The cardinal tenet of the Contraceptive Regime is that The Pill safely sterilizes the sexual act. As a result of this belief, we accept the idea that we can have sex with anyone we want, without regard for potential consequences. We think we can have sex with a person who would be a disaster to parent with. And when the inevitable pregnancy actually occurs, we act surprised every time. Women are then faced with the choice of becoming a single mother, having an abortion or placing the baby for adoption. None of these choices is particularly good for the child, nor in the end, for the woman.
A demonstration over school dress codes at Fredericton High School has led to police being called in and several students facing sanctions, including suspension.
A campaign against school uniforms was launched by Fredericton Youth Feminists. According to a student involved in the project, requiring a dress code plays into the rape culture, and as one teen stated, “if a teacher finds my shorts inappropriate, they are sexualizing me.”
Unlike many jaded women, I do think there is still a place for feminism. Some argue that all the battles have been fought and we need to move on. Women are rolling their eyes at feminists who crash events by flashing their bare breasts and screaming obscenities. If feminists are left fighting over the “right” to wear short shorts, they’d argue that clearly all the feminist battles of substance have been fought and won. I agree, but only in part.
If feminism means the fight for the right of women to be treated with respect and dignity, bring on the battle. In the last few weeks, there has been extensive news coverage of the horrors of female genital mutilation and the cruelties associated with child marriages. Little girls need more women, like passionate feminists, to fight for them when they are unable to fight for themselves.
As for wanting to fight the rape culture, feminists need to condemn porn and the porn industry with vehemence. Experts in the field are tracing the rape culture right back to pornography, with one explaining that it “sexualizes violence against women.” It’s not hard to imagine that a culture addicted to internet porn, which displays men using, hurting and raping women is changing for the worse.
If women want to assemble and work together under the umbrella of feminism, they should. Others, like me, will choose to label ourselves as human rights advocates. And others still, like those fighting for the liberation of women trapped in human sex trafficking, may choose to call themselves abolitionists.
The students who organized a rally and gave speeches could refocus their energies toward saving the lives of girls and women, and fighting for laws to protect girls their age and younger from mutilation and rape. Event planning and public speaking are incredible tools for any advocate and these young feminists can channel their passion, gifts and abilities toward real causes. Fighting for the “right” to wear short shorts is neither a serious cause, nor any type of human right.
Lastly, to the feminist students: an institution may set standards of behaviour and dress while still condemning the rape culture and teaching men to respect women. The activities are not mutually exclusive. Many employers and institutions have established dress standards and sexual harassment policies. By requiring dress in accordance with guidelines for institutional conformity, you are not being sexualized. You are being asked to adhere to a standard while you attend your school, and nothing more.
But be passionate. Learn about human rights. Develop the skills you will need if you choose to fight for women who are suffering discrimination and violence. The world needs more women who will advocate for those suffering oppression. Be that voice.
I am writing a book about the sexual revolution with my friend Rebecca Walberg. More accurately, I am researching a book right now, so please don’t ask me how writing is going for I will rapidly begin to hyperventilate and it will be awkward for everyone.
I am using this opportunity to catch up on the women’s studies education I never had. And, quite frankly, never wished I had. I’m starting my reading at the very beginning, with a historical defence of the rights of women. Enter one Mary Wollstonecraft.
As a side comment, I’m intrigued by her description of problems she sees around her, which I would hazard to say, in some instances are not all that different today.
So on I read, and enjoying it more than I thought.
Mary Wollstonecraft is long-winded, yes, even more than I. And so in reading today I flipped forward in the pages to see when the chapter would end and what the next chapter might be about.
The next chapter is called: “Chapter III: THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.”
And there you have it. Who said that a spirited defence of women’s rights had to have creative chapter headings? Not I.
Products for women…from people who care.
This university bathroom ad on top of a tampon machine is either severely outdated or going for a retro look. (I took the photo this morning.) Note the trademark on freedom of choice, too. Reminds how pro-life or pro-choice, we are all selling an idea, a worldview. People who are activist and pro-choice abuse the word “freedom,” kicking it around and making it meaningless. Freedom, free will gives us the right to make good choices, which leads to more freedom. Freedom that sells bad choices enslaves. I believe we are all free to make bad choices, I just think it’s better to label them as such…instead of tying up horse manure in shiny packaging and putting a bow on it. In any event, a thought-provoking trip to the loo, if I do say so myself.
This article about what makes a man just proves few today actually know.
I read it with great interest because there is a need for men to mentor men in what it means to be masculine. Fathers ideally would be doing this for their sons. However, I recall being at a conference about human sexuality where the speaker asked who had a good, strong, solid relationship with their father and I would say less than ten percent of people put up their hands. So something has gone wrong.
In any event, I think we’ve hit a spot now where we demean men and women equally (hurray?), men have poor or no role models and then we layer on uber-sexualized advertising, pop culture, etc. and it all becomes very problematic.
So this guy can say this without a hint of irony:
I love to have sex, but I don’t put notches on my belt because that’s weird and objectifying. I don’t rape because that’s weird and objectifying. I still consider myself a player, if you can call me something like that, because I still have lots of sex. I just don’t do it in ways that are demeaning to women.”
It’s time for Captain Obvious to step in here. If you call yourself a player the very concept is demeaning to not just women, but perhaps more importantly, yourself. Any man who has lots of sex with many different women is demeaning himself and those women. The same is true for women engaging in the same behaviour.
I’ve been reading some modern feminists lately and mostly I find them to be more than slightly unhinged. BUT there are moments where they describe feeling objectified or offended by sexual comments in public and I relate. It’s as though they are seeking the same standard of decency as I am, whilst expressing that in a weirdly offended and angry way.
Ladies and gentlemen: Expect renewed calls for a Prude Revolution from yours truly. Yes that’s right, we need to take back the word. Embrace it (in the words of an old Saturday Night Live sketch “say it, feel it, mean it, be it!” (said with sass). Everyone is having lots of sex everywhere and all I can see is rising despair, objectification of men and women, violence against women, and rising rates of abuse. Faced with this, I will be proudly prudish and hope to create the space for others to feel the same.
The ancient, organic, and timeless design of man and woman has been revered across all cultures throughout human history. There is a singular wisdom and beauty of this complementarity that “fits” with the universe. The family, founded on marriage, is our first school in what it means to be human, how to love, to seek communion with and be a gift to another person: man for woman, and woman for man. This relationship between man and woman—including their sexual union and its fruits—is the very “grammar” of society.
This is the introduction to a beautiful series on marriage that has been part of a three day, international, inter-religious conference on marriage held at the Vatican. It touches on all aspects of marriage and is superbly put together. What I like about it is that it considers marriage from both western and eastern worldviews.
Here is another snippet from one of the videos:
Most all cultures have seen the yin and the yang, masculinity and femininity threaded throughout the cosmos. Men and Women “fit” into this design. Gender theory portrays men and women in conflict with each other, but the reality beyond stereotypes is that men and women actually enrich and complement each other in their differences. Men and women are not the same. We’re different but equal. Culture is always changing but it builds on real differences, and cannot be changed without profound consequences, because complementarity is rooted in a human, social, and even cosmological reality.
Presented with great wisdom drawn from the ages, and from cultures the world over, this beautiful and inspiring series of short videos is a MUST SEE.
It’s quite reasonable to suggest that Taylor’s shirt wasn’t exactly the most professional choice of clothing for an interview, but I’ll let his employer reprimand him for that. It’s less reasonable to suggest that a shirt — a shirt — can drive women away from pursuing careers in science and technology… Taylor’s critics have also claimed that his clothing creates a toxic work environment for women. That may be true; again, I have no idea. But I’d wager it’s more toxic to suggest that women are so frail, of such feeble resolve, that they can be derailed from scientific careers by a printed T-shirt. […]
Whatever point Taylor’s critics are trying to make about workplace social climate is being overshadowed by how ridiculous the whole thing seems: man achieves remarkable scientific feat, social justice warriors complain about his T-shirt. The unintended consequence is that it reinforces all the negative stereotypes about privileged Western feminists; that they are humourless, hysterical and forever sweating the small stuff, with few “real” issues of equality left to worry about.
The outrage over Matt Taylor’s wardrobe will certainly change people’s actions; I assume most scientists will stick to a jacket and tie from now on. But will it change perceptions of feminists; this fury over Taylor’s error — ill-timed, and ill-delivered as it was? I’d say certainly not. Indeed, I suspect it will do just the opposite.
Oh, Western feminism. Find your way home again. There are some battles – real battles – for you to fight.
In May, I released a long sigh of frustration over “feminist” fights against “sexist” dress code policies which prevent girls from showing their black bra straps at school. I should also note that dramatic eye rolling accompanied the sighing. I’m not going to re-hash how much of the “feminist” debate over dress codes is rather ridiculous. There’s a good article by Trent Horn which examines the fallacies involved in the “dress code debates.” I’ll let Horn do the talking.
Rather than telling society that women need to kill their children in order to be equal, or arguing that high school girls must be allowed to show their bra straps in order to experience equality, perhaps as feminists we could chose to fight other battles. And perhaps we could teach our daughters, those who are organizing rallies and talking to the press about their ‘right’ to wear short shorts at school, about real human rights violations and sexism being experienced by women. We could help them focus their energies on calling for change that would save women’s lives and protect them from abuse. What a thought.
The following articles raise practices or trends that feminists could call out, and encourage others to join their fight. Some feminists are already raising their voices in support of women and girls affected by the atrocities and practices mentioned in the articles below. I hope that those women fighting for the right to wear short shorts in Western high schools feel compelled to refocus their energies.
These three stories were published in the last few days:
Child marriages draw scrutiny from Ottawa: “The most recent report by New York-based Human Rights Watch interviewed 135 girls and women across Tanzania and concluded that the practice of forced marriage – involving girls as young as seven in some cases – was causing serious harm because of gaps in the country’s child protection system.”
Fighting Female Genital Mutilation: “Egyptian government figures put the rate of female genital mutilation among women ages 15 to 49 at 91 percent. Among teenagers 15 to 17, it is 74 percent.”
Winnipeg conference to examine ‘pornification’ of kids: “The message to girls is that the way to show they’re liberated is to just take it. Whether someone feels any pleasure is irrelevant in a pornified context.”
These stories make the black bra strap fights look rather silly, don’t they?
This thought of the day courtesy of an old interview with Rochelle Gurstein, author of The Repeal of Reticence. The whole interview speaks to me, as I consider how it is that we got to be where we are. (Where are we, you ask? Base reality TV shows as entertainment, lewd advertising and crass lyrics, ramped up sexuality everywhere and what’s worse, some folks advocating for it as freeing.)
Before the turn of the century, people could only speak about sexual intimacy as either lust or love-it had a moral component built into it. What the sex reformers tried to do in the name of freeing people from Freudian neuroses was to split off sex from the valuation of shame or lust or love. This didn’t make sense to the party of reticence. They rejected the notion that we start with a fact of biology and then clothe it with some kind of value. Rather, the value and the fact are one.
Thanks to Christina Hoff Sommers for this very factual, reasonable look at cat calling on city streets. REASONABLE. That’s why I appreciate it.