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Women! The Internet Hates You

20 Jan

I’ve been felled with a terrible cold/cough/bird flu. So a couple nights ago, I found myself doped up on NyQuil and totally useless to everyone around me. Naturally, what with Reddit and Wikipedia being offline in protest of SOPA (yes, I wrote to my representatives, don’t lecture) I turned to StumbleUpon for some lowbrow entertainment to take my mind off my lung-threatening illness.

What did I find but yet another user-content driven web site capable of providing hours of entertaining fun! It’s called IdeaSwap. You’re supposed to submit an idea you have but can’t or won’t accomplish. Like, for example, “Build a leaning tower of Portland.” Once you click submit, someone else’s idea pops up. You click that button enough times, something you DO have the resources to commit to is bound to pop up. Like, for example, “Go to sleep.”

Naturally, I typed in my brilliant idea, and what pops up but this:

It reads: “[sic]if you’re a woman, get offline and go to the kitchen,
if you’re a guy, tell a woman to go fetch a beer for ya :D”

Awww, thanks internet! It sure is awesome being a female on you. The internet is a glorious place where it’s nigh impossible to ignore misogyny. In real life, it’s often masked and difficult to uncover. On the internet, though, people aren’t afraid to reveal the true nature of their woman-hatred, ‘cuz they get to be anonymous and add stupid little smileys after their grammatical train wreck sentences.

Being a masochist, I clicked again. What should appear but this:

It reads: “Women should not crack their backs. It’s bad for their
reproductive systems.”

Firstly, this is less of an idea and more of a misguided directive so five demerits there. Secondly, it’s stupid. I’m no doctor. Nor do I have any chiropractic training. But a cursory Google search turns up no evidence for what this sticky note posits. Only a bit of hemming and hawing about joint-cracking in general being possibly linked to arthritis, which has no relation to reproduction whatsoever. A cursory brain search turns up … rage. As per usual, the only type of health women have worth caring about is the reproductive variety. We can certainly feel free to crack our knuckles, knees and even skulls, just so long as we can still serve as incubators for the next generation of male overlords and female incubators.

Clicking again, I got this:

It reads: “sometimes all you need to get by is a girl[sic]“

Sometimes all you need to get by is a steady paycheck and a 5th-floor walkup. Other times, a bowl of soup and a blanket. Today, though, is an object lesson in females as objects. Feeling down? Head over to your local K-Mart and pick up a late-model lady! She’ll get you beer, give you babies, and help you “get by,” apparently. It’s like a sinister version of the peppy Beatles hit:

Exasperated, I clicked again.

It reads: “Let’s do a wife swap every ten years.”

And that’s the topper. Not that there’s anything wrong with swinging, if that’s your bag. There ain’t. But for the luvvagod, people, check with your wives first. Nothing is less sexy than nonconsensual nonmonogamy, except maybe being traded for funsies with strangers on the internet via digital sticky note.

With that, I turned off the computer and went to bed, safe in the knowledge that I am surrounded by insane people who hate me and millions of people like me, because we have ladybits. If they’re not busy hating your ladybits, they’re busy hating your queeritude. If they’re not busy with that, they’re busy hating transpeople, or people of color, or poor people, or… all of the above. And that hatred leads to the taking-away-of-rights. And violence. And rape. And murder. And mutilation [NSFW]. I tells ya, it’s enough to make a misanthrope outta me.

In any case, I’m glad that Wikipedia and Reddit are back, and that SOPA is failing miserably. Now if only we could all rally behind other causes that are just as – if not more – important. Ideas, people? Put ‘em in the comments. No ‘get me a sandwich’ allowed. Lurkers, ummask thyselves!

 And don’t forget to subscribe, or join!

Klondike bar ads are insulting, lazy

19 Jul

Have you guys seen this crap? Apparently I’ve been hiding under a rock, or at least eschewing prime-time network television, because Klondike’s effort to re-brand was going mostly under my radar until recently. Peep this horribleness:

Oh ha! I get it! Women are boring! Especially if you’re married to them! It’s like torture to listen to them! BAAHAHAHAHA! Hilarious. /sputter Oh yeah, and did we mention gay people are just … icky?

It’s a generally-accepted fact that the very last thing a straight man would ever want to be caught doing is something gay-seeming! Although it might be worse to actually care about the person you committed to spend your life with – hard to tell from these commercials.

Sarcasm aside, it is possible to be funny and sell ice cream without implying that women are insufferable bores and being gay is wrong (and straight men can never show affection). This is lazy work, plain and simple. The Via Agency, the ad agency that Klondike hired to put together their re-branding campaign, should be ashamed.

I complained, I hope you do too. Tell Klondike you won’t be buying their products because of these spots. If you’re an advertising nerd like me and you’re opposed to the ads on multiple levels (not only are they sexist and homophobic, they’re unimaginatively so), you can also scold The Via Agency. Humor ain’t hard, people. Wise up or lose business.

Do you think these ads are worse than normal, or just more blatant? And who decided that all mint flavors must forever come in fluorescent green anyway? Technicolor is for TVs, not food. Sheesh.

Father’s Day Special

19 Jun

Looks like the Wall Street Journal – always a conservative rag anyway – is starting to show its Murdoch underbelly. For Father’s Day, the WSJ’s Sue Shellenbarger brings us an article telling us all about why men make better parents than women. In fact, she proves with science (science!) that men are simply better people than women! Peep this quote:

“Under stress, men’s brains are wired to … leap into action. Women are more likely to withdraw or shut down.”

via the WSJ

The article goes on to gush about how fathers’ disinterest in their children helps kids to grow up awesome, while mothers’ damn mothering turns kids into whinging, weakly brats. There’s even a cheesy full-color illustrations in which men are shown heroically sweeping in to save the day while mothers, offscreen, according to the unattributed cutlines, withdraw, shut down or otherwise over- or misreact, turning the unsuspecting children into balls of exposed nerves. The author throws a bone to the ladies by stating, repeatedly, that moms are darn good at teaching their squalling brats to “express their feelings” and “talk through their emotions.”

But wait! There’s more: “Because fathers have had to learn to manage their own impulses to strike out or react physically to frustration, they may be better equipped than mothers to help children manage their own urges to behave badly.”

Oh right. Because women never learned to manage their own impulses to strike out or react physically to frustration – we’re just born meek and feminine of course! The last little bit of conservative trope? Why, it’s that single mothers are ruining everything:

“Another reason involved fathers help kids, of course, is that families often function better when two parents are working as a team to give children what they need, supporting each other’s efforts.” Oh of course! How could we forget? Although it’s hard to see the logic in this conclusion, since the article’s assumptions are really building up to the conclusion that fathers should do all the parenting themselves, since they’re so great – actually, it would be best if all children were raised in two-father households, not one-father, one-mother households. But then we’d have to support gay marriage, wouldn’t we? Oh dear. Now we’re just confused!

If you want to read the whole Father’s Day Wall Street Journal piece, feel free.

High-maintenance

3 May

“High-maintenance” is often used to describe women we don’t like, but does anyone really know what it means? The phrase “high-maintenance,” like the word “slut” is just another ill-defined insult hurled at women who don’t conform enough, or conform too much, to society’s idealized expectations of femininity. So last time I heard it, I looked it up – Webster’s is no use, so here’s what trusty old Urban Dictionary has to say:

1. Requiring a lot of attention. When describing a person, high-maintenance usually means that the individual is emotionally needy or prone to over-dramatizing a situation to gain attention

2. A person who has expensive taste (re. clothing, restaurants, etc.). This person is never comfortable because he/she is constantly concerned about his/her appearance.

At first, it seems weird that the phrase has two completely different meanings, until you take the time to think about what else the phrase is used to describe. What else can be called high-maintenance? Swimming pools. Layered haircuts. Silk clothing. Fancy cars. Orchids. Conversely, take a peek at what we describe as low-maintenance: Rock gardens. Cotton-poly blends. Cacti. What do these things have in common? They’re all things. So what do we call high-maintenance? Things, and women. ‘Cuz women are things! Get it? Ahhhaahaha. Backslaps all around!

Let’s take the two definitions in order, shall we? The first is a derogatory label for women who dare to ask for emotional support from the people around them. The second is a derogatory label for women who dare to take the time they need in order to conform to society’s expectations of them. By caring about her appearance – as society tells her she must if she is to be worthy of love or even leaving the house – she is punished by being called high-maintenance, shallow, superficial, flippant. But try not caring about your appearance for a sec – go ahead, try it! Stop shaving your legs, wearing makeup, and brushing your hair. See how long you stay employed, how long you keep your boyfriend, how long it takes before your girlfriends start talking about how you’ve let yourself go when you’re not around.

High-maintenance is just another empty phrase thrown around to punish women who falter while walking that razor-thin line of magically conforming to impossible standards of beauty while making it look easy breezy cover girl. Women who slink quietly out of bed to shower and put on makeup and then slink quietly back into bed – so long as they’re not caught – need not worry about being labelled high-maintenance. It’s those who dare to sleep in, and then make their poor sops of male companions wait more than ten minutes while perfecting that foundation and blowout, that need to worry. Or those that, after a rough day at work, occasionally require a few moments of quiet alone time before tending to the passel of squalling brats.

The rub is that, with all things patriarchy, you can’t win. Let your striving show, and you’re a high-maintenance shrew. Don’t strive, and you’re ugly and unlovable, or worse – a feminist.

Any of you readers been called high-maintenance before? I certainly have. One incident comes to mind in particular, when a friend of mine told me that if he didn’t already know me, he probably wouldn’t try to talk to me because I looked “high-maintenance.” I had no idea what he was talking about, and, to some extent, still don’t. Tell your stories in the comments, eh?

"Hey slut! Put on a sweater."

21 Apr

I spent most of my teenagerhood woefully underprepared for cold weather. Putting on twelve layers of clothes just to walk from the house to the car, then from the car to school, seemed like a whole lot of wasted effort to me, and heavy winter coats were a hassle to drag around all day.

This tradition continued well into my college years, when people began asking me, almost daily and unfailingly in an accusatory fashion, “AREN’T YOU COLD?!!?” At first, I thought these “helpful” folks were expressing genuine concern for my well-being. Further reflection reveals that they were, in fact, merely passing judgment on me and my choice of attire.

There are about five damn good reasons why questions of all types that begin with “aren’t” or “aren’t you” are wrong, wrong wrong:

  1. Firstly, the sentence structure is all wonky. If I remember my English lessons correctly, words like “aren’t” are to be used only as question tags, not openers. So if you want to ask the question properly, you should phrase it thusly: “You are cold, aren’t you?” which leads perfectly into the next point…
  2. “Aren’t you cold?” is a statement disguised as a question. What the person is trying to convey with the query is not gentle concern, but: “YOU ARE COLD! I DEEM IT SO!” They phrase it this way so that it’s seen as innocuous, when it’s really accusatory…
  3. …which immediately puts you, the recipient of such rudeness, on the defensive. When asked such a question, without really knowing why, you suddenly feel compelled to start explaining a behavior which needs no explanation and which the asker has no right to demand from you in the first place.
  4. They aren’t asking, they’re telling — they’re projecting the answer on you already and telling you there is something wrong with you for not being warmly dressed (code for “not wearing a burqa/sweater set/whatever is deemed appropriate female attire that is appealing but not too slutty), or whatever it is with which they’ve taken issue, and are in fact saying…
  5. “You aren’t planning on being cold/covering up those filthy exposed shoulders/Jezebellian cleavage, and I would just like to point out that you’ve no decency, and clearly there is something wrong with you.”

I developed a number of clever responses, ranging from the innocuous, “I’m fine, thanks,” to the “What if I am? Are you going to give me your coat? NO YOU ARE NOT NOW LEAVE ME ALONE.” My favorite lie-response involved making up a story about being from Alaska, and how in Alaska, we all wear t-shirts in sub-zero degree weather. I could then easily parlay the conversation into a diatribe about how much of a sissy the asker was, and how they ought to just tough up and be more like me.

Does this/has this happened to anyone else? What do you say when total strangers ask loaded questions like this one?

Pretty ladies are pissed off

31 Mar

According to research featured by the BBC, “pretty women anger more easily.” According to research by me, they have every right to be pissed off.

After all, it’s pretty ladies that are warned not to dress too nicely, or behave too joyously, lest the boys be compelled to physically assault them. It’s pretty ladies who, shortly after being hired, are told that the boss only chose them because they met the minimum standards for attractiveness. And it’s pretty ladies who can’t trust the integrity of their relationships — how do they know they’re loved for themselves, when they’re told every day it’s their looks that sets them apart?

There are lots of studies out there assessing the link between attractiveness and happiness. The interesting thing about this one is that the article skewed the findings to make the anger sound like a bad thing (“uppity bitches!”), when in practice, it turns out it’s actually a good thing:

Attractive women also had higher expectations of what they deserved. … the same women were better at resolving situations in their favour.

So wait. They are good at resolving situations in their favor. They do this by using a tool called anger. Where’s the bad? My guess is the reason the journalist framed his or her story this way is because, culturally, women are supposed to be self-sacrificial martyrs.

The article explains as an afterthought that a similar link in men was found, “…but with physical strength rather than attractiveness per se.” This is interesting for two reasons:

  1. Most science-y studies sample men first and foremost, and then study women as an afterthought. This is because men are considered default humans, and results from studying them are of course always applicable to the female of the species, when she is considered at all.
  2. The only exception to the above rule is when the science-y study is about physical attractiveness. Because sexiness is solely the purview of women. They have no other identifying characteristics! Why study heart disease in women, when instead you can try to figure out which hair color is the sexiest? This study also ventures into that most noble of scientific pursuits

“…blondes rated as more attractive than brunettes and redheads.”

If we can learn anything from this study, it’s that all ladies, whether pretty by society’s standards or not, have damn good reasons to be pissed off.

So go forth and get pissed, ladies and gents. Tell me why you’re pissed, or not, in the comments.

Related posts: Boys of Facebook, Casey Johnson: Beauty, wealth won’t save you

Basketball fans: Man up and stop breeding

25 Mar

Men! Wondering how to prevent yet another batch of squalling brats from interrupting you while you shout unintelligible yet impassioned directives at large-screen televisions, guzzle malt beverages and pick beer nut detritus from your hipster beard? Well wonder no more, my friends: Take advantage of the latest in promotional outpatient surgeries: Get a March Madness vasectomy!

In Oregon, you can take part in “Snip City” (a clever play on the Trail Blazers’ motto “Rip City,” which is only slightly misleading since March Madness is college ball and the TBs are a pro team). In Texas, you can pay a visit to the friendly urologists pictured at right.*

It’s about time someone started marketing birth control to the menfolk. Shunting the birth control responsibility to women is unfair, selfish, and counterproductive. Besides, the side effects of a vasectomy are far fewer than near-lifelong hormonal birth control, which range from depression, bone density loss and high to cervical cancer, embolism and ectopic pregnancy.

According to popular perception, these are acceptable risks for women. But the main “risks” of vasectomy are well-known, and it’s commonly understood that men won’t get them, no matter the health benefits to their female partners. It’s common to hear jokes on television shows about how “emasculating” vasectomies are. No matter that there is a direct causal link between depression and hormonal birth control, and the “negative psychological effects” on vas’d men are speculative.

And to top it all off, vasectomy is the second only to abstinence when it comes to effectively preventing those squalling brats.

The rub is that in our culture, women bear the burden of all sexual responsibilities, from preventing the spread of STDs to childbearing (or not childbearing). It’s women’s bodies that need to be modified and it’s women that drug companies are trying to cash in on. Commercials for hormonal birth control don’t even talk about preventing pregnancies anymore — they pitch themselves as “period control.” Since periods are disgusting and need to be controlled. Just like women! Sarah Haskins made a funny on the topic:

http://current.com/e/89157733/en_US

While the marketing campaign for March Madness vasectomies may need a little finessing, it’s good to see that someone out there is trying. Even if it’s for selfish reasons (more vasectomies = more money for urologists), I hope that capitalism does the job it was meant to do, and levels the reproductive playing field a bit.

Extra Credit: Send me a picture of yourself (or your man) in a pro-vasectomy pose (be creative — perhaps a strategically placed bag of frozen peas? But SFW, please) and I’ll send you a batch of reproductive-system-themed dessert items. Click here for my contact info.

*Picture from a deeply amusing blog, via a deeply amusing ladyfriend.

Related posts: Balls, balls, balls; Breedin’; Biology is Destiny; Pregnant Women are Smug; Science Proves Men are Unnecessary

Call and response: Tips for the hollaback girl

20 Mar

How many of you have someone in your life who says little things from time to time that rub you the wrong way? Mine can be filed neatly into two categories:

The “blatantly-sexist-but-hey-it’s-a-joke-ha-ha category”:

• “Sarah makes better coffee than Steve. It must be a woman thing!”
• “I hear the phone ringing. Why doesn’t Sarah answer it? She’s the only woman around.”

And the “seemingly innocuous-but-actually scary” category:

• “Smile! It doesn’t cost anything.”
• “You must work out! You have such a nice figure”

The two categories call for two very different types of responses. Let’s address the former first, shall we? The sexist jokes are blatant. But when people say them in a joking tone, they expect you to take them as a joke. You don’t want to come off like a shrew, so you play along, right? Telling people outright that they’re being rude has a tendency to alienate, and you can’t always afford that – what if the “joker” is your boss?

But you can’t brush them off, or they’ll just get worse. When I was younger, I used to play along because I wanted to be liked. Now I make an effort to point out what’s wrong with the comments in a way that mimics the tone of the conversation. It takes practice, but it’s a worthwhile effort.

The second type is trickier:

• “Smile! It doesn’t cost anything.”

The smile directive sounds innocuous enough, but it’s inappropriate for the simple reason that no one has a right to dictate another person’s facial expressions.

If you need an object lesson in what’s wrong with “Smile! It doesn’t cost anything!” all you have to do is respond with “Don’t tell me what to do.” Sit back and watch how quickly that “friendly” comment turns nasty. If you respond this way to the wrong person, you can risk actual physical harm.


Case in point: A man sitting on a stoop, drinking out of a paper bag, ordered me to smile one day as I got out of my car (“Smile, it can’t be that bad” were his ironic words). My lack of response was rewarded with him spitting in the general direction of my shoes before I skedaddled.

The second comment, “You must work out! You have such a nice figure!” is one that can go either way. Coming from a close friend, it is usually a genuine compliment. Coming from anyone else, it’s a creepy red flag. I had a landlord who said this to me, and often. One day, I told him he was making me uncomfortable with his constant remarks about my figure (I lived alone. He had a key to my apartment. Of course he was making me uncomfortable!). Thirty days later, my apartment was “reclaimed.”

Unlike the other “innocuous” comments listed here, the “you’re hot” variety has no grey area. When it comes from someone other than your sister or best friend, it is never OK to brush it off. Like with my landlord, the person who is saying it has ulterior motives, and no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise, you know it. The sooner you tell him or her to shut it, the better off you are.

Pregnant women are smug

7 Feb

When you are a lady, and associate with other ladies, eventually you will either be forced to attend, or worse, forced to organize a baby shower for one of your many lady friends.

These things are weirdly sex-segregated excuses for the knocked-up to extort presents from their friends, and are one of my least favorite kinds of parties. The stupid games do not make up for the lack of booze, and the dearth of men seems unfair. After all, most babies are still made with sperm delivered the old-fashioned way, are they not? If we can’t do away with the antiquated baby shower tradition, we might as well spread the pain around.

So, in lieu of banishing baby showers and all they represent (a culture where motherhood is the be-all end-all of a woman’s life, where the drudgery of child-rearing is still primarily women’s work, where even “accidental” fetuses are greeted as if a glorious blessing), I give you this amusing video about how annoying pregnant women are:

A caveat: This clip fails to make fun of a big ol’ demographic of annoying dads-to-be, not to mention a whole swath of annoying actual dads. My hunt for parodies of fatherhood shall continue.

EVERBODY PANIC: Some women make more money than their husbands

19 Jan

I was punched in the face during my morning commute by Morning Edition’s oh-so-fresh take on that age-old problem, women making more money than men. ‘Cuz as we all know, the womenfolk TOTALLY have all the money and all the power.

OH WAIT. NO THEY DON’T.

See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for incontrovertible evidence. If you can look me in the face (or the blog, for that matter) and tell me there is no gender pay gap (not to mention racial pay gap), then I don’t want to be your friend anymore.

So, in light of any reasonable human being’s assessment of the facts, why the big story? NPR should have access to all the same statistics that a schmo like me has, right? But instead, they staidly teased the story thusly: “We’ll hear how marriages have changed since the 1970s, and how the fact that the growth of women in the workplace is TURNING MARRIAGE ON ITS HEAD!!!” The smarminess in the announcer’s voice was actually palpable.

The entire segment was built on anecdotal stories, not facts, figures or scientific studies. They interviewed a few whiny dudes who were all, “Man, it sucks not being able to tell my wife how to spend her money, since she makes so much more than I do. But it’s awesome having a sugar mama!”

They paid lip service to the ACTUAL, DOCUMENTED FACT that women make less than men on average by dedicating an entire fragment sentence to that. At the end, right before the “commercial” break where they name off all the call letters for every single NPR station in the entire Pacific Northwest.

Color me idealistic, but when a news organization starts covering “stories” I see teased in all caps on the covers of checkout-line magazines like Cosmo (when it’s not covered up to protect our young’uns fragile eyeballs from the corrupting POWER OF BOOBIES), I lose pretty much all my respect for them. Sure, some women make more money than their husbands. This is not news, nor something we can draw reasonable conclusions from without a great deal more study. To top it off, the way the story was presented it was grossly misleading: Interviewing a bunch of whiny assholes does not a news story make.

If you feel like having your mind polluted, read the full story here.

UPDATE: The New York Times covers this “story,” too, going so far as to call those unfortunates who’ve wound up making more money than their menfolk “victims.” Victims! Seriously! They close with this carefully chosen quote intended to scare ladies who might try to set their sights on a high-paying job:

“Ms. Zielinski … said her best friend, a man, told her once: “ ‘You are confident, have good credit, own your own business, travel around the world and are self-sufficient. What man is going to want you?’ ”

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