The Bitch, Bitch, Bitch


Surprise! Feminism is Hard
January 29, 2011, 3:50 am
Filed under: General Bitching

One of the most difficult things to do when introducing radical feminism to the uninitiated is to encourage a proper mindset. Even for otherwise intelligent people, there are prerequisites for feminist thinking that don’t often get covered – gaps that leave seasoned feminists feeling frustrated when the “new kids” just don’t get it.

Feminism, I have found, is tied closely to philosophy in that it demands a mastery of abstract thinking skills. It requires one to go through much thought and consideration before coming to any sort of action, such as forming an opinion or making a decision.

In philosophy, for example, within the branch of metaphysics, there is the question (which Renee Descartes famously pondered over) of human existence. When studying philosophy, one must consider that things might not be the way they seem- in this case, that we might not truly exist as we thought we did. This is an extremely difficult concept if you have not developed abstract thinking skills. The very idea of one’s own non-existence to a person who has not learned to separate themselves from the question can induce a sense of panic and unease (reasonably so, since we depend entirely on the idea that we do exist).

Such is the case with feminism – there are abstract ideas to be considered, which those who are not well-versed in abstract thinking can, at first, find scary and radical. For example, Andrea Dworkin’s question of whether women can, having grown up under the patriarchy, truly consent to sex with men is not some insane man-hating hypothesis, but a pretty basic inquiry about the nature of free will.

The confusion therein is also, I think, one major reason why Fun-Feminism is popular – it is not simply that those who subscribe to it are lazy or unwilling to sacrifice certain benefits they enjoy at the expense of others, but that those who subscribe to fun-feminism don’t have abstract thinking skills that are advanced enough to properly comprehend what radical feminism discusses. It’s not that these women are stupid, either – simply that they are approaching the ideology from the wrong angle.

In my women’s studies class, heirarchies of privilege would frequently factor into the discussion, and each time, it seemed, someone would be objecting to their nature based on a personal example. “Well, I know this guy, and he cleans the house, so women aren’t always required to do housework (subtext: so I’ve decided this discussion of “the second shift” is irrelevant).”

This doesn’t generally work, because citing one (or more) concrete examples does not negate an abstract systemic imbalance. The problem was that they simply weren’t grasping the abstract nature of systemic privilege.

Solipsistic thinking is also partly to blame – those who have not honed their critical thinking skills are prey to believing that if they have not experienced it, it is probably not true. Again, this is not stupidity, but merely a higher level of critical thinking many people are never required to reach.

When I consider Dworkin’s hypothesis, I approach it from an angle that does not speak to my experience. Because we are discussing something that would have influenced me, too, it is impossible for me to determine the ultimate answer, short of raising a child in a magical culture-free bubble. The fact that it does not reflect my experience, however, has no bearing on whether it might be true – in fact, knowing how we are influenced by our environments, it seems entirely plausible.

A person lacking in the ability to separate themselves from the equation, however, might be rather offended by the mere suggestion that they’d be intrinsically unable to consent to sex, and might even consider such a statement antifeminist, as it denies a woman the possibility of choice. But it is not intended to be interpreted in this way (the question operates by a different set of rules than we do in our daily lives), and I think many arguments could be avoided if this rift in thought processes were bridged.

While it may take patience and time (which is not everyone’s responsibility, I know), I think this one of the most integral factors to understanding radical feminism – I say this because I have, in just a few years,  jumped entirely from one side of the fence to the other when it comes to my views on the subject. That “click” happened one day, and I just got it. From that, I know that this kind of thinking is something that can be learned. The possibility that it is missing simply goes unnoticed.

 

 



On The Right Tracts
January 21, 2011, 10:40 am
Filed under: General Bitching

When I was only a shift or two out of training at my first job, I received one of these:

Unfortunately, my hopes that it would be an Abbott-and-Costello-style gag confusing the multiple definitions of the term "present," were swiftly dashed.

I recognized it immediately – though at the time I hadn’t a term for them more eloquent than “those weird little Jesus comics”, I had received many a gospel tract in my youth while trick-or-treating. There are many publishers of biblical tracts, but few are as well-known and oft-distributed as those in the immense collection of evangelist comic booklets by Chick Publications.

Now, why a person would hand out comics (comics wordier than friggin’ Subnormality, by the way) on Halloween to convince children (who are just going to bury them under a pile of fun-size Butterfingers) to accept Jesus as their lord and savior is anybody’s guess; I think I was a pretty smart kid, but “abomination,” didn’t make its way onto any of my vocabulary lists in Elementary school.

Nevertheless, I want to inform everyone who is, will be, or knows anyone in retail: distribution of these tracts on private property is considered solicitation, and the vast majority of businesses have strict “no soliciting,” policies. A popular tactic of witnessers and evangelists who distribute this literature is to include it with payment, tips (sometimes in lieu of a tip), or, in my case, to stuff it in the employee’s hand with a “that’s for you!” followed by jogging out of the store before the employee can react appropriately.

Should this happen to you, I recommend the following course of action:

  1. If you are in a customer service situation, politely refuse the tract. If you are able, inform the person distributing the tracts (this includes passive actions, such as placing tracts on cars in the company parking lot) that their actions are solicitation not permitted by the property owner. This is legally considered a form of trespassing, and appropriate charges can be pressed.
  2. If you are unable to respond to the solicitor, many distributable tracts are ordered in bulk by churches and offered to their congregation. For convenience, the back of a CHICK tract has a space in which a church can stamp or print their name and address. Check to see if this information is present.
  3. Discuss the situation with your manager. Be prepared to defend the company policies on solicitation – some managers “don’t see the harm,” in passing out gospel tracts when they would very much oppose, for instance, union solicitation. In fact,  a lack of enforcement on no-solicitation policies has, in the past, been grounds for denial on charges brought against unions petitioning on company property (as one article suggests, “If you want to be able to stop employees from wandering around the shop floor handing out fliers for a union meeting, you must also be willing to prohibit them from handing out fliers for a Tupperware party”). Suggest some manner of correspondence be made with the church, as they are the originators of the distributed material (and have willingly printed their address on it), wherein a discussion with the congregation of the proper protocol regarding such distribution be encouraged.

Or, if you’re like anyone I’ve discussed this with, you could just throw the tract away and move on with your life.

However, over the length of my employment, I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to be the recipient of quite a few of these tracts – should I not be offended that the literature therein insists that I will be eternally tormented in a lake of fire (and I really appreciate the distinction – never is it any body of water but a lake in these tracts, though I suppose “an estuary of combustion” doesn’t have quite the same vigor)? And my offense aside (to paraphrase Ricky Gervais, simply being offended does not put you in the right), these actions are against the law. To take no action when that is the case is allowing a religious group to operate as if they are above the law simply because they have many followers who don’t happen to disagree with them, which is a slippery slope that happens so often already that I really don’t need it happening in my grocery store.

Figure 1a: Kvetchy overhyped internet quote, vaguely related to discussion, used to garner reader interest.

In researching this, I came across a guide for how to proselytize using tracts, which refers to those who aren’t Christian as “the lost.” I prefer Tolkien to The Bible, though: not all who wander are lost.



Hotness and a Half
January 3, 2011, 6:39 am
Filed under: General Bitching

I spend an excessive amount of time on the internet laughing at stupid stuff, so naturally, I’m a big fan of Hyperbole and a Half – MSPaint? Ridiculous tales from childhood? Facial expressions so absurd they border on physically impossible? SIGN ME RIGHT THE HELL UP.

 

HURR HURR I DREW THIS (Just kidding, it's copyright Allie Brosh!)

Anytime Hyperbole and a Half gets brought up among friends, though, inevitably someone will utter, often incredulously, “Man, did you know? The author is so pretty!” Which is completely true – she’s lithe and blonde with a big sparkling smile. In fact, I have probably been the one who most often makes this exclamation. But why is that worth mentioning? Why is it so surprising that the author of a funny webcomic is a pretty girl?

Webcomics aside, we’re generally surprised when conventionally pretty women aren’t the shallow and stupid husks that popular culture has laid them out to be – the well-known cultural stereotype of the “dumb blonde,” or the “bimbo” is so oft-repeated that even the most enlightened and tolerant of folks have difficulty not falling back on such a cheap stereotype.

This happens plenty with men, too, but like most things that also happen with men, it is to a much lesser and, subsequently, less detrimental degree. If the author of Hyperbole and a Half were an equally attractive man, we wouldn’t be so monumentally shocked. Unless Mr. Hypothetical is so mind-blowingly attractive that it is a distraction no matter what career path he chooses, nobody even cares. Some dude decided to do a webcomic – bully for him.

Of course, there are a couple issues at play here, such as idea that women (especially pretty women) aren’t, or don’t “need” to be funny:

Then there’s the Patriarchy Lunch Special – that down-home hot order of resentment between women over their attractiveness/success/tit size, frivolous in-fighting that makes enemies where friends should be (with country gravy on the side). It’s a sentiment that’s echoed in the vague sense of Ugly/Pretty Girl Justice with which all women who went to high school in America are familiar, the self-fulfilling prophecy passed down by Moms and best friends alike – you know, the, “You might not be pretty like those other girls, but you’re definitely smarter than them!” system of ranking by which you can still manage to be a worthwhile human being even though your figure is more Idaho spud than hourglass?

Per this thought pattern, we look at Hyperbole and a Half and border on developing a complex: a prettier girl  has also accomplished more? The balance has been disrupted! SHE MUST BE DESTROYED, FOR HER BEAUTY INVALIDATES EVERYTHING YOU HAVE ACHIEVED!

But my epiphany doesn’t deal with either of these things directly. No, my reason why we’re so surprised when pretty girls do awesome things is because women’s identities are generally reduced to what resources will get them a man! Pretty girls don’t “need,” to do anything else, because beauty is the trait valued most highly by men. If you’re funny, intelligent, etc. that would make someone an interesting human being, it’s surely only to make up for your deficiency in gorgeousness so that you have some semblance of hope toward finding a mate. Subsequently, if you’ve been evaluated by the Great Imaginary Committee of Sexiness Experts and have been found to be “hot,” it is confounding why you would bother exerting the effort to do anything else!

UPDATE – What bad form! I finished two full-length posts in a row with a Current TV segment like I had some kind of endorsement deal!

"It's like people only do things because they get paid... And that's just really sad, you know?"

Derailing of the subject aside: The fact that people such as myself, who, while far from infallible, are supposed to be all high-and-mighty self-proclaimed RADFEMs (a title which I too often imagine in AC/DC font, complete with lightning bolt in the middle) can so easily slip back to the mental heuristic that assesses any given woman by her percieved ability to obtain a man is fucked right the fuck up, as Her Majesty might say.

 

WHICH JUST GOES TO SHOW, that aww man feminism is hard work and it ruins everything.



Usher Sucks
November 3, 2010, 2:57 am
Filed under: General Bitching

Today’s post is about Usher Raymond, Because here at TheBitchBitchBitch, not only do I write frequently, but about subjects that matter.

Seriously, though? I’m getting really fucking sick of Usher. Yeah, yeah,  I know, he’s released about a billion hit singles and has been an unstoppable pop force since I was using training wheels. Still.

Usher’s hits are generally about the following complex subjects:

  • Cheatin’
  • Da Club

From Usher’s discography it can be assumed that he spends a lot of goddamn time in the club, which, last time I checked, is a terrible place for anyone to “fall in love,” such as is mentioned in “DJ Got us Fallin’ in Love Again” (unless your idea of “love” involves strobe lights and vomit), or, for that matter, “make love,” as “Love in This Club,” suggests.

Because it’s slow and sung soulfully by our dear pop prince, “Love in This Club” often gets touted as a love song – something romantic. Eighth graders slow-dance to this shit. A song about boning in public.

Time not spent in the club is usually spent thinking about, actually performing the act of, or regretting said act of cheating on his current or former girlfriend/wife/shawty, if the list of hits is to be believed.

One chart-topper that defies this categorization is my personal favorite, “OMG”, wherein Usher (with the help of occasionally nonsensical but masterfully-punctuated beardo Will.I.Am) describes his flabbergastedness at the hottness of a lady dancing on the “dancefloor.”

(For the purposes of this blog post, I am giving Usher the benefit of the doubt and assuming that this “dancefloor” was not in Da Club, rather that it was at a bar-mitzvah in the local Hampton Inn, or maybe the accordion hall of the last Oktoberfest he attended.)

“OMG” is particularly heinous, because in this case OMG stands not for “Oh my god,” but “Oh my gosh,” which I wouldn’t have a problem with were it not for the fact that the reluctance to say “god,” generally indicates a pious wish to not take the lord’s name in vain, a puritanical devotion that you’d think might contradict the following verses:

“Honey got a booty like pow, pow, pow

Honey got some boobies like wow, oh wow”

My highlighting this hypocrisy, by the way, is to say nothing of the poetic brilliance that the above lines (and, hell, the whole song!) express, rivaled only by Plath and Hemmingway in terms of the deep emotional impact and air of mysteriousness they carry. The use of repetition really adds meaning – we’re really getting an idea as to the importance of whomever this “Honey,” is, as well as what she’s “got.” However, the question of how one’s posterior can be, “like pow pow pow,” has been the subject of heated debate among scholars of our time.

ARE YOU SERIOUS THIS IS WHAT PASSES FOR MUSIC THESE DAYS

Usher can also be admired for strides he’s made in his personal life, chief among them being to spread awareness of sex addiction, or “sexaholicism,” a tragic illness where an individual loses the ability to control how often they bone ladies.

Screw this, I’m going to bed.



The Word Gay
June 3, 2010, 2:40 am
Filed under: Auntie K's Words of Wisdom Wednesdays, General Bitching

My boyfriend gets called “gay” a lot.

Being that he is my boyfriend, and I am a woman, he is either a very good faker (at one thing or another), or I am so manly that nobody can tell the difference.

In any event, it’s not delivered in the way you’d expect. While high school kids are renowned for throwing the word “gay” around more often than Oklahoma passes abortion legislation, among the people I know it’s a little different.  Using it as a catch-all term for “stupid” is something that, like a collection of Linkin Park CDs and a profound love for InuYasha, is best left to your Junior High years (and vehemently denied thereafter).

The word still gets used, though, for purposes other than specifically intended. Many folks I know (including myself) have used the word to describe things that seem, well, kind of gay – sassy dancing, scrupulous taste in fashion, and anything to do with Lady Gaga. It’s just a word, and it’s not like it’s hate speech, so what’s the problem? Continue reading



Internet Rage
May 7, 2010, 1:23 am
Filed under: General Bitching, Other People Are Smarter Than Me

I don’t really need to say anything, as this individual sums it up nicely.



Masculine Coffee
May 6, 2010, 5:11 pm
Filed under: General Bitching

I’ve heard this joke too many fucking times to continue to suffer in silence.

It’s simple, and generally goes along these lines: “Hurr hurr, aren’t skinny half-calf mocha caramel lattes just SOOOOoOOoOOO unmanly? And isn’t that fact (that somehow, food, an asexual, non-living entity, can have a gender) so goddamn deplorable?”

It’s one symptom of the whole “reclamation of manliness” thing that’s becoming so popular lately.  Except that instead of plastered on billboards and in magazines and on TV, I’m hearing people make this joke. In real life.

Can we do a reality check, here? Can I apply this logic to other situations?

What’s this music you people listen to? That’s gay as hell. What have you got there, like, a bassline? Guitar riffs, a vocal track and drums? Shit, man, back in the day all we had were drums and fists.

The manliest. Incidentally, Drums and Fists is the name of my metal band.

 Are you seriously drinking soda? What is this faggoty Sierra Mist bullshit? First of all, what a sissy name. Second of all, high fructose corn syrup? Corn syrup, seriously? The only place I’ve ever seen that is in the kitchen, which I’m more than positive is a place for women. By extension, you must be a woman, and for that you should probably kill yourself.

To be fair, "Sierra Mist" is a bit froufy. If I created a soda, I'd call it "cock-punch."

What irritates me most about it is that it’s just an extension of anti-intellectualism: Complex = bad, and in this case, complex =  feminine = bad, so it’s misogyny AND anti-intellectualism, which just tickles my fucking fancy.