Monday, June 7, 2010

I Wanna Start a Fight



It's funny how the patriarchy will sidle up next to you and pinch your rear end right when you least expect it, as evidenced by the conversation I had with a man who will remain nameless, a man who identifies as a feminist, btw.

Friday, as I was waiting for the bus, I got the above song, So What, by Pink, stuck in my head. (It was blaring from a car waiting at the light.) By the time I got home, "na na na na na na na, I wanna start a fight" was firmly lodged in my brain. Of course, the only way to remove a song stuck in your head is to listen to it again, so I found it on youtube.

The first verse is:

I guess I just lost my husband
I don't know where he went
So I'm gonna drink my money
I'm not gonna pay his rent

I've got a brand new attitude
I'm gonna wear it tonight
I wanna get in trouble
I wanna start a fight

At which point, a man who shall remain nameless said, "Trailer trash."

"What?!"

"I wanna start a fight? Stay classy, Pink."

"Not two weeks ago, [anonymous male friend] came over here after finding out his fiance was cheating on him and invited you to go to [notorious local bar] so he could, and I quote, 'bash someone's face in'. Why is that okay for [anonymous male friend] but not okay for Pink?"

"I, uh . . ."

"Oh, I get it, boys will be boys, but BITCHES BETTER BEHAVE?"

One of the most pernicious effects of the patriarchy is that way it defines male and female, lodging "truths" in your psyche that are true only because we all believe them, and we all believe them only because we are told they are true. It's a vicious circle that most of us can't even see we're trapped in.

Women want to talk, men want to fight. It's the truth, isn't it? Except that it isn't. I'm not advocating violence, but sometimes I do want to punch someone. Hard. But when I was a girl, someone stole that truth from me. They took away my right to be angry and to express that anger. Now I can't even admit to a violent impulse. When boys get into fights, we tell them it's unacceptable and ground them for a week. When girls get into fights, they're betraying their very DNA and all of society is on the verge of collapse. We're delicate little flowers, you see, and delicate little flowers don't want to break a chair over someone's head.

Men lust, women are nice enough to satisfy that lust sometimes, but women don't feel lust themselves. A comedian once said that the difference between male desire and female desire is the like the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it. No, that's not true at all. However, I'd better not admit to wanting to remove someone's clothes with my teeth, in a public restroom, at noon, because then I'm a slut. Actually, at that point, I'm probably a nympho. That's totally normal for a man. Nothing to see here.

I can't ask a man out on a date. It's in the rules, you see. If I tell a man I think he's great and I'd like to get know him better, his penis will shrivel up and fall off or something. Or I'm a slut. Ask him to marry me?! That's insane! I'm supposed to hint at him and pout and nag until he finally gives me something sparkly to shut me up.

Even the way women sit or walk is carefully defined. I will never forget being twelve years old, sitting on a bench with my knees apart, elbows resting on my knees, chin resting on my hands. A classmate of mine turned to me and said, "You're sitting like a man! Women sit with their legs crossed!" Well, how dare I be comfortable! I've heard, more than once, a woman described as "walking like a man" because she strode purposefully instead of sashaying her hips from side to side. Women don't swagger, you see, that's for men.

Well, news flash: I am a woman and I do want to get into trouble. I do want to swagger, I want to sit any damn way I please, I want to be loud and curse, and yes, I do wanna start a fight.

30 comments:

  1. Have I mentioned recently how much I adore you? We're both married but you could be the other love of my life...

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  2. I'm not sure the central story really indicates misogyny so much as general hypocrisy. I suspect that a lot of guys would find it acceptable to say something like how they wanted to punch someone but if they heard another guy say that they'd think there was something wrong with them. The rest seems spot on. (Incidentally, one nice thing about being a bit younger is that the whole girls-can't-ask-out-guys thing isn't as common. The attitude still exists but it seems to be a distinct minority.)

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  3. Whatever the content, it's still a damn catchy song.

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  4. I know, right? Crazy catchy.

    Oh, I think it is misogyny, though not in any purposeful way. It's simply that in his, and most people's minds, men react with violent impulses and it's okay for them to verbally express that, but women just shouldn't act that way or express any desire to do so and if they do say "Yeah, I wanna punch somebody", then they are acting out and need to be suppressed.

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  5. I wish girls would have asked guys out more when I was in high school. I was way too shy then to do it myself, oh well I am happy now.

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  6. A few thoughts on the post.

    -My 5 year old girl loves that song and sings it quite a bit.

    -I've always been an advocate of women asking men out. It would've made life a lot easier for me when I was single.

    -I think it was Chekhov who said, "Everyday I wake up I squeeze the slave out of myself."

    Good post!
    http://laughinginpurgatory.blogspot.com/

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  7. Good post … but could’ve been made better by including a mention of how atrocious that excuse for a song is. Not the message itself, which I have no interest in – just comes across like some pointless troublemaker to me, entirely regardless of gender – but that excuse for music. Gaah, the generic! The tastelessness! The poisonous catchiness! My ears demand a friggin’ exorcist.

    We need a resurgence of ’80s music. BADLY.

    Also, it’d be bad form and terribly inconsiderate for a girl to ask me out, unless they actually want me to burst in flames from blushing so hard. Clean-up must be a bitch after that.

    … Not that I would mind.

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  8. Gaah, the generic! The tastelessness! The poisonous catchiness! My ears demand a friggin’ exorcist.

    You've just described Pink's entire career...

    We need a resurgence of ’80s music. BADLY.

    And you've lost any goodwill you might have gained by pointing out how bad Pink is. Good show!

    Not that I don't have Duran Duran, Billy Idol, and Tears for Fears on my "drive around pretending to be in GTA: Vice City mixes..."

    I've always been an advocate of women asking men out. It would've made life a lot easier for me when I was single.

    Yeah. I don't get it why that's not allowed. As someone who doesn't read signals too well because I'm too concerned with not coming off as a creepy guy, I'd favor a more direct approach.

    Of course the problem with that is I'd only favor it from certain women I come across. So...y'know. There's always drawbacks.

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  9. @Geds:
    I don’t mean all the crap, fakes and flakes of the ’80s, but you can’t deny it’s pretty much where music reached its peak in terms of the number, talent and influence of the major groups and such that were on the air in those days.

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  10. What? Like U2 and Guns N Roses and the roots of grunge and the emergence of punk in to the mainstream and...

    Yeah, yeah. Point made.

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  11. ^_^

    Though, don’t mention U2 to me. My heart can’t handle any more breaking.

    *sobs quietly in a corner*

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  12. Yeah. That one kinda made my sister all unhappy, too. Apparently U2 doesn't come to Dallas, so it had no effect on my life...

    But, hey, we're getting Green Day down here.

    And, of course, Toby Keith should be along any minute. Now I'm gonna go sob in a corner...

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  13. *shrug* I would consider it a compliment. I figured women would know better than to punch someone in the face. I guess women believe they can be just as violent as men, though crime statistics paint a fairly more pro-female picture.

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  14. I hear ya PF! Well said. It drives me nuts that I get so much shit for doing anything considered "masculine". And the flip side is my partner is considered "emasculated" by people who don't know us because of my choices.

    Even something as small as the fact that I don't like cooking (so my partner does all the cooking) is an issue for people. Despite the fact that he loves cooking and I don't.

    If we get married our families will likely have a nervous breakdown over me not wearing a veil and him wanting to take my last name. There will no doubt be the usual bullshit about how I "wear the pants" and he's "henpecked". Yawn.

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  15. Is this what we mean by rape culture? On a post about the subtle misogyny that pervades our culture, illustrated by an example of how a woman's message was not respected, a male, and a self-professed feminist at that, can come onto the thread and with no hint of irony, baldly state that he has no interest in her message, and totally divert the topic, and no one calls him on it.
    Yes, PF, it is indeed 'funny'.

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  16. So, saying that I don’t care for an individual song and enjoying an off-topic discussion (which PF herself admits, should you read the notice) = egotistical misogyny. (Or something.) Got it.

    I do hope I don’t dare talk about the weather next! Oh my, what world of bigotry that would entail.

    (Also, I’m not a feminist, as per the specific label. More of an all-around egalitarian.)

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  17. Fucknuggets, that should’ve been “that PF herself permits”. Dammit, Blogger, an Edit button nao, please?

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  18. I encourage my daughter to be forceful, I wish she were moreso but she is still ahead of most girls her age in this regard. She is ten and she wrestles with the local mat club which is co-ed and includes many girls. Her hobbies include archery, horseback riding, canoeing, hiking, and other woodsy activities. She is athletic and she is also outspoken.

    She also has "ladylike" interests she is a ballet dancer and plays viola like her mother. She loves make up and pretty clothes but in the end she will out boy most of the boys in her class.

    I encourage this because I want to dispell the myth that there are girl things and boy things, but also because having grown up with an abusive father I know how badly a man can treat women and I want her to know she never needs to submit to a man, defer to one, and certainly never tolerate abuse from one.

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  19. Is this what we mean by rape culture?

    Yes. Because the message, obviously, was, "Pink should shut up and also have sex with any man that comes along without daring to complain about it or asserting her own independence."

    I mean, seriously. If you start applying the term "rape culture" to anything that you, personally, regard as insensitivity to women then all that happens is you devalue the emotional impact of the term "rape" and divert attention from the fact that we do, in fact, live in a culture where sexual aggression is regarded as the right and privilege of men.

    But, "I don't care about Pink's message," ain't, "I don't believe Pink has the right to have a message." It's not even the same as, "Pink doesn't have a valid message." I read it as, "Pink's music is turrible and the message isn't enough to overcome that simple fact and make me change my opinion of her as an artist or performer." This, by the by, is something I absolutely agree with.

    And if, "I don't give a damn about your music or what you have to say," is tantamount to raping someone, then I guess that means that I, personally, have raped, like, 90% of the popular music acts out there, whether we're talking about Pink, Eminem, or Muse.

    Seriously. Pick your fucking battles.

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  20. ^ Read (past tense) my original comment correctly.

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  21. totally OT: GEDS; GREEN DAY!!! *SWOON* i am SOOOOOO jealous - almost NO ONE i care about comes to Columbus [Violent Femmes came once; that rocked]


    rape culture: it isn't JUST the assholes running around slipping date-rape-drugs into every drink at a bar, it's everything that conspires to keep women "in their place" ie "the sex class". bullshit "rules" like "women can't be violent only MEN can be violent". or "anyone wearing X is asking for it" or "any woman who'd hang out and play basketball is asking for it", etc. i don't think she was meaning *YOU*, Joé, but more the guy PF was meaning in the original post.

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  22. Oh, she was. Unless there’s another, perhaps invisible, person she could’ve been referring to as a pro-feminism male who arrived in these comments and “diverted the topic” (making it sound as though it were a deliberate effort to skew the conversation) and so on. Sounds pretty specific to me.

    Eh, not that I’m upset over it. It’s just silly.

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  23. Also: FUCKNUGGETS, ever since reading that accursed post, I’ve been having that bloody song stuck in my head. DANGITALL

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  24. ...
    re-reading it, i guess. i dunno - on the other hand, it happens so often that feminists will talk about rape culture, and then some asshole shows up and derails and derails. i don't think you DID, but i can see where, after dealing with it so often, something that seems similar can be taken badly.

    in the meantime, i've got the damned Canon in D stuck, and i LOATH this particular canon, it's sterile and over-used and BORING. trade? lol

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  25. Maybe – if you tell me what the heck “Canon in D” is. =P

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  26. Pachabel's Canon in the key of D, it's a common wedding theme (though not the main you're thinking of).

    I actually like it

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  27. Big A is correct - it's not that i hate it, exactly - it's that i've PLAYED it SO OFTEN...!!!

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  28. I don't know why you want to ask a boy out. Isn't that simply perpetuating the Patriarchy? I mean that could make it seem like there is a natural attraction between the opposite sexes. You don't really want to make that case do you? You know like male and female are by nature attracted to opposites? That kind of thing really would support the idea that male and female are different and opposite and innately, irresistably attracted to each other. Now no good feminists wants to make that case do they? Certainly not. Instead feminists claim that sexuality, like everything else is the result of Patriarchal cultural conditioning, and heterosexuality is not "normal" but enforced. By you insisting on an attraction to males that is so strong that it's hard for you to resist asking them out, you're weakening the feminist cause.

    As a feminist you should instead be denying that there are any essential differences between male and female. Anyway if males are as evil and malevolent as feminists portray them, what could possibly make you want to ask them out? I should think instead you'd be doing everything possible to avoid them.

    As far as the violence thing, women like you think they're proving their manhood by threatening to beat up someone, are even more pathetic than the boys who do the same. But at the same time it contradicts the feminist claim that if women were in charge there would never be a war.

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  29. … Someone please assure me that Kelgen above is just a poe or something? ’Cuz this is just creepy.

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  30. beyond creepy. whenever some asshole shows up and tries to tell me "what a *real*/*good* feminist would do" it's ALWAYS a strawman BS argument.
    either he's a Poe, or he's an ass. either way, i don't care.

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