Archive for July 5th, 2011

Dear Feminism: Please Stop Trying To Speak For Me And Let Me Speak For Myself

July 5th, 2011

This blog is long overdue. Before any one jumps to any conclusions or tries to yet again cram down my throat that I’m selling my fellow vagina down the river, please actually read and consider what it is that I, someone of the vaginal persuasion, has to say.

Today, once more, the Twitters and the blogs are going crazy over comments made by a man. This man is a very high-profile atheist and biologist. His name is Richard Dawkins. I only became aware of this situation because Phil Plait blogged about it. To try and make a long-story short, a female skeptic by the name of Rebecca Watson felts threatened by the actions of a male at some convention. She made a video about it. Richard Dawkins made some very disconcerting remarks. I’ve seen some real asshat comments from that man before, but this even floored me. There is a little bit more to this story. I am going to ask that you read Phil’s blog about it, because it is his blog and the comments left it in that has created the ranty storm within my brain.

I’ll let you read it now.

Oh? You’re done reading? Okay, then I’ll move on.

First, let me address what Phil had to say. I agree, the situation was creepy. I personally would have felt uncomfortable if some dude asked me back to his hotel room in the wee hours of the morning for coffee. Had he asked me to meet him for a coffee the next day at some public place, I would have happily said yes. It is the inviting back to the hotel room that would have caused me to be leery. That being said, I would have felt just as uncomfortable if it were a female asking me back to her hotel room. Because you see, this is where I disagree with Phil. Sorry, Phil. You know I adore you. In my mind, that alone is not a potential sexual assault waiting to happen. Well, it isn’t a potential sexual assault alone. There would have to other factors, such as body language, tone in his voice, if he kept pushing the subject after I said no, if he became agitated or forceful. Based on what little information I have, I personally would have seen it as someone who is lacking some social skills and not understanding why something he could well think is innocent can be interpreted as creepy.

Okay. So we have that. Take note both men and women: Don’t ask strangers back to your hotel room for coffee in the wee hours of the morning unless you are willing for them to interpret the invite to mean, “Wanna get nekkid and to the horizontal mambo?” This goes for men asking women, women asking men, women asking women and men asking men. At least in my brain it does because I don’t discriminate based on the genitals between your legs.

This leads me to the next point about large, sweeping comments such as, “Women in general feel this way [insert sweeping feeling here] about [insert situation here].” 9 times out of 10, when someone makes those statements, this person of the vaginal persuasion does not feel that way. This becomes increasingly true when it is said from the POV of feminism. I read a “feminist” statement, and I think, “How hypocritical! You are wanting your male priveledge and your female privelege too, without allowing men the same benefits and equality! Your feminism is just as bad as chauvinism.”

And before you start to make assumption about my experiences with a vagina, I will tell you, I’ve experienced some pretty terrible things at the hands of men. I was in a physically abusive marriage. I was sexually assaulted. When I was in foster care, I broke up with my boyfriend, only for him to break into my foster home while my foster parents were away and try to rape me, as some sick and twisted type of revenge. To make this worse, my foster dad allowed him back into the house (he was a family friend) because, “If he is man enough to admit he was going to rape my daughter, her is man enough to be allowed back into my house.” My foster dad was the type who believed women asked to be raped simply by the way they dressed.

However, you see, that was a single isolated event. Had those experiences been the norm, then maybe I would have turned into a man-hating feminist. Overall, my experiences with men have been nothing but positive and had I allowed myself to become crippled and a victim of the above events, instead of learning from them and seeing them as growing experiences, I can see how things may be different.

I understand that not every one can just say, “Oh, well. Today I was raped. Tomorrow, I will not live in fear.” Trust me, I had a bit of fear and mistrust. But I worked damn hard to not allow it to define me and how I treated others. I worked hard to be a survivor and not a victim of my events. And I think that is where I get bothered the most, is when people choose to stay victims instead of growing into survivors. Let’s face it, it is a lot easier to remain a victim than it is to do the work necessary to become a survivor.

Feminism has ruined this vagina’s life. I left the military because of it.

Thanks to what it started off to be, I was allowed equal opportunity to join the military. When I joined, I had to be able to do the exact same physical tasks as my male counterpart. What would have stopped me from being allowed to do the job would not have been the fact I was born with a vagina but if I were unable to perform the necessary push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, run just as far while carrying an equally proportioned load, etc.

Then something happened. Someone cried sexual misconduct because an off-coloured joke was told in mixed company. Someone cried sexual assault because someone fixed the collar of their uniform without permission. Here I was in a job where I had to physically do just as much as men, had to sleep co-ed with them both in the bunker and in the field, sharing a shelter, in our underwear nonetheless, but if they wanted to fix my collar so that I would go on report, they had to ask, “Do I have permission to pick a piece of lint off of your collar.” The guy has seen me naked but he can’t touch my uniform or tell a joke around me. How can that there be equal respect and trust if he has to pussyfoot around me and live in fear?

The final straw that ended up causing me to leave the military is when I was pregnant. I was cleared for full duty until my last trimester by my doctor. I had forgotten to tell my NCO that I was pregnant. We were doing our morning parade. I almost fainted on the parade square. It was 5 o’clock in the morning, I was in my first trimester and my body just didn’t want to me marching around at that time in the morning. I was asked what was wrong as I seemed off that morning. I informed that I was pregnant, I had just found out that week and I was just feeling a little bit off. Well, you would think I had killed someone and then contracted both AIDS and developed cancer.

Even so I received medical clearance, I was told I was no longer allowed to step foot on the parade square. Because if I miscarried, I could sue the DND. I was furious! I was pregnant, not dying. If was to miscarry, it would not have been the fault of the DND. A lot of women miscarry. Most of them don’t even realise they are pregnant. But this told me that some female has sued the DND because she miscarried and that is when I had enough. If you want to use your vagina as leverage to not do the job to the same standards and with the same qualifications as the person next to you, then pursue another job.

This goes for any job where someone else’s life depends on your ability to perform certain tasks. I don’t care if you have a penis or vagina. If the job says you have to do 100 push-ups, then that is what you have to do to get the job. The idea of having to hire a female just to fill a quota in jobs where my life depends on it, scares the living crap out of me. I don’t want to have to worry that the female police officer or ambulance attendant or fire fighter will be unable to haul my body out of a dangerous situation. And if I’m in combat, I don’t want to have to worry about my female fireteam partner either charging me for sexual assault for fixing her collar or worry that she cannot carry by body out of the line of fire if I’m injured.

Why the above rant? It is where my brain went after I read this comment on Phil’s blog:

Men are not allowed to speak to or even make eye contact with women without express written permission, signed in triplicate, notarized with at least two witnesses. Because all men are potential sexual predators and all women are delicate potential victims. Sexism, much?

Out of the 75 comments I could stomach reading, I found myself agreeing more with the men than the women. There were maybe 3 comments left by women who I could feel comfortable agreeing with.

Feminism has taken us to a point where men have to worry about taking their children to park in fear of being accused of being a pedophile. Feminism has taken us to a point where men have to walk on eggshells because they have no idea what is that women want anymore. Hell, I don’t even know what it is that women want. Feminism has had women screaming at me because I chose to put my family before a career. I cannot count how many times I have been told that I’m doing women a complete disservice by not being career orientated. And here I thought the point of feminism was so that I could have choices and decide for myself.

I am so sick and tired of women telling me what I should think, want and feel. I am so tired of feminist telling me that I’ve given into some patriarchal thinking by thinking family should come first and children shouldn’t be penciled in like a doctor’s appointment. And here I was under the misunderstanding that I was a smart, educated women who could make decisions for myself. Apparently, I’m not allowed to have men make choices for me, I’m suppose to leave that up to women. No.

It is because of the above that I say I’m for equality. Meaning that men and women get to do things equally. Not that women should be allowed in men’s clubs but also keep their women club’s exclusive. How is that equal? I believe both men and women should have equal access to jobs and be awarded them based on their qualifications and ability to do the job, not based on a quota that needs to be filled. I believe that in child custody cases, custody should not automatically go to the mother because that is not equal. The list can go on, but I think you get the idea.

I believe that I should have the opportunity to speak for myself and I believe in giving other people, regardless of sex, those same opportunities. Please do not speak for me. Because most of the time, you are not. Speak for yourself. Use “I” statements. If you feel that you’ve been oppressed, then speak up on your own behalf. Thankfully, we live in a country that allows that.

If you want to help women who are oppressed in other countries, well first, I don’t believe we have the right to push our “white is right” cultural views on another society. We can however give them the tools necessary to allow them to speak for themselves. We can let them know that they are not alone and where they can seek help if needed. But I don’t think we should be forcing it on them. In my opinion, that is exchanging one form of dictation for another. If the recent events in the Middle East are any indication, if they really want change, they will make it happen and we can be ready to help them if and when they ask.

I suppose all this boils down to, I’ve never felt afraid to voice my opinions or deep-felt feelings to men. I am terrified to voice them to women because heaven forbid I’m not their idea of feminism. Feminism has ruined my ability to trust women with the things I hold most important. Because of what feminism has morphed into, it takes a very long time for me to open up to a female.

Someone else left this comment:

It is simply false to say that all women feel that way – particularly in light of the related issue of Rebecca Watson’s abuse of power with respect to a woman who disagreed with her. Or, even, say, some actual women who’ve actually been raped who actually wrote in response to PZ’s actual post saying they actually don’t feel the way you’ve just said they do; congratulations on speaking for people who are publicly telling everyone they don’t feel that way. Like any good dogmatic cause, let’s make sure we do NOT take honest stock of trivialities like what people you’re saying must feel are saying they in reality do not feel.

THIS! While I may not have any first hand experience of Rebecca’s supposed abuse of power if women disagree with her, I have experienced that abuse of power at the hands of women. I’ve experiences it more times at their hands than at the hands of men.

So once again, I ask, one vagina to the next person who has any sort of sex organs, if you want to fight for equality, then do but make sure you are letting people know that these are your experiences. I am tired of being painted with the same brush and I am so tired of men being terrified to talk to me because the lines have become so confused, blurred and unclear.