that’s funny!

Normally when I blog or generally talk about feminist things, the above is a sarcastic phrase used to indicate my dismay and precedes a description explaining, as gently as I can, why the joke was racist/sexist/homophobic/able-ist/etc.

But, this is not one of those cases. I want to talk about what is funny. That’s not true either, I want to talk about why I’m funny.

Shocking to believe, I am not a humorless feminist. In fact, I was the class clown, and now I’m the clown anywhere but class. (in a PhD program it is not recommended to crack jokes the whole time, but I digress)

I will retell stories in my head until I think they are funny enough to share, I make wise cracks when other people are speaking (so much so, I almost made the vita-mix sales man lose it with laughter when I was watching the demo and was standing near the front), and puns. Oh, how I love the puns. Other people don’t always agree, but trust me, they’re wrong, my puns are hilarious.

But people don’t notice. And by people, I mean what the patriarchy defines as people: men. Its not that they don’t get my jokes, they just forget I ever made them.

I can think of two reasons.

1. Men get told off by me when their shit is sexist, racist, etc. so they are associate me with killing THEIR fun at the expense of others.

2. “girls” aren’t funny.

This may be slowly changing, but in general womyn are seen as up tight, as adorable, as sperm receptacles. To make jokes, means you have agency, you are the one who is receiving attention for something other than what a nice looking object you are. AND worst of all, you have to be clever! You can be a little funny, but not as funny as a guy.

Well, Duh, I hear you cry.

What brought this up in my mind? It is related to how I met my first boyfriend. Why that came to mind, I have no idea. I was walking from the coffee cart to my office on campus, and I was thinking about those days gone by when I was in an improv comedy class. I was in high school, and I met my first boyfriend there. He was too old for me, and I was too young for him. When you are a high school student, age differences are bigger.

I thought he was so good looking, and he was younger than the last crush I had. Therefore, (I rationalized) it would be just fine. However, I did have to think about it. We were flirting for a while, and one night he drove me home and asked if we could date/be in a relationship/something. So I said I would call him the next day or so. (Should have been a warning when) he said, but you were flirting with me! As if that means I HAD to be in a relationship. Then he cited an example.

We were doing an exercise in class where we were speaking in unison and making sentences (groups of about 5 people). Sort of an oral Ouija Board. The teacher thought this man was leading the sentences, and we assured her he was not. She said, it must be that rich baritone voice.

Now if you’re a young woman in a patriarchal society, you want to marry well. Even then I didn’t want that, but I knew that it was true.

So of course I responded with near Mae West intonation: “I could use a rich baritone.” (nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more)

Not that this could not possibly be just a joke. It HAD to be for the benefit of a man (a real man not just an imaginary referent). It had to be flirting, or leading on, or something. It could have no reference to anything but how I felt about the man’s hot sexy sexiness.

It couldn’t, I don’t know, be a JOKE? Given how much people hurt others by saying “it’s just a joke” you’d think this would be given a pass. But, no, it was flirting, and If I didn’t go out with this man, I would be a dirty cock tease. right? Silly me, “girls” don’t make jokes. But my virginal lady bits were a flutter over his sexy goatee, and therefore did not notice the poisonous sentiment.

I can’t believe that it took me nearly ten years to notice that.

Advertisements

in which my dad is not completely fail.

my dad just got a new bass player for his band, which was a bunch of dudes. Now it is a bunch of dudes, and a woman. which is sometimes an untenable position. She is also trans*. I don’t know which ending to that word or if trans alone is her preference when she feels the need to discuss that part of her life.

anyway. I barely said hello to the band all night. I went to watch TV with my mom. I went to go get a piece of cake from the freezer (on the other side of were they were practicing), and noticed that almost everyone had left except for one guy. as I was passing by with my newly acquired cake, I hear the band mate say something out of earshot. My dad, in a moment of win, replies “she, SHE , it’s not easy for me either , but I’ll get used to it. it is important to respect peoples preferences”

It is not complete automatic acceptance, but it is good faith and respectful of the pronouns she prefers. not only that, it is standing up to someone who is not respecting the pronouns she prefers. (I would add identities not preferences is preferable, but it was such a leap forward I hate to diminish the achievement)

Of course I only categorize the evening as “not completely fail” because of an exchange after the last band member finally left.

I wanted to provide positive reinforcement so I thanked my father for correcting his band mate. and he said something like “I wasn’t sure how the band would react, but most of them feel like me, as long as it can play, then whatever”

I cringed! I might have literally done a facepalm. I informed my father that no one likes to be referred to as “it”. He explained that he wanted to say something gender neutral, to express the views of the band. I understand his intent and all, and I understand how annoying it is that there is not a generally accepted gender neutral tone (not one accepted enough so I can use it in a scholarly paper or anything like that) but, FACEPALM I say. So I informed him of zie and hir. so that was a bit fail. but not completely. My dad is respecting an individuals identity and wishes, even though they are foreign to him. so it is a step.

Ironically I was discussing various identities with my mother a few days prior (gender identities, sexual identities and polyamorous vs monogamous). I was saying that all of these were on a spectrum, and had to inform her of the Kinsey Scale to talk about the others having a continuous scale like that. (though I didn’t bring up asexuality) . My mother’s response was, “well, I’m not likely to meet any of those people, so I don’t need to know about this stuff.”

Granted she hardly ever meets anyone since she is introverted and mostly retired, so she can do what she likes. But she teaches a yoga class. you don’t know who in your class identifies as what. “those people” are everywhere!!!

It is privileged attitude that “they” exist somewhere else away from “us”. I was getting frustrated with the conversation because I was trying to “gently” explain the consequences of our various privileges. She understands the “I don’t get targeted for violence” part of privilege, but not much beyond that. It was getting really frustrating trying to explain that we need more positive lgbtqi characters in mainstream stories. she kept saying that “they” already have some gay films, so they should be happy with that. (headdesk).

So I gave up. I was about to get upset, and it would not have done any good.

because rape and tasers are hilarious.

This was linked to on facebook by a liberal dood friend of mine, and “liked” by a few womyn. The friend part is not sarcastic. Just shows that even people like my friends, who really do care about social justice and equality, don’t quite get what I mean by rape culture. Nor do I think they want to. Takes re-evaluating their lives too much.

Anyway, the end of this video, the obnoxious main character is anally raped with a taser. WTF? This is comedy. Because rape is funny if it happens to men.

But it is even more than that. it is raping someone with a lethal weapon. Normalizing violence. Normalizing police brutality.

And people tell me I’m the man hater? Look around. did you laugh at this video? do you think it is funny when a male prison rape scene is alluded to or depicted in a comedy? who laughs at this? I’m guessing some of the people who think I’m a “man-hating bitch” do. I’m guessing some faux-feminist men, who think that showing men weak is what feminists want to see, will laugh. (I actually had a male “feminist” friend of mine say a guy got what he deserved when a woman didn’t tell him she had and STD when he didn’t want to use a condom. ummmmmm wha…?)

Back when I wrote the post on why media depictions of sexual violence against men is a feminist issue, I did not have the benefit of having read Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl. While I don’t quite agree with every thing she says, I do like how she defines traditional sexism as against femininity instead of against women. This type of sexism can be manifest towards males and females. I think this is a case of that.

defining sexuality

so. I generally identify as straight. but I’m at a place where I’m attracted to my good female friend. am I bisexual? maybe. And I know that people are going to be pissed with me, but I don’t think so.

I know there is a lot of bi-phobia out there, and I’ve seen a lot of reactions from people who feel betrayed by people who have relations with people of both sexes but don’t identify as bisexual. It is not my intent to distance myself from the queer community. In fact I’d feel guilty if I identified as bi.

I have straight privilege. I know that when watching movies or whatever that people will have relationships that have the gender make up of the relationships I’ve had. I’ve never dated a woman, and I’m not really interested in most women. I know, I know, that’s like labeling all virgins as asexual. Obviously you can have sexual feelings and know who you want to date even if you haven’t dated them. but this is different. I’ve always wanted to date men, with their hairy faces and penises. It is not just a response to being programed by society and not being true to myself. (Yes I have had people argue my sexuality with me before so I’ve thought about it and had to deal with this argument). I don’t want to co opt a culture and movement with my mostly straight voice.

I would be okay with being called my-specific-best-friend-sexual. because that’s what it is. I like her specifically. not that when I date boys I don’t like them in specific, but a large range of men stimulate me and the same doesn’t happen around women.

It feels like I should have this sorted out by now. not my entire love life, but my sexual orientation identity. I don’t even like that sexual orientation should be be part of my identity. I identify with much more important things. Thing I’m super passionate about. I’m a math educator, I’m a subverter of the dominant paradigm, I’m a feminist, I’m a nudist. but that’s part of straight privilege. I’m “normal” so I don’t have to deal with my sexuality as my identity as a part of me that others me from society. if I did date a woman then society would label and identify me. I would have to respond to that, or at least live with that, unless I moved to a cave.

in the post-everything-bad world the label would be meaningless. everyone would just date who they like. And what their genitals looked like wouldn’t be a big deal. but that is not where we live. sigh.

I’m scared and mad

I think I can now really identify as an anarchist. I mean, I’m supporting the marriage equality movement because I believe if there is law it should apply equally to all people. But I do believe marriage is an oppressive structure, so in a perfect world do away with it all.

but this marriage equality thing is important. it is so sexist to say a man can marry a woman but a woman can’t. It is sexist to say that a woman can marry a man but a man can’t. it’s all just bull.

And it’s looking like Prop 8 won’t be overturned. The case is about what is legal, not what is right. the result won’t really be known for a while, but I’m so afraid. And I’m MAD. If this is rule of law, fuck the law.

Like Michael Franti said:

Fuck the constitution
are we part of the solution
or are we part of the pollution.

People hold up this document as if it were perfect. As if as humans we should mold our lives for it. But how can we say this about a document that allowed slavery? 3/5 rule said black people were 3/5ths of a person for the population count needed to determine how many representatives a state would get in the House.

Yeah…. Fuck. That. Shit.

If the CA state Constitution remains intrinsically sexist. Fuck it. “when injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty” Don’t know who said it, but I agree.

when the case is decided. If it upholds taking away rights from citizens, how can there not be riots in the streets? and I’m usually the peacenick of the group.

I was too quiet

Yesterday I had a bit of an icky experience.  I went to the beach, as I am want to do.   I had a great talk with my new fellow vegan feminist nudist person.  that was all good.  but I started mentioning March Forth on March 4th. (which if you are in San Diego You should go to! Please click the link for more information on marriage equality and the upcoming supreme court case.)

This is what got me into trouble. I mentioned it to one guy who had been fairly friendly in a not creepy way and I he “didn’t believe in it” and had a “different opinion” Now to me an opinion is whether you prefer blue or gold or something like that, not if you think you should take 1,138 rights away from people who love each other. I mentioned how people can’t even visit loved ones in the hospital he deflected. I almost decided to get up and punch him but thought that it wouldn’t go over well with the rest of the beach.

I stood up for equality but was just angry. Which is understandable. my being too quiet happened later.

When everyone was dressed and getting ready to tramp up the hill I was saying my good byes and waiting for people to finish packing and this guy comes up and hugs me. I try to move a bit out of the way but don’t completely disengage. I was just so shocked he would come up to me and so shocked he would impose. So I just let him violate my space.  What makes him think he has the RIGHT to do that?

I feel I should have said no and should have screamed it! should have said “I don’t want you in my personal space” or “you have not been invited to have physical contact with me, do not touch me.” You know SOMETHING. I understand the need to be polite but that is very VERY different than being friendly. I don’t want to talk to people who think a group of people are second class citizens just because they don’t fit into the heteronormative bullcrap paradigm. Ok.. I do want to talk to them, when I’m out doing marriage equality work, but not when I want to relax. not when I’m in a place where I want to feel safe being myself.

And I sure as hell don’t want them to touch me.  Especially in such a friendly way as a hug.

what will you do for a gender free tomorrow?

I’ve always been a huge proponent of gender deconstruction. But I don’t know if that is really the right phrase. People talk about hetero-normative culture, I believe it is only part of a larger problem of gender-normative culture.

What is “straight” but a gendered expectation on who we should want to fuck or raise a family with? The patriarchy thrives on the gender binary system. It sees Masculine and Maleness as good and anything outside that as, well, not good. We can not live freely as womyn if we are living in the confines of “femininity”. But we cannot change what it means to be a “woman” without affect what it means to be a man. If we take away the strict definition of “man” the patriarchy has no legs to stand on.

Men also cannot live freely withing the confines of “Masculinty”. But while womyn have risked their lives, careers and families for the ability to wear a pantsuit, most men do not stand and fight for their right to wear pink frocks. That would be fighting for something that is doesn’t fit into the male= good paradigm. So the few men who do fight for equality in gender relations are cast out and punished (including physical assault) by the dominant system as a warning to those who would question the status quo.

And the Pantsuit is no salvation. It is women taking on a masculine costume to gain the power that masculinity brings. It does not change the “male=good” definition. This is not an unreasonable plan since no true revolution has come yet.

Gender-normativity is so built into our culture that we don’t have the words to adequately describe the world without dividing it into “girl things” and “boy things”. And English isn’t even the worst at it. In most romance languages every noun has a gender. But even though English isn’t the “worst” it is still completely deficient.

We need a singular pronoun that is gender neutral, because “it” isn’t cutting the mustard, and “they” gets really confusing and difficult to decipher for some people who insist it is plural.

Gendered expectations control lives, oppressing our true autonomy. I say no race, no economic conditons, and no government has the right to take my autonomy. (They do. All the time. But I’m talking about my dream of the post patriarchal world here) So why should I let gendered expectation control me? there aren’t always options, (esp for children.) Many Schools in NZ have uniforms that require skirts for girls and shorts or trousers for boys. from day one we are told we either belong in the cult of pink or blue.

I know it seems I am not offering solutions. I don’t think that a world free from gender-normative expectations will happen overnight. So here’s what I’ll do:

1. I will speak out against destructive gender-normative impositions as I see them in everyday life.
2. I will encourage and support those in my community who act outside of gender normative expectations to live the life they choose.
3. I will respect and support those who live in fear of coming out as not wanting to live within gender normative expectations (this includes not outing anyone).
4. I will proudly not fit into rigid gender roles when I don’t feel they define who I am.

Join me. What will you do to support a gender free tomorrow?

hope for tomorrow

I had a suprising and wonderful conversation in passing last night.  I was at a video rental place talking to my friend who works there ( ok I concede, sometimes life is like clerks… but in a much less annoying way.)  I was gossiping to my friend about my date on sunday night and how it ended in a “wait, what? huh?”  sort of way. 

and this customer joins in our conversation.  a bloke with a motercycle helmet.  he also had gone to the movies on a date the previous night, and he mentioned he was feeling morally conflicted about having kissed the girl because she was leaving the country in 8 weeks and he wasn’t sure that he wanted to have a relationship when as he felt he would be hurt when she left.  he was also afraid something might not go well and he would ruin the rest of her time in NZ. 

Yet again we see that gender stereotypes about how people should act are totally bogus.  he was a MAN! (GASP!) he should only want sex, but he has emotional needs and vulnerabilites and was concerned for the girl’s emotional needs and vulnerabilites. 

also there are posters everywhere promoting wearing white ribbons to stand in solidarity against violence against women.  the posters feature men wearing the ribons and are aimed at men to take a stand against violence against women.  exactly the type of thing that Dworkin suggested in I want a 24 hour truce.

I feel awesome!

speaking of my date I helped participate in the yes means yes and no means no culture and instead of attacking my date with my lips asked him EXPLICITLY, “can I kiss you?”. that’s when things got a bit “huh, whut?” but we’ll see. I’m so glad i asked. I don’t like people to physically impose themselves on me and don’t want anyone to feel I do that to the. It works well and doesn’t kill the mood, (especially if it’s an awkward date moment to begin with) So I suggest to all men and women and people who do not identify as either man or woman, ask!

what the hell do I do about nice guys

I’m living in a hostle in an 8 bed dorm at the moment.  mostly women in the room itself.  The building holds about 40 people total I think.  It’s really fun even.  But one guy is bothering me a bit.

I mean, I get on with him quite well, he’s intelligent, witty, funny.  But I, being myself after all, will go on about issues that are important to me.  Or mention “taboo” subjects that others might shy away from.

And he freaks out everytime he hears the word “vagina.”  I know a guy doing that isn’t news.  Many men, and even women i might add, have issues with the word vagina.

And Yes, I know i should be saying Vulva half the time I say vagina.. but it’s a coloquialism…or something……Alright I’ll do better next time.

anyway.  I mentioned how I was with my sister when she gave birth and it was really cool, though a bit weird to be looking at my sister’s vagina.   And he shuddered.  to be fair “penis” bothers him a little too, (though not as much)

So do I just keep saying “Vagina” around him in the hopes he will become desensitised?

or is there a better solution.  He agrees with many of my feminist points when I actively make them.  but says standard “nice guy” misogynistic crap as well.  Like when he’s the only guy in the room, “I guess we won’t be watching stargate”  It took me a while to get that women don’t like stargate…..  yeah… he totally “gets” it doesn’t he….

but point out every offence would totally mess up the good vibes of the hostle.  and I do have to live there.  so I will just focus on the one issue at the moment and the really obnoxious ones.

nice guys are the worst.  because they mean “so well”.

It’s like he sees me as a person but all women he doesn’t know are totally alien creatures that are different from men.

ok.. I’m just ranting and repeating at this point. so I should stop typing.

I don’t want eher to be a jessica stein type experiment

I love a woman.  I have for quite a while.  And she just broke up with her S.O. 

I’m pretty sure she loves me too. 

 But I think I’m really heterosexual.  I really like PIV and well, cocks in general.  I really don’t know if I could do without them at all. 

So what do I do?  She’s two oceans away, but that could change soon.   I don’t want to fuck up one of the most amazing friendships I have, but I don’t want to pass this by either. 

 sooner or later I’ll crave PIV.  I  can feel it.  I don’t want to do that too her. 

 It may all be moot.  She may not want to risk our friendship either.

 I feel like I’m in highschool.  Shouldn’t I have figured out my sexuality by now? and the kicker is if I could completely surrender to gender deconstruction, would it matter if she had a cock or not? 

Published in: on March 11, 2008 at 5:03 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,