Girly Thoughts

January 9, 2009

Memo to well-meaning Christians

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgesnineteen @ 3:09 am

I’m not being sarcastic this time.  I just thought you should know, because I wish I had known when I was doing this.  Sometimes Christians preach to each other about how to evangelize, in the sense of both telling other people about Jesus and about getting people to follow him, by telling Christians to live in such a way that other people will notice that there’s something special going on in their lives.  There’s this idea that you can see the effects of following Jesus in the way a person lives and acts, and that those effects cannot be explained by anything else.  They’re mysteriously, counter-culturally good, loving in the face of hate, self-denying beyond normal human ability.

It took me a few times of having weird encounters with Christians while discussing religious issues to realize that the people I was dealing with were probably trying to do that.  If I’m right, and those people were acting the way they were acting in order to show me the love of Christ by example, I have to tell you, it’s not working.  And although this blog does tend to show my hard side to a disproportionate degree, I assure you it’s not because I’m a cold-hearted bitch.  It was because it came off as noticeably fake.  And the kindness was misplaced.  They would only let themselves be extravagantly loving in certain ways, not in others, the “others” being the ones that would include not toeing the line of their respective dogmas.  Instead of dealing with a question I had raised, they would take pains to speak in very calm and caring ways to me…about irrelevant or even inappropriate things.  Instead of respecting my feelings, they would try to cover them up with bottled compassion about how they hope I feel better and they’re so glad I brought this up (even though they’re never going to do anything about it).

I’m not proving anything here.  It’s just one person’s perception, and I don’t even know if what they were thinking at those moments was “I’ll win her over with my eerie resemblance to Christ!”  But I know it made me embarrassed for the way I used to try to be like that, and I know it made me realize that my focus on kindness as a Christian was often a focus on superficial kindness, the type that’s easier to monitor (no cussing, check; no gossip, check; give them a blessing, check) and less meaningful.  Just thought you might want to know.  I mean, there could really be a God and you just might want to realize that trying to fake being like him/her/it probably doesn’t work very well.  I suppose if it’s possible to actually do that, it would have to come in a less forced way.

And of course, I have had plenty of encounters with Christians where they were genuinely kind and everything was great.  It just didn’t come across as “oh my gosh the love of God is flowing through them I need that!” probably because I had encountered the same treatment from non-Christians as well and considered it normal human kindness.

There really are people who are counter-cultural for reasons unrelated to religion.  There are people who are deeply, inexplicably happy for reasons unrelated to religion.  There really are people who are almost confusingly good for reasons unrelated to religion.  I know someone like that – he’s an atheist (and a feminist!) and, among other amazing things, he supports his father, who abandoned him and his mother when this guy was young and then showed up again when he (the father) got sick.  I don’t understand that.  But he does it, and not because he thinks a god is telling him to.  So even if you do manage to be mind-blowingly loving, it won’t be absolute proof that there must be a god, and it won’t convince me that your religion is the right one.  Just FYI.


December 4, 2008

Dear anyone who grades papers

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgesnineteen @ 3:30 am

It’s your job to tell the people who have to write the papers what is expected of their papers.  It’s not obvious.  It’s not natural.  Writing itself isn’t natural, and we’re not supposed to write the way we speak, so clearly there are conventions (read: stuff people made up that other people have to learn and aren’t born knowing) that need to be followed.  And those conventions vary from one type of paper to the next.  So explain.  And if you don’t explain well enough and you get a paper that doesn’t follow your secret paper rules, recognize that it’s your fault for expecting people to read your mind.

end rant, recommence trying to write papers without understanding what the rules are and hating life

November 5, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — judgesnineteen @ 7:24 pm

I realized that my inability to be excited about this for too long at a time is coming from more than my family.  A conversation I had last night bothered me more than I realized, and the more I think back on it, the more I see why.  I talked to the only two people at the election party that weren’t happy about Obama winning.  They were gracious losers, but I was curious and I asked the more vocal one what his issues were, why he felt the way he did.  So we started talking, with the other person occasionally chiming in.  The other person, by the way, is a close friend of mine who I had assumed was for Obama.  So the guy explained that he was for small government, but he was also for protective tariffs.  Not really a libertarian thing – he seemed to be libertarian but only for the US, he didn’t appear to care much about other countries.  I’m sure he’d rather them not starve to death, but unlike me, he didn’t seem to see a connection between history and current poverty, whether inside or outside of our borders.  He used the “I’ve never met a slave” line.  So I started on my spiel about wealth being passed down – or not – through generations.  He said that the Southerners lost their investment when slaves were freed and I said yeah, but the slaves didn’t get any money either, and they didn’t have anything to begin with, and he said “They got freedom.”  I pointed out that everyone else already had freedom, and I still don’t understand what his point was with that.

UPDATE: I think I see part of what threw me off there.  The financial situation of the former slave owners did not prove anything about the financial situation of the slaves.  For him to bring that up as if it was a contradiction of what I said, and as if the slaves getting freedom took care of anything that was owed to them (WTF%*$#@), gives me the impression that he saw this from an us vs. them perspective rather than feeling detached from either group and just looking back and what was fair and what wasn’t.  And anyway, the slave owners had already gotten returns on their investment in people before they had to free their slaves.

I asked him if he thought we lived in a meritocracy and he pretty much said that he realizes we don’t, but.  So the buts were like, he thinks black culture is what causes the problems in black communities, rather than racism or poverty.  I asked what he meant by culture.  He said drugs, and we agreed that drugs – especially being illegal – create a weird dynamic that’s dangerous.  He’s not saying yay war on drugs, he said they should probably be legalized to eliminate that dynamic.  You can’t accuse him of being a fundie, which I appreciate.  Then he said, also rap.  I said I think rap is a reaction to something.  The other person said, no, it used to be, but now they just make money by selling albums to white suburban kids.  I don’t see how that shows that rap is responsible for the failure of black people…and I still think rap is a reaction to circumstances, even if it’s not as much of an optimistic or invigorating reaction as it originally was.  To explain what I meant, I talked about the argument that a blog (Feministe? sorry I have terrible source amnesia) pointed out on Alas, A Blog, that black teens might get pregnant at such high rates because it’s actually a rational decision given their circumstances (lower opportunity costs, earlier peak of health, etc).  He pretty much blew that off.

When we talked about drugs, I said legalizing them would be nice because it would mean less imprisonment of black men, which is a huge part of the problem.  He replied “We put people in prison because they commit crimes, not because they’re black.”  At the time I just tried to explain my issues with prison, starting with the idea that nonviolent crimes shouldn’t be punished with prison, which he seemed to agree with.  But later I realized that’s basically a denial of racism in the criminal justice system, which is a pretty big denial.  I’m shocked he would say that, and I’m shocked by how the other person seemed so eager to jump in and prove, from time to time, that black people’s problems are their own fault.

I know these issues are complicated, and I certainly know there are always individuals who will “prove” any sociological trend wrong.  I know that a person’s philosophy of what government’s job is can differ without it making them a bad person.  My friend hinted, actually both of them did, at us Obama supporters being fanatics.  Maybe I shouldn’t have taken that personally, but I was taken aback.  I criticize the Democrats.  I don’t put Obama’s face all over everything I own.  I see complexity and I tell people when their way of disagreeing with me is a valid one.  What I don’t do is ignore the past and the inequality of opportunity that affects our country in order to better support a particular worldview.  I could do that, it would be very easy and very beneficial to me.  I wouldn’t be divided from my family, I would be fighting to keep my own money, I’d get to shrug off any guilt about benefiting from privilege.  So when I argue against everything that protects my privilege, I must have a pretty compelling reason.  It’s because I know that we do, at times, put people in prisons because they’re black, and that on several occasions, the US has incurred debts to black people that have never been repaid, and if you’re looking for a reason for the state of the ghetto, PERHAPS racism and poverty should be among your suspects.

Overall they’re cool people and it was by far the most rational debate I’ve had in a loooong time.  But that’s the thing, they’re so smart and so rational and it freaks me out a little bit that they seem to be denying the role of racism in these issues.  It’s sort of Twilight Zone-ish for me, especially because it went so against my expectations of my friend (which isn’t her fault of course, just a quirk of the situation).  And it just made me feel so much more alone, because she’s one of the few people who got me before I changed all my beliefs and sort of changed along with me, and gets me now, too.  Or at least I thought she did.  Between that and a family member giving me false hope (again, not her fault) by sounding really moderate when she asked for my views and then ending up really conservative, I just feel like I’ve got no one on my side…even as I walk around a campus literally covered in Obama’s name.

Well, I’ll be spending the next couple of hours with non-citizens, so maybe I can just get away from all of this for a little while.

Also, how disappointed am I about the gay marriage bans?  Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but I really didn’t think they’d get enough votes, considering it had to be more than a simple majority.  Really takes the oomph out of this win for me.  But at least the next four years will be different.

PS – If you want to see what racism looks like, look at the automatically generated link Violence in Black Culture or whatever it’s called.


Filed under: Uncategorized — judgesnineteen @ 9:08 am

We have a black president.  That’s amazing.  And the American people have spoken, and they put Democrats in charge.  That’s a chance for change to actually happen.  But we have some nasty amendments that people voted for, like gay marriage bans.  Not all the results on those are in yet but I do think there will be some damage, although abortion looks safe.

I’m just pissed that my family and certain friends have, one intentionally and several unintentionally, made me feel so isolated and misunderstood that I’m not even excited right now.  This is a historic moment, and I am lucky to have been born at a time that allows me to live through it AND have taken part in it.  I should be tearing up with hope, not with…whatever it is that made me cry uncontrollably during Obama’s acceptance speech.  It wasn’t happy tears, although I definitely did want him to win.  It was something about his message of bipartisan unity and me imagining what my family members have to say about that idea. (Hint: it wasn’t “Oh, sounds like a great plan!”)

I need my boyfriend to come back from his trip, he’s pretty much the only person I can be 100% open with without using a pseudonym.  Maybe if he had been here I wouldn’t feel like even in an Obama presidency, I have to watch what I say.

Also: it’s about damn time.  And I’ll be expecting a female president soon.

So I know the Republicans are back at the drawing board, and if I could just offer them some suggestions: drop the fundamentalists.  Drop those among you who are irrational, willfully ignorant, happy to brainwash and deceive, and generally backwards and hateful.  The younger generation is interested in libertarianism, so if you stop trying to control people and just stick to your small government ideas, you can come back.  And then, I will see some point in engaging in conversation with you, because libertarians (when they’re not being arrogant douches, which some of them unfortunately are – you know what I’m talking about, every party has their douches, but the libertarians do it in a way that you can spot) actually have arguments based on reasons rather than knee jerk reactions based on bias.  And they’re about not controlling people, which is way better than controlling people.  So pretty please, drop the fundies and pick up the libertarians.  It’ll be awesome.  We can stop wasting our time arguing over whether or not the state should be in the business of defining gender norms and punishing sluts, and think about more complex issues.

I hope tomorrow I wake up excited.  Of course then I’ll go to class and my prof, I of course got the only conservative professor in the school or something, will probably complain about socialism.  A guy tonight told me that this is how communism started according to his Polish friend.  I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say we’re not going to turn communist.  But anyway.  I’m tutoring refugees tomorrow and at least I’ll know we’re about to have a president who won’t create more refugees because he thinks God told him to or because he thinks machismo should be the guiding principle of foreign affairs. This might be the beginning of a new era in US history.

November 4, 2008

It’s been too long since I’ve said hey to the googlers

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgesnineteen @ 6:42 am

Dear Googlers,

If any of you were looking for porn when you googled your way to my “women with hard-ons” post, HAHAHAHA.  Sorry to make you think about women as agents…except not really.  (Unless you were looking for amateur feminist porn, in which case I’m sure you were already aware of the workings of the clitoris, and I hope you have a lovely day.)  But actually it looks like some of you were just curious about the under-studied female genitalia, so good for you.  You have a lovely day, too.

Something different

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgesnineteen @ 5:17 am

I’m just writing to say (great now I have “I just called/ to say/ I love youuuuuu” in my head) that a Christian friend of mine is actively trying to debunk myths spread about Obama by the religious right (and the just plain right), and I think that’s awesome.  I’m sort of giving out cookies here, which I’m normally not into, but since I do tend not to mince words when it comes to how I really feel about the Christian religion, I thought I’d make a point of saying that I appreciate this.  It’s exactly what I would tell Christians to do when they’re sitting around complaining that the gay-haters and so on are ruining Christianity’s reputation: don’t tell ME that Christianity is actually way better than that, not about that at all, and you don’t think that way.  Tell THEM those things.  Don’t whip out your Bible to convince ME that you’re really ok because your religion is really about love, not hate.  Whip out your Bible and explain that to THEM.  I understand the desire to defend yourself against people who don’t see the difference in the many many different kinds of Christianity (or any religion), but if you spend all your time telling the critics of the hateful kind of Christianity that you’re actually really loving but never do anything to make Christianity a more loving religion, either by trying to bring the hateful people back in line, or by going out and loving gay people and women and so on through some kind of volunteer work (no, counseling scared, impressionable pregnant teenagers against having an abortion DOES NOT COUNT), then you’re living out one of Jesus’ parables in which he said, and I paraphrase, dude 1 said he’d do a chore but didn’t, dude 2 said he wouldn’t do it but did, dude 2 is the one who actually obeyed.  And you’re dude 1.

So thank you, Christian friend, for standing up for what’s right instead of just standing up for yourself and your religion.  You’re dude 2, except you’re actually female and the story was about two sons.

No thanks to my grandmother who just called to yell at me for probably voting for Obama.  Lovely way to help me celebrate my first vote in a presidential election.  Thanks to my mom who just called to make me feel better after finding out about my grandmother’s call, despite my mom also being a Republican.

November 2, 2008

enemy infiltration

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgesnineteen @ 6:50 am

I’ve posted before on how subconscious bias means that the person who is completely un-racist or un-sexist or un-whatever is very rare.  Right now I’m just documenting one personal example of that phenomenon.

I’ve been reading a lot of scholarly articles for my thesis, and in scholarly articles, people cite other authors by their last name.  So I get familiar with a lot of last names without knowing their gender, until I go find the articles that those people wrote and see their whole name, or until I see someone talk about them extensively enough to use a pronoun.  So far I have mistaken several women for men, but I have never gotten it into my head that a writer must be a woman only to find out that the writer was a man.  And this isn’t a hard science type of field where you’d expect women to be few and far between.  I’ve found many more women than I expected.  But even after realizing that women are doing well in this field, I still assume that so-and-so is male.  And even after realizing that I’m doing that, I keep assuming that the next name I read belongs to a man.

So that sucks.

I think there was one time I messed up the gender the other way around, but that was because I saw the first name and it was a name I think of as female, but the person was actually male.  Not the same.

This also brings up the issue of how bizarre gender-based pronominal systems are.  I can’t talk about someone properly until I’ve figured out their gender, and I’m afraid I’ll refer to someone with the wrong pronoun if they have a name that’s unusual for their gender in my experience.  That’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it.  The gender of these people doesn’t make any difference in their theories, which is why it doesn’t need to be noted in the citation info.  But I have to stop and figure that out before saying anything about them.  In fact, that’s the ONLY information I have to have about someone in order to give them a pronoun in English – well, besides knowing that they’re human and neither me nor the person I’m speaking to.

October 30, 2008

a little motivation

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgesnineteen @ 4:40 am

It’s nice to see a list of things we can DO instead of just lists of problems sometimes.  A post on the feministing community brought this Canadian feminist manifesto (aussi disponible en français) to my attention, and I really liked this part, just because the determination is inspiring:

We will: Change our attitude: get pissed off, refuse, resist, walk out, speak up!
We will: Transform our daily lives and relationships: actions can take place in small interactions
We will: Encourage people to learn about, care for and love themselves and their bodies
We will: Support safe and accessible space for individuals to define and express themselves without fear of judgement
We will: Create alternatives, write poetry, articles, letters, make art
We will: Join with others, find common ground, build community, create feminist spaces and gatherings, raise awareness, educate, spread the word
We will: Believe that a better world is possible and work to achieve it

We will: Organize and struggle: build alliances with existing feminist groups and create new ones, fight together in solidarity, be seen and be heard, disrupt, trouble, destabilize established powers, become culture jammers
We will: Build solidarity based on the commonality of our diverse struggles and perspectives
We will: Value people rather than profits
We will: Demand massive State reinvestment in social programs and the end of privatization
We will: Organize pan-Canadian decentralized days of feminist action against the rise of the Right
We will: Protest and resist sexist bills and laws that threaten our reproductive rights, racist immigration laws, war, free trade, repression, the criminalization of political movements, corporate exploitation and plunder of the earth, and violence against women
We will: Champion safety, respect, justice, freedom, equality and SOLIDARITY!

October 29, 2008

Women with hard-ons

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgesnineteen @ 9:41 pm

So I just saw Liss from Shakesville say she has “a hard-on for democracy” and at first I was annoyed by the gendered term, and then I realized it doesn’t have to be gendered.  Clitorises get filled with blood, bigger, and harder when women are aroused, too.  We just ignore that because the clitoris isn’t the point in patriarchal sex.  Patriarchal sex is strictly penis and vagina – more about the penis than the vagina, but the vagina is incorrectly considered the analogue to the penis, so that when he’s hard, she’s wet.  But she can be hard too, and he can be wet too if you count pre-ejaculate.  And she can ejaculate, too, sometimes.  Sorry fundies, we’re just not as different as you’d like us to be.  So how ’bout us women start claiming our hard-ons?  Or boners, or erections, or whatever you like.

Oh, awesome.  It turns out Liss was thinking of the same thing when she wrote that, here’s the link she used:

PS I want a sculpture of the whole entire internal clitoris, partially because I think the clit makes a great feminist symbol, and partially because no one would recognize it so up-tight people could just admire my abstract art and never know.

When the end doesn’t justify the means

Filed under: Uncategorized — judgesnineteen @ 12:31 am

Or, Social Justice Fail.

I was just walking around campus today and I saw two things that got me thinking: a button that said “Ta-tas are awesome!” with a pink ribbon on it, and a sign asking you to call in and tell someone what you think about environmental preservation or something like that.

I don’t like the way the breast cancer issue is pitched, but for the first time today I realized that it’s sort of the same thing as the way PETA pitches their issue.  We have a good cause, we want to recruit people to it, but we don’t think they’ll go for just plain helping women/animals, for just a sappy good cause, so we sell it with sex.  Except usually, when people say “sex sells”, unless they’re talking very literally about prostitution*, what they really mean is “(pictures of/allusions to) women’s bodies sell.”  And when you sell female sexuality, you’re supporting a whole sexist construct of objectification.  But who cares about that, as long as you’re helping women and animals?  And in the case of breast cancer, it can’t be wrong, it’s for women!  Except it’s not for women, it’s for their ta-tas, at least according to your advertising.  Believe me when I say that I know how hard it is to get people to give a shit about the most urgent of good causes.  But if you’re going to help, help.  Don’t help my body at the expense of my self-worth.

Quick quiz: Do I think buttons about ta-tas and t-shirts about saving second base are going to usher in the apocalypse? No. Will I personally wear them? No. Do I know people with breast cancer and hope they get better and hope someone cures it?  Yes.

So just after having that whole train of thought, I got started thinking about what people I know would say if asked for their opinions on environmental conservation.  And for some reason I got the voice of the leader of this Christian club I used to be in saying something about stewardship.  Stewardship is the word that people in that particular brand of Christianity use whenever they talk about the environment.  It’s the idea that God gave us the earth and we’re supposed to take care of it.  We’re not 100% owners necessarily, but we’re in charge till Jesus gets back.  And in the meantime we have authority over it, but we’re supposed to use that power for good rather than for evil.  And then all of the sudden** I realized that this is the same way they talk about men with respect to women.  Men have the authority, but it’s cool because they’re supposed to be nice with it.  They’re supposed to deign to love women the way divine immortal perfect Jesus loves the sinning, whoring Church, no matter how much she fucks up and fucks around.  I can’t imagine why Hallmark hasn’t started using that line in their Valentine’s Day cards yet.

It’s the idea of the benevolent dictator.  In the end, the environment gets cared for and the women don’t get beaten, if you really do make a good steward.  But is that what we’re shooting for?  Are our standards that low?  (I can just hear the Christians saying “loving someone enough to DIE for them is a LOW standard?!!” Keep reading.)  Or should we consider that women and the environment don’t exist just for the purposes that men would set them to, and don’t belong to men?  Obviously not everything we’re talking about here can think, but the environment certainly serves other thinking and/or feeling beings besides men, so even if the rocks won’t care what you do to them, somebody else might care what you do to them.  So rights come into play.

It reminds me of when I asked a couple of Christian friends (and sort of mentors) what they thought about the Bible saying husbands should love their wives and wives should respect their husbands.  They said they didn’t think you could have love without respect.  To them, it probably meant that the Bible was ok, because it meant the same thing both times; to me, it meant that the girl who explained that passage to me by saying that in a survey asking whether you’d rather be loved or respected if you could only choose one, women chose loved and men chose respected, was indeed oversimplifying (and I realized later, ignoring the effects of socialization) and that I wasn’t crazy to think I should have both.

So again, if you’re going to help, how about you actually help, instead of securing me an empty shell of protection while completely undermining the rights I want in the first place.  And although the environment can’t say that, I think a respectful attitude towards it will create more actual good than a benevolent dictator-type attitude.  I’m not just quibbling over what reasons you should have in your head for doing equally good things; I’m arguing that if you’re using these reasons for doing good things, your deeds won’t come out that good after all.  How you treat a person or a thing is intimately linked to how you see the person or thing and how you see yourself in relation to the person or thing.  And going back to the first issue, with breast cancer and PETA ads, the way you accomplish something can have negative side-effects, not to mention that whoever you joins your cause only because you chose sex-based advertising instead of another kind will be the kind of person who has the problem I just mentioned: they’re doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, and that means, I’m arguing, they won’t do it that well.  Especially if you buy the “people won’t respect women as long as they disrespect animals” argument, which should work just as well the other way around.

By the way, full disclosure – I’m definitely in favor of animal welfare but I’m not a vegetarian and basically animal rights (different from welfare) get me into a circle of logic that I can’t get back out of, so I don’t know what I think about that, but I do think I understand the arguments that animal rights activists use.

*Ironically, when talking about prostitution people do say that women’s bodies are being sold, even though they’re not, the sex that the bodies perform is.  Funny.

**Unless I’m stealing this idea from Spong’s book The Sins of Scripture, and I just forgot that he had already shown me this connection.

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