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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the day “December 2, 2012”

Abusive Homeschoolers

This is what happened to a young woman who wrote about the extremely negative consequences of being homeschooled:

Just over a year ago, I almost stopped blogging. I received such negativity in response to a blog post I had written that blogging ceased to be fun. I very nearly quit, and was only able to enjoy blogging again by changing my approach to handling comment threads. What was the post I wrote that generated such a response? It was a post in I wrote about my struggles to overcome the the serious socialization problems I faced as a result of having been homeschooled.

Something else happened after that post, though. While homeschool advocates denied my experience, I also received emails from other young people who had been homeschooled. They thanked me for giving voice to their experiences. They thanked me for letting them know they weren’t the only ones with these experiences. They thanked me for speaking out. Still, it was a long time after that first post before I dared to criticize homeschooling on this blog again. The response I had gotten on that post was too triggering for me to dare repeating too soon. I still don’t write about homeschooling very often, in large part because of this.

I had the exact same experience with my post on homeschooling: a crowd of completely unhinged, nasty, abusive freaks descended on the blog, harassed me, cyberbullied me, and threatened me and my family members. I’m an adult, I don’t depend on this people in any way, so I was able to push back against them by threatening legal action.

And now imagine what happens to poor, miserable children who are completely dependent and who already are excluded from normal human interactions by their selfish, hysterical, horrible parents. Just like the blogger I quoted, I took quite some time to recover from the homeschoolers’ bullying. These people are so unhinged and stupid that they can’t tolerate a person simply expressing an opinion on her own blog. It horrifies me to imagine how they trample on their children all day and every day.

Still, as Libby Anne and I discovered, the victims of homeschooling appreciate it greatly when somebody speak out about the damage that is being done to them. When homeschoolers attacked me or Libby Anne, it wasn’t really anonymous bloggers they were trying to shut up. In our words, they recognized everything their own children wanted to say to them but never dared to. The intensity of their rage was proof that they are aware of how wrong their actions are and how abusive they are being.

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Why “Female Privilege List” Is Garbage

I’m sure many of you remember my deconstruction of the ridiculous “male privilege list” (if not, see here and here). Now I want to do the same for the “female privilege list” I found here. Before we begin, please note how this list is as filled with passive voice statements as the male privilege one.

1. I am physically able to give birth to another human being, and then do my best to mold her or him into the kind of person I choose.

Women spend over 40 years of their lives – the most productive years for any human being – worrying about getting pregnant. Since most of the women in the world are not that eager to give birth every year, this “privilege” becomes a harsh burden. And then what about all those women who are not physically able to give birth to another human being. The infertile, the menopausal, the transgender women. What does this make them? Men? Or shall we invent a third gender for them?

2. I am not automatically expected to be the family breadwinner.

The passive voice will drive me bananas one day. But leaving that aside, it is true that it’s easier for women in a few very rich countries to avoid working based on the shape of their genitals. This “privilege”, however, only favors those women who don’t want to develop professionally, intellectually, personally, socially, etc. Every other kind of woman suffers because of this “privilege.” How come, then, the list assigns as a privilege to all of us something that only a few are capable of wanting or enjoying?

3. I feel free to wear a wide variety of clothes, from jeans to skimpy shorts to dresses as appropriate, without fear of ridicule.

OK, this is plain weird. Since when are men not allowed to wear jeans? As for short shorts, in a wide variety of professional settings, neither men nor women can wear them. Women get ridiculed and slut-shamed for their clothes very very VERY often, so I’m not really sure what the idiot creator of this idiotic piece of arrant idiocy was trying to say here.

4. I can choose to remain seated to meet most people.

When was this written? In 1812? The habit of men getting up whenever women entered a room has been dead and gone for such a long time that not even my grandparents would have witnessed it.

5. I am not ashamed to ask for others’ perspectives on an issue.

The Dean and the Chair at my university keep sending out endless emails beseeching us to offer our perspective on a huge quantity of issues. I’m now realizing that they are not men, as I always supposed, but women who just don’t perform femininity very well. Or something. I have no other way to interpret this bizarre statement.

6. I feel free to exhibit a wide range of emotions, from tears to genuine belly laughter, without being told to shut up.

It’s undeniable that men find it harder to express emotions publicly. But this idea is worded in such a clumsy way that this item on the list bothers me as much as all others. Who on earth tells men to shut up when they laugh?

7. My stereotypical excesses in shopping, clothes, jewelry, personal care and consumption of chocolate usually are expected, even the source of jokes.

So it’s a privilege to be the butt of a joke. How great! I’m now extending to the list’s author an invitation to come to my blog where I will subject her to the kind of ridicule that will make her feel like the most privileged creature on Earth. As for all those “stereotypical” excesses in clothing and jewelry, the spoiled brat who wrote this stupid list cannot even imagine how many women around the world don’t buy any jewelry at all because they have no money for it. And then there are all those women who hate chocolate and dislike shopping for clothes or jewelry. They must be joining the ranks of men, too.

8. Public policies generally offer me an opportunity to bond with my offspring.

A very mysterious statement, indeed. Which public policies would those be? The fact that the maternity leave is non-existent in this country?

9. I am among the first to get off a sinking ship.

Yes, we can finally figure out the actual age of the list’s author. She must have been one of the people who survived the Titanic sinking. The old lady must have gotten batty in her dotage. Well, that’s old-age privilege, I guess. You can always enjoy senility for all it’s worth.

10. I can usually find someone with superior strength to help me overcome physically challenging obstacles, such as changing a tire or cutting a huge Christmas tree.

It is sad that this person hasn’t found anybody to help her overcome the huge intellectual obstacles she is facing. Men and women can all usually find companies that provide tree-cutting and tire-changing services. Last week, I had two people deliver my new bed and install it. They didn’t do it because they were men or had superior strength. Actually, I could have easily lifted either of them off the ground. The reason why they performed this service for me was not that I’m a woman but that I’m a customer who paid them to do it.

11. Changing my mind is seen as a birthright or prerogative.

OK, now this is getting really offensive. Has this loser ever heard words “date rape” and “spousal rape”? Is she aware of how phenomenally hard it is still to prosecute rape in court precisely because of the idea that women cannot change their mind and withdraw consent to sex? As for all other areas of life, I suggest she put her wallet where her dirty mouth is and announce at work, “I have changed my mind about performing this assignment because that is my birthright as a woman.” I will enjoy seeing how fast she will land in the street.

This is getting too long, so I will put the rest of the post under the fold. Make sure you read it because it’s very good.

Read more…

US History

The movie Lincoln has inspired me to read the most popular textbooks on the US history because there were things in the film I didn’t know and found hard to understand. For example, when Blair says, “I’m a founder of this conservative anti-slavery party”, I find that hard to comprehend. I know, of course, that the Democrats were pro-slavery in the XIXth century but I don’t get that.

I will have a lot of time for non-work-related reading during my semi-sabbatical that starts in 6 days, so I have decided to read A History of the American People by Paul Johnson and A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. The two authors belong to opposing ideological camps, which will help me see competing points of view. I will tell you what I discover as a result of my readings.

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