Tag Archives: feminism

Catching Up

I haven’t posted for over a month. I’ve posted articles in other places, but nothing here on Fluid Imagination. Part of the reason had to do with my job. During the last month, I wrote, built, and launched a new website for my school, and before that, I spent most of my free time developing the second-quarter schedule for all of our staff and students. You see, along with teaching, I’m also an administrator and marketing person, so things can get a little busy.

But a lot of things have been happening over the last month: sexual predators facing the music, President Trump’s administration circling the drain, Congressional Republicans stealing trillions of dollars from the future, the potential loss of Internet freedom, and so much more. Here’s a quick recap of what I’ve missed.

First and foremost is the continued outing of powerful sexual predators, assaulters, and harassers. While we can all applaud the takedown of powerful sleaze bags, in my own life, I’ve seen the #metoo movement help individuals come out against their not-so-famous assaulters. Several months ago, a person I know had fallen victim to a sexual predator, but with all of the shame around the issue, they had not gone to the police about it. Following  the publicity around these other cases though, and the way the predators have actually seen some consequences from their actions, the person I know gained the confidence to press charges against her perpetrator. What we’ve seen on the news is just a drop in the bucket, but if the (apparently) changing perceptions of assault victims continues towards belief rather than doubt, the world might actually improve a little bit.

Next, of course, is the way Comrade Trump’s administration continues to flounder in light of the Russia investigation. Without a doubt, the best explainer of all this stuff has been the Twitter feed of a professor of law and journalism at the University of New Hampshire, Seth Abramson.

If you’re not following Abramson on Twitter, get on it. The guy deserves a Pulitzer for the work he’s been doing.

Then, of course, there’s the incredible distribution of wealth from the 99% to the 1%, also known as H.R. 1: Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, which according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office will increase the deficit by $1.437 trillion over the next 10 years. The Senate snuck this thing through in the most ridiculous and cynical manner possible, and every relatively moderate Republican ought to be ashamed of themselves (the other Republicans are long past the ability to actually feel shame).

Along with reporting on that increase in the deficit, the CBO reports that “it is not practicable for a macroeconomic analysis to incorporate the full effects of all of the provisions in the bill…within the very short time available between completion of the bill and the filing of the committee report.” In other words, this bill is not only messed up from a content perspective, but from a process perspective too. By now, you’ve heard that this 400+ page bill was passed before anyone had the time to read it, and that the bill itself still contained handwritten amendments since they wouldn’t take the time to print out the changes.

Next, there’s the announcement from the chairman of the FCC that they’d like to repeal the rules that protect net neutrality. This is an incredibly colossal mistake, putting the freedom of the Internet into the corrupt and greedy hands of Comcast, Verizon, and others.

One member of the FCC, who posted in Op-Ed in the LA Times under the headline, “I’m on the FCC. Please stop us from killing net neutrality,” writes, “There is something not right about a few unelected FCC officials making such vast determinations about the future of the internet…Before my fellow FCC members vote to dismantle net neutrality, they need to get out from behind their desks and computers and speak to the public directly…When they do this, they will likely find that, outside of a cadre of high-paid lobbyists and lawyers in Washington, there isn’t a constituency that likes this proposal.”

Nobody but the telecoms want this bill. No real human being has complained about having an open internet that allows low-income individuals to access the same websites as high-income individuals, and mom-and-pop and startup organizations to access the same audience as multinational corporations such as Microsoft and Google.

No one wants this policy change. But because the FCC is run by a former Verizon employee, the policy change is going forward. And that sucks.

So…that should bring us up today. Hopefully, my next post won’t be another month from now.

I Have A Daughter

One of my Facebook friends recently posted an image that read: “What if I don’t have daughters and therefore no way of knowing that women are people? Good news, all women are people all the time, not just when assholes have daughters.”

On HuffPost, one writer criticized “a couple of celebrity men [who] put out statements or gave interviews about [Harvey Weinstein’s repeated assaults on women]…emphasizing that as fathers of daughters, they found this behavior abhorrent.”

My Facebook friend and this writer are pissed off because “men see each other as humans. And a lot of men still don’t view girls or women that way.” The “I have a daughter” trope confirms this reality because it stands as “the flip side [to] sexual assault. In both situations, a woman is an object — to grope or protect from groping.”

I get their anger. But I don’t think they’re giving the “transformative” power of having daughters enough credit (even though the HuffPo writer links to that article in her post). I don’t know if they’re fully grasping what that transformation consists of.

The goal of every feminist is to reduce the level of ignorance, to bring those who are not yet capable of it to the realization that women are people too. I’m not sure we have the right to judge the ways in which an individual is brought out of that ignorance. To do so is to put the method ahead of the result.

The HuffPo writer makes an assumption that the men who make these comments do so to protect their daughters from being groped, and in some ways, I know that they do, but couldn’t they also be making these statements because they’ve grown as human beings? Not because they want to protect their daughters, but because they want to defend the rights of everyone to live their lives free from harassment and oppression?

It is a process to bring someone out of their ignorance, and it takes generations to do it on such a massive scale, but with each parent, teacher, and celebrity brought out of their ignorance, humanity gains one more person capable of providing those who are most easily influenced with earlier and earlier opportunities to be brought out of the systemic ignorance.

I appreciate the desire to critique the “I have a daughter” trope, but it seems as if it’s being done with too much judgement, almost as if we’re screaming at someone for not getting it earlier, when maybe we ought to appreciate that, given the society they continue to live in, they ever got it at all.

People only know what other people can teach them. Let’s not forget that children are often our greatest teachers.

There’s More To Sex Ed Than Just Sex

How do you teach 14, 15, and 16-year-old boys not to objectify women?

I suspect the answer lies in empathy. You have to get them to understand what it feels like to become an object. That’s the only thing that would work. They’d have to step outside of their own lust and imagine being the unwilling object of that lust.

But you couldn’t approach something like that head on; they’d  laugh you out of the room. You couldn’t approach it from a perspective of media criticism either, because the concept would be too abstract for them to grasp it. You’d have to come at it on the sly, sneak it in under the cover of something else.

The something else couldn’t be academic, not for the kids I’m talking about, the ones whose ignorant state of objectifying women could eventually lead to the criminal stage of assaulting them.

An easy answer is literature and film, since the best lessons are often communicated in the language of story — but again, not for the kids I’m talking about, the ones who don’t read and who can’t sit still long enough to watch a whole movie.

So what is the hard answer? How do you teach 14, 15, and 16 year old boys not to objectify women?

Is it the kind of job that requires a woman to lead it, or maybe two women in tandem, or maybe a combination of the sexes, one to speak from the experience of the object and the other from the experience of the objectifier?

And if, for want of the students’ maturity, you can’t approach it head on, then how best to approach it?

Or maybe, in this instance, you just have to push past the maturity question and treat the subject as honestly as you’d treat math. Not by hiding it in something else, but by saying, straight up, “We’re going to talk about objectifying women,” and let the conversation go as it may, immaturity and all, until you finally get enough buy in on the seriousness of the topic that even a 14, 15, or 16-year-old boy will know enough to pay attention.

One out of every six women in America will be the victim of a rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. Nearly one in every two women will be the victim of some kind of sexual assault other than rape in her lifetime. Nearly 25% of rape perpetrators are under the age of 20.

This part of a young man’s education matters. And because it affects the way the person treats 50% of the world’s population, maybe it matters more than most other elements of their education.

If we’re to stop the violence on women, we need to do it by curing the systemic causes in our 14, 15, and 16-year-old boys. They are tomorrow’s college students and criminals, and they need to understand the difference between biological lust and the interpersonal violence that comes from sexual objectification.

It’s too important to leave out.