Friday, March 29, 2013

A Weird Bit of Money Management

So my company is being bought out and one of the changes I have to make is roll my current 401k into a 401k that is offered from my "new" employer. Well I was filling out the beneficiary information and I saw this odd little part.
If you are married and designated someone other than your spouse as your primary beneficiary, your spouse must consent in writing for your designation to be valid. Please contact your Plan Administrator to obtain and submit the appropriate documents.
Okay I'm all for the whole til death do us part thing but I do think it a bit funny that in order for you to designate someone other than your spouse as the primary beneficiary on you 401k you have to get your spouse's permission.

Maybe it's their way of keeping infidelity in check or making sure one doesn't lie to the other about how much money they have?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I should have known better....

That moment when you realize that sometimes trying to talk to people over Twitter is just folly. I should have remembered that and cut bait and left. But know I had to convince myself that a desire for mutual understanding and empathy were worth the aggravation. Now look at me. No mutual understanding, no empathy, and a several wasted minutes of my life.

Even after things got calm for a while and I offered apology for taking part in the clusterfuck there was this need and hope that I would at least get some acknowledgement about how I was treated.

But of course that would be too easy.

No instead I'm told I'm playing victim and that I'm not empathizing with others.

Empathy did help me understand why I was met with such hostility. It really did.

However it doesn't explain why I'm not getting any in return. It doesn't explain how its okay for others to shoot at me and not bother asking questions but when I return fire I am the one that's wrong.

Just fucking frustrated.

Men's Issues. Misandry. What's the difference?

(This is a bit of a supplement to my last post. Namely some feelings I've got about it and how it morphed the way it did between what I wrote and what ended up at GMP.)

You might have seen this post a little over a week or so ago at Good Men Project. However there are a few things you may notice that are different.

The main editing I did to that post, yes my version was the original and what's at GMP is an edited version, was to chop off what comes after, "Or must support for one be pushed to the side for the sake of the other?" (but keeping the * notice at the end). Well even after my edits a few other things were done to the post as well. I figured that was a bit too antagonistic for some of the folks at GMP. Well it looks like I wasn't sensitive enough.

Now I will say that I did some editing of my own of this post so please don't think that I submitted what you saw here to GMP and they edited it all down to what you saw at GMP.

I'm sure the first thing you noticed was the original title of "This Is Not How You Get Rid Of Misandry..." was changed to "Op-Ed: This Is Not How You Support Men’s Issues". Maybe people just don't like the word that much.

Look at the end of the extra paragraphs at the end (notated with the *) at the bottom of the GMP version. Yeah that originally said, "In case you are thinking that this group and its efforts are being headed up by MRAs and/or is related to the MRM it may be worth noting that, from what I can see from what reading about Santhosh and her group, that is not the case. Not that being MRA or a part of the MRM is wrong or anything...." Can you tell what was taken out?

Yes apparently saying there is nothing wrong with being an MRA or part of the MRM is too sarcastic or something.

Okay here's what's bugging me.

On one hand I want to get through to people therefore I understand the importance of being mindful of my message as to not turn them off.

On the other hand when its pretty clear that "not turning people off" is actually "don't do or say anything that may make them feel uncomfortable" I'm wondering what's the point of trying to talk to them in the first place?

I know that ultimately its more vital to connect with people and relate to them than making sure I get my way. But if the only way to connect and relate to them is to literally change my message not to reduce the chances of confrontation but to make it safe for people who don't like my message is my message really getting through?

Eh I'm starting to ramble. All I know is I'm a bit bothered at not the fact that the piece was edited but how the piece was edited. I get the the feeling it was done under the intent of either appeasing or looking out for the feelings of people who don't want to be offended by the idea of someone speaking up for men.

I'm pissed so I'm out for now.

This Is Not How You Get Rid Of Misandry...

(This post originally appeared at Good Men Project last week. Yes there are differences between what you see here and what is at GMP. I'll explain those in a later post because honestly its enough for its own small post.)

Last year Warren Farrell hosted a Men's Issues Awareness Event in a University of Toronto lecture hall. People came out to protest his efforts.

Sarah Santhosh, student at Ryerson University, set out to create a group that would offer a forum for men to speak up about mental health, suicide, violence, and other gender inequalities and issues. Sounds like a good idea right? I would think that for male students to have a place where they can gather and work on the things that are harming them would be a positive thing.

It seems that there are those that think otherwise.

Much like the protesters that tried to shut Farrell out from holding his forum, Ryerson Students’ Union seems to have taken the low road.
An effort to guard the empowerment of women’s voices on campus took form Monday when the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) swiftly adopted a bold new policy rejecting the concept of misandry – the hatred or fear of men.
Two days before Santhosh was set to have her meeting with the Students' Group Committee, the Students' Union has passed a policy that rejects the concept of misandry*. Denying the ways in which men are harmed is an act of guarding the empowerment of women's voices?

Men must be silenced in order to protect women?

Rather than talking about the issues Santhosh and her group were bringing up, or at least showing how these issues are being discussed in other ways and thus there being no need for forums that focus on male voices (which is common assertion among women's advocates) they have decided to use official policy as a shovel to bury them.

Neda Hamzavi, a faculty of community services representative on the RSU Board of Directors (BOD), had a few choice words to say when she brought up the policy on women's issues.
There’s been a lot of work across campuses not only in Ontario but also across the country that have been working sort of [as] anti-women’s rights groups.
I can't help but notice that there seems to be no mention of how Santhosh's efforts to create a space for men is tied to these anti-woman efforts.

But what I find real interesting are the three things that are being specifically rejected by this policy:
4. Groups, Meetings or events [that] promote misogynist views towards women and ideologies that promote gender inequity, challenges women’s right to bodily autonomy, or justifies sexual assault
Again where is the proof that Santhosh's group promotes these things? Surely if her and her group are promoting misogyny there is evidence of it right. A blog? An email? A nasty reddit post? In the constitution or other defining documents of her group?
5. The concept of misandry as it ignores structural inequity that exist between men and women
Most people that actually understand what misandry is about know know full well that it doesn't exist in the place of misogyny. It exists in conjunction with misogyny. They are both happening at the same time. Hatred and fear of women is misogyny. Hatred and fear of men is misandry. One does not negate the existence of the other.
6. Groups, meetings events or initiatives [that] negate the need to centre women’s voices in the struggle for gender equity.
How many times have we heard the line that equality is not a zero sum game? Well if its not a zero sum game then how exactly does the existence of male voices in the struggle for gender equality negate the need for women's voices to be the center of that struggle?

The irony the situation is not lost on Santhosh, "The ironic thing is my voice is being silenced right now because I can’t even form a group without having to face this really back-handed deal that’s really attacking our group."

Marwa Hamad, vice-president equity at the RSU commented, "I think it’s important to remember that when we’re talking about dismantling patriarchy, we’re talking about supporting men, we’re talking about supporting women [and] we’re talking about supporting the entire gender spectrum."

How exactly does one simultaneously support men and shut out attempts at supporting men?

What do you think? Is there room for voices that are supportive of men and women? Or must support for one be pushed to the side for the sake of the other?

Simply put Ryerson Students' Union you blew it. More specifically Neda Hamzavi, you blew it.

You had a golden opportunity to work with men that are trying to help themselves (which also helps women, in case you forgot) and form a united front against issues and problems that harm EVERYONE. And you blew it. So the next time you are frustrated over men that refuse to listen to you because you're a woman I want you to think about your actions here.

Think about how instead of taking this chance to connect with men on some level other than limited allies you pushed them away.

Think about how instead of encouraging others to speak up for themselves you chose to silence them.

Think about how instead of forming a united front you dug the dividing lines even deeper.

On a lesser note this is the kind of behavior that causes such polarization between the different sides of the gender discourse. Instead of trying to meet part way and get things going these women's advocates choose to double down in their own ignorance (and probably hatred) in the belief that speaking up about men's issues inherently harms women. They would rather keep those voices silent, just to then turn around and complain about how those issues going unresolved hurts women and how more men are not speaking up.

Painful. Simply painful.

(* - Just so we are on the same page here let me say real quick what I mean by that. What I'm talking about is the fear, hatred, and distrust of men. That's it no more no less. There is no " women.". It can come from men as well as women. There is no "...that happens in the place of misogyny.". They are both happening at the same time. There is no "....that happens in the same ways that misogyny occurs.". Even though they are both happening they are not exactly the same.

Fear, hatred, and distrust of men and women happens in different ways with different causes and effects. There is no reason, or point, to try to make one out to be worse than the other or trying to pretend that one does not exist or that one is only happening because of the other. They are both bad and they both hurting everyone.)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Using a nuke to kill a housefly

I've never been to any job related conferences and with stuff like this happening I might not be in such a rush to. A few days ago at PyCon, annual conference dedicated to the python computer programming language, there was a bit of an incident involving 2 guys, 1 woman, twitter, and a pink slip.

From the Dailydot:

When Adria Richards, a developer evangelist for email delivery company SendGrid overheard a man sitting behind her laughing with his friends about the word "dongle," she planned to brush it off as just another dumb dick joke.
But then the speaker onstage showed a photo of a young girl who'd taken part in a coding workshop, and "I realized I had to do something or she would never have the chance to learn and love programming because the ass clowns behind me would make it impossible for her to do so," Richards wrote on her blog.
So she tweeted a photo of the guys.
Notice that nowhere in there was any attempt at calling those guys out in person or speaking up for the young girl that she was so interested in protecting from the "ass clowns". Oh but she didn't just tweet this to her followers and beyond. No she tweeted for someone from PyCon staff to do something about them. And they did. The two men were escorted from the ballroom.

Shortly after the conference one of the men that was escorted out of the ballroom, and subsequently let go from his job, offered a statement of his own.
My friends and I had decided forking someone's repo is a new form of flattery (the highest form being implementation) and we were excited about one of the presenters projects; a friend said "I would fork that guys repo" The sexual context was applied by Adria, and not us.
My second comment is this, Adria has an audience and is a successful person of the media. Just check out her web page linked in her twitter account, her hard work and social activism speaks for itself. With that great power and reach comes responsibility. As a result of the picture she took I was let go from my job today. Which sucks because I have 3 kids and I really liked that job.
She gave me no warning, she smiled while she snapped the pic and sealed my fate. Let this serve as a message to everyone, our actions and words, big or small, can have a serious impact.
I emphasized that part because I think this speaks to a problem. Instead of taking a stand Richards chose to make a scene. According to her that was the second time that day where she heard a sexual joke being made by a male developer. That may be very well true but it sounds like after getting fed up from the first encounter she decided go all out in order to make a point. And that worries me.

Have we really gotten to the point where it is justified for a person to overhear someone else's private conversation, get offended by it, and then call for them to be kicked out, all with no actual interaction with the people that were talking?

How are we supposed to come together and make good changes for everyone when we operate on the protocol of shoot first and not even bother asking questions later?

Now with actions come consequences.

There seems to have been a split in the response to her actions. Some congratulated her on her actions while others have attacked her for it.

Frankly I think both sides are wrong.

First off I'm really not seeing what is congratulatory (much less brave) about a person tweeting a pic and getting them fired without even trying another way. Next we'll be congratulating people that kill someone because they seemed like a threat. Wait a minute.....

Secondly even though what she did was overkill its not right to attack her and insult her either (but believe me I understand the temptation). I think she was wrong for what she did but that's no reason to call her names.

From the looks of the statement given by the gentleman that lost his job it seems like there was a more appropriate way to handle that situation. Seems like he would have actually responded to someone calling him out on his jokes instead of running for con staff.

What say you? Were her actions out of line or were they right on the mark?

Cuddling For Hire?

Several months ago I found a link to a story talking about the work of Jackie Samuel. What sort of work does she do?

She snuggles with people for a fee.

Yes you read that right. From her home, she spends time with people. Cuddling next to them as they sleep. Snuggling with them while they are awake. Offering a human touch. She calls it "The Snuggery".

Originally started just to have something interesting to do Jackie eventually went on to make it a formal business to help cover her school expenses. How much help does snuggling provide? According to the Daily Mail that help can come in for as much as $260 a day. At $1 a minute that comes out to about 4 hours per day of snuggling work.

Not bad.

But if she is spending that much time in bed then that says that she's got a flow of clients coming. What are they coming in for though?
Some of my older clients, their wives have passed away, and they just need someone to be with, like someone to experience touch with. Some of the younger clients are between relationships, some are in problematic relationships, and some people are just really curious and they come to just find out what it’s going to be like.
I can understand the curiosity of the third group but what interests me is the first and second groups she mentions. It seems that the older clients that are looking for some form of touch just miss what they once had (and know they would likely never get that back). The younger clients I guess could be looking for some form of stability to get them through the rough times that trouble a lot of youth.

With most of the clients being male (and being male myself) I think this may speak to a desire to have someone to touch. Yeah if you didn't know guys are just all rough and grumble. A lot of us enjoy a quiet moment of just holding hand. Someone to be close to while sleeping. Maybe this could turn into an opportunity where guys can talk about touch and how important it is to them.

But like with anything that comes along you have people that just aren't feeling it.

According to Rose Surnow (of NYMag), "It almost seems like men are paying to get blue balls."

Jackie herself has said that people have called her worse than a prostitute because due to the intimate nature of snuggling she is actually monetizing love (I guess such critics think prostitution is just the monetization of sex).

Even Barry (btw your post reminded me that I had never done a post on this, thanks) seems to think there may be some sexual element to it. "Jackie Samuel, the woman who runs The Snuggery (and one of the two snugglers), says “there’s no sex involved.” But if there were no sex involved, wouldn’t her clients be more diverse, instead of being nearly all heterosexual men?"

But it looks like she's not going to let that stop her. Samuel has been running this business for a while and has even taken on a second cuddler by the name of Colleen. With the help of Colleen there comes the option of cuddling with both her and Jackie (which is $2 a minute). In addition to another person to cuddle with they have even started to read bed time stories to their clients in some cases. (I think that speaks to another desire, to be the center of someone's attention even if just for a short while.)

I'm curious what you think.

Would you hire someone to cuddle with?

Could you see yourself becoming a cuddler for hire?

Does the cuddling and snuggling cross a line that is too uncomfortable for you?

Do you think that even though there is no sex going on (she has a policy stating that clients must remained clothed and they are not to touch any part of her that is covered by underwear) this counts as sex work?

Is she taking advantage of people by trying to make money off of intimacy?

What are your thoughts?

Also check out a Q & A session she did with the Henrietta Post last summer

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ratchet Begone!

Let's start with a definition from the all knowing Urban Dictionary: 
Ratchet: A diva, mostly from urban cities and ghettos, that has reason to believe she is every mans eye candy. Unfortunately, she's wrong.
Although you may have only heard about the term ratchet (or at least the meaning I'm about to talk about in this post) in recent times it appears to be just a new word for a concept that has been around for a long time. Essentially what are talking about is sometimes referred to as a "hood rat" or "ghetto". It's been bad enough that this stereotype has haunted black women (and hispanic women to a degree as well) for so long but now it seems rather than being dealt with it's gone to a whole new level.

Have you ever watched "The Real Housewives of Atlanta"? Like so many other reality shows it is basically a "day in the life" type of show in which the housewives are filmed doing the things that they do. Charity events, carrying out business opportunities, spending time with family, and....acting a damn fool.

Seriously I've seen a few episodes of this show and just like nearly every other show its the drama that gets most of the attention on the show. From two of them (I forget their names honestly) arguing over who came up with the idea for an exercise video to one trying to force a man into marrying her. Stuff is just out of control and as a result things like the charity fashion show that a few of them got together and threw was forgotten as soon as it was over.

Yeah that's not cool and Michaela Angela Davis thinks something needs to be done about it.

Recognizing how this Ratchet Culture is affecting black women she is starting to push back against it with her Bury the Ratchet Campaign. Aimed at counteracting the normalization of fighting and getting into trouble as hallmarks of being a black woman, Davis plans to get a conversation going about the damage that is being done.

Also she will making it a point to call out the various forms of black media (blogs, radio shows, and magazines, etc.) who are not just not decrying this behavior but are actually embracing it.

I have to say she has a point. The image of the "ghetto queen" has been a specter that has long loomed over black women (like the "thug" image has loomed over black men). Yes there are black people that actually live up to those images but we are facing a problem now where other people have not only come to think of this ratchet as a true representation of black women but have managed to figure out a way to make money off of it.

And actually getting women to act out the stereotypes on camera!!!!

I haven't found a solid date for when she will kick this campaign off but when I find it I'll share it.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sounds more like "11 Signs You Might Be A Straw MRA"

Last week I saw this tweet in my feed.
So #MRA guys, if this was said in less mocking language which ideas would you agree or disagree with? …
Well me and my pro MRA self couldn't resist. Now let's just ignore for the time being that the person that made this tweet was a feminist that prefaced the asking of if we agree with the ideas on that shirt with asking us to ignore the mocking language. I want to go straight into the points listed on the shirt.

11 Signs You're A Men's Rights Activist :
1. You have no problem with the gender wage gap. But you hate having to pay for dates. 
2. You insist that it’s a scientifically proven fact that men are stronger than women. But you complain about society believing that it’s worse for a man to hit a woman than for a woman to hit a man. 
3. You believe that the age of consent is unfair and that there’s nothing wrong with having sex with teenage girls. But when you find out that a teenage girl enjoys sex, you believe she’s the biggest slut in the world. 
4. You hate when a woman automatically assumes that a man is a douchebag before getting to know him. But when you like a woman who likes another man, you assume he’s a douchebag just because he’s not you. 
5. You believe that if women want equality, they should be drafted into the military. But you also believe that the military is not a place for women. 
6. You hate when women assume that men are like wild animals. But you believe that a woman who doesn’t cover up and make herself invisible to men is just like someone wearing a meat suit around wild animals. 
7. You hate the fact that men are bullied for not conforming to their male gender roles. But when you find out that a man disagrees with your beliefs about women’s rights, your immediate response is to try to emasculate him by comparing him to a woman as an insult. 
8. You hate when women assume that there are no nice guys. But you call yourself a nice guy and act like it’s a rare quality that should cause women to be all over you. 
9. You hate when women assume that men just want to get laid. But when you find out that a man is a feminist, you assume that he’s just doing it to get laid. 
10. You hate when women make generalizations about all men. But when a woman calls you out for being sexist, you claim that all men think like you. 
11. You insist that women should be responsible for protecting themselves from being raped. But when they follow the one piece of advice that actually works, which is being aware of red flags, you complain about them assuming that all men are rapists.

1. No the problem I have with the gender wage gap discourse is that feminists will on one hand cherry pick/exaggerate how big it is then when called on it switch to saying that it's not about the size of the gap. If the gap is so bad (and it is) then why exaggerate/cherry pick? Now if you want to ask me if I have a problem with it then yes I do.

I have a problem with the gap because it forces an imbalance where men are held up as being useful for the money they bring and women are limited in how much money they can bring in. You would know this if you actually asked me instead of telling me what I think.

2. The reason MRAs have a problem with that is because on one hand we are told that all violence is bad and that women are equal to men...until it comes to the capacity for violence it seems. At which time those things are forgotten

It also doesn't help that the whole bigger/stronger thing is used to the point that even in cases when the woman is the aggressor it is still presumed that the male must be the aggressor. Why? Because he is bigger/stronger. And I guess women can't use weapons or something?

I myself actually would only say that for the most part men are stronger than women and even then that alone is not enough to prosecute cases of violence between partners.

In short the problem is that "men are stronger than women" becomes the bar by which all partner violence is measured and all other factors are ignored.

3. That's a new one to me. I say this because one of my own pet peeves about the age of consent thing in relation to sex is that when an under aged boy is statutory raped by a woman it is treated as a lesser crime than when a man does it to a girl.

So based on the fact that I would like to say all statutory rape taken seriously I'm not sure how I'm believing that age of consent is unfair and that I support sex with teenage girls, I'm not sure what this person is going on about.

A lot of the MRAs I've talked to don't want to have sex with under age girls.

Is this "sign" just a smear tactic thrown into the mix? Like saying that people who file share support child porn?

4. Now they are trying to weave the Nice Guy thing into it. No actually when I call a guy a jerk I actually know something about him that indicates jerkish behavior. But you keep on believing its Sour Grapes.

5. Wrong on two parts. Firstly I don't think that anyone should be drafted into the military. As for Selective Service I think that should be an all or none. (Unless there is an age where women have to sign up for it or face penalties that include automatic rejection of any federal based financial aid, automatic rejection of applications to state funded schools, and rejection of citizenship.) Ideally I'd want that to be none but my next option would be all.

Secondly I believe that the military is a place for anyone that meet the standards and wants to be there.

6. Just no. Fucking no. Yeah I hate it when women assume men are like wild animals. But I sure as hell don't think women that don't cover up are like meat suits. Honestly I don't consider such women that much. I take a moment to look and keep on going.

On the other hand I do have a problem with women that will go as far as to accuse any guy that looks at her of objectifying her. Bonus points if they somehow use the keywords, "meat", "pleasure", and extra bonus points if she tries to bootstrap it to rape. Because we all know that looking at a woman is like raping her right?

7. Funny. All I do is say that I disagree with them.

8. Again with the Nice Guy stuff. No mention of women that say there are no nice guys, turn around and call a guy nice, then turn him down when he shows interest? Sounds to me that the problem isn't that there aren't any nice guys but rather there are no nice guys that she is interested in. Two very different things.

If she's not interested in the ones that are around her cool, that's her choice. But she doesn't get to say that there are no nice guys just because she can't find one to her liking.

9. This doesn't even make any sense to me.

10. I usually just question her claim.

11. No. I say that they should play a part in protecting themselves from rapists, which is what I say about any other crime in fact. And like any other crime I would say it's not right to go around assuming people are criminals based on a randomly generated characteristic.

(By all that is holy not that is not victim blaming. There is still a separation between thinking people should play a part in preventing crimes against them and not blaming them when that crime is committed against them. "Watch out at night." is NOT the same thing as "You deserved to be raped.")

And also it doesn't help to assume that all men are rapists (or throw in a "potential" for plausible deniability) but then hold them solely responsible for protecting you from rape because they are men. Wouldn't that mean you're holding potential rapists responsible for ending rape?

So which is it? Rape is like any other crime where EVERYONE, including potential victims play a part in protecting people from or is rape that one special crime where the potential victim has absolutely no part to play?

Odd. I'm pro-MRA and I don't exhibit any of these 11 signs. Which tells me that she is taking what she has seen among some MRAs and then trying to present that as representation of the whole.

I see that the writer of that post if a feminist. I'm pretty sure I could write out a list of signs that one may be a feminist (like "1.You say you want men to be more active in the push for gender equality. But when they do so without joining feminism you say they are hurting the cause.") and list outrageous things like that but of course THAT would be unfair right?

And the messed up part is even as I live and breath and don't fit any of those signs most feminists would rather try to force them onto me than accept that the maybe, just maybe, they don't have all MRA types figured out yet (my money is on 11).

Oh well