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Changing my mind

For a long time I’ve had the impression that the Girl Scouts were another organization that taught girls that they shouldn’t think much about anything but cooking & cleaning & having babies.

Clearly, I was wrong. Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen the Girl Scouts in the news several times and it seems more and more that they’re a much better organization than I thought. What’s really interesting is that part of the reason this came to my attention is people calling for a cookie boycott because their view of the GS is changing… in exactly the same way mine is.

One persons virtue is another’s vice. How interesting.

Anyways, in part to apologize for my misconception, but mostly because it’s a fine idea on its own merits, I’m going to promote one scout’s project, Rani’s Roses Against Racism.

You didn’t expect a long post after that 1100 word novel I posted yesterday, did you?

Beyond the supernatural

When I was very young I used to search for the supernatural. I’ve always been interested in just about everything, and I had this passionate need to know things. I’d read lots of folklore and heard so many stories, most of which were contradictory, and I wanted to know the truth behind them.

I remember thinking that being a parapsychologist would be a great job. Hunt ghosts and track down the truth behind myths and legends. I used to find occult books to read, talk to people who claimed to have magical powers, or try to get into haunted places. I attended several modern pagan rituals, and probably would again if invited because they’re a lot of fun. I studied religions, and psychology, tried tarot cards and runes and Ouija boards. I even went to a séance or two. I did all this because I wanted to know the truth.

It wouldn’t be honest to say that I never found anything, but I never encountered anything genuinely supernatural. Read the rest of this entry

The Fucking Patriarchy, Part 1

Thanks to several blog posts and at least one anecdote that I’ve encountered recently I’ve decided to to dedicate a series of posts this week to the fucking patriarchy. Like all of my writing, I’ve done some basic research but one shouldn’t assume that I know what I’m talking about. I’m going to be discussing this more or less from the ground up, partly to make things clear to anyone who’s not familiar with the basics, partly to squeeze more posts for the post-a-day challenge, and partly for my own education. This is also going to be a lot more vulgar than usual, because somehow that takes the edge off a bit.

So welcome to Fucking Patriarchy Week. I’ll try to get through this with as little alcohol as possible. Read the rest of this entry

Two out of four ain’t bad?

The remarkable Greta Christina recently posted an article titled “Wealthy, Handsome, Strong, and with Endless Hard-Ons: Is Masculinity Impossible?.” It’s an interesting read which I recommend, and discusses how sexual stereotypes can be hurtful to men as well as women.

This was still fresh in my mind when I had the opportunity to join Google+ (expect a Social Networking Junkie post about that in the next week). Joining Google+ was very simple for me, I just had to add a few things to my Google Profile and click “Join”. One thing they wanted to know was my sex, and this was not optional.

I thought about it a bit, and realized that that’s one of the things that’s almost always required for just about any internet site you can sign up for. They not only always want to know your sex, but they usually just have a dropdown or radio buttons with the choices of “Male” or “Female”. I guess intersex people just have to knuckle down and choose which box to get squeezed into. (In fairness, Google does include an option for “Other”. Personally I’d prefer just a textbox to say whatever you damn well please in.)

But this isn’t just about recognizing the intersex or the transgender or any other person to whom the answer is not so simple as “M or F”, this irritates me on a deeper level. Why should it matter? What does Facebook care what my chromosomes are, why is it any of Google’s business what’s between my legs? Like so many other things that annoy the fuck out of me, the answer is marketing.

Advertisers want to know. Presumably they use different strategies to try to convince men to buy more shit than women, and they want data both to plan with and to target with. I’m quite sure my Google ads will be different if I edit my profile to give myself a sex change. And what interests me about this is that they aren’t merely working from sexual stereotypes, but actively contributing to them. It’s like a weird feedback loop.

It also feels very unnecessary to me, especially if the typical result is something like this Burger King sandwich in Japan that’s advertised as “suitable for women”. It seems stupid & derisive to treat people as cardboard cutouts like this, especially in a world that’s rapidly leaving gender roles behind. It may even be counterproductive, marketing to stereotypes is only going to appeal to those who feel they fit that stereotype. Anyone else is either buying it in spite of your ad campaign or shopping elsewhere.

More than anything I hate it because it tells people who they are “supposed” to be and how they should act. Men should be obsessed with sports, sex, and shiny toys. Women should be focused on clothes, cooking, and cleaning. Everybody should be as stupid as possible. Intersex people shouldn’t exist. It’s getting broader now, the repertoire of stupid stereotypes is growing, but it’s all still the same shit. And I hate it.

So, in defiance of stereotypes and in solidarity with those who don’t quite fit into the roles or the underwear society would force them into I told Google my sex was “Other”. I don’t want to be in your box, I’ll make my own.

Walmart vs Women

Monday morning the Supreme Court decided that a sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart cannot proceed as a class-action suit. Here is the decision in pdf. When I refer to page numbers, I’ll be talking about the pdf page for simplicity’s sake. Buckle in, folks, this is going to be a long ride.

I should start with the usual disclaimer pointing out that I am not a lawyer, nor am I trained in the minutiae of legal language. While following the Prop 8 trial I read a lot of legal briefs and had lawyers helping me to understand them which gives me at least a general feel for how these documents work, but I am not by any stretch an expert nor do I pretend to understand the nuances of legal theory. (It’s also worth mentioning that many papers concerned with Prop 8, especially Amicus Curiae briefs supporting the Defendant-Intervenors, were completely insane. Seriously.) As such I’ll mostly keep my discussion onto parts I more or less understand, more philosophy than legality. On those terms, at least, I feel that I can show that Scalia needs a new title. I propose from now on he be known as “Little Janie Q Scalia”. Read the rest of this entry

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