Saturday, May 23, 2009

Of course not

One of the things that people complain about is the practice of glorifying crime. Well this has to be a the glorifying of one of the most despicable crimes of all, rape.

For those of you that may not recall Mary Kay Letourneau was a school teacher that had a sexual relationship with one of her six grade students back in late 90s. Not only did she have a sexual relationship with the under aged boy but she also had two children by him. This case was the wake up call to a side of teacher/student sex that most people simply did not think happened. Before this case most people just assumed that the only teacher/student sex that went on was male teacher/female student and the media really didn't help in its practice of only reporting that arrangement of teacher/student sex.

Now that she has served her prison sentence she picked up a bit of celebrity notoriety by hosting a series of "Hot for Teacher Night" parties.

You can say what you want but the only reason she has been able to pull this off is because her rape of an under aged boy is thought of as "hip", "cool", or whatever. It all comes down to this, an adult woman that has a sexual relationship with an under aged boy is not treated as harshly as other forms of statutory rape.

And why is that you ask? It is because men and boys are taught by society that we want sex all the time and based on this auto-consent there is no problem with having sex with a male regardless of consent, age, or other conditions. Under such teachings we are brought up thinking that we cannot be victims of such sex crimes. Young boys get violated by adult women and the usual response is a joke that they should be lucky to score. Reactions like that are a problem on two fronts. First it ignores the letter of the law that states an under aged child is unable to consent to sex. Second it ignores that boy's feelings on the subject. It's real easy to just shrug it off as "he got lucky" or "you can't rape guys because they want sex all the time" but when people do that they are not taking into account whether or not he actually wanted to have sex with that adult woman (mind you even if he said yes its still against the law).

When told that he actually wants sex all the time because he is a boy that boy is left thinking that he is a perverted animal that just wants to have sex all the time, even when he thinks he doesn't. From there its only a short leap to him concluding that he is dirty because of his natural sex drive (or that he is "not a real man" because he doesn't want sex all the time like "men are supposed to") and thinking that he deserved to get raped (which is a common feeling among all rape victims). That is the scope that male sexuality is limited to. We are beasts that cannot control our lustful desires.

So as you can see it is pretty easy to understand how a woman can have sex with an under aged boy, ruin his childhood, serve time in prison and manage to get some D-list celebrity status out of it. And given the stigma attached to raping children depending on the gender of the rapist and the victim is there any doubt that a male teacher that raped an under aged girl would have no chance in hell of pulling this off the same way Mary Kay Letourneau has (and manage to keep custody of 2 children from a previous marriage and 2 children that were produced by statutory rape)?

Monday, May 18, 2009

..but by all means you should still go read the whole thing

I was surfing through Salon today and came across an interview of Jessica Valenti by Tracy Clark-Flory. For the folks at home that are unaware of Valenti she is a feminist author and one of the main brains behind Feministing. During the course of the interview Valenti touches on various subjects like purity balls, Bristol Palin, and the concept of virginity. She makes a lot of sound commentary but there is one thing that didn't sit well with me.

Clark-Flory: "Let's talk more about men. There are countless movies about the high school geek who is on a mission to lose his virginity. So, obviously men are affected by the purity myth?"

Valenti: "In terms of male virgins, I don't think they're affected nearly as much as women. As you said, male virgins are presented in this jokey way in U.S. culture -- you see them in a doofy movie and that's pretty much it. I think the way that they're most affected is in how they're taught to interact with women and to define themselves in oppositional terms. To be a man you just have to not be feminine -- don't be a girl, don't be a pussy, and don't be a sissy."

That "jokey way" she speaks of is a lot more damaging than than she makes it out to be and it damn sure isn't funny. What Valenti seems to be missing is something that is often missing in discourse about male virginity that doesn't include males. An actual male perspective. While girls are simultaneously pressured by some to refrain from sex for as long as possible and by others to have as much sex as possible boys are told from all sides that they need to be having sex, they should want sex at all times, to not have sex is to not be a man, and since they want sex all the time there is no such things as raping a guy. Yeah those guys might be portrayed as doofy but at the same time they are humiliated, ridiculed, teased, and sometimes physically attacked because of their sex drives.

Now mind you I'm not trying to say that females don't go through any trials and tribulations when it comes to sex but dismissing what males go through as a joke is just as bad as dismissing what females go through.

Thing is boys are punished for their sexuality too. Females are told to suppress their sexual appetites boys are told that they supposed to be ruled by their sexual appetites because males are sexual animals that cannot help but be controlled by lust. Girls and women are not the only ones being called disgusting, sick, perverted, and who knows what else because of sex.

And this:
To be a man you just have to not be feminine -- don't be a girl, don't be a pussy, and don't be a sissy.

Now if only it were that easy. To be a man we "just have to" be expected to sign up for Selective Service in order to go to college, expected to ensure that the "women and children" (odd how they are lumped together like that) are safe at the cost of our own lives, expected to have our potential as life mates measured mostly (if not entirely) by our financial stability, etc... Not trying to say its harder than being a woman but that shit is not a cake walk.

Now perhaps Valenti just gave those short (and inaccurate) answers because she didn't want to spend much time talking about and that would make sense but dismissals like that are a part of the problems that men and boys face these days. And as you can see I only have a gripe with a small portion of the interview so don't let this stop you from giving it a fair shake. There is a lot more material in the discussion between them and who knows you may not agree with me on this part so go give it a go.

Oh I'll bet she is shocked

Check this out.

Woman has an affair and ends up with a pair of twins...each fathered by a different man. Her reaction?

"Out of all people in America and of all people in the world, it had to happen to me, she told “I'm very shocked."

If I didn't know any better I would say that she is surprised by the result. Admittedly I am surprised too but I have a question, "Would her affair have come to light if this had not happened?"

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Under Construction (well, sort of...)

Okay I'm finally taking up on my intent from last year to modify and change things on the blog. You'll notice I've changed the comment setup by adding Haloscan. Not that I've needed it (I've allowed every single comment that's been made here since I started last June) but I can now edit comments instead of deleting them. Right now I'm trying to get a "Recent Comments" gadget going. No telling what else I'll do to this site but if you see something out of the ordinary (or just have a suggestion) don't be scared to speak up.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

...a single step.

(This post inspired by the spirit to do the most and the best you can regardless of who you are, what you are, or what resources you have. Or you can just call her Renee.)

Anyone that has read the About Me section of my blog here will notice that I'm still making baby steps in regards to creating my way. This would explain why you don't see grand posts of eye popping commentary and world rocking insight (I'll leave that to the likes of Glenn, Daran, and Renee). I'm sure that I'm not the only person that is still at the basic level just as I am sure that there are lots of people who are on the level of the three I mention (and some beyond I'll bet). Well when you have different levels of awareness (or anything for that matter) you are bound to have problems. One of those problems is the difference between what person A is doing and what person B (and C and so on...) is doing to change the world.

All too often people like to condescendingly ask, "What have YOU done?" after mentioning their own accomplishments as if since they have done more than you have means that their comments are worth more than yours. Last time I checked I thought that it was important that you were at least trying to do something and how much you get done didn't make you better than anyone else. And besides no matter how badly people grandstand and claim there isn't, there are actual reasons that limit someone's actions.

Perhaps they are still a beginner and are just discovering activism. Such a person would not go straight to leading protests and appearing on CNN. Perhaps they face physical limitations. I don't mean to try to invoke pity for people who are disabled but at the same time it would be unfair and unrealistic to expect such a person to be able to do all the things that a fully able bodied person could. Perhaps they have limited resources. Would you expect an unemployed person to be able to spare the same donations (money, items, time, etc...) as a person gainfully employed making 5 figures a year?

So be mindful of who you are dealing with before you decide to put their activism on trial.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I'm sure there is something wrong with this picture...

The Labour Party's deputy leader Harriet Harman seems to have come up with an interesting idea on how to close the gender gap in the UK's banking industry.
She said last night that legal powers championed by her to discriminate in favour of minorities could help achieve her ambition.
Yeah you read that right. Basically thanks to her efforts Harman has basically legalized sexism* as a way to close the gender gap. Yes in order to correct the discrimination that women have faced in the banking industry legalized sexism against men has been instated.

I find it interesting that despite women MP making the misguided at best and sexist at worst assertion that men were the cause of the financial meltdown the fear critics have is that the government will become too closely involved in daily banking operations. Yeah it wasn't the greed of the people that caused the system to crap out it was the XY chormosome combination that caused it and while the idea of Big Brother getting its hands in the cookie is suspect I'm a little concerned about exactly how its getting involved.

Now I want to take a look at one of the statements Harman made while addressing this bill, named The Equality Bill no less.
'We have to worry more than men and we are definitely worrying more about the recession than men are,' she said.
Yes her assessment of the amount of worry from men and women (and I'm sure it was a fair and balanced assessment) is justification to allow businesses to choose a woman because of her gender.

Now I'm sure there are feminists, women's advocates, and supporters of this that will quickly quote that the bill just says that employers will be allowed to choose women and minorities over "equally qualified white males without risking being sued. " Well frankly this makes me think of a problem I've always had with trying to figure out if there are -ist intentions at work. Now I'm sure there -ist hiring practices going on all the time but most of the time it seems difficult to prove that there really was. In my opinion this only solves one part of the problem while likely causing another.

Let's say I have a man and a woman up for a position that I'm filling and both are equally qualified. If I hire the man because he is a man I run the risk of being sued for being sexist in my hiring practices if I hire the woman because she is a woman that man has no recourse for the sexism he just suffered. Not a cool situation. However I won't say that this bill is totally wrong.
Proposals in the Equality Bill will force employers to reveal how much they pay men compared with women, which critics say could hinder job creation.
Now this may be useful. As Schala at Feminist Critics points out forcing employers to report data on how they pay men compared to women could be useful. However I think the simple data of who is getting paid more is useless on its own. I would say that along with that such data there also needs to be at least collection (if not reporting) of data on the position, experience, education, and probably other data on the men and women being compared. Otherwise you're just have claims of one gender making more than another with no way to know if the reports would be comparing two people that both just got out of college and are working the same industry or a 30+ industry vet with 3 degrees vs. someone with 10 years years experience, 1 degree, and has been out of the industry for 10 years.

All in all I can understand Harman's desire to see more women in the higher level positions (I guses the less glamorous position don't matter) of banking but I'm not sure that forcing a balance with institutionalized sexism is the best way to do it.

* - Now since there are a lot of people out there that insist on the loophole that one must have institutional power in order to commit an -ist action does this mean that they can acknowledge female against male sexism?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ah here's another one

Came across this today. It's an article on a method of male birth control and it may look promising.

The method of treatment is a monthly shot of testosterone. This shot serves the effect of providing birth control by way of temporarily blocking sperm production in men. Early trials in China resulted in about 1 in 100 men still fathering a child while on the treatment and sperm production was back to normal after six months of ceasing the injections. Though promising the trial wasn't exactly foolproof.

Nearly a third of the men that participated dropped out for reasons unknown. And while no serious side effects were reported on this many past attempts at developing one have been hampered by reliability and side effects. But just the glimmer of hope this provides is promising.

As contraception stands now men pretty much have have condoms, no sex, and vasectomy. Condoms can break, no sex denies men of the pleasure of sex, and vasectomy is permanent. It would be nice to have other choices for contraception. But I have a question.

As you can see this is coming from BBC News out of the UK. Why is coverage on male contraception so few and and far between in the mainstream media in the US? Even if you buy into the silly assumption that men only want to have as much sex as they want without any consequence then would it not work to their advantage to have more choices in birth control? I mean what "dog" would not want the option of a little extra protection from getting a woman pregnant? If you don't buy into said assumption even still I'm sure there a lot of people out there that would like to have an extra method of contraception.

Even if this exact testosterone injection method isn't doesn't make it to market its nice to know that at least someone is working on this and gives hope to the idea that one day there will be extra options for us.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Well, it is practical....

I'm sure you're are familiar with those reusable bags that you buy at just about any store for a dollar so that you won't be wasting plastic bags everytime you go right? Well after finally getting fed up with the pile up of plastic bags in my house I've decided to switch. Now this isn't some major monumental discovery but I decided to make a post about it because my motivations for doing so are a bit different than the norm and I think said reason may resonate with a lot of people.

I can be very lazy sometimes.

Okay let me explain. Ten reusable bags or a godzillion plastic bags which is easier to deal with? I can have a stack of 10 reusable bags that I can use just about anywhere or I can continue to stockpile plastic shopping bags from all of the different stores I shop in. So long story short along with the obvious environmental benefits of ceasing the use of those old plastic bags.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

You know you live in the boonies when...

you can tak a picture of a grazing cow from you bedroom window.