Tag Archives: equality

Gavin McInnes and the Myth of “Real Masculinity”

Have you guys seen the Gavin McInnes video on HuffPo Live yet? The co-founder of Vice let loose during a panel on masculinity with a petulant, aggressive, woefully misinformed tirade about how:

a) Feminism makes women sad

b) Women are trying to be like men

c) Women who work and men who take care of kids are working “against the natural order”

It was baaaad. The other panelists responded well, especially Professor Mary Anne Franks, but McInnes’ volume and tone (he calls Franks a “fucking idiot”) make a rational conversation really, really difficult. I’m reminded of an unrelated line in a Slate piece about Ender’s Game author Orson Scott Card: “There are those who think that the failure of the world to agree with them, and their embrace of violence as a solution, somehow makes them the strong ones and the world the weak ones. But violence is such an easy solution, the emotional coward’s way out of actually dealing with the existence of those who disagree as legitimate equals.”

There is so much in his position to argue against (Um, what about gay folks? Um, working outside the home doesn’t necessarily mean working all night like a crazy person. Um, yes, childcare is exceptionally important, why would we deprive dads of participating? Um, since when has a “natural order” ever led us towards anything but discrimination and prejudice?) but I am mostly just sad for him. He clearly believes in what he’s spouting, that this ambitious, aggressive, chest-pumping version of masculinity is the only way to be a “real man.”

Here’s my piece about McInnes’ outburst, feminism, and all of the work we still have to do:

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Related Post: Ta-Nehisi Coates, street harassment, and being a “real man.”

Related Post: Hey guys, women are not a different species

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Filed under Gender, Media, Republished!

Pre-emptive Father’s Day

Did you know that Father’s Day was signed into law more than 50 years after Mother’s Day? Just one of the many fun facts I learned while writing my new Role/Reboot essay about the evolving role of dads (and the inevitable gift of a tie).

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Related Post: How to accidentally raise a feminist daughter

Related Post: The stubbornly persistent “idiot dad” trope.

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Filed under Family, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Republished!

The “Proposal/Counter Proposal” and Other Things I Learned

When I sat down to start writing this Role/Reboot article about what straight people can borrow from their gay friends’ relationships, my roommate asked, “So have you talked to any gay people about this?”

Oh right, I should probably do that…

Turns out, my entire gchat list at 9pm on Tuesday happened to be gay friends, and they were more than willing to share. For one thing, they gave me some great quotes for my essay and some really interesting perspectives on equality, fairness, and making up your own relationship rules. More importantly, I learned about the magic of the proposal/counter-proposal, also known as the “propose, propose-back”. Wondering what I’m talking about?

Read the essay!

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Related Post: Thoughts on Senator Rob Portman’s change of heart

Related Post: Six sides of identity, notes from Chicago Ideas Week

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“Trashing” and How We Haven’t Learned Much Since ’76

Did you read the obituary of Shulasmith Firestone by Susan Faludi last week? Did you cry? Yeah… me neither. Sniff, sniff. I was struck by how little seems to have changed; we still beat each other up over what is and isn’t feminist or feminist enough. Even within the ranks there’s a lot of disagreement and finger pointing and us vs. them and right way/wrong way, my way/highway chest beating. Firestone was slayed by this kind of criticism and it ultimately led to her isolation from the movement and contributed to the tragedy of her lonely death.

This week for Role/Reboot I was inspired by the Jo Freeman 1976 essay about “trashing” that Faludi referenced in the Firestone obituary. It just rang so familiar, echoing much of the Sandberg/Mayer controversies of the last few months. You’d think we would have gotten better about this by now…

Screenshot_4_15_13_1_50_PMRelated Post: On raunch humor and feminism

Related Post: Carrie, Kelly, Taylor, the week in feminism

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Monday Scraps 95

sunday96

1. DATING: Where do “missed connections” happen? In Illinois, on the train (duh), in Indiana, at home. Wait, what?

2. AUTHORS: Ugh. Ender’s Game was kind of my favorite thing for so so long. It still is, but I hate when the authors you love turn out to be raging homophobes. Dammit.

3. EDUCATION: This amazing investigative piece by WBEZ on the South Side’s Harper High School is incredible in basically every way journalism can be incredible.

4. KNOPE: NYMag has the inside scoop behind Amy Poehler/Leslie Knope’s amazing wedding dress.

5. SPORTS: For the very first time, a woman is participating in the NFL regional tryouts. Kicker Lauren Silberman will probably not play in the NFL, but that’s still pretty f’ing cool.

6. OSCARS: I would write about Seth McFarlane’s horribly sexist jokes, but Margaret Lyons at NYMag  nailed it so hard I’d just be paraphrasing. 

Related Post: Sunday Scraps 94: Bey, Connie Britton, Jane Austen and more.

Related Post: Sunday Scraps: 93: Guns, visiting Chicago, Margaret Atwood

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Filed under Books, Chicago, Education, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Sports

I Think I’m Doing OkCupid Wrong

This week for Role/Reboot, I did a little internal investigation on how I behave on online dating sites. We already know how I feel about gendered traditions once we’re actually on the date (i.e. Who pays?), but what about the sending of and responding to messages? Why do I sit back and wait? Is the answer really because it’s just so freaking easy? That seems like laziness to me, and no one should rest on their laurels when it comes to equalizing the playing field, least of all ladies who write about gender and equality on the internet…

onlinedatingRelated Post: Comparing dating to church.

Related Post: Guest post: the dangers of dating while freelancing

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Thoughts on Bling

A week ago, I would not have told you that I had any sort of strong feelings about engagement rings. I generally think super expensive, super ostentatious stuff is overrated, but that’s a ship that has sailed on the wedding industrial complex.

Then, through a series of conversations with friends, a lot of internet reading, and a handful of texts with my mom, I realized that the engagement ring tradition is actually one I want no part of. Here’s why:

Related Post: So what does a wedding photographer do exactly?

Related Post: Surprisingly pleased with the Grey’s Anatomy take on marriage…

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Things that are not the opposite of misogyny

Remember when I wrote about Newsroom? This is what I was trying to say:

“And yet semi-hallowed reverence for women is not actually the opposite of misogyny. The feminist utopia version of Newsroom isn’t the one where the female characters are Perfect and Powerful. It’s a version where the female characters aren’t completely othered at every moment; where their motivations make as much sense as male characters’; where they’re given the same opportunities to be perfect and imperfect, powerful and disempowered, as right, wrong, scared, and brave as their male counterparts.”

That’s Margaret Lyons at New York Mag and I could kiss her right now.

Much like racists protest their racism by pointing vaguely at their black friends, and Sarah Palin protests calls of bigotry by waving at her gay hairstylist, misogynists have created all sorts of misguided diversions to distract from their misogyny. Let’s take a look:

1. Protectionism: This ancient strategy involves demonstrating your “respect” for women by protecting their delicate sensibilities from the less pink and sparkly parts of life. Ladies might not understand how sad they’ll be after an abortion, so we should make this decision for them! Women don’t understand biology, so we must push an ultrasound in front of their faces!

Why this is dangerous: A central tenet of equality is the belief in the autonomy and decision-making power of adults. The perception that women possess lesser powers of discernment and need “coaching” to understand complex concepts is insulting and belittling.

2. Pedestal-ism: I made up this word, but I think it accurately describes the notion that women exist to be admired instead of included. Anybody who refers to keeping women “pure,” “innocent,” “ladylike,” etc. is a proponent of pedestalism. Anyone who insists that the maintainance of beauty standards is essential to “womanhood” is invested in perpetuating the role of women as objects of adoration.

Why this is dangerous: Pedestalism is about restricting the female sphere of influence and ensuring that women waste their time pursuing physical admiration instead of learning, communicating, growing, evolving, and being rock stars.

3. Chivalry: I’m not talking about opening a car door (though honestly, good rule of thumb: be nice to people and help each other out. Duh.) Being a provider is not the same as being a partner. Paying the bills or picking up dinner doesn’t make you not a misogynist. Recognizing women as equal partners in social engagements, relationships, the workplace and the home is what makes you not a misogynist.

Why this is dangerous: Chivalry creates patterns of entitlement and transaction in social engagements based on gender. Kindness and generosity, however, create goodwill and reciprocity between peers.

4. Separate but Equalism: Acknowledging lady-talent in traditionally lady-spheres is not the same as recognizing that human variation in talent and preference cuts across genders. There are not “natural” career fits for women vs. men, and even if there were, do you think it’s accidental that the lowest paying professions (caretaking in all forms) are traditionally female? We make career decisions based on what we’re good at, yes, but what we’re good out is often borne out of deeply ingrained and unfair societal messages about gender and skill.

Why this is dangerous: Encouraging your daughter to be a nurse and your son to be a surgeon because she’s a girl and he’s a boy perpetuates long term wage disparity. Maybe those are their ideal careers, but maybe you just can’t wrap your head around your son’s caretaking strengths and your daughters’ love of knives.

5. Family: Having a wife, sister, mother or daughter does not make you not a misogynist.

Why this is dangerous: You can’t hide your misogyny behind a family photo.

Related Post: Why family leave policy is at the root of gender disparity in leadership

Related Post: The death of “pretty”. Ick.

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Filed under Gender, Hollywood, Politics, Sex

Feathers, Sequins, Rainbows

Happy Pride, y’all! Nothing restores my faith in humanity or my hope for the future quite like the Pride parade. What color, what joy, what love! I spent the first hour with mascara-laden tears leaking out from behind the my plastic sunglasses. The triple whammy of teachers (“I’m proud of my LGBTQ students!”), veterans, and local high school students was more than my feeble and mimosa-soaked heart could handle.

I feel so lucky to live in a community like this, full of people and businesses so effusive in their support for equality, dignity, and respect for all. The diversity of the crowd (not to mention the participants), is my favorite part. All ages, races, family structures were represented.

Going for some sort of androgynous, punky, patriotic thing

Mayor Emanuel kicked things off

Balloons!

So beautiful!

Happy Rainbows!

Feathers!

Here’s where the leaky tears began

Related Post: Pride 2011

Related Post: Views about gay marriage are trending up.

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Cart Before the Horse

Here’s a game: guess what percentage of Congress is female. Too hard? Okay, would you say it’s higher or lower than in Mexico? How about in Cambodia? Duh, it’s lower than Sweden’s, but do you think it’s higher or lower than in the UAE? It’s lower, on all three counts, a paltry 17%.

To be fair, some of these countries have instituted quota systems, mandating a certain percentage of seats be held for women (like Algeria). That’s certainly one way of going about it, but it wouldn’t my first choice.

Let’s look at another chart. This one is a state-by-state look at laws benefiting new parents. This comes from the National Partnership for Women and Families via Mother Jones. Laws like parental leave, paid sick days, and breastfeeding protections are rolled into the score.

A quota system that mandates X% of seats be held by women (or any other marginalized group of people), doesn’t address the causes of inequality, but attempts to rectify it through opportunity grants. The problem with a quota is that it undermines the very people it attempts to elevate by explicitly declaring their participation is a result of government action, instead of merit (or luck, wealth, notoriety and all the other ways people get elected in this country).

Some people make the same argument about affirmative action (which allows an institution to use race as a consideration in decision-making, but not to have quotas). Any black student or female MBA candidate who has ever heard (or read in the faces of their colleagues), “You’re only here because you’re X” knows that some people still view their success as a perk of their demographic profile.

I posted the new parent map because a solution that only looks forward and neglects the cause of disparity is no solution at all; it’s a band-aid. Recent  research shows that the greatest income gap (and also achievement) is not between men and women, but between women with children and women without. In our society, women typically take on a substantially higher percentage of child care responsibilities, so laws affecting child care and family leave disproportionately affect women. There are a lot of reasons that women don’t get elected for office, but the biggest one is because they don’t run. Give women the tools and resources to pursue any professional goal (political or otherwise), and maybe we’ll see those numbers improve.

In other words, if you want to fix that chart at the top (and maybe compete with Cambodia), we have to fix the map first.

Related Post: Happy Equal Pay Day and why the wage gap persists.

Related Post: How I got a raise.

Related Post: Second vs. Third Wave feminism on The Good Wife.

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