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

July 5th, 2011 by Jules Leave a reply »

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.

Advertisement

40 comments

  1. Alcnor says:

    First, a hearty “amen!”

    As a teenager, a topic that comes up often amongst my peers is that of relationships, and the male/female (or male/male, female/female, etc.) roles. What disappoints me most frequently is the desire for “chivalry” – opening doors, pulling out chairs – that is held by girls who consider themselves “feminists.” I believe in mutual respect (don’t touch your partner in a way they do not want, make decisions with equal say) and politeness (whoever comes first holds the door, take turns paying the dinner bill.)

    The same concept applies here. I would not expect any more socially out of a man as I would a woman, and I would expect nothing out of them that I did not expect of myself. Feminism is something I equate to LGBT pride – I look forward to the day where it is not necessary because society regards everyone as equals.

  2. MixedFeelings says:

    I’m with you on most of it, but one thing I do not understand about part of this post and others is: do those of you calling asking people to come back to your hotel room, regardless of the genders or sexual preferences involved really live such lives that make you think that this is creepy? Goodness gracious. If more of you spent time in sexually open scenes, you’d have a very, very different view. Hang out with some pro-open relationship people, variants of swinger culture people, BDSM people, libertines of various stripes, or polyamorous people and you will find the etiquette is sometimes/often very different from the assumptions in this post.

    I’ve been asked back for coffee, alcohol, sex, and about hundre other things. If I’m interested in the person (or people) I say yes. If I’m not, I say no. There’s nothing sinister, weird, or creepy about it.

    There are a lot of ways you can do it “wrong” or “badly.” There are ways to alienate, to annoy, or even to scare. However, to paint all propositions as equally “creepy” or “dangerous” you toss in many sexually open, enlightened, completely non-scary people in with the creeps of the world. All of those of you who THINK you are debating sexual harassment, gender roles, “general” etiquette, etc. please realise that you do not speak for everyone, and that many of your biases are really about pushing your particular version of etiquette/interpersonal interactions which is informed by your own culture/subculture, etc. It is NOT universal. Some of us like being propositioned (and the great sex we get from it, one the whole) just fine.

    • Jules says:

      Let me clarify, I don’t find it creepy in a sexual way, but creepy in a social way. I don’t care what your sexual preferences are, what things you may or may not be into, I personally am not comfortable spending any alone time with a stranger. Not because I personally feel threatened, but that is where my personal boundaries are.

      Let’s get to know each other first over coffees and hanging out in public places before I get into a situation that I personally consider private.

      That being said, I can also see how others can see it as sexually creepy, where I just see it as socially creepy.

      And if you are open to going to a stranger’s hotel room, then good for you! Really :)

      I can only speak about how I see it and what works for me.

      Also, regardless of how you or I may feel, there are a few that would see it as a sexual invitation, regardless if it is coming from a vagina or penis. So maybe, just maybe, it is best to be cautious and invite them to socialise in public first.

      Does that clarify it for you?

      Edit: I have many friends in all the communities you speak of. As I said, it isn’t a sex issue for me but it just takes me awhile to get comfortable around people, period.

      • MixedFeelings says:

        Thanks for clarifying. Honestly, my issue is more with those opining on this debate as if *they speak for everyone*. It’s completely and totally fine if someone just doesn’t like this or that, but those that are presuming that “THIS IS HOW EVERYONE THINKS/IS SO DEAL WITH IT YOU SEXUALLY HARASSING PIGS” are really clueless. Couldn’t be further from reality (unless the particular reality one is in is one of personal, sexual and social repression. I recommend therapy for those people!)

        Thanks for the post.

        • Jules says:

          Yes, it is the general statements that bother me as well. Are there pigs in the world? Of course there are! And they have both vaginas and penises. I’ve received death threats. I’ve received sexually explicit emails. I’ve had stalkers. But those are not a normal. And I deal with those situations individually. If I don’t appreciate the way someone is talking to me, I’ll let them know. And for as many men, and even women, who have objectified me, I’m just as guilty as saying sexually explicit comments about men. I will fully admit that I can be a pig. Go to a women’s strip club. They can be very scary. Women may not be sending out as many sexual explicit letters as men seem to. Or maybe they are and men are just choosing to privately deal with them on an individual basis.

          Yes, there are real issues. Yes, there are still men who believe if they are in a relationship with someone, it entitles them to sex. Yes, most rape happens at the hands of someone you know. But I personally choose to deal with that specific issue and not paint every one with the same ugly brush and be leery of all men off the bat cos some choose to be horrid. Until you give me a reason to think you are creepy, then I’ll treat you with respect and will attempt to get to know you if that is something that is wanted.

          • MixedFeelings says:

            I like raunchiness. Nothing wrong with that either. :-)

            I think the thing that bothers me most of all here is the assumption by many of the people that are jumping to the defense of Skepchick is that “no [respectable] woman would want to be propositioned.” Not only are they wrong, but they come off as sex-negative, repressed, puritanical, and wost of all terribly presumptuous about their own authority on the matter. It’s so regressive it’s just unbelievable.

          • Jules says:

            I feel the same way. I know lots of self-respecting women who like to be propositioned. They find it fun. Me, personally, it really depends on a lot of variables.

            But it is because every one is so individual, I personally think it is always best to be cautious and get to know someone on a brain level first. I really dislike when people feel they have to pussyfoot around me. That being said, if they are going to be a pig with me first, they better be prepared for me to tell them to sod off and go away. Treat me with respect and you’ll receive. Treat me like an object and you’ll get the same treatment in return.

    • female not feminist says:

      I really love this post, and I got here by googling “feminists don’t speak for me” – you can imagine why. I agree with so much of what you wrote here. You sound like a woman who is not afraid to take responsibility for yourself, and I respect you for that – especially as a fellow survivor who has had it out with feminists time and again who think that they can speak for everyone who has ever been sexually assaulted.

      I do want to say something about what mixed feelings said, though.

      I am pro-human rights, and I am happy for people to do whatever they want consensually. However, BDSM and subcultures where people regularly have sex with strangers ARE NOT THE NORM. I don’t care what you do, but just because you are in a “sexually explicit subculture” does not mean that everyone else should adopt your “I am not afraid of anyone, and I love it when strangers proposition me for sex” attitude.

      I am 100% pro-lgbt rights but as an individual I draw the line at being expected to pay lip service to fringe sexual behaviors.

      As someone who was assaulted by a stranger in a hotel, I really would be traumatized and messed up for days if a stranger propositioned me for sex in a hotel. It’s not always appropriate, and just because you are in a fringe sexual clique doesn’t mean that everyday people don’t have a right to determine what makes THEM uncomfortable.

      Do whatever you want so long as it’s consensual, but don’t act like you are an oppressed minority because some people aren’t interested in having sex with strangers or hearing about your bondage fantasies. You should keep that shit to yourself (although I see more and more today people demanding that their kinks be “legitimized” as if people not being into their sub-culture are stopping them from getting all the sex they want or forcing discussions about sex with whoever they want.)

      It seems to me they (sexually “free” sub-cultures) want to be able sexually harass people and not deal with the consequences of propositioning someone who doesn’t WANT them, or who doesn’t want to be chatted up about their oh-so-special sexual blah, deee, blah, blah) *eye roll*

      Making sure gay people aren’t unfairly discriminated against is a human rights issue – BDSM is a sub-culture based on rough sex. There is a difference, and there is no reason anyone should have to pay lip service to YOUR sexual view of the world or be accused of being a prude or oppressing you in some way.

      Here is a news flash – other people don’t HAVE TO care about your penis or what you do with it. Your penis is not an oppressed minority and your sex fantasies are not protected speech – you lose that right when you force others to look at or listen to sexually explicit material. BDSM isn’t some oppressed sub-culture, and many of it’s adherents don’t understand proper boundaries or the fact that not everyone wants sex all the time. To me THAT is oppressive.

      To me, being told that people who don’t want sex with strangers are somehow oppressing people who want to beat and fuck each other without concern for any kind of basic human interaction is just silly and typical of the type of victim mentally prevalent today.

      What I get from MFs post is – “if you don’t respect my sexual kinks and listen to me blather on about how I LOOVVE sex with strangers without acting uncomfortable or like what I determine a prude to be (on my scale of assuming having sex with strangers is great) you are being mean to me and possibly even oppressing me as a sexual minority”.

      Give me a break – take some responsibility for yourself, please and realize that most people don’t want to be bombarded with “sex talk” by strangers, not even if you think they SHOULD listen to you and SHOULD be (according to YOUR standards) less prudish.

      Respect people’s boundaries and don’t assume people want to hear about your sexual kinks and fetishes unless they specifically say they do. That’s basic human decency and I suggest you learn it instead of pushing your sexual mores on other people. Good day.

  3. Joshrooms13 says:

    My wife and I read this together and loved it. We are both very supportive of equality, but at the same time wary of feminism and what it has become. Your examples and views do a great job of summing up a lot of the problems we see with modern day feminism. Kudos from a penis/vagina combo.

  4. Graham says:

    Thank you, Jules! I agree with you totally, I felt really awkward reading Phil’s post. As a rule, I always make sure girls have a physical escape route before I ask them out.

    Also, your foster father sounds like a massive shit.

    • Jules says:

      Yeah, in some ways, he was. His reaction to the attempted rape distressed me more than the attempted rape itself. It really surprised me as he never made me feel small until that point. He encouraged and supported me to join the military (he was once in the navy). He never told once that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. However, when it came things like “girls ask to be raped” his views were really horrible and we had many debates about them.

  5. SpaceDoggity says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d seen it already, but it sounds like you might appreciate Randall Munroe’s view: http://xkcd.com/642/

  6. Chris B says:

    Thank you, Julia, thank you :)

    My husband and I read your post together and gave a big ^5 to the first post we’ve seen bringing up many important points being ignored in this debate.

    Equality does not (should not!) depend on what’s between your legs. This particular type of feminism conveniently overlooks that many men also get treated badly in society, and it sets up a victim mentality where women start seeing ‘risk’ where there is none. Justice and equality is for all; as is expecting minimum standards in behaviour from all genders.

    No, feminists don’t speak for me, either. I don’t doubt for one moment that when ‘a person’ (male, female, or other) relates an experience that makes them uncomfortable, that it actually did so. But caution should be exercised before assuming that a similar incident would have the same outcome for others. I wonder how many “hit on” incidents are seen as such by feminists because that is the filter they see the world through?

    I despair for the poor males of our species that can no longer approach a single female at a large gathering with the intention of providing companionship or seeking intellectual discourse, having his motivations being automatically branded sexual in nature or that he’s a potential rapist. I truly despair, I really do.

    And a word to these feminists if they are reading. If you want to know what turned me off the skeptic & atheist community, it was YOU. I had no problem with the men, it was the wormen that drove me nuts. So, look in the mirror next time you ask “why aren’t more women joining in?” and acknowledge the fact that you are actually part of the problem and not the solution. Unless, of course, you’re only really interested in a certain type of female, and people such as myself can go get stuffed? (rhetorical question).

  7. Much food for thought. We certainly live in cultures where it is quite easy to take offense and start a chain reaction of crap; when really we should just be living common-sense lives.

  8. WMDKitty says:

    Oh, look, a female misogynist… *yawn*

    Crawl back into your cave with the rest of the Neanderthals, dearie, you’re holding women back.

    • If anyone’s the misogynist, it’s you. You’re the one telling women that they have to feel a certain way while Jules is hitting at the true center of the issue: equality.

      • BG says:

        Yeah, but see, there’s this little thing called “internalised misogyny” that some women have. It has nothing to do with wanting equality. You might want to look that up and see just how the entire OP is full of it.

    • Karl Johanson says:

      Ah. Insults instead of reasoned arguments.
      Jules = interesting, intelligent, etc.
      Drop in insulter = boring.
      And why use “Neanderthal” as an insult? Race bigotry is mean.

      • Phyraxus says:

        LOL, right, apparently neanderthals had larger cranial cavities than modern humans and could have very likely been smarter than us. But, unfortunately, intelligence isn’t necessarily a trait that increases fitness. I mean, have you seen the movie Idiocracy? I do have a very real fear that is the world that we may end up living in at a certain point.

    • BG says:

      I know, right? I haven’t seen so much internalised misogyny in a while.

      • Chickenchargrill says:

        Play fair BG, I’m pretty sure I know what mysoginy means, but I fail to see where you see it in the post.

        Give us some examples.

        There’s no point in commenting if it’s only to call people names. Be more constructive with your feedback.

    • Phyraxus says:

      Yeah… I wouldn’t worry about this one…
      she flat out said that men can’t be raped by women. Sexist much?

      http://www.blaghag.com/2011/07/dawkins-is-not-misogynist.html

      • Jules says:

        I saw those comments. I was wondering why my server was being slammed and why I was receiving hate e-mail. So I decided to check out the discussion around what I said. To say I am gobsmacked is an understatement. I have a lot to say in response, however, I’m still trying to pick my brain back up.

        Thank you for posting a link here for others to see. At least someone wants me to be aware of what is being said elsewhere about me, instead of me having to do it via my stats. It’s appreciated. This shows respect and makes it easier to deal with the hate I’ve been receiving for voicing my own opinions and experiences.

  9. 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.

    To be fair, I don’t think that’s something you can pin on feminism alone. Social roles and mores are changing for a variety of reasons. Even then, as a guy, I think one thing that feminism has helped to change – hopefully – is the expectation that guys have to put on an Alpha Male veneer as a default setting. That schtick isn’t the same as general friendliness, but there’s a number of guys who don’t make that distinction – and are generally prodded not to.

  10. Phyraxus says:

    Thanks for being one of the few voices of reason and speaking out for real equality.

  11. I take it, then, that it’s principally generalisation that bothers you – not the arguments of any particular feminists per se but rather the claim that they apply to all women, or are supported by all women (sometimes with the exception of those ‘brainwashed by the patriarchy’, a horrible term for something that is a real issue, but arguably overused). On that basis, then I can generally agree – in general, people should claim, even implicitly, that they speak for an entire class. However, it can render language incredibly complex and verbose to explicitly disclaim this, so it’s hard to do without compromising other goals of the writing (if not impossible).

    • Jules says:

      The use of I statements fixes that. It is really simple to say, “I feel ____ because of _______” and not “Women feel this way”. Then invite others to share if that same situation causes to feel the same way. Encourage people to use their own voices.

  12. Michelle says:

    “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.”

    Actually she didn’t. She related an anecdote personal to her, said it made it feel uncomfortable in a part of a video lasting about a minute and said “um, just a word to wise here, guys, uh, don’t do that.” Then another person minimised that and said she saw the comment as hypocritical because no one ever says a woman propositioning a guy could be creepy….or something along that lines. But really, because it was said as a personal thing, she didn’t ever suggest anything of the sort or that in another context, that it would always be wrong (or right, considering the criticism).

    Then Rebecca raised this in a talk, again it was a brief thing, apparently she’d side-tracked into some of the issues she’d had with people who claimed to be atheist as well as Christians and then talked about how she should be raped and so on. Speaking about this and naming names is the ‘abuse of power’ being claimed, but I’ve seen a video of a panel where she says that Paula Kirby disagrees with her as well so it’s a matter of deciding whether it or whether it isn’t OK to address this head on and acknowledge and address it when you disagree in a talk. I think it is fine to do that, and that if you say something in public, it’s out there and others might address this in public as well whether that’s on the blog itself or in other forums.

    The biggest problem is not that it happened, but where it’s gone from there. To be honest, this comment completely misrepresents the original comments and even that of others – what I saw was a lot of people trying to explain what the issue might be rather that speak for all “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?”

    On the face of it, it shouldn’t be “sexism, much” but rather “stereotyping, much and can you please get rid of that massive straw man, thanks”. No one, from my reading was suggesting don’t go near women, but rather trying to explain context was important and why someone might have a concern. Some didn’t get that. Personally, I’d head out of the comments and check the various blog posts, they might not really get it right but it’s a hell of a lot better better than the disaster area in the comments.

    As a aside, don’t blame feminism or any other -ism for all the ills in the world, it’s convenient to have some faceless thing to blame, but it’s not actually helpful at facing the problem and dealing with situations that we face every day. Sorry, I’ve never seen an situation where a male is seen as a paedophile for taking his kids to the park and so on, in fact it’s been completely the opposite. He’s often getting lavish praise for something women do everyday, merely for doing the job of parenting. I don’t know if making strong claims like that touch on any sort of reality, they always seem like the sort of thing that are more the stuff of urban legend.

    “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.”

    As an RN who occasionally volunteers with the ambulance service as paramedic in my country, and who regularly lifts patients more than my body weight I have to say I find the suggestion that my gender renders me some kind of danger to the people I care for objectionable. We don’t have any sort of quotas here as it’s competence to do the job that counts and this denigrates my and other health care workers abilities and capability to perform our roles to say all else is essentially worthless other than our lifting ability. That is far, far from the truth – believe it or not, it’s actually lifting technique that is critical, not ability to apply brute force. Even if quotas are in place, I’d still be able to do the job….I just won’t be held back by attitudes like that that presumptively assume I don’t have the right to go into that occupation. Attitudes like what you’ve said that preach some ideal of equality but then in practice say things that mean you regard me as something rather less than equal.

    Doesn’t matter that you said “I” it’s still painting another person as being less than competent just because of gender, still saying something about people in those occupations, something about me that does that job.

    Or this: “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.”

    In my country at least, primary custody is awarded to the parent that was the primary caregiver before the relationship broke up, and that is done with the principle of what is in the best interest of the child. That’s the unequal bit and that’s not the fault of the woman, who by default ends up being the one that does that and cuts her hours to bring up the children in the relationship, and if fathers want to solve that, they can put in the time into their children before the relationship hits the skids. Never seems to work that way though, and from what I’ve seen, a lot of these complaints come from people that don’t really actually want custody, but do object to paying child support (what’s worse is that is often way less than what a child costs anyway and so the custodial parent really is doing it tough in more ways than one as they end up paying twice over).

    If you want to say “Please do not speak for me.” and not to generalise, apply this across the board. It’s like with me, I don’t need anyone to speak for me and tell me I’m incapable of doing my job and that you don’t trust me to do it properly purely because of my gender. Or without really examining it, that it’s “unequal” by default that women often get custody of children and the presumption it’s automatically set up to shaft men. It doesn’t surprise me when it gets fraught when things get twisted and a broad brush is used to paint the situation, but it doesn’t help that in telling others not to do that that a broad brush is used to paint others and characterise them in certain ways.

    • Jules says:

      Take 3 of reply (browser crashed twice now whilst trying to reply)

      It is fair that you’ve never run into men who’ve been labelled as pedophiles for taking children to the park. My experiences are different. I know a number of men who live in the ‘bible belt’ who are afraid to take female children to the park for fear of the police being called on them.

      As for the background to Rebecca’s comment, I don’t care about that. What I care about is the resulting discussion on the internet of those who support Rebecca. The first thing I said was that is perfectly acceptable for someone to feel uncomfortable in that situation. What I don’t think is acceptable is automatically labelling that situation as a potential sexual assault and claiming that all women would feel uncomfortable in that situation. That simply is not true. I elaborated on that in the comments.

      The reason why I spoke to the two comments that I linked to is because if people don’t start behaving rationally and stop with this nonsense of suggestion that men need to ride in separate elevators or cross the street if they happen to come across a lone female is absolutely absurd. If I am in a situation that makes me uncomfortable, it is my job to remove myself from it. It is unreasonable of me to expect the world to conform to my will. That is what some are asking and they are doing it, rightly or wrongly, in the name of “feminism”. It isn’t unreasonable to ask men AND women to not ask such things in an enclosed space. It is unreasonable to expect them to change the way the roam public places because some women may be uncomfortable just by the presence.

      As for the jobs things. my issue is women who gets jobs who are not qualified, simply to fill a quota. It happens. It may not happen in your part of the world but it does in mine. Certain companies get extra funding for hiring so many women, youth, disabled and those in visible minorities. While I understand the reasoning behind it, I personally choose not to apply for jobs with those companies because I never want to wonder if I got the job because I was qualified or did I get the job because I have a vagina and I have a disability.

      As for the military, being able to so many push-ups, sit-ups, carry so much weight, etc are JOB REQUIREMENTS that should not be relaxed to compensate for sex. Before I entered the military, women’s physical requirements were less. This precluded them from combat jobs. Then they made the requirements blind to sex. Then, due to political pressure to have more women in the military, they relaxed the physical requirements. I think that is BS. If you can’t do 100 push-ups, you don’t get the job, simple. This has nothing to do with sex. If a man doesn’t get the job because he doesn’t met the physical requirements, then neither should a women.

      As for custody laws, our laws are much different and who was the primary care giver prior to the dissolution of the relationship is the last thing courts look to.

      It is not unreasonable for me to not want to use or be associated with another ism, especially neo-feminism. If it were solely about equality, then I wouldn’t care. But in some circles, it has become about women vs men. And even if those circles do not represent the majority, they are the ones that get the most notice and have become what is associated with it. It may not be fair. But it is the same with how some people don’t want anything to do with the atheist movement because Dawkins is a dick. Phil Plait’s “Don’t be a dick” speech needs to be distributed to some feminist circles. Especially considering the amount of name calling, in public and private, and threats of violence at the hands of WOMEN, I’ve received in the last 2 days simply for asking people like Rebecca to not speak for me or all women.

      You say she isn’t, well ” I knew that eventually I would reach a sort of feminist singularity where I would explode and in my place would rise some kind of Captain Planet-type superhero but for feminists. I believe that day has nearly arrived.” (http://skepchick.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/)

      This female does not want Rebecca to be my feminist superhero.

  13. James Emery says:

    Hi, Jules!

    I’m a new reader (and will possibly be a recurrent one). I really enjoyed your take on the situation. It seems rational and level-headed. Please feel free to ignore WMDKitty. I’ve been reading a couple different blogs on this issue today (most notably Jen McCreight’s), and her arguments seem to consist of little more than insulting people. I very much love an acerbic wit, but she’s merely condescending! :(

    • Jules says:

      Thanks, James!

      Just a little warning, my personal blog (this site) get’s updated quite sporadically and covers a variety of subjects. However, if you do stick around, welcome and thanks!

  14. Pauline says:

    Michele must’ve read a completely different comment log than me on the discussion but I do appreciate the irony that in blog article taking issue with those appointing themselves spokespersons for their entire gender, Michele goes one better and appoints herself spokesperson for every Rebecca Waston supporter, male or female, race and age no object: “No, you misunderstood, here’s what we meant…” Except in written media unlike verbal argument you just have to scroll back up the page to see exactly what was meant and said.

    The whole Rebecca Watson thing has been embarrassing. She doesn’t want to be sexualized yet was happy to pose nude as a pin-up girl in the skepchick calendar and in her blog can be read gushing like a schoolgirl on some TV movie hunk saying she’d ‘do’ him. All very forward thinking and and would have her foaming at the mouth if it were a man. She’s an ‘intellectual’ light-weight who’s used this to raise her profile. She didn’t even seem that put out about the incident in her youtube piece, it wasn’t until the hardcore feminist shrilling started that she jumped on the bandwagon and began banging her indignation drum louder. She’s always been more about ‘Rebecca Waston’ than any issue she purports to advance: just look at the laughing stock she’s making of the community she claims to represent.

    Anyway, am so glad to have read your article, Jules, as I’m another one who doesn’t agree with the Waston brand of feminisim and am sick of getting told because of that I’m somehow selling myself short.

  15. Xanthe Wyse says:

    A very powerful example of spilling your guts. I’m with you that I feel uncomfortable with the monster feminism has become. Many feminists seem to be man-haters .

    I like that women are allowed to pursue careers that previously men did.

    I don’t like how women that choose to be traditional homemakers are scorned by other women. And the women who work are criticised by the homemakers.

    I work part-time and I’m a mother. A lot of us have to work to make ends meet these days. I’d still like to work even if we didn’t need the money. Other women would like not to.

    Women judging each other so viciously is appalling.

    • Jules says:

      I’m of the personal belief, that if possible, one parent stays home. I don’t care if it is the mum or the dad. I find it extremely troublesome that we live in a society that has become so obsessed with material gain, that it is a difficult thing to do. I can also understand that there are women who need to have something outside of the home. I, however, am not one of those. For me, being a mum is the most rewarding job I could ever have. However, we are suppose to have these choices and not be criticised for making them. The other party many not necessarily understand it, but I personally think these choices should be encouraged and accepted, regardless of level of understanding. After all, I’m under the impression that is what part of the original movement was all about: choice.

      I guess that is my long way of saying I understand your POV :)

  16. Loved this … found it pretty much impossible to argue with any of it. I’m new to your blog, but will definitely be back!

    As someone of the phallic persuasion I often found myself thinking that I almost wasn’t allowed to comment on feminism and feminist issues, but over the years I’ve come to realise that was nonsense. Feminism in its inception was supposed to be about women attaining an equality with men that they didn’t yet have, and I could not be more supportive of such an ideal – people, not just women, *should* be equal on all realistically conceivable fronts (obviously we have to rule out the right of men to bear children :)) But, as you suggest, something appears to have gone wrong somewhere because the whole point was to remove gender from the equation … men and women should be able to treat each other as humans, not men and women, and when you have men in fear of the police being called for behaving towards a women in the same they would a man of equal “friendship level”, all that’s happened is the roles have been reversed and feminism has, in some ways, replaced the patriarchy with a matriarchy.

    As for feminists speaking for all women, well that’s just stupid … you can’t speak for everyone, and you just shouldn’t try. I find it thoroughly annoying that advertising and the media in general seems to speak for men as though we’re all obsessed with football – I can’t imagine how a woman must feel when feminists are telling her how to approach careers and children, things that actually matter.

    Anyone up for starting an “equalist” movement? :)

    • Jules says:

      :) Thanks for the feedback.

      As for you equalist comment, I’m afraid it would turn into another -ism/ist (racism, sexism, etc).

      We have to figure out a name for a movement that support true equality that can’t be turned into another ist/ism

  17. Amy C.F. says:

    I mostly agree. It can not be denied that Watson fell victim to a bunch of jerkoffs though.

    I think she was wrong, and it was silly to claim that the issue was a feminist issue. But check her youtube channel — so much trolling. I guess thats what the internet is for though. :/

    • Jules says:

      I agree. She has had some very horrible things said to her; things that should never be said to any other human. That is not in debate. But in this specific case, there is a lot of wrong with what it turned into. If Rebecca wanted to be a ‘feminist superhero’, it is just my opinion, that it would be best to teach other women how to speak for themselves, not speak for them. In my opinion, any one speaking for me, regardless of sex, is repressive. True empowerment is learning how to speak and stand-up for yourself.

Leave a Reply