

Problem with letting them self-govern by their religion to any degree: groups of religious people try to get each other to conform to what they see as the rules of the religion. And I think that freedom of religion is a constant right, not a choice you get to make freely once and then it’s over. And I think kids have the right to change the religion they’ve grown up in. So let’s say we have this happy group of Flying Spaghetti Monster worshipers. And then one of them becomes an atheist, or a Christian, or a Buddhist.  Or just interprets FSMism in a new way. The old FSM laws are no longer fair to her or him, the community is not friendly to the conversion. That’s a vote for no religion in laws.

Another problem, though, is that I’m Western, and when you’re Western it’s hard to know sometimes if your way really just makes a lot of sense and is built on reason and rationality, or if it’s just another cultural belief like any other cultural belief and saying it’s better than other cultural beliefs is imperialistic. I guess that’s why we need to think through all these scenarios rather than just assuming we’re right. And it’s essential to listen to other people from other cultures. But it’s tricky because you want to be supportive and open-minded, but then sometimes you really do think you’re right. Separation of religion and state is one of those issues for me, I mean that’s how I felt reading the comments about Sharia in the link to Feministe.

Where I do draw the line is at the kind of atheism-on-the-offense I see every once in a while. It’s rare, no matter what the Christians say. But it’s there. I understand, given all the crap atheists have to put up with. Like I said, I’m bitter, and I assume many of them are too. But professors preaching atheism instead of teaching science (science does not include religion, but does not necessarily preclude religion…like I said, you can always think up some way to make them both work, implausible as it may be) is not a good idea. First, ethically, because of freedom of religion. Christianity should not be taught in public classrooms, for sure. But nor should we tell people to leave their religion in public classrooms. If they want to believe that literally, the earth they’re standing on is only a few thousand years old, without any special loopholes to allow science to be right, ok, they’re going to have to at least get over it enough to write down the correct answer on a test.  But there’s no need to tell them religion is stupid.  Second, pragmatically, because then the over-defensiveness of Christian fundamentalists has some basis. They won’t stop even if they have zero basis for saying this stuff, but making them even a little bit right is counterproductive if we want moderates to help us work towards the separation of religion and state. If separation becomes seen as pushing atheism, it won’t happen. Third, again ethically, because that’s the same thing I won’t stand for from Christians.

Here’s what I mean by that: I’ve mentioned that sometimes real conflicts can arise between religions and the philosophy of separation. But sometimes, people could follow their religion and support separation, but they still don’t. Take gay marriage. This is a classic example (or will be when it’s old enough to be classic) of getting all huffy about something that has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. If gay people get married, heterosexual marriage stock does not go down. Heterosexual marriages will not collapse due to the vibrations that homosexual wedding ceremonies will send into the air. Churches will not be required to give homosexual couples their blessing. THE STATE (which the Christians that like to pretend to be persecuted know is not God’s representative on earth, although the Christians who like to mix the American flag with the cross might take some convincing) will recognize homosexual marriages, the same as it recognizes Jewish and Muslim and yes, even atheist marriages. Those marriages are not blessed by the Christian worldview, because Christian couples are supposed to be bound by the Christian God (although I’m sure there are Christians who disagree, but generally not the ones who are starkly anti-gay). And yet Christians don’t make a fuss about atheists being allowed to get legally married.* Nor should they care if gay people get married, because it’s just none of their business. They may disagree with it, they may not like it, they may feel uncomfortable knowing it’s happening, it may make them sad, but that doesn’t give them the right to infringe on other people’s rights.

The same applies to atheists who don’t like the fact that other people believe in things they think are ridiculous and even stunting to intellectual growth. If it gets in the way of an atheist doing his or her job, that’s different. You shouldn’t have to teach non-science in science class. But you don’t need to attack religion in an invasive way. I mean clearly I attack the Bible, but I acknowledge that people can come up with all kinds of ways of believing implausible things because none of us has a rule book that tells you what kind of arguments are allowed in religion. I think the “well God is bigger than our logic so even though sometimes I use logic to understand religion, when my logic is applicable but leads to an answer I don’t like I just assume it’s a case where God made it impossible for me to understand” argument is a really annoying cop-out, but I can’t prove that it’s wrong, and I don’t need to. I can just not believe it and other people can believe what they want and as long as they don’t try to get me back in the kitchen based on it, we’re ok. I won’t deny that I disagree with a lot of people on religion, and we can debate our different beliefs, but nothing should be hanging on the outcome of that debate. I mean maybe for Christians there will always be someone’s salvation in the balance, but for me, a religious debate would just be a way to pass the time, a way to think deeply, not something I need to do because it’s an affront to me that people who disagree with me exist.  (Not to be confused with the times when they try to violate human rights; then it is an affront.)

*Brainstorming the differences between accepted atheist marriages and unaccepted gay marriages: 1) the former is already accepted in our culture. Christians often ignore things that conflict with the technicalities of the faith but would be impossible to change in today’s society or that are already so normalized in their culture that they assume it’s fine/take it for granted. 2) gay marriages don’t create a male-female hierarchy. 3) related, gay marriages don’t get people pregnant (except they do sometimes, but many Christians think that’s even worse; can’t win sometimes). 4) gay marriages necessarily separate sex from procreation; but to be realistic, so do most atheist marriages in places where contraception is available. 5) acceptance of gay marriage would further acceptance of homosexuality, period, which would make many conservative men insecure. this isn’t a good excuse for them either, because atheist marriages presumably show acceptance of atheism, of marriage outside of God’s covenant, and they should think atheism is equally if not more threatening than eroded gender roles.

In sum, I think their issue with gay marriage is a mix between just picking on who they can get away with picking on and regular old separate-the-genders-and-conquer-the-feminine patriarchy. I don’t mean to claim homophobia as a feminist issue as if feminism is the momma of the movements or anything, I just think homophobia and sexism are both the results of the same phenomenon whereby people want men and women to be considered opposites (oppressing those who don’t conform to gender roles, denying the existence of the intersex), from birth till death because God made them that way (oppressing transsexuals), and then want those opposites to pair up (oppressing those who don’t conform to heterosexuality), and want those pairs to form a hierarchy in which the man rules and the woman has babies (oppressing women, and men in a way too, and children too, actually; not to mention the slaves that used to be included in this happy home). Check Genesis 3 regarding “the man rules and the woman has babies.”

So I’ve written a way too long post and all I’ve really concluded is that if someone wants to do something you disagree with without infringing on other’s rights, you should leave them alone. Sorry I didn’t put that sentence at the beginning so you could’ve saved yourself some time.

PS – I had written church instead of religion in the phrase the separation of church and state, but I decided that the excuse “that’s just how people say it” wouldn’t convince me if the argument was about the generic he (although it kinda would if it was about the generic guys, but anyway) so I decided to change it. I trust you know what I mean.

March 25, 2008

Where do I sign up for the Homosexual Agenda?

Filed under: Christianity,Homosexual Agenda,LGBTQ — judgesnineteen @ 11:48 pm

Here’s Sally Kern and a really awesome openly gay pastor who was willing to go on TV with her and was really civil with her. I love the part where Kern talks about how we’re still under the moral law of the Old Testament and even said that that included rape being wrong. I wonder if she thinks it should still be punished by marriage. I wonder if she pays any attention at all to all the other moral laws (how are the not mixing two types of fabric or seeds laws not moral laws? they don’t sound civil or ceremonial to me) or if she only reads the ones that allow her to control other people’s lives without going so far as to require her to challenge laws that are already widely accepted in our culture. I’d like to say she should realize that if she’s going to be anti-gay, she also needs to be anti-women’s rights, but since she probably already is (ever notice how some of the loudest female anti-feminists have jobs outside the home? and use them to spout their anti-feminism? it’s pretty amusing), I guess that’s something I shouldn’t stir up.She was also such an asshole to interrupt a PASTOR and start teaching him basic theology.

But really, if LGBTQ groups (is it wishful thinking to think all the letters are involved?) are raising money to replace conservative representatives one by one, I think that’s a great idea. Although not an entirely new one, since that’s kind of how politics works. But this particular political agenda sounds good to me. Can I get a homosexual agenda bumper sticker or something? Like how the Republicans had Proud Member: Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, I want Proud Member: Homosexual Agenda, with a snazzy tag line, like Scarier than terrorists! Or, More Destructive than WMDs! Or, Metastasizing to a District Near You. Yes, I think I like the last one best. I imagine there are people who won’t know what metastasizing means, and it’s a pity to lose the joke, but it could just create a new one, where they imagine that metastasis is some kind of new sexual perversion.

March 24, 2008

Let’s get a couple things straight on the election

Filed under: election,Gender,Race — judgesnineteen @ 5:31 pm

1. You don’t vote for someone because of their race or gender, unless maybe they’re exactly every bit as qualified the other candidates (or more so) and you want to break a woman/black person/etc into the job. I acknowledge that there’s something hard about getting that first one through. And I even think that it’s a little easier to get a woman elected head of state for the first time if she’s related to a former head of state, which might make people want to take advantage of this opportunity. But you have to hold yourselves back, people. If you want women’s rights, vote for a candidate based on their women’s rights record, not based on the fact that they’re a woman. Charlotte Allen is a woman, after all. If you want to fight racism, same deal. Plus, voting on identity instead of on political records means you can only side with whatever issues your candidate embodies. We can’t elect a transsexual lesbian black handicapped poor Muslim in this election cycle, but we can try to elect people who will work for the issues we care about. Pitting one fight against oppression against other such fights is a terrible idea; we already have to fight the oppression, why make it harder? Plus it’s just as wrong to be racist as it is to be sexist, and vice versa.

2. It’s not ok to use sexism or racism to win an election. Ever. Period. It’s not ok to use sexism or racism to champion your favorite candidate. Ever. Period. It’s not “just a joke,” it’s sexism and racism, which need to cease to exist.

3. It’s not racist to say that racism of white people against black people exists and that this racism makes life hard for black people. It’s more racist NOT to say so.

4. It is willfully ignorant to say that life is hard for black men due to racism but that white women have absolutely no problems because race is the only issue. It amounts to sexism.

5. It’s fine to not like Hillary Clinton as a candidate. It’s not fine for your reason for not liking her to be “I don’t like her husband” or “She’s a bitch” or “She’s too feminine” or “She’s too masculine.”

6. If your reason for not liking her is that she’s too far to the left (ha), you need to actually go look at the facts, because she and Obama are awfully similar.

7. It’s fine to not like Obama as a candidate. It’s not fine for your reason for not liking him to be “He’s too black” or “He’s not black enough” or “His middle name is Hussein” or “His name sounds like Osama” or “Muslim terrorists!!!1”

8. Debate how much experience Clinton really had, go for it. But don’t try to pretend that being a First Lady (I loathe that title, by the way) always involves the same amount of political experience and therefore comparing Clinton to any wife of any former president is valid.

Why is this so difficult to grasp?! I’m so sick of seeing the same stuff over and over again after every little thing that happens with these candidates. It all revolves around the same issues that we just can’t get no matter how many times we rehash it. Can we just skip to November already?

Edit: one more thing.  The Democrat-Republican difference is bigger than the Obama-Clinton difference.  This is important, people.  Don’t fight so much that you mess everything up for the national election.

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