#FeministFriday No. 5

As most of you are probably aware, the Super Bowl is this Sunday. I’m not sure if I’m going to watch it.

Yes, it has come as an insult to many a red-blooded American that I chose not to support the NFL this year. I’ve been increasingly annoyed by several things over the last couple of seasons (looking at you, Washington), but the proverbial straw that broke this TV viewer’s back was how Ray Rice’s assault of his wife (then fiancée) was handled. I have been told more than once that this is a ridiculous overreaction.

Given the rather large upcoming football game, I find this week’s #FeministFriday to be outstandingly appropriate:

One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.

Again with the overreacting! What does that actually have to do with football? Well, Ray Rice aside, in 2006 an eleven-year study concluded that the most drastic increases of reported domestic abuse took place after Monday Night Football in the city of the losing team.

But yes, I’m overreacting.

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It affects individuals of every community, regardless of race, economic status, religion, educational background, nationality, or age.

An estimated 1.3 million women and 435,000 men are the victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. Females who are 18-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence, nearly triple the national average.

Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, as part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control, and the consequences of domestic violence can cross generations – boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.

abuse

ncadv.org

 

One of the biggest challenges of preventing abuse and helping victims is that most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police – it is estimated that only one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalkings perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police; however, nearly one-third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner each year. It’s estimated that even less cases are reported by male victims due to the social stigma of being battered by a woman, though 86% of adult men who reported being physically assaulted were assaulted by another man.

What are the warning signs of a potential abuser?

Please note that while these warning signs are written with male pronouns about a heterosexual relationship, they apply to every gender and type of relationship.

  • He speaks disrespectfully about former partners
    • Very focused on his bitterness
    • Brings it up inappropriately early in the relationship
    • Is condescending or degrading when describing other women
    • Characterizes himself as a victim of false accusations of abuse
    • Says no one else has every understood him the way you do
  • He is disrespectful towards you
    • Puts you down
    • Sneers at your opinions
    • Is rude in front of others
    • Excessively sarcastic or cutting
  • He creates a sense of indebtedness
    • Does favors you don’t want
    • Puts on such a show of generosity you may feel uncomfortable
  • He is possessive and jealous
    • Dislikes you interacting with other men
    • Displays anxiety about time you spend away from him
    • Attempts to control conversations while you are together with others
    • Expects you to change your habits and relationships to make him more comfortable
  • He is self-centered
    • Does most of the talking
    • Listens poorly
    • Chronically switches the topic of conversation back to himself
    • Doesn’t understand or respect things that are different from what he does or is used to
  • Nothing is ever his fault
    • Blames something or someone for anything that goes wrong
    • You become the target of blame with increasing frequency
    • Makes promises he can’t keep
    • Always has multiple excuses for disappointing you or behaving irresponsibly
    • Constantly complains about “unfair” facts of life
  • He gets too serious too quickly about the relationship
    • Jumps into planning your future together without taking time to get to know you
    • Pushes for commitment very early on
    • Won’t respect your wishes to slow things down
  • He pushes to isolate you
    • Comes up for reasons not to see your friends or family
    • Badmouths your friends or family in front of you
    • May cause or get into altercations or arguments with your friends or family
  • He uses sex as a weapon or a threat
    • Doesn’t respect your feelings
    • Pressures you for sex
    • Says sex is the only way to prove that you really love him
    • Uses “playful” force during sex
    • May refuse to use or prevent the use of proper birth control
  • He intimidates you when he is angry
    • Gets too close, puts a finger in your face, or pokes you
    • Pushes you, blocks your way, or restrains you
    • Says that he’s just trying to get you to listen
    • Raises his fist, towers over you, shouts at you, or behaves in any way that makes you flinch or feel afraid
    • Makes vaguely threatening comments like, “you don’t want to make me mad”
    • Drives recklessly or speeds
    • Punches walls or kicks doors
    • Throws things around, even if they don’t hit you
  • He has double standards
    • Gets angry or upset when you do certain things, but insists on doing similar things
  • He has negative attitudes toward women
    • Displays stereotypical beliefs about gender roles
    • Believes traditional gender roles are rigid and non-negotiable
    • Regularly makes sexist remarks or uses misogynistic insults
  • He treats you differently around other people
    • Puts on a show of treating you like royalty in front of others
    • Is rude and cold when alone with you
  • He appears to be attracted to vulnerability
    • Attracted to women much younger or at a different maturity level, or to women that have had a recent traumatic experience
    • Offers himself as a figure of support and guidance

It is severely important to understand that this is not an all or nothing scenario. Someone exhibiting one or two of these behaviors may be just as hazardous as someone with all of them.

If you recognize any of the above warning signs in your partner, or the partner of a loved one, seek support. Abusive relationships are rarely black and white, and are difficult to get out of, but 62% of women who reported having an abusive partner said that having the support of a friend, family member, or coworker helped them get through the relationship safely.

IF YOU NEED HELP

For more information or to get help, please call:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

The National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673

The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474

The National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453

Text HELP to 22522 for support from LoveIsRespect

Text TELLNOW to 85944 to make a $10 donation that will go toward keeping a domestic violence hotline open.

There’s a statement I’ve seen many times online by men attempting to undermine feminism, which goes along the lines of: “So if you want equality does that mean I can hit girls now?”

60% of women under the age of 25 have experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

You’re already hitting us. The point of feminism is we’d like you to stop.

Please leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week!

 

Sources: 

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, www.ncadv.org

LoveIsRespect, www.loveisrespect.org

The Facts: Relationship Violence 2011 Statistics, www.glamour.com

Illegal Contact: Does watching football lead to domestic violence?, www.slate.com

#FeministFriday No. 4

This week’s #FeministFriday comes to us from news headlines everywhere:

The media needs to define women by ability, not fertility.  

I recently saw a story about Rona Fairhead, a woman who was named the preferred candidate for the role of trust chair at the BBC. I always love hearing about women moving into powerful corporate roles, but in this case I was a bit distracted by the title of the article:

“Mother of three poised to lead the BBC?”

When I saw the headline, my initial reaction was, “Oh, good for her!” However, this thought was followed closely by several others, including irritation that the focus seemed to be about Fairhead’s gender rather than the position, but also that I had absolutely no idea why she might be right for the job. Rather than referencing anything from her more than likely extensive set of credentials, the only qualification I knew she had was that she wasn’t staying home with her three children.

“Oh, but maybe she’s really proud of her family!”

I’m sure Fairhead is an excellent parent and is very proud of her children, but the article isn’t about her family, so why define her by it? I have yet to see an article titled “Father of two attends leadership summit” because regardless of how much of a family man Barack Obama is, that headline would be considered ridiculous.

This isn’t an isolated incident, and no women seem to be immune. JK Rowling has been heralded as a single mother who rose out of poverty nearly more times than she’s been recognized for her actual work. Local newscasters name nameless victims as “new mother” or “mother of five” hoping to add just a bit more drama to a 30-second tragedy on the six o’clock news every night. While interviewing Hilary Clinton last year, Matt Lauer tried to bait a confirmation of a 2016 bid for the presidency, then skipped past any policy questions to ask if a job at the White House would hinder her job as a grandmother.

Considering that the overwhelming majority of Presidents this country has had thus far have been fathers and/or grandfathers while holding office, and not a single one was questioned as to how running a country would affect their familial relationships, this seemed like a wildly inappropriate question from Mr. Lauer.

It’s 2015. If the only way a reporter can think to refer to a woman is as a “mother of” that reporter should perhaps consider a different career, unless those words are followed by “dragons”.

Khaleesi

Khaleesi

Leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week!

#FeministFriday No. 3

Once upon a time at Youth Group Camp, we were taught a very interesting lesson about sex. Our teacher took out two chocolate bars and told us one represented Meghan, and the other represented Sarah. The teacher unwrapped Meghan’s chocolate bar and passed it around the class, inviting all the boys to take a bite. After four or five passes, it became soggy and disgusting, and no one else wanted a bite. The teacher took it back, then offered both Meghan’s gross partial bar and Sarah’s still-wrapped one to one of the boys, explaining he could keep whichever one he chose. The boy of course chose Sarah’s bar, and the teacher told us that if we had sex with multiple people or before marriage, we would end up like Meghan’s chocolate bar, but if we kept ourselves pure until marriage, we would remain whole and find good husbands.

This baffling and incredibly sexist lesson is the inspiration for this week’s #FeministFriday:

Sex education is frighteningly inadequate. 

Our government representatives are evidence of this alone, but even ordinary people are wandering around uneducated. I live in a state with some of the top-rated schools in the country, and had a mixed experience of attending both public, and private Catholic schools. Yet somehow, I still managed to miss out on a lot of important information, including why any cognitive adult thought a chocolate bar was an appropriate representation for human sexuality.

Sex education is extremely important, but most programs either preach abstinence and ignorance, or think that tossing handfuls of condoms and scientific terms with little explanation is enough to suffice. It’s not. In fact, my entire K-12 formal sex education can be condensed into two points.

Things I learned about sex in my public middle school health class:

  • Getting your period means you’re not pregnant

Things I learned about sex in my Catholic high school health class:

  • Every conceivable disease you can catch from having it
mean girls

Plus a whole bunch of teen pregnancy statistics.

This is the absolute bare minimum amount of data you can provide and still consider the class sex ed. Furthermore, the actual health part of health class was completely lacking apart from learning the ABCs of STDs. The education system failed to educate me about my own body.

Things I never learned in any health class:

  • The different methods of effective birth control.
  • The blood loss from your period can make you anemic.
  • When you’re on your period, your lower back hurts because your hips are contracting and spreading apart slightly to make room for the lining of your uterus. Essentially, your body is going through a mild labor to push out the dead insides of one of your internal organs.
  • Viagra has a higher mortality rate than abortions.
  • The necessity of regular gynecological exams.
  • What to expect at the OB-GYN.
  • What constitutes consent.
  • How to withhold consent.
  • How to respect your partner’s lack of consent.
  • How to report rape or abuse.
  • Anything about homosexual, asexual, or transgender identity.
  • What Plan B actually does.
  • Girls on their periods are not simply untouchable rage monsters.
  • Condoms are only effective at preventing pregnancy and disease about 82% of the time.
  • The services offered at Planned Parenthood.
  • Antibiotics, migraine medication, ascorbic acid, St. John’s wort, and even some types of dandruff-treating shampoos can interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills.
  • Pubic hair is normal on everyone.
  • Girls aren’t actually supposed to bleed the first time.
  • Period cramps hurt more than “mildly” and many forms of birth control can alleviate cramps and other symptoms of PMS.
  • How to talk to your partners about STDs.
  • Masturbation is normal, and female masturbation exists and is also normal.
  • Homosexual safe sex practices.
  • How to prevent Urinary Tract Infections.
  • How to handle a pregnancy scare.
  • How to perform a self-breast examination.
  • Anything about the female orgasm.
  • The range of normalcy for appearances of genitals.
  • The anatomy of genitals.
  • Using “feminine hygiene products” kills off naturally occurring bacteria, leading to a pH imbalance and yeast infections.
  • The difference between sex (biological) and gender (social construct).
  • Sexuality and sex drive is normal and should be a source of curiosity and exploration.
  • Having consensual sex doesn’t make you a bad person.

There are probably a lot of things I missed on this list pertaining to cis male practices and anatomy, but I never learned those, either.

There are countless debates about sex education and what information is and isn’t appropriate to expose children to, but each year there are 750,000 teen pregnancies, and 9.1 million reported cases of STDs in people under 25. It’s a scary topic to talk about, but hushing everything up about it doesn’t make it any easier. Withholding information — any information — that will keep young people healthy is irresponsible.

Please leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week!

#FeministFriday No. 2

I thought we’d jump right in today, so here’s this week’s #FeministFriday Fun Fact:

There is no such thing as reverse sexism.

Reverse sexism is sexism targeted at and enacted against cis men. Or it would be if it existed. Which it doesn’t.

Sorry, boys.

Reverse sexism is typically claimed by a male individual who has received a slight that directly resulted because he is a male.

Claims of reverse sexism may range from the serious to ridiculous, but regardless, reverse sexism does not exist.

I can feel a bit of anger creeping through the computer screen, so please let me explain.

Prejudices against cis males exist. Sexism against cis males does not.

Prejudices against cis men are acted upon. Sexism against cis men is not.

Still confused? Let’s look at some definitions.

Prejudice [prejuh-dis], noun.
Origin: 1250-1300, Middle English praejudicium.
1. An unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason
2. Unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group

Sexism [sek-siz-uh m], noun.
Origin: 1965-70, sex + -ism, on the model of racism.
1. The ingrained and institutionalized prejudice against or hatred of women; misogyny
2. Discrimination or devaluation directed against women due to sex or gender

They’re similar, but the fact that sexism is institutionalized is what sets it apart from gender prejudice.

Sexism, much like any -ism, is prejudice plus power. Prejudices exist against nearly every group on the planet, but the power to make the prejudices an integrated part of society does not. Our society has been largely controlled by white cis males throughout history; therefore, the power to integrate prejudices against non-whites and non-cis-males into the fabric of society has been active for several hundred years.

Historical fact.

Historical fact.

Certain prejudices against cis males can be extremely harmful, but their enforcement is not a commonplace part of society. And that’s okay. This #FeministFriday isn’t a rallying cry for white cis males to suffer at the hands of society, it’s a reminder to check your privilege.

The biggest issues with claims of reverse sexism (or any other -ism), is that they’re often used as an attempt to derail conversations of progress. Efforts assisting minority populations to achieve equity can be labelled as reverse discrimination. In this case, cis-males complaining that a privilege they have is being eroded simply because it is their expectation due to their life experiences that the vast majority of attention, effort, and resources will be given to them, and anything to the contrary – towards actual equality – is cause for complaint.

So, again, check your privilege. Do you feel annoyed and left out because there are specialized social clubs, fitness facilities, scholarship funds, and other places that are for women only? Take a deep breath and remember that all of those things exist not to take anything away from men, but because there was nothing available in society for women to begin with.

Please leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week!

New Year’s Resolution: #FeministFriday

Hello readers, and welcome to 2015! I hope everyone had an amiable farewell to 2014, and were able to emerge from the depths of your champagne-induced headaches to begin your New Year’s resolutions with punctuality.

Or were at least conscious enough to enjoy that all ten seasons of Friends are now on Netflix.

In any case, this year I actually made a resolution for the first time in several years, and I want to make it happen. Yes, technically I made two resolutions, but I already failed at the one since it’s now 2015 and Phil is still alive.

I named him so it would be more personal when I threw insults and heavy objects in his direction.

I named him so it would be more personal when I threw insults and heavy objects in his direction.

As it happens, I’m more focused on spreading information on feminism because despite being 2015, there are so many misconceptions still afloat about it, TIME Magazine actually had “feminist” listed on a poll of words to ban this year.

Not cool, TIME.

Not cool, TIME.

I imagine some of you may be thinking, Feminism? Seriously? Why does everything have to be about feminism? Or perhaps, I’ve never been a victim/perpetrator of misogyny, so feminism isn’t all that important. Some might think, Feminism is nothing but a group of single, fat, ugly, hairy women who hate men and eat the souls of babies. Still others may even be angry, thinking, This is misandry! Men are the real victims here, the feminist movement will destroy America.

To you, my dear readers, I say: because it’s important, not everything is about you, you’re confusing feminists with a monster probably found on an episode of Supernatural, and you’ve clearly stumbled upon this blog by accident, but please stay because you are grossly misinformed.

Part of my resolution includes #FeministFriday, where I will write an educational post every Friday with a Feminist Fun Fact. Truth be told, not all of them will be fun in the traditional sense of the word, but I’m not exactly a stickler for tradition, and I really like alliteration.

Kicking off our first #FeministFriday, we’re going to go very, very basic, and just cover the definition of what feminism actually is, because people are still confused about this.

Feminism [femuh­-niz-uh m]: noun.
Origin: 1890-95, French féminisme
1. The doctrine – and the political movement based on it – that all people should have the same economic, social, and political rights, regardless of gender.
2. An organized movement for the attainment of such rights.

(Please note that nowhere in the definition does it mention anything negative toward any gender.)

Feminism is, at its core, simply the belief that the rights and treatment people receive should not be based on what’s found between their legs.

Pretty straight forward, isn’t it?

I’m sure some of you are wondering that if feminism is about the equality of all people, why isn’t it called something less inflammatory, like equalism, or humanism?

So glad you asked.

First, the word “feminism” is only considered inflammatory because of stereotypes and prejudices against the movement, which have mainly been created and encouraged by misconceptions about feminists. These misconceptions – such as their plot to destroy all men – are things you should know or be on your way to learning are not actually true. Go ahead and read the definition again, and let me know if you find anything inflammatory. I’ll wait.

Second, feminism isn’t actually about equality, but equity. Equality is about sameness, or giving everyone the same thing. This is good in theory, but really only works if everyone is starting at the same place. Equity, on the other hand, is about fairness. Rather than giving everyone the same thing, it gives everyone access to the same opportunities.

For my more visual readers.

For my more visual readers.

Finally, it’s called feminism because females are the main benefactors from the movement. Males absolutely benefit from feminism, but female, transgender, non-binary, gender-fluid, and other non-cis male peoples are the genders that are underprivileged and under served by our patriarchal society, and equal rights for the genders will be attained by advocating for the rights of the underprivileged. The same goes for the Gay Rights Movement, it’s not named the way it is because gay people should be treated better than straight people, but because gay people are in the inferior position in society and need to be raised to equal rights.

That should be plenty to think about for our first #FeministFriday. Leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week!