passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)
[personal profile] passerine

See, social conditioning is a sneaky little rat. Or, rather, many sneaky little rats.

The more blatant stuff, I've been talking about for years now, pointing out the wrongness of it all to anyone who is willing to listen/read about it.

I changed some minds last semester in my online class when I pointed out exactly what is wrong with the "rape prevention" advice of, "Don't walk alone at night!" Just in case someone happens to be reading this who doesn't know why that is particularly terrible advice, I'll recap:

a) While various statistical reports don't come up with precisely the same percentage, I have yet to see one that does NOT state that most rape victims knew the attacker at least slightly before the assault. "Advice" that is given for the purposes of preventing stranger-rape will do NOTHING about preventing most rapes.

b) Here in Upstate New York, at certain times of year, there is no way to live alone, hold down a full-time job, and NOT be alone outside of one's home during non-daylight hours at least some of the time. And even if we accept "night" to be after "normal business hours"...well, groceries must be bought, other errands must be run, and it might be nice to just get out for entertainment once in a while. Or is wanting to be entertained to be equated with "asking for it"? Or is there a more sinister message here, one that a woman who is entirely independent and self-supporting "deserves what she gets" if rape or some other unkind fate should befall her, because a "good" woman would at least have a roommate or two for safety in numbers, if not live under the roof and control of some man or other?

c) Back when I was an undergraduate, there was an escort car service available so women wouldn't have to walk alone. However, they might well have to stand alone outside a closed building. I always walked because, to my way of thinking, waiting for a "SAFE car" alone in the dark gave any would-be attacker the message, "I'm waiting for a ride because I'm scared. This makes me easy prey." I figured I'd be better off just walking. (Several friends used to yell at me for this ALL THE DAMN TIME, which was annoying.)

d) Last but not least, the plethora of advice given to women about how to avoid becoming a rape victim perpetuates the myth that if someone does rape her, it's her fault anyway. Shouldn't the responsibility for a criminal act be placed with those committing the crime?

And it's not just "don't walk alone". Sometimes it goes as far as, "Don't even think about being alone in a room with a man unless you're 100% comfortable with having sex with him!" And this advice is supposedly from feminists, for all it sounds like fundie nutjob ways of telling women that they are responsible for safeguarding men's morality. *sigh*

Then, once you ARE married, or considering it, there's a whole new world of fucked-up messages just waiting for you. I once saw in a comment thread the following advice to "women who want to stay married":

Six words: Stay thin. Long hair. Sex anytime.

*shrug* I have long hair. I haven't been "thin" since I was, oh, 14 years old. And sex, no. Anyone who's given birth will instantly know why that is NOT an option. One out of three ain't bad?'s not just sex, either. It's all the little ways in which a woman is supposed to erase herself for the sake of feeding male egos/making sure that the big scary men don't get angry and hurt her.

It's the women's magazines at the checkout counters that have the beautiful baked goods she's supposed to make for her family right next to the "LOSE THREE DRESS SIZES BY NEXT MONTH!" bold capslocked thing with a skinny woman holding up a fat woman's jeans.

It's the media report that some study claimed "day care kids" have more behavior problems than those who are not "in day care" - without noting first that the difference is barely if at all statistically significant, second that there were measures on which it was supposedly better for kids to be "in day care", and third that the definition of "in day care" was "cared by someone other than the mother for more than ten hours per week." So any woman who wants to take more than ten hours a week to do something OTHER than be a caregiver, and who wants to leave the kids with even Dad or Grandma, is identical to a woman who genuinely does NOT give a damn about her kids and places them into the care of others all the time because she can't be bothered (rare, but they do exist).

It's the knowledge, still, that most women fear being physically harmed or killed by men in a worst-case scenario, while most MEN fear that women will...laugh at them. And then we get called anxious, depressed, paranoid, irrational.

It's working somewhere that has a "diverse" group of management at the vice-president level, but the women are in HR and "diversity management" while the men are in IT and marketing and finance.

It's wanting to scream every time someone brings up "more women are getting graduate degrees than men, so the poor poor mens are getting discriminated against now, and feminism has gone too far!" You know WHY women are getting those graduate degrees, guys? Because the pink-collar fields of teaching, social work, and accounting (which isn't as pink-collar as the other two but is getting there) now REQUIRE them for licensing! And by the way, the additional education requirements have generally not come with a corresponding raise in pay. (This is one of the things I think is desperately broken in the cost formulas used where I work, BTW.)

It's the guys I used to hang out with who seemed to think that it was a COMPLIMENT to say that they didn't see me as female. No. That is NOT a compliment.

It's Those Three Guys on a forum I used to be part of, who (a few years before [personal profile] invisionary and I met) basically managed to say, in many different ways over many different threads, that any relationship with the elements that exist in our marriage will not and cannot work in the long term, that a "boy who hasn't grown up yet" might find an older, more educated woman who earns more than he can/does attractive in the beginning, but that someday he's going to find his real "masculinity" and leave her for someone who is younger, more attractive, more submissive, and sufficiently below his current life standing that he "can take care of" her.

And it's the frustration of realizing that there have been situations in which I have done the stereotypically female thing of saying "what I want can wait!" - over and over and over again until the delay becomes ridiculous - while making sure resources are available for [personal profile] invisionary's interests. And no, he never ASKED me to put his needs or desires before my own. At least not since he got on meds and stable. But I DO it anyway, and to NOT do it feels like I'm committing some kind of mortal sin because all the subconscious SHIT that society has fed into me is there, no matter how much I'd like to pretend it's not. And then when I can't keep in the upset that comes with realizing that I am doing this and that I don't have the resources I need for appropriate self-care...I end up with a husband who feels as though I am blaming him because I didn't speak up when I should have. And I'm not. I'm blaming myself for not being more assertive even though that assertiveness would make me a Bad Wife(tm).

I am asking for nothing that is unreasonable. However, the act of asking is itself unreasonable, because I am a woman, and because I know that I am "no prize" by conventional feminine standards, and that my husband is an incredibly charming, attractive, intelligent, capable man who "could do better" if he so chose.

It's not his fault. It's the fault of reading my mother's Redbook magazines when I was a kid, perhaps, and various and sundry other bad "marriage advice" that I don't actually believe in but that nonetheless worms its way uncomfortably into my subconscious with the message that I am a Bad Wife(tm) because I'm not thin, not submissive, not a good housekeeper, not sexual enough, blahblahblah.

But seriously? We're not conventional people, and I am the spouse that [personal profile] invisionary wants. I'm lucky and grateful. :)

Date: 2009-06-13 02:24 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] fifi
But seriously? We're not conventional people, and I am the spouse that invisionary wants. I'm We're lucky and grateful. :)

Also, &this;

I hate how most "rape prevention" is nothing more than busy work.
Edited Date: 2009-06-13 02:30 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-06-13 05:00 pm (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
Sometimes it goes as far as, "Don't even think about being alone in a room with a man unless you're 100% comfortable with having sex with him!"

Urgh. I'm 100% comfortable having sex with my partner...when I want to have sex with him. Which is not always. Happily, he isn't the bizarre id-driven creature of violence some people seem to think all men are.

I've got the thin, but not the other two (and people who tell me to grow my hair out are good at driving me into a rage). Weirdly, however, not all men like the same things. (Also, my partner has been known to turn ME down for sex. Perhaps he is like a unicorn!)

Whack-a-Mole is a depressingly apt analogy....

Date: 2009-06-16 05:53 am (UTC)
nostariel: Rogue from the X-Men, captioned "Don't touch me." (Default)
From: [personal profile] nostariel
And this advice is supposedly from feminists


passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)
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