Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm such a hater...

I forgot, there were two things I wanted to do. Lets see if I do both of them, shall we?

First was to post a exerpt from a essay I was reading last week by the poet Adrienne Rich. This was written in the early 70s, I believe, and then re-vamped in 1976. She said something in it, something that really hit home for me.

"We seem to be special women here, we have liked to think of ourselves as special, and we have known that men would tolerate, even romanticize us as special, as long as our words and actions didn't threaten their privilege of tolerating or rejecting us and our work according to their ideas of what a special woman ought to be. An important insight of the radical women's movement has been how divisive and how ultimately destructive is this myth of the special woman, who is also the token woman."

Now, Adrienne Rich is a poet and a feminist. Her poetry is beautiful and strong, ultimately female but has an overarching idea of a certain way people should behave, what people should value, how the world should be.

This is why I am not a feminist.

It has been a topic of debate in other circles, in other blogs. Ultimately, it came down to one primary difference: I do not believe I should be enforcing my social values on others. I do not initiate or assume that other people will want the things that I want. If I want equality and respect, I get it for myself. I don't fight for women, I don't fight for men. I don't believe in the idea of a "liberated woman", unless she has been liberated from herself, from the environment she was raised in.

I was lucky enough to be the first-born to a couple of hippies. There was no pressure to act more feminine, more masculine. I was just to be and do what I wanted when it came to expressing myself and my sex.

And then my little sister was born, a delicate, feminine thing who could not hold her weight around the house as she grew, which meant I had the bulk of the chores, nearly all of the yard work, and grew tan and callused.

During all of this, I was partially raised alongside three boys, all rough, uncontrolled boys, with no idea of discipline, no real parental enforcement of order. We ran wild together until I was 13 and they moved out of state.

By that time, it had been established that I was very much my father's daughter. Controlled, analytical, quiet, too-intelligent, easy to detach from emotion, something that became nearly sociopathic as I hit my mid-teens. Flipping a switch inside me was easy, and enabled a good deal of the self-destruction I so eagerly threw myself into once I hit college.

This all left me quite masculine in personality.

There was never a question of being treated differently than the males around me. I was one of them in every way that mattered. I was the token female that wasn't considered a girl. I was the "special" female that would go out with them on boys' nights, who they would comfortably get sex advice from or brag about their exploits to.

I still am.

That girl.

The "special" girl.

The one that doesn't get excluded simply for being female.

Because the differences aren't with our bodies, they're with our attitudes and how we expect to be treated.

When you expect for your meals to be paid for, the door to be held open for you, to be assisted getting out of the car, to be treated like a precious, fragile thing, you are telling the people around you that you need help to live. That you can't do it on your own. That you expect special treatment. That you expect to be treated differently.

Which makes you different.
Which means you can't be like the others.

This is affirmative action based on sex, and you need assistance.

Audre Lorde wrote a poem, "Who Said It Was Simple", a part of which I really felt communicated something that I've been trying to say for some time now, something I tried to explain to some classmates that flew beyond and over their heads even though it seems like such a simple idea.

Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march
discussing the problematic girls
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes
a waiting brother to serve them first
and the ladies neither notice nor reject
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.

It is that last line, "The slighter pleasures of their slavery" that is everything.

I see a lot of glorifying of feminity, of women encouraging others to take control of the relationship they are in, the use their feminine games and wiles, to withhold, until they get what they want. And these things work on most men.

Rules like the man should always pay for the date.
Rules like until he proposes, you're allowed to date and sleep with whoever you want.
Things that tell you it's okay to pout, to withhold sex, to expect him to read your mind and grovel.
To throw a fit if he doesn't remember your two month anniversary.
Lessons on how to get him to pay for everything.
On behaviors you should expect from a man.
To know if you're in a good relationship.
And those Cosmo articles that make me want to use the glossy edges of the magazine to slice open my own wrists before I would suffer through reading them.

These things make being female sound like being cattle at an auction, where instead of checking health, they check feminity expressed through how much a woman can beta-bitch her man.

It's not a partnership, only a symbiotic relationship between different kinds of parasites, if the man is lucky. If he's not, it's more like he's got a growth of mistletoe on his branches, and it's not looking for a kiss.

Female game makes me cringe. I tried it (should try everything once, right?) and that was an experience that was educatory and embarassing. Not because I did anything embarassing, but because it was so far from my own values that I was embarassed that I stepped so far away for myself.

But I've derailed. Again. I should just rename this blog to "Poetry of Flesh: The Pied Piper of Tangents".

If you want to be treated as equal, give up your slight pleasures. Step out of your "slavery". Female oppression? Females are more guilty of that activity than males.

Stop blaming other people for how you allow yourself to be treated.

There are horribly misogynistic men. Gods, do I know that. Hell, I've happily dated some of them- the sex is wonderfully objectifying if you're into that sort of thing.

You know what you do when you step into a new social group and you've got an asshole alpha? You shift. Examine the situation. Depending on the structure of the group and the type of asshole, you can out asshole him which discredits him, you can be polite and deflecting, even depreciating, which will partially discredit and disarm him, or you head into man-mode and agree with what you find agreeable, show that you're not female. It depends on what you want.

It's easy to be polite.
It's easy to come off well.
It's fun to watch a man blow up because he can't deal with you, and the aftermath of his lack of social control moves all power to you, as long as you can handle it.
And when you out asshole him, the shock (and sometimes horror) on his face as he realizes that you can always take it one step higher because he's a puppy, that's lovely.

Or you can leave. You don't want anything or anyone from the group. You remain polite, you remain calm, and sometimes you get a few people trailing after you.

You are in control of what you do.
If someone isn't paying you or housing you, your reaction is your own, and most else is fear or greed.

(...it is very hard to keep a consistent thought when one's office phone keeps ringing and people keep emailing. Dear Real Life, please stop intruding. Can't you see I'm blogging? Jeez.)

I'm not calling for some social change. As things are right now, I'm benefiting. Scarcity, the element of surprise, the constant, constant beta men that come after me with romantic or sexual intent, it all works. I'm okay with this.

But it does grate on me when women complain about wanting to be viewed as equals when their social expectations are that they get treated differently. So you want to be treated as equals with perks?? Seriously?

That isn't equality. And those perks aren't signs of respect. They're little social chains that tell the world all there is to you is a pair of tits and a (hopefully functioning) reproductive system.


  1. interesting that you noted special does equal different. also, having expectations, means other who respect themselves then feel the right to have expectations of that person as well. the street goes both ways unless the guy is a spineless twit. a big part of why guys confide in some girls is a LACK of judgment. that's probably the most important dynamic....b/c guys are sooo used to girls having that judgment and internalizing behavior with another girl as an assailing of femininity in general. i'd think.

  2. This is my favorite part:

    "I do not believe I should be enforcing my social values on others. I do not initiate or assume that other people will want the things that I want. If I want equality and respect, I get it for myself. I don't fight for women, I don't fight for men. I don't believe in the idea of a "liberated woman", unless she has been liberated from herself, from the environment she was raised in."

    I think it's human nature. A lot of us--men and women--find it easier to demand change from the world or from other people instead of looking to make changes in the one person over whom we actually have a degree of control.

  3. Marquis,

    I think I had one too many sociology classes focus on the negative effects of affirmative action programs, which caused that view of special = different. And lack of judgement is crucial with my male interactions. The instant I reject outright is the instant they stop treating me like one of them.


    Exactly. Amusingly (for me), I tend to find that behavior very, very rude. Truly, on a politeness level, I find it incredibly impolite. I don't know why.