exactly that

Posts tagged ‘sexism’

Examining the Plight of Lady Isolde Guerrin

I have a special place in my heart for Arlessa Isolde.

Arlessa Isolde, a pale woman with blonde hair in a high chignon and her son, Connor, a pale red-haired boy.

I feel like Isolde gets a ragingly bad rap from fandom for the most part. I hear a lot how people choose to let her sacrifice herself because of her annoying voice or because she as a “lying bitch”, which always makes me cringe. Yes, she did lie. Yes, she covered up something dangerous which had dire consequences, and yes, I get a little irritated with the over-dramatic Orlesian accent. That being said, though… I can’t help but wonder how much of the ire directed at Isolde is because she is a woman. A woman who *gasp* makes decisions out of desperation that have terrible results. She has flaws, but for some reason there seems to be a lot about Isolde’s particular flaws that are condemned for reasons that feel very dismissive and, frankly, a bit misogynistic at times. (more…)

“Just A Parent”

I had an interesting experience the other day at the 8-10 year old basketball game here on the USAG. We were watching the game of the son of a friend of our family at which The Kid was cheering with her cheer squad. It was the second game we had attended that day, as Kid cheers at any or all of the games that happen during game days.

During the halftime period of the games the squad does a dance routine that they have been working on to Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”, a favorite of mine, I don’t mind saying. It looks pretty sharp, and I am hoping to get a vid of it up soon(ish), and the Coach has really done a great job putting it together. Of the six and one half minutes of the halftime period they use about two or three. Most of the teams have been gracious to clear the court to allow them their two minutes to perform.

During the last game of the age group, however, one of the teams decided to run layup drills. During the cheerleaders performance the coaches of the basketball team were shouting to their kids, and the kids were running and yelling and dribbling and running back and forth from half court to the hoop. It was really distracting to the team, and in my opinion, it was incredibly disrespectful to the girls.

I took the opportunity to mention it to the director of the Child and Youth Sports Services, a man who is usually sitting in the corner of the gym. With my coffee in hand, I walked over to him at the end of the squad’s routine and leaned to him so as not to be heard by everyone, and mentioned that I just wanted to let him know that I though the team on the court had shown poor taste and disrespect to the cheerleaders.

The director kind of chuckled, and told me that he had no problem focusing on the girls, and that he didn’t think the team was disrespectful at all. I felt that this was beside my point, and a bit dismissive, but I restated my opinion, and told him that I just wanted to let him know what I thought.

He said to me, more sternly, that this was just my opinion, and that I needed to watch how I was talking to him, that it was inappropriate for me to talk to him the way that I was. I asked him what was wrong with voicing an opinion.

He stood up from his chair and leaned over me, being much taller than I am (and I am not a short woman at 67″ tall). He told me “I am the Director of this program, and you are just a parent. You will not speak to me this way, waving your hands about.”

For the record, I do gesticulate a bit when I speak, but I turn my hands in small circles, and for crying out loud, I had a hot coffee in one hand.

He proceeded to tell me just how disrespectful I was being to him, walking up to him and talking to him in front of everyone this way. No matter that he was now yelling at me in front of a gymnasium full of parents and children. He mentioned that we could continue this in his office, to which I agreed, but he never took me to his office. Instead, he moved towards where the cheerleaders and coaches stood, who were now staring at us as he yelled at me.

No matter what I said, he had a dismissive remark to silence me. If I said I had a right to voice a complaint, I was using a disrespectful tone. If I said that the cheerleaders were enrolled in an athletic program just like the basketball players that parents also came to see, he said he had waived the Winter fee (only true for some of them). When I tried to explain that I was merely advocating for them because cheerleading as a sport is disrespected from early on through professional level, he yelled that he has a 20 year-old daughter, that I don’t need to tell him about respect.

My partner came over and extracted me from the situation at this point, because we had to go relieve our friends’ babysitter soon, and my other friend had come over to make sure I was OK, but this man was already storming off, shouting about my attitude and that I could talk to his supervisor. (Believe me, I will) He left me there shaking, glad that I hadn’t agreed to go into an office alone with him.

More so than him yelling at me I was angry at the things that he had yelled at me. Dismissing my concerns outright was infuriating. He could have even simply placated me, a common military tactic (Yes ma’am, I’ll pass that along, or I’ll take that under advisement would do).

Firstly, this man’s job here at USAG would not exist if not for the parents that he seems to hold such contempt for. I got the feeling that what he meant was “mother” who dared to speak out of turn, as he had no problem chatting up the dads, either in uniform or who were volunteer coaches. Obviously I have no real worth after spitting my kid from my loin, but I really was gobsmacked by the way he spit “parent” from his mouth like it tasted bad.

Parenting is an important job. I am not going to go on about the holy sanctity of it being the most sacred of jobs, but it is not to be scoffed at. Daily, when I want to rip my hair out, or actually do, wondering if I am doing a good enough job, or am scrutinized for the job I am doing, or when I have some pre-pubescent behavior issue I am sidelined by, I know that my work is cut out for me.

But, I also know that this man looked at me and decided that I was worthless and that he was automatically nothing. He knows nothing about me, or the other hats I wear despite my womanhood holding me down. How on Earth could I be a Sailor while having ladybits? Veterans don’t have anything but good and sturdy penises, surely. I couldn’t be active in the DAV, or on the PTO (Oops, is that too close to parenting, and therefore not a real thing?) I am a writer, a blogger (but depending on who you ask that doesn’t count either), and a political/social justice activist. I am a disability rights advocate both online and off. All of these things and more, and he waved it away with the narrowing of his eyes at me, and looking down his nose at me as if my State College sweatshirt somehow put me beneath his shoes.

We are not the sum of our titles. We are people, who beings comprised of many things, and we wear titles. It is what we do that matters, how we treat the people around us, ultimately, that matters. Being a director of a program over people you hate somehow doesn’t de facto make you better.

I think I am most angry because for a few fleeting moments I let this man convince me that he was right, that I didn’t matter and that I had done something wrong. But luckily there are good people surrounding me who reminded me that standing my ground the way I did for the right reasons was in no way wrong. That is a relatively new experience for me, and at its most basic, the crux of what I was trying to accomplish. I wanted those girls to know that they have a right to be respected.

 

*sigh*

Great, Dan, But I Think You Missed The Point…

So, LT Dan Choi apparently feels that it is OK to call someone a “pussy” as an insult, as if that is the worst thing you can call someone, when something doesn’t go his way, and then, when someone speaks out against it and criticizes him for it, make a fauxpology saying he is the actual victim here, because he is a survivor of MST himself, and the Service Women’s Action Network was too “over the top” by writing a letter to him demanding he apologize.

That is some real 1 + Blue = Chair logic, and I am not sure I follow it. His reasoning just isn’t getting me from point A to B…

~*~

The thing is, Dan, that you used sexist slurs in your defense of DADT, and you didn’t have to do so. You were wrong. You were a grade A jerk about it, and you are continuing to be. Your fake apology to the Service Women’s Action Network is showing that loud and clear with every tweet you make defending your sexist remarks. And you were awful, on top of it, to a public servant to also worked tirelessly to make the repeal happen.

Lt Choi, as a woman, a Veteran, and a social justice activist who has worked diligently for the repeal of DADT, and who also took the failure of the DAA under which it was attached very very hard, I am gobsmacked, appalled, deeply offended, but not surprised, by your insistence that you were the true victim here. All too often I see people who suffer under one oppression turn to another oppressed group and take their aggression out on that group in order to further their own cause. That is exactly what you have done with your sexist remarks.

I always expect more of my officers, and you should expect more of yourself, sir.

If you insist on wearing your uniform, represent yourself properly while in it. Some of us are no longer allowed to wear it, and resent you disrespecting it with abhorrent behavior in the name of social justice. You are not helping anyone by drawing lines in the sand and alienating those of us who are on your side.

Respectfully,

Brandann,

Veteran,

USN

How To Dress Up Misogyny In Fantasy Fiction

Something that was marked in the “loved” side of the Love-Hate  relationship I have with Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series (which, I don’t care what he says, is a fantasy fiction series, so there. If you didn’t want to write fantasy, you should have picked a different genre, setting, concept, whatever, for your pedantic preaching… I mean, you had a dragon who could speak, and a chicken which was an incarnation of evil) was the variety of characters that showed up throughout the course of the twelve books. Incidentally, it is the longest series I have ever read, and I almost quit in the middle of Faith of the Fallen, regardless of the fact that my favorite character was developed in that particular book.

One strike in the “hate” column, were it possible for me to keep up with the number of things I hated, is the way that Goodkind took incredibly interesting women characters and wrote them into incredible tropes whose sole purpose was to serve the whims of the principle protagonist, who might be the most annoying man I have ever read written into (fantasy) fiction, ever. And I have read some Star Wars fiction, and all of the Twilight books.

I am not sure if it annoyed me more or less that these women characters were from most perspectives, well, awesome. I fell in love with them on most fronts. The first of many, Kahlan, was undoubtedly one of the most unusual characters I’ve ever met in fiction. She was a matriarch of sorts over all of the Midlands with a rare and incredible power.

As a Confessor she commanded respect from everyone who crossed her path, or that was how things were intended to be. Until, that is, she met and fell in love with Richard Cypher, who turned out to be *spoilerspoilerspoiler* the heir to the Rahl line. A woman who is used to having kings and queens bow to her ultimate and unquestionable authority suddenly has her reign usurped by her fiancée and doesn’t seem to mind because she can still rule by his side. Once they are married.

In my mind it was fun to have this woman placed in a position of ultimate power only to have her toppled by the parties of men. Another Queen, who happens to be Kahlan’s sister by a coincidence, is also dethroned, then brutally raped and beaten until she literally goes insane by a group of misogynistic marauding men working for the Ultimate Evil Socialist Baddie (I am not kidding). The women who run the Palace of the Prophets, a group of powerful sorceresses who train young wizards, have their palace usurped and destroyed out from under them. This theme did not go unnoticed. /digression

Kahlan’s father taught her everything he knew about war and survival, and as a result she knew how to train young soldiers who were outnumbered greatly and spent more time leading armies than Richard — who was prophesied to lead the final battle against the great Socialist Evil. But love conquers all, right? When Richard decides that he must throw out the laws of the old Midlands and unite them under D’Hara (even though it doesn’t work), Kahlan, flinching momentarily, does anything she can to support Richard. Goodkind even goes to great pains to show her failing when she goes against Richard’s advice — even though it doesn’t make sense given her educational background, her personality, or the strength of her character and her power. One of the most absurd aspects of the story is that some of the greatest power she wields can only be invoked on behalf of Richard. And that particular point is never fully explained. I will never be able to fully explain all the ways that I loved Kahlan so much, and was so disappointed and frustrated at the same time with how her character was written.

I don’t know, though, if it measures up to the way that I became righteously indignant in behalf of Nicci. When Nicci was first introduced, I wasn’t aware that I would ever see Nicci again since she seemed to be an aside character, one of those cardboard cutouts who serve as a momentary evil tool of the devil Keeper of the Underworld. Then I was remotely aware that she would turn up again — the whole “I’m going to kill Richard” thing gave it away — but didn’t imagine that she would develop to the point that I would find her the most amazing person in the series. Hands down.

But.

Nicci spent the last third of the series being a martyr for Richard’s needs. Worrying about Richard’s health. What was best for Richard. Sleepless weeks studying ancient tomes because Richard doesn’t know squat about his own abilities, and Nicci has more than enough for three wizards and five sorceresses. In spite of Richard knowing exactly jack about being a wizard he magically is able to pull miraculous theory out of his arse so he can save Nicci’s life. Save. Her. Life. Because the most contrived plot points meant to show that Richard can do anything no matter how many times these incredibly educated women attempt to teach him anything, he instantly proves them wrong in the most amazing ways.

During the last third of the series, Nicci is constantly being shoved to Richard as a love interest, with whom she has fallen in love but is trying to keep that feeling buried, and she goes to great pains to help him in whatever way he needs because of this. She makes herself a sacrifice to Richard, and in the end, she is fulfilled because Richard is happy, even if it almost kills her in the process. She takes on heroic acts of selflessness because it doesn’t matter if she dies so long as the thing that makes Richard happy and successful comes to fruition. These things just don’t add up to her character development.

The Mord-Sith, Cara, who is sworn to Richard’s side is one of the most feared women in all the Midlands, known for the legendary torture that turns her into a weapon for the Lord Rahl. After Richard becomes the great hero who sets all Mord-Sith free, Cara chooses to be his personal guard. Now, Cara is badass, even as the lore created by Goodkind — who has no problem describing the torture and abuse of women as a plot device to show how horrible a bad guy can be — is as fascinating to me as it is triggering and problematic. Tougher than iron spikes and determined to show you that no man can scare her let alone better her at anything, the thanks Cara gets for throwing her life in front of danger for Richard’s protection is Richard’s insistence that she needs to be “more feminine”. Somehow her lack of desire to swaddle babies and feed squirrels makes her less feminine, because there is obviously only one definition. Cara is the stereotype of “strong female character” in that she is supposed to be the “anti-female” or something, but she is witty and clever and endearing, but there is a never-ending side-story to make her into a better, softer woman.

The series is rife with graphic descriptions of violence against women. Rape and gory death drawn out in great detail. A serial killer who rapes and strangles prostitutes to ensure that everyone knows that they are less than human. A man who cuts off the nipples of women to control them with magic. Rape scene after rape scene described to ensure you know just how evil someone is. Women reduced to sex slaves by the “bad guy”. Combined with subtle message after little detail that ensures you know that gender roles are expected not only in the Midlands, D’Hara, and all of the New World, but in the heart of the philosophy that is being pounded by the beaten horse in this Randian-lite crap, the utter contempt that Terry Goodkind has for women shines through in what would have been an incredibly enjoyable series.

And I’ve only scratched the surface. I’d have to go, book by book, to get more in-depth.

It baffles me the way that someone can write incredible women with depth and amazing attributes and still demonstrate a full-on hatred for them with the stories and plots written out for them. The way their lives unfold and the arcs stretch on, at times, made me weep with anger. To this day I can’t figure out how I can hate a series so much and enjoy it at the same time.

So these are the family values we teach our kids?

That the value of a woman is her looks, and that her looks are yours to judge.

In his exciting new expert’s dating guide, 9 year old Alec Grevin shows us not only that he has the intricacies of relationships down, but also that misogyny is something cute and adorable to be chuckled at and laughed off as boyish play.

The fourth-grader from Castle Rock, Colo., advises Lothario wannabes to stop showing off, go easy on the compliments to avoid looking desperate – and be wary of “pretty girls.”

“It is easy to spot pretty girls because they have big earrings, fancy dresses and all the jewelry,” he writes in Chapter Three.

“Pretty girls are like cars that need a lot of oil.”

He advises, “The best choice for most boys is a regular girl. Remember, some pretty girls are coldhearted when it comes to boys. Don’t let them get to you.”

Charming.

But at least he is getting a bookdeal two book deals out of it.

Way to go to this boy’s parents, who have failed to teach him how to treat people fairly and respect women.

Someone has been playing way too many oldies at home (and the video makes me chuckle, and the only one to this song that didn’t make me want to vomit, but it immediately came to mind when I read about this boy’s book).

Oh, apparently he has a follow-up sure to be hit, How to Talk to Moms, which I am sure is going to be full of respectful and charming tidbits about dealing w/ women as people, and not pawns to be manipulated.

h/t to Renee

When Sexism Hits Close to Home

I did not have a conventional childhood.  Hell, I don’t have a conventional family.  It wasn’t until I was well into my teens that I realized that not every child grows up next door to Grandma and Grandpa, w/ their aunties and uncles w/in walking distance.  My entire extended family lives right in the same 40 mile radius of beautiful Northern Michigan (and when I say Northern, I am not talking about Traverse City or anything on Lake Michigan, I mean actual above the bridge, bordering Canada, my home town being one of the twin cities, the other being in Ontario North.  Da UP, eh!).  I didn’t know that families don’t always work together, and that Friday nights were not always spent running lines while your uncles stripped nets for repair.  My family was not what McCain and Palin picture when they talk about “American Families”.  I spent a few years living w/ my grandparents, and a couple w/ an aunt and uncle while my mom went to school and corrections officer training.  But there is one thing that I can tell you my family has in common w/ every other family out there.

Sexism hurts them.

And a lot times we don’t even see it b/c it is so ingrained in the way our families run. (more…)

Something to get your week going…

This video from SNL that Melissa posted at Shakesville today is hilarious.  I can’t embed it here, so please follow the link to enjoy it.

I want to also note that I think Melissa’s comments about this video are important:

 

There are a few things about this sketch I don’t like—and they’re mostly in the “irony so ahead of the culture that people are laughing at what they think is the joke (sexism) as opposed to what’s meant to be the joke (making fun of sexists)”

 

This is important as you watch this.  I get it.  I get it b/c I follow Tina Fey.  She is made of win (plus her Sarah Palin is dead-fucking-on, w/ an accent so perfect my own started to come out).  I get it b/c I listen for it.  I get it b/c I know that we are at a time when these conversations need to happen.  I get it b/c I live it, and I find it filling my life every day.

I think if you pay attention that you will see that Fey and Poehler are hitting the message squarely, even if it flies over the head of most of the people who will/need to see it.

ETA:  Here is a transcript, and thanks for those who linked to it. (more…)

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