Some are more equal than others

animal-farm1

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with The Poisoned Well

I had promised myself to give the issue of Feminism a rest for a while, and fully intended to keep to that promise, until I came across The Poisoned Well’s latest… I do not even know how best to label it. It beggars belief.

Oh well… Broken Promises all over again.

I have always approached the subject with humour, although the message is a serious one: If you are a democrat, you are a feminist, and I will endeavour to be equally moderate (?) in my reply to what I deem a rather immoderate attack on what the movement stands for.

The first poisoned chalice on offer in this well, is the claim that “From day one Feminism has been elevating women at the expense of men.”*

At the expense of men? Is this a superpower zero sum game? Is it truly so difficult to grasp that to consider women to be of equal worth to men is not to the latter’s detriment? Surely the opposite is true.

We live in democracies where all citizens are deemed to be of equal worth. We got to this point by endeavouring to ensure that such equality is not an equality in name alone, and that reality comes as close to our aspiration for mutual respect, equal rights and equal social standing as it is possible.

The kind of Manichean ontology to which my opponent subscribes – that any advance for women is a step back for men – is frankly as outmoded as it is damaging. It is this kind of attitude that hurts both women and men, and not Feminism, as The Poisoned Well would have you believe.

But wait a little. It gets better. Feminism in The Poisoned Well’s depiction comes close to the likeness of a savage werewolf “Tearing men down to elevate women”* apparently.

Careful, ladies! Make sure to get that muzzle on when the Full Moon’s a-calling. I chain myself up to the bedpost too, just in case. Never know when the blood thirst will strike, and that pulsating manly vein… Argh! The scent is too much to withstand. You know what they say: the best way to avoid temptation, is to give into it.

Just when I thought I’d taken all precautions, the poison dosage was upped. Listen carefully. Did you know that “Men are excluded from most victim services even though men are more often the victim of every single crime including rape”*?

Umm… Dearest, The Poisoned Well, you might want to look into some stats on this. You will find that women are overwhelmingly the victims of rape. I’m not sure what country you live in to have experienced this, but in most civilised places, men are not excluded from most victim services. They are not excluded full stop.

What next? Here’s a juicy one for you: “Harass a man, it’s Tuesday.  Harass a woman, it’s the end of the world.  Inequality and discrimination really have become part of our every day lives.”*

You are right that inequality and discrimination is part of our everyday lives. It has not “become” this, it’s always been the case, but implying that the Feminist movement is somehow responsible for this is beyond inaccurate. You clearly have an axe to grind – in waiting for that Feminist Werewolf lurking under your bed, I imagine – but you may want to take on socio-political, class and economic factors into consideration, rather than bandying all societal evils under the standard of Feminism.

But The Poisoned Well has plenty more in store for your pallet’s delight: “Men are murdered much more often than women, but women suffer from catcalls.  We must ignore mens lives and protect the women’s feelings.”*

Men are murdered by other men mostly, so… this is relevant to a discussion of Feminism… how?

And men’s lives are not ignored. It is not for Feminism as a movement to take on this particular issue. Perhaps you may want to call on Law and Order from the State instead. It is the failure of the state to protect its citizens that results in the type of crime you describe.

You seem to be under the erroneous impression that society should ignore sexual harassment because there are other “more important” things to resolve first. Perhaps you would like for children to continue being molested too until all murderers have been jailed?  Using your logic society ought to say that it’s only assault, after all, and punishing those guilty of causing death takes precedence, right?

How can it be useful or helpful in any way to make such arguments?

For another meaty offering, The Poisoned Well decides that an attack on Religion is in order next. “Women are baby factories and men are disposable meat shields. […]Religion oppresses everyone except for the Plutocrats that own the religion.”*

Now, I find myself – a declared atheist – the defender of religion. Oh the irony!

Whatever system of thought or belief you may subscribe to, reducing religion to the above formula hardly cuts the mustard. It is a parody at best, and it’s hardly the way to encourage equality, or even the most basic form of mutual respect in this context.

Breaking News! “Women make the same as men in the same jobs. The problem of “The wage Gap” isn’t unequal pay for equal work.”* 

Well, aren’t I lucky to have been disabused of this notion about the continued gender inequality when it comes to salaries? Clearly all those other studies undertaken by highly respected economists, all reports on the matter submitted after thorough investigations: researched, documented, and backed up with relevant statistics – all nonsense apparently. Thank you, The Poisoned Well for clearing it all up for us. Eternally grateful, I’m sure.

Now I could go on and tell you about some other of The Poisoned Well’s brilliant insights, such as the fact that Feminism has apparently abolished the heroic male lead in cinematography, and that there is no such thing as men’s professional sports – they are gender neutral – I say! Jolly good – and women simply can’t keep up, so now they’ve come up with their own sports that make tons of money and objectify men in the process.

Aha! You heard me right, ladies. Down, boy. Down! Let me take a look at ya simmering swim-suited bod. That’s all you’re worth to me. It’s all hot-hot bunga-bunga and no emotional involvement. Cry me a river!

Then men get objectified some more and are excluded from reproductive rights. Just as they thought they were safe, hop! they go down a dark alley and get mugged for flashing their wealth around – wealth that of course is no greater than women’s because the pay-gap is a myth obviously – and this is all because of Feminism. The horror! What kind of a world do we live in?

And the Feminist coup de grâce? Men are NOT represented in the White House!!! No. Apparently the politician’s desire to be re-elected puts them well and truly at mummy’s skirt and under women’s Jimmy Choos. Result!

Final Poisoned Well pearl for the grand finale: “There is nothing that turns my stomach more.  Don’t worry I won’t be reading Jesus Feminist any time, ever.  If I want to read a distopian horror I’ll just read 1984 or Animal Farm.”*

I hear you, sister. Don’t think I’ll be turning to dystopias any time soon either. I mean… just read your article. That’s quite enough dystopia for one day, thank you very much.

*All quotes in this article are from The Poisoned Well‘s How Feminism Hurts men.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

You Are Not White Enough!

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Jezebel

“Good news, ladies! Society has discovered another new thing that’s wrong with you, which means another opportunity for you to make yourself more attractive for your man. Score! Turns out, the colour of your vagina is gross and everyone hates it. So bleach that motherf***er. Bleach it right now!”

I must’ve knocked my head and woke up in some parallel dimension universe where the world has been taken over by the Racist Vagina Police. This is a hoax, surely?!

Did you know about this? Not to worry. If you didn’t, you will now.

I’ve searched the blogosphere to see whether any of you have written about the latest in demented “fairness” trends.

The burden of guilt lies of course with the female population of this planet. Apparently, fair ladies, you have come short in one key area. Your privates are not white enough!

This is no joke. Serious stuff. It threatens the very survival of the human species. So take note and do something about it. Pronto.

Ever wonder why your boyfriend or hubby has been giving you a wide birth lately? Or perhaps it’s your “friend with benefits” who is a no show yet again? I’m certain that after the last half dozen “headache” excuses for a distinct lack of in-between-the-sheets action, you must have questioned it.

Experts to the rescue! It turns out it is not them. It is you. Or to put it bluntly, your vagina has lost its allure. If you are still in doubt, watch this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Tx9vVVMWw0

Disgusting, right? I really feel for the man. I mean, come on.

They sit down for their morning coffee. It’s another beautiful day in whiter-than-thou heart of India. But something is very very wrong.

You can cut the tension with a hatchet. The poor guy can’t even bear to look at her. It is all too much. The HORROR. After everything he’s had to put up with, and now THIS?

How could she let him down like that? Go and scrub that thing, girl! He looks like he’s about to retch. Can’t you see what you’re doing to his coffee? It’s all ruined. So brown. Just like your… Too much of a gentleman to bring up the subject, mind. Although he’s clearly all cut up about it.

But! She has a secret weapon. Lo and behold! Enters: Clean and Dry Intimate Wash. Can’t expect the sexy times to roll without putting in the effort.

Now look at him smile. Oh. Yeah. Result. She was only one wash away from being beautiful, sexy and confident. That’s what a light-reflecting labia will do for you.

Phew. Divorce papers shelved. Disaster averted. She’s definitely getting some tonight. Humanity lives to see another day.

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I admit. I’ve known for a while that there is a hierarchy of skin tone within the Indian community. It seems insane to me that this should be the case, but then India, despite being the world’s largest democracy, also happens to be amongst the most unequal. It is not just about an inequality of wealth and social standing, it has to do with the cast system. And yes, skin colour is a big part of that.

Darker-skinned Indians are encouraged to avoid direct sunlight and bleach their skin with products like Fair & Lovely. Should we be troubled by this?

Consumer capitalism seems determined to make us question everything about our bodies, looks, scent, invading the most intimate parts of ourselves for one reason and one reason only: to sell us things we don’t need, at prices we can’t afford.

All I can say is this. Don’t go there. There’s no man in this world who will reject you because of your unbleached Bermuda Triangle, and if there is… Someone who expects you to change your body in order to be with them, is so not worth it. Honestly.

Just say no.

This article was inspired by http://jezebel.com/5900928/your-vagina-isnt-just-too-big-too-floppy-and-too-hairyits-also-too-brownfrom whence comes the above pic too.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Link

PROJECT R : A Recipe for Marital Bliss

The Don’t Be that Dude! re-blog, received some criticism due to its failure to acknowledge that there are indeed many males (academic and not) who are doing there best to get it right.

I promised to redress the balance, and what better way than to share with you a link to the blog of one of these men who is not only trying, but getting it right (or so I shall maintain until there is clear spouse-given-evidence to the contrary).

Whilst our adult selves know full well that marriage is seldom followed by the effortless “happily ever after” that fairy tales would have us believe, it is often less clear what could be done to ensure that at least some semblance of contentment is reached and maintained post certificate signing.

Terry McGlynn, Small Pond Science ecologist, proud father and husband, attempts to demystify the working-couple life-balance fandango. It’s a great read, ladies and gentlemen. I’ve already made my list of DOs and DON’Ts. Just sharing the love…

…in the hope that it will help avoid the Desperate Housewife scenario pictured below.

Happily never after…

For the controversial (?) Don’t be That Dude! article you can follow the link below. Incidentally, it has this article embedded as a link under point number 9.Take an equal share in housework and childcare duties at home.

https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/dont-be-that-dude-handy-tips-for-the-male-whether-academic-or-not/

Because you’re worth it.

This is PROJECT R: Relationship Interrupted.

On a vicbriggs blog-screen near you from the 14th to the 31st of October

Single and fabulous? Married and happily ever after? Neither? That’s ok. Have your say anyway!

Why? Because a friend needs me, and I need you. All I can do is be there for them and come up with ways to help.

How? Just follow the link below and answer eight questions about relationships or lack thereof, love and fulfilment, failure and success, flaws and accomplishments, and soul-mates.

https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/project-r-i-think-best-when-i-think-with-others/ .

There is no right or wrong way to approach this. Your way is the right way. It is up to you whether your answer is prose or verse, stream of consciousness or iambic pentameter.

 Please send your contribution for PROJECT R to:  viki.briggs@gmail.com.

The deadline for submissions is Sunday, the 13th of October.

All for a good cause.

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Acknowledgements

Project R’s “they” section was inspired by Lucia Lorenzi’s On Being Alone: Rethinking the Single Life. To read her post, follow this link: http://lucialorenzi.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/on-being-alone-rethinking-the-single-life/ It is a beautifully written and insightful piece. Perhaps it may help you with your own.

Project R is also somewhat of a nod and wink to AOpinionatedMan’s Project O, a project on Opinion hosted on his blog during September. Follow this link to view contributions to this project:  http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/08/26/project-o

Don’t be that dude. Handy tips for the male (whether academic or not)

Don’t be that dude: Handy tips for the male academic.

Because it is the decent thing to do.

1. Use the appropriate salutations when writing to a woman academic: Dr. X.

2. Don’t comment on a woman’s appearance in a professional context.

3. Don’t talk over your female colleagues.

4. Avoid making sexual remarks.

5. Make sure your department seminars, conference symposia, search committees, and panel discussions have a good gender balance.  

6. Don’t make it a habit of letting women in your department become the organisers of social activities.

7. Make sure that women aren’t being asked to do note-taking, coffee-making, or lunch order-taking more than men.

8. Don’t reinforce social stereotypes when it comes to opening doors, carrying field equipment, or other ‘special treatment’.

9. Take an equal share in housework and childcare duties at home.

10. During a talk Q&A session, be a good moderator and call on women to contribute.

11. Learn about benevolent sexism

12. Learn what mansplaining.

13. Learn what the tone argument is. Don’t use it.

14. Learn how to apologize when someone has called you out for inappropriate behaviour. 

15. Don’t leave it to women to do the work of increasing diversity. Be proactive. Actively support your female colleagues when they experience sexism.

16. Adopt teaching tools and practices that promote gender equity.

17. Pay attention to who you invite to informal work-related gatherings and make an effort to include women. 

18. Make sure you’re aware of the gender biases in scientific journal editorial practices.

19. Know when to listen. Don’t assume you understand what it’s like for women. Don’t interject with “but this happens to men, too!” Don’t try to dismiss or belittle women’s concerns. Remember that women are often reacting to  a long history of incidents, big and small.  

20. Finally, if you do all of the above, don’t expect a cookie. Your efforts may go unacknowledged or even unrecognized much of the time. Keep at it anyway, because you’re not out to get special recognition. You’re doing it because it’s the decent thing to do. 

If you are a democrat, you are a feminist

     It appears that Tee and I have another axe to grind, so… here it goes.

You can read my reply below , and it’s the same link for her article, although you’ll have to scroll down to her reply to my commentary on race to follow the debate: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/19/project-o-article-76-tee-rzzl-california-usa-scheduled-for-9-19-1800/comment-page-1/#comment-63530

      Dear Tee,

Thank you for your comment. Always interesting to read someone else’s take on feminism.

I am a feminist, yes. A happily married feminist, and count as many men (if not more) as women amongst my closest friends. I also wear bras – great support and much needed, wax my leg hair, shave underarm and prefer a casual-smart look that more often than not leans towards smart (or so I’m told).

Oh yes, and high-heels – that invention by our male masters to torture us? – love them!

Fun fact: High heels were invented by men for men. It was fashionable in high society to be tall, so men opted for high heels and platforms to enhance their looks and ‘standing’. Women only later adopted the practice, having decided that they would rather like a better vantage point too.

I understand where you are coming from, but I would like to underline that what I understand by feminism can be simply put thus: men and women are human beings of equal worth.

     It is as simple as that.

     I am aware of differing positions within feminism… Yes there are as many strands as there are ideologies, and each with their own take of what feminism is supposed to be about.

For me, feminism is about equality, and that equality goes both ways. If women are equal in worth to men, then men too are equal in worth to women.

I do not think that women are victims of men (although sometimes of course they may be, given the individual case – I take it we are discussing this in general terms here).

But I do believe that both women and men are victims of patriarchal social arrangements. Yes, both.

In most societies, most of the time, women are under constant pressure to conform to some particular image of what a woman is supposed to be (womanly, motherly, caring, gentle etc.), and the same goes for men. I believe that men have just as great capacity as women for care-giving. I know that many men would love to be stay-at-home dads, or at least to get more time to spend with their families. But they still feel that they have to conform to what is expected of them to be as men, so often take the conservative route rather than risk ridicule.

This is mostly learnt behaviour.

In truth, the indoctrination of children of both sexes into certain patterns of behaviour starts so early that it would be difficult to prove one way or another to what extent it is nature, and to what extent it is nurture that plays a role.

     I disagree here with your claim that there is ‘hard’ biological evidence. Unfortunately the medical profession works more often than not on a trial-and-error basis. All science is the same. The ‘hard’ evidence of today is the failed theory of tomorrow. So I think it would be more useful to look at both biological and theoretical (or ideological) “evidence” as nothing more than differing models or frameworks – temporary ones at that – for making sense of the world in general, and of a difficult issue in this particular case of gender.

In the nature vs nurture debate, I think it is mostly nurture, but of course biology will always play a role (just not as great as I think many would like to believe).

I am not a feminist who vilifies men. I have many male friends who also subscribe to this view of feminism and happily refer to themselves as feminists. Perhaps a majority of feminists are in fact far more moderate, if perhaps less vocal than their extreme counterparts that you refer to in your comment.

I am also familiar with Freudian theory. In addition to undergrad courses, I’ve also attended the Institute of Psychoanalysis Introductory Lectures a few years back, and I have an affinity with many of Freud’s theories, although I am sceptical of the ‘penis envy’ one.

– I’ve always been happy with my ownership of a womb: less trouble by far than a penis, and doesn’t go tiny when it’s cold :)  –

Freud himself admitted that he did not understand women, and his theories about womankind are insufficiently developed. There is one particular view that I found fascinating and believe is a very useful one when it comes to making sense of gender issues: Freud’s claim that our psyche (both male and female) is inherently bisexual.

In simple terms, I take this to mean the following: we are equally capable of loving both men and women. Ultimately, it is about people, persons, human beings, mortals (I think I’ve exhausted gender-neutral terms here), and what they have in between their legs is immaterial to interpersonal relationships when societal norms and regulations do not come into play.

I am a man-loving-woman-loving-people-loving feminist and a democrat in equal measure. I’ve said this elsewhere, but perhaps I would do well to repeat it here:

If you are a democrat, you are a feminist.

     You cannot defend your democratic credentials whilst treating 51% of the population as second grade citizens.

It may not be the bra-burning variant that most people seem to associate feminism with, but it is feminism, and it is feminism at its best.

With warm regards,

vic

On Race, Gender and Difference.

On Race, Gender and Difference.

NB: Below you can read my reply to a Project O’s fellow-contributor. Click on the link above for her article.

Dear Tee,
Thank you for a great post. I enjoyed the sarky undertone too. It suited the piece I think.

     Regarding race. May I be so bold and agree with your PolSci prof? I don’t know what arguments she brought forward to support her position, but this is how I see it. Yes, people’s skin colour differs. It differs from person to person, region to region, continent to continent; and if there are humanoid aliens out there, perhaps from galaxy to galaxy too. We are not blind to those differences, and the French I think proved quite well that state-ratified attempts at such blindness fail to bring about equality of treatment.

      However, I do believe that race is a social construct. To think in racial terms is not a ‘natural’ occurrence. The doctrines were invented by those who sought to justify rapacious private and state-led enterprise outside the limited confines of European territories. It is easier to rob peoples of their possessions if you do not think of them as your equals. You don’t need to come to terms then with your own failings as a human being or society.
Before that happened, attitudes did not differ towards people whose skin colour differed any more than they differed towards people using different hair-grooming products.

      Race is a social construct in the same way in which gender is. Yes, there are two basic sexes: male and female, with many nuanced in-betweens when discontinuities between biology and psyche occur. But other than the strict biological differences that can be observed, all else is invention. It took two world wars to show Europe that at the end of the day there are no differences between what men and women can do work-wise, that equally well educated men and women are equally capable of rational argument, that politically engaged citizens are militant no matter what their sex.
However, I am also painfully aware that the above does not change on-the-ground realities. Just because something is imagined or invented, if it is adhered to, then it is as real as it can get.

      I count myself fortunate in that I have always seen difference as an inherent good. I am fascinated by it, not in a “let me inspect you as if you’re some museum piece” fascinated, but as toddlers find the world around them new and wonderful and exciting, and everything they have not encountered before is another adventure: an explorer’s dream. Every person I meet, irrespective of background, gender, skin colour, nose shape and whatever-have-you, is to me a new world I am eager to discover. I wish it was the same for everyone.

     Sadly, I know that not to be the case. But I hope that what you shared in your post will make at least one person think twice before they make another racist joke thinking ‘big deal’.

     Thank you again. Look forward to more of your writing x

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Should you like to peruse my original contribution to Project O, follow this link: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/project-o/ or alternatively, you can find it on Project O’s home-website at: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/03/project-o-article-12/

For more deeply held opinions, there is an interview with vicbriggs and OpinionatedMan coming up in October. Watch this space!

And thank you for stopping by 🙂

Project O

Project O

Here’s a preview of my contribution to this project.

You will be able to see it on the Project O Director’s blog at some point in the near future. Follow the link for the template if you would like to contribute.

Question 1: Please provide a window into who you are, some background information in a not too overwhelming profile here.

I am a writer. A thinker. And a lover of wisdom (will say philosopher when I have the certificate to prove it. They put a lot of stock by paper where I come from).

I was born in the USSR – got the certificate to prove that one. Basarabia? It sounds a little like Bass-Arabia, although I can assure you, it’s no Middle Eastern palm-treed oasis or lagoon crawling with giant bass.

I left when I was fifteen. I got into Hogwarts: What? Hogwarts? I’m a wizard? Wow!  Ok, nearly: a scholarship got me into a boarding school in Romania. It was magic though, so Harry can swish the proverbial.

I’m British through and through now. Drink milk in my tea. Comment on the cleanliness or otherwise of public lavatories. Am obsessed with discussing the weather almost as much as Benedict Cumberbatch (I’m not. Honest. See Pants on Fire post!).

 

Question 2: If you haven’t already done so please provide your country of origin, whether you are male or female, an age would be nice, and where you currently live if that differs from the country of origin.

I live in one of the Home Counties, a short train journey out of London.  It is picture postcard English countryside: steeds galloping along country lanes, fields of dandelions and rapeseed (they should really rename that!), cricket on Sundays on the village green, mansion house chockfull of aristos complete with deer-roaming estate grounds in my back garden (or as good as).

We used to be red. We a blue now, after the last election (switched from Labour to Conservative that is), although I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t our village that made the change. This one is so blue, people don’t bother with ink. Just slash a wrist open and dab in. Because, of course, we still use quills over here.

 

Question 3: Recount the first time you remember having a differing opinion from someone significantly older than you. Do you remember what the topic was about? Did you voice your opinion or hold it to yourself?

When I was a child, I noticed something that unsettled me in the relationship between my father’s parents. He would tell her to shut up in public, suggesting that what she had to say was stupid. I do not recall any occasion when she said anything to deserve it, even if she was no Plato. What was even worse: she submitted. Every time.

I could not correct him. I’d been brought up to respect my elders. But, I knew from that moment on that I would not allow him, or any other man for that matter, to ever dare tell me to shut up. Well: can’t stop anyone saying it, but I’ve got twenty-five solid years of near-continuous education under my belt, which primarily focused on honing my argumentative skills. (Thank you, grandpa)

My friends always comment on how sweet I am to everyone, too sweet. Well. Manners cost nothing, and I’m sure everyone has sufficient irritants in their everyday life without me adding to them.  But! if you tell anyone to shut up: I’m on you like Dumbledore on You-know-Who. Yeah! I said it. Watch out Tom Riddles of the world. (Thought you’d enjoy a little thematic continuity here :))

 

Question 4: What levels of respect were practiced around you when you were a child?

Alright there, comrades? High levels of respect certainly. We were all equals. Some more equal than others, but equal nonetheless. Everyone had the Name-Patronymic or Name-Surname combos added to that.

Comrades turned to the equivalent of Ma’am and Sir post-revolution and USSR breakdown. Incidentally, in my mother-tongue their meaning is closer to Master and Mistress, so that Wild-East-Capitalism and Schizoid-Aliberal-Democracy came with a convenient hierarchy-minded vernacular to fill in the void left by the Soviet corpse. Although sadly, nothing could suppress the stink of its decomposition.

Politeness of address has been something that I have not been able to shake off. But, then again, I don’t think I want to. One does like to be civil, and to make oneself gracious in company.

 

Question 5: How travelled are you and to what degree do you keep up with international news?

I’m a gluttonous traveller.  I don’t think I’ll ever have time or money enough to do as much of it as I’d like to.

I took a gap year in South America, my first experience of non-European culture. Although at that point my experience of European culture was itself very limited. Romania is as good as my country, the differences culture-wise are few and far between. And the UK is not Europe. I know what you’ll say: ‘course it’s Europe – check the map. Technically it is, but it has struggled with its European identity since time immemorial. In a ‘who’s more European’ competition, Argentina would nudge ahead.

I fell in love with Latin America, yet simultaneously my heart went blue and gold-starred. It was the first time that, when asked where I’m from, I’d answer directly, no second thoughts: Europe.

Before the end of my third decade on this Earth, I’ve had a chance to explore twenty-one of Europe’s many states; I would say cultures, but within each state identities are so fragmented, that you’d have to at least double that number (re culture, ethnicity, and language).

I loved the US too, both East and West coast (no experience of mid-America as yet, although Hawaii was lovely – great scuba). Loved the chirpy attitude and the confidence, even if I can’t take the portions: How much can you people eat?

Japan was by far the strangest experience: A moon landing for me. It was a surprise stopover on the way to New Zealand (courtesy of my thoughtful husband – I’d taken up beginner Japanese – here was a chance for me to practice).

I am a citizen of the world.

 

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

It is very tough to pick just one, but I will attempt it. I hope that if you disagree with me to start with, you’ll at least take some time to think it over before rebuffing.

If you are a democrat (i.e. a believer in the norms and values of democracy) then you are a feminist.

How could anyone possibly justify their democratic credentials whilst simultaneously treating 51% of the population as second class citizens?!

So, I will repeat myself ad nauseam if need be:

If you are a democrat, you are a feminist.

Don’t be scared by the label. You don’t have to be a Feminist to be a feminist. In the same way in which you can hold conservative views, without being a Conservative, or behave liberally, without claiming to be a Liberal.

So. Put a full stop to misogyny. Get the t-shirt. Show some respect to your mothers, sisters, daughters and yourselves.

 

Question 7: What does the right to an opinion mean to you? Is it essential to freedom to have this right? How far would you go to protect that ability?

Opinionated Man: “I value the right to opinion as one of the most important forms of self expression that we have a born right to.”

Yes. It is an important form of self-expression, but further than that… I’m afraid I disagree.

We have no born rights to anything.

“All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third it is accepted as self-evident.”  A.S. This is the case for rights too.

Whatever rights we have, are the result of years (sometimes hundreds of them) of real struggle and even bloodshed; advances for humanity gained through political action by countless movements: feminist and civil rights movements, to point the finger at a couple of the culprits.

Do not become complaisant. Be in no doubt about this: You have no born right.

What you have, has been painstakingly built for you, and there will be those who will try to demolish it. Not perhaps with a big loud bang, but in time, like water: patiently, slowly hollowing out your freedom, one drop at a time.

So prepare your mortar, and get ready to patch it back up. It’s a constant back and forth and there is only one way to deal with it:

“Constant Vigilance!”  

Question 8: Is it ever right for you to be allowed an opinion while someone else is denied that same right on the same topic?

I cherish my right to an opinion and that of others too. I’ve lived in a time and place when you couldn’t use your voice for fear of reprisal, so I know how much it means being able to speak your mind.

I keep an open mind about… pretty much everything.  There is a line however: I don’t tolerate sexism, racism or homophobia (SRH). Cross that line at your own peril.

Liberalism preaches tolerance. Yes. I’ll go with that. But I also reserve the right to stand up for the norms and values that I treasure most.

In a democracy, SRH is not acceptable. If you subscribe to any of the three, then you need to grow up and get over yourself. What makes you so damned better than anyone else?

Question 9: The last question, upon completing this template and hopefully contemplating the issue what does this project mean to you? How can Project O potentially enlighten or help the world?

I will add my hopes to those of Opinionated Man, that this project allows the world a voice. Can’t wait to read everyone else’s entries! I feel compelled to quote Garai here once again, but there’s been enough swearing for one day so…

Here I come instead: You have a voice too. Use it.

On women being crazy

On women being crazy

I enjoyed this post so I thought I’d share it with you.

Below, you can read my reply to every point made by the author.

MY REPLY:

Women pick arguments on purpose.

True. The only reason I got my degree was so that I would get better at it. It worked. Have a masters in it. One day I’ll even be a doctor in it.

And yes, I picked arguments with everyone that seemed a candidate for a relationship. If they couldn’t argue, I wasn’t interested. I like people who are opinionated. They don’t have to agree with me. In fact, I don’t much like it if they do because where is the fun in arguing with someone who keeps saying “Yes dear”?

It is the same way I make friends. I don’t walk around people on eggshells. I challenge their views. It might not be relaxing, but at least it’s not dull.

Women ask questions that they know the answers to.

I do that too. I don’t think that there is only one answer. I want to test the waters see if I can find something new to get my teeth into. Usually I do. It keeps me going. It feeds my ever-growing curiosity. I’m curious about life, the world, people. I want to get into their heads, figure out how they function and why.

Women really don’t care about your opinion most the time.

I’ve been guilty of that. When I catch myself doing most of the talking I just shut up. I make a point of saying as little as I possibly can without coming across as Mrs Darcy. This was an amazing discovery. People seem to want to fill the silence. It makes them nervy, so nowadays I listen, and listen some more. I am still astonished when at the end of an hour after meeting someone for the first time I have their whole life story.

I write fiction, so I love stories. My world is a novel populated by chatty people. I may not always agree with their opinions, but I do care. I want to know. And they are willing to share.

Women quickly grow bored with topics that don’t interest them.

There are no boring topics, only boring people. The most interesting of topics can be rendered boring by a drone.

If you have a good story to tell, I don’t care what it is about. I’ll listen. I’ll let you grab my attention, but it is your job to hold it. With a little luck: I leave satisfied.

From a proudly crazy woman

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/daily-prompt-clever/

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The face of feminism

I don’t think I have a funny bone. At least not funny enough to do stand up. However, that’s never stopped me from trying so… here’s a joke (the only one) I’ve come up with. A little nod to Rousseau and Feminism. Seems fitting.

JJR: “Man is born free, yet everywhere he is in chains…”

ME: “And Woman?”

JJR: “Woman should be satisfied with the chains she is born into.”

ME: “Is Woman not born free?”

JJR: “Not if Man has anything to say about it.”

Do you have a favourite joke on the subject? Feel free to share. Would love to hear what you have to say.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/daily-prompt-clever/

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i was a misogynist.

At first glance the title of this article may persuade you to believe that the author is a man. Not so.

Without realising it, this writer had absorbed and acted in accordance to prejudices that went against the gender to which she belonged. This article tells you the story of how she came to finally understand and rid herself of such self-destructive attitudes that had been for a long time a strain both on her own self-worth, but also on her relationships with loved ones.