Brute Reason

A collection of thoughts about psychology, social justice, and anything else I give a shit about. freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason

Topics: feminism / psychology / lgbtq / sex / politics / abortion / health / mental illness / language / depression / sexism / sexual assault / fashion / racism / education / social justice

my actual writing, if you're curious

Sorry, my outfit is too cute today.

I don’t get how I’m supposed to maintain a sense of competence and confidence when:

1. I still don’t have a field placement for next year because 5 of my 6 preferred placements turned me down without even meeting me just because of my age (I was told this; I am not assuming); and

2. It is apparently okay for a professional educator to tell me not to even bother writing a proposed piece because I don’t have a PhD in a tangentially related field, even though I did not ASK for his fucking opinion.

Even the most intense criticism of work I have actually done is preferable to being prevented from doing the work in the first place because I am automatically presumed incompetent due to factors like age, gender, and education level rather than factors like skill and experience.

So FUCK all that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent” bullshit. I DID NOT CONSENT TO THIS. It happened to me anyway.

Shit I need to write:

- that fucking Buzzfeed privilege quiz
- that fucking scene where they discuss rape in Perdido Street Station
- the ethics of shaming people online in order to protect yourself
- that fucking thing where people jump to demanding solutions without having taken the time to understand the problem and listen to those affected by it
- can evolutionary psychology be good science?
- can you criticize Islam without being Islamophobic?
- that study that shows that young women think male violence is just normal
- that study about the personality traits of online trolls
- that study about how having a partner idealize you can harm the relationship
- that study about how marginalized people appreciate hearing messages of social change more than messages of social support but “allies” are more likely to give message of social support
- that study about _______

Now imagine trying to think about all this shit at the same time and you have my brain. No wonder I’m so exhausted and overwhelmed like all of the time. :P

Gender policing is all about the little things. It’s the daily, intimate terrorism of beauty and dress and behaviour. In this as in so much else, feminists who are not transsexual can learn a great deal from trans writers and activists - I’m indebted to the work of Charlie Jane Anders, and Julia Serano, both of whom talk about how femininity gets captured by capitalism, and how that homogenous, compulsory performance of femininity becomes a scapegoat for all society’s bad feelings about women in general and trans women in particular. So it is not enough to feel that you are a woman - you have to prove it with a hundred daily conformities and capitulations. The reason the Veet advert is so hurtful, the reason the “Women Eating on the Tube” site and its backlash went so viral, is that they both spell out gender policing at its simplest level – behave, be quiet and pretty and compliant, control your messy, hairy, hungry self, or you are not a woman at all.
The problem arises when any behaviour, however private and personal, is socially enforced. The problem arises when, according to the language of Veet, you have to go through the expensive and time-consuming rigmarole of shaving to prove that you are a proper, well-behaved woman and therefore worthy of the kisses of easily-shocked men with boring haircuts. And the problem arises when this sort of pop controversy is used as a decoy, distracting us from structural arguments about class, power and privilege. Body hair, in particular, has become an obstructive stereotype when it comes to feminist history – sexist commenters speak of “hairy-legged-feminists” when what they really mean to say is that women who do not conform, women who refuse to perform the rituals of good feminine behaviour, are a deeply fearful prospect.
Maria [Kang] and Gwyneth [Paltrow] aren’t being criticized or loathed for their choices as they pertain to their own bodies. They are being criticized for trying to suggest that everyone should make the choices that they have, and ignoring the fact that many people made the same choices that they did but got different results. They are being criticized for responding with superiority, condescension and shame to anyone who makes different choices, or who isn’t able to attain what they think we should attain, including those for whom it is outside of their control. They are being criticized for calling themselves oppressed simply because they aren’t able to contribute to the oppression of others without being called out on it.
Q
I notice you've been posting a lot of shakesville's content and I have to say THANK YOU because it's always brilliant and on point. Finding shakesville was the reawakening of my Feminism which had lain dormant for some time for reasons and reasons.
A

I really enjoy Shakesville, too.

What I find really fascinating about these two anecdotes is that they both deal with the consent of children not yet old enough to communicate verbally. In both stories, the older child must read the consent of the younger child through nonverbal cues. And even then, consent is not this ambiguous thing that is difficult to understand.

Teaching consent is ongoing, but it starts when children are very young. It involves both teaching children to pay attention to and respect others’ consent (or lack thereof) and teaching children that they should expect their own bodies and their own space to be respected—even by their parents and other relatives.

And if children of two or four can be expected to read the nonverbal cues and expressions of children not yet old enough to talk in order to assess whether there is consent, what excuse do full grown adults have?
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