Stylistic Sexism

Posted: September 3, 2014 in Feminism
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I had just dropped off my lover for a train ride and was driving back when a certain sign in a hair-cutter’s caught my eye: “Men & Kids $10“.
This caused me to pause last time I saw the sign a few months back, but this time I pulled right over and swaggered my dashing ass inside.
Allow me to paint you a picture:
I was wearing my training gear, which is comprised of ACU (army combat uniform) pants, desert boots, and a black instructor’s t-shirt. I have short hair and a neatly trimmed goatee.

Artist’s rendition:
nmmr536737                               They say you are what you eat, but I don’t remember eating a fucking legend!

The two women inside quickly whispered to each other (presumably regarding who will claim the client) and then the taller one with long, curly, black hair walked over — all smiles.

“I have a question about the sign outside,” I cheerfully begin.
She nodded excitedly and told me that all men’s haircuts are $10.
“So what if a man has long, flowing, beautiful hair?” I ask, politely.
Still excitedly, she firmly states, “Doesn’t matter!” an expression of overt pride on her face.
“I see,” says I, “Is that not extremely sexist? You know, against women?”

Her eyes widen in surprise and her mouth opens and closes twice before she responds that women tend to have ‘longer hair’.
“I know,” I cut in, “but you just stated that a man’s style does not matter, no matter how long the hair, and I am not talking about getting a perm.”

funny-celebrity-pictures-javier-bardem-hair-stylist-i-am-disappoint                                                     I find your lack of sisterhood disturbing.

Her eyes dart from side to side and her compatriot sweeping the floor had stopped to stare at us in awkward silence.
“Well, we are all girls here,” she manages.
“Indeed,” I agree, “Is that not almost MORE perverse, ‘Uncle Tom’ style?”

As she continued to mutter and stutter incoherently in complete shock, I realize there will be no more justifications forthcoming, so I bid her good-day and take my leave.
“Come again!” she manages.
“Not likely,” I call back before the door swings shut behind me.

IMG_20140902_165416Visit “Short Kuts” at 3225 I-70 Business Loop in Clifton Colorado. Or better yet…DON’T.

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                                                           Rattata, I choose you!

I own rats. Or more specifically; I have furry kids. Rats have an unjustly designed reputation among humans. The myth of them spreading disease is vastly exaggerated. The Bubonic Plague, for instance, was spread by Mongol tribes who sent rats and cats infected with fleas to Europe on trade ships in the first recorded ‘biological attack‘. These flees were then transferred from the felines and the rodents to the unwashed European masses resulting in the ‘Black Death’. And yet, I do not see cats being euthanized for their part in that sordid history (of which they had no control over anyway).
Here is a simplistic history lesson for your kids (or you), courtesy of the dreaded Disney Corporation:

To those they bond with, rats are affectionate and loyal to a fault. They are independent like cats, and can eat (almost) anything you do, thus making them very low-hassle pets. They are also very loving, like dogs, and greatly enjoy to cuddle or riding on their human’s shoulder.
Our rats have free-range of the common-area of our home, since it is our firm belief that keeping an animal (human or otherwise) confined to a cage for the majority of its existence will drive it insane and (unsurprisingly) turn it hostile to its captors.
This puts me not only in the minority of animal owners, but also in the minority of rat owners.
Double trouble!
Our rats chase our cat and ferrets around and play with them as they would with another rat from their own pack. They have adopted and have been adopted by all the inhabitants of our home (we have two rats, two ferrets, and a cat). Like ferrets, rats are social creatures, so it is good to have one other of their species for them to cuddle with when you aren’t around.

557522_337938352980743_996786424_n                                        They just want to cuddle! (and of course, feast on your cat’s food)

Allow me to back up. I recently found a rat-lover’s group on facebook and enthusiastically joined, only to discover that they have strict rules regarding posting other animals getting along with rats because ‘its a dangerous example’. I took particular offense to this because of the strong friendship between my wife’s cat and my familiar, Katirina.

cat and rats2                                Katirina the Great (rat) cuddling with her favorite friend, Hannibal the Cannibal (cat)

This bewildering denial of something I would have imagined rat owners would be proud to advertise aside, they also all took a firm stand against allowing their animal companions to free-range. This REALLY pissed me right the hell off, and I asserted that:
1. Animals take after their humans, so if their animals could not be made to get along and see each other as family, they the humans, are SHITTY parents.
and
2. A rat (or any animal) needs to be comfortable with its human and other animal housemates as well as its environment before it can be taught right from wrong (for instance, litter-box training or learning that it is not ok to chew on electric cords). This is impossible, if they are confined to a cage for 90% of their existence unless some giant mammal occasionally feels like reaching in and petting on them. That is clearly a terrible existence for any creature, and unsurprisingly, these type of rat owners have overwhelmingly failed to truly bond with their companions.
In short, I called all of these rat-bastards terrible people, and expressed honest sympathy for their captive animals.
One retort I received challenged that ‘they are better off in a cage than dead on the street or being fed to a snake’.
No shit. Of course, if your best argument is that the existence you provide them is slightly better than death, then you’ve only endeavored to make my point for me.

025                                      The Family, before our ferratty kids joined it. (mom is holding the camera)

However, like with caring for any animal, there are hardships. One thing I can say to the negative about taking care of rats is their very short lifespan (3-5 years). It is very difficult when an animal familiar you have bonded with dies of old age or health complications after only such a short time together. Additionally, be prepared for the development of possible tumors if you are caring enough to rescue them from being fed to snakes by buying them off a breeder. Since those fucked up people tend to inbreed the poor creatures, it creates health problems, specifically with the mammary tumors of female rats. But a good veterinarian can give your beloved animal many more months to live even as you give them a life worth living.

Morgan LeFay recovered from her surgery                                 Morgan Le Fay recovering, after Doctor Tanja successfully removed her tumor.

Older rats are prone to strokes but can often recover very quickly. Regardless, your older companion will require a lot of personal care to make her final days as dignified and peaceful as possible. Feed her how you can, keep her clean, and keep her close.
Before Katirina and Morgan passed away, we adopted a baby rat named Anniebel so that our old girls could pass on what they learned about living with people to their little sister. After they died, and Annie grew a bit, we decided to try breeding her (a fancy rat) with a Dumbo rat (to avoid the inbreeding issues).

photo7                                                                    Anniebel all preggers!

She gave us a litter of two, beautiful baby boys. Zechs Marquise and Dorian Gray. A group of rats is called ‘a mischief’, so to be more accurate, Annie gave birth to a mischief of two!

IMG-20140130-00298When they are happy, they will ‘brux’ (grind) their teeth together to tell you they are content. When they get REALLY happy, their bruxing makes their eyes bobble!!

We then decided to try getting a pair of ferrets, contrary to all the online warnings about how ruthlessly cruel ferrets can be to rats. Of course, by then, we were taking these terrified pearls of ‘wisdom’ with a grain of salt since we received much the same untrue advice about cats and rats living together. Our cat Hannibal loves nothing more than to be protective of his rattie friends (even if they do chase him around occasionally). So baby ferrets we got, named Marcus Antonius and Vicious Vorenus. Anniebel quickly took to putting them in their place, teaching the ferrets what was okay and what was off-limits. She was a spunky mom, to be sure!

IMG_20140613_234831                                                               “Good ferret! This is okay.”

I would like to close up by saying that rats are beautiful, empathic creatures, and people who take the time to look past their own medieval prejudices will be privileged indeed to have a rattie companion in their life. Rats, when made a free-ranging part of the family, can get along with any other animal; provided you are patient and willing to help all the animals learn that you love each and every one of them all the more when they love each other. And then? Then they will love you right back.

mal3Calm down, its just a movie.

Its not just a movie.
Maleficent is proof-positive that fantastic children’s cartoons like Wreck It Ralph and Frozen out of the Disney workshop are not an accident but part of an empowering new direction for the studio and by extension, Hollywood.
The movie was better than I could have hoped (and I hoped for a lot), free from all the mandatory (old) Disney sappiness and did not even falter in the third act, as too many otherwise great films too often do. I will NOT spoil anything about this film just yet as it is still out in theaters, but you owe it to yourself to see this (and if you happen to pick up any children on the way to the theater, bring them along).
The full review will be posted when the movie has had a chance to make the rounds. For now watch this trailer. Then go see it in theaters and support it with your money. Seriously. Its that good.

I see myself as a skeptic, but I hesitate to associate myself with atheist groups. There are reasons for this.

563768_342904879141739_1630566303_nFor one, taking advice from musing velociraptors is questionable at the best of times.

I was a fan of Christopher Hitchens despite his faults, and still enjoy prominent atheists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. I recognize that organized religions are detrimental to us as a species, yet it seems as though a great many vocal atheists take a sexist page from the religious handbook (arguably the very worst of religion).
I have no problem with offending people with the truth — to jar people into reality.
I think it is fantastic when Harris and Dawkins openly challenge religious doctrine and its defenders and I do not begrudge them their insistence to call into question people’s personal ‘anecdotal’ experiences (one cannot debate against such perspectives). It is important to be ‘militant’ about challenging people to communicate in a logical fashion, as worthwhile debates simply cannot exist otherwise.
That is why the seemingly inherent misogyny of the online atheist is so especially troubling.

558119_418315591586115_1109174470_n“God told me we should be together!”

A great many well-subscribed atheist Youtube personalities are very fervently anti-feminist. I realize that the only binding principle that actually unites atheists is a lack of belief in gods and that all other topics including gender, ethnic and political issues are fair game to break ranks on. However, one would think that atheists would want to distinguish ourselves from the many negative elements of religion, foremost of which are undoubtedly regarding women and gender-roles. Not so, says The Youtubes, as popular atheist uploaders such as Thunderf00t and self-titled ‘The Amazing Atheist’ demonstrate with their anti-feminist rants. They object to the idea that women (majority of the world’s population) could possibly have a unique perspective. To them, it is sexism itself to allot ‘special treatment’ to this historically (and modernly) enslaved and oppressed half of humanity. They enjoy using their magnified voice to take statements out of the context of centuries of oppression and generally projecting themselves (fat, balding white-men) as victimized BY women. Even mainstream atheist icon Richard Dawkins himself got into hot water not only dismissing but actively mocking the concerns of female atheists at a skeptic convention some years ago (as if women in ‘first-world’ countries should just shut up because women elsewhere have it worse).
Evidently, sentiments of sexism or racism are just as alive in the atheist community as they are doctrine in their religious counterparts. I could never find common-ground on the subject of dismissing basic human liberties. It is precisely because I would not that I find myself an atheist today.

391087_440066362751771_1805497146_n                                                    Is there an atheist on the recliner to the left?

But fear not, for not all is lost. Male-atheist ‘Cult of Dusty’ recently decried sexist statements on his videos in defense of fellow outspoken atheist Jaclyn Glenn. Of course, both of them share a ‘fashionable’ knee-jerk reaction against feminism while in the same breath praising equal rights. Perhaps they should take some notes from the seemingly sole shining online example: atheist Rebecca Watson?  It is clear, that even among the most open-minded (popular) atheists, there needs to be a reconciling of values between the non-believers and the rights-activists if there is to be any future of common-goal within either group.

Image  —  Posted: May 23, 2014 in Feminism
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“The abuse of women and girls is the most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on earth.”                     – Jimmy Carter

I consider myself a feminist.

1794583_1411270042456098_24096862_n                                                                  “Any day now…”

As such, it is blatantly obvious that I depart rather starkly with others of my associations due to my degree of perception of feminist issue.
For one, I do not — as some feminists do — shy away from openly naming the institutions and groups directly responsible for the many layers of woman-hatred that are prevalent in even the most progressive of nations worldwide. Whereas many feminists are quite content to react to single individuals’ sexism, I find myself among others (particularly atheists, be they associated with feminism or no) as having no qualms about calling out religious groups and specifically patriarchal (predominantly monotheistic) religions in general as the leading causes for misogynistic social axioms that have been indoctrinated into the human populous over the course of history. This far-reaching pervasiveness seems to inexorably seep into the fabric of all nations – to varying degrees.
Further, and much more radically, while all but the most fringe feminists dream of gender equality, I feel that such a goal aims not nearly far enough.

29542_593199634029363_415837869_n                                                                             “Ta-Da!”

Females are not just part of an arbitrarily ostracized religious group, or members of a perpetually beleaguered nation, nor even part of a brutalized ethnic group. No, women are ALL of these and constitute 51% of the TOTAL human population (and that is not taking into account the rampage of femicides in some of the most populous countries on earth). Considering that throughout the course of our entire species, females have been the targets of atrocities due to either accidental membership in an outlying group/ethnicity/nation, or targeted specifically because of their gender, it should be easy to persuade even the most staunch Men’s Rights Activists that women have been the single most oppressed group of humanity in all of time. (Unfortunately, such convictions are late in the coming)
Being that 99% of all the truly horrifying violence in this world since time immemorial has been initiated, perpetrated and continued by males, I feel that women asking ‘equality’ with us men is in itself a great inequity.

zzzzzzzzzzzfdd
Please do not mistake my position for insecurity or self-loathing. I am quite satisfied with my existence as is. In fact, sharing the trope of my gender, I consider myself to be an unflinchingly vain individual. While I’ve always surfed the edges of poverty, indeed in some cases diving right in, I have nevertheless been immeasurably privileged in my life, enjoying such experiences as earning the status of veteran, becoming a well-traveled linguist, and being the owner of a small business. No doubt, all this is due in large part to the accident of birth that is my male sex, heterosexual orientation, and Russian ethnicity. While I feel no particular personal guilt, I find it appalling on the most innate depths of both reason and morality that more men not merely do not share my view, but are actively working against even the most basic progress of women’s right to exist. Surely given all of history, if one cannot stand to concede my admittedly extreme views, one can at the very least take the time to listen and sympathize with the vast number of regular, reasonable, and rightly troubled feminists – women and men.

malefem
Outrageous!

I have written in the past about the reactions from other males regarding my chosen passion. Today I would like to briefly touch on the other side of the spectrum.

Certain feminists find it offensive that I too label myself a feminist.

I understand that some females may feel that as a male I am incapable of adequately sympathizing with or personally experiencing the kind of discrimination that feminism stands against. They prefer that I call myself an ‘Ally’.
I fully acknowledge this sentiment and have no problem with such inclinations. These people are free to make the call of whether or not they may take me seriously based on my sex and gender. This does not perturb me in the slightest, (although it does tickle a certain kind of irony at the back of the throat, doesn’t it?)
At any rate, I am vaguely disinclined to acquiesce as I find that it is my personal ideals that are what motivate my passion on the subject — not my standing or title or involvement within a group. Further, it is not for the like-minded (feminists) that I label myself as such, but rather for those others who need convincing: the apathetic, the misogynistic, the people who feel only females have cause to be feminists, or socially indoctrinated women (see internalized oppression).
And so, I am afraid I’m simply too consumed combating the actual human travesties to be able to allocate a single fuck to give toward internal clique hierarchy and social posturing.

Spongebob, I knew it!! That traitor!

But it does entitle me to a certain amount of smugness, apparently.

Whether you’re a fellow feminist or an MRA or a random passerby with an opinion, your permission or opposition of my chosen affiliations is irrelevant.
Thank you.

Image  —  Posted: December 5, 2013 in Feminism
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Marriage is the sexist, socially-accepted selling of people into male domination. I find it, and the unnatural state of monogamy it attempts to enforce to be quite abhorrent. Therefore, I greatly enjoy the idea of turning the whole twisted institution on its head and having the female take full control of the whole process. As such, if I were ever to indulge in the masochism of marriage, I would insist that it be I who loses a last name in that arrangement. All the interesting history was on my mother’s side anyway.

Now, I realize that most people do not exactly see it all that way, so allow me to address some concerns you may raise in response to the above sentiments.

First of all, this video says everything I need to say about monogamy.

Its bought and paid for, dammit!
And I’ve got the receipt to prove it too!

Second, some men act as if marriage is a trap* set for us by the conniving females – a loss of our independence, as opposed to the concept of gaining ownership over another person.
*please don’t read the entirety of that article. That entire website is rather distasteful, but alas, illustrates the mentality I am referring to perfectly.
And I’ll grant you, things aren’t exactly as barbaric as straight-up human-trading like in those wondrous biblical days certain folks pine for. You know, the good old simple times, where women were legal property to be sold off and their primary function was to produce heirs. Heirs who, by the way, would be traced by the patriarchal line – a practice about as logically backwards and intellectually absurd as insisting that women came from men, not the other way around.

whynotmatrimony
You should listen to him. After all, he’s a Doctor!

In a way, I understand the male resentment of the whole arrangement — upon entrance into this contract, we lose our sexual independence as the marriage implies a monogamous relationship. Naturally, the same is true for women but we’ll get to that in a minute. Men may feel marriage is a woman’s invention (its not) to insure they are around for the raising of children and providing for the family and so on and so forth and some men take to the ‘natural’ model of this idea and have no problem with it. Traditionally, the men are still in charge. Modern-day ‘first-world’ nations continue to have an earnings gap of in favor of men (here is a great video explaining why thats the case), so its still pretty easy to be the ‘bread-winners’.
So whats the harm, REALLY?
Speaking of people-spawn… (an oft-cited by-product of human coupling in and outside of marriage)
…it really IS pretty shitty to run around impregnating folks and then leaving them alone to deal with the psychological, physical, fiscal, familial, social, and possibly religious implications.
Like, WAY worse than jaywalking.

deadbeatdudes
Happy Father’s Day, MOM

Many women, on the other hand, are raised since childhood to look forward to The Wedding Day. In fact, it is often cited as the ‘Happiest Day of a Woman’s Life‘.
Isn’t that sad?
To think that getting hitched to some bloke is the culminating achievement of a person’s existence?
I would think not, and indeed some people want more from life.
But alas, not everyone sees the practice as backwards.
Okay.
Be that is it may, I don’t exactly see the appeal of partaking in an archaic tradition of subjugation — even if your modern variant might not actually be at all oppressive. But hey, I guess thats what happens when people let others define the idea of ‘romance’ for them. You get long-dead people’s ideals entrenched into a social psyche and you end up with people raised into gender stereotypes of pink and fluffy versus blue and gruff(y?) even if those things might not feel at all natural to you on an individual basis (and probably shouldn’t on a group basis either). Also, unlike the males, there is a certain kind of pressure for the female to be chaste — a by-product of the days (not exactly all gone) when a woman was seen as a tool for procreation (and it seems ‘used’ tools are worth less…because people are ‘things’ and a woman who know how to enjoy her gentiles is ICKY! And probably a witch).

mrs..anderson
Considering the options…

So anyway, I’m sure most people aren’t so morbid about the whole affair but I find the idea of other people’s wacky binding rituals of two lovers (lovers, provided it isn’t one of those arranged-marriage deals) to be pretty much useless to me. Whats worse, this forced, unnatural monogamous relationship (meaning it governs the sexual aspects of the marriage as well) is not only made the standard socially AND in the eyes of the Law, but all too often has religious elements tied intrinsically into the entire affair (a by-product of theocratic rule spilling over into modern-day government regulation).

And so the two people burn an effigy to the deity of fertility and dance naked around a fire on the full moon….or have the patriarch of the bride pass her off to the new penis-haver while people throw rice and stroll solemnly through a religious temple — whichever sounds less ridiculous to you — and then they are MARRIED.
Yay.
Now these two people are entitled to certain government-sanctioned privileges and have a noticeably different social standing as opposed to their unbound (unwed?) counterparts. Well jolly good for you, then!
Mazel Tov!

Now back to the important topic – myself:

526804_475130382540833_370298069_n
If I’m awesome and you know it clap your hands!

My current lover of several years and I are considering marriage. She is a practicing pagan and as such, the religious aspect of such a union are important to her.
Before we became lovers (how juvenile does ‘girlfriend/boyfriend’ sound?), we agreed that in order to avoid the rather cruel act of betrayal that is ‘cheating’ (on people, not on tests), we would inform one another if we found other people attractive BEFORE we deigned to sleep with them (sleep as in having The Sex). If the other party was not comfortable with this revelation, we would attempt to find some resolution. If no compromise could be made, we would part amicably as adults (not as Jerry Springer guests-stars).
This arrangement of genuine, beneficial-for-everyone honesty has worked quite well for us.

A year ago, the prospect of marriage was broached by me as something that made fiscal sense if she were to go into the military. This led to the revelation that marriage is something that is ultimately important to her spiritually. Nothing about our previous arrangement would have to change and since it means so very little to me, it would have been odd for me to refuse. So, I set terms for the arrangement to the effect that she would need to buy me an engagement ring and propose to me in a crowded (but fancy) restaurant. Were I to then accept (I would), we could have a ceremony with one of her Wiccan priestesses presiding as cleric and I would take her last name (which sounds more cool than mine, anyway).

pinkyoutfancy
If you like it put a ring on it

I find this to be an example of a healthy relationship and a rather fun reason to partake in the ritual of marriage. It changes literally nothing about my life, except maybe change the way I file taxes (we are already co-habitating), and grants my partner something that is important to her because of her beliefs.

I see no reason why the trust that can be established between two people cannot be extended to other people as well. Arguing to the contrary is akin to claiming you only have enough love for exactly one person. Some people have more affection to give. Others feel just peachy with one partner. I say do what makes yourself and those you care about happy and you’ll be just fine.

In short: make your own definitions. Define yourself. Do not allow others to rule you with entrenched social axioms and absurd ritualistic peer-pressure.
I think that is very basic and sound advice.

Image  —  Posted: December 2, 2013 in Life
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