Crying Rape for Regret

Regarding the view that women ‘cry rape’ when they regret having had sex, let’s concede for a moment that that’s true.  The concession begs the question: why do so many women regret having sex?

Even if it turned out to be a mediocre experience—if the man wasn’t very good at it, due to lack of skill or lack of maturity (in terms of wanting the woman to have an orgasm too)—one would hardly cry rape.

Perhaps the woman got pregnant.  If she didn’t want to get pregnant, one would think she’d either be using contraception or she’d trust the man to wear a condom.  So either the contraception didn’t work or the man didn’t wear a condom (or took it off part way through) or he promised to ‘pull out’ before ejaculation (not knowing that semen can get into a woman’s vagina even before ejaculation).

However, my guess is that the woman thought they were going to make love, and it turned out he was just fucking her.  Worse, she realized (once she realized it was just a fuck) that she’d get a bad rep, to put it mildly: her name would circulated, the guy would post humiliating comments, maybe even images, on social media, etc., etc., etc.  It makes perfect sense: as long as women who consent to sex are considered sluts, they’ll be tempted to cry rape—non-consent.

So men, you don’t want to be charged with rape?  Don’t have sex the woman will regret: make it great sex; use a condom; and don’t consider the woman a slut because she wanted it.

 

13 Reasons Why: How to Make a Movie (and maybe Write a Novel *) without acknowledging the Elephant in the Room 

So I’ve just finished watching 13 Reasons Why (Netflix) and am struck by the completely unacknowledged elephant in the room.  Not one character acknowledges that almost all of the problems leading to Hannah’s suicide stem from sexism and its many tumours – misogyny, male entitlement, male privilege, hypersexualization, objectification, the rape culture, etc., etc., etc.

Consider:

Justin – Being a man is all about getting sex, using women for sex, and bragging about it afterwards to get points, to improve your status (among males).  Exaggerating and lying about your ‘achievements’ is, well, standard operating procedure if you’re a guy.  ‘Bros before hos’ — even if it means letting your girlfriend be raped (because hey, what’s mine is yours) (and women are just property, after all) (otherwise, it wouldn’t even have occurred to him that what he ‘owed’ Bryce could include Jessica).  That said, (weak) applause for his eventual decency, especially given his relative-to-Bryce lack of privilege and the pull of moral obligation for reciprocity (albeit disgustingly overgeneralized, as mentioned).

Jessica – Men are more important than women.  One, getting a boyfriend is the most important thing you can do, being someone’s girlfriend is the most important thing you can be; your status, your value, depends on your relation to a male — which is why as soon as she and Alex hook up, Hannah is dropped like a second-class piece of shit.  Two, what men say is to be believed, they are authorities, about everything; when they open their mouths, truth tumbles out like little golden nuggets — which is why she believes what she’s told by Alex et al about Hannah.   Three, she’s a cheerleader.  Her actual ‘job’ is to cheer and applaud men when they do stuff.  (In fact, many of the girls in 13 Reasons Why are cheerleaders, and many of the boys are jocks.  A whole 90% of the student body is missing.  Why?  Give you one guess.)  (Actually, on second thought, strictly speaking, that’s not true.  Of the eight boys listed here, only three are jocks.  So why did I get that wrong impression?  Because they appear as a group, wearing uniforms.  They appear as a team, a gang, a team, an army.  That’s why they seem more … powerful.)

Alex – Women are to be evaluated solely on the basis of their body parts, on whether their body parts please you/men.   Again, (weak) applause for his regret and guilt, and his speaking up, but, yeah, men like Alex who confront men like Bryce will get beaten up.  Thus, his limited confrontation and his suicide attempt can also be traced to the fucked-up patriarchal culture.

Tyler – Women’s bodies are public domain; ergo, photographs of women’s bodies are public domain.  It’s not like there’s a person inside or anything.

Courtney  – Being lesbian in public means you risk ‘corrective rape’; can we blame her for hiding?

Marcus – When a girl agrees to meet you for a milkshake, she’s really agreeing to have sex with you.  At the very least, she’s agreeing to have her genitals fondled by you.  In public.  In broad daylight.  And certainly in the presence of the bros you brought along to witness your conquest.  If she objects, well, your outrage is justified.  Because you’re entitled to touch her.  In fact, you’re entitled to touch any woman.  Any time, any place.  Simply because you’re a man.

Zach – She doesn’t particularly like you?  She rejected your advances of friendship?  Well, yeah, FUCK HER!  Because men are entitled to the affection of all women.

Ryan – Sure it’s okay to publish someone’s work without their permission, without crediting them, perhaps especially if they’re a woman and you’re a man.  Because you, men, know best.   What’s best for her, women.  (Oh, and thanks for carrying on the great tradition of ‘Anon’…)

Sheri – Perhaps the only episode that doesn’t implicate the elephant.

Bryce – Women don’t know what they want, but you, you, a MAN (well, a boy), you know what they want.  (And they all want you.  They all want your penis inside them.)  (At least, you “assume so.”)  (And that’s good enough.)  Thanks to the patriarchy, you can be appallingly deluded about your knowledge and your appeal.  You can lie to yourself about it.  Again and again.

Mr. Porter – Yes, he goes to regretted sex first, then to alcohol and drugs, but when he gets to rape, Hannah says she didn’t tell Bryce to stop, she says she didn’t tell him ‘No’ – so what’s he supposed to think?  He suggests she may have consented then changed her mind (which she’s certainly entitled to do) (and which still leaves the door open to rape), then asks whether they should get her parents or the police involved, but she says ‘No’ – again, what’s he supposed to think or do?  And of course, he can’t promise that Bryce will go to jail.  Guess why.  He tells her it may be ‘best to move on’ (but only after he clarifies that Hannah won’t give a name, she won’t press charges, she’s not even sure she can press charges), showing that he too is caught in the mire of our fucked-up patriarchy.

Clay – Clay buys into the Prince Charming shit: he blames himself for not saving Hannah.  (He doesn’t blame himself for not saving Alex – though perhaps he doesn’t know yet…)  Near the end, he says something like ‘We need to start treating each other better, we need to start caring about each other.’ Well, as Bryce would surely tell him, caring about others is for sissies – females.  And in a patriarchy, male values trump female values (and yes, in a patriarchy there’s a difference).

Hannah – She exhibits a lot of passivity, a persistent denial of agency.  She wants Clay to kiss her; why doesn’t she want to kiss him? (She wants to be kissed; she doesn’t want to kiss.)  She wants Clay to ask her to dance; why doesn’t she just ask him to dance?  She wants him to be her Valentine; why doesn’t she just tell him that?  She tells Clay to go away, but then expects him to stay.  Not only is he not a mind reader, but it’s that kind of shit that got us to ‘no means yes’.  (Tony had it right: she asked him to go, he should go, end of story.)  Standing outside Mr. Porter’s office, she waits to be saved, for him to come running after her.

And of course as soon as Bryce, whom she’d seen rape Jessica, gets into the hot tub, she doesn’t get out.  She probably didn’t want to appear rude.  You know, hurt his feelings.  Once he begins, she doesn’t scream STOP; she doesn’t scream NO.  She just … accepts it, endures it.  (And ‘it’ looks like it might have been sodomy, not ‘just’ PIV rape.)  That’s what women, girls, are supposed to do.  That’s what we’re raised to do.

If the girls wore alarm necklaces (instead of short little genitals-easily-accessible skirts) she could’ve pulled its pin (like a grenade) when she saw Bryce start to rape Jessica …  And again when she was in the hot tub …  And, backing up a bit, why do we keep our teenaged girls so clueless, so desperate for … what? that they get into a hot tub at a party at a rapist’s house in just their bra and panties (let alone go to a party at his place in the first place)?   Not to mention, of course, why do we keep our teenaged boys so clueless the moral wrongness of patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, male entitlement, male privilege …

So the thirteen reasons why pretty much boil down to one.

And it’s not even acknowledged.

Feminists have exposed and fought against patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, male entitlement, male privilege, hypersexualization, objectification, rape culture – hell, we named most of that shit – for decades.  Not acknowledged.  Not once.  Not even a little bit.  It’s like Jay Asher was born yesterday and has remained oblivious of such women’s voices.  Ironic.  To say the least.

(I cheered when ‘the male gaze’ was actually mentioned by the girls – but then they got it wrong, they made it sound like it just describes the attracted look on a guy’s face.  Oh for the love of God!)

There are no doubt hundreds of 13 Reasons Why novels written by women.  Have any of them been published?  Made into a movie?  Received great critical claim?  No.  But a man writes about what it’s like to be raped, what it’s like to be subjected to misogynistic shit every fucking day, well, world, PAY ATTENTION!  Asher is himself a shining example of the male privilege his novel criticizes so unwittingly.  Again, the irony.

Furthermore, how many more Sylvia Plaths do we need to see?  Why must we keep seeing women kill themselves because of this shit?  Why can’t we see as many, if not more, saying FUCK THIS SHIT!?  Yes, okay, Jessica was drunk, and Hannah isn’t a cheerleader, but why couldn’t Asher have reversed that?  Because, hey, if a girl can do four back handsprings (without mats even), she surely has the strength (shoulders, abs, legs) and the courage (without mats, remember?) to fight back at least a little.  Why didn’t we see a sober cheerleader, or two or three, bustin’ Bryce’s ass when he tried his shit.  Why don’t we see more movies like Jodi Foster’s The Brave One?   Give you one guess.

Never mind the elephant.  13 Reasons Why is a trojan horse.

 

* I’ve just watched the movie, so don’t know how much of this applies to the novel.

 

Chefs and Cooks: What’s the difference?

Used to be women did the cooking and the baking.  Then men starting getting into it.  And in theory, I have no problem with that.  In fact, I’m all for making everything gender-unaligned.  But now that men are in the kitchen, suddenly it’s important.  So important it’s being televised.

And my god, the drama!  (And they call us drama queens.)  The tension, the conflict… Chefs (yes, men are chefs; women were just cooks) scream with self-righteous anger at their minions, they rush around with great urgency making sure every sprinkle of cinnamon is just right, because, well, it’s so frickin’ important.

The phenomenon defies logic.  Drama, therefore importance?  No, because then the toddler screaming about his toy truck in the shopping mall would rank right up there with nuclear disarmament.

If anything, the reasoning goes the other way around: important, therefore drama.  (Although that’s not necessarily true either.  I tend to present my case calmly and rationally, without drama, but one time, the vet’s wife failed to recognize an emergency, dying or dead fawn in my arms notwithstanding, because I wasn’t screaming.  Another time, the local township council didn’t put up a requested road sign until I called a councilmember shouting at her with anger and distress, since minutes earlier, I’d almost been turned into a parapalegic by a speeding vehicle — my previous half dozen requests, accompanied as they were with just sound arguments, were ignored.)

Or is it that the drama, the tension and conflict, are the consequences of the endeavor now being competitive.

And why is that?  Because men are involved?  Well, yes, men see everything as a competition (except for those who resist their primal brain, their testosterone, and/or their Y chromosome).  Women freely share their favorite recipes.

But it’s not just the cooking shows.  Song and dance, even travelogue shows, they’re all bloody competitions now.  And why is that?  Are we all addicts to competition?  Have we been turned into competition addicts (by male producers) (seeking male sponsors)?

I’m thinking men, therefore important.  Look at what happened to bank tellers: when men were bank tellers, it was important; once women started being bank tellers, it became much less important. Similarly, but in reverse, when women did the cooking and baking, it was no big deal: some were very good at it, some not; sometimes it was a chore, sometimes a joy; it was an art and a skill, yes, but women didn’t make a show — a show — of it.

Actually, food preparation was important before too; doing it the wrong way can be fatal.  Literally.  Which makes it even more irritating that the recognition of importance didn’t occur until men started doing it.

And the bizarre thing is they’ve made the trivial aspects of it important; people don’t die if the cinnamon sprinkle isn’t just so.

Which suggests something else: since they aren’t focusing on the legitimately important aspects, the aspects with intrinsic importance, they have to manufacture importance; and making something into a competition is a way to do just that, a way to make what they’re doing seem important.

Men, Noise, and A Simple Request, Really

I finally figured it out — why the men in my neighborhood react with such escalated lack of consideration whenever I ask them, politely, to limit their noise.  I’ve asked snowmobilers who are out racing around the lake and having a good time going VROOM VROOM to please just turn around a few seconds before they get to the very end of the lake, which is where I live; I’ve asked dirt bikers to please ride up and down and up and down on a section of road that doesn’t have a bunch of people living there; I’ve asked men who are building new houses to please put the compressor behind the house (so the building acts as a berm) rather than on the lake side (which means, of course, that the noise not only skids across the lake with wonderful efficiency, but also that it then bounces off the hills, echoing amplified all over the place); I’ve asked men to at least close their lakeside doors and windows when they’re using their power tools inside.  (And I’d like to ask them if they really, seriously, need to use a leafblower — we live in the forest, for godsake.)

And almost every single time, not only has the man not acceded to my request, he’s escalated his noise-making and/or responded with confrontational aggression.

Do I live in a neighborhood with an unrepresentative number of inconsiderate assholes?

No.  Here’s what’s happening.  (As I say, I’ve finally figured it out.)  Partly it’s because I’m a woman asking a man to do something.  Most men do not want to be seen taking orders from a woman; even to accede to a woman’s request is apparently too much for their egos.  My male neighbour has made similar requests and the responses have been along the lines of ‘Sure, no problem.’

And partly, it’s because making noise is perceived to be an integral part of being a man.  I’ve long known ‘My car is my penis’ but I never realized that that was partly because of the noise of the car.  I didn’t know that men routinely modify the mufflers of their dirt bikes in order to make them louder.  And then I happened to catch a Canadian Tire advertisement on television (I seldom watch television) and was absolutely amazed at the blatant association of masculinity with power tools, the promise that ‘You’ll be more of a man when you use this million-horsepower table saw’ or whatever.

So the resistance to my requests is because I’m essentially asking that they castrate themselves.

SlutWalk: What’s the problem?

1. SlutWalk was reportedly initiated in response to a police officer’s comment about not dressing like a slut if you don’t want to get raped. The underlying assumption is that one’s attire — specific items or style — sends a message. And indeed it does.  High heels, fishnet stockings, and a heavily made-up face are considered invitations.  So if a woman is wearing ‘fuck me shoes’, she can hardly complain if someone fucks her.  But is that the message the woman is sending?  A message that she’s sexually available to everyone?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Frankly, given the ambiguity, and the nature of the outcome in the case of misunderstanding, I wonder why women take the risk.

It’s much like wearing one’s gang colours in the territory of a rival gang.  Of course it’s going to be provocative.  Is any consequent assault legal?  No.  Is it deserved?  No.  Should it have been anticipated?  Yes.  So unless the intent was to make a point about the wrongness of gangs and violence, a point best made by arranging media presence for the incursion into the other gang’s territory, well, how stupid are you?

Granted, most women who dress in a sexually attractive way don’t go that far (fishnet stockings and heavy make-up), but why go any way at all?  Why does a woman dress in a sexually attractive way?  Why do women put on high heels, show their legs, wear bras that push up their breasts and tops that expose cleavage, redden their lips, and so on?  What does she hope to attract exactly?

My first guess is that she hasn’t thought about it.  She dresses in a sexually attractive way because, well, that’s what women in our society are expected to do.(1)  In which case she’s an idiot.  Doesn’t deserve to be raped, but really, she should think about what she does.

My second guess is that she dresses in a sexually attractive way because she wants to invite offers of sex.(2)  But then, she shouldn’t be angry when she receives such offers, either in the form of whistles and call-outs or in more direct ways.  That she may respond with anger or offense suggests that she wants to attract only offers she’s likely to accept, offers only from men she’s attracted to.  But, men may cry, how’s a man to know?  Um, try to make eye contact.  If you can’t do that, she’s not interested.  If you do make eye contact, smile.  If she doesn’t smile back, she’s not interested.  Surely that kind of body language isn’t too subtle to grasp.

And yet, many men seem to have such an incapacity for subtlety that if you act like bait, they may simply reach out and grab you.  Are they entitled to do that?  No.  Any unauthorized touching is a violation.  Is clothing authorization?  Well, sometimes.  Consider uniforms.

So it would be far less ambiguous if a woman who wants sex just extended the offers herself.  Why take the passive route of inviting offers from likely candidates?  Why make men try to figure out whether they’re a likely candidate?  Why not just let them know and go from there?

 

2. Many people may not have been aware of the police officer’s comment. So what are they to make of SlutWalk? What are they to understand is the point?  (Prerequisite to deciding whether to support SlutWalk or not.)

a) “It’s okay to be a slut!” Given the ‘sluttish’ appearance that many women present during the walk, this understanding is understandable. But whether or not one wants to endorse that message depends on the definition of ‘slut.’  See“What’s wrong with being a slut?”

b) “We’re proud to be sluts!”

c) “No woman deserves to be raped, regardless of her attire!” This is probably closest to the intended message, but in this case, better to have called it a “Walk Against Rape”. Better, further, to advocate changes that would make rape more likely to be reported and rapists more likely to be sentenced commensurate to the injuries they’ve caused.  Perhaps better still to advocate a male-only curfew.

Of course, “SlutWalk” is far more provocative, far more attention-getting, than the ho-hum “Walk Against Rape”, but I don’t think the organizers considered the difficulty of reclaiming an insulting word.  And ‘slut’ is a very difficult insulting word to reclaim.  Harder than ‘bitch’ and ‘nigger’ and even those reclamation  efforts haven’t been very successful.  Mostly, success has been limited to conversations among women in the first case and conversations among blacks in the second.  SlutWalk is not conducted in the presence of women only.  So, really, did the organizers expect people in general to accept (let alone understand) their implied redefinition?

The organizers also didn’t think through the male over-dependence on visual signals.  The gawkers and hecklers who typically undermine the event should be expected.  The inability of men to process any verbal messages (even those just a few words long) in the presence of so-called ‘fuck me’ heels should be expected.

Consider that even Gwen Jacobs’ action to make it legal for women to be shirtless wasn’t immune to sexualization, despite the clearly non-sexual nature of her action; men (BOOBS!) hooted, men (BOOBS!) called out, and the media, no doubt reflecting a decision made by a man (BOOBS!), or perhaps a thoughtless woman, continues to use the sexualized “topless” instead of “shirtless” when reporting about the issue (BOOBS!).  Imagine the response had Jacobs gone shirtless while also wearing short shorts exposing half buttocks.  It would have been, to understate, a mixed message.

And that is, essentially, the problem with SlutWalk.  High heels, exposed legs, pushed-up breasts, and a made-up faces sends a message that one is sexually available (which is why it’s appalling to me that it has become convention for women to wear heels and make-up in public every day all day) (those who accept that convention accept the view that women should be, or at least should seem to be, sexually available every day all day).(3)  And if it doesn’t send a message that you’re sexually available, what message does it send?  That you’re sexually attractive?  Back to the top—what are you hoping to attract?  (And why are you trying to attract that when you’re at work, working?)

d) “Women have a right to tease!” That seems to be the message SlutWalk conveys, given the likelihood that women who present themselves as sexually attractive aren’t actually trying to be sexually attractive to everyone or, at least, aren’t sexually available to everyone. And that’s a message that many women would not  Especially those who know about the provocation defence.

There’s nothing wrong with extending invitations to sex.  Doing so in public in such a non-specific way—that’s the problem.  Especially given men’s inability to pick up on subtle cues and/or their refusal to understand the difference between yes and no, let alone yes and maybe.  Maybe when men can handle a sexually charged atmosphere without assaulting…  Maybe when other men penalize, one way or another, those who can’t handle a sexually charged atmosphere without assaulting…

In the meantime, we’re living in an occupied country, a country occupied by morally-underdeveloped people with power who think women are just walking receptacles for their dicks.  So women who make themselves generally available, or present themselves as being generally available, are, simply, putting themselves at great risk (and, yes, in a way, getting what they asked for): some STDs are fatal; others are incurable; most have painful symptoms.  And pregnancy has a life-long price tag.(4)

 

(1) There’s a difference between attractive and sexually attractive.  At least, there should be.  Perhaps because men dominate art and advertising, the two have been equivocated.  (No doubt because everything is sexual for them. ) (Which may be to say, everything is about dominance for them.)

(2) Maybe part of her smiles to think of herself as a slut.  She’s a bad girl, she’s dangerous, she’s taking risks, she’s a wild girl for once in her life.  But that’s exactly what they want.  Sexual access.  No-strings-attached sex.  We fell for that in the 60s too.  Free love, sure, we’re not prudes, we’re okay with our bodies, we’re okay with sex, we’re ‘with it’.  But they never took us seriously.  They never considered us part of the movement.  Behind our backs, they’d snicker and say the best position for a woman is prone ( Stokely Carmichael) (read your history, learn about your past).

(3) Of course there’s the possibility that if/when women forego the heels, bared legs, accentuated breasts and butts, and make-up, men will consider a little ankle to be an open invitation.  Which just means the issue isn’t attire at all.  It’s being female.  In a patriarchy.  (Which still means SlutWalk is off-target.)

(4) I hear the objections already: ‘No, wearing high heels and make-up doesn’t mean I’m sexually available!  That’s the point!’  (And around and around we go.)  Then why do you wear high heels and make-up?  Seriously, think about it: high heels make the leg more shapely, attracting the male gaze, which follows your legs up…; make-up makes your face younger, supposedly prettier, lipstick attracts the male gaze to your lips…  If you just want to be attractive, then what you do to your body wouldn’t be sexualized: you’d wear funky gold glittered hiking boots, you’d paint an iridescent rainbow across your face, you’d do a hundred other aesthetically interesting things…

 

And here’s something else that would never happen to a man …

So this guy in our neighborhood has early Alzheimers and dizzy spells.  He’s looking for a babysitter (his word) and someone to cook for him and do his cleaning so he doesn’t have to go into a home.  And he asked me.

I have no experience babysitting.  And absolutely no aptitude for it.

Yes, I do my own cooking and cleaning, but I have no interest in it, at all, and do as little as possible.

So why did he ask me?  Because I’m a middle-aged woman.  Apparently that’s what middle-aged women do, that’s what we are, that’s what we’re for.

Yes, I’ve been friendly with him, stopping to chat or at least wave when I walk by (as a result of which he once asked me if I like sex and whether I’m any good at it—apparently that’s another thing women do, are, are for), but I doubt that friendliness on the part of a man would have indicated that he’s available for babysitting, cooking, or cleaning (or sex).

I’ve got three degrees, I used to be a philosophy instructor, I’ve published several books, and I’m currently making a living as a freelancer.  Would a man with such credentials be asked to be someone’s babysitter and do their cooking and cleaning?

Ah, but this guy doesn’t know I’m all that.  And that’s also telling.  If I were man who has lived in this neighborhood (small, rural) for twenty-five years, everyone would likely know all of that about me.  But I don’t go around announcing these things, and no one’s ever asked.  Because they just assume I’m—well, none of that.  After all, I’m just a middle-aged woman.

P.S. – Spread the word – I invite women to add their own “And here’s something else that would never happen to a man” entries via the comments function.  I’d love for this post to turn into a blog sort of like ‘What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?’

 

Solo Women’s Invisible Economic Expenses

It really hit home when my father gave me twenty bucks for a pizza, his treat.  As if I were a teenager.  Instead of a 50-year-old woman with a mortgage to pay, property taxes,  and monthly bills for oil, electricity, phone, internet, tv, house insurance, car insurance…  Amazing.  He was sitting in my living room at the time.  (My living room.)  A carpenter I’d hired to do some renovations on my house (my house) was outside working at the time.  And yet, he seemed to think I didn’t need, or couldn’t use, any real money.  He couldn’t see me as an adult negotiating my way in the real world, the one with jobs, paycheques, mortgages, and bills.

How did he think I came to own my own house?  Who did he think would be paying the carpenter?  Who does he think bought the car sitting in my driveway?  And pays for its repairs?

I don’t doubt for a minute that my parents have given my brother and my married sister a lot more than twenty bucks over the years (I divorced them thirty years ago, so I don’t really know) (and for that reason, I don’t feel entitled to anything from them, but that’s not my point), starting with the hundred-dollar (thousand-dollar?) gifts they gave them to start their households.  Said gifts were ostensibly wedding gifts, but hey, I had a household to start too.  Why do they get a new fridge and I get a hand-me-down blender just because they’re starting a new household with someone to whom they’ve contracted themselves?

And it’s not just my parents, of course.  The twenty-bucks-for-pizza incident wasn’t by any means the first time my economic expenses have been apparently invisible.  A neighbour (a kept woman) explained to me once that she and her husband were happy to have given the commission from the sale of their property to a certain real estate agent, a woman, (instead of selling the property without involving her, which they could have done), because her husband had recently died, so she was on her own now.  No similar sympathy has ever been directed my way.  And I’ve been on my own since I was twenty-one.

Why is this?  What can explain this phenomenon, a phenomenon that is surely causally related to women’s lower salaries?  The belief, clearly mistaken if anyone cared to open their eyes, that every woman is married?  (And every married woman is completely supported by her husband?)  The insistent belief that women are, or should be, considered children?  (And children don’t have adult needs, adult financial responsibilities…)

In 2009, American single women outnumbered married women (All the Single Ladies, Rebecca Traister).  So what do people like my parents think?  That banks waive our mortgage payments, and landlords never charge us rent; that insurance companies waive our premiums; that oil and propane companies fill our tanks, but never send us a bill; that we get our cars and bus passes for free; that we don’t have to pay for gas; that grocery stores let us walk out with all the food we want, for free; that our dentists and optometrists don’t charge us for check-ups; and that little elves come in the middle of the night and leave heaps of money so we can pay for whatever else we need.

 

This is your brain.  This is your brain on oxytocin: Mom.

I think many women realize that their children make them vulnerable; their love for them holds them hostage.  So many things they would do (leave?)—but for the children.  I wonder how many realize that their imprisonment is physiological.  And, in most cases, as voluntary as that first hit of heroin, cocaine, whatever.

‘But I love my children!’  That’s just the oxytocin talking.  You think you love them because you’re a good person, responsible, dutiful, and, well, because they’re so loveable, look at them!  That’s just the oxytocin talking.

All those women (most of them) who didn’t really want to become pregnant, but did anyway (because contraception and abortion weren’t easily available, and sex was defined as intercourse), and then claimed, smiling, that they wouldn’t have it any other way, they love their children—just the oxytocin talking.

The assurance that the labour will be worth it, that you’ll forget all about the pain as soon as you see your baby, as soon as you hold your baby—all true.  Because of the oxytocin.

Which you’ll get more of if you breastfeed.

And which you’ll get more of if you have a vaginal birth.  Which is why women who intend to give up their babies for adoption or who are surrogates should have caesareans.  It’ll reduce that drug-induced attachment, making it easier to follow through with their plans.  (Why doesn’t any medical professional tell them that?)

“Roused by the high levels of estrogen during pregnancy, the number of oxytocin receptors in the expecting mother’s brain multiplies dramatically near the end of her pregnancy. This makes the new mother highly responsive to the presence of oxytocin.” [2]   And, “Researchers have found that women’s oxytocin levels during their first trimester of pregnancy predict their bonding behavior with their babies during the first month after birthAdditionally, mothers who had higher levels of oxytocin across the pregnancy as well as the postpartum month also reported more behaviors that create a close relationship, such as singing a special song to their baby, bathing and feeding them in a special way, or thinking about them more. Quite simply, the more oxytocin you have, the more loving and attentive you are to your baby.” [1]

So those new mothers who don’t fall in love with their babies?  The ones who want to throw them out the window because they’re fucking crying all the time?  Their brains just didn’t produce enough, or perhaps any, oxytocin.  Post-partum depression?  It’s just oxytocin deficiency.  (It certainly doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.  I’d throw the kid out the window too.)

And here’s the kicker: oxytocin rewires your brain.  Permanently.  “Under the early influence of oxytocin, nerve junctions in certain areas of mother’s brain actually undergo reorganization, thereby making her maternal behaviors ‘hard-wired.’” [2]

You become a mom.  Permanently.  Oxytocin makes you sensitive to others’ needs (not just your baby’s needs, not just your kids’ needs).  It makes you want to fulfill others’ needs.  (Not just your baby’s needs, not just your kids’ needs.)  You become nurturing, affectionate, caring.  (You become a proper woman?  A woman who knows her place?)  Oxytocin changes your personality.  It changes you.  As any drug does.

The rest of us, those of us who live oxytocin-free?  We don’t give a damn.  We’re not into nurturing others—children or men.  When we say we don’t like kids?  We mean it.  And when you say ‘Oh, just wait until you have some of your own, you’ll change your mind!’  They’re right.  Because we’ll become doped up with oxytocin.

So if you don’t want to turn into a Mom, if you don’t want to dedicate your life to others, to meeting their needs and desires, Just Say No.

 

[1] http://www.ahaparenting.com/ages-stages/pregnancy/oxytocin-pregnancy-birth-mother

 

[2] http://www.attachmentparenting.org/support/articles/artchemistry.php

 

[3] http://www.psychologicalscience.org/media/releases/2007/feldman.cfm

How to Make a Man Grow Up

I was recently surprised to discover that in the U.S., men are required by law to register for the “selective service system”.

Only men.  I thought women were allowed in their military now.

And required.  I didn’t think they had ‘the draft’ anymore.

When I expressed my surprise, hoping to engage someone in conversation, the guy in line behind me (I was in a U.S. post office, where the brochures reminding men of their duty were prominently displayed) said he agreed that it should be mandatory to serve for two years: it makes ‘em ‘grow up’.

Hm.  How does teaching someone how to kill make a person grow up?  That is, what’s mature about learning how to kill?  What’s mature about actually killing?

Of course, being in the military is not just about killing.  Arguably.  But what’s mature about not being pressured to conform, to obey orders?

Sure, the forced routine, of physical exercise and psychological effort, might become a habit.  And that’s a good thing.  A grown-up thing.  But there are other, far better, ways to achieve that same result.

And sure, the presumed altruism—you’re serving your country, life’s not all about you—is good, mature.  But again, is killing someone for others really the best example of altruism we can put before young men?  Young men who need to grow up?

It seems to me the selective service system is a bad way to fix a bunch of other bad ways.

The question we have to ask is how do boys get to eighteen without growing up?

 

Men and Words (?)

As a result of a recent exchange on a blog in which I felt insulted enough by the patronizing tone taken by the moderator that I decided not to participate any further, while another commenter (a male) responded with a mere “LOL”, I asked yet another commenter (also a male) about why he thought our reactions were so different.  “Don’t men know when they’re being insulted?” I asked.

His response?  “We know, we just don’t care. At the end of the day, it’s just words on a
screen. Most of us don’t expect to convince anyone else, this is a social event of sorts for people who like to talk about stuff.”

He went on to say “We don’t expect to change anything, we’re just engaging in venting,
observation, and entertainment. If we learn something new, all the better.”

I find this horrifying.  Words have meaning!  Meaning is important!  At first I thought okay, maybe that’s just a philosopher/non-philosopher thing, but then I recalled conversations with male philosophers in which I similarly felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously, in which I felt like, the man nailed it, “entertainment”.

I don’t feel that when I speak with women on these matters.  So it’s a sexist thing, not a
philosopher thing.

But it’s not that men don’t take women seriously, it’s that they don’t take each other seriously either.  Suddenly their attitude toward debate—it’s a game—makes sense.

As for not expecting to convince or change, maybe that’s a non-teacher-non-social-activist thing, but again, if it’s a male thing, then again, it’s horrifying.  No wonder the world isn’t getting better and better: the people in power aren’t talking, thinking, acting to make it so.  Their discussions on policy are just “venting, observation, and entertainment”!

I wonder if at its root, it’s part of the male relationship to words.  Women are better with language, so it’s said, whether because of neurology or gendered upbringing; men are better with action, so it’s said, again whether by neurology or gendered upbringing.  So that would explain why women (in general, of course) consider words to be important, and men (in general, of course) don’t.