Archives for posts with tag: Activism

I got sucked into Reddit recently. I’ll get back to you later on whether this is a good thing or not, in the mean time it has been educational!

One of the first things I did when joining Reddit was seek out some feminist forums. One of the first things I found on r/feminism (which is distinct from r/feminisms, if you embrace intersectionality I advice avoiding the latter)..anyway, one of the first things I found on r/feminism was a man asking why there couldn’t be a middle ground between feminism and the Men’s Rights Movement.

The main response he got, from one of the forums moderators, was that MRM and feminism are NOT two sides of the same coin because the Men’s Rights movement is trying to turn back the clock and strip away the hard-won rights of women everywhere, and can never have any middle ground until members of the men’s rights movement admit that woman’s grievances are justified and start support real equality, not “men first” equality.

Now, I’ve visited several men’s rights websites that do in fact say exactly that kind of shit. But I’ve also seen the feminist websites that claim every straight woman is tool of the patriarchy just because they like dick, and every instance if PIV sex is always rape. We feminists have our own Kool-Aid we desperately need to stop drinking.

I also know far to well that there are areas where men are discriminated against. The side of feminism I support looks at this and says, “Yes, gender roles and gender stereotypes fuck everything up for everyone, we need to fix this shit.” The really loud side of feminism that I wish would die says, “Oh, the poor menz, dey got der feeling hurt. Suck it asshole.”

Anyway, I decided that just because a couple of men’s rights websites were misogynist crap didn’t mean all of them were and decided to do some research, starting with r/mensrights.

In the Men’s Rights subreddit there is a big, bold link right in the sidebar about the difference between Men’s Rights and Feminism. I decided this was probably a good place to start. I was hoping to find something a bit more open-minded and nuanced than the feminist version. What I found was a very well thought out explanation about the various forms of legal discrimination many men face, and this concluding paragraph:

So for all of you men and women who support the MRM and to all of you neutral parties who can’t seem to figure out why MRAs and feminists can’t find common ground; to everyone who thinks The MRM and Feminism are two sides of the same coin, take a closer look at the damn coin. One side endorses legal bigotry while the other seeks to end it. You can’t get any more different than that.

–Jared White, http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/whats-the-difference/ sourced on 7/4/14

Basically, both sides are saying the same damn thing, just swapping who is the victim and who is the bad guy.

Every one of the issues that Jared says men face discrimination in? I fully agree on. Blaming feminism for them? Eh…look, when the custom of women automatically getting custody in a divorce developed in the 19th century, when women couldn’t vote or be judges and feminism wasn’t even a thing yet? Yeah, there are definitely some ways feminism has made things worse for men, if only by emphasizing women victims of domestic violence and rape but ignoring men victims. But blaming all men’s problems on feminism is going a bit far.

Sometimes it isn’t a matter of feminism being out to get men, sometimes it’s a matter of men being screwed by gender stereotypes.

At the same time, feminism needs to wake up to the fact that it has largely been successful. The big battles–for the vote, for non-discrimination, for women’s health to be treated as a real thing, are largely over. Oh, I’m not saying that women aren’t still facing discrimination in various ways. The fact that the anatomy of the clitoris wasn’t mapped until the last 20 years is a sign that we still have far to go in having women’s health taken seriously. So is the fact that more has been done to study and treat erectile dysfunction than a medical condition–a “woman’s condition”–that nearly killed my mother three times before she could get her doctors to take it seriously. So is the fact that not one state-level legislative body has reached even parity between men and women, and the average state legislative body is 75% men.

I remember a disturbing conversation I had with my kids after watching MegaMind. At the time my kids were 6 and 7 years old. I asked them what they thought about MegaMind “getting the girl” as a prize for saving the city. Both of them, one boy and one girl, saw absolutely nothing wrong with that. “Well he won, didn’t he Ima? So of course he gets the girl. The hero always gets the girl.”

Not even 10 years old and already convinced that a woman was a prize, and not a person who made her own choices. Thankfully, I managed to correct that impression…temporarily. I don’t kid myself that I’m not fighting an up-hill battle against the majority of media. And since I don’t have custody, I can’t control their media either.

But if that kind of casual misogyny is built into our culture, it’s equally true that every time we talk about rape culture as being part of a war on women, we are erasing male victims of rape. It is equally true that for decades rape was legally defined as something that only happened to women. It is equally true that male victims of domestic violence are the butt of jokes while women victims of domestic violence are rescued and supported.

I had two friends who were having a very rough marriage. I’ll call them Alice and Bob. One day when they were fighting, Bob tried to leave the room. He was getting angry and knew he needed to cool down before he said or did something he would regret. Alice didn’t want him to leave and planted herself in the doorway, physically trapping him in the room.

Bob pulled Alice out of the doorway, tossed her on the bed, and ran out of the house. Bob’s own mother offered Alice sympathy and support and said she almost called the police on him.

If the situation was reversed? If Bob had trapped Alice in the room? You know anything she needed to do to get herself out of that room would have been applauded as “standing up for herself” and “getting out of an unsafe situation.”

So I am a feminist. I believe that there are and remain areas of life and culture where women are discriminated against, and that all people should be equal. But because I am a feminist, because I believe ALL people should be equal, I support men’s rights.

Because no one deserves to be discriminated against, belittled, or denied justice because of their gender.

I believe–I hope, that in spite of all the voices on either side saying that men’s rights and feminism are inherently opposed, I am part of a silent majority who thinks we all need to work together to fix the way people in our society are treated.

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Someone with a reasonably loud internet-voice had recently said a good bit about social activism, most notably that it is a hobby which doesn’t really have any impact (except in certain rare cases) on the world at large. That within this hobby we have our own little subculture, which has its own little hierarchies and privileges and again, doesn’t really change anything in the world at large, and while it’s a fine hobby, we really need to be honest with ourselves about it just being a hobby.

There is almost nothing in there I can disagree with. This is certainly not a ‘job’ or ‘career’ for me, my career is my writing. And social justice advocacy certainly does have a significant echo chamber effect which is hard to overcome. And as cathartic and fulfilling as #killallmen, #solidarityisforwhitepeople or #fuckcispeople may be, I haven’t seen anything actually come of them in the wider world.

Ilna couldchange the world; she was doing so to the best of her considerable ability. But she couldn’t change it all, and she couldn’t change it all at once.

-Queen of Demons, by David Drake

When I come out of the social justice advocacy echo chamber, I talk about stuff with my partner and our friends. My partner isn’t involved in social advocacy. He’s a gamer. He streams video games on Twitch as Abbadonsin. He’s not going to be challenging Yogscast or Machinima any time soon, but he’s got a loyal, if small, following. Mostly made up of 13-24 year old gamer boys. Gamer boys who listen when we talk about trans rights or rape culture. Who now understand why they shouldn’t use ‘it’ when talking about trans people and who understand why consent matters and the importance of “yes means yes.”

I’ve helped Michael answer questions when these guys have asked things like “Is it ever okay to have sex when you or your partner is drunk?” (My answer: If you discussed and agreed to having sex before you started drinking, I don’t see a problem with it, but not if either of you show signs of alcohol poisoning.)

These are boys and young men, who because they have heard Michael and I talk about social advocacy, got interested starting asking questions, and are now that much less likely to turn into abusers and rapists. That much less likely to intentionally or unintentionally bully, shame or denigrate the trans people they meet. Because someone they respect understands enough about social advocacy, rape culture to know better, and trans 101, and passed that knowledge on to them.

I am a writer. I don’t expect to ever reach the level of Mercedes Lackey, much less J.K Rowling or J.R.R. Tolkien (yes, I’m a geek, and I write fantasy. Deal with it.) But my stories do tackle issues related to social advocacy. And when I tell my children a fairy tale of a trans man who knew from the time he was a child that he was born in the wrong body – well my kids will now have empathy for children in their classes who are trans and know that if they ever feel like they are in the wrong body, they can come to me and I will accept and understand. I am currently working on a collection of similar fairytales addressing as many issues as I can include, which will be released as an ebook under creative commons attribution.i

And if it hadn’t been for the trans advocates who through their writing and their willingness to interact and answer my questions and critique my stories and my writings, I wouldn’t have bee able to share that story with my children.

I am a daughter of the Appalachians. I am truly at home only within these mountains. But I know the truth. The mountains are shaped by the seas and the winds. By the steady, day-to-day erosion, one bit of dirt or piece of gravel at a time, caused by the ceaseless, tireless assault of wave and wind on cliff and height.

My advocacy will never change the world. I will never stand in front of the Washington Monument and give a speech before a million man march, I will not end world hunger, and the part I can play in stopping the judicial murder of women, and LGBT folk in other parts of the world is miniscule. But that does not absolve me of my responsibility. The responsibility to be that wave, pounding against the cliffs. That wind, slowly shaping mountains. The change that happens, each day, in such tiny, miniscule ways no one else will ever know about them. Often I will never know about them.

But they still happen. Everyday. As long as I remember to take my advocacy outside of the echo chamber, and spread what I learn there through the people I meet. And those changes – the changes I make, the changes you make, he changes all of us make, can reshape the world.

And for those interested in a faster approach to changing the world, try organizing. It’s worked before.

 

i If anyone would be interested in contributing to this collection, please let me know There are some issues I want to include but am not comfortable writing about, and I’d like to see other voices and other perspectives included regardless.

 

Hey folks, as some of you may have noticed, I am remaking this blog into a forum for folks from across activism to learn about what is going on in other movements. Interesectionality is often spoken of within movements – “My feminism will be intersectional.” but it also needs to be across movements – feminist talking with POC, family rights activists working hand in hand with LGBT, and so much more.

There is so much going on and so many battles being fought, it is nearly impossible to keep up with all of them. So if you are devoted to fighting racism, or ableism, or body shaming, to gaining gender equality or protection for transfolk, here you can share information about your own battles, and learn about what is going on in the battle grounds next door. Most posts here will be a collection of links to recent events. The first post, going up later tonight, will be recent events in feminism. Next week will be LGBT rights, the week after that racism and the battle of people of color.

Guest posts, sharing experiences in your activism, discussing intersectionality, and similar topics are welcome. If something important happened in your neck of the woods that I missed, let me know and I’ll made sure it gets added.

101 pages with information for people new to various activisms and ideas will be going up over the next few weeks. if you have a link, article or infographic that you would like to see as part of a 101 page, please let me know.

 

Links are not endorsements – I may link to pieces that I do not agree with. I will not link to pieces that I feel are intentionally offensive. Caitlan Moran is not one of my favorite people, but she is a major voice in feminism and for that alone it is worth being aware of what she has to say. Link titles are my own take on the major point of the articles linked to – they are not necessarily the actual titles of the articles.

For folks who initially followed me for writing related topics, I’ll be starting a new blog for those, and will announce the link for that blog here when it is up and running. Thanks for your patience.