Monday, March 5, 2012

On what's relevant if you're female

1. At Camels With Hammers today, Daniel Fincke takes an admirable crack at a topic people have danced around quite a lot in discussing Rush Limbaugh's ridiculous portrayal of why women want birth control: not only does it have nothing to do with promiscuity, but you don't get to just assume there is something wrong with promiscuity regardless. That's not something on which we're all in agreement, okay? Never mind how difficult it is to define what counts as a "promiscuous" sex life as compared to a regular one, the problem with slut-shaming at its foundation is that it assumes there's something wrong with being (whatever you define as) a slut! So Fincke's post, No, You Can't Call People Sluts, bluntly points out that "slut" is to begin with a term meant to cast shame on something not only nebulous but (surprise!) not necessarily shame-worthy:
In no way, shape, or form do I take promiscuity to be, in itself, an immoral thing. So, no, I don’t think there is any word that you can use that I would find morally acceptable. You call that controlling your thought by not allowing you whatever insult you want? Sorry, that’s morality. It controls some things. You don’t want to be subject to my moral standards? Well, I don’t want consensual, responsible, promiscuous people who do not harm anyone to be subject to yours. I have a lot of good moral reasons to think they don’t deserve derision and that such treatment of yours towards them is unfair and worth calling out. So I’m not allowing that any abusive word aimed at men or women over their promiscuity is copacetic. I don’t have to acknowledge your moral right to use insults to bully people who are not doing anything morally wrong. Legally, you may say whatever you want that does not cross the line into actionable harassment, threats, or libel, etc. But morally if I allow you to call people sluts as perfectly acceptable, then I’m approving your value judgment as perfectly acceptable. You’re entitled morally to argue for the wrongness of promiscuity if you like. 
Your “distaste” is not an argument and nor is it a justification for dictating to others or for denigrating them.
2. At her blog, Greta Christina talks about how last when when she was speaking at the University of Chicago on the topic of atheism and sexuality, someone defaced a promotional poster for the event by writing next to a photo of her that she is "the ugliest of all atheists!" Because....somehow, that's relevant. Note: she admonishes readers not to attempt to reassure her that she's not ugly (which is true-- had to say that) because that undermines the point that it is, actually, not at all relevant. It's not relevant to how well she writes, how well she speaks, how qualified or educated she is, whether what she has to say is well-reasoned or compelling or humorous or insightful or timely or fun or....anything. But because she's female, people (both male and female) tend to think otherwise:
I’m reminded of something Tina Fey said in the New Yorker about show business. “I know older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women though, they’re all crazy. I have a suspicion — and hear me out, because this is a rough one — that the definition of crazy in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.” 
It’s not just show business. The definition of crazy is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore. Or, indeed, a woman who keeps talking even if the person she’s addressing doesn’t want to fuck her. A woman who keeps talking even if the person reading the poster advertising the talk doesn’t want to fuck her.

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