7.26.2012

Dear Self: You know better. DON'T. READ. THE FUCKING COMMENTS.

I've been spending some spare time lately fucking around on Experience Project, a social networking site designed around connecting people not by geographical location, or demographics, but by shared experiences.  You join groups that are all titled "I have [$EXPERIENCE]" - "gotten divorced" or "gone skydiving" or something like that - and you always know that within the group you're talking about something you all know.  It's interesting.

Well, EP has a "questions" section, where people post random questions and other people answer them, vote for their favorite answers, reply to other answers, etc.  It's slightly above the level of YouTube comments.  Most of the time.  I'm developing a reputation as a feminist killjoy* because I slap down bullshit with glee and don't let people get away with shit when they're arguing with me.  This pleases me greatly.  ^_^

Today, I was browsing around, and came across the question "How do you define a 'real lady'?"

Oh, shit.  So I waded right in.

My initial reply: "Do you identify as a woman?" "Yes" "Are you okay with being called a lady?" "Yes" - there you go, that's how you define a real lady.  I'm not a lady, because I fcking HATE that term (considering its history of being used to judge and restrict "appropriate" standards of female behavior) and will vehemently correct anyone who tries to call me a lady, real or otherwise.  Tautology it may be, but a "real lady" is simply a person who identifies as a lady. 
Another reply: "A female with self-control, who is quick to hold her tongue.  She delights in everything lovely and feminine and she isn't afraid to speak her mind when needed.  Compassion and passion are two of her best qualities, along with nurturing, serving others, unselfishness and poise.  She is passionate about her beliefs and she accomplishes anything she puts her mind to.  Her peers respect her for being truly female." with my next comment nested underneath as a response: "...ew.  Thank you for reinforcing that I am NOT, and do not EVER want to be, a "lady".  Notice how it basically requires you to STFU, put yourself last, and treat yourself as if you matter less than other people?  Yeah no.  If it means hewing to ancient, restrictive, patriarchal stereotypes of "appropriate" womanhood...all aboard the Nope Train to Fuck-that-ville."  and another response saying "Well said", although since EP only nests to a single level, it's unclear whether they're commending the OP or my response to it.
There is not enough EW in the world for that OP.  I notice that "speak her mind" is qualified with "when needed", which is in the passive voice, raising the question, who decides when it's needed?  (Hint: it's never the woman doing the speaking.)  We then get three different synonyms for "Put other people's needs ahead of your own at all times, you come last," and end with gender policing.  I think I need a shower.

Another comment: "Treats others and expects to be treated with respect, compassion, has strength and dignity, humor."
See, this is not a bad definition.  I'm still never going to back it myself, because it still involves an arbitrary definition against which a person can be measured and "disqualified", but it's at least closer to just a measure of a good person than archaic gender roles.

Another comment: "Feminine, charming, romantic, sentimental, motherly, refrains from gossip, independent when the need arises, smart and willing to please her man in bed."
Oh, gross, another one.  "Feminine" - how are we defining that?  It's one of those arbitrary things that, like "when needed", is never judged by the person performing the action, but always judged by the male opinions around her.  "Motherly" - oh goody, here we go with the biological essentialism and reducing women to their uteruses (whether they have them or not, etc).  "Refrains from gossip" - so uh, men get to gossip without restriction or something?  Ooh look, "when needed" rears its head again!  And then the kicker, "willing to please her man in bed."  Heteronormative, assumes active sexuality and dating, places female sexuality subordinated in service to male sexual desires, and I notice there's nothing about eager to receive reciprocal pleasure...Guess men don't need to please their ladies in bed.  Gods, I'm glad I not a lady!  More orgasms for me!

Like I said - slightly above the level of YouTube comments sections.  Between this one and the "ZOMG OBESITYZZZ" and "TEH GAYZZ IN MILITARY" questions I've also been playing whack-a-dumbfuck with, I'm about tapped out for the day.

Feminist killjoy, out.

*I actually just ordered this necklace today.  I'm so excited for it!  I also ordered a literal flying fuck.

7.25.2012

"Pre-Pregnant" Goes a Step Further

Is...is that the sound of gravel shifting ominously under our feet, sliding us a few more feet down the slippery slope to A Handmaid's Tale?

Yep.

A nonprofit in Minnesota has announced an initiative to stock bars and other venues that serve alcohol with free pregnancy tests, and encourage women to take a pregnancy test before ordering/drinking alcohol.

Image of rows of elevator buttons overlaid with text reading "This is wrong on so many levels"
Like, we're talking SO many levels I'm pretty sure I'm going to forget to address some of them because my mental buffer only holds so many things at a time.  So here's a not remotely comprehensive list:

  • Packed with a FUCKTON of normative expectations and assumptions - presumes that all women are cis, fertile, hetero, partnered/sexually active, and would give a shit about the health of a putative fetus if they knew one was there.*  Ignores the existence of trans* women, trans* men, AFAB nonbinary people, infertile cis women, cis lesbians with cis partners, asexual people, and probably others I'm not thinking of right now.
  • Actually, despite our cultural myths about drinking during pregnancy, research has shown that alcohol in moderation may not be the ZOMG TERRIBLE THING we make it out to be - "moderation" defined as a glass of wine a couple times a week, basically.  So they can fuck off with the scientifically-uncertain shaming of pregnant people.
  • It's voluntary - for now.  But how long before it becomes voluntary-but-expected, in much the same way people are expected not to smoke or drink during pregnancy, where it's not actually illegal but there are serious social penalties for it?  
  • Speaking of illegal and actual penalties, we've already reached the point of prosecuting for miscarriages.  Bei Bei Shuai, for attempting suicide, surviving, but having her fetus not make it.  Melissa Rowland, for refusing a C-section her doctor "recommended" (can you even call it a recommendation anymore, when refusing gets you arrested after the fact?) and one of her twins being stillborn a few days later (the other survived).  I don't exactly have a lot of confidence that this particular slippery slope somehow won't make it all the way to arresting women for failing to take their pregnancy test before having a drink.
  • In addition to all the assumptions this crap makes, it also forces the label "pre-pregnant" onto every pregnancy-capable person.  It focuses on the capacity for pregnancy to a frightening degree, placing everyone with a uterus into a perpetual state of  Schrödinger's Pregnancy, where our actions are forever viewed through the lens of "but what if you're pregnant?"  It's a great tactic, if your goal is to normalize a view of [people with uteruses/people assumed to be women]** as primarily babymaking bodies.  Not so great for honoring a view of us as human beings, actual and whole.***
  • Usually you don't have to pee until AFTER you've had a few drinks...?
On the plus side, free pregnancy tests if you know where to find them.  Just grab a handful and waltz out to distribute them among your friends.

*True story: I drank while pregnant (for those just joining the party, I had an abortion), because I knew I wasn't going to be having it so what the hell did it matter?  And I was already being inconvenienced enough by the damn thing, I wasn't going to restrict my lifestyle because of it too.  InB4 antichoicers pointing to my cavalier attitude as "ALL WOMEN WHO GET ABORTIONS ARE SELFISH CUNTS LIKE THIS ONE".  Fuckoff.
**Anything to do with pregnancy is about people with a uterus.  But this sort of thing, since your average Joe doesn't have an Xray machine embedded in their eyes, will in practice be thrown at any person assumed to be female for reasons of presentation.  So there's a weird sort of overlap/gap thing going on here, and I can't think of a less-clunky way to phrase it.
***"...Or we could talk more."

7.18.2012

"Too equal" and Nikki Haley's Contempt for Rape Victims

I reblogged a post the other day about Nikki Haley's line-veto of the entire budget for the South Carolina Department of Health's network of rape crisis centers, with a quote of her truly reprehensible "justfication" for doing so:
The problem is it's like when you give something to a child. They're always going to figure out how they can get away with a little more ... [the rape crisis funding/centers] distract from the agency’s broader mission of protecting South Carolina’s public health.
 I set that post to push to Twitter as well, figuring that Haley's gross disrespect for survivors deserved to be as widely disseminated as possible.  A follower RT'd it, adding "Clarity in party for people vs. cash improves".

At the time they said it, I had a hard time parsing it (obviously I've been off twitter too much of late), but I've eventually understood it as a comment on the GOP's priorities of people versus profit, and how a move like this makes that ever more blatantly clear.  Rape victims are a "distraction" because it's a nice tidy half-mil line item to cut from the budget, which is far more important than actually caring for people who need it.

Relatedly, I was sitting in on a meeting at work the other day, about a jobsite that's just getting started.  I was involved in the hiring process for the half dozen employees we have out there, three of whom are PoC, including one WoC.  The job superintendent (who is a gigantic dumbfuck we have to patiently, carefully lead by the nose into understanding anything the company needs to do or needs him to be in compliance with) was saying there was a guy he knows that he wanted to hire on as well, and he offered as a selling point that this guy is black, which would add to our EEO numbers.  (Projects by a government entity, which comprise the bulk of what we do, have minority participation targets - usually that I've seen, 16.9% non-white and 9% female.)

Tracy, the general manager for our office, shook his head.  "No," he said, "We've already made our target numbers for this job.  We don't want to go over those numbers."

I raised an eyebrow at him from my corner of the table, not quite pushy enough to speak up but wanting an explanation.  They're used to my being a bit behind on industry-specific stuff, by now, and mostly don't mind explaining things like EEO jobsite quotas, or submittals, or whatever.  He explained for my benefit (and Ron's, too, I think, as he's an older guy who probably hasn't had to worry too much about this sort of thing for most of his career), "We have to try to meet those numbers, but we don't want to go over them if we can avoid it, because they might raise the target number for next time if we do and then we have to scramble even more to try to make it."  He added, "I don't personally care if this guy is black, blue, or purple, but we don't want to overdo our EEO numbers."  (Yes, the "purple people" made an appearance; I narrowly managed to avoid rolling my eyes or snorting in disdain, though I'm not sure I kept "you have got to be fucking kidding me" off my face.)

You wouldn't necessarily think this is related to a philosophy of government that prizes profits (or low expenditures) over people.  And yet as I went back to my desk after the meeting, shaking my head at that little revelation, it seemed to me that it did.

See, why do we care about minimizing the need to make EEO targets when it comes time for hiring for a jobsite?  Because it takes longer and is more work on our part to find qualified people belonging to an underrepresented minority in the field, as opposed to scooping up the first half-dozen white guys who walk in the door.  That's more time and work and, in the end, money that we spend trying to meet this quota.  The bid process for getting government contracts is actually pretty competitive (at least at the levels we're working at; this isn't Halliburton here), and it comes down to who can shave the most off their final bid amount.  Who can bring in the lowest number?  We lost a bid two weeks ago by a mere $1300, for example.

So when we have this EEO target to meet, if it goes up and we have to spend more time and effort or delay starting a job in order to make our target number, we have to either take it out of our bottom line, or raise our price a bit and risk getting fewer or no bids at all because of it.  The government has a limited budget and wants to spend as little as possible, and it's up to the contractors to give them the cheapest possible route.  The system is intended to save the government money, not to do the best for the people being hired with the government's money.  Thus contractors have an incentive to do the bare minimum and deliberately do no more than that.  It becomes an incentive for tokenism, rather than an incentive for inclusion.

I'm not saying I'm against the idea of EEO targets and such - quite the opposite.  I'd like to see a better system than crude number quotas, perhaps, but I don't know that any such exists at present, and something is better than nothing.  I'm just noticing that this system is rigged to fail, in a very profits-versus-people manner.  If we made EEO a priority instead of an legally-obliged afterthought - if we committed to spending a bit more specifically on hiring and training personnel beyond the average white-and-male demographic at the government level, thus taking the burden off the individual contractors, who knows?  We might have a situation where actual employment diversity is encouraged and achieved, rather than "encouraged" on paper but discouraged in practice.

But the Republicans have been so absurdly successful in shifting the discourse to be about OUR TAX DOLLARS and GOVERNMENT WASTE and INEFFICIENCY and PORK, rather than centering it on how to best help the people they govern, that a Republican governor can wipe out a budget for helping rape victims without batting an eyelash, and companies seeking government contracts deliberately restrict the number of PoC and/or women they hire, all in the service of the almighty dollar.

"Fuck the people.  We just want money."
  - the GOP

7.15.2012

New Layout - Accessibility check, please?

Hey everyone, no new content today.  Just wanted to announce the redesign - I got tired of wrangling with a template designed for the old blogger interface and being unable to edit it easily; besides, it was really time for something new - and ask if anyone has any accessibility issues that I need to address.  I'm no expert on web accessibility, but I do want this space to be accessible for all, so please let me know if there's anything that needs to be changed!

7.06.2012

Microaggressive Naming

[This is dredged up from the drafts folder, so context-dependent time references are no longer correct, but I'm too lazy to fix it.  Sorry for the lack of posting, some personal life shit has been going on and it has fucked me up but good.  Even with meds, I'm only just managing to be mostly functional; blogging is often beyond me, cause it takes too much focus, concentration, interest, and energy.  Well-wishes, good vibes, prayers, etc are welcome for Ozz's and my relationship, and for me personally if you want.  Sorry again and thanks.]

It's bid day today!  I work for a general contractor, and we have not one, but TWO jobs bidding today.  Which means that, since a major part of my job includes handling the incoming faxes and making sure everything gets to the right people, I'm pretty busy today with the dozens and dozens of bids subcontractors are faxing in.  (Not too busy to write irritated posts, though!)  Because in the last batch of faxes, there was this lovely little gem of a company:

The header of an incoming fax from a company named "Shutter-Up Window Coverings", whose logo seems to be two stylistically-drawn people, one in a skirt with hands on hips, the other in pants casually leaning against the skirted figure with an arm draped around her neck.
Now the name itself was irritating enough when I saw it that I intended to post about it already, considering that it basically boils down to a creaky old "joke" about lol women talking amirite?

But the fun part was when, after I'd printed this fax off and given it to John, our lead estimator, I heard him laugh a few minutes later and poke his head into our general manager's office.

"Hey Tracy, did you see this sub bid?  I love the name!"

And Tracy looks at the copy I left on his desk and cracks up, and I overhear them reminiscing about another misogynistically entertainingly-named subcontractor from a few bids ago, "Gutter-Done" (a play on git-r-done).

Yeah, because play-on-word names that reference silencing women and fucking them are soooo hilarious, amirite?  Not like there are any women in your office - or working for those companies, for that matter - who might end up feeling excluded and demeaned by it, by the reminder that when it's convenient, y'all are quite pleased to assert your male privilege and participate in sexism, and even find it funny.  I know I totes feel like a valued and equal person to my coworkers while they're laughing over shutting women up.

(And this is not even mentioning the latest fuckery from yesterday, which I ranted about on tumblr here.)

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