‘Patriarchy is about power and control’

Danielle @ From Two to One: “Slut-Shaming & Related Attempts to Silence Women”

In sum, patriarchy is about power and control. For some, they believe that men should be in power and control because they believe God or tradition or both say so. But it is still about power. Let’s not sugarcoat patriarchy with less offensive (or more confusing) terms like complementarianism that diminish women’s voices rather than amplify them.

… I also read a review of Rachel Held Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood that shockingly packed deep-rooted misogyny into a single sentence – even a single word. I’m not going to link to the site, but the author, “Will S.”, spits:

Frankly, I think she’s an annoying evil postmodern liberal femingelical [most revealingly reductive misogynist expletive imaginable] herself, and I’m not alone among Christians in disliking her.

This man calls himself a Christian.

I was not expecting that word, let alone expecting it come from a Christian’s lips in vitriolic attack of another image-bearer of God, another sister in Christ. But should I be surprised?

Cheryl B. Anderson: “Christians and Reproductive Justice: Hearing New Voices”

Conservative Christians, on the one hand, understand Judges 19 to condemn homosexuality, (focusing the intended act of the men in Gibeah) and, on the other hand, liberal Christians see Judges 19 as addressing the issue of hospitality (focusing on the host’s efforts to protect the Levite). Both interpretations are problematic for several reasons, but my point here is that both interpretations — whether done by conservatives or by liberals — do not address the damaging way the females are treated in the text. My fear is that, over time, ignoring the harm caused to women has become equated with the Christian tradition itself. Yet the need to support reproductive justice initiatives becomes clearer when we hear the voices of the women who are harmed by a lack of justice. If Christians are to hear the voices of women today, they need to start reading texts such as Judges 19 in ways in which a woman’s voice can be heard — or in ways that make us aware of the silence where her voice should be heard.

Richard Beck: “Life and Sex”

Concern about sex muddles the logic of the Pro-Life movement. It’s hard, from a policy stance, to be both for life and against the sexual revolution at the same time. For example, you want to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies but you don’t want tax dollars to go toward contraceptives. Or you start questioning the stories of rape victims to make sure the woman isn’t getting away with something. In your zeal to roll back the sexual revolution you become callous toward and skeptical of victims needing your help. That’s a tragic place for the church to be — calloused toward victims.

This isn’t to say that the conservative concern over sexual ethics is wrong-headed. It’s just that it has been folded into the Pro-Life conversation in a way that confuses the picture. You think you’re talking about life when we are often talking about sex (and its consequences). In my personal opinion, you can’t have it both ways from a policy perspective. If you want to protect life then that’s the priority, that’s what you have to do. Even if that means swallowing a bitter pill, like seeing tax dollars go toward contraception. And really, is that so hard a pill to swallow given how much of our tax dollars go to, say, defense spending? Last time I checked condoms were less expensive than bombs.

Caperton: “Safe and legal. And rare.”

So yes, we should want abortion to be rare — not because there’s anything wrong with it as a procedure, or because it’s horrific or universally traumatizing, but because we’d generally rather not have to pay money and undergo minimally invasive medical procedures if we can avoid them. Um, hi. It’s also often a sign that societally, we’ve missed a few holes we need to fill in. You don’t fix that by outlawing the solution — you fix that by fixing the problem, creating a world where women who don’t want to be pregnant don’t have to get pregnant and women who want to carry their pregnancies to term are able to do so. And until you’ve fixed that — and forevermore after you’ve fixed that — your only option is to protect the hell out of a woman’s right to choose what’s best for her life.

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  • Stone_Monkey

    Let’s also add to this that men need to take responsibility for using the method of contraception available to them – I say method because it’s stupid and scandalous that there still is really only one. Yes, it is the woman who has the chance of getting pregnant and therefore has bear the, potentially lethal and otherwise still life-changing, consequences of two peoples’ actions, but any man with a shred of decency about him should also play his part in attempting to prevent this. 

    There are two people involved and it’s both remarkable and utterly depressing that society at large seems to be under the impression that only one of them should bear the burden (if we can call it that) of acting responsibly and taking precautions against an unwanted pregnancy. Being an adult (being a man, if we want to call it that) is about taking responsibility for your own actions. Why do we as a society make the assumption that it should only be left to women to do this?

    Also… first… I’ve always wanted to do that :)

  • Tricksterson

    There are two.  Condoms and vasectomy.

  • Ima Pseudonym

     We sorely need a male version of the Pill. 

  • LMM22

    No, we don’t need a male version of the Pill. We need RISUG to get approved.

    (FWIW, the listed complaints about safety seem … well, relatively pathetic. DMSO was (is?) used as a skin treatment — my parents, to my surprise, had a liter of it in their bathroom cabinet — and they’re using a fifth of a milliliter at a go. One of the major ethical issues involved in medicine, however, seems to be that of treatments which benefit another individual. Because women get pregnant, it’s easier for ethicists to justify side effects than it is if a (cis, fertile) man were to receive the same side effects for a similar level of effectiveness. This isn’t quite misogyny — this principle was actually explained to me in the context of schoolchildren receiving the flu shot when the flu is most likely to kill their grandparents — but it does pan out as such.)

    Hm. Come the apocalypse, I’m going to hit up the stockroom on my way out of town — and make a killing on distributing what would probably be the safest form of long-term, effective birth control.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    DMSO is actually freakishly good at crossing barriers. It can dissolve a pretty wide variety of organics and will get through even some kinds of gloves.

    The stuff can thus be unintentionally toxic. In the chemistry lab the one time we had to use it the lab prof spent several minutes warning about it and that only the TA was allowed to touch it. And even the TA double-bagged with latex gloves and warned that it might mot protect from transfer of the liquid.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I’ve got a bottle of the stuff. Since it’s not approved for medical use (Except for one thing which I think is related to intestinal cancer or something), it’s labeled as being only for use as a cleaning product.

    Except that it’s sticky and contains aloe and could not possible work as a cleaning product, becauswe the people selling it know darned right well that people are buying it as a muscle linament.

  • P J Evans

     You can find DMSO as a small roll-on in animal supply places. It’s approved for veterinary use.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    If anyone is thinking of trying it: the aloe is there because the stuff irritates the skin like pretty much nothing else you are liable to willingly apply to your skin. It can also cause inexplicable garlic breath.

  • P J Evans

    Garlic breath is a feature of DMSO (the active ingredient is sulfur, in both cases). Or possibly a bug, depending on whether you’re scaring off vampires or not. *g*

  • LMM22

    Yes, it’s good at crossing barriers — and it goes through skin like it isn’t there. But I think that one of the major reasons why people are concerned about DMSO in general is because it takes whatever is dissolved in it with it. (Out of curiosity: Do you remember the reaction? It sounds from the description like you were working with some other reagent that was dissolved in DMSO — which would explain the safety precautions. DMSO itself isn’t terribly toxic; there’s definitely far worse available.)

    But RISUG itself sounds like the most safe situation possible — a syringe-full of a pre-prepared solution of DMSO and a DMSO-soluble co-polymer. Under the circumstances, I wouldn’t even blink.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I actually probably have my old lab manual. I majored in chemistry – this lab course was heavy on transition-metal chemistry and ISTR some sort of sulphoxide coordinate was either an intermediate or the desired product?

  • LMM22

    Meh, doesn’t really matter — but, like I said, that really doesn’t sound like you were using DMSO as a solvent, unless you were doing it on a microscale. (And had your TA clean up?)

    I’d seriously guess that the issue there was the substance dissolved in the DMSO, though.

  • Paul Durant

    There have been a couple promising candidates for male birth control pills or injections, the kind women are allowed to have that don’t make sex any less pleasurable and don’t require surgery.
    One of their biggest political opponents are… feminists. Feminist groups protest and oppose them, claiming that if men have birth control options it takes power away from women, that if men have the pill they will lie about it and trap women in pregnancy. Despite the fact this claim makes no sense and is ludicrously, heinously selfish. And if any man expresses worry about women doing the opposite to him, lying about being on the pill to trap him into a pregnancy he will be legally forced to pay for for 18 years, he is obviously a contemptible misogynist who should be reviled and ostracized.


  • EllieMurasaki

    …because contraceptives are less effective when redundant and there’s no chance that the Pill will stop a conception that the condom didn’t.

  • Daughter

     Why are contraceptives less effective when redundant?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Because sarcasm, that’s why.

  • Daughter

     (Hitting her head, saying, “Duh!” and blushing in embarrassment)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Speaking without sarcasm, I think spermicides don’t react well in combination, and doubling up on condoms is also bad, but beyond that, barrier contraception is good, female hormonal contraception is good, male hormonal contraception is good, any two is better, any three would be best.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Or… land sakes, maybe both men AND women can use each their own contraceptives! GOSH HOODATHUNKIT REDUNDANCY IS GOOD.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I am with Ellie on this.  I have never known any feminist who would object to a man taking control of his own reproduction.  Basic reciprocity demands that she not deny him an area of agency she seeks herself.  

    The adage I have held to is, if you are worried about her springing a baby-trap on you, then take your own birth control precautions.  Bring a pack of condoms if nothing else, and insist on their use.  Or as my girlfriend likes to say (forgive the crassness of the expression,) “If you’re that worried then don’t fuck the pussy.”  

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     There are, in fact, real-for-real  feminists who object to the pill in the first place on the principle that its purpose is (they say) specifically to make women more available to men for sex. That pre-pill, fear-of-pregnancy was a force women could use to keep men who wanted sex from them in check.

    Others, of course, praised the pill largey because *it gave power to women in a situation (they perceived) women as not having any power in*. That line of thinking could object to giving men a counter-argument to “I can’t have sex with you because I’m not on the pill” (assuming this is a way to avoid having unwanted sex which carries a lower social cost than just saying “I don’t want to have sex with you”).

    In other words, being a feminist does not automatically make you sex-positive, and when you’re sex-negative, a lot of sex-related arguments boil down not to “We want equality between the genders” but rather “We grudgingly accept that this is necessary in this particular case, but disapprove as a general rule”

    If you think that the reason the Pill is good is that it “levels the playing field”, then granting it to men as well *un-levels* it.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Uh, someone who’s suggesting that women be passive-aggressive rather than state clearly what they do and don’t want doesn’t sound like much of a feminist, let alone a “real-for-real” one.  Perhaps you have some citations?

    From what I’ve read, the argument that sex-negative feminists like Andrea Dworkin tend to use is that women should simply refuse all heterosexual sex ever.  Less “Oh Hank, I’d love to, but we don’t want a baby” and more “Keep your tool of oppression away from me”.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Do you have any citation other than a video from a guy who cries conspiracy when his drug doesn’t do very well in clinical trials?

  • WalterC

     I’m having a hard time finding a corroborating source for Dr Coutinho’s claim that Betty Friedan blocked his pill from being approved. Can you help me find some sources for that?

    Or, if they aren’t accessible online, at least help me connect the dots on his logic here; I don’t understand how “feminists”, even ones as famous as Betty Friedan, can unilaterally wield veto power over pharmaceuticals like this. If the translation is right, his ‘gossypium’ pill was already “ready for marketplace”; it had already been well-researched and had no negative side effects and was even easily reversible. I don’t see what a group of women at a UN conference could do to override the Health Ministries of every government in the world like that.

    (I’m assuming the word “boycott” is just a bad translation from the original language).

  • P J Evans

     ISTR that gossypium was considered Not Safe Enough For People,  as a drug.

  • WalterC

    So, was this determination made at the behest of the cabal of shrieking feminists, or what? Because Dr Coutinho had a really great story about a bull on birth control becoming a sex maniac, and I’d be disappointed to learn that Big Government’s burdensome regulations are keeping that from being used as scientific proof for drug trials.

  • P J Evans

     No, it had actual, measurable bad effects, mostly a serious drop in potassium levels; also 12% had unusual fatigue and 7% had digestive problems. Another version tended to produce permanent infertility. (Also, the toxic level is too close to the level that would have to be used.)
    It was WHO that recommended dropping the stuff.

  • Paul Durant

    He wasn’t claiming they unilaterally blocked it from being approved, but they did vehemently oppose it, and it certainly wasn’t because they thought it unsafe.

  • WalterC

     Yes, he said that they shouted him down at his speech at the World , but that on its own doesn’t explain why it isn’t on the shelves. The impression I got from his words and from the video is that gossypiumwas used to make a safe and effective drug but it never came to market in the West because of feminist opposition. I’m having a hard time finding any verification that this event occurred (where Betty Friedan called for a feminist boycott of Dr Coutinho’s invention) or any logical reason why this event would have stopped gossypium or even really slowed it down at all. I mean, does it really mean anything for women to boycott a pill intended exclusively for men?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Strangely enough last night I watched a 1970s advertisement for a sex-ed manual. And in the course of his pitch, the narrator mentions not only the Pill, but also the “new injectable contraceptive”, “the pill for men” and “the morning-after pill”. In the ’70s. 

  • Dmoore970

    The reason the burden is on women is that a lot of women do not trust the man to take responsibility, and often for good reason.

  • Stone_Monkey

    Good point. Although permanent sterilisation does seem to be a bit hardcore. I’d hesitate to suggest that to anyone, male or female, as the contraception method to use just so they could have sex with the partner(s) of their choice.

    But each to their own, I guess.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Good point. Although permanent sterilisation does seem to be a bit hardcore.

    I guess that makes me hardcore.  I was twenty-one, still a virgin.  

    There was never, ever, any chance of my being the direct cause of any pregnancy.  I wish that burden on no one.  

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Vasectomies can be reversed. If you want HARDCORE, go for castration (chemical or the real Varys the Spider method).

    There’s also Dungeons and Dragons. Been pretty effective for me, anyway.  

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I know you didn’t mean that in an exclusionary way, but could we please have a moratorium on “Girls don’t like D&D”?  I explain my reasoning here.

    tl;dr version:  girl geeks are really tired of being mentally erased.

  • P J Evans

     I read it more as he’s too busy playing it to be having sex.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    In retrospect, considering how everyone I game with is far more successful (we have second-generation gamers). 

    It may, just may, have a little to do with being so bitter over being rejected the last time I asked someone out ~twenty years ago that I haven’t bothered ever since. 

  • Fusina

     As a girl geek (raising a girl geek, hee), I’m with you. In high school I tried to join the chess and battle club and was told that girls weren’t allowed. So when I grew up and had children of my own, I started a chess club in their elementary school and invited girls as well as boys. It was fun, and I think the kids liked it. I still see some of them around.

    But yeah. And I really got tired of hanging out with them only to see them trip over their tongues when one of the “barbie-girls” walked by.

    At least as hurtful is when you outscore someone you thought was a friend on a test, and they look at you, say, “I hate you” and never talk to you again. Until then, I had no idea that tests in school were a competitive sport.

  • Tapetum

     Mmm. Good point. I don’t play DnD with my husband, not because I don’t like the game, but because we can’t seem to put together a decent sized group that doesn’t include misogynistic creeps I won’t have in the house more than once. I like DnD just fine, and a bunch of other table-tops as well.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Vasectomies can be reversed. If you want HARDCORE, go for castration (chemical or the real Varys the Spider method).

    In fairness, it would be more accurate to say vasectomies have a chance of be reversed.  Much in the same way a doctor can tell you “There is a chance the cancer might come back.”  

    The reversal is much more invasive than the initial surgery, and has about a 30% success rate even if they manage to get all the plumbing installed again correctly.  As any urologist will tell you when consulting about such a procedure, you should assume it will be irreversible because the odds of that happening are very low.  

  • wendy

    There’s a new kind now, instead of snipping the tube they plug it; removing the plug has about a 85% success rate. They’re trying to develop a safe way to dissolve it. 

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Yeah, but I did not want mine reversible.  I instructed the urologists to make sure it would be impossible to change back.  I told him I wanted my reproductive prospects fixed at null, so no amount of trying to change my mind on the topic could hope to be productive.  I wanted that kind of pressure shut down before it could even begin.  I figured that way, any woman I get into a relationship with will have to know up front what she is getting into, and that I am not someone she can eventually “bring around” to the idea of having children after I am emotionally committed to her.  

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You know, a backup plan just in case would have been to have some sperm frozen. Just don’t disclose that unless you’ve decided you and she want to settle down for real.

  • EllieMurasaki

    …I think that would be missing FearlessSon’s point.

    In the (wildly unlikely, I suspect) event that he does find a partner who wants children and who convinces him to want children as well, adoption or sperm donor.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    And we also need a moratorium on the implication that D&D is such a “nerdy” and “uncool” activity that it makes guys essentially invisible to women.  I play D&D, and any woman who would actually view that as a negative is not a woman I would be interested in.

    And I second what ShifterCat said.

  • Beroli

     I actually met Lliira on a forum for modding the D&D-based computer game Baldur’s Gate 2.

  • Liralen

    I actually found Marc’s comment funny enough to send to my husband, whom I met while playing online games.   I agree that there are plenty of us female gamers, and in a “it takes one to know one” fashion, I’m guessing I meet other female gamers more often then males do.  But we’re still out-numbered by males, so it’s not easy for every male who prefers female company in games to find it.  So much so that I feel sorry for them (aggro wife/girlfriend being a meme, as you probably know) and can pretty much ignore the misogynists.  There are plenty of men who enjoy the company of women.

    BTW, guys playing female characters have been a tremendous blessing.  Not only do they get first hand experience of harassment, the harassers are alot more cautious now than they were in the early days.  People who either believe all female characters are really females or conversely, don’t believe there are female players, are generally viewed as n00bs and mocked.

  • Julian Elson

    Termination of the man’s life as a whole also works as contraception, although removal of gonads is a somewhat simpler procedure.

  • The_L

    I don’t know. My beau and I play D&D a lot, and…well, lets just say that we have a healthy relationship in all particulars. ;)

  • Tapetum

    Didn’t work for my husband, but it’s been very effective for a couple of his gaming buddies.

    Of course, at one point he called me during a game to ask me to e-mail something that he needed to DM, and chatted with me while I hunted it up and sent it. According to him, after we said goodbye, one of the other gamers commented “Wow! You talk to your wife almost like she’s your equal!” So not so much the DnD, I’m suspecting.

  • LMM22

    I’d hesitate to suggest that to anyone, male or female, as the contraception method to use just so they could have sex with the partner(s) of their choice.
    I *did* suggest it once to a friend who, well, sleeps with just about everyone. He objected for a second, reconsidered, then admitted it might be a good idea.

  • Carstonio

    And until you’ve fixed that — and forevermore after you’ve fixed that — your only option is to protect the hell out of a woman’s right to choose what’s best for her life.

    This. One principle of my own morality is that as a default, an individual gets to decide what is best for hir life. The burden is on any claim that a given individual shouldn’t have that final say.

    The point of keeping abortion legal is preventing outside interference in a woman’s pregnancy, because any such interference effectively turns into a ward of the state or a ward of whoever is doing the interference. Just as women shouldn’t be forced to carry pregnancies to term, they also shouldn’t be forced to have abortions, and any person or entity willing to intervene in the first way can just as easily be able and motivated to intervene in the second. While there’s a very strong case that the motive behind “outlawing the solution” is controlling women, the law-enforcement approach ultimately leads to woman control no matter what the motive. Not only does it go against basic human decency, it is also woefully ineffective. (A high-tech extension of The Handmaid’s Tale would be women imprisoned on breeding farms with hormone monitors, so that any who get pregnant can be instantly immobilized using remote brainwashing and put on life support until they give birth.)

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

     That reminds me that I always wondered how Gilead’s neighbours handled the fertility crisis, because it’s likely it wasn’t just Gilead the war had left with an infertile majority which would likely lead to the fertile people having their reproductive rights ‘suspended’ in many places. At best you’d be talking forced egg and sperm donation (assuming infertile women could still carry to term once pregnant) or forced pregnancy and possible breeding farms otherwise.

    Of course this is leaving aside the fact that we’ve now figured out how to make germ cells from adult stem cells. (Which piece of news started breeding very creepy apocalypse plot bunnies in my head).

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In sum, patriarchy is about power and control.

    Whenever I see someone attempting to impose their personal power over another for the sake of, what, the satisfaction of their own ego?  I get the impulse to try and push back, to grab the stick the bully is holding, twist their arm until they let it go, then bap them one on the head with it and give them an admonishment to never do that again.  

    Sometimes I wish there were more avenues for me to directly intervene when a sexist is, well, doing something sexist.  The fact that they want to assert power over some arbitrary distinction of gender gives me all the reason I need to administer a chastisement that they cannot ignore.  

    I realize there is some potential hypocritical about wanting to control those who would control others, but I see it like one of those “My sense of tolerance does not obligate me to condone intolerance,” kind of things.  

  • mud man

    I don’t think we should toss pregnant women, or any other women, or any other people, out on their private individual right. We should be protecting the hell out of allowing, encouraging, and enabling pregnant women to sit down with a community of friends of their own choosing and work out how to deal with whatever.

  • Sky

    I hadn’t read Judges 19 in a while. I forgot how disturbing it is.

  • Lori

    Disturbing indeed. It’s the story that started me on the (long) road to giving up belief in god(s). I was raised in a fundamentalist household where one did not question the existence or worship-worthiness of God or the divine inspiration of the Bible any more than one questioned the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.

    I can still remember the day I read Judges 19 and realized that I had some really serious doubts about the being who thought that was an instructive story to preserve for all time, but who apparently did not think that the point of the story was Don’t Ever, Ever Do Anything Like This What The Hell Is Wrong With You?

    It was also the first time I can remember suspecting that God didn’t actually love women because really, what in the everlasting fuck? (I’m pretty sure I phrased it differently at the time, but that was the idea.) The guy who says, “Do what you want to the girl, just leave me alone” is not supposed to be the good guy and his efforts are not supposed to be blessed by a deity claiming to be love.

    One question lead to another and another and another, and eventually I just walked away.

  • Fusina

    Huh. My daughter and I would do practice scenarios where she would figure out how to respond to various situations. In the case of condom use, her response to “If you loved me you wouldn’t make me use one” was, “If You really loved me, you would wear one and not complain.” Yeah, I am proud of her. I was relating this story to a friend of mine, and later my Mom (who overheard us talking) asked me, “Did you tell that story to hurt my feelings?”


  • Mrfun13

    Re: Judges 19

    I read the chapters after for some context, and I’m even more confused now.  If I got it right, the sequence goes something like this:

    Judges 19:  Townfolk try to rape and kill tourist; he offers them his concubine instead.  They rape and kill her.  He dismembers her dead body.

    Judges 20: The tribes of Israel are very mad at the townfolk above.  They form an army and nearly destroy their entire tribe.

    Judges 21: Having nearly destroyed their fellow tribe (Benjamites), the remaining Israelites try to figure out how to save them from destruction.  Taking a headcount at their latest social gathering, they see their fellow tribe the Gilead didn’t show up.  They send soldiers to their fellow tribe the Gilead, destroy it and kidnap all the virgins, and then give the virgins to their fellow tribe the Benjamites, so that their fellow tribe the Benjamites would not be destroyed after having been nearly destroyed by the rest of tribes.

    I don’t really think that theres a chain of reasoning here that any sane person could follow.  Perhaps there’s some historical information, or the story has just been altered so much over the years that it’s lost all meaning aside from “Holy ***, they did WHAT?” I mean, someone thought it was important enough to write down.  To me it looks like 20 or 30 years of tribal history tied together with a folktale and missing lots of parts.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    This seems like as good a place as any to post this:  http://i41.photobucket.com/albums/e286/ShifterCat/WrongWord.jpg

    I forget where I got it, so I had to Photobucket it.

  • Lori

    For the sake of pointing out that women aren’t monolithic in their opinions I’ll note that I have no problem with the word “bitch” per se, although obviously some used of it are Not OK. The c-word on the other hand? I’m fine with using it for the body part, but if you call me that we’re going to throw down. That’s on my list of things that are just right out.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    If someone tries to use “cunt” as an insult, that tells us more about them than it does about their target.

    I have noticed that some men seem to think that it’ll automatically make us whimper and back down, and that picture is useful in disabusing them of that notion.

  • Lori

    If someone tries to use “cunt” as an insult, that tells us more about them than it does about their target.  

    True of many insults.

    I have noticed that some men seem to think that it’ll automatically make
    us whimper and back down, and that picture is useful in disabusing them
    of that notion.  

    It has the opposite effect on me (I have a rather amusing memory of one asshat in particular finding that out the hard way).

    Like I said, opinions differ. Everyone is entitled to their own and I’m not the lady language police. I just wanted to point out that thinking bitch is totally out of bounds is not a universally held position and neither is the opinion that cunt is fine/empowering/reclaimed or reclaimable or whatever.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I think we may be talking past each other somewhat.  The way I saw it, the picture I linked to wasn’t supposed to be an actual “here’s how we as feminists should actually view this kind of speech”, but rather a sarcastic way to mock misogynists.

  • Lori

    I understand. I just wouldn’t personally use that method for mocking misogynists.

    The point of my comment was really more general though, just riffing off your post.

  • Carstonio

     My feeling is that “bitch” and “cunt” shouldn’t be used by men, for the same reason that Richard Pryor’s routines would be offensive if delivered by a white comedian, or if Jeff Foxworthy’s would be if delivered by a comedian from New York or California. (Not that Foxworthy is Pryor’s artistic equal.) It’s impossible for men to use those insult words ironically. I might say the same for women who would call a man a “dick” except that the power imbalance already favors the men, and that word doesn’t shame male sexuality the way those other words shame female sexuality.

  • Nirrti

    Lately, I’ve been reading about abuse, particularly emotional abuse in the context of dysfunctional families. One of the features of abuse is impossible or contradicting expectations. The abuser demands the victim to do something that is either beyond their capability or places expectations that contradict each other.

    I think this society as a whole has the same dysfunctional, abusive dynamic when it comes to its women. Women are expected not to get pregnant too soon, have abortions, or be “too sexual”. Yet contraception that prevents pregnancy in the first place is made difficult to procure or women are made by their partners to feel guilty for asking them to put on condoms. Plus the media inundates women with the expectation that their sexual prowess is the sum of their whole being.

    The objective of abusive behavior is to obtain control over the victim. And this society, so far, is doing a fantastic job of it.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    In the UK there was a PSA a while back aimed at getting guys to carry/use condoms. It was set the morning after and had two versions where the lad had used a condom and where he hadn’t. In the hadn’t version he gets berated when he tells his friends and his girlfriend is distraught in the had version his friends pat him on the back and tease him about how tired he must be and his girlfriend is happy. The psychology of it is obvious. No idea how well it worked.

    They’ve also been trying to address rape culture directly: http://thisisabuse.direct.gov.uk/home

  • txredd

    I had to go read Judges 19.  I had it conflated with Genesis 19.  So how many Bible stories are there with a theme of “no, no, no — rape this woman instead”?

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

     Only the two I can recall though I think it may be two versions of the same half remembered story.

  • MaryKaye

    Met my spouse because someone had left a game-club sign chained to a bridge in Berkeley, and we were among the dozen or so people who showed up–to discover there was no club, so we formed one.  Ended up living with one of the other random people there.  Married him five years later.  Still playing D&D–twenty years after that.  (Gosh, am I old?)

  • http://vicwelle.wordpress.com victoria

    Re: Judges 19

    I had never read that story (or remembered reading it) until I was in an intro OT course in grad school.  I wrote a short response paper as prep for an exegesis in which I pointed out how clearly (to me) it showed all the marks of an abusive relationship.  It was one of those moments where the text just broke open to me and i saw the story from the point of view of the concubine going through the cycle of trying to leave him, returning to him, and ultimately not being able to get out of the relationship alive.  

    When the paper was returned to me the professor (older, male) wrote that he had never read a take on the text like that and was impressed with how original my reading of it was.  I felt validated in a way because it helped solidify my conviction that more women need to be doing theological study, but it was also sad because something that I thought was so obvious was seen as an innovative take on the text.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Of course, another thing about the birth control options, if somewhat tangential, is that of all the choices out there, still, to the best of my knowledge, the only ones that also protect against STDs, AIDS, &c. are the conventional condom, and the female condom.  Everything else falls far short, in that area.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    All seriousness in regards to the male contraception argument:  what I’ve heard is that pharmaceutical companies are pickier about stuff that goes in men’s bodies than they are about stuff that goes in women’s.  And also that many men are pickier about their own bodies than they are about women’s.

    Women have both more to lose (“there’s a risk, but I’ll take it because it’s my uterus on the line”) and are also subject to more shame about their genitals — it wasn’t too long ago that we were advised to wash out our ladybits with Lysol, after all.

    BTW, this article points to a petition about RISUG:  http://techcitement.com/culture/the-best-birth-control-in-the-world-is-for-men/#.UIS6zuSASyo

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    If that stuff about RISUG is true, it sounds very noninvasive and completely safe. Unless “pickier about stuff” means that you’re some kind of absolute purist — as in, Christian Scientist pure –, I’m not sure “pickiness” is a good reason not to approve this drug. 

    I think that techcitement link might be onto something though. It’ll probably be hard to convince some drug company here (at least in the US) to spend their time and their money putting this through FDA trials if there’s no real way to make money on it (apparently the syringe is the most expensive part of RISUG, and the procedure lasts for a decade). I think if the female birth control pill only had to be taken once every ten years and cost a nickel, it probably would have gotten held up even more.

  • P J Evans

     It’s a good thing I never heard that Lysol recommendation. I think I’d have suggested that the person making the recommendation try it first.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    Interesting fact – in Britain that word (which is considered the worst swear word is so taboo I can’t bring myself to type it) is generally used against men not women.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    And in the southwest Pacific, too.  I have a friend-of-a-friend on Facebook who slings the C-word around with great abandon, and it always brings me to a stop each time I see it.  Even after having had a girlfriend in New Zealand who loathed the P-word, but loved the C-word.  It was awkward.

  • Carstonio

     Interesting, but not any better. It’s the equivalent of using “pussy” against men who are perceived as lacking fortitude.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

     Not really – it’s curious but I don’t think the c-word’s original meaning comes into its use as a swear any more.

    What’s interesting to me is that English has such biological swears to start with.

    Much of our worst language is bodily functions and the bits of the body (both male and female)  involved in them. Nevermind misogyny I think there’s an almost dualist hate of our physicality to it.

  • Carstonio

     I’ve read that Catholics and Protestants in the US tend to focus on different taboos in language, with one more scatalogical than the other, but I couldn’t tell you which was which. In any case, I’ve heard the c-word used as you describe only in UK shows and movies – in the US it’s almost always used to insult a woman.

  • Joshua

    In New Zealand that particular word is used to insult either gender, or of course inanimate objects. When reading comments on this blog on the topic, there seemed to be an implication that in the US its use was as gender-specific as its origin, and I was never sure if I’d got that right.

    So now I know.

  • banancat

    Yes, men are called that to imply that they are like women, which is meant to be insulting. It ends up being insulting to women instead by saying we’re inherently bad and it’s bad to be like us, just like how it’s wrong to use gay as an insult and that isn’t mitigated because it’s usually used to insult heteros.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I still can’t get over calling a drug “gossypium”. It’s almost like they wanted to call it “gossip” which is a trait usually attrtibuted to women.

  • WalterC

    I take the blame for that. I didn’t know the actual name of the drug and I was too lazy to look it up. It’s derived from a plant in the subgenus of gossypium (cotton) but I don’t think that gossypium is the actual name that the scientist chose for it.

  • Tricksterson

    I think it all stems back to the beginning of D&D in the 70s when the “girls/women don’t do RPGs” was mostly true.  Of course some of that was that the early players treated it like a boys club while at the same time whining that girls didn’t pay them any attention.  Nowadays with the advent of “geek chic”, LARPing  and online gaoming a lot more women participate.