Monday, August 13, 2012

Deep Thoughts Monday

Well it's Monday for you. I'm on the overnights this week so who really knows what day it is to me. This morning was 3 of 7 and tonight is #4, which makes it... well whatever it is. Tuesday maybe?

Sleep deprivation and late nights browsing the internet lead you to plenty of interesting places. Here are my deep thoughts from the overnight shift:

1. Beware the guy that calls you crazy

I just got done reading this article. It's long, but it is a must read. The short version is: two different women write in to say that there is a creeper in their circle of friends. He makes inappropriate sexual comments or advances at the girls in the group, and makes the girls feel uncomfortable. Rather than come to their aid and banish this guy, the men in their group (including their significant others) use a variant of the "girl, you crazy" shtick in order to minimize the legitimate concerns of the girl and stick up for the guy.

What follows is an analysis of our rape culture. How men, even normal non-rapist men, convince women to keep quiet about the sexual misconduct (it's harmless, you asked for it, you're overreacting, etc.), and thereby create a world in which acquaintance rapes happen all the time and are seldom reported. There's also this related piece about how not to be a creeper. Tell your friends. Even the not-creepy ones. (Because, as this follow-on article discusses, creepiness is subjective.)

2. Does supporting an Eagle Scout mean I don't support gay rights?

I woke up Saturday night with a flyer on my front door. It was from a local Eagle Scout candidate collecting school supply donations for a local children's shelter. It also mentioned a fundraiser, taking place at the nearby Chik-Fil-A where a portion of proceeds would help the shelter. Oy!

I am really conflicted on what to do here. On one hand, I was a proud Girl Scout so I support scouting in general. My fiancé (and all these Astronauts) are Eagle Scouts. Boy Scouts as an organization and as individuals have done plenty of good things. But. But but but. Their policy on gays is short sighted, its discriminatory, and it is sending a message to young boys that hate and discrimination are ok, and that what they could be feeling is wrong. I guess it's fitting that he's teamed up with Chik-Fil-A. (Not the main topic but here's my POV in brief: Cathy can have his opinions and he can give his money to whatever hateful organization. But if I buy from Chik-Fil-A then I'm helping fund an agenda I disagree with, and that's not ok.)

As for the children's shelter, I don't want to refuse to help them if I otherwise would because of the Boy Scout business, but would I? It's not like a person can support every charity because there are millions and I have not won the lottery recently. But might I have participated in this were it not for the politics? I don't know.
So what should I do? Ignore it? Make some kind of statement? Donate separately to the children's shelter? What would you do?

3. The Last Name Project

A joint project by two feminist bloggers: From Two to One and The Feminist Mystique. It will take me quite awhile to read through all the posts, which detail all the different factors of changing (or keeping) one's last name when getting married. It is complex, and concerns not just feminism, not just allegiance to one's old family or the founding of a new one but all of these things and more. It's about personal identity, societal expectations, familial expectations... possibly the entirety of what it's like to be a woman in modern times wrapped up in a single act (or decision not to act). I'll be changing my name when I get married, but that does not come without some fear, some sadness, some wonder. But that is for another day, another post.

I also love that these two bloggers are giving a new face to feminism. The stereotype of militant, man-hating, bra-burning is a terrible one. Women should be allowed to stand up for themselves and their rights without being demonized by men or mass media. It is possible to be intelligent, thoughtful, and even love a man while also being a feminist. And as From Two to One is demonstrating, you can even be a person of faith in a seemingly patriarchal religion and still be a feminist. Interesting.

And there you have it, some deep night-shift-brain thoughts. What do you think of these topics?


  1. 1) This is twice in three days that this article has come up. A very dear friend of mine posted it on Facebook and got some bizarre, awful responses from a guy she'd actually been on a date with, and it really worried her that she'd interpreted some things he'd said as mere social ineptitude when, in the context of his Facebook comments, they were much worse. In combination with what went on at Readercon and what's been reported as having gone on at DEFCON, HOPE, and others, it's really seeming like we need to have a collective sit-down with Men to talk about what is and isn't acceptable behavior. Which is a shame, 'cos I thought we'd already done that.

    2. Organizations and political positions are a deeply thorny subject. You can't really say that any particular portion of your $5 sandwich (Or whatever Chik-fil-a serves. We don't have them here.) ends up as a donation to a cause you disagree with, but obviously in aggregate they enrich people who spend their money on causes you wish they didn't. At the same time, maybe the senior VP of bun design donates to The Point Foundation. Deciding what goods and services you buy based on the social policies of everybody who is involved in providing them is impossible and undesirable. There are too many people, and it's really none of my business where the senior VP of bun design puts their money. My intuition is that it's better to let the market be the market, but it's not bad to make a statement by not going to Chik-fil-a. A better statement would be to bring your lunch and donate the money to a cause you agree with, however.

    The Boy Scouts are a different challenge all their own. Probably not one that I can deal with wholly objectively, either, since I was a Boy Scout briefly, before being asked not to come back. The Scouts teach a lot of good things not currently taught elsewhere in the US, as well as some not-so-good things that are. Maybe you should donate to the shelter in the Scout's name?

    3) I'd like to say "Shannon and I had a long conversation about last names", but we didn't. It was very short, because she didn't (and doesn't) know what she wanted to do with her last name, and I didn't (and don't) care. I've never had many people around with my name, so family and names never had much to do with one another to me.

    Specifically regarding faithful, feminist women in patriarchal religions, are you familiar with Laurie King?

    1. 1. "Which is a shame, 'cos I thought we'd already done that." Because you are one of those Men Who Listen. I'm think they are actually a majority, but certainly are not the entirety.

      2. I guess what I'm upset about is if the senior VP of Bun Design goes on record with his personal opinions and links them to the the Company's priorities, then he forces me to turn a private decision of where to eat lunch into a political statement. No longer can I think "hmm I like chicken" but I must think "what does liking this particular chicken say about my priorities?" (which is actually very well linked to the third point about name changes, because changing says you buy into patriarchy and not changing says you are a militant feminist when really that is other people coloring your actions with their own baggage). Its upsetting not so much because of the action itself, but because it forces a trivial and personal decision onto a public and political stage.
      And finally, who is Laurie King?

    2. 1) Thank you! =-)

      2) That's definitely something to be upset about. In much the same way that I mislike using purchasing choices to make statements about things other than the nature of the goods or services and the manner in which they're provided, I mislike using companies to make such statements. I'm willing to make an exception if the statement is explicit and present in the company from inception; adding an agenda later is just rude, and that's something worth punishing in the market. (In Mike's world, being wrong is okay-ish. Being obnoxious gets penalized.)

      The name-change issue very quickly becomes a discussion of the subjectivity of symbols, as you point out. It's very much the author's dilemma (you can't control the meaning that other people create out of your words), and I think all you can do is be as clear as possible about your reasons, whatever symbol you choose. There's really nothing to be done about the people who refuse to consider what your symbols mean to you, except perhaps to beat them about the head and shoulders with a clue-stick.

      Laurie King is a mystery author, most famous for her Kate Martinelli series (contemporary detective in San Francisco) and her Mary Russell series (a.k.a. the "Beekeeper's Apprentice" series, after the title of the first book; early 20th-century setting). I think you might identify with Mary Russell in particular, but the reason why I brought up King is that she's got a PhD in theology, her thesis was entitled "The Feminine Aspects of Yahweh", and she finds pretty good excuses to use her theological background in her writing, including references to actual sources. Any mention of Judeo-Christian feminism brings her to my mind, and I wanted to bring her to yours, in case you weren't already aware of her.