Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Inappropriate? Maybe. Sexual Harassment? Hell No.

So apparently  Amanda Marcotte thinks that a teenager Patrick Farves asking Miss America Nina Davuluri to the prom is sexual harassment.

First off let me say that I don't think the guy is totally innocent here. Apparently the school knew that he was planning on asking her and had warned him not to do so, but he did anyway. Based on that I really don't it was out of line to take action against him. A 3 day suspension seems harsh but I do think he should have gotten punished in some way. But that's not the real issue here. To me the real issue is that rather than this topic being laid to rest it would seem Marcotte sees it as a chance to make leaps and bounds in order get more readers.

One response included : … I really wish people would stop acting like it’s cute when teenage boys sexually harass older women.
12:09 PM - 21 Apr 2014
When asked to explain how asking someone out constitutes harassment she replies with:
Pestering someone with unwanted sexual requests for the purpose of making them uncomfortable is harassment.
5:24 PM - 21 Apr 2014
See what she does there? It would seem that the running start for her leap consists of:

1. Concluding that asking her out is "pestering" aka getting on her nerves.
2. Presuming that wanting to ask someone out to the prom inherently means they want sex.
3. Presuming that wanting to ask someone out to the prom inherently means they are trying to make them uncomfortable.

First off I think we should let the person being asked if they are pestered by such a question. Davuluri has posted on her Facebook page that she has reached out to Farves' school asking them to reconsider the punishment. Does that sound like someone that was pestered? She could have easily walked away from the situation and given no fucks about it.

I can't be the only one that sees the oddness of Marcotte saying that the only reason he asked her out was for sex. It can't just because he wanted to go on a date with Miss God Damn America, one of the most popular women in the country. Maybe he wanted to have a genuine one on one conversation with her. Perhaps he just wanted to dance with her. Yeah its possible that he was just asking in hopes of having sex with her but I don't see Marcotte offering any proof of that. Maybe she thinks, "Come on, he's a teenage boy!" is proof enough. You'd think someone that prides herself in breaking gender stereotypes wouldn't believe such a thing.

Presuming that he did it to make her uncomfortable sort of contradicts the "he was in it for the sex angle". Unless she is saying he went into the situation thinking, "If she says yes then I'll get to bang her. If she says no, then at least I made her feel uncomfortable"?

And speaking of "unwanted". Shouldn't that be Davuluri's decision? Who are we to say that even if Farve's intentions were sexual, she would have turned him down? I guess women "daring to be sexual" is only okay when the dare is an approved one right?*

Who knows maybe that's just what she was thinking he was thinking.

What I'm getting at is while his behavior was very inappropriate (but only because he violated a previously issued warning to not do so) it was NOT sexual harassment. These are exactly the kind of overreaching, hyperbolic, reaching claims that get in the way of real conversation and change. If you want to say he was out of line then do so. But please do so without reaching for words that have no place in the conversation.

* - This is presuming that Patrick Farves is of consenting age of course.

Monday, April 28, 2014

World's Toughest Job you say?

By now I'm sure you have seen this video (this youtube link has over 10 million views even). A fake company comes up with this fake job and posts it for people to apply. About 20 responded and their interviews were taped. The description of job is read off to them and one by one the applicants seem to turn the job down. In the end it turns out the description was of a mother, billed as the toughest job in the world.

Now let me say something first. I am by no means saying that being a mother is easy or not tough. They do a lot, put up with a lot, and they keep on going. My mom did it, my girlfriend is doing it, and women all over the world are doing it. But with that in mind this ad goes too far. It goes from trying to show how hard it is to be a mother to straight up idolizing mothers.

I saw what was a pretty damn good break down of some of the "qualifications" over at the Men's Rights Reddit:
Some of my facebook friends posted this. This was my response to them:
I feel the need, as usual, to play devils advocate on this one and voice a dissenting opinion. I guess I should go line by line and look at each of the "qualifications".
"Standing up almost all the time." I think this seems pretty subjective and the applicability of this qualification should be judged on a case by case basis, as opposed to a blanket statement that mothers have to be standing all the time. I've gone to the park with my 2 year old son. I've seen mothers chasing after their children. I've also seen mothers sitting on the benches at the playground chatting with other moms. Nothing wrong with either. It just seems that some children, like mine, are "higher drive" and require more effort to keep an eye on than others. Luck of the draw, if you will. I would be interested in seeing who stands more on the job... mothers or assembly line workers. 

"Constantly exerting yourself." Again, very relative and subjective. How physically strenuous is being a parent compared to, say, working on a commercial fishing ship, down in a coal mine, in the forest as a lumberjack, or on a construction site? How much stamina do you need as a parent compared to an ER physician, who will work up to a 36 hour shift during their residency? 
"Working from 135 to unlimited hours per week" 135 hours per week equates to, roughly, 19.5 hrs per day. While I can see that being the case for a single mother with a newborn infant, this gauntlet only lasts a few months until the child starts to settle into a sleeping routine. It also assumes that a mother has ZERO minutes of break during any part of the day whatsoever. I don't think this is really true. Kids nap. Older kids go to school. "Well, I have to get other housework done while the kid naps." Sure. I get that. Many working adults have to do errands during their breaks as well. A "breakless" job is not unique to parenthood. 

"Degrees in medicine, finance and culinary arts necessary" No. No it isn't. Knowing how to put a band aid on a cut is not the same as 4 years of college and 4 years of medical school to get that degree. Balancing a checkbook and keeping up with a monthly household budget is not the same as 4 years of school to learn finance. Cooking spaghetti and macaroni & cheese is not the same as formally studying and getting a degree in the culinary arts. These things don't compare. This past weekend, I mended our fence. That doesn't mean that being a degree in carpentry is necessary to be a father and dad. 
"No vacations" Depends. Most families have grandparents that can help. I will agree that vacations become "working vacations" when you have kids and take them with you.
"The work load goes up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and other holidays" Yeah. That's pretty true. 

"No time to sleep" For the first few months after baby is born, there is certainly a deficit of sleep. After the child gets the hang of a sleep cycle, however, there is no reason why mom shouldn't be able to get any sleep. 
"Salary = $0" Technically, this is true. Money, however, is just one form of value. We use it as a medium of exchange. Parenthood doesn't pay like most other jobs. I will grant you that. There are other forms of value and wealth though. 
So.... all in all... tough job? Yes. Toughest job? No. Stuff like this makes for great propaganda though. 
Propaganda indeed.

Not only does this video exaggerate what mothers do but I think it is also a disservice to fathers as well.

I wonder if part of their figuring in this was the presumption that since dad as the stereotypical breadwinner is getting paid for the work that he does its not as tough. Well let's not act like he's keeping all that money to himself and not using it to support his family. I think saying "well at least dad is getting paid for his work" is a bit dismissive of the contributions that he makes to the family especially if that is being used as evidence to say its not as tough as being a mom.

But anyway making that argument against this ad just feeds the "Battle of the Sexes" mentality that has done little else but keep men and women divided over the years.

Parenting is hard no matter which part of you are doing. We don't need checklists, witty posts, and viral videos trying to tell us who has it worse or who has it harder. We need to get together and work on raising our kids.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Or you could show some compassion

Yes its been a while but let us try to hit the ground running as they say (I promise I'll do a summation post of what I've been up to the last few months). But anyway here goes.

So I just saw a write up by Katharine Whitehorn over at The Guardian. In said write up she talks about what men can do to stop female genital mutilation. But she doesn't seem to be very pleased. Take this section right here:
So we have at last some serious public concern about that horror which we now rightly call FGM – female genital mutilation.
Some serious public concern? So fact that this practice is regarded as a crime and violation of human rights in most of the developed world just happened last night or something? If this is still only happening in limited parts of the world then I think we can safely say that "at last" is not a proper way to describe it. Or at the very least here in the States which one is actually a crime and which one can be claimed on health insurance?

She then goes into what I guess could be called lamentation over the way its regarded,
Too often it has gone under the name of "female circumcision", which makes it sound as innocuous as what's done to baby boys, but its actual purpose has been stated as "the control of women's libido".
Oddly I have very rarely heard it called "female circumcision" and have mostly heard it called female genital mutilation. Oh and don't think I missed that about the circumcision of boys but I'll come back to that in a bit.

Next onto a rather "bizarre" fact about this practice.
It really should not be regarded as a women's issue only, though the bizarre aspect of it is that it's other women, "cutters", who actually do the deed.
I think the fact that its women cutting women is only bizarre to people who have wrapped themselves up in a nice cocoon of, "Women don't do stuff like that.". I wonder how bizarre she would think it is that men commit horrible crimes against other men....

But speaking of men she thinks that men may actually have a role to play in this.
Maybe the men have to be brought into the argument to get the whole notion abandoned. (Here's one radical suggestion, not necessarily mine: that for every baby girl who suffers FGM, the law should demand the castration of a senior member of the family concerned. I realise that this is not very likely to gain public approval).
You ever notice that the only time men are included on something is when we are actually useful for the purpose of helping women?

And speaking of radical suggestion I have one too. For every baby boy that has his foreskin taken off at a point in his life when he can't consent to it the law should demand the clitoral hood/foreskin of the parents that chose to have it done. But considering there is a much larger chance of mom still having her clitoral hood than dad having his foreskin I get the feeling that the bodily violation of a woman would cause a lot of outrage (outrage that seems to be missing when talking about the bodily violation of a baby boy).

She ends with some sort of situation that she calls a paradox:
It may be, paradoxically, that only by involving men's desires can it be stopped; only if it is seen to make a girl less attractive to potential husbands will the mothers, ever anxious to marry off their daughters, refuse to let it happen. So men – over to you.
And here's where I came up with the title for this post.

Or when women write articles like this that come off as backhanded calls for support they could show something resembling the compassion that women (rightly) complain about being unfairly stereotyped and burdened with.

I know I would respond a lot better to a woman that can at least look at male circumcision and see it for the violation of a baby boy's body that it is than to a woman that in one breath sweeps male circumcision under the rug then proceeds to call on males to help with FGM.

Is FGM a horrible thing? Yes it is. Should it be stopped? Yes it should. Will you win allies by backhandedly trivializing the issues they face (or is this one of those double standards where women must have their harms fully acknowledge before lending a hand but men must lend a hand before having their harms fully acknowledged)? Highly doubt it.

Maybe once Whitehorn realizes that altering a baby boy's body without medical need is not so "innocuous" maybe she'll get more male support on the situation.