So, this past weekend I was talking to my dear friend Meradith McMermaid and I said (actually wrote in a notebook) something very true. I do that periodically.
“I hate feeling vulnerable. Vulnerability was never my color. Clashes.”
A lot of the following include thoughts I hold very dear. I don’t want to write them because of the aforementioned clashing with my eyes, skin tone and sense of emotional safety. I’m also afraid of offending people I really respect.
But I feel like I should for three reasons- 1. I feel like I might have been a little harsh with the “regulars” a few post back. They are all really stellar guys. I’m just not going to marry them. 2.-Being able to say what I think about delicate topics is the main reason I started this Blog in the first place. 3.-New reader Austin offered a very thoughtful comment
“There are, I think, a fair amount of guys who are unwittingly feminist. They’re ok with their wife working, they want to marry a smart woman, they are egalitarian about most aspects of a relationship, but… they also don’t like the term ‘feminist.’ Maybe they were raised where in a family where it was a dirty word, maybe it’s just not their issue, or whatever. So my point is, I think you could find guys who won’t treat you condescendingly, or if they do in a few small ways they don’t recognize they’d be humble enough to change with a firm but gentle explanation from you about what’s wrong with it. They might not ever say they’re feminist, but they are and they’re worth dating.”
And I’m sure a lot more people than new reader Austin have been thinking the same thing. I used to think this way, and still do, to a degree, but I’ve found it to be so highly problematic that I am tempted to scrap the whole dating/marriage thing altogether.
I will tell you why ( though it’s going to take a lot of posts). And I hope this will, at the very least, help everyone understand my current lamentations and maybe help me look less unnecessarily picky.
Hem Hem. I call them the “Femi-misseds”- self declared Feminists who are so close, but just miss the mark…in a big way. ( This is not to be confused with fema-mist…which is entirely fictional, but sounds like it can be found in the feminine products section of your local grocery store.)
Now, before I go on, I should probably explain something pretty basic.
May I present before the jury the case of JD Daughter vs. Dennis P. Feministinairquotes
Now Mr. Feministinairquotes was, and probably is, one of the major male feminist minds in 20-something Mormopia. Hi Dennis! I’m sure now you’re awesome.
Our relationship,however, when we had it, was so twistedly toxic that the very act of dating him usually required me to go to counseling- and just as a little bonus, I think I’ll share an actual journal entry to illustrate how completely aware I was of the situation.
“Well, I guess I’m dating Dennis again. This means I should probably go through the whole ‘girlfriend’ routine again. Get his new address, re-add his phone number, schedule a time for him everyday after work…Oh, and I should probably go see a freakin’ shrink because I have just signed myself up for a whole new round of soul-numbing, sociopathic awfulness.
Why do I do this? I think it’s because, in spite of his actions, he’s really trying hard…sometimes. This entire relationship has been almost entirely based on me grading him for effort.
This is going to end very badly for me.”
And so it did. I. Am. A. Prophetess.
Paul the Oracle Octopus ain’t got nothing on me.
I would like to proclaim, before the e-world, that spending several nights a month in hysterical tears or numb frustration and fear, trying desperately to explain why pornography is a bad thing, why I should get to keep my last name, and why women should be able to run large organizations, to someone who functions under a false sense of entitlement regarding these issues….is about as fun as being slowly eaten to death by ants.
Maybe I’m explaining this all wrong. I’m just gonna keep typing and see what comes out.
ON THE SUBJECT OF WOMEN RUNNING LARGE ORGANIZATIONS
OK. I would also like to point out that while it took me a while to figure out what the heck was going on, I was completely aware that something was up while we were dating.
This is a journal entry from the night that Dennis declared that he did not think that women should be able to run large organizations because of their vaginas…which, you know, makes perfect sense to me.
“Dennis is as feminist as I am vegetarian.”
For those of you who don’t know me, I am not a vegetarian.
After staying in this relationship, fully aware of what was going on, until the grim end- I consider myself forever free of the accusation that I am unforgiving, judgmental, and incapable of passionate, romantic love which doesn’t benefit me in anyway.
So, Dennis’ argument came out of nowhere one day while we were sitting together watching last year’s RS Broadcast. Pres. Eyring was speaking proudly about the RS’s former large system of hospitals and welfare programs ( which were very successful, independent of the church, and entirely run by women…including their vaginas), which were then either sold or absorbed by the church by the mid 20th century.
Feeling myself on particularly safe ground, I remarked to Dennis that I thought that that particular historical course of action… sucked eggs (in so many words).
Dennis, rather shockingly, did not agree. Women, thought he, were prone to a state of pregnancy ( much more so than men, I concede), which, as we all know (apparently) makes a person completely non-functional and unable to sit in a desk and make rational decisions like men do all the time. Not to mention the actually birthing process, which can take up to several hours…in which time, I’m sure, an entire organization can collapse…. Which would,um…I guess, make sense….particularly, I suppose, if all the women decide to get pregnant and go into labor SIMULTANEOUSLY…those tricky women. Bringing down the system with their delusions of leadership ability.
And for this reason, women should not run large organizations.
I attempted to explain …lets say a woman runs a large organization, and decides to have an uncharacteristically large number of children for our generation….let’s say 5. AND, let’s say that ALL of these pregnancies are uncharacteristically strenuous and difficult, causing the woman to have to stay in the hospital for a whole week after delivery….That’s 5 weeks, over a lifetime, that this woman would not be able to work in the office- in a most-extreme-case scenario of 5 difficult pregnancies. “And for this hypothetical 5 weeks, Dennis, you would be willing to cut someone’s paycheck in half and deny them promotion?”
Lord save us from having an employer like Dennis the feminist.
If this was the case, I would also recommend that we deny from leadership positions, promotion and full time work, men with a family history of cancer, and men with sick children, or children who may become sick.
They might request 5 weeks off work over their entire lifetimes too…and THEN where would we be.
ON THE SUBJECT OF LAST NAMES
Then there was the matter of the last name. I have ALWAYS wanted to keep my last name. Even when I wasn’t really aware of the basic tenants of feminism I’ve wanted to keep my last time. As soon as I was old enough to figure out that that was even an option, I’ve wanted to keep my last name.
I never ONCE in my whole life sat down with a notebook and wrote my name with the last name of a guy I liked. You will not find, anywhere, a notebook doodled with “Mrs. JD Bloom”, “Mrs. JD Pitt”, “Mrs. JD Daughter Cruz.”
I realize that I’m probably a bit of an anomaly with this. I do not think that women who want to change their names to their husband’s are in any way wrong. In fact, some of the most fabulous women I know have changed their names to their husbands’ ( like my friends Jessica McQueen and Harmony Groves, and my own Mother, for example).
Do what you want with your own name.
I’ve just never wanted a name that wasn’t my own from birth. My childhood memories were visions of me running for President, the name JD Daughter waving through the confetti on red and blue signs. As soon as I figured out what “Ms.” was in Ms. Kawazaki’s third grade class ( Ms. Kawazaki was married, by the way.), I wanted that too.
People should not hold strange,false, and undeserved senses of entitlement about how much they deserve to control other people’s names.
Our names are a form of property given to us by our parents. We have a right to change our names to whatever we want. If I wanted to change my name to Snickerdoodle O’Brien ( which would really liven up my nightlife) the correct answer would be, “Yes dear.”
But if your best friend were to walk up to you, and say,
“Hey, if we’re going to be friends, you are going to have to change your name to Johnson, like me. “
“Because, for some reason I can’t readily explain, I am entitled to keep my name while (without question) expecting you to change yours whenever we form a partnership. If we are going to be friends, which represents a oneness, I think the best way to represent oneness would be to force you to take on my name, while completely erasing yours. So, time to change your name to Johnson.”
…you would laugh at them. Why? Because human beings don’t get to do that to each other. That’s why.
You can offer, that’s nice. But I reserve the right to decline, and not be encumbered by some sense of failed expectation that you did not deserve and should never have had in the first place.
(takes drink of glass of water on side table. *sighs* continues…)
No body on earth was born with more inherent rights over another adult human being than anyone else. Whether or not they believe they do is a completely other story.
When I met Dennis, my desire to either keep my name ( the kids could have my husband’s name, for convenience sake), offer my name, or do a swap (I take his, he takes mine…which idea I think absolutely awesome), was completely clear.
My name might as well have been JD “I’m freaking keeping my name” Daughter.
And Dennis went along with it. Laughing as I laughed at the punks who demanded the change, returning my high-fives when I celebrated over some friend or relative’s new hyphenation.
Until it actually mattered.
As the actual possibility of me being married, while keeping my own name ( and I would be lying to say that this perk wasn’t actually one of the reasons I was dating Dennis in the first place), became larger, so did his unease with the whole situation.
I’m not sure what he was thinking. Was he secretly hoping that I would somehow forget and accidentally change my name to his…without thinking?
(“Whoops! How’d that happen. Oh well. This thing that mattered to me so much suddenly doesn’t matter anymore, because, along with this marriage certificate, I also got a lobotomy! I needed to drop a few pounds before the wedding anyway. Does my prefrontal cortex look fat?”)
” About the names…I mean, I knew you thought that way…but I guess I just hadn’t thought through what that would actually mean…”
Me, through bites of a sandwich- “Say Wha-?”
*Hours of deliberation later*
“So, JD…it’s all about oneness, don’t you see?”
“So….would you be willing to take MY name?”
“*offended pause*( because, Gosh knows, what could be worse than THAT ) ” Is THAT what it would take for you?!? “
“You are asking me to do that!”
“But you don’t even like your family! I thought you’d want to be part of MY family.”
I don’t know why he would think I don’t like my family. My family commands large forces, hosts large gatherings, are extremely talented, successful and diplomatic people. They run charities and travel around the globe all the time. Also, they were awesome parents who read to me, gave me hugs, helped me with my homework, fed me, played with me, provided me with the best home environment available to them, drove me to games, family home evenings, taught me skills, love me to death,brushed my hair, etc.
I either suspect this was Dennis’ last ditch effort to convince me , and himself, that his sense of name entitlement had some sort of reasonable backing, or that Dennis had an unrealistic idea of his parents. Probably both.
*Dennis, Starry Eyed* “My parents are the BEST PARENTS EVER. They never got mad at me, let me do whatever I wanted and never made an unjust decision in their LIVES” ( Ok, he didn’t think this exactly. But frighteningly close.)
All I really know about Dennis’ parents is that they like to play board games, and despite myself, I think of them as the somewhat shady enablers of a series of Dennis’ lifestyle choices which then caused me some of the most painful and sad experiences of my entire life.
While I’m sure they’re lovely people, I do not owe them my name.
Me: “Well, I’m not going to hyphenate. Daughter-Feministinairquotes is way too long. Explain, again, why this is all of a sudden a problem for you?”
In the end we made a compromise. A combo name- Dauginairquotes.
I don’t think either of us was very happy with it. (Actually, it grew on me a bit over time…but probably because I was just so happy it wasn’t solely his. )
THE HOT TOPIC
Ok, now, the Hot Topic.
Pornography is Bad.
Now, I would rather eat shards of glass then have to spend one more second of my life desperately trying to explain to someone- who considers it a natural right of their gender to view degrading, hypersexualized images of women ( who are victims of the patriarchy’s system) and to fetishize and view as objects, human beings- that this vile entitlement they think they have is bad.
Shards. Of. Glass. Would rather eat.
So, this. Now. This may be my LAST plea to the world, because after this, when you try to justify porn, I will probably just walk away from you…or, depending on my mood and how well I’m dressed, kick you in the face or punch you in the mouth.
(*drinks deeply from glass of water* Sighs. Continues.)
Believing it is your inherent natural right to objectify another group of people is one of the BIG unjust entitlements that people claim when they are part of a hierarchy. Like slavery or any other way human beings depersonalize other human beings by defining them by their usefulness.
So no. Watching and justifying degrading, infantilizing, exploitive images of rapes does not qualify you for goodness…or even tolerableness.
“But it’s not images of rapes? I mean, some of the women look like they are really enjoying themselves.”
First of all…look me in the eye. Not any images of rapes?……Ok. that’s what I thought.
Second of all, it is also a privilege of a dominant class to be graced with images of the oppressed class being happy with their oppression. For example:
*SHUDDER* I actually really really hate these images. I’m actually thinking of deleting them, but I think
they illustrate my point.
Blacks are a marked race in our predominantly white culture ( for example, no one calls Barack Obama a white President, even though he is half white. What is noteworthy about his appearance is that we consider him outside of the Anglo norm we’ve created.). As the marked race, they are not judged as individuals, and, especially during slavery and the aftereffects of continued racism, were considered useful to whites as manual laborers, and not as human beings and peers.
Women, the marked gender, are valued to the male “norm” ( higher on the hierarchy) as sexual objects ( and houseworkers) and images of women as sexualized objects are a result of this oppressive one-dimensionality and exploitation.
Now, I have just spent the last half hour googling “provocative pictures of women”, by the way, to find some good non-naked examples of this.
(There were 3,120,000 results in0.26 seconds.Interestingly, google found a total of 2,730,000 results for “provacative pictures of men”… but don’t be fooled. The top results of that search were entitled “How many married men look at provacative pictures of naked women?”, “Lingere Photos: Miss USA Gets (Really) Provocative”, and “Hot Images of Christina Hendrix.” I hate this world.)
But I’ve decided that since we already live in a world that hyper-sexualizes the female body, it might not have the same effect I’m going for. So I’ll try a different approach.
Women are the marked gender for sexuality in our culture. This has long been the entitled person’s purpose of women. Even women see themselves as sexualized. Tests where images of men and women were flashed in front of subjects show that 100% of both men and women both view women’s bodies as sexual and men’s bodies as significantly less sexual. And while I acknowledge that there are plenty of women in the world who are attracted to other women…I do not believe that 100 percent of women are lesbians. Statistically impossible.
And no, Jimmy eighth grader, this is NOT because God just made women prettier. It is because you live in a world that looks like this.
And this view of women is further backed up by government, law and religious structure.
And no. Sexualization by others does not somehow equal an advantage. It is actually a mark of inherently believed inferiority.
( Don’t believe me?…say “Woman up!” to a dude. He’ll freak. Say “Man up!” to a girl. She’ll be just fine. Men are considered the norm. Women are considered a group with inherent negative qualities which separate them from the norm. These include, but are not limited to, emotional instability, vulnerability, decreased intelligence, and natural desire to work without pay because of their sweet childlike hearts.)
If we all lived in a world that looked like this…
and men were the marked and sexualized gender ( backed up by law, media, government and religion), then things might be different.
And guys, if you were completely surrounded by images like these every day, and the inherent ideas were backed up by every structure and system around you- you would be obsessed with your appearance and sexual attractiveness too. “And don’t forget, young men, your most important role in life is that of loving father. God has blessed you with the sacred role of procreation, and take care how you dress. You will drive our young women to distraction with your selfish tight fitting pants, and they’ve got important things to do in the kingdom of God.
Stay Pure for the young women, or you’ll be like chewed up gum! Now time for refreshments…made for the congregation by your lovely fathers. They’ll be passed out by the 12 year old Miriamic priestesses. You just sit there and be served. We don’t want you overexerting yourselves.”
(*Eats a chip. JD is still in her pajamas at 3:40 PM. It’s a Saturday. She’s been writing and pacing since she got up at 10:30*)
Where was I? Oh ya. So now I will address those people who cite “studies” which justify pornography.
“But JD, studies show that pornography does not harm users and I can’t seem to find a link between the viewing of pornography and sexist behavior.”
Dude. You are so lucky I left my giant spiky mallet at home.
First off, and I will explain this this one time…this ONE TIME.
MEN ARE NOT THE VICTIMS OF PORNOGRAPHY USE. WOMEN ARE.
You do NOT, white upper middle class male…I repeat…DO NOT get to pretend that the sexual exploitation of women is somehow hurting you.
If I had a nickel for every time… Perhaps it is best to use an example of my friend Aurora, who I chilled with in New Zealand, about her fabulous ex fiance.
“So I’d be sitting there, bawling my eyes out, and he’d be like “Oh, so you’re crying because I’M getting hurt?” I’d be like “Um…..sure dude…” But not really. I’m starting to wonder if this guy even had a conscience.”
I hear ya, Aurora.
The fact is that when you are viewing pornography, you are taking advantage of your male privilege to objectify and degrade other people.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve heard the news, but privilege is awesome! Exploiting and degrading other people actually doesn’t ever hurt the oppressor. That’s WHY oppressors do it.
So when tests prove that people who view pornography are not hurt by it…I respond with….no duh. In fact I’m sure their self esteems and sense of privilege and power go up substantially. That’s the point.
Just as viewing the images of African Americans, above, did not have a negative effect on the white people who saw them…but did on the African Americans.
Women are objectified, seen as a part of a large group whose primary function is the sexual gratification of men.
A loving, personal relationship with another person is seen as a kind of refuge from that dehumanizing objectification. There is at least one person in the world who sees you for your entirety. One person, who, having earned your trust, can be trusted to see you in all dimensions- to love you without expecting one dimensional sexuality from you.
To introduce pornography into your relationship is a form of deep psychological and emotional abuse- the introducing of the most concrete and intense form of dehumanization to your partnership, within the one relationship in life that women are supposed to be safe in. Women cannot expect it from their employers, their heads of government and those who create their media. You, boyfriends and husbands, are kind of the last chance.
That’s right. I called pornography deep emotional and psychological abuse. And I will say it on the street corner. I will say it in the classroom. I will say it on my dates. I will say it in court. I will say it in church and I will, as sure as I still have breath in my lungs, say it in my relationships.
I have stayed quiet, silently supported, quietly accepted, privately begged, and worked overtime to protect those who justify pornography, use pornography, and consider pornography something that they need and deserve.
I have lied for, taken blame for, and been called overly emotional, irrational and, God save us all, cruel and inhumane for privately expressing my anger, sadness and distress by pornography justifiers and users..
All the while I have socially protected, and attempted to guard from public pain and pressure those who otherwise were slowly breaking me down from the inside out.
But not anymore. The time for wading through mud, wiping your feet on me, and then hiding behind me when the dirt police come through town is over.
I am not your ally.
“But, you still haven’t explained how pornography doesn’t usually lead to physical abuse or other outrightly sexist behavior!”
Pornography IS outrightly sexist behavior. Asking how pornography leads to sexist behavior is like asking how slapping your children leads to physical abuse.
And yes, pornography does lead to physical violence in some cases, but more importantly…
“When we talk about pornography that objectifies women, we are talking about the sexualization of insult, of humiliation; I insist that we are also talking about the sexualization of cruelty. And this is what I want to say to you–that there is cruelty that does not have in it overt violence.”
-Andrea Dworkin (University of Chicago Law School March 6, 1993.)
“Oh, come on JDD! Sex is complicated. Surely we can’t pass judgment on such a complicated issue.”
Sure, sex is complicated. I actually know this a lot more than a lot of my peers ( personal story, maybe for later)…but so is nuclear fission, yet that doesn’t give us an excuse to go BLOWING UP PEOPLE with wild abandon, or oppressing and dehumanizing people with it. Build a Power Plant. Human emotions are complicated, but I still don’t get to throw a vase at your head if you beat me at Connect Four. Come on.
And no…I am not anti-sex. I expect, from the fabulous physical experiences I’ve had with young men…and how pretty I think they are…that If I ever decide to become sexually active, I will quite enjoy it.
We are all grown-ups here. Just because something is “complicated” doesn’t give us an excuse to use it to dehumanize people.
The female body has been sexualized to within an inch of it’s life, already. ( And I mean that kind of literally, judging from the high rates of rapes, murders, honor killings, beatings, starvation due to poverty [ because women are for sex, babies and free labor, not payment and respect] and eating disorders.)
There’s a complicated issue…and then there’s a pathologically awful issue.
“But JD! …uh….why don’t you just say nice things. I mean, we’re supposed to say nice things.”
Sorry. I gave up quietly pardoning the bad behavior of oppressors for Lent one year, and I’ve just never got back in the habit.
“But JD! You’ll make them feel bad about themselves!”
Are you freaking serious?
That’s all I’m gonna say.
THE OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER
I am talking, primarily to those who justify their use of pornography.
Look, here is the part where I try to keep any pornography users from killing themselves or some other absolutely unnecessary course of action which could unfortunately rid the world of some pretty spectacular people.
Some of the most honorable, most respected and most loved men in my life have had problems in life involving compulsive addiction to pornography.
But they recognize that their behavior is unacceptable, deeply insulting and harmful to others and seek immediate help to stop their behavior, including, but not limited to, moving, changing jobs, not having a computer in their home, and professional help.
They understand that they SHOULD feel bad about their pornography viewing, and do not seek to justify it. They recognize that they should regret and dislike their behavior.
But, like all people, they should be careful that they do sink into self-hatred and debilitating shame, which prevents any improvement.
And no, I don’t feel bad for them because they are viewing pornography. Men are NOT the victims of pornography abuse.
But I can imagine that a compulsive addiction to ANYTHING must bite. I can also recognize that experiencing debilitating shame about ANYTHING must also bite. That must really bite. Have a hug. I feel bad for you and I love you and I promise not to abandon you as long as you keep trying. And that must be hard.
But that is not half as hard as being the victim of a pornographic relationship and being a woman in a world where pornography is accepted.
Never try to play the pity card to stop feeling bad about your pornography use. You don’t get to play that card.
IN A NUTSHELL
Well, THAT felt good.
“This begs the question- then if pornography is a problem- how do you suggest we handle it? JDD? “
I am going to come right out and say that I do NOT think we should try to control it with censorship.
For a more concrete example…Imagine me pointing at censorship…
“Hey you, Censorship!”
“Ya you….I don’t think you’re a very good idea.”
Censorship is too limiting, too difficult to define and too easily abused.
I don’t think we should burn books; even books I disagree with.
I don’t think we should ban artists from using nudes, or portraying things and we might think inappropriate.
What I DO think is a good idea is to fight sexism and empower women.
Eventually, in the same way that pictures of nude males and males in humiliating, degrading situations aren’t particularly arousing- women will be considered individuals not valued as sex objects too.
Pornography will die out when women are respected and considered as equals in society.
That is how to beat pornography.
“But JD….pornography is natural. My little brother started drawing pictures of naked women when he was 10 or 11.”
Yes, and whatever people think and do when they are 10 or 11 is completely pure, innocent and natural. *eye roll*
Unless your brother was raised in a bubble…in a cave…in space…he has come in contact with patriarchy, and has received the message that women are sexual objects, and he has been picking up cues for this on TV, and from other males he has watched and come in contact with… maybe including you. Have you been a particularly good role model for this?
(Also, if any of you readers are males, raised in a patriarchy-free bubble in a cave in space ….Call me. I’m free this weekend [ Disclaimer: I am actually not free this weekend].)
In the end Dennis and I parted ways. I didn’t even cry about it. I went home and made a sandwich and blocked him from my e-mail. Later, I unblocked him for two more days, in order to give him a chance before I started dating St. John ( a superior Femi-missed whom I still miss). That’s three days for him to change his mind. Even astrologically, it took less time for the COSMOS to expand from a singularity and be created than it took for this grown man to figure out if he meant what he said.
The irony of the situation is that I’m pretty sure Dennis the self-proclaimed feminist broke up with me because:
A: I would not continue to allow the justifications of sexist behavior ( How cruel and disagreeable of me!)
B: I was not unendingly sexually stimulating and available ( As God intended!)
C: I would argue that women can run large organizations, should get to keep their names, and that porn is not a natural right. ( We need a committee to keep sickos like me off the streets)
And it struck me, the moment I walked out his door, that THOSE were the very things I was trying to avoid by dating a feminist in the first place.
And you may think that , by then, I would no longer have a tolerance for dating feminists along a wider, written-by-the-guy-himself definition versus the ACTUAL definition…but I’ve got this dogged theory that people are actually good.
[So this is one example of a kind of femi-missed. More to come, more to come.}