"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon." ~ Gloria Steinem

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dear Internets,

Today, I assembled 9 office chairs. The only male assistance I received was 100% solicited (I asked his opinion on a minor detail, because the directions were just poorly-drawn visual aids).

Oh, he did pick up a piece while I was examining another one and attempt to fit it on the base, but then handed it to me and apologized for encroaching on my workspace.

Said male co-worker is pretty cool.

You should probably read this. But only if you want to.

My new favorite blog is Culture Cube, which is hilarious and riveting and touching (I'm not sure this last actually applies; I just needed another adjective to round out my list) all at once.

I think I may be watching too much 30 Rock, because I feel compelled to crack some sort of Sere-ish "God, I hope I'm as funny and classy as she is when I'M old (30)!!!" joke, except mine would be funnier, because Sere is, like, 20, and Liz Lemon is 37, whereas I am nearly 26 and hence will hit "old" in 4 years, so, yeah, funnier.

Shut up, it IS.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mansplaining: A Few Thoughts

Mansplaining is a very specific symptom of a very general problem: our society produces men who are accustomed to being taken seriously -- simply because they are men. They are not required to back things up; their opinion automatically matters.

Now, as a man, your opinion on, say, anything to do with testicles (this is just an example; there are plenty of things men know firsthand that have little to do with testicles) is inherently valid, because you have them, so I'm not suggesting for a second that nothing men say is inherently valid.

So take the average straight, white, middle-class, able cisman. Going through one's life without ever having one's opinion questioned on the basis of one's sexual orientation, race, class, physical ability, or gender translates to behaving as though one's opinion will never be questioned -- for any reason at all. I don't know why, but somehow it seems it does. So it doesn't really matter whether or not you meant to mansplain, or whether you're deliberately being sexist, or if that's just how men are, because you don't need to have intention to mansplain.

A lot of mansplainers have intention; a lot don't. The fact remains that men exist who, whether they acknowledge it or not, have underlying hostilities toward the idea that a woman might know more than they do, or be able to do something better than they can.

Case in point: Ex-boyfriend.
  1. It drove him nuts that I was more academic than he was. There's no clear reason for this, as he'd never considered himself an intellectual before I showed up, so I can only assume he just didn't want his girlfriend to be smarter than he was.
  2. It drove me nuts that he constantly beat me at Scrabble. This was because I was clearly more word-minded than he was, and I played Word Scrabble, whereas he played Points Scrabble, and kept kicking my ass.
See the difference?

Incidentally, "men are just dicks" is the most mansplaining mansplanation for mansplaining one could possible think of. It's circular, and if you don't see that, I really don't know how to explain it to you.

In this particular thread, the guys who showed up to complain about "reverse sexism" and "I'm not a mansplainer, it's just the way I am" displayed absolutely classic mansplaining behavior -- most strikingly, after their initial complaint, when the women in the thread refused to engage, merely laughing at them. This, of course, just made them mad, because how dare these shrieking harpies not take them seriously?!?

And that, in a nutshell, is mansplaining. "I assume you will listen to me and take me seriously, no matter what I'm talking about, because I'm used to that, because I am a man."

I remembered all the cool things I did when I was single.

  1. Eating ice cream
  2. Watching Turner Classic Movies
  3. Cutting my bangs
  4. Organizing my library
  5. Cooking/baking strange yet delicious concoctions
  6. Solving crossword puzzles

Um...that's pretty much it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Let's add another -ism to the MNCAA

In a tournament rife with broken brackets and macho men crying in their cubicles, the only known perfect bracket thus far belongs to an autistic 17-year-old. But is that cool? Are we impressed? Are we applauding Alex Hermann for this unheard-of feat?

No, we are not.

Because obviously, there's no way that a disabled young person could POSSIBLY accomplish something beyond the grasp of millions of big-muscled, sports-betting, gym-frequenting, fantasy-[insert sport here]-playing, REAL men; it must be a fake.

Disablism? Check. Ageism? Check. The only thing that would make this a fake with 100% certainty is if it had been a 17-year-old autistic female.


Note: This kid has Purdue winning the national championship -- primarily because his brother went to Purdue. Whatevs; I'm all for it, Alex.

No, I did not change my blog template.

Clearly, you are on meth.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Apparently I felt my glasses were post-worthy

My new glasses are delightful. Seriously, I may be in love with them. I'm so in love with them that I have cleaned them several times today -- and not with my shirt or a Kleenex or the stuffed chimpanzee on my desk, but with an actual "high quality micro0fiber lens cleaning cloth". That has been sitting on my desk all day -- just waiting to fulfill its lens cleaning destiny.

Also, it was brought to my attention while picking out said new glasses that I tend to wear my specs somewhat low on the bridge of my nose, which apparently causes the top of the frames to cut across my eyelids and therefore across my field of vision -- which, upon reflection, is completely true. Hence, I am attempting to wear them higher up, but mostly this just means I'm resituating them every four seconds, as though I have glasses-resituating OCD like my life depends on it.

I feel like I got less interesting when I got into a relationship.

Don't get me wrong; I love being with and With TheManFriend. And it's not that he makes me boring -- it's that we are both people who don't particularly enjoy traditional social activities such as drinking in bars, going to parties, or ... what else do normal people do at night?

So, because we are, I suppose, boring people separately, of course we will be boring together. boring + boring = 2(boring). Basic math.

I mean, I wasn't particularly interesting when I was single, but I feel like when I was single I got myself into weird, idiotic frames of mind more often, especially when I lived alone, and I'd end up spending my Friday nights doing crazy shit involving ... shit, I don't know. Something. Something worth telling stories about.

These days, I find few things more enjoyable than eating Chinese takeout and instant-streaming 30 Rock on Netflix. That we happen to be naked some of the time does not in any way make us more interesting.

And let me emphasize that I would not, for any reason, wish myself out of my relationship, because it's fantastic and awesome and I don't really have words for it -- said speechlessness probably being the root cause of this post.

I was never speechless over all the random crap that rattled around my head when I was single, but then again, maybe the random crap wasn't all that great to begin with. Who knows? I was single then, and happy, and I am notsingle now, and also happy. LIFE. Whoo.

Also, I has job at zoo.

Melodrama, here I come

I have something brewing in my head, but I'm afraid to post it until it's properly fleshed out.

See, this is the kind of thing that could potentially piss EVERYONE off. Yeah, I know, nobody actually reads this blog; what kind of impact could I possibly have? Trust me -- you never know what's going to happen on the internets.

Anyway, it's the kind of thing that could make almost everyone, literally, angry with me. I could offend not only the people who are used to being offended by progressives, but also the progressives themselves. It could be seen as a mockery of everything the people on both sides of every issue have been working towards for years upon years.


This thing I want to post challenges our very identity as a species, that's why. It challenges core assumptions about life, assumptions that everyone on both sides of every issue has in common -- despite all evidence of a complete lack of agreement.

I suppose, however, that if you have read Ishmael, you may not be as averse to the coming suggestions as I assume most people would be.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

ESPN.com's Jemele Hill on UConn's winning streak

If you think watching the UConn women pound their competitors is boring, you must have been comatose when the New York Islanders won four straight championships or when Michael Jordan's Bulls rattled off two three-peats.

When men dominate, it's not always considered bad for the sport. If the UConn women were a men's program, I doubt someone would write a column wondering whether they should be disbanded. But someone wrote that about the Connecticut women.

Why is it that when women dominate their sport, it's considered unfair to everyone else?

Read the whole thing here.

One of these things is not like the other

The men's tournament is The NCAA Tournament, naturally.

March MADNESS is right

Ah, March Madness. This is always an interesting time of year for a basketball fanatic such as myself.

Note that I used the phrase "basketball fanatic" -- a phrase sans the [usually elided] modifier of "men's". Most guys who describe themselves as basketball fanatics leave out the very important fact that they are not, as they say, fans of basketball in general, but fans of male-played basketball -- which is very, very specific.

Men's basketball fanatics are in heaven right now; you can't turn on the tv or glance at a paper without getting basketball -- men's basketball. Don't get me wrong; I freaking love basketball -- men's and women's. I love March Madness because there's always a basketball game on, and I love watching basketball. But it's different for me, and in a variety of ways.

1) One of the reasons I love March Madness is because it's the one time of year when it's relatively easy to find a women's game on ESPN[2/U].

What men's fans don't realize is that as far as television coverage is concerned, every single day of the regular season is the equivalent of women's March Madness -- it's not too difficult to see the games you want to see. I haven't seen my [women] Boilers at all this year, and since they're not in the NCAAt, March Madness won't change that a bit. I have seen my [men] Boilers several times, despite not getting the Big Ten Network (there are times when I think I'd punch myself in the face repeatedly over a period of 72 hours for the Big Ten Network).

2) One of the reasons I hate March Madness is because the statistical probability of my getting into an argument over the inherent value of women's sports increases exponentially.

Inevitably, when discussing MM, the women's tournament comes up, because it is, shockingly enough, also on my mind in March. This invariably leads to at least one male voicing disbelief that anyone in this country actually watches women's sports, or bursting into hysterical laughter at the suggestion that a game was enjoyable to watch.

About that last; the conversation usually goes something like this:

Me: Why don't you like women's sports?
Him: Women's sports are fucking boring.
Me: Have you ever watched a women's game, in any sport?
Him: ...

Alternatively, it might go something like this:

Me: Why don't you like women's sports?
Him: Women's sports are fucking boring.
Me: Have you ever watched a women's game, in any sport?
Him: Yeah, I saw like 4 minutes of one once; it was really boring.

I actually get this quite a lot. Like, a lot. And I've just thought of a killer retort, that I, unfortunately, have never thought to use before.

What if I told you I'd watched Super Bowl XLI and that was enough to conclude that all men's sports are boring?

This would test

  1. his knowledge of football (what happened in Super Bowl XLI?), and
  2. his logic.
I'm not really holding my breath over #2, considering that the guys who give me this sort of bullshit are all pretty much the same.

Anyway, it's stressful. It's stressful to be faced with the choice of either

  1. getting into a heated debate and winding up with the ANGRY FEMINIST label (I thought you were one of the guys because we were just hanging out and talking basketball but now you're all up in my grill why can't you just be the laidback cool chick I thought you were before you got all crazy on me), or
  2. stop talking about women's sports, which includes both not bringing up conversation topics I want to talk about and pretending it doesn't bother me when people slam the women's tournament (so I wanted to watch the Butler game and CBS was stuck on St. Mary's-Villanova so I tried ESPN but they had some goddamn women's game on. it was bullshit.).

I love March Madness. But for me, it's inherently stressful.

Don't even get me started on the bullshit I get when I try to explain why I don't fill out a bracket. I can't even figure out if that crap is sexist or just dumb.

Friday, March 19, 2010

NCAA Men's Tournament kicks off with Boilermaker griping from yours truly

ESPN.com just described Siena as a "trendy pick", but one ultimately overtaken by Purdue's strong second half (Purdue beat Siena 72-64).

This is a common phenomenon lately, I've noticed: it's trendy to pick anyone over Purdue, even this year, when Purdue was playing with a[nother] [currently-running] record first-round win streak on the line (going into this game, they were at 11, the longest current streak, and now they're at 12, the new longest current streak). It doesn't seem to matter that we've played better in the first round than anyone else in the nation; Purdue never, ever gets the benefit of the doubt that's so easy to come by when we're talking about high-seeded teams before they get knocked out in the first round -- and I'm referring to #3 Georgetown, #4 Vanderbilt, #5 Temple, even fucking #6 Notre Dame, for crying out loud.

Those upsets were surprising -- and yet, somehow, Purdue's lack of an upset was a surprise.

Why is it so difficult to believe that a 4-seed can hold off a 13-seed -- especially when you consider that Georgetown couldn't hold off a 14-seed, and Purdue would have been seeded higher had we not blown the Big Ten Tourney?

Sure, Siena's at the top of the MAAC, but who's even heard of them (MAAC stands for Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, in case you, like me, didn't intuit that)? Were they ever in the top 25 this season? At our best, we hit #3 -- in the fucking nation.

Call me crazy, but upsets are supposed to be surprising, kind of by definition. The fact that upsets have become par for the course in the men's tournament is a mark of how much basketball talent there is in this country*, but that doesn't for a second mean that it's logical to suppose they're going to happen all the time.

And, of course, no one expects them all the time.

They just expect them when Purdue is the top dog.

*The reasons behind the relative lack of upsets in the women's tournament should probably be obvious, if you have any sense of logic, but I'll spell it out for you: Tons and tons and tons of young men want to play NCAA basketball; the gross number of good players rises with sample size, and they all have to go somewhere, hence, lots of good players at lots of schools. Talent is spread out, and gaps between seeds are closer. There are not as many young women who play basketball; hence, a lower gross number of good players, which means fewer strong teams, and larger talent gaps between seeds. It's basic math, really.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'm not fat.

I'm also not disabled, or a person of color, or trans/queer/other, but the point of this particular post is that I'm not a fat person. (And yes, I'm using the word "fat" -- not as a derogation, but as an adjective.) I've been thinking about discrimination a lot lately, probably because I've been reading the shit out of Shakesville lately, but the point is that I have some things to say.

I'm not fat, but I've been made to feel "less than" (as they say over at Shakesville) because of my relative level of fatness, in a very specific area: breast size.

I'm 5'4" and 125-130 lbs and I wear a 32-34D bra. This does not make me, in any way, extraordinary. I know plenty of women with various combinations of the numbers I just threw out; most of my sisters come to mind immediately. And yet, it's so goddamn hard for me to find a bra, because apparently I AM extraordinary with my D-cup breasts.

My best friend, who I love dearly, wears an A cup. She, like many of the women I know, shop at Walmart/Target for bras, because they consider 3 things when buying a bra:
  1. It must fit me.
  2. It must be cute and/or sexy.
  3. It must be affordable.
She, like myself and many of the women I know, considers those three characteristics to be essential when purchasing a bra. You might say she considers it her right to obtain a cute, well-fitting bra without shelling out a lot of money for it. I also consider it my right, but here's the thing: she can accomplish this -- easily. Swimmingly, you might say. She wears A cups. She can breeze in and out of Walmart/Target in 10 minutes and come away with several bras that she likes and didn't really pay that much for.

I, as you may have already guessed, can't do that. I can't shop at Walmart/Target for bras unless I want to sacrifice characteristics #1 and #2 (anything that fits me properly at Walmart/Target is, frankly, the ugliest thing ever, and also, "properly" is a relative word). I can't shop at Victoria's Secret unless I want to sacrifice #3, and potentially #1 (they say they can measure you so that FINALLY you will wear your correct bra size, but I've found that their measurements surprisingly coincide with whichever size they currently have the most of). For that matter, I can't shop at Victoria's Secret, or Nordstrom, or any of those fancy bra places, because I live in a fucking ski town and we just don't have them here.

And so, my "bra rights" are severely limited because I have big boobies. My big boobies are not my fault; I have not had breast implants; I just have big-breasted genes. Does my best friend deserve more bra rights because she has smaller-breasted genes? Looks like it from the outside.

These days, I don't feel "less than" because of my breasts; it's just an annoyance that I do my best to get around. But in high school, when I was the dorky, shy girl with D cups, surrounded by my friends, who were beautiful girls with B cups, max, all incredibly popular, I did feel "less than". I felt that the reason I never dated was because I was Fat (by Fat, I mean the derogation and shame that generally seems to come with the adjective in our culture).

In gym class, we had this scale one day that told you your body fat percentage. Our teacher told us healthy women had around 25% body fat. Mine was 26.something%, and this made me feel Fat.

Seriously. I was like 1% above average, and it made me feel Fat. Luckily, I was a rather wise 17-year-old, which allowed me to quickly quash that omg i'm such a Faaaaatty impulse and remind myself that my teacher had said "around" 25%, and 1% was not that much higher than average, and I was pretty healthy and active and beautiful and fuck their stupid body fat percentage.

But really, those wise thoughts are beside the point. I should not have had to think ANY of those thoughts, and the society that put them there is to blame.

And the final annoyance: I'm told a lot, implicitly and overtly, that I should be delighted at my large breasts, because some people would do anything to have them. This is bad, in my mind, for several reasons:
  1. It's my body, and how I choose to feel about it is none of your goddamn business.
  2. You don't know what you're fucking talking about, because you've never had a hard time finding a bra that just goddamn fit you.
  3. Society tells me I'm supposed to have big breasts, in order to be a Sexually Desirable Woman, then turns around and makes it difficult to have big breasts on a daily basis, not just for 90 minutes of a feature film. Your succulent breasts exist only to feed my fantasies; dealing with them in the real world is entirely your problem.
I guess this last is more sexism and less focused on the topic of this post, but there it is.

*** *** ***

I went back and forth for a while over whether I actually had a right to discuss this. Like I said, I'm not fat, and I keep saying that I'm not fat not because I'm trying to establish right off that I'm not fat, lest anyone thinks falsely that I am, because I am not fat goddammit no fucking way -- but because I'm just not. Nobody who saw me on the street would give me the fat adjective, and neither would my BMI, if you believe that crock of shit. And yet, I have been discriminated against on the basis of my relative size.

Which is exactly what made me realize that I do have a right to discuss this, and not only do I have a right, I have a responsibility. I was feeling that perhaps complaining on t3h internets about my experiences would be something along the lines of bragging (oh hey I'm not fat, check me out everyone), or rubbing my neatly average body in your [fat] face (woe is me, I'm a size 4 but look at how hard my life is), but the truth is, if I allowed those thoughts to prevent me from sharing my experiences, I am no better than the fat-shamers, because why the shit should I feel like I'm bragging by talking about my average body unless that average body is inherently preferable to a fat one? Which would mean that fat people deserve shame -- which I do not believe.

If we want acceptance at every size, we need to talk about every size; I can't hide in my hole feeling guilty because I'm not *shudder* fat -- thank god i'm not fat! because it does nobody any good.

If I felt Fat (read: undesirable, unloveable, "less than") because of 1 goddamn percentage point, how much worse is it for the fat 17-year-olds?