Saturday, November 21, 2009

In addition...

I figured while I'm at it, I could post the few extensive rants that were previously on the facebook.. so then I can delete them from there.

Shaving and why I love women who eat sandwiches:
Yet another late night rant. I just have to say that I think women who shave are creepy. I haven't shaved my legs or armpits since I was around 15 or 16. The only reason I ever shaved before that was because my mother convinced me that it was necessary and I just felt like that was what everyone did. It was expected. It was always one of those things that I never really understood but I followed anyways without thinking.
Who do we shave for? On some weird level I always thought it was stupid that Christians shaved. If God made you in his image, why would insult him by shaving? You are fucking with what God created.
Why should we give money to the companies who are making us self-conscious and self-loathing? Billions of dollars worth of advertisements go out every day depicting those oh-so-desirable smooth and skinny legs. Women in short skirts and bikinis walking around with their shiny legs.. who the fuck would want to contribute to that? These are the same advertisements that are contributing to the growing number of eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorders, and other psychological issues among women. If we can't have those ever smooth legs on top of the disgustingly thin figure, then we are undesirable.
Through my adolescence I suffered from a negative body image. I felt fat and gross and like no one would ever find me attractive. Because of this I had several eating disorders. In 7th grade, I was anorexic. I ate maybe one tiny snack a day. The feeling of hunger reminded me that I was going to be skinny and kept me going on. After I had starved myself for awhile, I realized that I would never really look like the skinny models I always saw portrayed on television and in magazines. My bone structure would never allow me be that tiny.
After this bought of anorexia, I alternated periods of binging and starving myself. I binged to help me cope with pain.. food brought me comfort. Then I would be extremely disgusted with myself and I would quit eating for like 3 days. I pretty much kept this up until 10th grade when I found out I was hypoglycemic. I'm sure I wasn't always this way.. but through my struggles with food I developed such a condition.
I found out I was hypoglycemic when I passed out around family members in front of my uncle's garage. When the emergency team showed up, my blood sugar was down to about a 20. For anyone who doesn't know, normal blood sugar should be around 100.. and the very nice doctor at the hospital mentioned to me that he had never seen blood sugar so low in someone who was still alive. Nice, just what I wanted to here.
Honestly, I feel that finding this out really helped me develop a much strong sense of self-esteem. It made me examine the reasons why I felt unattractive and why I felt the need to fit into some unattainable mold. Not to say that I still don't suffer from some instances of low self-esteem. It seems whenever I have cable I kind of fall into this really deep pit of depression which is somehow coupled with a decrease in sex drive and an overall feeling on worthlessness. So, needless to say, I try to avoid cable television (or at least the fashion channels) at all costs.
I think it's only through stepping back from the media and being able to focus on other aspects of my life that I truly see how fucked up everything is. Women are sexualized by the media and we are deduced to nothing more than an object. I know this. Basic feminist thoughts. So much of it, however, is completely subtle. It seeps slowly into our brains and effects us on such a deep level that we don't even know it. We want to give in and live up to the expectations that men give us. Even I, as a lesbian who has been "out" since the age of 14, still suffer from the lasting effects these advertisements put on women. I don't give two shits about whether or not men find me attractive because they aren't the ones I'm trying to attract. But in some way, I still feel the need to be thin or wear feminine clothing... or wear makeup.
Makeup is another one of those patriarchal evils that I find completely ridiculous. I wore A LOT of makeup when I was in high school.. namely a lot of black, liquid eyeliner... and have been so much happier since I quit wearing it. I think women are fucking beautiful naturally. Not only does makeup cover a woman's natural beauty (which goes back to the insulting God argument) but we are also funding more of the same people who are inflicting these psychological problems on us. We aren't told we're naturally beautiful. Women who aren't wearing makeup are constantly harassed like.. "you know you would look so much better with just a little bit of.."
Our ideas of beauty are so fucked up and they are completely dictated by those with money and who promote these ideas through all forms of media in our society. Movies, magazines, tv shows, billboards.. these all tell us what it means to be beautiful and what it means to be a woman. And.. and are all sitting here taking everything in. I need a lacy push up bra (because only women with big tits matter), some red lipstick (because only women with dick sucking lips matter), silky smooth legs (because only women who rebel against anything naturally occurring on their body matter), short skirt (because I need easy access), high heeled shoes (so you can't run away), and long, silky hair (because you're not feminine without it).
I have small tits, I don't wear makeup, I don't shave, I rarely wear skirt (I own like 2) and if I do it's because it's laundry day, I can't walk in heels and I find it ridiculous to train yourself to wear something so dangerous and uncomfortable, and I have short hair. And you know what? Since I've gone so far away from these things.. I feel really good about myself. I am confident and I feel beautiful.. and I notice it in other women too.
Why are these such radical ideas? How can we not see the natural beauty in people? Because we are programmed, from birth, what it means to be beautiful.. and unfortunately.. those in power determine those standards. And also unfortunately.. women are not in power..
We are perpetuating a cycle. We give them money to make us feel like shit.. razors, clothes, makeup, hair products, diet pills, books... We then give more money to our counselors.. and other helping people.. when we develop psychological problems associated with not being able to live up to the standards set for us. Stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and all associated mental problems.
Here's a radical idea: how about we just stop spending so much fucking money.. then maybe we could all be happy, healthy people.. or at least a little closer than we are now.

What's so wrong with Socialism and caring about people? And, yes I'm a feminist and no I don't think pornography should be banned:
I've been putting off taking a Feminist Theory class for as long as possible. Here I am, a senior, finally biting the bullet so that I can actually graduate this year. It's not that I'm not interested in the subject. It's quite the opposite actually. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a radical feminist who is intensely interested in all the issues surrounding women. I have dreaded taking this class so much because any class I have yet taken on a topic I am genuinely interested in learning is ruined by my classmates. The learning is stunted by the closed(absent)mindedness of those who choose to participate in discussions. They either decide to follow the opinions of the author they are reading at the moment (no matter how contradictory to the opinions of last week) or they choose to disagree with everything (again, no matter how contradictory).
My first Women's Studies class at EMU was the best/worst experience of my college career. I loved my teacher (Jess Kilbourn) and the materials we read. For me, it was thought provoking and really made me examine myself and what I wanted to pursue in my future. It was beneficial. However, halfway through the semester I quit attending class regularly. The reason: the class discussions. The two men in the class fought about the same shit in EVERY class. They believed that they should be able to decide if their girlfriend got an abortion. Many women in the class (surprisingly enough) disagreed and tried to debate over the issue with them. However, they never changed their minds.
The real issues started when we began discussing gender. First, no one in the class could comprehend the idea that gender is a social construction and it is separate from someone's sex they are born with. I've never thought of this as a hard subject to grasp, but I suppose stepping out of the box you were put into is hard. We began talking about intersexed and transgender people. We got into groups to discuss the topics we were supposed to have read about. My group decided to talk about (while I sat pissed off out of the conversation) god and how they don't believe that anyone could possible be born in the wrong body. When I tried interjecting into the conversation to help them understand what it is like to be trans, they looked at me like I had 3 heads. They asked me if I believed in god. I laughed.
I know the purpose of these classes (especially those you can take to fulfill general ed requirements) is to help inform students about issues surrounding diversity. It's supposed to make well-rounded students out of us all. The complete lack of open-mindedness and complete resistance to learning about new concepts and ideas shocked the hell out of me. I escaped the hick town I came from for these very reasons. Why would they even take the class if they weren't at least willing, on some level, to learn the material? You can disagree with whatever you want. But, you should at least be informed about it and know the facts.
It all kind of reminded me of my mother, honestly. Coming from a Christian family, we were often sheltered from a lot of things. Violent movies, the news.. pretty much anything that reminded my parents of the bad things that happen in the world. Oh yeah, and that also included anything with "homosexual content". I tried to debate with my parents about politics and religion but learned at an early age that they had no idea what they were talking about. It must be nice to be that oblivious. Actually, scratch that, I would go fucking crazy. The reason my parents sheltered us, and themselves, was because they have no mind of their own. They can't read something and decide for themselves whether they agree with it or not.
When I was in high school, I bought about $500 worth of Pagan books. My first semester away at college, my mother threw all those books away. Of course, there were some already gone from previous years. Honestly, I'm still not over that. I believe I tried to use the argument one time that reading books on Paganism makes me no more a Pagan than reading the bible makes me a Christian. I can decide on my own what I want to do and I am not convinced the second I read something that it is totally true and infallible. She didn't like that much.
This all leads me to my experience this semester in my Feminist Theory class. I chose to take it online so I didn't have to see the people in my class. I could read their opinions and think long and hard about good responses. Last week we read an essay by Catharine MacKinnon. The essay was about her stance on pornography which is essentially that it should be banned. Her view is that pornography breeds violence against women through the visualization of male dominance and female submission. It sexualizes rape and sexual abuse which only perpetuates these things in our society.
Obviously, as a feminist I respect Catharine MacKinnon and I believe that there is a lot of truth in what she says- although I believe advertisements, magazines, television, and mainstream movies are much more damaging to women. However, I am also a very firm believer in our first amendment rights. Censorship, to me, is a slippery slope. Imposing our "moral" views on one thing opens us up to other groups imposing THEIR "moral" views on us. As a lesbian, feminist.. I find that frightening. LGBT people fight every day against the religious right who attempt to enforce their "moral" opinions on us and prevent us from attaining equal rights. Therefore, I do not believe porn should be banned and made illegal. I believe those who WANT to be participate in porn should be able to. I believe the issues surrounding pornography (women forced into it, violence against them) are a result of a MUCH bigger problem with how our society views women, in general. As well as our general lack of support from the government.
So, after reading this essay we were to post our opinions on a bulletin board online. As I expected, the entire class agreed with MacKinnon and her view that pornography should be banned. Their reasons, however, had nothing to do with the essay. They all basically the same thing, 'Because I'm a woman, I don't watch porn. I think it is gross. My boyfriend tries to make me watch porn when I don't want to. Therefore, I think porn should be banned.' These posts terrified me to my very core. A) they are feeding into gender stereotypes by claiming to not watch porn because they are a woman and in some way saying that women are not allowed to be sexual B) perpetuating the stereotype of men being pigs (but somehow they are still with them?) making them do stuff they don't want to do C) being unable to think about the population as a whole and focusing only on their own, very narrow, experiences
I was the ONLY person who disagreed with MacKinnon's views and it scared me a little. I thought college was about thinking for yourself.. but somehow I was very wrong. When giving my views about freedom and censorship, I was responded to like an idiot. "Umm.. didn't you READ the essay?" Yes, I did.. and I'm sorry that I make up my own opinions and that's scary for you.
Ok, so my desire to write this note was sparked by my last bulletin board assignment (from this morning). We were discussion Marxism and Socialism and how it relates to feminism. The question posed was essentially, "What can the government do to help eliminate inequality between men and women?" Honestly.. I was not prepared for what I read. I should have smoked some weed so I could have read it and thought it was funny and ridiculous. Unfortunately, I get no homework accomplished that way so I was sober.. and I was sorry for it.
Let me start out by saying that I was, at a time, a Social Work major. Hell, I still would be if I wouldn't have been able to graduate a year and half sooner as a Sociology major. Social Workers (should at least) have a desire to help people. You want to advocate for the underrepresented and underserved. This includes women, the poor, the old, racial minorities, sexual minorities..... pretty much anyone who doesn't fit into the rich, white, male, heterosexist "norm". The most important tool in helping these people is through government assistance. This includes MANY things from cash assistance, food assistance, social security.. etc. Oh, and by the way, the way we pay for these things is through *gasp* TAXES! Who would have thought those go to something?
So there were one or two decent posts on the board which talked about eliminating the wage gap between men and women. Ok, sure, that sounds simple enough. And, although that still doesn't take care of the problem, I give them credit for trying. However, the majority of the posts all mentioned some sort of elimination of government assistance as some sort of solution. The reason? Because programs like WIC allow single mothers to be lazy and not work and allow them to have more children who suck up the hard working American's tax dollars. I about lost my shit. Regardless of the fact that this "solution" in no way helps eliminate the inequalities between men and women, the idea that government assistance in some way enables everyone to be lazy and therefore should be taken away is fucking crazy to me.
Each of them had their own little story to go with it (some of which had nothing to do with women at all). "Oh I have this friend of a friend of a friend who is so lazy and doesn't want to work that s/he lives off welfare. Therefore, all people on welfare are lazy and it should be eliminated so us hard workers don't have to pay for them." It's such an overused stereotype that all people on government assistance are lazy. It never really occurs to anyone that the one friend of a friend of a friend that they know is one case out of thousands. You don't hear about people on assistance who actually need it, use it, and go off it when they don't need it anymore. Why are we so uncaring towards our fellow humans? Why do we believe that it is perfectly acceptable to let people starve and maintain completely unacceptable living conditions (if any at all) while we buy stupid, useless shit to reinforce our status in society? Why do we feel like we can ignore the suffering in the world like it will cure itself? Because that's what we've been taught from birth.
Like gender roles, we've been taught what we should value as citizens of the United States since we were born. We're all born equal, right? We all have equal opportunities.. we all have equal chances at life. If you don't succeed it's not societies fault, it's your own. If that were the case, there would be a lot more "successful" people out there. Unfortunately, we all have shit to overcome (some way more than others).
Ever since I've learned about Socialism I've wondered why people view it as such an awful things. It makes sense to me. I never understood why we didn't do it, why we didn't switch over to that. Why wouldn't we all contribute a larger part of our income and create all these government programs which would benefit everyone? Universal health care and free education come to mind specifically. If everyone truly had an equal opportunity we would have free education. Regardless of the person's economic background, they could attend school. You know, maybe get a career that could benefit society as a whole? Just a suggestion.
So many stories you hear about people having trouble making ends meet stem from some health problem in the family. There is also the large majority who go without ever seeing a doctor because they can't afford it. Are we really sacrificing our health and the possibility of dying or preventing disease because we can't afford it? What message does that send from our government? It says we don't care if you die. All of this affects women the greatest because of our position in society. The majority of single parents are mothers. They are forced to take care of themselves and their children. Women have trouble finding better paying jobs which provide health insurance. Women are denied health insurance for something as simple as a fucking yeast infection. How ridiculous is that?
I believe our inability to establish a Socialist government is rooted in the idea that we would all have equal opportunities. I know equality would not be absolute- class systems would still be in place. Capitalism thrives on inequalities and our ideas of how to divide people are enforced by those in power. Men benefit being above women, white people benefit from being above any other race, and the rich use the poor to make themselves rich. We are taught not to care about those below us, and most of us don't question (or are not allowed to question) those in power. It seriously makes me so sad.
I go through periods of time thinking that I hate everyone because their views are so drastically different from my own. "How can they think they way?", "Oh my god, they're so stupid." And I'm trying really hard to get over it. After I get angry, though, I just get really really sad. I'm sad for my generation and future generations. I'm sad for the suffering of people past. I'm sad that most people don't feel the way I do. I'm sad that I feel so little hope for the future. I'm sad that more people aren't motivated to change things. But mostly.. I'm sad that we can't care about each other.
Quinn and I were talking early today about how illogical it is to say "Oh, it's just a cry for help," referring to someone who cuts themselves or puts out their the pain that they are suffering. Yeah, it is a cry for help.. why don't you feel the need to help them? Why should it ever be "just" a cry for help like that isn't legitimate enough to help them? Should they just learn to internalize and hold back their emotions so they don't make those around them feel uncomfortable? This is just a perfect example of how we are taught to ignore the bad things that go on around us. Being confronted with something like a friend with an eating disorder, or someone suicidal is just too much for us to handle. So instead of helping them.. we ignore them and push them away so they can feel even worse. It makes me really fucking sad.


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