Sunday, April 17, 2011

Need Some Help Setting That Strawman Alight?

My dad loves Rush Limbaugh. Did I ever tell you that? It's true. At home, my mother somehow confined it to his office, but in the car, he was the man, he drove, he controlled the radio. It got to the point where I would do anything to avoid being in a car with him. It wasn't just the general meanness of Rush, it was that Rush coined "feminazi" while I was in high school and he delighted in whipping it out at every opportunity. I felt, as a nascent woman, demeaned and belittled every time I heard it, as Rush intended.

At the time, I had no training in logical argumentation and no education in feminism. All I had was the knowledge that there was nothing a man could do that I couldn't do just because he was a man*- other than get an erection, and judging by the struggles of boys in math class, I didn't think I was missing out on much. So I sat and listened to my entire gender, the core of my being, repeatedly slandered and dismissed in frustrated silence, while misogynistic garbage seeped into my subconscious. Thanks, dad!

Now, I know better. The feminazi is a strawman, a construct of Rush's imagination representing an evil that does not exist, an evil so outsized and ludicrous anyone could knock it over. Problem is, if you repeat something enough, a certain number of people will simply assume it's true. If I didn't think it would end very badly for us all, I'd start telling people that 2+2=5. If enough of us did it, we'd change the world forever . . . in a really bad way.

Anyway, let's play Spot the Strawman with this post:

So…this post is directed more towards guys, but, girls, you are welcome to comment and back me up on all this…because I know that you’ll agree with just about all of these. ;)

Um, no.

open doors for us. I know that some feminist women out there don’t, but don’t let that discourage you. The more times women (who don’t know what they’re talking about!) snap at you for holding a door open for them…the more times you should.

1. Has anyone ever snapped at someone for holding a door open for them? I never have. Neither has anyone I've held a door open for. I say "thank you" and the most negative reaction I've ever gotten for holding a door open is no reaction at all.

2. If a person, male, female, other, requests that you not do something for them, no matter how polite you meant to be, don't do it. Now you're not being polite, you're being rude. Being rude should not be your goal. All this proves is that you're an enormous asshole with control issues.

ask if you could help us with anything. This can either be carrying a bag (not necessarily heavy) to the car, taking something for us, holding something for us…you name it. We appreciate it.

In what context, exactly? Asking people you know if they would like help is, again, simple manners. I do it all the time, at work, at home, wherever. Asking people you do not know if they would like help, especially in the context of woman/man unknown to her, is significantly more risky. By "risky" I mean that you may scare the woman in question. I've been freaked out by that. More than likely, those men were being nice and only wanted to help me, but I don't know that and I've been raised on "she looked in his direction and then he raped her!" stories, so, no, it's not polite or nice to scare complete strangers.

Then there's the creepy factor. If I'm carrying a small bag and some guy asks if he can help me with that, c'mon now, you can tell I don't need the help. You're hitting on me, aren't you? Look, I'm just trying to get this dog food home so I can feed my dog. Leave me alone. See? Again, not a positive interaction.

offer to help make dinner. You have NO IDEA how much we love seeing this in a guy. No, kitchen duty isn’t ‘girlie’ or ‘for women’. Honestly, a guy who enjoys cooking and being in the kitchen is…a good catch. ;) My Dad (and I’m not saying this to put him down or anything!) cannot make anything more than some eggs and toast. And HE has told me to marry a guy who can cook – because he knows how much of a help it would be to Mama if he only knew. ;)

If he only knew. Is he incapable of learning to cook? Does he have some sort of cooking specific learning disorder that prevents such knowledge from entering his brain? What an asshole. "Oh, sure, honey, I'd love to help, but I just don't know how! Too bad, so sad!" Gah! (Full disclosure: my husband has quite a talent for cooking and enjoys it, so he does most of the cooking. I have no real talent for it, but, since I can read, I can follow a recipe when I have to, which I do when my husband needs the help.)

Also, cooking is girlie? Since when? Professional cooking is a man's world that women have trouble breaking into. Turn on the cooking channel and watch the serious cooking challenge shows that involve head chefs at successful restaurants. Most of them will be men.

offer your arm. So what if this is old-fashioned? And it doesn’t have to be ‘romantic’ or anything. People make it out like that all the time in this flirty culture. But honestly, I think it is romantic (in a pure way!) when a guy courteously and gentlemanly offers his arm to a girl – either to walk her into a building, out to her car, up to the door of her house, etc. Of course, this also depends on how far the girl’s family’s standards on guys-girls-touching…maybe you guys could ask the dad. ;)

You know what, why don't you ask her how much touching she is comfortable with. I have no comfort with touching strangers. At all. I will avoid doctor's appointments for this reason. However, there is a practical reason for the whole arm thing, and if you've ever worn 5" platform heels to an outdoor wedding, you know what that reason is. What I can't figure out is why is that particular touch "pure"? Oh, I know, it's old-timey!

ask our dads for permission to be in contact with us. Okay, so don’t freak out. :) You may be thinking, ‘wow! But I’m just e-mailing this girl as friend. I’m not interested in her or anything’. Okay, I think that’s great! :) But we feel honored and respected when a guy takes the time to contact her dad for permission to e-mail/talk on the phone/be friends on FB . . .

Really? You don't feel like maybe you should make your own decisions about whom you talk to? You don't feel like maybe you're an adult and by now you should be trusted to be able to speak to people without being monitored? I has a sad for you.

So, there it is, the vicious feminazi, snapping at men who open doors, carrying her own bags and making her own friends. Oh, she is just so awful!

*People like to say things like "lift heavy objects, durrh", but that's a function of me being small and physically weak and other people being larger and/or stronger, not sex. Or, as my husband likes to say, "I don't know who plays Xena, Warrior Princess, but I do not want to get into a fight with her."


  1. oh, Rush!

    and, oh, Patriarchy-Compliant-Girl! [i am forced to assume that she calls herself a "girl" because she appears to be unmarried, and unmarried women who hold to these very-patriarchy-induced views aren't considered "women" until married]

    seriously - i once - ONCE! - had a guy ask my dad if he "could court your daughter"
    Dad: well, in general, the person you SHOULD be asking is Elizabeth. but, since you seem unable to grasp the fact that my daughter is an adult human being with her own agency, will, desires, wants and needs, then NO, you may not date my daughter. know how i know? i'm going to tell her about this, and she's going to be so fucking pissed she'll never talk to you again"

    it warms my heart, that my dad knows me so well :)

    my dad isn't perfect - and when he's not perfect, boy is he an ass. but, i have NEVER, not once, felt that my dad would have "prefered" a son, or felt "cheated" that he "only" got daughters, or that he somehow thought less of me because i was female.
    [my dad is currently in a deep depression, almost as deep as mine, about how i need FOUR FUCKING CLASSES, GODSDAMNIT - he almost cried at my crying that i had to quit school. he helped me deal with the all-male-but-me classes, and the daily grind of sexism and misogyny that i dealt with, while being angry on my behalf. and UNLIKE my mother, he KNOWS pregnancy might kill me. he said "just promise me, if they DO get around to genetic surgery before you're too old, find a way to have someone else have a kid for you, with your brain and creativity and WITHOUT porphyria. and maybe without the depression, every freaking member of our family is depressed" whereas my MOTHER said "can't you wait til you've given me a couple of grandkids?" to which i said "Mom, are you actually asking me to kill myself?" she got all pissed, and then said "What i MEANT was, if you go into remission, you can have a baby with no problem!" to which *I* said "i've NEVER gone into remission, what are the chances? and there are ALWAYS problems. you want more grandkids, you have 2 other daughters. harass THEM, neither of THEM has active porphyria!"]
    [also, now that i think of it, my MOM has had regret that i'm female - at least, when i was younger. she'd say something to someone, like "If she were a boy, i'd tell you to vote Barnett in the 2012 election!" by the time i was in high school, she'd stopped with the DIRECT sexism, and tell me i could "be anything you want". and THEN tell me to wait to get married and have kids until AFTER college [because i didn't know until i got married that porphyria will kill me if i get pregnant...] and THEN make sure to have 3 kids as close together as possible, so that i'd "only" have to wait maybe 9 years before i could work... my mom really was very bad, in that sense. thank gods for my dad!]

    that turned out to be MUCH longer than i meant. le sigh

  2. Yeah, I want to know where this mystery elf feminist who freaks out at people opening doors is. I have never seen or heard of this. Is this like the bra burning thing? I won't *wait* for someone to open a door for me, but that? That is not an attack. Srsly.

    I'm with you PF. Don't touch me. I cannot stand being touched by random strangers. It makes me feel like a public water fountain, or a pet of some kind.

    And the cooking thing? Unless there is a disability or illiteracy, cooking is something we can all do, even if we don't all like it. Women are not food dispensing machines.

    As for the rest, well. Gag me with a side of smarmy bullshit, as they say.

  3. Another "no-touchie" person here. I've gotten better at controlling it, though: I used to physically flinch when someone went to touch me.

    I suppose I would offer my arm out of sympathy in the case of high-heels (seriously, why the hell are women supposed to wear those torture-and-embarrassment devices? Lack-of-balance ain't sexy).

    Offering to help/holding doors open*/etc is all basic politness, but it's not a subconsious or automatic action for me: I need to consciously remember to do it. When I do remember, I always do it. Note that "holding open doors" is distinct from "opening doors". The former is going through a door and standing aside, holding it, as the person behind you enters, so it doesn't swing shut in their face. Basic courtesy. The latter is jumping in front of somebody, or opening a door you're not going through, so they don't have to suffer having to touch a door handle. Unless they're carrying something, this seems extremely weird to me.

    Cooking is simple chemestry. Ability to follow instructions + recipe book == ability to cook. But that isn't a derision of the professionals: they cook mix and match and have an encyclopediac knowledge of what works and what doesn't. They cook creatively.

    And as for asking Dads permission: no. Doing it prior to 'courting' his daughter? Hell no. Doing it prior to having a platonic e-mail conversation with her? HELL. FUCKING. NO.

    And finally, I hate the argument that "women are smaller and weaker." Yes, the mean height, weight and muscle composition of a female homo sapiens is smaller than the mean height, weight and muscle composition of a male homo sapiens, in part due to biology, in part due to the sociological perception that muscle building activities are for manly men of manliness. So what? That's an excuse to discrimate based on BMI, not on gender.

  4. I am a door opening, bag carrying, arm offering sort of guy, yet I have not once ever heard a complaint. Further I have not to the best of my powers of observation made someone uncomfortable with the offer. Possibly because I do use those powers of observation and can often pick up on body language that tells me back off. Also since I really am just trying to be polite, I may not be giving off that "Hi I want to rape you" vibe. At any rate I tend to assume that these guys who complain that "feminists" rebuff their "kindness" are really kind of creepy and women are smart to not want to be around them.

  5. I find it difficult to take Rush Limbaugh seriously. Aside from the fact that he preaches to his choir of listeners, he's got a lot of air time to fill. I think he routinely says things just to stir up reaction, speaks off the cuff, and isn't any sort of serious thinker. He is capable of making good points, but also says a large amount of outright stupid stuff -- such as the things you mention in this post. I know he is popular on the right, but personally I see him as a liability who provides political opponents with all sorts of ammunition.

    I hold doors open for women on a routine basis and have never in my life gotten a hostile reaction.

  6. a note:

    at one point, back when i was militant about feminism [when i learned it existed, and there was an entire movement devoted to the idea that i DON'T have to be a sex object! i was sort-of militant in a "why are you running AROUND me to open a door? my arms are capable of opening a door, my brain is acute enough to KNOW that i need to open the door"] i did get in a few fights with guys -
    like, the boyfriend who threw a fit whenever i got out of the car without HIM getting out of the car, walking around to my side, and opening the door. we lasted barely a month, because i refused to sit there and act like my arms didn't function.
    or the guy who LITERALLY grabbed my arm, pulled me away from a door, and said "it's MY job to open the door for YOU" - a stranger, i might add. he left a bruise, too - which he wasn't at ALL apologetic about, he said it was MY fault, that if i'd just let him open the door for me, and acted like a "lady", he wouldn't have "needed" to "force [me] to ACT like a lady". [he also said that it was *obvious* that i was a "man-hating whore" because ONLY "man-hating whores" walked around thinking they can open doors for themselves. or, at least, only "man-hating whores" did NOT assume that every man would want to open a door, and wait to let him do so. in the meantime, i kept saying "how the hell should i have KNOWN you wanted to open the door, and even better, why the hell should i CARE?" it didn't end until i said i was going to call the cops - he actually followed me thru a bookstore arguing with me...]

    but, today, i won't get thru ANY door [at least, ALMOST any door] unless SOMEONE opens it for me.
    and guess what - other than Pete and my dad, i'd say about 70% of the people who open a door for me? are female.

    [this rant brought to you by a random douchy drunkard at karaoke - the first time in 2 months i'm actually ABLE to go out, and he kept trying to push my chair around! the few times i was alone at our table, he came over, grabbed my chair, and started pushing it away, saying "you look lonely, come sit with me" AFTER he'd started pushing - and then got all mad when i freaked out! FOUR TIMES we did this, him just randomly deciding to walk over, grab my wheelchair, and move me without my consent or KNOWLEDGE that he's going to move me, me screaming bloody murder, and either Pete or the KJ coming over and saying "what the fuck are you DOING, man?! why are you trying to move her ANYWHERE? LEAVE HER ALONE" until FINALLY the owner kicked him out. and, seriously - WTF? the ONLY thing i can think is that he was drunk, and that HE thought to himself "well, she's in a wheelchair, that means A) she probably doesn't have a boyfriend because who'd date a crippled girl and B) she's helpless so i can do whatever i want" and i don't WANT to think that, but for fuck's sake, i can't think of what the fuck ELSE he thought he was doing! if he really thought i was "lonely" he could have sat where *I* was, at a table low enough for me, instead of trying to drag me to the end of the bar - which was ABOVE my head. and that height issue is part of what skeeved me the fuck out...]

  7. 1) WTF is it with dads listening to Rush in their cars?

    2) @ppbloggers: I love the idea of a mystery elf feminist who yells at men who hold open doors for her. I think she's related to the mystery gnome feminist who Hates Men.

    3) Lucy Lawless played Xena. I lurve her.

  8. Denelian: where the flaming crows do you find these guys? You seem to have met more than your alloted percentage of all the utterly fugknutted crudwiping doucheholes in the entire world!

    It scares me that people like that are allowed to exist.

  9. PS: I also love the idea of "Mystery Elf Feminist". If I ever get into D&D or RPing, that's totally going to be my character.

    Male Human NPC tries to open door for you.
    Roll against Willpower to resist the urge to shout at him.
    :1: Critical Fail!
    You are so enranged, you punch him in the face. And then kick him into unconsiousness with your Sensible Shoes. Roll 2d6 for damage.

  10. Quasar;

    Alabama. MOST of the horrible guys i've run into have been in Alabama, or someplace rural [and you'd be SHOCKED at how rural horrible, as opposed to rural cool, much of California is. so is Ohio, but it's less shocking here]

    and it was...16? ish years ago. IN ALABAMA.

    i'm not fond of Alabama.

    also; man you mashed together about 4 system into a GREAT fusion - i especially love the *sensible shoes*! tee-hee!

  11. @ Quasar and Fannie

    Ha ha ha! Yes!


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