Archive for Everyday Wisdom

Just Another (International Women’s) Day

Can you celebrate a special occasion by merely going about on your daily routine?
Since I am poor and live far too far away from even the closest feminist, not to mention feminist organization, I was left with no choice but to do “nothing” for International Women’s Day. Or at least that’s what I thought, until the day was over and I paused to consider what I’d done. In the morning I went to the bank and opened a savings account. There was a time when a woman couldn’t have her own account in this country, and it’s still the case in many parts of the world. I then went to work, the daily drudgery I put up with in order to support myself. Again, there was a time when such a thing would have been unthinkable for a single young woman. But the best part of the day came at night. I went out with some friends and we ended up, somehow, in the supermarket. I asked my (girl)friend if I could drive her car around the parking lot. To my surprise, she handed me over the keys. And guess what! I drove a car! That’s right! I started it and I moved it around! It might not seem much to most people, who have probably been driving for as long as they can remember, but it certainly was a big deal for me. The last time I was behind a wheel was 2005. And I am known for not being able to start a car successfully, much less on the first go. So YAY for me! Once more, this is a luxury that we take for granted, but in many parts of the world women are not allowed to drive.

Happy (Belated) International Women’s Day to all!
(Especially to those of you isolated from fellow feminists)


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The Powerful Oppressed Paradox

I seem to have run into a paradox that I can’t solve for the life of me. It goes something like this.
It is by all acknowledged that in the past, in the industrialized nations, workers were far more oppressed than they are now. They had no rights, they were paid starvation wages, they had to work 10s of hours a day. So far, I get it. But here comes the question: if their oppression was so extreme, how could they gather the force to change their conditions so drastically? Particularly when we compare it with the world of work today. We see less oppression, but at the same time, not much is going on in trying to stop it. This will mean that, yes, in the long run, things will get worse.

This paradox takes a very similar form in the case of women’s liberation. It is by all acknowledged that in the past, in the industrialized nations, women were far more oppressed than they are now. And yet… they managed to organize and get laws passed. We all know that the women’s movement was more powerful when things were worse.

I am by no means the first person to point this out. I’ve seen it in the following form:

How is it possible that in the past women could fight for their rights and today women cannot even keep the rights they already have?

The case of abortion comes to mind. In the past, abortion was legalized. Today, we cannot even keep it legal.

Does anyone know what the solution to this paradox is? Were people in the past more oppressed at the same time as they were more empowered? Or is that a contradiction in terms?

Answers on a postcard.

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Y El Aborto Para Cuando

(the title of this post is in Spanish, and means, roughly, “When abortion?”) (yes, the original is not proper grammar either)

Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, has just legalized same sex marriage.

Abortion continues to be illegal throughout the country. And the whole of latin america.

Something here is very wrong.

When the news programme reported that the courts were considering to do this, my Dad said: “Va a haber matrimonio gay antes de haber aborto”. Which means, “Is there going to be gay marriage before abortion?”. Yes, my Dad is the best.

My own reaction upon hearing that the courts had done this was more succint: “F*UCK”.

I repeat, something here is very wrong. I blame identity politics.

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Very Important Note


Thank you

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Happily Oppressed

Have you noticed how the most oppressed groups tend to have quite “happy” stereotypes? In other words, how the most oppressed groups are expected to be the happiest?
The more I think about it, the more examples I find.
For african-americans there used to be the myth of the “happy slave”. Nowadays, I find that black people are often presented as cheerful and happy, especially women.
The case of latinos is particularly compelling. The whole of latinamerica is presented as this land of permanent partying, with permanently happy people. How could they not be happy with all those parties going on and all the pina colada sprouting from the ground of those happy white sand beaches?
For gay people, the idea is that they are, well, “gay”. And do we ever see them in any context outside of the tired cliche of partying semi naked in some parade or other?
What about disabled people? Is anyone interested in listening to the story of a severely disabled person who is not cheerfully happy despite the adverse circumstances? No, that wouldn’t be all that inspiring.
And last, but not least, we have the case of women. Women are always supposed to be happy and smiling to prove it. Women’s happiest day is when they get married. And we all know the myth of the “happy housewife”, which took all the energy of the second-wave feminists to debunk.
But this whole “happily oppressed” dealio reaches its highest, nastiest peak when we consider the myth of the “happy hooker”. The woman who is literally the least likely to be free to “choose”, the least likely to be “happy” (as long as we consider happiness to depend on freedom), that woman is the one who is supposedly the happiest. Indeed. On an entirely unrelated note, I was just listening to this podcast on poverty and drugs (and race) in the US and the woman speaking mentioned what a kid from Vegas told her: “I can’t stop working as a prostitute, I have two sisters to support”. Oh yeah, the happiness is so thick I cannot see through it.
I am not saying this is a perfect rule, nor am I saying that the happiness in the stereotype results directly from the oppression. But it is something to think about. Do we present these people with a happy face to ease the sense of guilt we might feel when we are the oppressors? Or maybe we do it to downright dismiss any claim that they might not have it all that happy and that somehow we might be benefiting from that? Could it be that they are actually happy because, since they cannot escape their oppression, well, why the Heck not be happy? Or maybe happiness is not tied to “freedom” but is actually in direct oposition to it?
At any rate, there is a big difference between oppressed people being happy and oppressors “expecting” oppressed people to be happy.

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“Men Are Not The Default Humans”

I have told you about Amananta before, haven’t I? Of course I have.

You know when you have a post in your mind that you just have to write about but keep postponing it for some reason? Well, I have many such posts. Fortunately, I have just stumbled upon a post by Amananta that echoes my thoughts so well I find it hard to not quote the whole thing here.

I’ll give you just a couple of soundbites to pique your interest, but by all means, pop over there and read it in full.

“The concept that MEN ARE NOT THE DEFAULT HUMANS and stereotypical male behavior (…) is not, by definition, the desirable trait does not seem to have occurred to them.”

“in some or perhaps even many or most cases, stereotypical female behavior is more desirable and more useful to the survival and well-being of the human race. Yet patriarchy tries to co-opt even feminism and say it should be all about proving women can be “as good” as men”

“I want to see men concerned about being as good as women”

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Your Ego!

Your Ego

If you’ve ever been within a kilometer of planet Earth, you will have heard at some point the argument that “the male ego is fragile”. It is annoyingly common in the sub-genre of the Malestream Media reserved for women. Why, one wonders, would WOMEN be concerned with the strength or lack of it in the MALE ego? Because it seems that by patriarchal decree, women have been appointed Official Carers of The Male Ego. Why the (dubious) honour? Are men’s egos more fragile than women’s? No. It’s because the male ego is oversized; and it’s women’s devaluation which makes up for the “extra” in it. And since that “extra” is obtained illegitimately, the ego needs constant “pumping” too keep itself in one piece.

So what’s the course of action? Tell men to suck it up and take care of their own damn egoes. So their ego is fragile? Well, mine is non-existent. And somehow I manage to survive without expecting anyone to come to my rescue when the non-existence of my ego takes its toll on me.

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