Saturday, August 7, 2010

You Know What They Say About Assuming and Asses

My whole view of feminism is one based upon assumption: never assume that someone is going to behave a certain way just because they are a woman or man. It's not about the way we portray ourselves, it's about the way we react to others.

I am a fucking feminist, and I am proud of it. It's not a bad word, you twits, all of those people who spit it out with disdain. This is why:

I love cleaning because of the satisfaction of a job well done. I love zenning out when washing dishes every night. I love sewing and designing and creating something out of unexpected parts. I love carpentry. I started building a clock. I'm nowhere near finished, but the process is more important to me than anything else. I love working on my bike. I love comic books and movies and shows that are about the government and swords and science and the army, I love conspiracy theories and my lay-z-boy, I love dogs, I love helping people move because I'm unnaturally strong. I love playing baseball and throwing punches. I love video games. I love the sunrise, but only after staying up all night. I love being right, I love dreams, I love good beer, good banter, and good-looking guys. I love guys just in general.

Guys usually don't like me, though, because I can't abide the ignorant ones. I get angry with them when they say fucking ridiculous things like, "You probably didn't know this, because you're not a guy" which, after having to prove my worth through knowledge, inevitably leads to "I didn't know girls knew about _______."

"You're a fucking idiot, then."


"Seriously, you're a fucking idiot."

"No it's cool, I think it's awesome. I hate it when girls try to pretend they like something just you know, to be 'more like a guy.' You're the real deal."

That is not a compliment. "That's fucking stupid, why would you assume that?"

"No, I mean like, you're different."

"But you're not." Conversation over. I'm not going to coddle him and explain to him that I'm not trying to be like a fucking man, that my interests do not make me masculine or dude-ish. I'm not going to explain to him that not all girls can be lumped into one category or another. Sure, stereotypes exist for a reason, but basically every single woman I know is somehow an exception to the rule.

Ergo, shouldn't we change the rule? Why can't loving Predator be associated with women? Why can't loving shoes be associated with men? I got male friends that are goddamn obsessed with shoes, it's just sneakers and boots instead of heels and...well, boots.

How about instead of changing the rule, we open it up a little bit. I understand associating qualities that have been attributed to women over the past several thousand years with femininity, and likewise for masculinity. It's hard to change centuries of stereotype and societal roles. But do not assume that I will behave one way just because I'm a girl.

The way I figure it is this: is it more important for my house to be clean and my meal to be delicious than the opposite? Yes, yes it is. I will get it done. Is it more important for me to know how to change a tire and the oil in my car than to hire someone else to do it? Yes, yes it is. I will get it done. Is more it important for me to know how to walk down the street with confidence when I'm alone than to ask someone to walk with me? Yes, yes it is. I will get it done. Is it more important to me behave in a way that feels natural and right instead of adhering to a stereotype because I'm supposed to? Yes. I will get it done.

Do not assume, merely because someone is a girl, that she doesn't know what the fuck she's talking about. Do not assume that because someone is a feminist, it means she wants to be like a man.

Do not assume that she don't have all of the knowledge and interests that men stereotypically have. Do not assume that she can't get shit done, that she's defenseless, that she isn't brave, that she isn't smart, that she isn't funny. Do not assume she spends time on her hair, or spends to much money on clothes. Do not assume she isn't handy around the house, that she can't lift heavy things, that she can't protect you. Do not assume she loves housework, or that she cries all the time.

But likewise, do not assume she loves sports. Do not assume she loves camping, that she hates to feel pretty, that she loves traveling, that she loves Star Wars. Do not assume she never wants children or a husband. Do not assume And here's why: you don't know her. All you know is that she probably has tits and a vagina, and you can't even assume that in some cases.

And men? Do not talk down to her because you need to talk down to "most girls." That's bullshit. You don't need to talk down to girls at all. "Most girls" just don't give a shit how you speak to them, because they aren't bothered by your tone. They expect you to have that tone because they assume you are an ignorant man that makes ignorant assumptions and that you don't know any better.

But if she's aggressive and exceptionally high-strung, and will not accept your ignorance because that's the way it is, she will fight back.

Here's the thing: men respect strong women, this is true. But what drives me fucking crazy is that they assume that for a woman to be strong, she has to have the qualities of a man.

I am not looking for the approval of men. I'm not looking for someone to appreciate how similar I am to their male friends. I am not looking for someone to care for and protect me and to do the 'man jobs' around the house. I'm looking for a man who understands that I don't need it, who doesn't expect me to wilt. Do I need a man to feel like a woman? No.

But with the right kind of man, with a man who is also a feminist? It helps.


  1. See Rossi, I love this because I see another facet of you I might not have imagined. I also love your idea of individualistic feminism, the sort of, I am who I want to be, don't categorize me...

    I also love cleaning and sometime feel a powerful meditative pull to something as simple as organizing a drawer. Still, in my house, my husband is the more nurturing of the two of us and I am the whip cracker. I am also the family negotiator because my husband will pay sticker price on everything from cars to carpet and though he makes more money than I do, I have saved us thousands by my awesome powers of negotiation.

    We should be allowed to be who we are. I also think that kids grown withing the paradigm you give them, that's why I am careful about what toys I give our kids. No Bratz dolls that teach them subconciously that the most important thing about being a girl is what you look like. We also praise them for accomplishments and while I want them to feel good about themselves, I watch how oftern I tell them they are pretty. I spend more time telling them they are brave and clever and I praise their fierce independence. I want all three of my kids to be well rounded, in their interest, abilities and concept of self.

    Thanks for your perspective on this.

  2. Rass--This is a great post. At the risk of sounding antifeminist, I bet there's a great, brave, strong, smarter-than-shit guy out there looking for you. (Or maybe you already found him and just aren't telling us.)

  3. Men who admire women for qualities that they feel aren't "feminine"/are "masculine" are bad news. It speaks volumes about their basic concept of women (and men), and their inability to see through stereotypes to the real people in front of their noses.

    The same would apply in reverse to women, obviously.

  4. Does it seem like the lines are blurring a bit more these days? I hope so, anyway. I'm 35, and it seems like women and men, oh, even 10 years younger are breaking a lot of these gender roles that seemed natural and unbreakable to women and men my age.

    I am rather a girly-girl, and my man is rather a manly-man, but he cries at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and I am a shitty homemaker. So we wiggle the lines a little bit, in little ways. Maybe those little shifts will turn into big ones in years to come.

  5. It is fucking annoying when guys say shit like that. And yes, it's offensive. But I have always been annoyed with guy guys and that kinda shit was usually coming from them. I have always been drawn to androgynous men who could relax and just be whoever and enjoy the entire spectrum of being human, tears and weakness and fear and all. And I feel the exact same way about women who can embrace certain parts of being human that we have been socialized into thinking are male qualities like independence and resourcefulness and being mechanical.

    In Spain I go a little crazy. Surprisingly, I have never had a problem with macho type men here, I haven't seen it as much in my generation, save the incapability they have in cleaning, but as far as having intelligent conversations, I have never once heard the kind of comments I've heard from American men about being 'smart for a girl' or 'cool for a girl'. Women, on the other hand, are a completely different set of fauna, though. It's hard to find women that are independent and that can do much of anything without a hand to hold and I find it unnerving. People comment on how I 'drove all by myself' somewhere and ask why I wanted to go for a walk all by myself and how sad that I didn't have anyone to come with me. Women here are constantly talking about how they are afraid of things - flying in an airplane, driving on the highway, getting in the ocean, sleeping a night at home by themselves, encountering a kitten in the street, etc. I just sit and stare and try to understand but I can't.

  6. Ohh, I saw a really scary kitten when I was walking by myself the other day. :)

  7. Kitten? I don't even go outside without my husband. Oh, and my veil.

    Veil of female shame that is.

  8. What if we just didn't give a shit who does what? I would love that.
    I am unnaturally strong and do more physical labor every day than most men I know.
    I also like to make my husband a very nice dinner.
    And sometimes it's the complete opposite.
    Who cares who does it.

  9. I am trying, trying like hell to raise 2 feminists. One is a boy. I will read him this post. Except I will take out the "fuck"s. Well, not all of them. They just kind of make it work.

  10. This makes me think for sure. I was going to college in the early 80s in Oklahoma studying science. Then we kind of had to choose sides. I was a feminine biologist. Feminism was men versus women initially. We sort of had to find the extremes to create a middle. I do think there is already a huge shift to accepting self in the younger women around here. I truly see change.

    But for those of us reared on separatism I get the chasm between male and female. I do think there is a generational prospective. I think feminism helped men more than women initially. They got to become more attentive, emotional people in the embrace of their feminine energy, I think women have been very critized for embracing their strength which is odd because that inherent femine strength has literally built communities.

    I am really loving this blog.