Tag Archives: sexism

I am afraid, or, 2017: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

I am afraid on the basis of all of my identities. That fear is not just of Trump himself, but of unchecked Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of our government, and likely soon the top level of the judicial branch as well.

As a black person, I’m afraid that Republican power will continue to deny that my and my people’s lives matter. That there will be no push from the federal government to hold police who kill unarmed black men and women accountable. That we will continue incarcerating absurd proportions of black and brown communities. That the fact that a businessman who was openly supported by the KKK was elected will give racists and white supremacists a larger platform, a stronger foothold, or even just make them more likely to take action in support of their beliefs.

As a woman, particularly as a sexually active woman of childbearing age who does not want to become a mother now or ever, I am worried about what full Republican leadership at the federal level means for reproductive rights. I have an IUD right now, that was made possible by the stipulation in Obamacare that requires all insurance companies to cover the cost of all forms of birth control. If (it pains me too much to say when) Obamacare is repealed, I will be required to pay for the medically necessary removal of my current IUD in 2018 and for the cost of inserting a new one, which can be upwards of $1000, if I choose to stick with this birth control option that has worked very well for me. If I choose to go with a lower cost, but also easier to misuse option, like the pill, I am scared that I’ll mess up and forget to take it one day, or forget to bring it with me on a trip, and then be faced with a potential unwanted pregnancy under an anti-abortion federal government. I am afraid of catcallers and other predatory men feeling emboldened by a president who has bragged about grabbing women by the pussy.

As a queer person, I am afraid that Trump himself doesn’t care about us, as he has released no policy plans for LGBT rights or HIV/AIDS. But I know how anti-LGBT the Republican party generally is: 2016 has seen pushback on marriage equality and adoption rights for same-sex couples, bathroom bills that have devastating consequences beyond just where we pee, endorsements of gay conversion therapy for minors, and a resurgence of “religious freedom” bills designed to allow businesses the ‘right’ to refuse to serve us. Trans women, especially trans women of color, are being killed every week in this country, and I have no hope that they will be protected under our new president-elect’s leadership. In fact, as the people who oppose QTPOCs very existence see how strong their numbers are, it’s hard to do anything other than expect the violence to get worse.

And speaking of the twisting of “religious freedom,” as a non-Christian, I am worried that a conservative majority in all branches of the federal government de facto pushes church and state closer together. I have extended family members who are Muslim (of the black power, Nation of Islam variety, but that didn’t matter to folks who abused and discriminated against them post-9/11). I am afraid for their safety in the red states of Georgia and Florida under a Trump administration.

As the daughter and granddaughter and niece and sister of people who have worked in the casino industry, literally for Trump himself and/or for people like him, I am worried that Republican control means even further erosion of what little safety net is there for our senior citizens who didn’t work fancy desk jobs with 401ks or pensions and now depend on Social Security and Medicare to literally feed, clothe, house, and care for themselves. I am afraid of what will happen to my father and my grandmother. I am worried that people who don’t make living wages will lose the scraps of support they are currently able to receive from programs like SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid, and won’t be able to literally feed, clothe, house, and care for their children. I am afraid that this administration will do nothing but widen the gap between the rich and the poor in this country, and further marginalize the voices of those being trampled upon.

As the daughter of a woman who has held down a full-time teaching job through multiple rounds of chemotherapy in order to keep her healthcare coverage, I am afraid that people will literally die as a result of this election. Obama was able to bring health insurance (albeit imperfect) to hundreds of thousands of people who did not have it before, and made it so that people couldn’t be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. I am afraid that if my mom gets too sick to work, a post-Obamacare America will be one in which she cannot be insured, and my family will have to watch a disease she beat once before overcome her because we can’t afford the treatments.

I feel America’s distaste for people like me, a distaste that ranges from a lack of empathy to a straight-up hatred, writ large this morning, feel it in my bones and in my spirit more heavily than I’ve ever felt it before. This place was built by us, but not for us, and is about to be run by people who aggressively don’t support us. I feel unsafe and unwanted here on the deepest of levels. If I joke or even more genuinely consider fleeing, don’t tell me it’s my responsibility to fight through and fix this. I didn’t break it. I don’t know how to heal the divide between rural America and urban America, between white America and diverse America, between people who legitimately support Trump’s platform and ideas and people like me. I don’t know if it can be healed. I am not hopeful this morning.

So, yes, let’s take the figure of the feminist killjoy seriously. Does the feminist kill other people’s joy by pointing out moments of sexism? Or does she expose the bad feelings that get hidden, displaced, or negated under public signs of joy? Does bad feeling enter the room when somebody expresses anger about things, or could anger be the moment when the bad feelings that circulate through objects get brought to the surface in a certain way? The feminist subject “in the room” hence “brings others down” not only by talking about unhappy topics such as sexism but by exposing how happiness is sustained by erasing the signs of not getting along. Feminists do kill joy in a certain sense: they disturb the very fantasy that happiness can be found in certain places. To kill a fantasy can still kill a feeling. It is not just that feminists might not be happily affected by what is supposed to cause happiness, but our failure to be happy is read as sabotaging the happiness of others.

–Sarah Ahmed, Feminist Killjoys (And Other Willful Subjects)

(via Queering the Game of Life)

It’s uncomfortable to come to grips with the fact that you’ve been complicit in a system of oppression. It can make you feel like a bad person. But you don’t act out of comfort. A man identifying as a feminist is going to have to make himself incredibly uncomfortable by accepting that his language/customs/traditions/beliefs have been informed by sexism and he has, consciously or not, been participating in that system that deleterious effects on the lives of women.

A How to Guide for Male Feminists (with the caveat that I don’t know what I’m talking about)

(via knowledge equals black power)

He was hardly the first or only person to dub a carefully-worded, cautiously-approached conversation an expression of anger, despite my avoiding of words like “sexist.” Being read as angry when you are not does not require bad faith on the part of the person interpreting your words. All it requires is the skewed perspective bequeathed to us by the world: that anyone not upholding the status quo is disrupting it, and that such disruption is, by nature, angry.

Skepchick | I Wasn’t Angry Until You Said I Was: Civility & Its Discontents

(via Polycule)

Casual sexism, in a nutshell, is the “casual” and nonchalant use of sexist and misogynist language and rhetoric in everyday settings. Casual sexism can happen anywhere, and can creep up on any woman even in the most seemingly innocent situation. It comes not simply from the angry talk radio host foaming at the mouth about contraception, or from the “Men’s Rights Activist” on an angrier part of Reddit, but from our teachers, our friends, our siblings, our fathers. Casual sexism is insidious, not simply because what is being said is misogynistic or harmful, but because the people saying it are often doing so with absolutely no intention of doing any harm. Even if they realize the harmful nature of their comments, others may not, and it still becomes difficult to defend against casual sexism without being told that one is “overreacting.”

“I Once Had a Guy Tell Me”: How Often Do You Deal With Misogyny?

(via because i am a woman)

Once you’ve realized that you’re living in a world that believes women are “less than” in every imaginable way, one of the things that can be most frustrating is that very few men get it. You want the people in your life, the men you care about, to understand the awful toll it can take on you. Operating in a world that sees you as less than fully human can be soul crushing— but it’s also incredibly lonely. When you speak up about any sense of unfairness or injustice, you’re told that you’re overreacting, you’re too angry, too silly— shut up already. It takes a tremendous amount of fortitude to be able to live in this world as a woman, let alone a woman who wants things to change.

–Kathleen Hanna

(via because i am a woman)

*loads up the trusty old Intersectionality Ray to fire it at #whitefeminism *

If you were a computer-loving male child who took a lot of shit from your peers, I suspect you heard something similar from the adults in your life. Maybe it was “Sure, things are bad now, but when you’re a little bit older, women will LOVE guys like you!” Or maybe it was “That kid who makes fun of you now will be working at a gas station when you run a big fancy computer company and marry a supermodel!” If you were once young, nerdy and male, it is not unlikely that your future sense of self-worth was funded with a non-consensual IOU from the world’s women. It’s taken me a long time, but at this point I genuinely believe that much of this “GEEKS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH” rhetoric is little more than patriarchy’s bespectacled wingman. It excuses the pain that systems of power exert on children by promising little boys future dominion over little girls. It is deeply and massively fucked.

What (Else) Can Men Do? Grow The Fuck Up. — Medium

(via because i am a woman)

I remember working with a law school in which white men heavily dominated the faculty. They used lots of sports metaphors (doing an end run, Monday morning quarterbacking, and so on), with legal jargon thrown in for good measure. I suggested that this was not a particularly welcoming trait in their school, that in fact it was sexist, but they paid little attention. I made my point by speaking for about five minutes in dressmaking terms: putting a dart in here, a gusset there, cutting the budget on the bias so it would be more flexible, using a peplum to hide a course that might be controversial. The women in the room laughed; the men did not find it humorous….Language is power, make no mistake about it. It is used to include and exclude and to keep people and systems in their places.

Frances E. Kendall, Understanding White Privilege

(via knowledge equals black power)

Some of you understand completely. And some of you ask: Too white … how?

Too white as in Cornell had almost no POC—no people of color—in it. Too white as in the MFA had no faculty of color in the fiction program—like none—and neither the faculty nor the administration saw that lack of color as a big problem. (At least the students are diverse, they told us.) Too white as in my workshop reproduced exactly the dominant culture’s blind spots and assumptions around race and racism (and sexism and heteronormativity, etc). In my workshop there was an almost lunatical belief that race was no longer a major social force (it’s class!). In my workshop we never explored our racial identities or how they impacted our writing—at all. Never got any kind of instruction in that area—at all. Shit, in my workshop we never talked about race except on the rare occasion someone wanted to argue that “race discussions” were exactly the discussion a serious writer should not be having.

From what I saw the plurality of students and faculty had been educated exclusively in the tradition of writers like William Gaddis, Francine Prose, or Alice Munro—and not at all in the traditions of Toni Morrison, Cherrie Moraga, Maxine Hong-Kingston, Arundhati Roy, Edwidge Danticat, Alice Walker, or Jamaica Kincaid. In my workshop the default subject position of reading and writing—of Literature with a capital L—was white, straight and male. This white straight male default was of course not biased in any way by its white straight maleness—no way! Race was the unfortunate condition of nonwhite people that had nothing to do with white people and as such was not a natural part of the Universal of Literature, and anyone that tried to introduce racial consciousness to the Great (White) Universal of Literature would be seen as politicizing the Pure Art and betraying the (White) Universal (no race) ideal of True Literature.

In my workshop what was defended was not the writing of people of color but the right of the white writer to write about people of color without considering the critiques of people of color.

Junot Díaz, “MFA vs. POC” (the introduction to Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing from the Voices Workshop)

(via the dopest ethiopienne)

…the Black male consciousness must be raised to the realization that sexism and woman-hating are critically dysfunctional to his liberation as a Black man because they arise out of the same constellation that engenders racism and homophobia. Until that consciousness is developed, Black men will view sexism and the destruction of Black women as tangential to Black liberation rather than as central to that struggle.

–Audre Lorde, “Sexism: An American Disease in Blackface,” Sister Outsider, p. 64

(via the dopest ethiopienne)