Thursday, March 27, 2014


There are certain things that Forgein Affairs, as a publication, just does badly.  One of them is issues about technology.  The articles are either to basic, explaining concepts that I already understand, or just dull.  Just a couple of issues ago there was a coverstory about the rise of big data.  Big data is really boring.  This issue is devoted to technology articles and some were better than the average.  However, I've already read the whole thing and I still have a month to go so I had to shlep out of Barns and Noble to pick up another Journal so I'd have something to read during lunch.  The alternative is un-fucking-aceptable.  I decided on the Journal of International Affairs.  This quater's issue is about the gender issue which is a clever play on words cause this is an issue of a...yeah never mind.

I haven't read anything from it yet but all the other choices were about regions of the world I'm not particularly interested in.  Then again I am not particularly interested in the gender issue either.  The issue of gender is one of those things that is so needlessly over complex that I find myself baffled as to how we could of possibly of gotten this way.  I can already tell that the journal doesn't even attempt to integrate trans issues and that might be for the best.  I mean there are people out there who still believe it is their god given right to beat their wives.  There is just so much baggage wrapped up in women's issues and so much of it doesn't matter.

So lets keep this Amerocentric because that's where I am and I am going to talk about a few things.  In no particular order.

Man: Will you sleep with me?
Woman: No.
Man: You are a slut

Variations of this exchange keep happening and it is one of those things that deeply upsets me.  It isn't just because the exchange itself makes no god damned sense but it still happens.  However, it has less to do with actual gender and more to do with stupid pride.  To explain.  Since the guy just got turned down he's hurt and prolly more than a little embarassed especially if his friends are around.  So he says something hurtful.  He doesn't go full bore by saying cunt because that might make matters much worse for him.  Instead he opts for a middle of the road gender specific insult.  The fact that his insult doesn't make any sense is irrelevant.  All that matters is that he needs to snap back, maintain pride and walk away.

Does this make it any less hurtful?  No.  Does this excuse his behavior?  Actually it makes his behavior even worse.  To just offhandly snap back at someone who turns you down is the behavior of a poorly raised child.  Instead of exercising self control and conducting ones self with a little bit of dignity the man just says something offensive even if it is, linguisticly speaking, gibberish, it still has the intended effect of keeping himself feeling good at the expense of someone else.  The problem is that this response demonstrates a complete lack of respect for the woman to begin with.  It is the, "I am willing to be marginally nice to get what I want and then we are done".  The woman represents a potential for physical satisfaction and little else.   Which is why she is so easily discarded.

It is also hurtful because she is the one who is approached and then is essentially thrust into a no win situation.  She is provided with two options that she may or may not have been asking for.  She could of just been minding her own business which ends in unwanted attention.

Unwanted attention is actually the thing that made me realize that I could never ever properly be a feminist.  There are things that I take for granted.  Simple things that are regularly denied women.  Take sovereignty over one's physical space.  It is a simple matter for a guy to not deal with unwanted physical contact.  After all for the most part it simply doesn't happen.  When a man wants people to back off it generally happens. The most frequent argument I hear about not wanting to go to a gay club is, "I don't want some dude to hit on me".  Essentially they don't want to be treated the way they treat women and I mean I don't blame them.  Who would want that.  As I watched women receive unwanted attention time and time again I realize that if it we me I could just shout "fuck off" and it would work.  Most women aren't so lucky.  Most of the women I've talked to about this topic tend to just brush it off.  Just like I take my physical sovereignty for granted most of them believe that being pestered constantly is just the part of being in the world.   As a result I can be at most a male dissident.

When I first heard the term it pissed me off to no end.  He it still does.  Male Dissident makes me sound like a second class citizen in a movement about equality.  I mean how fucked up is that?  The truth is that it is fucked up.  However, part of making the world a better place is to recognize where the problems are and just not pretending that everything is fine.  No I can not nor will I ever truly be able to understand what it is like to be a woman.  At best I can make an educated guess and that guess is so narrow that it is all but useless.  Women are a gender.  The take up a little bit more than half of the population.  Any number of them will react in different ways to any number of things.  They all have different priorities, wants, needs, goals, problems, and their own versions of solutions.  Coor it is almost like they was people yeah?  See that's the problem with things like Women's Studies writing about gender, and discussing the topic in general.  The human mind's ability to reduce complex problems into manageable parts is astonishing.  However, this isn't always a good thing.  It is how we get conspiracy theories after all.  It is also how we loose a lot of detail.  The problem with women's issue is that the details are the most important part.  The more we reduce the worse our arguments get but we can't make arguments without reduction and around and around it goes.  Part of it an inherent flaw in the essay format.  Part of it is an inherent flaw in the way we think.

Over the years I've solved most of my moral/ethical quandaries by putting the people first.  If I have a friend in front of me who needs help with something then I am going to help my friend before I spit my beliefs in their face.  The individual is more important than a series of abstract ideals.  Let's take trans folk because they always get left out of gender conversations because as I said earlier there is a fanatical need to reduce the complexity of ideas.  I meet a guy they prefer to be refered to as she...well why the fuck not?  I mean it costs me literally nothing to change their gender pronoun and it makes them happy and more comfortable to be themselves.  There is no reason not to do it other than, "It is weird..." however, does that mean that you should prioritize your discomfort over their's?    To me the answer is overwhelmingly no.  I am not religious.  But I do know that I was not put here on this earth to make it a worse place for other people.  With that as a core belief I move forwards and I let it dictate my actions.  When it counts I am kind, even to those who don't deserve it.  And if I need to do something simple like change a pronoun to make someone happy then I am more than willing to do it.

I want to touch on the pay gap really quick before eating frosted flakes and watching star trek.  The pay gap is a hold over from our bosses screwing us over.  At work, at any work talking about pay is a firerable offense and rightly so.  After all then the corporate structure doesn't have to fess up to the massivily shitty way they treat their employees.  This is something that crosses gender lines however, the gender pay gap is what brought the issue to light.  I know that there are people who have been hired years after me who make as much or more than I do.  However, I can't call my bosses on it because if I did then it would demonstrate that I've been discussing pay which is a firable offense.  See how that works?  It gets much nastier on the lower end of the scale like retail jobs where raises are mostly just cost of living adjustments and nothing more.  Taking down our bosses is a discussion for another time though.  I think I am finally hungry.  Fuck body get an eating schedule.

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