Femininity, Part I

Femininity has a bad rap in North America nowadays. High heels, dresses, skirts and make-up are a sign that you are a miserable Evangelical victim in search of a husband to validate your existence by marrying you.

I’m not North American, though. I come from a different culture. And I believe that my feminism is as valid as anybody else’s. I don’t think that I have to modify who I am because of other people’s struggles, issues, and complexities. I totally get it that, for North American women, not enacting their femininity is a feminist achievement. For me, however, it’s the opposite.

As we often joke in my culture, in the year when American women gained their right to become miners and fire-fighters, we gained our right not to. In the Soviet Union, women gained the right to vote and the right (actually, the obligation) to work in 1917. Since then, everybody worked. You will be hard-pressed to find a Russian-speaking woman my age whose great-grandmother, grand-mother, mother and aunts did not work. Not working for any reason was punished with a jail sentence in the Soviet Union.

Outside of the short-lived Stalin-era ban on abortion, abortion on demand was the only available form of contraception. I know women who had over 40 abortions in their lifetime for the simple reason that absolutely no other means of contraception were available. (Except for the ultra-rich, of course.) So the right to an abortion was not the issue Russian-speaking feminists were concerned with either. (Things are changing now, and the corrupt Russian Orthodox Church is spearheading a campaign to destroy women’s reproductive rights in Russia, though.)

On top of that, the absence of any hygienic aides for menstruation and forced gynecological exams made women hate everything that reminded them of their gender.

Our feminist issues were different. The Soviet Union lost a huge segment of its male population to the genocide and the wars. After World War II, we had 1 male per 3 females in the population. The result of this demographic imbalance was that men became a precious commodity to be cherished and coveted.

(To be continued. . . soon. . .)

Patriarchy Loves Feminism

Or, rather, the way feminism is practiced by many people today.

I rarely agree with anything as completely as I do with this:

 Contemporary feminism barely threatens to patriarchy. In fact, if the patriarchy wanted to design a non-threatening feminism, it would come up with a movement like today’s. A prominent feminist blog engages in the practice of “trigger warnings.” At the beginning of a post, it will say “trigger warning: misogyny, depression.” So the blog treats its readers as delicate flowers who need to be warned of a subsequent discussion of some troubling subject.

And the consequences?

 Many women either reject the feminist label for themselves (no wonder, if this is what feminism has come to), or use it as a cover for their choice to live a completely patriarchal lifestyle.

You can read the entire thing here.

Sperm and Womb Differ. Get Over It.

Many people seem to forget that feminism is not aimed at denying the physiological differences between men and women. Nobody in their right mind can argue that male and female bodies are the same. It’s the social, economic, legal and political inequalities that feminism addresses and combats. Recognizing that, to give an example, women menstruate and men don’t is not sexist. It just recognizes a fact of objective reality.

The reason why I just gave this little explanation on what feminism actually does is the following post which bandies about the word “sexism” without any understanding what sexism entails:

I wrote about Flores-Villar v. United States last year. The Times summarizes the state of the law in 1974, when Ruben Flores-Villar was born: “Children born outside the country to an unmarried American parent are considered American citizens at birth if the parent lived in the United States before the child was born. For a mother, the required period of residence is one year. For a father, it is 10 years, five of them after he turns 14. Fathers must also prove parenthood and pledge to support the child.”

The case involves Ruben Flores-Villar, whose father — but not mother — is an American. Ruben was born in Mexico and moved to the US when he was two months old. Ruben has been declared an “illegal immigrant” and deported to Mexico. Ruben’s father was sixteen years old when Ruben was born, and so the “five of them after he turns 14″ provision of the law was impossible to meet.

(It’s important to note that immigration law was altered in the 1980s; the current law is still sexist and should be fixed, but the discrepancy is not as large as it was when Ruben was born.)

The reason why there is such a difference in how mothers and father are treated under this law is obvious. It’s the same reason why women who donate eggs get paid huge sums of money while men who donate sperm get nothing. Contributing sperm versus contributing an egg + carrying the fetus to term + giving birth to the baby while putting your own health and sometimes life at risk are not equal. They are unequal not because society is sexist but because nature made it so.

Sexist societies always deny the value of fatherhood. They present everything that has to do with child-rearing as an exclusively female area of interest and expertise. Mass media present men as inept fathers who are always in need of being guided by women to whom parenting skills come “naturally.” This sexist system ends up hurting everybody.

The above-mentioned law is not about fatherhood, however. It’s obviously aimed at avoiding the creation of a black market which will be inundated with sperm for sale the second these restrictions are lowered.

Palin Pregnancy Deniers Gain Traction

Do you remember how I told you about this freaky group of conspiracy theorists who are bent on proving that Sarah Palin’s youngest child isn’t really hers? Those creeps who have spent years poring over Palin’s photos taken during her pregnancy trying to analyze whether “this is how pregnant women really look”? The ones who keep staring at the kid’s ears through a magnifying glass to see whether they have changed over time?

As long as they remained a marginalized group of crazed woman-haters, nobody needed to care much about them. However, certain pseudo-feminists have now started paying attention to these freaks and offering them a platform to vent their frustrations arising from not being allowed to rummage around in Palin’s underwear as much as they want. Recently, Hugo Schwyzer has decided to lend credence to this movement of Babygate (their favorite word) conspiracy theorists and went on the blog of one of their most rabid representatives, Lora Novak, for an interview.

If you decide to read the interview, you will see that every question Novak asks is that of a passionate anti-feminist who could care less about Palin’s politics. All that motivates her is the hatred towards women who manage to have children, extremely successful careers, and remain strikingly beautiful. What saddens me is that Hugo Schwyzer would try to attract his immense fan base to the website of this anti-woman conspiracy theorist and lend credence to her crazy ideas by entertaining fantasies about Babygaters’ unreasonable scenarios:

 If she did pretend that her daughter’s baby was hers, she did something that would be entirely in keeping with her faith and her frontier ethos.   This isn’t new.  A hell of a lot of children have grown up being told that their mothers were their older sisters, and that their biological grandmothers were their moms.

It is truly hard to find anybody who dislikes Palin’s politics more than I do. However, I would never participate in fueling the Babygate insanity by suggesting that it made an ounce of sense. I don’t remember a single discussion of whether a male politician’s children are actually his. Taking into account that it is a lot easier to be mistaken about who a kid’s father is than to doubt the identity of the mother, it is obvious that Babygaters are motivated by nothing other than their passionate hatred of women.

My blog doesn’t have nearly the popularity of Hugo’s (yet). However, when I blogged about Palin’s pregnancy deniers, I refused to link to their blogs. I didn’t want to attract attention to their vile anti-women propaganda and promote them by sending my readers to their anti-feminist  resources. I only wish that other people who claim to be feminists thought twice before offering support to woman haters of Novak’s ilk.