Helpful 101s

I originally started writing this post as an introduction to this page, but then I got a little carried away. Suffice to say, I find repeating the same conversation about the very basics of feminism tedious and exhausting (and a good filtering method to rid myself of douchbags in my life). I think it's a little harsh to immediately write off everybody who responds to a feminist-y article by spouting the nearest stereotype or unquestioned mainstream belief.

So, I've decided to create a page linking to my favourite 101-type sites that I can point well-intentioned but clueless people to if I find myself in one of these repetitive conversations. Here goes!

The terrible bargain we have regretfully struck
On why women might not easily trust men. A crappy deal we get - somebody says something you object to, and you get the option of 1) Saying something and getting into an argument and ruining the afternoon. 2) Not saying something and loosing a little trust for that person. In addition to having one's own afternoon already ruined to boot.
" There are the jokes about women, about wives, about mothers, about raising daughters, about female bosses. They are told in my presence by men who are meant to care about me, just to get a rise out of me, as though I am meant to find funny a reminder of my second-class status. I am meant to ignore that this is a bullying tactic, that the men telling these jokes derive their amusement specifically from knowing they upset me, piss me off, hurt me. They tell them and I can laugh, and they can thus feel superior, or I can not laugh, and they can thus feel superior. Heads they win, tails I lose. I am used as a prop in an ongoing game of patriarchal posturing, and then I am meant to believe it is true when some of the men who enjoy this sport, in which I am their pawn, tell me, "I love you." I love you, my daughter. I love you, my niece. I love you, my friend. I am meant to trust these words."

Finally feminism 101
An incomplete round up of 101 stuff in the form of an FAQ
"Discussions on feminist forums are often disrupted, frequently but not always deliberately, by commentors who post often-seen questions/assertions which end up turning the discussion into arguing about their question/assertion instead of the original issue that was being discussed. This blog aims to provide factual information, for both feminists and those questioning feminism, about those typically disruptive questions/assertions."

On the tone argument
In which discussion about feminism have I not heard somebody say something like "wouldn't it be better to be less angry when you talk about it? Don't you think more people would listen? Here's why that's not a helpful part of a discussion.
" When discussing the Tone Argument, a comparison that comes up time and time again is one person standing on another’s foot. The person whose foot hurts might yell. The polite response is not, “Don’t yell at me,” but “Oh crap, I’m sorry, I’ll get right off your foot.” "

On allegedly looking for things to get mad about
Because obviously there aren't enough things to be mad about without looking for them?
"This notion is ridiculous for a couple of reasons. For a start, misogyny is so pervasive that no one has to look for it. That said reality is even remotely in doubt is laughable, given that any YouTube comments section on any video featuring a woman will be rife with misogynist swill.
The assertion that YouTube threads aren't a legitimate source because they're ostensibly populated by juvenile delinquents or society's dregs isn't actually a sound argument. The same stuff—if more accurately spelled and with fewer Random Capitalizations—can be found in the comments threads of most major progressive political blogs, especially in response to posts about conservative women. "

Women 101: Periods don't make you crazy.
Also, did you ever consider that women who do get PMS might not have developed ways to deal with it? Because it has like, happened every month since they were about 12?
"Let's put this shit to bed right now: Women don't lose their minds when they have period-related irritability. It doesn't lower their ability to reason; it lowers their patience and, hence, tolerance for bullshit. If an issue comes up a lot during "that time of the month," that doesn't mean she only cares about it once a month; it means she's bothered by it all the time and lacks the capacity, once a month, to shove it down and bury it beneath six gulps of willful silence."

But why shouldn't she take some responsibility too for the rape?
" How could getting drunk or laughing with some new people you met or even having sex with someone possibly mean that you automatically wanted to have sex with five or six other people not of your choosing? But for women it is not like that. For us the assumption is that we were somehow asking for it unless we met some kind of endless test of resistance. "

On the myth of bra burning feminists.
We've all heard the stereotypes, and this one won't seem to die. The omission of the word "padded" from "throwing padded bras into a trash can" makes all the difference.

It's not always about you
This blog goes through some conversation the author has had with their male partner.
" If I'm not the problem," I explained, "then why should I get invested in identifying with the problem? If the problem is some particular batch of white people, doing or saying shit I'd never in a million years do myself, why should I feel the need to put myself in their shoes? Just because they're white and I'm white? That's stupid. Like all the idiot white dudes who identify with the Duke lacrosse players--they don't even comprehend that unless they're just as wealthy and elite, which you know 95% of them aren't, the fucking lacrosse players would SPIT on them. They're ID-ing with the players, but I guarantee you the players aren't ID-ing with them. "

On privilege
A useful primer on privilege and what it means and how to work with it.
"you aren’t bad for having privilege, but not being able to give up your privilege is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card for bad behaviour. So, what, then, to do about it? Well, finding a balance between accepting your privilege and fighting against it is not easy. I still struggle with it on a daily basis. But, one way to start is to listen to and take feedback from non-privileged groups. They are a good judge of how your actions come across to them. Not everyone’s opinions will be the same, but eventually you’ll come out with some semblance of balance that works for you and those around you."

On harassment, online and off:
An oldie, but a goodie, posted around the time of the Kathy Sierra incident. The comments, at least the first section of them, are also informative.
" suggesting that the issue might not really be all that serious is not being dispassionate. It is, in fact, taking a side. And the people on the side you’re taking, incidentally, include the gropers, the rapists, the sexual-favor-demanding bosses. "

More on Street harassment
On how not to scare women by acting like someone who would harass or harm them.
"But it's hard to explain it to men. "Those guys are assholes," they say. "Most guys are not like that. I'm not like that." That’s the thing: if I don't know you, I don't know what you're like. My experience is the only evidence I have and this evidence says waiting around to find out usually results in very unpleasant situations. No person in their right mind would seek out unpleasant situations."

What is this thing called "patriarchy"?
An informative first chapter of a book called Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy by Allan G. Johnson, published in 1997.
"Patriarchy is not simply another way of saying "men". Patriarchy is a kind of society, and a society is more than a collection of people. As such, "patriarchy" doesn't refer to me or any other man or collection of men, but to a kind of society in which men and women participate.
What is patriarchy? A society is patriarchal to the degree that it promotes male privilege by being male dominated, male identified, and male centered. It is also organized around an obsession with control and involves as one of its aspects the oppression of women."

Men can be feminists
What it says.
"Hell, yes! If you live by feminist principles, work for feminist goals, and identify yourself as a feminist when it really counts, then you are a feminist.
Obviously, there is a big difference between standing in solidarity with an oppressed group and being a member of that group. However, I don't know many male feminists or feminist allies who are unclear on that distinction."

On feminists allegedly being "man haters"
I can't tell you how many times I've heard comments about men all being immature and stupid and you should be careful which men you see and where etc etc, and it's certainly not coming from feminists.
"Feminists, of course, have the terrible reputation, but it isn't we who consider all men babies, dopes, dogs, and potential rapists. The holders of those views are the women and men who root for the patriarchy—which itself, after all, takes a rather unpleasantly dim view of most people."

I want a 24 hour truce during which there is no rape
What about the men?
A speech by Andrea Dworkin given at the Midwest Regional Conference of the National Organization for Changing Men in the fall of 1983 in St Paul, Minnesota.
" You want to organize men. You don't have to search for issues. The issues are part of the fabric of your everyday lives.
I want to talk to you about equality, what equality is and what it means. It isn't just an idea. It's not some insipid word that ends up being bullshit. It doesn't have anything at all to do with all those statements like: "Oh, that happens to men too." I name an abuse and I hear: "Oh, it happens to men too." That is not the equality we are struggling for. We could change our strategy and say: well, okay, we want equality; we'll stick something up the ass of a man every three minutes.
You've never heard that from the feminist movement, because for us equality has real dignity and importance--it's not some dumb word that can be twisted and made to look stupid as if it had no real meaning. "

These are some of my favourites. I may not agree with everything each author says, but I believe they are making valid points.
If anyone would like further reading, here are some of my favourite sites (a mixture of downunder and elsewhere):

Shakesville has an amazing collection of posts tagged as 101.

Geek Feminism: Women, Feminism and Geek Culture

Blue Milk: Thinking + Motherhood = Feminist

Hoyden About Town:  HOYDEN (hoid'n): woman of saucy, boisterous and carefree behaviour.

Socialogical Images: Inspiring Socialogical Imaginations Everywhere

The Hand Mirror: Feminism is the radical notion that women are people

The Lady Garden: Tea and Strumpets

ALRANZ: Abortion is a health matter, not a crime (Blog of the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand)

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