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  • Let’s Make Humans Funny Again

    Bigotry comes naturally to all of us. When we can joke about others, we’re not slaughtering them in caves Image by Jakaria Islam from Pixabay Homo Sapiens is a fearful species. Possibly genocidal since we left Africa, anthropologists and archaeologists note that with every migration into a new land, an extinction of most native species occurred shortly thereafter. This may have included our human rivals. The Neanderthals and Denisovans also disappeared with the arrival of us. We’ve uncovered countless millennia-old suspected murder victims. Like Otzi the Iceman, who died of an arrow to the back 5,000 years ago. They got him good. He probably wouldn’t have survived even with modern immediate medical attention. Image by bastiaan from Pixabay The oldest so far is a 430,00-year-old Homo Sapiens — that’s us, folks! — in a Spanish cave. A reconstructed ancestral skull contains two holes unlikely to have happened by accident. There once were no fewer than nine human species in the world, up until about 10,000 years ago. Then they all disappeared around the same time, coinciding with the appearance of Guess Who. And no, not the old hippie band. We emerged from Africa newer, smarter, and better prepared to adapt. It was a game of Ten Little Indians, starting at nine. Nine human, eight human, seven human species, six human, five human, four human species… There’s no corresponding event to otherwise augment or explain the systematic disappearances. Not climate change, nor a pandemic (which likely wouldn’t have reached some of the more remote species), nor famine. There isn’t hard evidence for genocide theory, but if you follow the trail of victims, where Homo Sapiens moved, the Others, the animals, and the land all died off. We may have good reason to fear each other, even if it’s a chicken-and-egg condundrum: Do we fear Others because a few prehistoric assholes started it all, or are we proactively bigoted against anyone we don’t understand? One wonders how interspecific humanity might have fared if they had comedians back then. Something which has never occurred since time immemorial — a young woman did not fart on her husband’s lap. — The world’s oldest recorded fart joke, by some anonymous Sumerian wit, circa 1900 BC I explored the Left’s gelotophobia in my last article. Humor: Why The Left Fears It So Much Other primate species share our ability to laugh and it emerges in infants in the first few months. Researchers theorize laughter emerged to create social bonding, especially after humans organized into more complex societies. If another can make you laugh, you’ll feel more kindly toward her. Laughter triggers a stress- and tension-relieving endorphin rush. It relieves pain, strengthens our immune system and encourages a sense of belonging. Which leaves humor rather like The Force: It can be used for evil as well as good. Laughing at others with others creates bonding; laughing at them without them creates harsh division. Key & Peele: Make fun of everything! I guess you had to have been there. The comedy duo Key & Peele, in a 2014 Time Magazine op-ed article, argued for the right to Make Fun Of Everything without a bunch of politically correct pretend-to-do-gooders jumping all over comedians’ asses. Make Fun Of Everything — Key & Peele They note how how rendering others ‘untouchable’ is exclusionary. It becomes, however unintentional, a form of bullying. One wonders who’s truly uncomfortable with others who aren’t like them: The person cracking wise about them in their presence or the politically correct with their patronizing assumption If you want to read it first, go ahead, it's a quickie. I’ll wait. that the other group is too weak-spirited to laugh at itself, or too stupid even to know it’s happening? Permission to laugh What the politically correct’s Nervous Nancys don’t understand is how humor takes fear’s power. What they think are jokes about race or other differences often poke fun not at differences but bigotry. The Canadian comedian Russell Peters endlessly jokes to highly diverse audiences about race, culture, religion, and accents, in a country where accusations of racism are more shameful than actual racism. “I want to see white people preserved. If white people go missing, who the f**k are we gonna blame?” Audiences know it’s okay to laugh because his targets are laughing along with him. The outsider shows us what’s funny about our tribe. Like stereotypes. We know they’re harmful, but they originate from a place of observed commonality. Laughing at stereotypes isn’t the same as laughing at people, but the intent of the humorist makes a difference. ‘Russell Peters can make fun of white people because he’s a member of the oppressed minority,’ the Humor Not-zis inform us, referring to the comedian’s Indian roots. Peters’s pedigree is a valid point. Humor punches up (at those in power) and sideways (at those on your own level), but when you punch down it’s cruelty pretending to be ‘just a joke’. A white comedian can’t get away with the Spanish accent imitation or celebratory salsa steps Peters dances to illustrate someone mistaking him for a fellow Latino. Peters jokes about addressing a Hispanic guy who doesn’t speak much English and imitates the slower mental process the other guy goes through to respond. ‘Hello,’ translate it into his head — ‘Hello — — equals — — ¡Hola! — — reply with — — ‘Hello!’ I laugh not because I think he’s making the Spanish guy look stupid, but because it’s the exact same process — and likely facial expression — I go through when someone speaks French to me. Slow down, Jeanne-Marie! My brain ain’t Google Translate! I feel a kinship with the Hispanic guy — a fellow human who also speaks a second language poorly. One of us! One of us! I love Bad Translation humor sites like Why are so many of them Chinese-to-English? Chinese is the most complex language, spoken for millennia, with thousands of pictogram characters backed by an ancient culture. Greater mistranslations with far more modern English are bound to occur, especially by a translator not as fluent in the target language, or a poor machine translation. I regret I can’t see the Chinese versions of making fun of English translations of Asian languages. I’ll bet they’re hilarious! What’s their own equivalent of All your base are belong to us? Apparently they’ve got too much as it is. By Wright — Own work, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 Can white people ever make fun of out-groups? Maybe targeting hypocrisy, which is like privilege: When you have it, you can’t see it, and you need others to call it out. Not everyone has privilege, but we’ve all got hypocrisy! So I think it’s possible, but I’m not sure any white comedians are doing it, at least well. Those who argue hypocrisy-busting humor is an excuse to put others down are often just embarrassed when some of their own designated ‘untouchables’ get called out. Or even worse, themselves. If I laugh, am I racist? The Canadian author, humorist, and First Nations playwright Drew Hayden Taylor noted Canadian whites’ need for ‘permission’ to laugh at ethnic humor. In one of his Funny, You Don’t Look Like One: Observations From A Blue-Eyed Ojibway books, he describes what happened when his Indigenous-focused comedy Bootlegger Blues played to an audience of First Nations and white people. As the play unfolded, no one laughed except for the Indigenes. Then a few whites carefully laughed, and then a few more, and then everyone laughed, once they understood they weren’t ‘racist’. In the months and early years after 9/11, when tensions between Americans and Muslims were bowstring-taut, Muslim comedians mocked it all — the terrorists from their own cultures, the hypocritical imams, the ignorant Americans who didn’t know a turban from a derby, who jumped out of their skin every time a brown guy belched. Nothing quite like calling out the stupidest American foibles: Terrorist bigotry and the victims’ bigoted response. Canadian Muslim Zarqa Nawaz responded to mid-oughts Islamophobia with her hilarious sitcom Little Mosque On The Prairie, about a small Saskatchewan community of Muslims with a mosque in the basement of a Christian church. Racism and Islamophobia looked pretty damn silly, and Muslims much less scary when, in the fine tradition of Key & Peele, they made fun of everything, including themselves. Their multicolored lampoon included a Rush Limbaugh-caricature radio host; a redneck farmer always on the lookout for terrorist activity; a retired imam with conservative extremist views; and, quite sweetly, a warm friendship between a younger imam and a Christian minister. Babar from Little Mosque On The Prairie: Islamic extremism never looked sillier! When we’re laughing with each other we’re not laughing at each other, which leads to fewer cave slaughters. Being a part of the tribe means protection; fundamental to survival. No human punishment is worse than ostracism. Audience members want to be included when Mexican comedian Fluffy riffs on everybody. Fluffy describes Germans who aggressively demanded he include them in his riff on people from differing countries and what they like to drink. His answer’s really pushing it! Starts at 5:24. Properly and vigilantly wielded, humor unites, rather than divides. What we can laugh at makes us stronger, not weaker. Let’s make humans funny again The overly-humorless make me wonder: What are they trying to hide? What are they afraid people will see? The right terrorizes with violence, but the left’s terrorism is professional and personal destruction on social media when they don’t like a joke, or even a thought. Righteousness is the mighty fortress of the cyberbully. Making others cower before your world-class hissy fit over an ill-considered tweet distracts from one’s own personal bigotries. If people see you thundering against someone you’ve identified as ‘transphobic’, then you can pretend to yourself that while you’re personally okay with transfolk, you wouldn’t want your kid to marry one. You keep them safely Over There where they can’t actually harm you. Because, you know, transgenders might try to steal your mammoth meat or your mate or something. We live in dark times with an uncertain future, and far-left gelotophobia prevents us from blurring our differences and bonding in the camaraderie of knowing fark it, we’re hilarious! Not everyone will find it so but what makes us laugh won’t kill us. Or more importantly, each other. You don’t have to be French or speak French to get the humor, but it helps! I love this. He nails us. This first appeared on Medium in February 2021.

  • If A Man Ogles A Woman And She Doesn’t Notice, Has She Been Harassed?

    When people are jerks, do we increase our own suffering with our own layered mis/interpretations? “If you put that picture of me on the Internet I’ll call my lawyer!” So of course that’s exactly where it wound up. Read the funny story behind this photo by Thomas Hawk on Flickr I read many of stories about crappy male and/or white behavior, some threatening, some anger-provoking, some seemingly banal like the woman who was stopped by a creepy guy who wanted her to see his cute puppy. I guess it would have made more impact if she’d been, like, twelve, but she was a grown-up in no danger. Some days you just don’t have much to write about! Another pedestrian story detailed a woman accosted in a largely non-threatening manner by middle-aged drunk guys on a subway. They got off at her stop and followed her for a bit, catcalling and in general being obnoxious boors as drunk people are wont to do. She shut down the comments for being vile and hateful, as you might expect, although it looked as though at least a few of her critics simply called her out for overreacting and overgeneralizing, which is what I wanted to comment, with less snark. Not because she felt unsafe and took precautions to ward off what might turn violent, but I did wonder why she wouldn’t ever wear that same dress again (they never touched her), or why she interpreted it as a personal assault on herself and everything she’d accomplished in life, how it meant nothing now. Seriously? A few drunken assholes on a subway sitting opposite a pretty woman showing a little cleavage acted thoughtlessly in the moment, not mounting a full-on patriarchal assault on female workplace success and progress. She’s thinking, “Everything I’ve ever worked for means nothing. They’ve reduced me down to a mere object and completely dehumanized me. They’re threatened by everything I stand for and they clearly hate women. It’s just another example of how entitled male privilege works together to keep women oppressed and in their place as convenient sperm receptacles.” And they’re thinking, “Yeah! Tits!” Incidents like this happen to women all the time, and sometimes they sound genuinely threatening. Other times it reads like a slow morning on Medium. They’ve happened to me too. But I can’t remember most of them. Unless they were particularly memorable or threatening, I pretty much forget about them. I’m not thinking They’re dehumanizing me! as much as The world is full of assholes seeking to make someone’s life miserable today. Hey, Nicole, here you are, you’ll do! I’m quite sure I’ve experienced a lot more street harassment than the few incidents I can recount. It’s entirely possible I missed a lot of them. I don’t pay much attention to others around me, to the point where I almost got hit by a bus when I first moved to Toronto. When I’m on the subway I read. Zen feminist koan: If a man ogles a woman and she doesn’t notice, has she been harassed? I wonder if any of my ghost harassers hoped to intimidate me and I disappointed by not even noticing their existence. Once I looked up to find a man staring directly at me. He didn’t, as many Toronto men do, look away immediately, terrified they’ll be subjected to a feminist rant. I went back to my book and gave him no further thought. Well, maybe one. Bloody immigrant! He was from one of those countries and hadn’t yet learned you can’t treat women in Canada the way you do back home. But I didn’t care enough to say anything. He wasn’t worthy of my attention. My book engrossed me. I suppose another woman would have gone home in high dudgeon and posted an angry Facebook rant or, if she felt especially like being abused by anonymous misogynists, on Twitter. Or she might have felt genuinely threatened and hurried home, heart pounding. I can’t fault her. My life, and my world aren’t as traumatized as other women’s have been. The ogler posed no threat to me, and I don’t know why he stared. Likely he was some random clueless noob who didn’t know any better, or maybe he hoped to intimidate me, or see if he could get away with more (making me wonder what he might have done had I acted scared or nervous under his gaze — i.e., a potential victim). Last summer someone told me they’d seen me walk down the street many times and men’s heads turned to watch. I never noticed. I’m usually staring at the sidewalk, lost in thought or, more pointlessly, worrying about silly crap. Now that I know it happens — I still don’t look around to see who might be ogling me, as I have a lot of pointless worrying to do. Or I might be laser-focused on feeding the ducks in the park. Is it harassment if you don’t notice? Sometimes we find ways to make incidents worse. We layer our own interpretations and narratives on top of it. We especially do this when we mentally impugn someone’s character or imagine we can read their minds and intentions, like with subway drunks. How did mildly lecherous assholes turn into a Patriarchal Hit Squad? What would I have done? Depending on my mood, I might have engaged with them a bit. “So, you boys look like you were out having fun tonight. Where did you go?” I’d have had my nose in the book. Might have looked up, said, “Hey, I’ve had a long night too, I want to read my book, ‘kay, guys?” Maybe they would have continued being unpleasant and I too would have hurried off the car and done my best to disappear into the night. But, I would have arrived home mildly annoyed and I might, at most, post a funny Facebook rant about drunken idjits on the subway. I’d have forgotten about it by the weekend. Here’s the thing: The world really is full of assholes and you only think you know why they’re being an asshole to you: They hate wo/men They hate your race They hate your (obvious) religious affiliation You look like their ex-spouse/evil mother/father/asshole boss They’re having a really bad day but their response is to give some random passing schmuck (hey, it’s your unlucky day!) some extraneous crap rather than go home and watch funny YouTube videos They suffer from genuine mental health problems They’re up to their ass in pandemic-related unemployment, depression and stress and their brains aren’t functioning properly. Assholes come in many varieties. Photo by cottonbro from Pexels None of these are good reasons to give an innocent stranger crap, but their mysterious reason for harassing you could be any of these things, and utterly unrelated to you, your life, or whatever you’ve interpreted it to mean. There’s uncalled-for suffering, and then there’s cranking up your response worse with cognitive distortions and misinterpretations. We aren’t mind-readers. We need to remember this. The writer on the subway was white, as were, I assume, her inebriated fan club. What if she’d been black and they hadn’t said anything specifically racial? She might interpret it as racist nevertheless, which she might not have done if her harassers were black. It’s why I dislike debates about ‘microaggressions’. Sure, they’re real and they happen — but perhaps not as much as we think. Another Zen koan: If the other person didn’t intend to ‘microaggress’ against you, and didn’t even know they upset you, were you truly microaggressed? We take a bad, or a mildly annoying situation, and make it worse speculating what the other person was doing/thinking/believing/seeing. I wonder if the ‘offense’ we think we incurred is against ourselves. Our thoughts are real, but our beliefs aren’t. — Tara Brach, Buddhist teacher I’ve been creating stress and drama for myself obsessing over how much I think I’m screwing up on the job. I work with various clients for a freelance sales agency and I’m forever convinced I’m screwing up, I’m a pain in the ass to everyone, I’m not doing right by the clients, they hate me and think I’m doing an awful job and will ask I be removed forthwith so someone who knows what the hell they’re doing can get some real shit done. And every damn time I’m in a meeting with the folks who run the business, without my asking like a neurotic insecure mess, they tell me how much the clients love me and how they wish they had more freelancers like me. How they stick me on campaigns someone else got removed from at the client’s request. Why do I think everyone thinks I do a lousy job? I asked myself. It didn’t take too long to identify the culprit. There’s only one person who really thinks I’m an idiot. Imposter Syndrome, big-time. I create a lot of my own suffering. I tell myself toxic stories and I believe them. I’ve been at war with myself for at least twenty years, and even before, I was my own worst frenemy. Often I felt good about myself but never too good. Some nasty person in the back of my head told me I suck. I’m an idiot. I’m not worthy. I call the bitch ‘The Terminator’. I tell myself toxic stories about others, too, but less about random strangers. If some guy gives me crap on the street, I shrug it off and throw him in the Asshole container in my brain. It doesn’t do me any good to take it personally. I can choose not to. I can choose not to add to some uncalled-for drama by telling myself the person was misogynist, or racist, or jealous of me. I sure as shit don’t need to be telling myself they’ve negated everything I’ve ever worked for. It’s bullshit. It’s oppression I created by myself, for myself. Even if they do say something misogynist, or racist, or otherwise nasty, I can choose to say The hell with him or her, s/he’s just a stupid misogynist/racist/hater, etc. The best revenge can be to totally not give a fuck. I don’t always do it, of course. Sometimes assholes strike a nerve and I react. I get mad. I obsess about it, nagging it like a dog with a bone — and it’s how I make it worse. S/he accomplished their goal, to make my life worse, with my help. What I should have said. What I should have done. Woulda-shoulda-coulda. Sometimes I have to consciously put it behind me and think, “Nicole, you have more important things to do than worry what some jerk said or did. What do you care what s/he thinks?” Buddhism teacher Tara Brach says, “Our thoughts are real, but our beliefs aren’t.” Put this on when you’re doing mindless chores. Tara Brach rocks!!! The lady on the subway’s experience with drunks was real, along with her fearful reaction. What wasn’t was the interpretation she layered over it, increasing her suffering. Really, how did this become a patriarchal commentary on everything she’s accomplished in life? She made that shit up. Maybe it’s what those guys thought, but I doubt it, and I’m quite certain she’s not a mindreader. We want to make sense of our environment and why things happen to us. The human brain forever looks for meaning in patterns — in clouds, onion buns, personal interactions. The ancients believed the gods gave them messages via animal entrails, tea dregs, the way the birds flew. More often than not, it means far less than we think. The grill accidentally created an image of Jesus. The serpent cloud isn’t an evil omen. I’m reading the leaves at the bottom of your cup and prophesying you’re ready for a refill. The clients don’t think I’m an idiot. My friends don’t think I’m a loser. My family doesn’t think I’m not good enough. Only one person thinks all those toxic thoughts about me, and she’s a real superbitch. I’ve begun challenging her. I’ve begun stopping her from her favorite thought, “Nicole, you idiot…” The problem is she’s said it so often, and for so long, I believe her. Often, the stories we tell in our heads are more indicative of the storyteller than the person who caused our grief. Who’s the real microaggressor in our lives? This first appeared on Medium in March 2021.

  • When Feminists Make It Harder to ‘Believe Women’

    How can we be sure she was raped if she doesn’t understand the difference between ‘consent’ and ‘rape’? Victim feminists. They’re so cute when they play at being grownups, less so when they’re infantilizing women. CC0 image from Pxhere Have you seen the movie where George Clooney’s character gets raped by a woman? Up In The Air (2009) is the story of a corporate ‘downsizer’ (Clooney) hired to fire people by companies too wussy to do it themselves. His character begins an affair with a fellow uber-traveler and later learns she’s married. She rejects him, calling what they had merely ‘an escape’. Some feminist intellectuals now argue that if a man lies to a woman to get sex, he’s committing ‘sexual fraud’ and that it may constitute rape; can she truly consent if he lies to her? Well… That means Clooney’s character, and his real-world counterparts, were raped, since women also lie about marital status and other ‘sexual fraud’ details to get what they want out of men. Do we agree these women are, therefore, rapists? How badly do we want these ‘rapists’ punished? “It’s not really rape!” I read an article here by a woman considering the opinions of these feminist intellectuals, musing that perhaps she’d been ‘raped’ by a guy who lied about not having a girlfriend. She gave sexual consent believing he was fully single. She fell for him, and got hurt. In the olden days we recognized you had to be careful because sometimes men lie to get laid. In certain legal eagle minds, I guess, it now constitutes ‘rape’. To be fair, the writer wrote from the perspective of not having made up her mind, and she considered alternative views offered in some of the comments she received. I was gratified to see a woman willing to consider challenges to her opinion without getting defensive, by agreeing that this or that response was food for thought. Yay for rational feminism! But the idea that ‘rape by deception’ (a genuine legal issue) can now include minor lies is troubling. The justice system handles ‘rape by deception’ where real lasting damage occurs — an STD, an unwanted pregnancy, or what happened to a very close friend of mine — death by AIDS, when his partner ‘stealthed’ him by removing the condom. But ‘rape by deception’ because s/he lied about their singlehood status? I find it deeply troubling. The damage was she got hurt. Not her fault but part of growing up romantically and equal risk for all. I thought, “Every incel, MRA, Trumper, and sexual predator can point to this and say, “See? Women don’t even know the difference between consent and rape! How many women are calling what’s nothing more than a bad sexual experience rape?” That’s exactly how it looks. To me, too. Why it’s still so hard to ‘believe the woman’ I must wonder where all those high ‘rape statistics’ come from. I’m serious. This is how feminist intellectual abrogation of female responsibility casts doubt on rape claims. We make almost glacial progress attempting to treat rape and sexual assault as seriously as they merit, and certain feminists aren’t helping. In fact, they’re hurting the effort. Holding it back. Historically, women subjected to rape or sexual assault haven’t been believed, or worse, blamed. Twentieth-century feminism challenged this, beginning with Susan Brownmiller’s seminal work Against Our Will, which dragged rape out of the back alley and into our dinner party conversations. At some point in the late ’80s and early ’90s, overeager feminists, working to remove the ‘blame the victim’ stigma, began treating women as though they had little agency and were never responsible for their decisions. Some explicitly said activist efforts needed to keep the focus completely on men, the gender overwhelmingly responsible for rape. The unfortunate consequence has been to ignore the woman’s role, assuming near-helplessness, and work toward a feminist fantasy utopia where somehow, magically, men stop raping. Some good came out of it: We debate consent, and how it’s given, and whether it’s given. An unconscious woman didn’t consent just because she didn’t struggle or say no. Even if fully conscious, she didn’t necessarily consent if a man was pushing himself on her, and she feared what would happen if she did say no (‘grey rape’). Consent debate resulted in a more fine-tuned legal environment and clearer restrictions for loophole-seeking sexual predators. Women’s perceived helplessness accelerated when some suggested there should be regular ‘check-ins’ even throughout whatever act participants engage in. Although the conversation regularly framed around ‘partners’, without specifying who should be asking who, one wonders for whom these sexual Best Practices were for. It’s hard to imagine they were meant for men who might change their mind in the middle of a blowjob, afraid to tell the woman to stop. It suggested women were so prone to changing their mind, so easily intimidated while a man is pumping above them in an originally 100% consensual act, that she can’t speak up and say stop if she’s really feeling uncomfortable. Which kind of makes you wonder whether a man can suddenly turn into a ‘rapist’ because the woman changed her mind and didn’t say so. Or explicitly. That said, men have abused the consent concept, without question. A friend once told me his brother bragged he’d anally raped two separate women and gotten away with it. It started out with consensual vaginal sex and turned into something else. He did it knowing how it would sound in court. Arguing a new level of consent, where the woman can claim she was ‘raped’ because the guy lied about something, may discourage women from becoming sexually responsible adults. If women have ‘agency’, they also have responsibility, including being quite clear before the clothes come off what they want, who they want, when they want, and how they want it. Denying this infantilizes women and their choices far more effectively than any ‘patriarchy’. Muddying the consent waters with frivolous ever-broadened rape definitions make it more difficult to ‘believe women’ when they ‘tell their truths’. Rape is about real force or threat, not a woman who got played by a guy, or who made a simple mistake. Instead of beating herself up over it, she can learn from it. She can date more wisely. “Nuh-uh. I’ve seen this movie before, I know how it ends.” Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels Did he force her or did she just get played? We pay a lot of lip service to ‘female agency’ but don’t like it so much when it backfires. A woman’s agency is sacred when she decides what to do about her accidental pregnancy, but flies from certain feminist minds when she exhibits poor judgment in sexual partners, perhaps due understandably to youth and inexperience. We’ve come to a point in our First World privileged lives where we believe every wrong done to us must be legally addressed. The legal definition of consent broadens as victim feminists, perhaps in denial of their own fear of female power, self-determination, and sexual responsibility, not to mention that much vaunted personal agency, play directly into traditional patriarchal notions that women are just silly little dears who don’t know their own heads. It plays right into misogynist legislators’ hands who seek to return control of female sexuality back to men, like it was back in the good old days. ‘Sexual fraud’ by lying paints women as somehow mentally deficient, incapable of making conscious, informed decisions about their sexuality. Both sexes make plenty of mistakes and bad decisions early in their romantic experience: Discovering you can’t always trust others, particularly when hormones are bubbling like a shaken can of beer. It’s harder to ‘believe women’ when REAL rape is diluted by denying women’s inconvenient choices. Did he force her or did she just get played? The law is NOT there to address hurt feelings, which is the real consequence. You can argue about the many shades of legal consent, but what it comes down to is this: You got played. You got hurt. You learn your lesson and move on, hopefully wiser and better-armed against the next player. Women afraid of their agency It’s easier to tell yourself you got raped than that you got duped. We beat ourselves up over our decisions and victimhood-centered feminism rides to the rescue, encouraging us to point fingers at the man, or men, or ‘patriarchy’. They tell us it’s not our fault and anyone who says otherwise is ‘blaming the victim’. It’s not in their interests to note that big girls old enough to have sex are old enough to learn from their mistakes and not blame only others. Photo by Misha Voguel from Pexels When it comes to sex, victim feminists don’t do self-actualization. They don’t do self-awareness. They don’t spend nearly as much time examining themselves and women’s psychological and emotional weaknesses as they do ‘the patriarchy’s’. They don’t, on some level, want other women to claim their agency and power either. It raises too many doubts about their own complicity in past mistakes. Too many questions about what they might have learned earlier if only. They’d rather not consider women’s psychological vulnerabilities because then they might have to address their own. And take ownership. And change. When we examine ourselves, when we honestly question our contributions, we often have to face personal truths we don’t like. Like that we ignored warning flags or an underlying feeling something wasn’t right with his story. But we went ahead and shagged him anyway because we listened to our vagina rather than our brain. And we got hurt. It’s his fault he lied, and yes, I can see how it’s ‘sexual fraud’, but it’s a buzzword, not a legal definition unless a real crime has occurred, and more importantly a real rape. If you fear the words ‘real rape’ (versus, say, ‘false rape’), you should. Because victim feminism encourages the distinction. Not outright rape lies, which occur far less than men think, but ‘false rape’ when she thinks she was raped even though she fully consented, even if without all the data. ‘I’m on something’ Just imagine what the notion of ‘sexual fraud as rape’ will do to the most time-honored words for the following: ‘I love you’. Or, ‘I want to marry you.’ Or, ‘I’m a very rich man.’ Now let’s turn around what ‘sexual fraud’ looks when the man is the recipient: She said, ‘I love you/want to marry you.’ Or, ‘I’m still a virgin.’ Or, ‘You’re the only man I’m sleeping with.’ Once again — hurt feelings, and sexual fraud, but how is it the justice system’s responsibility to avenge someone’s poorly-considered consent? So, she believed him when he said he intended to marry her. And he believed her when she said there was only one other man before him and that was her ex-fiance. Throw them both in jail! Now, consider this, legal eagles: Does a man now have a legal right to charge a woman with ‘sexual fraud’ if she claims (not he assumes) she’s using birth control, and gets pregnant? Lots and lots of women have done this. I’ve watched it unfold. I’ve watched a friend walk blithely into a pregnancy trap with a girlfriend who’d heavily pressured him to marry her. It was so predictable. The world’s most common sexual fraud whine: “She said she was oooonnnnn something!” I didn’t feel the slightest bit sorry for him, he got down on his knees and begged for it. How stupid could he have been? (Nicole! Don’t blame the victim!) Lucky for him she miscarried shortly after. She might have said she was on something when she wasn’t. Who knew women could lie? Some ‘men’s rights’ activists argue they shouldn’t have to pay for abortions or support babies ‘fraudulently’ conceived. ‘Sexual fraud’ as a legal defense just got a helluva lot less attractive, I’m guessing. ‘Patriarchy’ is real and has infantilized women for millennia. Feminists obsessed with women’s victimhood, who can’t let go of historical grievances, ignore the very real power and agency women have today we didn’t have even fifty years ago. They aid and abet the very ‘patriarchy’ they rail against. Image by Alexander Krivitskiy from Pixabay How can we be trusted with the right to vote when we can’t even be trusted to know what we want sexually? When we’re so easily duped by sweet-talkin’ lyin’ cheaters and scam artists? When we go running, ironically, to the ‘patriarchal government and justice system’ to salve our hurt feelings and avenge us like men were expected to do in days of yore? “Roger delivering Angelica”, by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Note the hairless little-girl pubic area. Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons Some feminists are afraid of female power and genuine empowerment, but the rest of us don’t have to be. We can choose to be grownups, to self-actualize, to take responsibility for our role in the romantic/sexual dance. Sometimes, even, we should blame ourselves for really stupid decisions. Like my male buddy who blithely allowed a woman to ‘play him’. Women still face real obstacles and challenges to ‘being believed’ and it’s to many men’s benefit to cast doubt on rape and sexual assault claims. The baby-girl feminist set doesn’t help when they make women sound like easily-played little featherbrains. How supremely patriarchal, mesdames. This story first appeared on Medium in May 2021.

  • ‘The Patriarchy’ Just Saved Me From ‘The Patriarchy’

    And I thanked him. Spoiler alert: I didn’t get murdered. He wasn’t Batman, but he was masked nevertheless. Photo by Mjutan on Wikimedia Commons It was a lively trip to the drugstore this morning. I was on a mission — to buy an umbrella, some stamps and mail a card before the skies opened up for the entire damn day in accordance with the prophecy that the deluge would commence at ten. Mobile battery powered. Turbines to speed. Eddie & The Cruisers cranked. Roger. I had my tunes and a single-minded focus. As I approached the drugstore a tall man in a blue shirt who looked like a street person gestured to me. I shook my head and said, “No, no, sorry,” which is what I do when I’m panhandled. He stepped in front of me and his arm brushed mine as he extended it to stop me. His face darkened. He was angry, but not dangerously. He said something that sounded like he might have a speech impediment but with the buds in I couldn’t be sure. I was on alert but wasn’t frightened. I don’t scare as easily as some. My scalp tingled, but my heart hadn’t quickened. “Hey, knock it off!” I said sternly. He said something back, not sure what, but he commanded my attention. He angled so that my back was to the wall. I stepped forward and said, “Hey! You don’t touch a woman without her permission! You don’t EVER touch a strange woman! Now back off!” And I finished with the line every man in Canada knows by heart. “NO MEANS NO!” Someone said something. We turned and there was another man coming up the walk. He said something to the guy and gestured and my harasser melted away. The power of a more powerfully-built man. I moved to the pharmacy door for safety and turned around. My harasser was gone and my rescuer looked at me. “Thank you!” I said with a thumbs-up. “I appreciate your help.” He nodded and I went inside. Now, one might ask: Why did Mr. Blue Shirt (my harasser) think he had the right to just step in front of a woman and demand her attention that way? What made him think a woman’s attention is just there for the taking? What entitled, privileged, patriarchal stupid-ass notion in his head told him it was okay to try and intimidate a woman with his looming presence? The answer, I suspect, was the clamour of mental illness. I conducted my business with Canada Post and walked up the wrong aisle to check the prices on my favorite hair oil. It was the men’s section, and who did I run into but my rescuer. He’d done what many feminists ask men to do: Stand up for us in the face of misogyny. If Mr. Blue Shirt had decided to get physical with me, it could have gotten, well, scary. He was thin, perhaps not in the best of shape. Still, if he had a weapon he could have hurt me. We often expect men to step in and accept the danger on our behalf, don’t we? I was a stranger. I wasn’t my rescuer’s wife or his girlfriend. This time I had the presence of mind to remove my earbuds. “Thanks again for your help with that guy,” I said. “I appreciate you stepping in like that.” “He’s gone now,” he said. “Do you know what his deal was?” I asked. “He sounded like maybe he had a disablement of some sort.” “I think he has mental problems,” the guy said. “I called 911 and reported him to the police.” Now, why didn’t I think of that? “Thank you.” We walked away from each other. I turned back.“Thank you for standing up for a woman.” Always thank The Patriarchy when it uses its powers for good. I want to emphasize something: I don’t know how YOU should have handled it. I’m different from you. My life and my background is different. I’ve never suffered what I would call a truly significant physical or sexual assault. Any physical assault threat more often than not came from high school girls, except for one guy who learned never to hit me again. There’s been the occasional threat of sexual assault, sometimes involving me courting danger by doing dumb shit. Dumb Shit I've Done: I didn't get raped, but I sure made it easy for them But, I also have a GREAT mother. My Mother Taught Me Never To Tolerate Abuse: And you don't have to, either I got lucky in the birth lottery. Not every woman does. I did what I imagined I’d do if confronted by an asshole man. I stuck up for myself, I challenged him right back, I raised my voice and let him know I was no easy target. And I repeated the Holy Canadian Mantra: No Means No. If my rescuer hadn’t been there, I expect I would have pushed past this guy, yelled in a loud voice for everyone in the parking lot to hear, “KNOCK IT OFF! YOU LEAVE ME ALONE!” That’s probably when I would have thought to call the police, safely inside the drugstore. I live in Toronto, so the likelihood he had a gun was minimal. Also, I just don’t get pushed by men. I find that when you stand up to them a lot of them will back down. I don’t go all Hyper Super Wonder Woman Feminist on everyone. Ya picks yer battles and one doesn’t have time to operate on logic. I go by gut feeling. If my gut is screaming, “DANGER! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!” I ditch the feminist stuff and just do what I can to vacate the area. My gut wasn’t churning with terror. My scalp tingled with heightened awareness of danger, but I wasn’t yet fearful. I never got that far, I guess, thanks to the arrival of someone whose power Mr. Blue Shirt respected more than mine. He could have stabbed me, I suppose, but the odds of that are even lower than getting shot, even though a woman got stabbed to death here in a drugstore a few years ago. While you’re worried about Mr. Testosterone Poisoning, your killer could be a pretty professionally-dressed female stranger with psychological problems. Further, around 64% of women are murdered by family (male) members or intimate partners, so your chances of being murdered by a stranger are fairly small. Fortunately for me, I live in a safe city, for a privileged white woman, I guess. I suspect my age is an effective shield as well. How we frame and interpret what happens to us wires our brains a certain way and determines how much we suffer from it. I choose to frame what happened this way: My rescuer was one of my peeps (a good-hearted person with a sense of social responsibility) and he looked out for me. Biologically speaking, I was at a disadvantage if Mr. Blue Shirt had pushed it. If he’d gotten physical I might not have been able to fight back. Even men smaller than I have superior strength. My rescuer used his male privilege — the respect a man has for another’s physical prowess — to help out someone at a disadvantage. He looked out for me and put himself on the line for a stranger. What will I or any other woman do if put to a test? Why do we always expect men to help us? Is this not a bit of patriarchal thinking on our part? If we want to share the wealth, share the power, share the glory, should we not also expect to share the risk? Why do we tear men down, tell them everything they do is wrong, pathologize and sexualize their every move, but then expect them to ride in like shining knights if they happen to be in the vicinity and take the knife, the bullet, or the fist for us? What would you do if you saw a woman being harassed? If you saw someone about to call 911 to report a heinous black birdwatcher? If you saw a man harassing his partner? What would you do if you saw a woman harassing her partner? What can we do when we ourselves or others are being threatened? I’m pretty sure my Medium peep and fellow old lady Julia E Hubbel, who works out more than Chuck Norris, would have broken this guy in half, ripped off his arm and beaten him to death with it. Or maybe ripped off Chuck Norris’s arm and weaponized it. Then she’d make earrings out of the perp’s testicles to serve as An Example To The Others. Image by knivesdeal from Pixabay For the rest of us, there’s pepper spray. In a cool girly disco container. We can step in like many women did when they saw a male actor harassing a female actor like in the above video. I just wish some would have had the labia to stop the woman getting abusive with the man. Why is it easier to ignore when women do it? I thought we were against domestic violence…? I’d like to think I’d step in and say, “Hey, is there a problem here? Everything okay? You need some help getting home, ma’am?” What might I do if I found a white woman threatening a black person with her Mighty Cell Phone? I’d like to think I’d pull out my own cell phone and aim it at her, telling her to go home before I upload this video to Twitter and get her fired. Granted, I’d suffer even less of a chance of getting murdered by Barbecue Becky than by a guy with mental illness, but the odds are against both. Just a reminder: Not everyone who stands up to a man behaving badly gets hurt. I’ve done it before when the guy could have easily figured out my name and come back to hurt me. I’m almost entirely certain I wouldn’t have gotten hurt this morning even if my rescuer hadn’t been there, but I respect him for stepping in bravely like he did. I think there’s a lesson there for all of us. Equality means shared risk. Have we got the labia for it? This originally appeared on Medium in July 2021.

  • Telling Your Truth: The Anonymity Credibility Dilemma

    Who are you? Why should I believe your story? Photo by Cassidy Dickens on Unsplash I wrote an article awhile back — Men, We Need You To Tell Your Truths Too. My opinion, shared by others, is that the gender narrative is dominated heavily by victim feminists who see the world through the rust-colored glasses of powerlessness and a patriarchy looming larger in their heads than it does in ours. One must wonder how galling it is for men to read endless — and I mean endless! — articles by women telling them how to court women (often contradictory) and how to be a better man. It seems like a good time to discuss credibility levels with male, female and other truth-tellers. Hail Ansari, full of ‘Grace’ It was Aziz Ansari’s accuser who made me consider the limitations of anonymous testimony. ‘Grace’ did for feminism what Jeffrey Epstein did for yacht parties. She related a pseudonymous story of an evening with comedian and actor Aziz Ansari that came across as somewhat less rapey-sounding than portrayed. Aziz pushed her a bit for sex and stopped when she asked. She came nowhere close to getting raped, unless you count the inherent risk in going to someone’s home you’ve only just met. She felt the discomfort of a young woman who made a decision, was in over her head and came out of it less wise, it seemed, than she might have. She didn’t consider when she got Ansari’s invitation to come home with him that celebrities are famously entitled and think they can (and often do) get away with what mere mortals can’t, but she was young so I’ll spot her her inexperience. Still, she was old enough to know going home with a guy you barely know isn’t exactly a Best Practice. She’s lucky he wasn’t another Coz. Controversy erupted. For those of us who know equality means female responsibility and that men should accept no means no, Ansari did exactly that and she looked like a clueless teenager who shouldn’t be allowed to go to parties with beer and boys. Only he took the fallout with those who thought the night was rapey, even if no rape occurred. ‘Grace’ took some criticism and fallout too, but until someone revealed her real name she could go about her day without anyone knowing she was that Grace unlike Ansari who was that Aziz Ansari. ‘Grace’ backpedaled feminism for women fighting the millennia-old perception that it’s their fault when they get raped, while validating an infantilizing feminism portraying women as never responsible for their personal safety or for making their boundaries clear. The definitions of ‘rape’ and ‘sexual assault’ have bloated over the years to trawl a wide variety of male behaviors which didn’t fall under those categories before, and the victimhood set was plenty happy to rake another man over the coals even though he stopped when she asked while never wondering whether Grace should have an 11PM curfew. Male critics accuse women of not knowing what rape is anymore, and I fear they may be partially right. When Feminists Make It Harder To 'Believe Women': How can we be sure she was raped if she doesn't understand the difference between 'rape' and 'consent'? ‘Grace’ depended too heavily on subtle signals indicating lack of willingness to pursue a sexual liaison that Ansari failed to pick up. ‘Grace’ may have simply been unaware men often don’t pick up on nonverbal signals, so women need to be more verbal and up-front with what’s okay and what’s not. It wasn’t her youth; it’s uncommon knowledge. I won’t fault her, but we all need to understand men aren’t mind-readers. ‘Grace’ essentially held Ansari up for public ridicule, hiding comfortably behind anonymity (not unlike a troll) until someone dug up her name. Then she had to face the public consequences, too. I came to realize something which will make the #MeToo set cringe or turn red with rage, but I think it’s true, like it or not: Truth rings more loudly when you tell it under your real name. On some levels, anonymity is for cowards. The feminist troll I understand why women don’t want to tell violent tales of abuse, rape, sexual assault, stalking, genuine gaslighting and psychological manipulation under their real names. Men be crazy. Especially vengeful exes. Especially angry, incel trolls, themselves hiding in sexually frustrated cowardice behind their 4Chan monikers. I don’t condemn women for anonymous testimony. It’s necessary. But, it also opens her up to the legitimate suspicion she may be lying, or not being entirely truthful, or stretching it a bit. When #MeToo exploded, with tales of terror on Twitter and elsewhere, I wondered how many of the anonymous were lying? Yes, I think some women lie about rape, but not the way men think — where she falsely accuses a particular man. That happens, less than men believe, more than women believe. I myself have seen it twice. Feminist trolling is real, and it becomes easier to lie about rape and sexual assault — or anything, really — when there’s no chance anyone can identify you. A few years ago here on Medium, I read a perfectly reasonable article on gender relations by a popular male writer who received a lot of positive response. Then came The Feminist Troll. She descended like a Pacific Northwest heatwave, spewing poisonous misandry and tossing wild accusations about how men have ‘brought it all on themselves after thousands of years of patriarchy’. She had a ‘name’ — common, the same as countless women across the world — no photo, and nothing in her brief Image by Rachealmarie from Pixabay biography to identify her. Maybe it was her real name. But it didn’t matter. She was anonymous. She was a troll, even if she didn’t consider herself one. She spoke of having endured much abuse throughout her young life including multiple gang rapes that rang so — damned false. It was the first time I ever read such a thing and thought, “You’re lying.” She listed her ‘cred’ almost proudly, like she was rattling off her university accomplishments. Rapes, a gang rape or two, sexual assaults, sexual abuse when she was a kid — but without the dead-serious feeling most survivors of such traumas express. Maybe she was telling the truth but — sounding almost proud of her alleged abuse, being anonymous added to her lack of credibility. She made me wonder if some women lied behind anonymity to join the ‘sisterhood’ of sexual trauma survivors. The benefits of traumatic sisterhood When a woman claims to be sexually assaulted her word is considered sacred writ by many. She’s never, ever questioned, as that would be misogyny and blaming the victim. This sisterhood can damn men all they like, exhibit the worst kind of misandry, and be cheered on. Sure, they get hate comments and threats by misogynist trolls, but they don’t know who to stalk and dox. Thou shalt not question the word of a woman who claims to have been abused. It’s different when you #MeToo your way through social media or blogging platforms under your real name. There are ugly, real-world consequences to telling your truth the anonymous never have to face. This is why my faith in anonymous testimony has been shaken both by ‘Grace’ and the Suspicious Rape Victim. How to be anonymous AND credible Given how abused anonymous social media accounts are, I favor a fantasy I don’t know will ever occur — The Internetz and social media banning anonymous accounts. I don’t know if it’s technologically workable, or even legal. I realize it means many genuine stories will disappear, because women and men will be afraid to tell their truths when people can stalk and hurt them, but it also means anonymous trolls will shut the fuck up too, when there are consequences for their words. Like not being able to create a new profile moments after the last one is suspended. Or someone stalking and threatening them. Or worst of all, someone telling their parents. I believe identified truth-telling will always sound more credible than anonymous testimony. The reason is simple: It takes A LOT of courage to open yourself up to the kind of backlash, abuse, and public shaming dealt to those whose truth hurts others more even than it hurts themselves. I salute and honor these supremely brave souls, whoever they are and whatever their story. Identified authors will likely take a lot more care with their words when they have to answer for them, rather than NarcissismSurvivor1608. For those who simply can’t risk identification for insanely good reasons, you can add credibility to your anonymous story by being ever-mindful of your language and not allow your own personal narrative to obfuscate the truth. (Like every really minor ‘microaggression’ turning into the writer’s heroic Epic Battle With The Patriarchy or White Supremacy.) If it’s clear you have a toxic agenda — you hate women, men, white people, gay left-handed plumbers — you’ll come across a lot more troll-ish. You will open yourself to charges of ‘making it up’ or having an axe to grind. Your story will be, perhaps not unbelievable, but still less credible. I’ve read plenty of anonymous tales of terror that rang true. They simply sounded honest, with minimal exaggeration or personal self-serving spin. I don’t suspect them of lying. The response I got from my men and truth-telling article demonstrated that men, at least on Medium, are quite reticent about telling their truths to a platform often hostile to anything with a penis. I understand and respect that. I encourage them to tell their truths, from anonymous accounts if necessary, and to keep it as real as possible. The backlash from bitter women may sting and stab one’s soul, but you’ll start the ripple, the kind that can become a tsunami. We need to hear men’s truths as much as women’s truths. Not all feminists or abuse survivors are far-left misandrists, as not all male feminist critics are hateful right-wing incels. There’s an imbalance in The Force, gentlemen, and as I urge women to grow some labia, I urge you too to grow some balls and tell your stories. If you must do it anonymously, be as truthful as you can, and you’ll be amazed at how much positive response and support you’ll get from women. We get it, guys. We’ve been there for centuries. Photo by nappy from Pexels This first appeared on Medium in July 2021.

  • Why Are We Still Raising Misogynist Boys?

    Generations of parents have a lot to answer for Photo by smpratt90 on Pixabay "Mommy, why do little boys hate girls so much?" I asked. "I don't know," she replied. "That's the way they are." "But why?" I persisted. "Larry doesn't like me 'because I'm a girl.' I can't help it. I was born this way. And what's so terrible about being a girl anyway?" I'd reached that logical conclusion based on the many conversations Mom and I had had regarding how wrong it was to judge someone by the color of their skin. She didn't want to raise racist children in 1960s Florida. "I don't know," she replied again, frustrating me. Why didn't she know? "But doesn't Mrs. X teach him it's wrong to hate girls? She is a girl!" "It's not my place to tell Mrs. X how to raise Larry," Mom explained. "But a lot of little boys are like this." Larry was my first-ever friend, and the only one my age in our small neighborhood. Sometimes he was nice, and sometimes he would hit me, run away, and laugh at my impotence. I'd complain to our mothers. Mrs. X grew tired of the tattling. "Hit him back," my mother advised. It never occurred to me to do it the next time he came within striking distance. I wonder if Larry grew up to be an abuser because his parents taught him it was okay to hit girls. Not all little boys were pint-sized jerks. Randall was a first-grade classmate with a sweet Southern drawl who I could always count on to be a decent human being around me, or other girls. Bill, a boy in my neighborhood with whom I frequently played, never gave me crap. I remember his hyper-masculine older brother teasing us once as we sat in a tree together. "Two little lovebirds sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Nicole with a baby carriage!" Years later, I suspect Bill might have been gay. He had all the earmarks of a future femme: Limp-wristed, talked in a higher somewhat feminine voice, and never ever had a problem with girls. My cousin, on the other hand, was a case study in how parents could do a better job raising their sons. He wouldn't let me into his treehouse because of his strict No Girls Allowed policy. I complained to my aunt, noting we'd been up there together the previous summer. She went outside and told him to let me in but he resisted, telling her absolutely no girls allowed. She relented. I appealed to my mother next, but she didn't want to intervene, because it wasn't her place once again. "Why doesn't Aunt Y tell him to come down, that he can't play there either until he changes his mind?" I asked. "That's what I would do," Mom said, "but I'm not Aunt Y." How different would the world be if parents, but especially mothers, who really should know better, crushed baby misogynists like little entitled bugs? Why does male entitlement persist? I never understood why Mrs. X and Aunt Y allowed their sons to get away with misogynist behavior and attitudes. They were girls, weren't they? Why would they allow their sons to be mean to girls when they were girls themselves? How did they not identify with my frustrations? Perhaps I judge the Silent Generation too harshly. Betty Friedan wasn't even a household name yet, and full-time mothers had little time to read, especially tomes as lengthy as then-popular The Feminine Mystique or Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex. We spend a ridiculous amount of time debating male privilege and entitlement. I get it with the Boomers and us early Xers: We were raised in less enlightened times, when 'misogyny' wasn't a household word and we wrote off most of it with 'Boys will be boys'. Few questioned why boys were such boys, and whether they could do better. I have a harder time understanding why some young boys and men today - tail-end Xers, Millennials, and Gen Z - are still so entitled. We've seen progress, for sure. If you keep your eyes open, know or remember your history and don't subscribe to self-infantilizing victim mentality, you see fewer entitled-feeling men walking among us. When I speak of misogynist behavior I refer to indisputable, harassing, abusive behavior. I don't count compliments, pickup attempts, random comments, and minor events touted as 'misogyny' by the sort of women who will always find an oppression narrative in every interaction with a man. I don't see 'patriarchy' everywhere and I don't find it 'exhausting' to be a woman. I live in a sexist society, for sure. I'm well aware men are responsible for 90% of the violence in the world, and the people most at risk for violence by men are men. Much of the Trumpian backlash we experience today is thanks to entitled men's last stand at preserving their penis-granted privilege in a world where too many Others--women, people of color, people of differing sexual preferences or gender identities--are demanding more equality, more power and more of the pie. The older ones, I get it. But why the younger ones? We live in a highly gendered society despite more recent attempts to reshape mindsets toward 'gender fluidity'. The male/female differences are still there, and always will be. The problem isn't that our bodies are different, but the values and constructs we assign to them. Boys are boys, girls are girls, and anyone who doesn't fit either of those boxes is free to be whoever they want to be. The world sends many messages about how we're 'supposed' to think or feel, but gender expectations training starts at home with how parents treat each other, if there's a spouse or partner, and whether they allow toxic expressions in their children. Anti-misogyny begins at birth. Just as my mother successfully strove to raise two non-racist children at a time when the Civil War was a mere century ago, parents can correct boys when they express sexist ideas or engage in sexist behavior, like with Larry's hit-and-runs. The easy availability of violent porn may have plenty to answer for, but that's a discussion for another day. So, I suspect, does the 'self-esteem' movement, where children were taught they deserve anything they want, and when parents were taught to treat children like mini-adults rather than the baby humans they are who need firm (non-violent) hands and adult guidance and restrictions. They still restricted their daughters' freedom more than they did their sons. The unpleasant truth about the Ford-Kavanagh debacle is that Christine Blasey's parents didn't want her going to parties with boys and beer because they knew what might happen; young Christine snuck out behind her parents' back and learned they were right. She didn't tell, I believe, partly because she knew what her parents' reaction would be: To restrict her freedom further, not as punishment but to 'protect' her. I keep wondering why we as a society keep allowing young boys and men free reign while restricting women in a manner bearing a passing resemblance to the not-so-benevolent 'protection' offered by the Taliban. If women are in danger from men, restrict mens' freedom, not women's. Porno sex ed It's 2021, more than fifty years after shag-in-the-mud Woodstock, and parents still don't want to talk about sex with their children. It's embarrassing. Where are kids learning, then, about sex, apart from the fairly sterile stripped-of-all-values-discussions in health class? TED Talk: Peggy Orenstein: What Young Women Believe About Their Sexual Pleasure It bothers me greatly to learn many parents still outsource the job to teachers and leave kids to learn about their sexuality and sex roles from a deeply disordered porn industry. It's no wonder violent sex among young people is on the rise, as Nancy Jo Sales details in her exposé Nothing Personal: My Secret Life in the Dating App Inferno. I don't damn working parents. Women have always worked, inside or outside the household, and had far less time to raise their children. Only since the post-World War II middle-class boom have mothers had the 'luxury' of staying home to raise children without copious help from relations and 'nurses' or 'governesses' (for those wealthy enough to afford them). The mantle of responsibility isn't solely on mothers' shoulders, but ultimately, they're the ones who relate to misogyny the most. It's no longer 'boys will be boys.' Fathers will never fully understand what it means to grow up female, or how much they themselves got away with. Privilege holders are blind. As the Angry White Man becomes the new face of hatred, we need to ask ourselves where they all came from. Why do they think they're entitled to women's jobs, women's lives, women's bodies? Why do they think it's okay to hit or even hate on girls? What if Mrs. X and Aunt Y had challenged her baby boy's misogyny more? My mother raised a boy after me, and he's in no way a misogynist. Then again, my cousin turned out okay too. It's time to stop leaving it to teachers and porn to raise the kids. (Especially porn!) Most of all, rule the baby and teenage Brett Kavanaghs with the iron fist with which we insist on ruling our daughters. There's nothing wrong with being born a girl. Time to stop punishing us for it. This article first appeared on Vocal.Media in November 2021.

  • Why I Don’t Always Believe Racial ‘Microaggression’ Stories

    Because, feminism. And because I’m not going to eat you no matter what happens. Public domain photo from Pikrepo I have something in common with black men, which might impel some to yell, “I have NOTHING in common with YOU!” But here it is: We’re both members of privileged and non-privileged groups. A black man has male privilege; I’ve got white privilege. I won’t debate which is more powerful; it differs under the circumstances. White privilege protects me from cops but did nothing for 70% of Bill Cosby’s rape victims. Oh yeah, speaking of rape, let’s talk about the Mutually Assured Destruction black men and I hold over each other: They have the power to rape and kill me, by virtue of being male, and with my superpower I can have them arrested for existing, maybe even killed with a single 911 call. It puts me in a unique position to say to another disadvantaged group of nevertheless privilege-blinded humans, “Sometimes you see ‘microaggressions’ where there aren’t any.” OMG I live in such a patriarchy-drenched world! Reason #1 why I don’t always believe stories of racial microaggressions: Imaginary feminist microaggressions. Women over-interpret sometimes too. The North American world I live in, as a woman, is one still emerging from the shackles of true patriarchal structure, one set up by men, for men, to serve men. White ones. The last fifty years have been a whirlwind of feminist change. In the America I was born into, whatever problems women face now were way worse back then. You could legally rape your wife. Hell, it was still sort-of okay to rape a stranger. A woman needed a husband to get a credit card or a father to co-sign a lease for an apartment, assuming he allowed her to get one, assuming she could find a landlord who’d rent to a single woman who might have SEX EVERYWHERE!!! Yet some feminists today live in a way more patriarchal world than I do. Wealth/education privilege offers them the opportunity to learn just how oppressed they never knew they were. ‘Patriarchy’ in road signs. Mansplaining. Manspreading. Minor advances made upon them (NOT full-out sexual aggression). Some women come from real patriarchal lives, be it an ethnic, religious or social culture. Others got ‘woke’, or something. Maybe I’m still asleep. Or maybe others hallucinate more than I. Just search Medium on ‘patriarchy’ to find some of the most ridiculous complaints ever. I won’t mention any article or author. I don’t like the idea of picking fights or ‘calling people out’ unless they say something egregiously stupid. And recent. These are the ones for whom I roll my eyes when they go on about ‘sexist microaggressions’. There are genuine ones, and then there are the manufactured ‘microaggressions’ that live between impressionable ears. Many of these ‘microaggressions’ are hardly gender-specific, since everyone has to deal with them. There’s patriarchy, and then there’s the Patriarchy Monster. Writing while white If you believe the current news channel/social media discourse, everything white people do is a microaggression, connected to ‘White Supremacy’, The Patriarchy’s roommate. Don’t share memes, white people. Don’t speak out against George Floyd. March in the streets until you drop from heat exhaustion or you’re not a real ally. Don’t ask black people how they’re doing. Don’t support us, that’s Photo by Allyce Kranabetter on Flickr virtual signalling. Don’t not support us, that’s racism. The George Floyd straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back, the Black Lives Matter protests, and the explosion of anger in the bone-dry tinderbox of American patience living resentfully in lockdown behind face masks has made everyone a lot more sensitive to racial injustice, fueled by in-your-face-on-the-news violence against black people. But also, hypersensitivity to slight rather than real injury is through the roof too. “Wrong perceptions” Buddhist psychology teaches us about ‘wrong perceptions’, based on the stories we tell ourselves about how the world works filtered through our own unique, biased perspectives. It leads us to misjudge others and ‘mindread’, thinking we know what they think, what they value, who they are as people. Most of all, what they might think about me, the most important person in the universe for everyone. Here’s an example of what a black guy might have suspected was a racial ‘microaggression’ when I was, in fact, in a hurry. A few months ago I was in a pre-pandemic grocery store where I don’t often shop. As usual, I was preoccupied, not paying attention. I grew annoyed when I couldn’t find something. I looked around to ask the nearest shelf stocker, turning to find someone in the black-shirt-and-pants uniform of this store’s employees. “Excuse me, can you tell me where I might find thus-and-such?” As he turned I realized his shirt didn’t have a name tag. He was black. “I don’t work here,” he said, stalking away. Oh shit, I thought, he thinks I assumed he worked there because he’s black. Fact was, I didn’t see skin, I saw clothes. I hadn’t taken the time to check for a name tag before I opened my mouth. I’ve made this oopsie before, mistaking red-shirted white people for Target salescritters. It wasn’t a microaggression, just not paying attention. I don’t know if he took it as such but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. I know racial microaggressions are real, just as sexist ones are, but we’re not always right about it. Sometimes we layer our interpretations on others without knowing (or being able to know, since we can’t mindread) the facts. ‘Microaggressions’ I’ve committed I don’t think are microaggressions: Asking someone where they’re from (I don’t do this anymore now that it’s a cardinal sin). I’m an American-now-dual-citizen living in immigrant-packed Toronto. It used to be a great conversation starter, bonding over our shared experiences of leaving the mother country and starting a new life elsewhere. We still do that, but you have to dance around it more so no one is a ‘racist’. Pointing out we all share 99% of our DNA with each other. The fuss we make about racial differences is skin-deep. Identity politics are as stupid and superficial as racism, the left’s way of dividing the world into groups to increase the number of ‘thems’ while decreasing the number of those one considers ‘us’. Pretty soon, it won’t be Us vs Them, it’ll be You vs Everyone. Then I expect society will break down and we’ll all start eating each other because, as every one of us will know, everyone besides me is a total animal, therefore my inferior. So yes, at some point we have to acknowledge All Lives Matter. Many of the abuses and issues Black Lives Matter confronts affect far more than just black people, and pretending only Black Lives Matter rejects a huge amount of potential allies, including those on the right who haven’t yet ‘woke’ to the reality they’re voting for those abuses not just for ‘others’ but for themselves. But that’s a subject of a future article. For now, rock on with the BLM protests, a great start to ending police brutality for all of us. We can talk about economic inequality and how multicolored the 99% is another day. Calling out black racism. I can point out to deniers it exists even as I acknowledge white racism is the far bigger crisis. I’ve called white racism a festering cancerous tumor, noting you have to kill all the post-surgery residual cancer cells or it comes roaring back. Just because POC racism isn’t anywhere close as bad as white racism doesn’t mean it’s any less toxic. The cancer patient feels a lot better after surgery, too, but she’s not out of the woods until all the cancer is destroyed. ‘S/he said hi to the white guy but not me.’ ‘She tucked her purse under her arm because she thinks I’m going to steal it.’ ‘She walked ahead of me getting on the bus even though I was there first.’ See: Not paying attention because we’re all wrapped up in our own self-obsessed lives. It’s not always about you, you, you. Racial, feminist, and other ‘microaggressions’ look an awful lot like ‘not paying attention’ and ‘common rudeness.’ Calling it a ‘microaggression’ without real justification is just layering your interpretation on it. I understand there are real aggressions and microaggressions black people are subjected to, but maybe not relentlessly. I’m not sure every day contains a subtle-or-not slur against one’s personhood or citizenship. I receive male aggressions and microaggressions too, but not daily. Maybe it’s because of where I live. Or because I’m older, except I didn’t get it much when I was a young belly dancer, either. Maybe I’m not paying attention because I’m as wrapped up in my life as you are. Maybe I notice age discrimination now more than gender discrimination. We all get it wrong sometimes. None of us are ‘psychicpaths’. When you’re followed in a store, when you’re pulled over for no good reason, when people make assumptions about you based on your skin color (like, assuming you’re racist because you’re white, ar ar), when people deny racism even exists, or white privilege, or male privilege, asking why you have to be so loud and opinionated (women can relate!), not being able to hail a cab…yes, those are microaggressions, maybe even macroaggressions. Then there are the ones you make up when you’re having a bad day, or realize you live in a country hell-bent on losing. A country almost suicidal in its collective approach to a pandemic. I analyze the false narratives we tell ourselves as we interact with others, as I challenge my own Miss Cleo psychic interpretations of what others think about me. The truth? They mostly don’t think about me at all, since I’m not me. I don’t deny the heightened danger for blacks and other POC in the Ignited States of AmeriKKKa. I keep in mind that I left fifteen years ago. I’m horrified at the way the country has degenerated, thanks to the right and the about-as-divisive left. It’s why I’m closer to the Murky Middle. Who’s really holding this country back? A demented old racist in the Whites-Only House or a disunited collective effort? Photo by Barbara Rosner on Flickr Sometimes we hold ourselves back As a woman in a sexist society, I know first-hand the obstacles of systemic sexism. But still. I also see women, especially educated ones, hold themselves back. They don’t stand up for themselves enough. They’re afraid to challenge themselves. They blame others rather than push back. They make excuses. As I encourage them to stop viewing themselves through the victimhood lens, which encourages weakness, I have to challenge my own exaggerated sense of victimhood as I forge a new way to support myself in an upside-down high unemployment new world. I see privileged POC doing the exact same things overprivileged white women are doing. It serves real white supremacists and patriarchs quite well, thankyoverymuch. The white female experience isn’t the same as blacks’, or even the black female experience, but we do share historical disadvantage in a century now with far more opportunities for all, regardless of what the naysayers and doomsayers claim. It doesn’t mean we’ll all succeed, and North America isn’t meritocratic. But it’s a helluva lot better than it was. If you can describe your Black Experience or struggles with The Patriarchy in academic race and gender theory jargonbabble, you’re in a much better position to help yourself than your grandparents were. We hold ourselves back by refusing to challenge the narratives in our heads, or asking, ‘Is what I believe really true?’ So you might see an eye-roll when it sounds like you’re bitching about another invented ‘microaggression’. Hey, victim feminists find me annoying too. This originally appeared on Medium in July 2020.

  • Yeah, Um, About That 'Racist Coverage of Ukraine' Thing...

    Trevor Noah's tribal whataboutism sparks my own. Whatabout your own moral blindness, Trevor? Ukrainian refugees crossing into Poland. CC0 4.0 image by Міністерство внутрішніх справ України on Wikimedia Commons I'll call what Trevor Noah expressed at the beginning of the Russian war on Ukraine 'tribalism'. He accused both journalists and news consumers of racism for viewing the war differently from wars in other parts of the world. He isn't wrong, but he blithely ignores other important reasons why the West is more het up about an illegal invasion by a fading superpower of a prosperous, democratic, and yes Trevor, civilized country like Ukraine. Gas prices didn't shoot up when Rwanda broke out in massacre. Maybe we paid more for coffee for awhile. We're about to pay a lot more for wheat-based food since Russia is the world's largest wheat exporter and Ukraine, until the war, was the sixth-largest global and a top producer of rye, sunflower seeds and barley. Rwanda wasn't producing much of anything except drought and internal tribalism. More critically, cultural differences help explain the concern disparity. "And beyond the war itself ... there's a really interesting thing that I learned. And that is: A lot of people on TV didn't expect a war like this to happen in, let's say, certain neighborhoods." You're right, Trevor, we didn't. To put it into perspective for a New Yorker like you, this is like a crack gang war in the Hamptons. "You do realize that, until very recently, fighting crazy wars was Europe's thing? That was Europe's entire thing. That's all of European history." Yes, it was, and it's why the United Nations was created. One of its primary raisons d'être was to prevent another world war, as the last two had been exceedingly brutal, and the next would be nuclear. Today, less than a century after the end of the last world war, western Europeans have conspicuously been not killing their countryfolk for many decades. (Eastern Europe is another story.) The Middle East and Africa, on the other hand.... Noah played clips in his viral rant in which various reporters and commentators said things like, "...Ukraine is not a place—with all due respect—like Iraq or Afghanistan," and "This is not a developing third world nation—this is Europe." That didn't play too well with our man. "What were you going to say if you weren't choosing your words carefully? 'I just hope the next time this happens, it happens back in the Middle East where it belongs.' No, more like, we hope one day they'll decide to stop murdering each other over political and religious ideologies. You know, the way Europe once did. Maybe the Middle East could form their own United Nations, or something. "Now people are going to be like, 'Ugh, to see this in Europe!' To see this, I don't know about you, but I was shocked to see how many reporters—around the world, by the way—seem to think that it's more of a tragedy when white people have to flee their countries. Because, I guess, what? The 'darkies' were built for it?" No, because...that's how certain non-First World cultures do, in the 21st century. Like mass shootings is how Americans do. Like blowing things up with your body is how Middle Easterners do. Like gang rape is how Indians do. Like mutilating baby girls' genitals is how Africans do. FGM (Female Genital Mutilation FCC0 3.0 image by Nederlandse Leeuw on Wikimedia Commons Whatabout everyone's misogyny? I agree with Noah's racism charge. Racism is one of many tribalisms: My people before yours. Black Lives Matter formed in response to high-profile killings by white police officers of often unarmed, sometimes innocent black men. Of course, who knew back then that cops kill unarmed, sometimes innocent white men more than black men? Noah watches the West rally behind the uber-white Ukrainians with a tribalist eye as the conflict re-engages old Cold War enmity, making the left blush and wonder whether ol' semi-senile Ronald Reagan was right about that whole 'Evil Empire' thing. After all, thirty years ago we had better things to do when one set of Rwandans began hacking up another set of Rwandans and the latter fled the country in droves. I don't think we'd have been quite as sanguine had it been, rather, the French filleting Germans, but that's because frankly, we expect better from them now. France and Germany haven't gotten along since at least ol' Caesar's day, back when they were known as the Gauls and the Germanic tribes. This ain't the first century BCE, mes amis! Public domain cartoon by John Tenniel, Punch magazine, August 6, 1881 from Wikipedia. On the other hand, I don't know how sanguine I'd have been had Kim Jong-Un invaded South Korea, for the same reasons I'm outraged by Russia's naked attack on Ukrainians: South Korea is a prosperous, civilized country, dammit, and they're total technology geeks! And the North Korean government is a totalitarian nightmare run by a fat psychopathic dictator who starves his own people! That is NOT how the South Koreans do. Social media critics, drunk on critical theory about racism, oppression, and Western ethnocentrism kick-started directly into whatabout mode: "Where was your concern for the Palestinians? The Rohingyans? The Chechnyans? The Syrians, Iraqis, Yemenians?" Yeah, let's--talk about those folks. When I listen to Noah and his supporters whatabouting, I respond as a woman and look at the always-overlooked victims of those same conflicts: Women. Those victimized cultures are, well, problematic. I wasn't happy when my prime minister, Justin Trudeau, vowed to bring in 50,000 Syrian refugees after the shock and awe of the famous rescuer carrying drowned toddler Alan Kurdi. It wasn't that my heart wasn't moved by the photo, or the plight of Syrian refugees--Bashar Assad, for Darwin's sake!--I just didn't want all Syrian refugees. RIP. CC0 3.0 photo by Defend International on Wikimedia Commons Most specifically, their misogynist men. Gender-based violence is rife all throughout the Middle East, where women have fewer rights and recourse to escaping male violence. Syria had a high rape rate before the Syrian conflict, and as is the case for any woman living in a truly patriarchal culture, they don't report not only for fear of not being believed, but of being murdered in an 'honour killing'. Spousal rape isn't a crime in Syria, and a rapist can escape prosecution by marrying his victim, which relieves the family of the inconvenience of murdering her. And of course you can always count on terrorist groups like ISIL to wield sexual violence as a weapon. "Can we allow in 50,000 women and children, not including boys over, say, ten or twelve?" I thought. You know, after it's probably too late to cleanse them of cultural toxic masculinity. Chechyna? Same ol' story, different part of the world. Wahabbism, an 18th-century Islamic movement to restore 'purity' to Islam and behind pretty much every extremist Islamic government today, also infected the Chechnyans leading to little bon mots like this from president Ramzan Kadyrov in 2011. "I have the right to criticize my wife. She doesn't [have the right to criticize me]. With us [in Chechen society], a wife is a housewife. A woman should know her place. A woman should give her love to us [men]... She would be [man's] property. And the man is the owner. Here, if a woman does not behave properly, her husband, father, and brother are responsible. According to our tradition, if a woman fools around, her family members kill her... That's how it happens, a brother kills his sister or a husband kills his wife... As a president, I cannot allow for them to kill. So, let women not wear shorts...". Yeah, that's the ticket. Make sure she doesn't make him kill her. Ban shorts. The Rohingyans? When mass rape by an invading army occurs, Rohingyan men do what patriarchal men do, blame the victims. My heart was hardened to the plight of Rohingyan men when I read of one who castigated his wife for 'not running away' when the soldiers came and raped her. She was eight months pregnant with a terrified toddler wrapped around one leg as her husband took off with the other children. The Palestinians? They want freedom, a country of their own? Freedom for whom, exactly? I'm guessing not their women, for whom it will be brutal business as usual. Afghanistan? Women's rights predictably slid right back into the medievalism of their pre-9/11 world. It's only because of 9/11 that they were granted a twenty-year respite. Iraq was a totalitarian mess under Saddam and remains a violent and unstable part of the world. The US's illegal invasion didn't help, most specifically because countries have to fix themselves. It's like Alcoholics Anonymous: They have to want to change. You do realize, Trevor, that even before European contact, African, Middle Eastern, and most other human societies were a patchwork of raiding, massacre, sexual violence, slavery and oppression? That was Africa's thing. That was the Middle East's thing. That was all of humanity's history, with the only exceptions a half-handful of societies so remote they didn't have anyone else to fight with. Oh, and they all demonstrated how much they hated women. Revolutions aren't for girls Revolutions are first and foremost for men, who don't give a fig about women's rights until forced. The American women's liberation movement emerged directly out of the New Left in the '60s and early '70s, once the chickie-boos realized their part in the democracy and civil rights struggle was to fetch the coffee and part their legs. I'm reminded of revolutionaries' blindness to women's lives as I read Nelson Mandela's autobiography Long Walk To Freedom. Inspirational for his civil rights fight as well as his insights into power--over one's self and from where it derives--it also starkly highlights how obliviously he ignored African women, especially South Africa. (Listen up, Trevor!) Mandela only cursorily mentions women's rights, mostly references to how his wife Winnie fought against the system and paid for it with constant harassment, banning, arrest and occasional imprisonment. He acknowledges how his struggle, and his 28-year imprisonment, were far harder on her than it was him. But otherwise, so removed from women's concerns was Mandela that he pondered what an 'odd sensation' it must have been for his mother to show up at his sentencing at which he was expected to get the death sentence. "Try 'emotionally devastated,' you emotionally constipated twit," I thought. 'Odd sensation', indeed. Mandela divorced his wife three years after his release, citing infidelity. He was still married when he met and fell in love with her at a Soweto bus stop. Would he have remained faithful for 28 years if the roles were reversed? Nelson Mandela was utterly blind to his male privilege. CC0 2.0 image by Archives de la Ville de Montréal on Flickr South Africa has made a lot gains in equalizing women yet remains a frightening place to be a woman, regardless of color. It's no picnic for children either. Child murders have climbed by 'nearly a third'. Rape and domestic violence are up, and have been described as 'like a second pandemic'. One of the vilest rape-murders I've ever read was the horrific case of Anene Booysen in Bredasdorp on the Western Cape. (WARNING: Extremely graphic content.) According to the African Health Organization, "Femicide is five times higher in South Africa than the global average, with South Africa having the fourth-highest female interpersonal violence death rate out of the 183 countries listed by the WHO in 2016." Noah's yardstick for measuring the civilization of a culture may be how it treats its minorities, particularly its darker-skinned ones. I accept that. It's a good yardstick, but it's not the only one. My yardstick compares one half of a so-called 'civilized' society to the half that almost always gets thrown under the bus when the cow patties goes down. Mahatma Gandhi's yardstick was how a society treats its animals. We could count many more moral progress measures, extending beyond other species to how we treat our environment. Sadly, we all fall short at some point. Whatabout what's right about whataboutism? Europe's nearly century-old commitment to end intra-continental violence is still in its infancy, and may be sorely tested in the coming years with the far right's global rise. The United States, a country coming up on its quarter-millennial birthday in 2026, is arguably flirting with a second civil war as the identitarian far left and right work to divide America further. To be honest, Trevor, I don't really think of my mother country as very much civilized anymore. And certainly not Russia. I consider Canada a civilized country. For now. First World countries fall short for the same reasons others do: Hatred against colors and ethnicities, hatred against women, an increasingly violent society. Europe has spent most of its existence fighting each other. Other parts of the world still haven't won that precarious battle. Like Africa. Like the Middle East. Like Russia. Like the United States. 'Where were you when...?" is a fair question we should ponder and discuss. Why didn't we care as much about the Rwandans? Or the Chechnyans? Or the yadda yadda yaddas? More importantly, why don't we care--or not--only when we frame it in identitarian terms of how much the victims look like us? And how much 'my' tribe is victimized by 'your' tribe? Regardless of what color they are, what part of the world their ancestors initially invaded or what's between their legs. Why do I consider Ukraine--or South Korea--more 'civilized' than South Africa or most parts of the Middle East? It's not like racism and misogyny don't exist there. Ukrainians themselves demonstrated racism trying to cross borders. I don't like how the latters treat one-half of their population. We can't move forward as a global order until we abandon our tribalisms. One reason why I don't support slave reparations for African-Americans is because they only help one small group of Americans, and it's hard to see how handouts for grievances they haven't themselves suffered will 'help'. A more balanced, just, equitable society benefits everyone, not just black Americans. It's nothing but tribalism, as has become the #MeToo movement which ignores women's grievances when they happen to men (domestic violence, abuse, custody battle child abductions, rape, sexual harassment). Whataboutism is annoying to those trying to fix a problem - like the swift destruction of Ukraine - but it forces us to think about our own biases. Trevor Noah is biased towards darker-skinned people. I am biased towards vagina'ed people. Others are biased towards marginalized groups like transfolk, religious communities, the disabled, or people in certain age groups. Our biases serve real purposes. I thank Trevor Noah for making me think a bit about my bias regarding the Russian-Ukrainian war. Revolution: It's best when it's personal I know people affected by the current war. A good friend and my neighbor's families are Ukrainian, with family members there. My cousin's children are half-Ukrainian. And, I live in Ontario, with Canada's largest Ukrainian community. We have a Ukrainian festival every summer not far from my home. We have Ukrainian banks and credit unions. Ukrainians, literally and figuratively, are my 'hood. So's everyone else. My street is a United Nations of humanity. I care more about today's war than I did when the Rwandan conflict occurred, because I hadn't yet become friendly with a Rwandan refugee I worked with years ago and with whom I maintained a friendship until we grew apart. I care more about Rwanda, I know more about it now, because of her. It's personalized. I think of South Korea as more 'civilized' than North Korea, but but forgot about my niece when I first pondered the question; I don't think of her as South Korean, she's just my niece. Racism against Asians in America seemed remote to me last year until weeks after the infamous spa killings in Atlanta. After I remembered the family Asian. Point taken, Trevor. I need to think about my own moral blindness, but I hope you and your tribe will ponder your own. African men, especially black Africans, have a lot to answer to women for, and I didn't even get into how Africans likely invented female genital mutilation (and I can't imagine it was originally a female idea). The true path to progress, like all revolutions, is a long walk to freedom, but if we can move beyond our own personal identitarianism, we can make it revolution for everybody, not just the white set or the guy set. It'll be a huge improvement for everybody. Yeah, even for white guys.

  • Stop Male Abuse When It’s Happening…Maybe?

    How feminist was I, really, when the shit hit the fan? Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels “Get out! GET OUT! You’re going to get arrested!” There was a kerfuffle of some sort. I don’t know what else to call it. I was poised at my apartment door, peering through the peephole. I couldn’t see anything. The couple in the hall weren’t in my line of sight. Something maybe knocked or thrown around. But not, I thought, a human body. Hard to tell. I suspected it was the young girl in my wing. I didn’t know her, I had only seen the back of her head once, following her down the hall. I couldn’t see or hear the man, but she clearly wanted him to leave. Was he her boyfriend? A friend? Some guy she’d picked up and poorly chosen to allow into the building? Would I be wasting 911’s time if I called? I hadn’t heard clear sounds of actual violence, nor real fear yet in her voice. “If you ever hear something that sounds like a domestic disturbance, Nicole, call the police! You don’t know how many times, when J was threatening me years ago, that I was backed up against the wall praying to God someone had heard what was going on and was calling the cops.” That’s what my roommate told me thirty years ago, when we shared a house in a small town in Connecticut. She had gotten out of a long-term abusive relationship and was living in peace with myself and her two children. I called 911. CC0 2.0 image by Drew Mackie on Flickr I wasn’t sure if I should have, but after I hung up things escalated. Loud whispers I couldn’t quite make out except for the occasional, “Get out! Get out!” They were still in the hall. I could hear the man’s voice but not if he was threatening her. He didn’t sound like a criminal, at least, like a street tough. My guess was that he was middle-class. My own fears kicked in. What would I do? They wouldn’t know who called 911 but I’d be a suspect as one of the apartments in that end of the hall who could hear. What if she was now in real danger? “How feminist are you, really, Nicole?” What was I going to do? Would I cower and hide in my apartment? Would I call 911 again? A little voice piped up. Not my old roommate’s. “How feminist are you really, Nicole? How truly committed are you to stopping male abuse? If a woman is in danger, can you put your money where your mouth is and STOP IT?” It was that sort of come-to-Jesus moment about what you really believe in. How committed was I to stopping abuse if I could? What if I did something RIGHT NOW to stop it? They’d know who I am. They’d know who called 911. They’d know where I live. And if the man, who I didn’t think lived in our building, came back for me, he only had to consult the tenants board at the entrance of the building to find my apartment number and last name. The sounds of physical disturbance grew louder. Now I wasn’t sure if the muffled thumps and thuds were objects or a body. But the woman now sounded really scared and like she was in immediate danger and even if I called 911 again they wouldn’t get there in time. What was I going to do? The shit was hitting the fan. It was up to me. I left the chain lock in place as I opened the door just enough to yell, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW, BUDDY-BOY! LEAVE HER ALONE! DON’T TOUCH HER! I’VE CALLED 911 AND THE COPS ARE ON THEIR WAY RIGHT NOW! GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW!” “Oh God, now you’ve got to go!” the girl hissed. “Come on, go, leave, before they get here!” I heard the stairwell door open and close. She was safe. Now I was terrified. For myself. NICE JOB YOU DUMB BITCH! What if he comes after me? What do you do when the shit hits the fan? I don’t call myself a feminist anymore because I associate it too much with the fragile, easily triggered, misandrist, ‘patriarchy’-obsessed, chronically aggrieved perma-victims of the modern age. But that night I came to Jesus as my old-school feminism, the kind that taught women empowerment rather than relentless powerlessness, kicked in. I put my money where my mouth was. I shat rather than get off the pot. I’ve criticized other women for being too weak and ‘nice’ and putting up with too much shit. When that young girl told that guy he had to leave, I wondered why she had a tone to her voice indicating she still liked or accepted him in some way. She was young, and prone to bad judgment. But I knew what I was going to say to her in the (extremely unlikely) event that she ran into me and told me next time, to mind my own business. “Don’t ever tolerate that sort of shit from a man. I don’t know who he is or what he means to you but you need to get him out of your life RIGHT NOW if you haven’t already. NEVER allow a man to treat you like that! If you allow him back into your life you’re giving him tacit permission to abuse you again. Stop it NOW before it’s too late!” Women have choices when it comes to men. They have more power than they know. Too many identify with the politics of powerlessness and victimhood and this near-mythical patriarchy thingy as an excuse to ignore their own role in their personal safety. I want women to know they have the power to decide who they’ll allow into their lives. That the earlier you eject a toxic male, the better your chances of survival. I called 911 again. It was hard for me to talk because my thoughts were a muddle. Focus, I told myself. This is no time to lose your head. Speak. When I got off the phone, I was shaking like a leaf. I called one of my closest friends, a man. I told him what happened. I wondered if I’d just put my own life in danger. My limbic system went wild imagining all the ways this could backlash on me. My friend didn’t think my life was likely in danger, he thought the fact that the guy left immediately and didn’t yell anything back belligerently indicated that I probably scared him. That made me feel better. My friend knew how a man was likely to think and act in that situation, even though he himself was the least violent guy I knew. He said I should be more vigilant, maybe not take the elevator with strangers and use the stairs more. Which I already do anyway. I messaged my old Connecticut roommate on Facebook and told her what happened, to see if she had any additional advice. Once the stress hormones diminished I began to feel stronger, in a very Don’t Fuck With Me kind of way. I knew most people didn’t want a confrontation, and I’d taken a calculated risk based on the sound of the man’s voice and judged him to not likely be a physical risk to me. I began to feel proud of myself for doing something ballsy and letting the guy know that someone was willing to stop him. My Connecticut friend said it was good I didn’t step out into the hall where I could get hurt. It got me thinking about how often we women say to each other, “But you could have gotten hurt!” when a man is involved. Well, yeah. But…how far are we willing to go to stop male abuse? How much are we willing to stand up to male power? When a smaller man confronts a much bigger male bully we think that’s heroic and brave. George McFly. My Bodyguard. The Karate Kid. When a woman does it we think she’s crazy or stupid. You could get hurt! Maybe they’re right. I don’t know. What would I do if the man confronted me? I’d thought I might pull the generational thing on him since I’m old enough to be his mother and give him the Angry Mom’s what-for for treating a woman like that and scaring her. After all, he’s far less likely to own a gun, being Canadian, if he’s not a street kid. He might have a knife, but probably not. And he might be cowed by an older woman who shows she’s not as easily threatened as a naive young girl and who’s yelling in his face that when a woman tells you to leave, you fucking leave. No means no!!! That’s how the scenario plays in my head, anyway. I have no idea what I’d have done if he’d confronted me. I might be too terrified to do anything except try to slink past him. Photo by Ilya Cher on Unsplash What would you have done? I offer my story with no suggestion as to how you might have handled it, or ‘should have’. That’s what I did, for better or for worse. I think I did the right thing because nothing bad happened afterward. I was more vigilant as my friend suggested and I kept an eye peeled for strange young men in the building. All the worst-case scenarios my fevered limbic system conjured up never came to pass. Had he confronted me, and hurt me, I might well feel differently. I don’t know if there is a best way to handle these things. I mentally went through an escalation of events that night: A woman who couldn’t get a man to leave. Who began to sound scared. Something that might have been someone being assaulted, if not necessarily O.J.-scary. Then, a woman who sounded like she was in immediate physical danger and with no one around to help except me. If something had happened to her it would be my fault! Maybe in the end I just couldn’t live with that. I don’t know. I make no judgments on women who might have done differently. Who put their own safety first. I can’t blame anyone for that extremely personal decision. But I feel a little stronger and a bit more powerful. I haven’t seen the girl down the hall since then and I hope she makes better companionship decisions in the future. When 911 showed up I listened once again at the door and she sounded okay, her voice was placating. She didn’t sound like she’d been traumatized by a physical assault. I hope she was at least a little embarrassed. I know I would have been, and wouldn’t have wanted anyone calling the police on me again. That’s what I did. What would you have done? How feminist are any of us when the shit hits the fan with a violent man?

  • How Can Men Tell Their Stories And Challenge Toxic Feminism?

    Men, I offer my own experience and encourage you: Please, go forth and write! Photo by Andres Ayrton from Pexels Everyone’s tribe is under siege, especially in the Ignited States of America. Victimhood culture’s self-destructive ideology has infected the bodies politic and social like a metastasized cancer. America falls apart before our eyes, slouching toward potential failed state status. We hate each other. Still, we’re all victims, legitimately. To some degree. Yeah, even men. Yeah, even white men. This article, though, is for everyone with male privilege. ’Coz y’all need to know you have the right to tell your stories and challenge certain narratives. Feminism isn’t a dirty little f-word, although for some it’s become an excuse to hate men the way some ‘antiracists’ hate on the easily-sunburned. Both deny their bigotry. I offer my experience debating my female tribe, particularly the perma-victims — along with my membership in the White Skin Tribe, where my privilege is occasionally overestimated by the Heavy Melanin set. I recently wrote a well-received article on how we need men to join us and tell their stories. It quite resonated with the dudes, along with women clearly as tired as I of infantilized pseudo-feminist victim thinking. Men, We Need You To Tell Your Truths Too Don’t like how you’re treated? Don’t like the racism and misandry? Feel abused? Tell us why. Yes, I’m serious. It sounds cliche to say We’re all in this together but it’s the dirty little truth for right- and left-wing bigots. Here’s another tired little platitude we need to take seriously: Be the change we want to see. Toxic -isms beget counter toxic -isms. Misogyny juices misandry and misandry juices misogyny. White racism feeds black racism and black racism returns the disfavor. The transgender community’s biggest challenge for greater acceptance is toxic masculine entitled ex-men who’ve been women for like fifteen minutes who think they know more about being a woman than those of us who’ve been at it our entire lives. Sad to say, but, typical. It juices dislike and distrust of transfolk. Women and feminists (they’re not necessarily the same) can’t go on about the difficulty for women telling their stories without a lot of shaming, harassment, and online abuse, yet turn around and do exactly that to men who have experienced trauma, also at the hands, more or less, of patriarchal culture. It’s hard to suffer the slings and shitbombs of trolls and haters, even when you’re a member of an advantaged group. I know, because as a white woman, I share a common experience with non-white men: I’m a member of both a privileged and a disadvantaged group. Fear me! I am white! Fuck, man, almost any man could rape and/or kill me if he wanted. Two words: Bill Cosby. Therefore, I can be sympathetic to how beaten up by toxic feminism men feel, because I feel beaten up by toxic antiracism. Still, we can support an essentially good cause without allowing haters’ poison into our lives. Just say no to extremists! I perpetually tell women they don’t have to allow abusive men into their lives. (A surprisingly controversial opinion for some so-called ‘feminists’.) Gentlemen, you have the right to refuse toxic, abusive women. Photo by Monstera from Pexels The ‘antiracists’ I refuse are those less interested in racial equality than taking out their hostilities on white people — which also includes frustration with themselves, deep down, for not having the balls or labia to speak up more, speak out, and not tolerate white bullshit. I see what men find annoying in chronically aggrieved women. Victim feminists rail about how they’re ‘not allowed’ to do this or that and I think, Really? Who’s stopping you? Is it the Patriarchy or is it you? And, seriously, do you really think men don’t have a lot of social dictates about what they’re ‘allowed’ to do? Is there no such thing as a ‘man box’ in your constipated world? Ironically, they exemplify the toxic masculinity model: Buying uncritically into the narrative. Women who buy uncritically into the victim feminist narrative are no different. It’s easier to blame men (or feminists) than it is to challenge yourself. We’ve got a lot in common, huh? Who’da thunk it? When we tell our truths, as a member of a privileged group, we have to take more care with our words. We have to acknowledge, at least to ourselves, how privilege-blind we are, and don’t see how it negatively affects the lives of disadvantaged groups. The advantaged have valid points of view, but not all POVs are valid. Let’s talk about men’s rights. Not the whiny, self-victimizing MRA kind. The kind of men who want to be, in the immortal words of a U.S. Army recruiting poster, all they can be. Speaking as a woman who challenges the ‘wrong’ people in my work (i.e., victim feminists), I’ve spent the last few years learning how to ‘speak my truth’ and deal with critics who can’t stand it when someone who’s supposed to be a ‘sister’ challenges other women to be all they can be, too. I understand men’s confusion a little better now, especially when communicating and articulating feelings and positions. Thanks to Anthony Signorelli for his sympathetic article on why men find this so challenging. Hold Men Accountable: Move Beyond “Toxic Masculinity” In our cultural discussion on gender and #MeToo, there is a constant call by therapists, activists, women partners, and… Don’t be put off by the headline; he doesn’t bash men. This is why I decided to write this article right now, although I’d been thinking about it since publishing the one about men’s stories. There’s a lot I don’t know about the challenges men face, especially those surrounding exploring their inner lives and learning to articulate emotional discussions better. Gentlemen, take what I’m saying as my view based on my experience. I’m not trying to tell you what to do. I know how aggravating you find all those arrogant, pretentious, lofty, woker-than-thou advice articles by self-appointed femsplainers on howtuhbearealman. Castigated men may relate to my experience, since, thanks to left-wing victimhood ideologists, I suffer the same blanket condemnation and unpaid membership into a monolithic White Supremacy some of you do. (It’s like the Patriarchy, except it includes women, even on the golf courses.) Anthony’s right. You don’t have the right tools, and as you can see from some of his comments, some women would rather kvetch about their own victimhood as they scoff at men’s pain or inability to express themselves well. Or at all. Ask those chickie-boos to help you move a piano. Then get mad at them when they complain they ‘can’t’. Kidding, ladies! Well, kind of. Get it? Yes, you can help a man move a piano if you work out enough at the gym. Just as he can learn to express himself better. Get thee to a fitness center, girly! Here are what I believe are the core guidelines for telling one’s truth. Men’s Rights of Engagement You have the right to define your own masculinity and sense of manhood. Toxic messages target us from all directions, and toxic people never shut up about what they think others should be. I don’t let men define what I ‘should’’ be. Nor do I allow toxic feminists to tell me what I ‘should’ think. I don’t allow toxic antiracists to layer me with their racial generalizations or lump me in with real white supremacists. You didn’t see my lily-white ass on Capitol Hill on January 6th! As a man, not only do you have to guard against toxic feminist thinking but also toxic masculinity thinking. Welcome to our double-edged world! Your right to define your actions and behavior ends where others’ rights begin. You have the right to stand up for yourself, but not be abusive to others. You have the right to challenge women, but are obligated to do it in a healthy, fair-minded manner. Women don’t get to solely define alleged male abuses and aggressions. As a white person striving to be as non-racist as I can, it can be exhausting keeping up on all the things black people tell me I should and shouldn’t do. I occasionally scan those Things White People Shouldn’t Do lists to see if someone’s come up with something new rather than parroting everyone else’s lists. Ergo, I understand how tired you are hearing about how much you irritate women. Constant gripes, especially with ‘microaggressions’, start to grate, especially when harm is exaggerated, as the left is wont to do. I find it with black complaints. Bitching about microaggressions is a sign of privilege. If some guy said, “I’d hit that!” as I walked by in the park, I still had a way better day than every woman in Afghanistan. You have the right to challenge claims of abuse and aggressions. Note, I said challenge, not deny. Bill Maher put it well in a New Rule video: #TakeAllegationsSeriously, an opinion piece that brought together four words you never expected to hear: Joe Biden, Sex Monster. Victim feminism perpetually broadens the definitions of formerly very serious words like rape, abuse, harassment, consent, narcissism, gaslighting, and psychopath to cast a wider net over alleged perpetrators, as antiRACISTS try to drag all us white folks into the same category as Steve Bannon and Robert E. Lee. When women tell their stories, treat them the way you want your own stories treated, and remember your own scoffers. Just because someone says you’re a misogynist doesn’t make it so, but conduct some honest self-questioning and make sure they’re wrong. Keep skimming those Things Men Do To Annoy Women articles to make sure you’re not missing anything. Recognize your membership in your privileged group It’s harder for white men, who don’t have the experience of being in a disadvantaged group. But recognize your penis and/or paleness grants automatic privilege. Look at your male privilege the way I have to consider my white privilege. I thought about it a few years ago when the Canada-U.S. border was damnably slow due to a computer system malfunction. I asked the guard as he rebooted his computer again, “Is it okay if I text my brother to tell him I might be late for dinner?” He granted my wish, and eventually let me go even though he couldn’t check me in the computer. Yeah, I wondered, how would that have gone down if I was brown and wearing a hijab? Or was black? I seek out black antiracists who don’t hate white people, who don’t read victimist black literature or, Goddess help us all, Robin DiAngelo, the Great White ‘Antiracism’ Goddess. When I see what’s really wrong with our racist society, rather than someone having the worst day of their life because someone mistook them for a Dollar Store employee, it makes it easier to challenge black bigotry. As a woman, it’s easier to push back against victim feminism because I’ve grown up in a sexist, misogynist world, but lived my life identifying with personal power rather than chronic grievance with ‘The Patriarchy’. Know where women (and POC) are wrong, oversensitive, disingenuous, or just exaggerating (we all do it, we’re human) so you can push back the right people at the right time in the right way. Embrace being wrong or not knowing something Men take a lot of crap for being know-it-all, mansplaining, and never admitting they’re wrong. They might well win the prize, but women who do this — particularly the ‘woke’ — are close silver medal winners. It’s human nature not to admit you’re wrong, or not know what you didn’t know. This is especially important when you don’t have the life experiences of others. There are more times I STFU around racism debates than gender equality ones. I don’t know what it was like to grow up black, and I don’t want to belittle someone else’s genuine experience if it sounds like there’s bona fide grievance rather than privileged nitpicking. I push back on transwomen activists who think they know more about being a woman, because they don’t. I’ve been a woman my entire life. I don’t care if they call me TERF or transphobe, because the left transitions every label into shallow boogerhead insults all meaning the same thing: “I don’t like what you said and I’m not logical enough to refute it.” TERF-flingers are often just misogynists in dresses. Still, you can learn valuable insights from your critics, and if you engage with them, they can change your life. Last year someone recommended the book Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft. It offered incredible insight on why abusive men are the way they are, how near-impossible the likelihood they’ll ever change, how they’re way better than I would have expected at faking reformed behavior even with highly-trained professionals until the partner loss danger is past, and why it’s so challenging for their partners to ‘just leave’. Stay strong, don’t give up, and fuck trolls. If you’ve got a story to tell, and it challenges conventional thinking, the people who don’t like intellectual challenge are your target. If you’re writing as honestly and authentically as you can, those you trigger are those most resistant to your message, ergo those who need to hear it the most. It’s good for them. This first appeared on Medium in 2021.

  • Moving Beyond Man-Hating

    It's time to confront victim feminism's self-imposed disempowerment. Who's truly holding us back? Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash The persistent image of 'man-hating' has dogged feminism since, like, forever. It perpetually irritates some not because it's inaccurate, but because it isn't. More than ever. Power vs. victim feminism Naomi Wolf described two types of feminism she encountered in her 1994 book Fire with Fire: New Female Power and How It Will Change the Twenty-First Century. At the same time, feminist gadfly Christina Hoff Sommers detailed the same in her book Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women. They assigned different labels to the same descriptions: Feminists identifying with powerlessness and a fairly traditional image of women as weak, helpless, and in constant need of protection by, ironically, a largely male, 'patriarchal' state. Wolf called this group victim feminists; Sommers called them gender feminists. Feminists identifying with personal power and agency, who seek genuine equal rights for men and women, and who advocate women use their financial, economic and political power to achieve change for the greater good. Wolf calls them power feminists; Sommers calls them equity feminists. The misandrists populate mostly the victim feminist camp, although it's inaccurate to paint all victim feminists as man-haters. Having come of age myself in the early 1980s, when Second Wave feminism was in full flower, I became disenchanted years later after a growing internal reactionary mindset infantilized women, and with blinding lack of self-awareness, blamed only men for women's inequity. The problem, as I saw it, was that genuinely patriarchal institutions had clearly weakened since our great-grandmothers had fought for voting rights (the First Wave). Victim feminists seemed unwilling to acknowledge progress accomplished, which Wolf described at length in her book. Today, cognitive scientist and popular author Steven Pinker describes what he calls 'progressophobia' on the left--the fear of acknowledging the clear historical evidence for progress. I didn't appreciate feminism's growing misandrist mindset treating women as chronic perma-victims. It didn't jive with my own and other women's experiences that we held ourselves back as much as any systemic -ism did. I sure as hell couldn't 'identify'. As we march into the 21st century it's obvious we ARE making rather a lot of progress, and it's time to acknowledge what power feminists have recognized all along. Victims are weak, not empowered It's hard even for us power feminists not to fear our own power, let alone embrace it. Women have only begun to flex their muscles for a little over a century, after thousands of years of genuine patriarchy. Evolution takes time. I wrote recently about my admiration for U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who has never shirked from power and embodies the best qualities of strategic power--all aligned toward getting things done. What especially impressed me about Pelosi is how she boldly stated during her second run at the House leadership, "I'm the best qualified for the job." Men do that, not women. Why don't we? "That glass ceiling doesn't look so thick...." Public domain photo by scottwebb on Pixabay Nancy Pelosi does not fear men. One can offer the usual justifications for holding ourselves back--"When women are assertive we get called bitches!" "Who am I to say I'm the best-qualified?"--but maybe it explains why we don't get promoted as much. Leaders, well--lead. What men do right is they don't wait for anyone to hand them the power. They pursue it, and they don't care what you call them. Sometimes they take it too far, like trying to overthrow a government over an election they lost fair 'n' square, but you have to hand it to their leader for this: He won the first election fair 'n' square because he oozed confidence, however ill-fitting, and declared he was the best candidate. His opponent may arguably have never had a genuine chance at real power, but she was the first shot over the bow signaling women's time to lead the government is here. Now a woman is one heart attack away from the U.S. presidency, and in fact she was President for about an hour in November when the elected one underwent a minor surgical procedure. After the 2018 elections, over 100 women now warm Congressional seats and terrorize their toxic opposition on Twitter. It fetishizes weakness to blame 'The Patriarchy' as though it's some monolithic Illuminati. The world, and even North America, still retains many elements of patriarchy, but here at least, it's more like your wheezing elderly relation than, say, frat boy Tucker Carlson. It gives too much power to men and denies our own personal agency. With power comes responsibility, and too many feminists pay lip service to agency while remaining deeply conflicted about it. They, and sometimes the rest of us, don't even realize we think like victims. We face many genuine challenges in forcing men to share power, but no one ever gives it up willingly. Hence the MAGA backlash, as white people and male people realize people of color and women people want a seat at the table too. Like it or not, we need men to work with us on creating a more equitable society for all. Not all are on board with the MAGA set. Misandry pushes away our male allies Men are tired of being blamed for everything wrong with the world. As a member of an advantaged group myself--white people--I know many of us, too, are tired of being blamed for the same. I don't hold men today responsible for the grievances of the ancient past any more than I hold myself for any. I especially don't consider a birth penis (or a white skin) 'original sin'. Treating men as The Enemy pushes away our potential allies--some of whom lick their wounds with 'men's rights activists' or sexually entitled incels. Plenty of real men would like to see women succeed and are genuinely invested in creating a more equitable world. But they're neither blind nor stupid. They can see how women hold themselves back. How we need to speak up more. How rapists get away with it because we don't hold them accountable. How we're more risk-averse. How we fear too much what others will say about us. How we worry more about what we look like than what we've done, and what we can do. How we're afraid to seek power. When I make these points I get a certain amount of pushback, but men reach out to me publicly and privately to say, "Thank you. Thank you for saying what I don't dare say." I get them. I feel the same about 'victim antiracists'. They closely resemble victim feminists, except their fight is racial rights. Worthy cause, but, like victim feminism, self-infantilizing and bigoted (white people). Victim antiracists teach people of color they're perpetually oppressed and in need of constant state (white) protection. Sound similar? Still waiting to 'not be heard' In my thirties, I read an article by a newspaper reporter (she later became a friend) who wrote about how her voice became less important after she hit forty. Her bosses didn't listen to her opinion as much as when she was young and cute. Men were less inclined to turn to her in a conversation than they once had. I was perturbed. I was a few years away. It never happened. It seems when you're as loud and opinionated as I am, people hear me whether they want to or not. I'm hard to tune out without leaving the room. I don't always speak up. I don't always make myself heard. Like other women--like other people--I sometimes silence myself. Now I push myself more when I feel reticent about speaking out. Less clueful men will never learn to listen to women, hear our stories, unless we make them. Image by Tumisu on Flickr Be too strong for them to ignore you I wonder if we make it easier to victimize women when we don't take responsibility for ourselves and our lives. When we complain about harassment overmuch and exaggerate harm done, how serious do we sound? How overprivileged? How much does a victim feminist mindset train girls to think like victims rather than go-getters? My Life, As Interpreted By Victim Feminism It's one thing to be rightfully irritated if some jerk feels you up on the bus, it's quite another to turn it into an Epic Battle With The Patriarchy. Xena I ain't, and neither is anyone else. I reserve my outrage for the truly outrageous, like that American women's precious abortion rights are hanging by a thread over a malign Supreme Court stacked with newer members who couldn't hold an intellectual candle to a guinea pig. Or that Harvey Weinstein was allowed to operate in plain view for decades. Or that judges still worry more about what effect jail will have on a rapist than the convicted perp's rape had on his victim. Or that his dad called it 'twenty minutes of action'. There's nothing less weak-looking than women mistaking slights and 'microaggressions' for world-class oppression. #MeToo jumped the shark when Matt Damon was all but forced off Twitter for differentiating between a butt grab and a rape. As we move into the halls of power, how can we challenge ourselves more? How can we be stronger? How can we confront our personal power and use it for the greater good? How do we change the often-unconscious patriarchal paradigm and embrace our male allies rather than drive them away? What can we learn from good men in power? What do they do right that we don't? What don't they do that we do? What are we learning from good women in power? What are we learning from the ones who screw it up? (I'm looking at you, Elizabeth Holmes!) Are we acting like victims, thinking like victims, playing at empowerment while hiding in our little 'safe spaces', slapping at 'The Patriarchy' when it walks by, but failing to call the police if we hear our (female) neighbor in danger? Who's really holding us back, the Patriarchy or ourselves? Or each other? What are we doing to challenge the genuine man-haters? If misogyny is wrong, so is misandry. Men make up roughly half the world's population. We have to learn to live and work with them. I'd rather work with them than against them.

  • My Mother Taught Me Never To Tolerate Abuse

    And you don't have to, either. Mother teaching daughter how to sit in yoga butterfly pose — "Did you ever notice it’s the short guys who hit?” Michelle’s question came out of left field. My first thought was, What on earth makes you think I’d know? “No, I’ve never been hit by a man,” I replied in a steady voice, otherwise hornswoggled. “I’ve dated plenty of short men, but none of them had Short Guy Disease.” You know That Guy. The little man who struts around overcompensating for his perceived lack of manhood because he’s not towering over you like a cactus in the Arizona desert. Who’s more hypermasculine than Stallone and hits women because he thinks they’re secretly laughing at him. And because they’re weaker than he, and if he can’t get respect for his height, dammit, people and especially those bitches will respect his superior strength. Not the kind of man I ever went out with. Michelle believed this was normal, and part of every woman’s existence. She didn’t know I’d made conscious choices my entire life, thanks to the greatest gift from my mother. “Never put up with a man who hits you,” my mother instructed as soon as my hormones bubbled like shaken ginger ale. “If he hits you once, that’s it, he’s over. Don’t let him apologize and swear it’ll never happen again. He’ll give you gifts or take you out to dinner and tell you how much he loves you. He’ll shower you with crap and treat you great for a while, until you’re over it, and then it happens again. It ALWAYS happens again. ALWAYS.” Mom was never abused. Not by my grandfather, her first husband, or my father. Nor by any boyfriends. She never mentioned anyone she knew who was battered. Probably she didn’t know. Good wives knew how to whip up a great cake for a neighborly kaffeeklatsch. The best ones knew precisely how much vodka to mix into the pitcher of screwdrivers. Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay Mom taught me how boys and men manipulated women to get sex. “He’ll say whatever he thinks will get you into bed,” she said. “He guilt-trips you. He’ll say if you really loved him you’d do this for him. If he really loves you he won’t push you to do anything you’re not ready for. “Or he’ll claim he’s got ‘blue balls’ from sexual arousal. It’s a made-up condition. He’ll claim it hurts. He’ll say it’s your fault so you need to relieve it. I don’t know if it hurts if they get worked up but they can masturbate if it’s that bad. They don’t require you. “He’ll tell you all the other girls are doing it. Don’t believe them! He’ll threaten to find a girl who will if you won’t. Let him go if he does. If all he cares about is himself he’s not good enough for you!” Mom made it crystal-clear I had the power to say no to abuse, never to tolerate it. In the 1970s ‘those damn women’s libbers’ as my feminist-in-denial mother always called them, had begun to focus attention on the problems of rape, sexual assault, and battering. Mom was furious one night at dinner over a woman she’d seen on an afternoon talk show. “This dimbulb was married to this man who constantly beat her, and she put up with this for years, and you know what she did? She burnt him alive in his bed! She poured gasoline on him while he was sleeping and she set fire to him! How the hell can you do that to another human being, even if he was a monster? WHY THE HELL DIDN’T SHE LEAVE HIM? “And you know what the audience did after she told this story? They APPLAUDED HER!” Mom finished, livid with rage. The Burning Bed was published in 1980, the infancy of understanding the complex dynamics of abusive relationships. Fortunately, a seminal and better book was released the same year, The Battered Woman. Mom’s frustration with women who stayed with abusers was rooted in a common ignorance of how different life was for women who often came from violent, dysfunctional homes as The Burning Bed’s Francine Hughes had. But her underlying belief in women’s personal power, at least early on, is a vision we need to embrace today. Mom may have lacked compassion in an era with little common example or discussion about male abuse, but she recognized the personal power women possessed but didn’t use. She challenged the prevailing wisdom and imparted it to her daughter, who never allowed a man to treat her badly either. I got lucky in the birth lottery. Born middle-class with parents who cared deeply for my brother and I, we had our dysfunctions like every family, but we grew up without physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. Our parents made mistakes, some of which eat at me a bit even today, but I also keep it in perspective. My cobwebbed complaints are definitely small potatoes compared to the stories I heard from other girls in high school and came to believe I was the only girl in town who wasn’t being visited at night by her father or some male relative. I’ve spent a lifetime not being abused by men. I’ve been harassed, and subjected to misogyny and double standards and all the other female crap, but I’ve never been whacked around by a partner, never been seriously sexually assaulted, never dealt with any remarkable psychological or emotional abuse. I’ve been manipulated, sure. I’ve given up my power many times and I’ve been pretty damn lucky when I’ve pulled some seriously dumb shit which could have ended badly and for which I’d have been partly responsible, for putting myself in danger. I excuse no man for what he does to others, but I own my responsibility to myself. Mom taught me never to tolerate misogyny. I identified on my own some of the toxic male subcultures where one must tread with great caution and to recognize key elements — degrading comments about women, severe homophobia, hypermasculinity — as red flags. Photo by Vera Arsic from Pexels Mom, and the take-charge protect-yourself feminism of the times taught me how not to act like an easy target. I believe abusive men can detect a woman with a victim mentality, or who is compliant enough to put up with misogyny. I know women who are sexually assaulted have an increased likelihood of it happening again. I’m not sure why; no one else does either. It’s like predators can smell it on them. I’m doing something right. And I’m not doing other things right. I’ve never been attracted to abusive men, nor do I fancy Danger Boys. I act like I don’t take any shit. It’s like they can smell it on me. I want to help other women see they don’t have to tolerate abuse. And men too; I have an ex-partner whose ex-wife used to hit him, and he didn’t hit back because ‘You don’t hit girls.’ It’s controversial to say women have a certain level of choice but I recognize many are blind to it, and it’s not their fault. I want to open their eyes to their power, and break the toxic traumatic bonds with abuse. I want every baby girl to grow up with my mother. I want everyone to just say no to control, manipulation and abuse. This first appeared on Medium in September 2020.

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