Posted by: Ophelia | July 10, 2010

Only petty people are bothered by casual prejudice

I was checking out Slate’s Dear Prudence this week and saw this truly out of touch answer.

Dear Prudence,
I am a proud gay man and for the last several years have worked in a high-ranking position for a company where my homosexuality has never been an issue. Recently, while a group of us were having lunch, the topic of two straight female celebrities kissing on an awards show came up. Everyone agreed that the kiss was a stunt, but one co-worker, with whom I’ve always been close, called it “trash.” She ranted about how it was indecent and that children were watching. It made me very uncomfortable that she displayed a hateful side I’d never seen before. She later apologized, saying that her comments were in no way directed to me. I accepted her apology, but I’m still very bothered by it because there was a tone of disgust toward gay people. I’ve changed around her and no longer talk to her about my personal life. She’s noticed and keeps asking me whether I’m still upset about that conversation. I say no, even though I am. I have great memories of the fun times we shared as friends, and I don’t want to bring this up because it could have an impact on our professional relationship. How do I tell her how I feel and finally put this behind me?

—Out

Dear Out,
When Joseph Biden declared his candidacy for the presidency, he evaluated his opponent, Barack Obama, by calling him “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” It was the kind of compliment that required an apology for its racism, yet presidential nominee Obama selected Biden to be his running mate. Which means you should let go of an ill-considered remark by someone you know to be a decent, nonhomophobic person. It’s possible your colleague’s ire was more about the slobbery, in-your-face nature of the kiss than a commentary on homosexuality. Surely, how she treats you is more indicative of her true feelings than her reaction to celebrities being deliberately provocative. It’s a mark of how comfortable she is with you that she could express her unfiltered opinion (which she won’t do again). When she saw you were upset and realized she may have been out of line, she apologized. It’s churlish and even mean-spirited on your part to accept her apology, yet behave in an obviously cool fashion. There’s nothing to be gained by re-airing the whole episode. I think you should tell her that she’s right—you’ve been letting the lunch incident eat at you, but you’re over it now, and you look forward to resuming your close relationship.

—Prudie

(emphasis mine)

You’ll note that Prudie immediately begins seeking to excuse the co-workers comments. You’ll also note that the original letter indicates that the co-worker stated that her comments weren’t directed at the writer, not that they weren’t intended to be homophobic. But clearly the writer is the smaller person for failing to regain his previous comfort with someone they now know/suspect to be disgusted by homosexuals. Really? We’re relying on Obama’s (highly strategic) move regarding Joe Biden’s articulate and clean comments to set the standard for regular social interactions?  Perhaps the writer doesn’t want there to be another incident where the co-worker expresses her “unfiltered opinion”. Frankly I think it’s mean spirited and naive to believe that things should go back to the way they were just because you apologized for your homophobic remark (or at least said “I didn’t mean you”). Moreover, apologies (if that counts as an apology) don’t mean that the person forgets what was said. Maybe it’s me but it sounds like Prudie thinks that people are entitled to say whatever they want and those who are injured by it shouldn’t be so uppity about accepting apologies and letting bygones be bygones. Maybe Prudie doesn’t realize that once you’re on notice that someone is disgusted by your existence, it’s hard to muster up any excitement for going out to a movie with them.

I also have difficulty believing that if the situation was the same but without the homophobia that Prudie would give the same advice. She’d probably say that maybe you shouldn’t bring up the reason for the end of the relationship but that you aren’t obligated to be someone’s friend because you work together.

Frankly I’d recommend a trip to HR if this lady won’t stop pestering you about why you don’t want to be best friends forever anymore.

A wise troll said this once. Of course he simultaneously claimed that

“Feminism is such bullcrap.  Women should get smart and not be so bothered by what is advised or expected of them.  Women use feminism to rant their woes, by doing so you make yourself a victim.  Women are stronger by standing by what they believe and feel.  The strongest woman is not a feminist.”

However, I like to believe that the quote that I’m using as the title is a glimmer of hope in an otherwise boring troll post. Women should stand by what we believe and feel (as long as we don’t rock the boat), especially if we’re challenging the status quo.

I will try to post more often. My excuse is that the second year of law school is brutal to say the least.

Posted by: Ophelia | November 5, 2009

What say you?

What do you think of this image?

princess(Jeff Brunner)

I agreed up until Belle. Perhaps it’s my inner little girl speaking but I don’t have as much of a problem with Belle as I have with the others. She’s independent and intelligent and isn’t waiting for the right man to come along and make all of her dreams come true–she knows that’s something that happens in story books not real life. I do understand the criticism of the message it sends that no matter how terrible he is to you, you can change him (there’s also a hint that potentially violent partners are an adventure in themselves). At the same time, I never felt that Belle’s personal goal was to woo the Beast or to make him a suitable partner–she was in a crappy situation trying to make the best of it and saw that he had the capacity to be more than a jerk. I just feel that if this were an earlier Disney movie, the movie would have ended shortly after the Beast saved her because when the prince saves you, you just fall in love–the end.

I mean much as I liked the Little Mermaid as a little girl, what does it really communicate? Obsessive stalking is love? Men like it more if you don’t talk? Change whatever you must about your physical appearance to get the man?

Also I feel that Belle and the Prince spend the most time together/have the most conversations before deciding they’re in love than the other princesses do in their movies indicating that love isn’t necessarily instantaneous. Additionally, along with the issues in the story re: Beast’s dangerous character, a more positive message is about not judging by appearances but by character–I can get behind that. If I had to pick my posion, I’d pick Beauty and the Beast. How about you? Are any of the movies salvageable? None of them?

Posted by: manafanana | November 5, 2009

Ableist Language in Advocacy

Advocacy in Flawed Systems: Using Shackling Language to Help a PWD?

This is a great post from FWD/Forward, an awesome blog that focuses on the intersection of feminism and disability issues. The post discusses how advocates are often obliged to use ableist language in order to get aid from government programs for their clients. Making their clients seem as helpless and tragic as possible helps ensure they qualify for the programs. This puts advocates in the impossible position of having to be complicit in the perpetuation of stereotypes about people with disabilities in order to get their clients the benefits they’re entitled to.

I actually remember this being an issue in our house back in the 90s when my mom was fighting to get my dad benefits. She always tried to make him look like the good little “vegetable” when it came time to beg the government or the insurance companies to please pay for what they have an obligation to pay for anyway. We’d have to emphasize all the things he couldn’t do and explain how “horrible” life had become for him. If they saw him as, you know, a PERSON with lots of friends who was capable of enjoying life, they would pack up and take off. There’s an assumption in the government that people with disabilities should either be miserable or (apparently) be produce before they’re “legitimately” disabled, and it’s unfair to the individual, their loved ones, their caregivers, and their advocates.

It’s also mystifying for those of us who’ve never seen a human being  suddenly turn into a carrot.

Posted by: Ophelia | November 4, 2009

Eddie from stereotype-ville

Good thing we made reference to him being a real person who works at the company or else this might be a commercial featuring a racial stereotype. Luckily the taste of the product will serve to keep people away. Yesh.

Posted by: Ophelia | November 4, 2009

Rihanna To Speak Out On ‘Good Morning America’

From Mtv.com

Although Rihanna hasn’t spoken publicly about the incident in the nine months since it happened, Brown has given several high-profile interviews in which he talked about the assault as well as his breakup from the singer.

Rhianna’s new cd is about to come out and it would have been impossible for her to do the interview without the assault coming up so it seems like she’s facing it head on.

Speaking to “Good Morning America,” the singer will send the message, “This happened to me. … It can happen to anyone,” according to excerpts of the interview released on Tuesday (November 3).

Up until this point the issue has been innundated with their peers excusing Brown’s assault on his girlfriend under the guise of not judging and similarly Brown has been showing his ass as my mother would say with obnoxious interviews about “mistakes” and posting twitter pictures of himself and Rhianna bemoaning the way they were–you know, before he assaulted her. Hopefully Rhianna’s interview will counter act some of the bullshit excuses and suppositions surrounding the assault.

Posted by: Ophelia | October 29, 2009

“Hospital forces lesbian to die alone”

Hospital forces lesbian to die alone

I found the allegations in this post terrifying. We tell people that the living will and power of attorney are important documents that will prevent this very thing from happening. If the hospital won’t pay attention to legally valid documents stating that someone is authorized to make medical decisions/recieve medical information about a partner–what do we tell them? How can they protect themselves? I doubt a hetero couple would have run into this problem–married or not, signed legal documents or not.

Posted by: Ophelia | September 23, 2009

This is relevant to my interests

So I’ve been taking a sabbatical of  sorts to focus on school and work, and because I was tried of routinely reading horrifyingly stupid/racist/sexist/ableist things. However, it follows me around. For one of my classes there is an online discussion board and you get class participation points for posting and replying. I’ll just give you an excerpt from one of the postings–now this article was posted with zero commentary but here’s just a taste.

In what has become a more or less common turn of events, the female Hofstra University student that accused five men, including one classmate, of gang raping her in a school dormitory bathroom has recanted the charges. That’s legal and media speak for admitting she cheapened herself by taking on five men willingly on a men’s room floor and lied about it later out of what little capacity for shame she had.

There should be too, I assume, and yawning again, a fair amount of finger pointing at feminists who pushed for and got these insane rape shield laws, resulting in so many travesties of justice, so many lives ruined.

Normally, I’d expect feminists to find a way to mistake cowardice for nobility.  Such delusions seem more their forte. It’s disgusting to see so many men do it.  But such behavior has become part of the modern masculine repertoire.  And frankly I am growing weary of men, myself included, protesting modern affairs as long as we are leaving jails and courtrooms like grinning weasels, wearing our disgraces like badges of honor.

Now this article is bemoaning the rape shield laws that protect accusers even once they recant. It’s completely even handed and not at all vitriolic. I believe I responded by stating that the rape shield laws aren’t impenetrable–whenever the media decides that a victim isn’t really a victim, they find her name and report it whether or not she ultimately recants. I added that the rape shield laws aren’t immediately repealed for those who recant since there’s plenty of reasons why someone might drop their suit and not all of those reasons involve “cheapening” oneself willingly. I didn’t get into the low numbers of false accusations or even–perhaps if this author knew more of the law he might be less enraged since if this woman ever presses charges in relation to a sexual assault again, this hofstra incident will not be covered by the rape shield law. She could be impeached as a witness by her prior false allegation–which could make it likely that a jury would not find her credible if it comes down to it and find for her alleged rapist.

Might I just add in that having a five way when you’re a guy earns no comment while if you’re a woman you have no shame and are cheap. Perhaps it’s these very attitudes that made the rape shield laws necessary? After all, they exist to protect the victim’s name so he/she cannot be harassed and to prevent them from being grilled about their general sexual history to determine whether or not they’re the type of person who probably deserved whatever they got or probably wouldn’t say no after all. Doesn’t the media still clamor for information about who the victim last slept with, or how many people have they slept with at once? Doesn’t society still find victims who are sexually active less sympathetic because they shouldn’t have been there/worn that/drank so much/ went with that person?

No, no, never that. Must be those feminists.

A downtown hotel being sued by a woman raped at gunpoint in its parking garage is claiming she was careless, negligent and “failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children and proper use of her senses and facilities,” according to court documents. (Connecticut Post)

The woman, identified in court papers only as Jane Doe, claims in the suit that Fricker had been in the hotel and garage acting suspiciously days before the attack, as well as the afternoon of the attack, and the hotel failed to notice him, apprehend him or make him leave. During the attack, security personnel did not see or stop him, the suit claims.

The hotel also claims as a special defense that the acts were unforeseen and beyond their control, that the woman and her children failed to properly “mitigate their damages,” and that the hotel had not been notified about Fricker.

The hotel also subpoenaed several people involved with the family, including a Pilates instructor, friends, tennis partners and the children’s baby sitter. The woman’s attorneys argue the individuals subpoenaed do not know anything about the attack, that the subpoenas inadvertently identified her to those people and that it was merely an effort by the hotel’s attorneys to intimidate her.

And down the rabbit hole we go with the theory that awareness of one’s surroundings alone repels rapists therefore, failure to notice someone creeping around is tantamount to recklessness (I could digress into how having a 3 and 5 year old with you might distract anyone and it doesn’t equal negligence or recklessness). Now I can buy a business arguing that since there were no prior similar incidents, it was unforeseeable that this would occur so they’re not at fault. I can see this defense even more clearly if it’s validated parking/a traditional parking garage where on the back you waive all your rights to protection from theft/anything else in perpetuity throughout the universe. I don’t buy “yeah well you’re negligent and we’re going to ask your friends and family to attest to your general negligent behavior” as a reasonable defense. It smells like a kitchen sink defense and it’s ripe. Not only that, but if the hotel is successful in that defense, why would anyone ever park in their parking garage? Basically, they don’t seem to monitor it and if anything happens to you while on their property–tough for you, should have paid more attention. I wonder if they would have pulled the same defense if she had been robbed. Do you think they would have subpoenaed the pilates instructor about her propensity to not defend herself from robberies?

Posted by: Ophelia | August 6, 2009

Racist AND Misogynist? What a catch

Feministe pokes holes in the narrative about the poor guy who was so lonely that he had to go out and murder two women and injure several others at that L.A. Fitness.

I wonder why some media outlets have chosen to present this situation as if it was based in lonliness rather than entitlement and anger. The things this guy wrote indicate that he believed that women owe him something. By deciding to bathe and slap on some cologne, he was entitled to some sort of regular sex. A friendly smile should have translated into some friendliness between the sheets and because it didn’t it’s the women who were wrong. It couldn’t be his thinly veiled entitlement, misogyny, and racism that kept others away. No, it must be those thirty million stuck up ladies who just wouldn’t have him. How many more incidents like this are necessary before our society is forced to look at the harm misogyny can and does do? It creates this entitlement to women’s bodies and anger when that debt isn’t paid which feeds directly into the violence regularly committed against women.

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