Friday, April 22, 2011

I Don't Have to Like You Just Because We're Both Women

One thing I see occasionally is a call to women to love one another, support one another, and so forth. This is usually in response to the general behaviour of tearing one another down in some way, such as snide comments or, god forbid, criticising someone's behaviour or competency. I consider occasional snarkiness or bitching as a part of some sort of female territorialism, and as such find it a little entertaining as a concept (though less so in practise). It's one of those interesting differences between the admittedly-overgeneralised concepts of "men" and "women". I find these things interesting, and particularly the ways in which new people entering into a group are measured up and subsequently accepted.

I consider myself quite a territorial person in general. I'm private about my home, my bedroom, and my family life. If I had a partner at present, we would sleep in separate rooms - for several reasons, but primarily because I really need that space that's just mine. When a new person enters into my wider family through marriage or similar I am much happier accepting menfolk into the fold than I am women. These interloping females are viewed with high levels of suspicion until I deem them acceptable mates for my male relatives.

I do not know whether this is common behaviour. I suspect hetero men and women are more territorial with members of their own gender than of the opposite, and will take longer to accept them into the group. Perhaps this is more a female thing than a male thing. I realise I am being very cisgenderly and heterocentric, for which I apologise... When it comes to genderqueer, third-gender and LGBT people, I'm less sure of what their experience might be, simply due to lack of observational evidence in my own circles of family and friends.

At any rate. I have departed somewhat from my point. I was discussing the concept, oft spouted by talk-show hosts and vapid celebrities, of women building one another up rather than tearing each other down. Apparently all this inter-female snarking is instilled in us by The Patriarchy in order to keep us from forming into one giant super-woman, like Constructicons combining to form Devastator, and overthrowing society. As Women, indeed as Feminists, we should band together and shower one another with universal love.


I am not going to support you by virtue of your gender, your sex or your sexual preferences. I am going to support you because I like you. If I do not like you, I am not going to support you. In fact, I might actively do the opposite, by insulting you or making snarky comments to others behind your back. Theoretically, that is, from the standpoint of natural selection, we are in direct competition. Competition for food, for mates, for social standing. That's not to say that women (or the third gender of your choice) do not compete with men. Certainly we do, and in fact in some lines of work competing with men is particularly difficult. But more like me you are, the more things you are likely to want that I also want, and the more reason I have to tear you down in the attempt to out-compete you to obtain those desirables.

I have female friends. A surprising amount, really, given that I find men much easier to get along with and form friendships with than women. I will remain friends with these females even if we both have an eye on the same fella, or the same position in a job or class, or the same article of clothing. One woman will win, of course, and perhaps gloat, and the other will pout for a while, but it's all in good fun. However, if I am not already friends with a woman, I have no reason to be pleasant, particularly if I should lose.

I simply don't understand this odd attitude of "we must support one another". There's the implication there of "against". Support one another against the men, against society, as if society was something of which we aren't a part, or to which we make no contribution. I don't want to live in a world in which seeing a female writer or photographer or economist or politician make it BIG is something that gives me a warm fuzzy. I want to live in a world where such a thing is so normal that it does not make me pause. I want to be seen for my accomplishments, not for my accomplishments as a woman. Being a woman is just one part of the whole that is myself. It's not like there are so few of us the world over that our accomplishments should be some kind of special thing, some thing that fills us with reflected pride.

So I'll support you if I think you're rad. I'll support you if your personality is something I respond to, or if your work is brilliant, or if I care for you personally. Regardless of whether you're a man, a woman, or other. And if I have reason to dislike you, the fact that we both have a uterus won't stop me from being disagreeable. In fact there are certainly situations were people should be criticised for their actions or beliefs, and you don't get away with it by virtue of being female.

I am not going to pretend I think your pregnant belly is attractive, pleasing or evidence of a miracle. Nor am I going to say I find it disgusting, however. So if I ask you not to wave a picture of it in my face, please and thank you, if it's all the same to you, kindly respect that and don't bitch at me for not being sufficiently supportive of pregnancy. You had sex, good for you.
I am not going to put you on some magical vagina pedestal and shower you with praise for being female. Congrats, you got out of bed and lived another day. Let joy be uncon-fucking-fined.
I am not going to give you any more super special support than I would a man, and frankly I get on with men better, so I'm probably going to be more likely, all other things being equal, to support a man than a woman. Because you are my competition.

If you do shit I disapprove of, I will criticise your actions. And, because this appears to be a big one, if I think you are being a shitty mother, I will frown at you from across the store. I can sympathise with the tired, overworked mother, but I am not going to go out of my way to do so if I am also tired and overworked and particularly if I am in need of a coffee. Especially if your response to your misbehaving children is to say "I'm so pleased my children have spirit, not like those other children". What, you mean those children who are behaving acceptably in public? You are a bad person.

I really don't care whether you go to work or stay at home. I don't particularly care what you choose to do with your life, so long as you don't suck at it and expect others to pick up the slack for you. I don't care what your religion is, or your sexual orientation. I don't care if you choose to have a kid at 20 or at 60, so long as you can care for it. I don't care if you have one kid, or two, or even three - although frankly if you actually plan to have four kids I will be taken aback and might even ask you why, because it seems socially irresponsible to bring so many more people into the world. I don't care if you breed or adopt, but I do care if you whine incessantly about being unable to have your own children, yet don't adopt any kids that really do need loving homes. I don't care if you are fat or thin, but I don't want to hear you celebrating your fat at the expense of your health any more than I think you should starve yourself to obtain a size whatever. Personally, I think breast-feeding is better for the baby (it helps kick-start their immune system, for example) but if it really squicks you out or the baby just won't take the breast, I won't think an worse of you for it - I will think worse of you if your reasons for denying your child superior nutrition are particularly selfish. I have no problems with you whipping your boobs out in public in order to feed your child - but then I don't have problems with people whipping their boobs out in public at all and rather feel it should be done more often. Because who doesn't love boobs? And on the subject of boobs, you can shove silicon in them if you want; they're your boobs, and you should love them, and if you'll love them more if they're bigger, more power to you. Pers'nally, I like my little boobs.

So. Live your life the way you want, and I'll live my life the way I want, and we can support or criticise one another as we choose. Agreed? 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Falling down is a CRIME

Perhaps I over-stated it. But I'd still wager you will be shocked by this article as much as I was.

I've expressed my irritation over my own country's abortion laws in the past, and expressed my admiration that the United States retains legal abortions, despite the attacks against this right - such as South Dakota's bill that could essentially legalise the killing of abortion doctors, and Utah's criminalisation of miscarriage. But the fact that a pregnant woman could actually be held for taking a tumble, and then expressing some previous concerns with a healthcare professional, is really disturbing. Does the father get held as well for distressing her enough that she took that tumble? (Guess.) This woman was only released because she was still in her second trimester, not in her third as had been thought. Not because it was ridiculous to arrest her in the first place, oh no.

American women have to keep a close eye on these bills, write to their representatives, and support their local Reproductive Rights groups in whatever way they can. It is a massive concern that pregnant women are actually being held for discussing their reproductive decisions after an accident.

I just wanted to bring this article to everyone's attention. I'm the sort of person who likes to think of feminist issues as continually improving, but things like this really remind me that in matters of healthcare and reproductive rights, we still have a long way to go - and if we're not careful, society could end up backsliding.

(Thanks to @neilhimself for linking the article on Twitter, and @kandinthehunter for retweeting it.)