I hate that simply by existing, feminists are seen as offensive and threatening.
A few months ago, videogame writer Anita Sarkeesian tweeted that she wished the X-Box One featured more games with female protagonists, and she weathered a slew of threatening, aggressive responses, including calling her the C-word. How did an idle personal preference incite that much anger? Did that personal preference kill your hamster? (If so, then I am sorry.)
Angela Webber, Mercury videogame writer and musician in the amazing band the Doubleclicks, has had similar experiences: "We've posted music and videos on the internet for years, but the comments on our video with a feminist message were just intense. People seemed to get immediately extremely defensive and were very ready to attack us and people who were supporting us in the comments. The backlash against feminism amongst YouTube trolls is strong."
Last year, hilarious comedian and writer Jen Kirkman boycotted twitter because of the cyberbullying. She called on her male comedian friends to stand up and speak out against bullies. She's back on twitter now, because they DID stand up for her. Because that is part of what being an ally is all about, allycats!
Trolls hate male feminists too. My brilliant friend Mike Drucker has a joke about it: "The commenters on youtube tell me to kill myself almost as much as the voices in my head do."
My message to trolls: I am not attacking you personally with my jokes. I'm sorry my comedy offends you. Attacking anyone is never my intention! Unless they are a vampire.
My message to everyone else who is not a troll, or anyone who is a good troll like bridge trolls: I am not going away. I am not afraid of being vilified, burnt at the stake, or having my lunch money stolen, as long as I still believe I am helping people with my comedy and making people feel better.
Last week I was at a bar (surprise) and when I went to pay my tab a mysterious stranger had paid for my drinks for me and left me this note:
I just wanted to thank that person, and everyone in Portland who I've met so far, for being such amazingly supportive, kind, and decent human beings.
I resent the idea that being a feminist means we’re pretending to be men. I am a feminist because I love women and I want women to feel good about themselves. And feeling good about myself does not mean being manly because my happiness does rely on possessing a penis. I’d have to buy new jeggings and learn how to urinate standing up. It would totally cut into my bathroom Vine watching time.
A few weeks ago, Vice Magazine founder Gavin McInnes said, "I think a lot of women smash through the ‘glass ceiling’... and they see their friends from their small town with 3 kids going to soccer practice and they think, ‘That looks kind of cool, actually." But being a feminist doesn’t mean that we aren’t allowed to bear soccer player children. There are no overlords that will take athletically inclined offspring from us in the night. But that does sound like a cool plot to a young adult novel with a strong female lead!
Hilarious, clever, beautiful pioneer comedian Wendy Liebman said that her definition of feminism is: “Women helping other women.” And that’s really stuck with me. To me feminists are women who want women to feel empowered. We’re not flannel wearing, angry man haters, unless we want to be. As the amazing and insightful comedian Virginia Jones puts it, “Feminism means we can do whatever the fuck we want and we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to.”
I’m tough and I cry and laugh and am vulnerable and I wear dresses and whilst doing all those things I’m still a feminist. If feminism is the concept that women should feel good about themselves, how could that possibly be a negative thing? Maybe in bizarro world, which is a construct of the DC universe, and regardless of our stance on gender politics, we’re Marvel kids, amiright? Don't be a dick. Tune in next week to shave my legs for me.
Recently, I was talking to a Portland abortion clinic social worker (because I know how to party) and she said that one of her patients arrived at the clinic by medical cab to an unwelcoming committee of protesters. The driver decellerated and told the protesters, "I'm on your side. I'm just doing this for a job," RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE PATIENT! Doing what for a job? Being a dick? That job might seem like it pays really well, but not in healthy karmic energy currency. Also, a dick-job seems not that far off from the thing that got one into this predicament in the first place.
Not only are reproductive rights constantly under legal siege by angry white polar barely human Republicans, but women who get abortions are shamed and guilted for getting a totally legal procedure. Oregon is the ONLY state left that hasn’t imposed restrictions on abortion, but even in this best-case scenario, women are still bullied and shamed before and after abortions.
Even though it's relatively easy to obtain an abortion in Oregon, there are still plenty of psychological barriers to stop women from getting the procedure, or more often punish them emotionally for doing so. There are crisis pregnancy centers even in the magickal fairy realm of Oregon, which attempt to counsel women out of getting abortions because of god and stuff. (Why would god care that much? I mean, he let his own kid die. I think... right? I didn't read the whole book, just that Lord of the Rings spinoff series.) An acquaintance of mine went to a crisis pregnancy center in Minnesota—after administering a pregnancy test, they showed her pictures of fetuses almost before the urethra was dry. That's so gross. I only get those pro-life pamphlets FOR THE ARTICLES. No, Mom, it's not what you think, it's just pictures of fetuses under my bed! If I slumber above them for a fortnight of moons, the spell shall be complete.
No one should have a baby out of guilt. If you're going to contribute to overpopulation and urban growth, be proud of it. If you’re gonna splooge your corrosive genes into the universe, own it! In the game of reproduction, Humans: 1. Planet: 0.
The dick of the week is abortion protesters who shame women for getting a perfectly legal procedure—but hey, at least we don't live in Texas! Tune in next week to make me feel guilty for giving away that Sandman comic book that was once a part of me, but just doesn’t fit into my current lifestyle.
First of all, my laugh is a privilege, not a right—like being bitten by a werewolf, not for everybody. I am short, bespectacled, and shy, but that does NOT mean you are entitled to my approval. I know I look like I should be grateful for any attention from men, but that's the difference between men and kitty cats. It was such a direct attack with an uneven distribution of power, because he was on an elevated stage with a microphone and a spotlight, and I was the only one he called out.
Second, it's not simply that I hate rape jokes. I hate rape jokes that are directed at the victim. They are mean spirited, and often dumb. So, yelling and trying to manipulate is exactly counter-intuitive to selling someone on rape culture. That's like saying, "Oh, you think informed consent is a universal human right? I'm going to force you to change your mind." I hate the perpetuation of rape culture in entertainment rhetoric, and I really loathe when people try to aggressively manipulate this core belief.
This is not the first time a comic has gotten mad at me for not liking their act. In the dark city of Seattle, a comic told a joke about beating his girlfriend, and I happened to be in the front row, so he berated me verbally for not laughing. It's even happened a few times since I moved to this magickal fairyland. It irks me because it feels like someone is attacking my right to my own opinions, taste, and beliefs. Why does it matter so much that I don't think you're funny? And instead of expressing aggression and rage toward me, here's a thought: You could just be funny.
I think comedy is the most beautiful art form. I think that jokes can be used to make people feel better and less alone. Laughter has a strong emotional power over people, and it's heartbreaking to see that powerful rhetoric used to perpetuate violence or cruelty. I hate being bullied, and I hate watching anyone feel bullied. The art of stand up can be a very pure and altruistic medium. It has helped me deal with depression and anxiety and I genuinely believe it can make the world a better place. That's been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week—tune in next week to let me pet your dog.
If I have gotten special treatment for being a woman, it's been like two or three unpaid shows... Oh, and also dozens of lewd comments about my body and sexual history and having colleagues scream at me for not wanting to date them. Help me, my champagne cup runneth over.
Those anonymous internet comments upset me because they said people only pretended to like me to get into the treasure cavern of my undergarments. They accused me of not deserving the stage time, which stings because I put my heart into my comedy. The implication is that all stage time belongs inherently to men, and that if I am getting it I'm taking an innate privilege away from its rightful owner: a Y chromosome.
In her essay "The Common Elements of Oppression" Suzanne Pharr wrote, "It is also important to remember that [an oppressor] has to have institutional power...women do not have the power to institutionalize their prejudices against men, so there is no such thing as 'reverse sexism.'"
Pharr's point is that you can't be oppressed if you're the oppressing, power controlling group. That's like someone saying, "Why does she get to have perfectly regulated blood sugar?" but then the dude who said that is a vampire.
Last year when I did the All Jane No Dick comedy festival here in Portland (October 17-20 this year!) a Seattle comic said to me, "It's not fair that they don't accept men." Sure, it is. Comedy festivals should be like pussies: allowed to let in whoever they want to.
Booking a woman on a stand up show is not threatening men's masculinity. It's not affirmative action; it's just action, with or without robo-rhetoric. There is enough power floating in the ether for everyone and we're allowed to try to share it. If me saying women deserve to feel empowered is somehow taking power away from straight white men... well, that's just gravy. That's been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week, tune in next week because maybe I'll give back all the stage time I unduly yanked from the stone.
This week saw the crowning of Miss America, and weirdly, I heard about it. New Yorker Nina Davuluri is the first Indian American to win Miss America. Her crowning induced a racist Twitter backlash postapocolyptic super-storm. Twitter trolls questioned Nina's Americaness, calling her an Arab and a terrorist. It was racism slathered on top of the misogynist institution of beauty pageants like jelly or jam, or really anything except Nutella. (Sometimes racist sexism makes me hungry!) My least favorite piece of bigotry this week is the racism against Nina Davuluri for winning Miss America.
One twitter person wrote, "If you're #MissAmerica you should have to be American." Even grosser, it got ten retweets, and it's not even funny. Born in New York, Nina is an American. Sorry she doesn't fit into the stereotype of an American (which is someone who likes guns and doesn't say please, right?).
The institution of beauty pageants centers around parading young women about in bikinis to be ogled by people old enough to be their parents. So it follows that judging human beings by their looks feeds bigotry like a pet dragon. But the level of hate present in some of the twitter backlash was grosser than a slug having sexual intercourse with a Republican.
Another twitter person wrote, "Miss America? More like Miss 7/11!" I bet any person racist enough to tweet that probably thinks 7/11 is a great fancy date restaurant. Nina wouldest thou like to go to dinner? I know a little bistro that has the most scrumptious corn dogs, taquitos, and buckets of ignorant racism!
I hate that there are still people who think that what it means to be American is being white. What it means to be an American is to be filled with green power ooze that drools out of our mouths when we sleep, right? ...right?
I hate sexism, racism, bigotry and any form of making people feel dehumanized, making human beings feel reduced to their physicality instead of appreciated for the dynamic extent of their entire soul. No one human being is one singular thing, and being identified by a race, gender, or sexuality is offensive and also usually not smart. I don't think I'm the only person on the soap box when I say that internet trolls are not the most empathetic of folk, but hey, prove me wrong commenters, please? On the bright side, a woman of color did win a beauty pageant that is often whitewashed, and while she is sadly suffering the slings and arrows of racism, she still gets to swim in a vat of scholarship money like Scrooge McDuck in a leopard print bikini. That's been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week, tune in next to try HARDER to make me cry.
The other night, a comedian began a joke with, "it's hard to get a woman," like we were giant stuffed penguins to be won at a carnival that's totes obviously haunted. He described trying to interact with women on a dance floor (hunting us in our natural habitat, the most dangerous game of all). The women in the story were too busy drinking, dancing, and blathering valley girl slang to notice the goddess' gift to women in front of them. He did act outs in a effeminate lisping voice. It was painful to watch as an audience member because it was reductive, and for someone with super low self esteem (I was bitten by a radioactive apology) it felt like he was telling me that women were "less than," which I constantly struggle to tell myself I'm not.
The rhetoric of entertainment and art has a subconscious influence on the psyche of our culture. Because we imbibe entertainment for pleasure, we are less aware that we are subtly being taught how to view human beings, how to react socially, and for me usually: hair style options. Portraying a human as one dimensional desensitizes us to violence. Art has a persuasion effect on its audience because it sells its point with emotions more than facts.
However, this sexism in art is improving radically (and radically, dude). There are misogynist rappers, but there are feminist rappers too, like Invincible. Plus her name makes her sound like she'd kidnap Lois Lane and send a witty ransom note, so extra gold stars! There's sexism in comic books. But now there's a new X-Men comic with an all female team!
There's rape jokes, jokes about domestic abuse, and jokes where women are one dimensional stereotypes, but there are SO many feminist comedians exploring and embodying the importance of gender equality. Emily Heller, Maria Bamford, Jackie Kashian, Aparna Nancherla, Eliza Skinner and Janine Brito and so many more all use language that empowers women. On a local level, comedians Stephanie Purtle, Jen Tam, Bri Pruett, Lucia Fasano, Amy Miller and more use humor to empower women through art. There are also many local male comics including Alex Falcone, Zach Cole, Zak Toscani, and Jon Washington who use specific language to delineate the multi-layered, complex facets of women in their jokes. It's getting better! That's been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week, tune in next week to find out what I did with the gum in your hair.
Not to brag, but at least five men have said to me, “You’re the first non-Japanese girl I’ve ever dated.” And I don’t know how to respond to that. "Thank you for slumming it? I’m sorry that the low self-esteem stereotype repository was devoid of your pervy racist fetish. But I’m so glad my Lolita bangs helped me make the cut." It’s offensive the way minorities are objectified. Upon seeing Facebook pictures of a Filipino friend, a family member commented, “Oh my gosh, she’s so exotic looking.” And I was like, “You should see her dancing.” Minorities are often placed on an exotic sexual pedestal, treated like a token accessory, or completely othered. Women of color are treated as sexual objects twofold.
My least favorite piece of misogyny this week is the objectification of women of color.
Last week at the VMAs Miley Cyrus was criticized for appropriating black culture on stage. She sexualized a culture that was not her own, which is crazy: Miley Cyrus has a culture? Miley dressed black women dancers as teddy bears, using them as props: thus equating them to objects. Additionally she inexplicably spanked a dancer on the buttocks rhythmically. Human beings are not instruments, and if we were we’d be cool instruments like clarinets, not dorky percussion. Miley Cyrus portrayed women of color as props, lacking agency over their bodies, to be used as accessories. The worst part about all this Miley Cyrus drama is now I’ve heard a Miley Cyrus song.
All human beings may be objectified, but women of color battle further dehumanization. When men told me they only dated Asian women, at the time I thought it meant I wasn't good enough. Now that I’m a little older, I see the sexual fetishization of women of color for what it is: viewing women as an extension of their physicality, objects to be obtained like exotic unique souvenirs.
Bitna Kim conducted a study about the exoticism and fetishization of Asian women: "Almost all of those interviewees started with a sentence that negates Asian women as submissive, but, nevertheless, they all mentioned, in one way or another, that Asian women are submissive."
One of my friends said, "What if I'm just more physically attracted to the look of Asian women?" And I was like, "they all have the SAME look?" I'm into super heroes, but not ALL super heroes, because they don't all look the same, and some of them are DC. It's okay to have a type, but exclusively dating Asian women seems like their race is the primary reason you're dating them, which is devaluing. That's been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week. Tune in next week to find out what kind of secrets I have in my invisible pockets.
Russia recently incurred criticism for passing a law banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” Under the law, anyone supporting gay pride or anyone speaking in defense of gay rights is eligible for a prison sentence. A real prison sentence, not a verbal sentence about prison that we can ignore because we're not sure what it ends in a proposition for. My least favorite piece of gender politics related issues this week is the Russian law banning gay propaganda.
The law specifically bans discussing homosexuality in front of minors. That's stupid. When am I ever going to talk to someone who can't drink? I hate that the law is framed like talking about sexuality in front of children is negative. The Russian Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, said, "We want to prevent the young generation, whose psyche has not been formulated. We want to protect them against drunkenness, drugs and non-traditional sexual relations." This illustrates that sports ministers are even dumber than most of the recent ministers of magic. I am offended by the implication that being gay is a choice, and furthermore that it's a negative choice children may be corrupted by, like smoking cigarettes or understanding Justin Beiber.
It's stupid to imply that endorsing pro-gay messages might have a detrimental affect on children. What negative message could possibly be imparted by equality? It's like, oh no if we're going to let someone marry someone of the same sex, what's next, children believing that love exists? Some house in the icy suburbs, a dead-eyed aging child bride comes up the stairs, sees her son drawing hearts in a composition notebook. She's like, "Vat is zis, hope and optimizm for a more idealiztic future? Vo taught you zis?"
I asked my Russian friend what he thought of Russia's institutionalized homophobia and laws against teaching children about equality. He responded, "Barbara, how many times do I have to tell you, I am not from Russia; I am from Ukraine." So, clearly, it's a really divisive social issue.
I love that athletes have protested the gay propoganda ban. Around the world strong, confident women are standing up for what they believe in. I think that if children are learning anything from this controversy it's that there are smart women with strong convictions who stand up for their rights and for the rights of those around them. This law is stupid and offensive, but there are so many people with beautiful altruistic hearts and everything is going to be okay. That has been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week, tune in next week to thumb wrestle with a giggling monster.
I hate when people refuse to accept the way others identify themselves. For example, I identify myself by typing the identification code into the robot's mainframe before it destroys us all, and if that is wrong I don't want to be in the affirmative. The media’s rejection of Manning’s identity basically implies that the way she fits into the world is weird. But the way EVERY human being fits into the world is weird: Humans are a species evolved from chimpanzee-like ancestors, who wage violent wars, birthed the Beatles, created the Large Hadron collider, and support the Kardashians. We're intrinsically weird! Everyone is struggling to be themselves, to take up space in society, and we shouldn't hinder anyone's path to have a sense of self and to feel as though they belong.
Several media organizations have referred to Chelsea with masculine pronouns, including Today, USA Today, CNN, ABC, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. (Weirdly, still no comment from the Quibbler?) The media’s treatment of LGBT minorities has an effect on societal perceptions and we need to be more responsible.
"The tiny matter of pronouns might seem insignificant but it's fundamental to the person whose identity is at stake. You want other people to see you for who you think you are," explains Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University.
The media’s refusal to acknowledge Chelsea as a woman exemplifies a cruel style of bigotry wherein society dismisses anyone who isn't heteronormative and cisgender as if their sexuality is invisible. (If you have to be invisible, you should be at least allowed to fly a magic jet.)
On a positive note, the fact that Chelsea is brave enough to come out is very inspiring, and we are moving forward. People are empowered and able to assert their identity, and it's beautiful that we can proudly claim our true selves. Coming out as trans and asking for the respect that she deserves makes Chelsea Manning a role model. (Except maybe the espionage thing?) That has been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week, tune in next week to find out how I accidentally turned this suitor into solid gold.
This weekend, Kick Ass-2 writer Mark Millar defended his use of rape as a plot device in his fiction. He has employed it in the comics Wanted, The Authority, Nemesis and now Kick-Ass 2. In an interview for The New Republic, Millar responded to the criticism, “The ultimate [act] that would be the taboo, to show how bad some villain is, was to have somebody being raped, you know. I don't really think it matters. It's the same as, like, a decapitation. It's just a horrible act to show that somebody's a bad guy.” That's pretty offensive... that he hasn't been decapitated. My least favorite piece of misogyny this week is Mark Millar's cavalier attitude toward using rape as a plot device.
Using sexual violence in fiction differs from decapitation because decapitation victims probably won't be going to see the movie. (If they did though, they'd really lose their heads.) Also, there's no version of decapitation that can be mistaken for love, except maybe putting your zombified ex-beau out of their misery. Ergo, decapitation doesn't get blamed on the victim or dismissed as something they were asking for.
Millar's comment is dismissive of the trauma of sexual violence. The phrase, "I don't really think it matters" is so glib it is practically wearing an ironic neckerchief. I take umbrage with the fact that he's thinking about sexual violence in terms of how it portrays the perpetrator instead of in terms of how it relates to the victim. It's unnecessary for Millar to use sexual assault as a plot device to disturb and horrify an audience. His personality can do that for him.
The way the media portrays sexual objectification has a definite effect on society. Entertainment influences our subconscious perception of ourselves and others and the more we see women as physical objects to be acted upon—especially violently—the worse our sense of self and others becomes. I'm not saying that there can never be rape used in any fictional work; I've seen it done well. I'm just saying that it shouldn't be used like a cheap trick. That's been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week! Tune in next week for me to accidentally spoil more Buffy trivia.
Currently congress Republicans are working to halt the nomination of Nina Pillard to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals because of an article she wrote criticizing gender stereotypes in abstinence-only curricula. That's so crazy! I didn't know Republicans read articles about education. Pillard writes: “Painting all males with the brush of sexual brutishness both naturalizes the wrong done by the rapist and obscures the good of the non-aggressor... Failure to acknowledge women’s very real and powerful sexual urges also abets sexual abuse and rape: If women are taught to deny their desire, their ‘no’s’ appear ambiguous, making it easier for men to believe that no means yes—i.e., that male insistence will merely lead to what both ‘really’ want.”
Abstinence-only sex ed perpetuates the idea that women don't actually want sex, rendering our natural urges tainted, and not just the taint urges. Abstinence-only sex ed reinforces the idea that men are the sexual ones and that women are just looking for a husband to take care of them. It made me feel ashamed for my desires at a very young age, which negatively affected the way I responded to sexuality as I grew up. Slut shaming can have harmful affects on a woman's self esteem, men and women's response to feeling sexually objectified, and it can perpetuate rape culture. The teacher told us that the first man a woman is aroused by will be the one she thinks about for the rest of her life during sex. That's so wrong. I don't think about the 12-year-old oboist from band camp every time I have sex. I think about all 12 year olds. Additionally, abstinence only education completely disregards queer people, so I think we should disregard it! Women can want and enjoy sex just as much as a man! That has been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week, tune in next week to find out what riddle the troll asked me when I answered, "Um... is it a fish?"
I'm a big fan of writer Roxane Gay—she has a knack for coolly distilling complex issues into their simplest, most essential components—and she just published a smart piece on Salon about the way magazine trend pieces handle gender:
Every day we are presented with a breathless article about the choices women make as if these choices are intrinsically bound with grand revelation. Women love sex or hate sex. They want kinky sex or casual sex or prefer straight missionary style. They fake orgasms. They don’t. They want children. They don’t. They exercise or drink or eat exotic foods while pregnant or don’t. They breastfeed or don’t (cf. the infamous Time breastfeeding cover). They co-sleep with their children or don’t. They enter this field or that (or they fail or succeed in “having it all”). Each of these inquiries treats women as anthropological subjects, heretofore unknowable when, in fact, women are just as unique and common as men.
I think this is exactly right. I'm familiar with the feeling, after reading an article about how I should or shouldn't have a baby, should or shouldn't marry young (haha too late), that the author of the article is trying to contextualize my experiences for me, to tell me something about my life that I don't already know. But I do know, because I'm living it. Or, Gay puts it:
Women are a cultural mystery that must be solved, and solutions are often advanced through trend journalism.
It's a great piece, and worth a read.
Recently, I saw comedian Natasha Leggero do a joke about the way that some women project childlike vulnerability in order to gain male attention. I laughed (my high-pitched childlike laugh) and then cringed (vulnerably) worrying that I embodied this quality. I hate the idea that women might infantilize themselves for male attention. I hate the manic pixie dream girl ideal frollicking in the fantasies of insecure men. But am I reinforcing it with my bike, bangs, squeaky voice, and non-taxidermy stuffed animals? No. Obviously, if I were trying to get men interested in me, I wouldn't hang garlic on my door nightly for protection. My least favorite piece of gender politics this week is the fact that women can't do whatever they want without it being viewed as part of a plot to land a man.
I resent the media cliche of the quirky girl because it reduces women to an extension of one surface characteristic. Guys always say they want to date a quirky girl, but what they mean is Zooey Deschenal on a bicycle. And what they don't mean is an actually quirky girl, like me, sitting in a darkened room, crying into two separate jars—one for sad tears and one for happy tears, just to see which one's winning. Initially, men appreciate that I'm childlike. They're like, "You brighten up my day with your silly dances and your struggles to reach things!" And then after a month they're like "Buy some socks! Stop singing to cats! Throw away the dead bird in front of your house! It’s creepy."
The hilarious writer Julie Klausner wrote an essay called "Don’t Fear The Dowager: A Valentine to Maturity." She writes, "We all know these manic pixie Muppet Babies are really just in it for the peen." I’m not being childlike to attract men! I’m being childlike to attract pedophiles of ALL genders. And what’s so attractive about being vulnerable? Is it that I sleep on an inflatable mattress and rarely shave my legs? My childlike desire to cry in public places is super sexy. You should see my inability to clean my room!
Klausner went on to write, "The larger issue is that it is a lot easier for men... to demean us, if we’re girls. It’s much harder to bring down a woman, or to call her a moron, when she’s not in pigtails and Ring Pops.” Yes, I agree... but it’s probably even easier to demean us when we’re not being ourselves. Women AND men, wear whatever you want, just be happy and like yourself. That has been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week. Tune in next week to please help me open this jar; it’s stuck!
Since Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen admitted to an extramarital affair with a county employee several weeks back, county communications staff have been pretty forthcoming with records (though we're still eagerly awaiting those text messages).
To the county's additional credit, they've hardly been sterile documents. They suggested Manhas had free and ready access to the county's top official, and could rely on him to back her in potential conflicts with her actual supervisor, Health Director Lillian Shirley. They led to questions about a business trip Cogen took to Atlanta that eventually led him to admit Manhas had come along for the ride. And, most recently, they spurred a revelation Cogen saved funding for the county office Manhas controlled. It had been in jeopardy.
For now, though—and conveniently for Cogen—those documents have dried up. County Spokesman Dave Austin just sent out a release, giving media a heads up the county wouldn't be releasing any more records on the Cogen/Manhas affair, pending an Oregon Department of Justice investigation launched at the behest of District Attorney Rod Underhill.
"We will not be processing these request from the media or the public until the investigation is over in order to comply with the Attorney General's request," Austin writes.
Here's the letter from Attorney General's Office that's given the county this loophole.
My period has always been irregular—or as I like to call it, "adorkably quirky"—so I've had a lot of pregnancy scares. I've taken pregnancy tests while hiding in the stairwell at work because I didn't have time to go home before an open mic. And in those two minute increments, I've thought about what it means that I own my own body.
When I was 18, my first partner was very Christian, controlling, and emotionally manipulative (just my type!). I had a pregnancy scare and he tried to convince me to go through with the pregnancy, even though I was a college freshman with a whole life of reading sci-fi books ahead of me. I am pro choice for many reasons, but primarily because I think women can be trusted to make safe healthcare decisions for our own bodies. Yesterday, Texas governor Rick Perry signed into law one of the strictest anti-abortion bills that our country has ever seen. My least favorite piece of misogyny this week is Texas's passage of the anti-abortion bill HB 2.
HB 2 bans abortion after 20 weeks, and will shut down most of the state's abortion facilities. (All but five abortion facilities will be closed—you know, like your legs should... wait, what just happened? Sorry, I was possessed by a demon.) On the bright side, at least those now out-of-work abortionists probably don't have a lot of babies at home to support.
The bill makes it practically impossible to obtain a legal abortions. Because everything's bigger in Texas: even infringements on reproductive rights! By making it so difficult to receive safe legal health care, the state encourages the desperate to seek out illegal abortions. Many women get fatally wounded from unsafe abortions. It's horrible... that these politicians haven't seen Dirty Dancing.
It has always seemed obvious to me that the decision to become a mother, to change your body's entire chemistry, to completely redirect your life, is a private decision. I don't believe that life begins at conception; I feel like there are a few more ingredients to add before I get to stand in a dark, lightening-filled tower bellowing, "It's alive!" On the other hand, I myself was two months premature, and it's gotten worse. I don't believe life begins at conception, but because I popped out early and was sorta alive, I also don't believe it begins at birth. The beginning of life is kinda like a Jimmy Eat World song. All I know is...um... the middle?
I think every woman should have the choice of what to do in the case of an unintended pregnancy, especially in the case of rape, incest, not being ready, facing pregnancy complications, or being George Zimmerman's mom. Women are going to get this procedure anyway, so I want them to get it done safely. I want women to feel like our bodies are our own temples, and we get to do whatever we want with the golden monkey totem inside. That has been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week, tune in next week to find out it was Old Man Mcgregor in the goat mask the whole time!
In an article a few years ago, Yashar Ali wrote, "Gaslighting is a term often used by mental health professionals (I am not one) to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they're crazy... And this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. It's patently false and unfair."
One time I was in Seattle at a comedy show, and a woman in the audience left in tears after a comedian did a joke about "bigger girls." Some of the other comedians attempted to dismiss her as crazy, which would absolve some guilt. "She was overreacting, wasn't she? She was wrong to cry, right?" No! She felt a strong emotion, and if that vigor was uncomfortable for them, too bad! Emotions don't have to be comfortable because emotions are not bathrobes. They're bath towels tied around our necks like capes!
Whenever someone says to "calm down" about misogyny, I'm like, oh your wizard powers are working in reverse! Try rewiring that unicorn hair. I can handle my feelings; you cannot handle my feelings. Also, I bet there are other people out there with similar feelings about sexism. That doesn't make us weak—that makes us passionate. If we allow ourselves to be silenced, we won't be happier, we'll just feel guilt for our emotions. And guilt doesn't help anyone, except Julio, the monster who eats guilt.
We are human beings and we have feelings and while they might not all be strictly logical and rational, nothing is. We are entitled to feel whatever we want and we deserve to feel our emotions as strongly as we want, because that's what it means to be alive, to be a person. Sometimes it's amazing and sometimes it hurts, but that's because we're full awake alive people. I'm not saying people who contribute to gaslighting are bad people. I'm just saying, if you're a victim of this, please know that you're not alone and that you are right to be upset or delighted, or a rainbow, or a bear, or a minotaur, or even—gasp—a woman. And if you do feel attacked for some reason by the strength of my passion, well, calm down, sweetheart, I'm just overreacting. That has been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week, tune in next week to see where this tortoiseshell brick road leads!
Whether or not I eventually want children, I know that were I in that predicament today, I would exercise my right to choose. Due to a lot of health issues I had during puberty, I've had oodles of pregnancy scares, not bragging. Because of that I'm super pro-choice. A person's right to choose what happens with their body is a fundamental inherent human right and that freedom is a cornerstone of feminist ideology. Additionally, I am also very anti-gun, or in other words, logical. I read a recent report that in many states it's easier to get a gun than an abortion. My least favorite piece of misogyny this week is that the waiting period to get a gun is on average less than the waiting period to get an abortion.
The United States' aversion to gun control really kills me. A waiting period to get a gun is a state requirement in only 11 states and the District of Columbia. But 26 states require a waiting period for women to get an abortion. (A period, you know, like the thing you're probably freaking out about not having!) The waiting periods usually include counselling to try to convince or shame the women into changing their mind. It has nothing to do with the long lines to the super fun roller coaster.
Guns are like violent sticks of evil that ruin people's lives... that don't give you an orgasm! It's crazy that there are more restrictions on abortions than guns, because gun violence is so prevalent in our culture right now. When was the last time abortion murdered a crowd of innocent people? Never, unless we're talking quadruplets. (Just kidding, I don't think life begins at conception. It begins at birth, or whenever the mad scientist shoots lightening into your sewn-together monster limbs.) Guns are a lot like a grandmother's brassiere—just not helping.
I think I hate guns the way that a person who loves guns hates women's rights. The fact that it's harder to get a completely legal health procedure than a violent weapon is so ridiculous. It makes me feel like women are attempting to obtain procedures, birth control, and other necessary reproductive rights by struggling to get past an evil riddle bridge troll. "Answer me these questions three..." And then he asks the questions in Latin and the last one is just "Do you have a wiener? Well then why are you taking up space?" And it's like um, that is two questions.
That has been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week. Tune in next week to find out if I can reverse the effects of this polyjuice potion in time to win the beauty pageant!
I'm a girl and I like reading comic books. Don't propose to me.
Last week saw the release of the new X-Men which features an all-female team. And, of course, this week featured a backlash on message boards. My least favorite piece of misogyny this week is sexism against women in comic book culture.
The new X-Men isn't a good team because it's all women, it's a good team because it features some of the most powerful and interesting characters in X-Men—and guess what, they happen to be women. This internet comment epitomizes the backlash I saw:
"McBob (1 week ago) When comics refuse to include female members, there are screams of misogyny. So when a comic refuses to include male members, is that not MISANDRY?"
The idea that giving women equal representation in any genre is somehow reverse sexism is stupid. We're not saying "men are bad" by giving women a spotlight. We aren't saying we hate men. We're not taking something from men and giving it to women, despite my petitions. We're just saying, "women are good, too." When men get mad on the internet and say things like, "Women are getting attention and value? That's reverse sexism!" They might as well add "And I never get laid!"
I understand that there is sexism in some superhero comic books, in terms of the way women are posed and sexualized, but I more want to focus on the sexism in the fanbase, because I can only get so many words before my attention span turns back into a pumpkin. There's a lot of sexism from comic book fans against other fans. One time a friend accused me of just pretending to be into comic books to get guys to like me. Which is ridiculous, because you don't have to be a girl nerd to attract boy nerds. You don't even really have to be a girl. You can be an anime cartoon, or a Mrs. Butterworth bottle.
I hate the "fake girl geek" stereotype. (Especially ever since the blue fairy totally granted Gepetto's wish to make me a real girl geek.) I hate the implication that anyone would fake nerdiness or any other attribute to attract the attentions of the opposite sex. It's like saying "How do you have room for hobbies and a personality with all those boobies and ovaries?"
Women are allowed to like whatever the heck they want to like, to read whatever they want to. I'm so happy that we have strong women superheroes to serve as role models for women AND men to look up to. When women get to be the center of attention, it is not reverse sexism; they are not taking anything from men. Men are not entitled to all the positions of power, and women are not usurpers. Or at least that's what we should keep telling men until the time of the revolution. Shhh.
That's been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week! Tune in next week to see how I got trapped inside a brick wall a la Kitty Pryde!
Last week, Baruti Artharee—policy director for Mayor Charlie Hales—introduced Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith to a crowd like this: "Here's our beautiful commissioner, Loretta Smith—mmm, mmm, mmm—she looks good tonight."
Sometimes I feel like straight men don't understand that sexual harassment at an after-work party or a bar or a (gasp) comedy club still counts as sexual harrassment. That glass of wine in your hands isn't some magical potion that renders your "would look better on the floor of my bedroom" comments any less objectifying.
Smith had to go on stage after this introduction, to command attention and remind people that she was a professional there to do her job. And from what I can tell about commissionering, that job mostly consists of having Batman come in and out of your windows unannounced, which is scary enough already.
One time I saw a male comedian (you've heard of them, yes?) introduce a woman as "really sexy, and she makes my nipples hard." The woman didn't address it and didn't comment on it, because maybe she isn't fueled with the fiery angry temper that keeps my red highlights intact. But that kind of comment as an introduction really taints the audience against a performer, because it sets one up as an object to be viewed, not a human being. If you introduce a woman as a sexual object (or any kind of object, even a magickal object like a wand or cauldron) the audience is less likely to give her the respect that she deserves.
Men often introduce me on stage with compliments about my looks like, "Your next comedian is super cute and adorable," and I'm like listen, nephew you mispronounced the words "hilarious comedy
prodigy." Introducing a woman in a professional setting with comments about her looks strips her of her agency and credentials.
I hate when I complain about this and male comedians are like, "I WISH someone would introduce ME as an object." No, you don't. And even if you did, it would not be the same. It sucks to be identified by your most base bodily attributes when you're trying to assert yourself and deliver a message. One time I got introduced as "a really cute girl" and the first thing that flew out of my smartass mouth was, "Hey, yes, I am a talking head attached to a vagina. So, here are my well written jokes now..."
Women are taking up more space socially, professionally, politically, and emotionally. It is amazing! We should celebrate with a piñata full of hugs! The only reason people try to reduce us to our physical attributes instead of our emotional strength is because they're scared of us, scared that if they allow us to assert our power they will have to compete with us and they will lose. But guess what? We don't need anyone to allow us to take up space. We can take up outer space if we want, because I think it would be otherworldy awesome to hang out on the moon.
Presumably most of you have seen this—it's been making the rounds of Facebook like crazy—but just in case you missed it, here's Lindy West summing up some of the violent, violently misogynistic responses she's gotten to her recent debate with Jim Norton.
Lindy has decided to allow herself to be a lightening rod so many things—comedy's issues with women, the internet's issues with women, the world's issue with fat women—and it's both inspiring and sort of terrifying to watch. Terrifying because, well... see above.
Last week, former baseball player Jose Canseco tweeted to 515,464 followers that he had been accused of rape. But the accusation didn't shame him into a spiral of Lady Macbeth handwashing: Instead, Canseco tweeted the alleged victim's name, telephone number, and work address to his horde of fans. He handed an angry mob a witch to burn and didn't even give her a cool pointy hat to flatter her cheekbones. This type of behavior is why so many rapes go unreported. My least favorite piece of misogyny this week is Jose Canseco's public outing of his rape accuser.
Don't worry, angry straight white men with all the power and opportunities in the world, I'm not advocating censorship. These gags I brought are purely for pleasure. I am, however, attempting to advocate for being a decent human being. So calm down.
(I hate that some men get so defensive and angry about rape culture. It's like, yeah, well, we don't like living in a world dominated by a violent agency-stripping crime, sorry that offends you so much. Also, it doesn't exactly make you seem like a good guy that if someone mentions sexual violence your first instinct isn't empathy, it's Doctor Octopus-level crazy evil. Men getting defensive about rape culture is like if I got defensive when people complain there's too many fairies in the world. Yeah, maybe there is a fairie surplus, but I'm their queen, so it's not really any skin off my glittery back.)
Most rapes go unreported because the victim is afraid of backlash or retribution. Canseco's tweets epitomize the legitimacy of that fear. Any victim who hears about this will not be encouraged to step forward.
Reportedly, Canseco had been spending time with this woman earlier that evening. She and the former athlete were having a ball. Later that evening he was investigated in allegations about a sexual crime. Whether or not it actually happened is not the issue. My problem with this situation is that he used an army of twitter followers in mob numbers I'm jealous of, (@barbara_holm, follow if you're not a rapist!) to threaten and frighten a woman. This perpetuates and enforces rape culture. Please, be a good person, don't bully or shame an alleged victim, just the culprits. I give you my consent.This has been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week, tune in next week to find out what dark deal I made in exchange for this eternal youth.
Jezebel writer Lindy West debates comic Jim Norton about rape jokes. I like that Lindy West.
Another weekly round-up of government-controlled genital stories!
If you’re female and don’t want to be a parent any time soon, then you might not want to move to Georgia, Indiana, Virgina, Texas, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kansas, Alabama, or any state that fought in the civil war. Legislators in Arkansas banned abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy. Kansas legislators blocked tax breaks for ALL abortion providers. Georgia has become one of six other states to outlaw “late-term abortion.” Four other states have tightened abortion restrictions in less than two months. If you’re one of twelve women that live in North Dakota, you cannot get an abortion if the doctor can hear a heartbeat. North Dakota said in response, “who’s the biggest dick in the union NOW? Suck on THAT, Indiana!”
Speaking of Indiana; in Lafayette, the only Planned Parenthood in Indiana that could give women RU-486, aka the abortion pill, can no longer legally give out abortions. If you’re a lady of the Lafayette area, it looks like you might have to revert back to the good ‘ol days of a coat hanger, back alley, and a hairy guy named “Blade” to do the job!
Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, like many gay marriage opponents, recently made a correlation between gay marriage and polygamy and bestiality in a speech to his Tea Party followers. "When you say it’s not a man and a woman anymore, then why not have three men and one woman or four women and one man? Or why not, you know, somebody has a love for an animal...?" Meanwhile, in New Zealand, gay marriage has been legalized. Said local homosexual, polygamist, and sheep Grassy Chewswell in response, “But Gohmert, I just want to love so bah-ah-ah-ad."
The granddaughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps has left the church, and has publicly supported Planting Peace, the organization in the rainbow-colored house across the street. Libby Phelps plans to work with Aaron Jackson, founder of Planting Peace. Though Libby Phelps hasn’t seen her parents in four years, she said in an article on Huff Post, “I want my cousins and nieces and nephews to see that the world isn’t mean and hateful and evil and full of vicious people." Well then don’t check out your grandpappy’s website, Libs! That’s one hateful anti-fag rag!
In a move that’s just begun to fuck up the state of Wisconsin, Republican governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin state legislature passed a bill back in 2011 to deny public funding for low-income and uninsured patients of Planned Parenthood, simply because they offer abortions. This bill has taken into effect; in the past couple weeks, four branches of Planned Parenthood have recently been forced to close, affecting an estimated 2,000 patients. If you would like to show Scott Walker why Planned Parenthood is important, feel free to send photos of your festering STD to:
Office of Governor Scott Walker
115 East Capitol
Madison, WI 53702
Or, if you’d rather describe your oozing pustules to him over the phone, please contact:
Every week, lawmakers and law breakers get real mad about all the sex they're not having, and it's been an especially busy one, and not just for marriage equality! Here's the recap of the other news in sex:
Aaron Jackson, who runs a charity organization called “Planting Peace,” bought the house across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church last week, and is painting it into one big-ass rainbow flag. After reading news headlines about Westboro Baptist Church slandering gays and picketing the Stony Brook Elementary Memorial, Jackson looked up Westboro on Google Earth, and saw that the house across the street was for sale. It will become an “Equality House,” where volunteers can raise money and awareness around the world to manage their anti-bullying programs. Westboro minister Fred Phelps said in response, “Fuck you guys! Y’all can suck my dick! Wait a minute…”
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