Feminorth

"Are you bringing your woman camping?" - How Possessive Language is Problematic

I get it. I really do. You’re not actually calling her your woman, you just mean she’s your girlfriend. After all, she calls you her man.

Except, you are calling her your woman. You may not be implying anything, heck, maybe I’m inferring everything you’re saying. But at the end of the day, referring to people as yours implies that they’re your property.

And the fact of the matter is that many people do believe that they own other people, be it their children or their partners. You don’t own her. You don’t own anybody. And she doesn’t own you. 

When I hear you use phrases like this, it makes me think that you possibly have some thought in your mind, as subconsciously as it may be, that you believe that you can control her in some way in another. But you don’t actually believe that, you say. I know you don’t, or at least if you do, you know that you don’t actually have the right to control anybody but yourself.

So yeah, I get it. She’s not your woman. She’s your girlfriend, or wife, or partner or lover. But if she’s not your woman, then don’t call her that, and hell, next time you hear her call you her man, challenge that too. Because people as property is never cool and totally outdated.

(Source: feminorth)

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Using Queer Theory For Creating Alternative Heterosexualities

This is a paper I wrote for my women’s studies class at Athabasca University, written June 5th 2012. I welcome your opinions, but I am not up for arguments.

Introduction

            Sitting around a table at a coffee shop in my hometown with a select group of friends, the majority of them either lesbian or bisexual woman, a conversation began about the definition of queerness. After being quiet for a while, a close friend who had, as I understood, spent her whole life identifying as a heterosexual woman asked if she could be queer. I had had many conversations with her about her relationships, sexual experiences and the dynamics of her relationships with men, and it seemed to me that she was not necessarily partaking in the heteronormative relationships thought to be experienced by all heterosexual women. It was because of this that I began to question not only who could or could not be queer but also how damaging heteronormative heterosexual relationships were to women who were not queer.

            Because of this conversation and my friendship with her, I found myself trying to find definitions of queerness that seemed suitable towards my understanding of the term. Queerness is described by many as less of a single, simple identity and more of a set of actions or behaviours that obviously subverts or rejects societies ideas of what is normal in terms of sexual experience and behaviour (Oakes, 1995; Showden, 2012). It appeared to me that not only heterosexual women in my personal life but also heterosexual women in the media, fictional and real, could be considered queer.

            Patriarchy has incredibly intrusive ways of ensuring male and masculine dominance in society and one of these ways is by creating a one and only specific way for women to be heterosexual and have heterosexual relationships (Kitzinger & Wilkinson, 1994). Although heterosexuality can be limiting in the dismantling of patriarchy by feminists and feminist allies, it is important to remember that there are ways to practice feminist or queer heterosexuality that are helpful in allowing heterosexual women to maintain their sexual identity without sacrificing their feminist identity (Kitzinger & Wilkinson, 1994; Springer, 2008). It is believed by many queer and queer allies that heterosexual women, through challenging society’s heterosexist ideas of how their sexuality needs to be expressed, can ultimately be expressing alternative sexualities by subverting the patriarchy’s heteronormative ideas of women’s sexual relationships.

            Throughout the course of this essay, the harmful effects of heteronormative heterosexuality towards the eradication of patriarchy, various alternatives to the heteronormative relationships that many women are a part of and examples of both harmful and helpful representations of heterosexuality and queerness will be discussed. For the sole purpose of this essay, a heterosexual woman is defined as a person who identifies as a woman (no matter her gender assignment at birth or genitals) who has sexual relationships with people who identify as men (no matter their gender assignment at birth or genitals). Many definitions of queer however, will be discussed and examined all throughout the essay but will mostly involve any practices considered non-heterosexual, non-heteronormative or simply not “normal” by society.

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(Source: feminorth)

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"I’m not a feminist, but…" - There are reasons to not be one, but ‘not hating men’ is not one of them

Feminists don’t hate men. And that’s one of the most ridiculous statements to make about feminism as a whole. Feminism is about the equality for people of all genders; men, women and non-binary people alike. Yes, some people who happen to be feminists have said horrible things about men, and have discriminated against them, but that’s not because they are feminist, that’s because they’re assholes.

There’s a lot of reasons not to be a feminist, but making the assumption that feminism is about creating a matriarchal society where men have no power is not a logical one, in my opinion. Feminism has been incredibly racist, and has really failed all people of colour in a lot of ways, and continues to do so in terms of feminist movements that fail to recognize people of colour’s experiences of gender as a valuable and different experience to those of white people. It has also been incredibly classist, and a lot of the successes that have been met thanks to feminism or have been met with the help of feminism have completely ignored the struggles of people of lower incomes. There are a lot of problems with feminism, and it’s really important to stay critical of those, but to claim that the reason you’re not a feminist is because feminists don’t care about men is a ridiculous generalization and perpetuation of a horrid stereotype.

I had a friend of mine tell me that he decided not to label himself as a feminist, because he felt that with the label ‘feminist’ came responsibility and an implication of knowledge about equal gender rights, and feminist history that he didn’t have, and that he would never want to discredit the feminist movement by openly referring to himself as a feminist, and not having the ability to discuss important feminist issues with others with intelligence, and knowledge that other feminists have. He refers to himself instead, as a gender equalist. I used to have a big problem with that term, until I realized that gender equalists and feminists all believe the same thing, but decide to refer to themselves differently because of the stigma of either of those labels. Personally, I simply see them as separate labels that people choose to use for themselves depending on how they feel.

If you believe in gender equality but don’t wish to be called a feminist, then all the power to you, because feminism has been detrimental for true gender equality in terms of women of colour, transgender women, lesbian women, disAbled women, and low-income women, but feminism has never once, as an entire movement, hated men. Feminists can be men, in my opinion, and even for people who believe that feminists cannot be men, men are acknowledged as possible allies that can help feminism grow as a movement and accomplish more.

I can’t speak for feminism as a whole, and for all feminists. For me, as a feminist, I love men. I find that they can be and are wonderful allies to women; perhaps I got this idea from my father. But what I do hate is male privilege, and masculine privilege. I hate how society values men as a more important commodity than women. I hate how society sees masculinity as a stronger, better thing that femininity. But those hatreds are in no way related to men as individuals.

(Source: feminorth)

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"I’m privileged, and so are you." - A Letter to White Privilege Deniers

Having white privilege doesn’t mean that I’m a racist douchebag, it simply means that society seems to fucking be a little bit lot nicer to me because of the colour of my skin.

I don’t deny this fact, because almost all academic literature in terms of oppression talks about it as a reality. But I also don’t deny it, because it’s fucking apparent in my life. I see it every day. I see it when I walk into a store and nobody looks at me like I can’t afford anything. I see it when everybody in a commercial looks like me. I see it from growing up with fairytales about princesses with my skin colour. I see it when I’m not asked a question with the asker relying on my opinion as “an opinion from a racialized person”. I see it when bodies like mine aren’t hypersexualized and eroticized on television.

It doesn’t matter if I’m living in rural Africa where I’m the only white person for miles, or if I’m living in North America in an urban city where every second-third-and-fourth person is white. It doesn’t matter if “I have tons of black friends” and it doesn’t matter if “my boyfriend is hispanic”. It doesn’t matter if I don’t make racist jokes, and it doesn’t matter if I “defend” racialized people against racism. None of that matters. I’m white, so I have it.

I feel guilt about it, but I don’t let this guilt consume me, because when I do, I take the focus away in anti-racism work from racialized people (who are really the people who fucking deserve some focus since the rest of life never fucking focuses on race-specific struggles) and put it on white people, and let’s face it, white people have enough fucking focus on them already. What I do, instead of feeling guilty all the time and letting that guilt consume my life, is take note of the ways that society structurally privileges me, and I try to fight for those privileges for all people, no matter what race.

I realize that when people talk about dismantling the privilege hierarchy, they’re not trying to take my privileges away, and they’re not trying to make “white people inferior to racialized people”, what they’re trying to do is bring everybody those privileges, so that they aren’t privileges at all; rather just reality for everybody.

I acknowledge my white privilege; not to make me some fucking amazing, special snowflake who all racialized people should thank for noticing how society loves my race so much. I acknowledge my white privilege because it’s what everybody should fucking do. Acknowledging your privilege simply allows you to become or grow to become a productive and inclusive member of the fight against structural oppression. Accept your privilege, but don’t think it makes you fucking special, it just makes you a decent human being.

You can see it, or you can not see it; either way, it’s fucking there. You being white doesn’t automatically characterize you as a racist (so as a privilege-denyer, stop fucking saying people think it does), however, you actively denying your reality as a person with white privilege makes you a person who perpetuates racism in our society.

(Source: feminorth)

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"And this is the girls’ room" - The heterosexism, cissexism and binarism of "gendered" rooms

Ever since I was young, I’ve always struggled with the concept of gendered bedrooms. I have been to so many summer camps, or conferences, or youth programs that have had dormitories or separate sleeping quarters for girls and for boys. In a world where everybody had been born in the body they wanted and everybody was heterosexual, this might make sense, but it’s not that way. The fact is, I’ve never felt extremely comfortable in “gendered” rooms and I had never quite known why.

Now that I’ve realized that I’m genderqueer, and that depending on the day, I feel more like a boy than a girl, it makes sense as to why I was so uncomfortable. The question that I have for the majority of these organizations that seem to believe that separating boys and girls is the most productive and safe is: would you place a trans* person in the room they choose, or would you force them into the room that corresponded biologically with their body? And what about people who don’t fit into either room? In some of these organizations, when the question has been asked, the answer given is that it’s “not for yourself, it’s for the other people”. That just pisses me the off considering that my gender needs to make other people feel comfortable, and not other people are responsible in respecting the gender I am.

Also, the concept of “boys aren’t allowed in girls’ rooms, and vice versa” disturbs me too. I’ve heard a lot of other people in GSM (gender and sexuality minority) groups who brag about how awesome it is that they get to easily fool around in their rooms because of the boss’s heterosexism. Personally, I don’t like it. I don’t like the fact that I’m treated differently because of my sexual orientation. The fact that it’s a helluva lot easier for me to have sex in my room than it is for Susan to have sex with Joseph really bothers me. And I can’t perfectly explain why, but it really does bother me.

Society’s emphasis on gender is really binarist and even sort of ridiculous. I understand the idea of safety for people who have vaginas, and how there are a lot of cisgender men who may take advantage of anybody no matter what their gender identity. At the same time though, there are a lot of cisgender women who may not fully understand transgender women and may physically hurt them in any which way. So, I understand the ideas about safety, but at the end of the day, I want to sleep in the bed that is in the right bedroom, and in our cissexist, binarist society, I can’t.

(Source: feminorth)

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"Do you have a boyfriend?" - It’s not an insult

The other day, I was at work, and I had asked a male coworker the following question: “Do you have a girlfriend?” and after he said no, I responded with, “Well, do you have a boyfriend?”

Well, that didn’t go over well. He started inquiring as to why I thought he was gay, and why I would assume that he was gay. Well bro, if you fucking noticed, I actually assumed you were straight because I asked you if you had a partner of the opposite sex first. I told him that, but he didn’t seem to go with it. He simply began to argue with me about how he isn’t gay and that I was incorrect in the statements about his homophobia because he has gay friends so he couldn’t possibly be homophobic. (Yeah, that’s a new one.)

The fact is, asking somebody if they have a boyfriend or a girlfriend shouldn’t be an insult. It’s a question that I ask for one of three reasons:

  • a) I would like to ask you out on a date
  • b) I have a friend who would like to ask you out on a date
  • c) I am genuinely interested in your life because we are friends

When it comes to reason c, as in this situation, I was simply interested in his life. I wanted to learn something new about him, similarly to asking a question like, “Are you from Quebec?” Nobody in their right mind would get insulted by that question. So, I have a piece of advice, if you are insulted by somebody asking you if you have a relationship with somebody of the same gender in a seriously genuine way, you most likely need to get your head out of your heteronormative ass and realize that there are a lot of people who are gay, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

(Source: feminorth)

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"OMG LAWL HE SLEPT WITH A ‘TRANNY’!!" - This joke is not funny

Some jokes are retold in every single movie in the comedy genre. The first movie that pulled the joke, most likely did it well, and then after seeing it for the eighteenth time in Scary Movie 623 you probably got tired of it. These movies are really fucking annoying.

Know what is more annoying? When that joke was never funny, even in the first movie, the first time it ever happened. Recently, I saw The Hangover: Part II because I thought that The Hangover: Part I was hilarious. And, to be honest, I quite enjoyed The Hangover II. However, the only thing that really did bother me was the transphobic bullshit that a lot of comedy genre movies throw in.

If you don’t want me to ruin any parts of the movie, don’t keep reading this. However, if you are interested in learning my opinion on some bullshit part of the movie, keep reading.

Basically, we find out that Stu has drunkenly slept with a stripper despite the fact that he is married. Not only does he and his friends throw some slut-shaming in by Stu’s line of “Oh my God! I’m so attracted to prostitutes!” (it could have been another similar, offensive word, i.e. whore, slut, etc.) as a reference to when he dated a stripper in the first movie (which are completely different areas of sex work, for your information), but the writers continued to be assholes when you discovered that the stripper he slept with in the second movie had a penis.

Not only is it transphobic and cissexist enough when they continue to call her a man during the first few scenes, but then decide to, instead, start calling her “a chick with a dick” later. Honestly, as much as the scenes of Stu getting upset about having slept with a trans* woman pissed me off, they made sense because I do know people who sleep with the junk and not the person/gender and that makes sense, and I know that if I was a person who was scared/uncomfortable with one sort of genital, I would be surprised and upset if I learned that I went against this. However, it’s fucking disgusting that they use this as a simple way of getting laughs.

It’s cheap, oppressive, and bullshit. If you can’t come up with a non-oppressive joke, you’re not a very good writer. Maybe that’s just my opinion, or maybe it’s one that you share with me. Either way, it’s what I think.

(Source: feminorth)

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It’s almost “crazy” how serious I am about this - A little about ableism

The thing about the phrase “That’s crazy!” is that so many people use it without even understanding what it means. I used to use it constantly without really acknowledging what crazy either means or used to mean in our society. The term “crazy” is associated so highly with people who have mental illness.

When you say that that party was “so crazy”, or that exam was “so insane”, you associate with that misconception that somehow, having a mental illness is uncommon, or rare, or even a bad thing. And in a world where so many people have some type of mental illness, that being depression, an eating disorder, or gender identity disorder, it almost seems to me like not having a mental illness is different or weird.

The point is, is that crazy is that just the term alone can be associated with so many people who have mental illness, that when you use it to describe that ridiculously unorganized event, or the ridiculously intense workshop you just attended, you’re associating it with the concept of mental illness, and that having one is somehow stigmatized or different than anything else.

And that, my friends, is just plain untrue.

(Source: feminorth)

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"And that guy? Thought you were on his side." - The Perfect Explanation

"‘Cause the thing is, you and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I’d-hit-that and you just can’t reason with them and you can’t live with ‘em can’t shoot ‘em and she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can’t stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can’t play by the rules they don’t belong here and if they can’t take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they’re only good for fucking and cleaning and they’re not fit to be leaders and they’re too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they’d just stop overreacting and telling themselves they’re victims they’d realize they actually have all the power in this society and white men aren’t even allowed to do anything anymore and and and…

I get that you don’t really mean that shit. I get that you’re just talking out your ass.

But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women–to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.

And that guy? Thought you were on his side.”

Kate Harding

This quote is just so eloquently said. This is honestly exactly what I want to tell a person when they tell me that they don’t actually mean what they say. 

It has nothing to do with what you think, or how you feel, or what your ideas are. It has to do with that man, woman, or non-binary person who’s listening to what you’re saying.

Kate Harding, thank you.

(Source: feminorth)

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"You call me fat, I call me fab." - Let’s be body positive.

I really don’t understand why, despite all the protesting against how the media makes people feel bad about themselves, people maintain that fat people are somehow less attractive than thin people. I mean, sure, it would be wonderful to say that looks don’t matter, but let’s face it, they do. We’re not in a perfect world.

At the end of the day though, it isn’t the size of your stomach, or how short you are, or the amount of acne on your face that makes you beautiful. It’s how much you take value in yourself. The “ugliest” people, when they carry themselves tall, and value who they are as a person, truly rid themselves of the “uglyness” that some higher-being equated them with.

I’m tired of people thinking that fat is an insult. It’s just the way somebody looks, like calling somebody a redhead, or blue-eyed. But fatness and thinness is a little different from the colour of your hair, or eyes, because it’s subjective. In my mind, I’m fat, and I’m really proud of being fat. But in the mind of somebody else, maybe I’m “average” (whatever that is), or maybe they even consider me thin. The point is, being fat or being thin doesn’t define somebody’s beauty.

I once saw a post online about how people need to stop telling fat people they’re attractive because they’re not and that they were just getting a fake sense of confidence from all the compliments. Well, first of all, if a person thinks that their fat is a bad thing, it’s gonna take a lot more than a few compliments to give them a sense of confidence. And second of all, what is attractive and what is not attractive?

Attractiveness is all personal. What I think is attractive in a person is most likely very different than what you think is attractive. People call caring about how a person looks superficial and materialistic when really, it’s all just preference. Don’t let a person make you feel guilty because you prefer being with women who are petite, and don’t let a person make you feel weird because you prefer being with a man who has a larger frame. Similarly to how there’s nothing wrong with liking girls who wear glasses, there’s nothing wrong with preferring thinner girls.

However, there is something wrong with telling me that what I like is weird, or disgusting. If you don’t find bigger people attractive, then that is completely legitimate, but don’t tell me that fat means not beautiful, because that’s just not true.

All bodies are beautiful. No matter what.

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