Okay. Listened to both sides in this discussion carefully. Hmmm…while I can understand Gavin’s position on most fronts, near the end his perspective on sexuality came across as pretty one-dimensional. Yes, I know the man is comedic, but Heather actually seemed reasonable in what she was stating there about communication in advance with our sexual partners. He took it to mean that we must ask permission every step in the process, but that’s not how it’s played out in my own sexual experiences nor does it appear to be what Heather was arguing for there. For example, I’ve long been a fan of discussing my safe word with my partners so that it’s crystal clear when I am tapping out and disinterested in what’s taking place. Rarely ever had to use such terms since my partners have generally been considerate lovers, but there of course are some guys who care not whether they make you terribly uncomfortable during sex (beyond a point of enjoyable dominance/submission exploration), and sometimes you don’t realize who those individuals are until you are underneath them in bed. Unfortunate truth that can be.
And it’s there where I think a lot of females are coming up with this notion of so-called “rape culture.” Here’s how it looks to me after years of exploring my sexuality with various partners across various circumstances: when we’re younger we tend to be both most naive and vulnerable and yet highly sought after for sexual access, and this imbalance can create a lot of turbulence and resentment, especially for females following some ideal that isn’t manifesting in reality the way we assumed it would (thanks, in large part, to feminist talk on the subject). The reality is that when we are young and at our most attractive and yet also super naive about the ways of the world, that’s the same time when others (particularly older men) pursue us the most doggedly for sexual access. And they may say or do damn-near anything to gain that access, even if it’s all a bunch of lies and deception, and even if some of them took it so far that we felt overwhelmed and mistreated during the encounter. Now, typically (IME) when a young female goes up against this in exploring their sexuality, there isn’t much support or guidance from others that actually proves beneficial. Our family members may dismiss us as “whores,” as can our peers, telling us simply that we deserve whatever we received since we were too stupid to protect ourselves from that which we didn’t yet sufficiently understand. And then we had feminist chatter claiming this was somehow the road to “self-empowerment” or that this serves as further proof of male depravity, that this treatment is a direct result of male power and lack of respect for women and that this promises to be ongoing throughout our lives through no fault of our own.
The truth lies between these two extremes and is far more nuanced than most conversations on such topics take into account. In reality, young people are especially vulnerable to sexual predation by older others, whether male or female. Alcohol and other intoxicants only increase this disparity, hence why they are commonly introduced. Then you also have a situation where young people are aiming to assert their independence, although they don’t yet know what they are doing or what the pitfalls may be or how those who pretend to be your friends may actually be grooming you, etc. All of this tends to be learned through trial and error, particularly when the youth in question lacks quality role models and trusted adults they can talk to who won’t simply outright condemn them based on religious convictions or whatever else.
And that brings us to the obvious next problem in all of this: too many of us weren’t raised well. If we didn’t receive proper guidance early on, where did folks expect us to pick it up then? Through simply being intelligent enough to know better? Well, I can attest to being smart enough to avoid certain traps, only to wind up falling into others, and that appears to be common. But when the older women in our lives embrace religious attitudes that we came to rebel against due to them seeming antiquated and unsuitable for our ever-changing modern life, we then turn to the advice of feminists plastered in glossy magazines or in college textbooks, only to wind up misled there as well. It’s a conundrum not easily resolved. Hell, it can take a decade or more just to come to grips with all this conflicting information and to sort out one’s own values and experiences.
Some, like Gavin, place a premium on the notion of the family, yet we live in a time when families are breaking apart faster than ever. Our communities are becoming abstract concepts rather than physical neighborhoods and relationships we can directly identify with. Hence the rising popularity of feminism and political parties in place of more tangible and local support systems. We see this all around us, though we can’t help but differ in our perspectives on what to prioritize and where to place responsibility and how to effectively address these matters. I don’t see either “side” here as necessarily wrong in-full, though both strike me as narrow-minded insofar as they don’t take enough information into their respective folds. The family-focused perspective is worthwhile, as is the female version of individual exploration, but there’s more going on psychologically and socially under the surface than either “side” seems willing to contend with. Or rather, this is the problem with firm ideological stances in that they themselves wind up narrowing down what information is allowed in, lest you be rendered unable to take a firm stance (as is my “problem” at present), which does nothing to further a politicized cause (that being feminism’s primary objective, just as it’s also a major factor for the family-focused position).
Raising people in broken homes with poor support is a recipe for creating persons who can’t or won’t appreciate the importance of family and local community dynamics. And it’s also a recipe for persons to reject the wisdom of old, especially when they are young, in favor of unbridled exploration, some of which may wind up fucking them up psychologically over time (particularly when no real support system exists for examining these life events in a meaningful way). And when these individuals wind up jacked up, the rest of society likes to cajole them and proclaim them to be an example of what not to do after-the-fact, which then further makes these individuals feel marginalized, leading to them “doubling down” in their efforts to resist and perhaps even lash out against what’s viewed as their opposition. So instead of reckoning more honestly with what’s occurred and why, we set up a divided situation of “us vs. them” where people may be driven to become even more entrenched in their chosen ideologies in an attempt to salvage their own sense of self and of personal identity as well as avoiding the thought that they made some horrible mistakes along the way and that responsibility ultimately now lies with them in healing from this past negative encounters. Society as a whole isn’t too helpful when it comes to this form of reckoning because we often can find ourselves on the defense up against purveyors of other belief systems who wish to mock us mercilessly and make examples out of us. That grows very wearing over the years and may explain why some opt to swing to radical extremes within feminism in an effort to protect their fragile sense of self from being overwhelmed by what may feel like another form of attack.
Part of this is just a repercussion of living in the times we do where technologies allow us to come together en masse on the internet, cloaked in anonymity in many cases, spouting off at one another and gnashing our teeth against that which we perceive to be “the problem.” Individuals wind up becoming fodder within these clashes of ideologies. How does one rectify this? I have no idea. But it does appear that when people feel demonized by groups of others, they’re prone to demonize them back in response. And on and on and on it goes. Before you know it the defense becomes the offense. And people grow so entrenched within the ideological camp they’ve come to identify with that they become unwilling to deeply and honestly soul search, preferring instead to not jeopardize the sense of inclusion they feel they’ve found. Because it’s difficult for individuals to stand out here on our own, taking heat from all sides and camps, while trying to openly reckon with where we’ve been and what we’ve been discovering, especially where the truth implicates our own selves in the formation of our problems and obstacles. And most especially that aiming to uncover our truth sets us at odds with those we’ve turned to for support yet we’re just as incompatible with many of those on the opposing end of the spectrum.
For example, I don’t have kids and do not wish to have kids. Contrary to Gavin’s position on the matter, I don’t believe child-rearing to be such a valuable ambition in this day and age for the majority of citizens and would go so far as to say that many folks who have kids would’ve likely been better off not having done so. Why? Because too much is in flux, our communities are falling apart without much hope of being rebuilt in a meaningful way in the near future, the education system is fraught with troubles kids needn’t be exposed to, parents are struggling to balance work and home life in many cases, and basically we’re seeing more kids impacted by their peers than by their elders, etc. I could go on and on there, but that’s a start. Furthermore, despite possessing biological clocks and motherly instincts (to varying degrees), plenty of us have grown up too selfish to make the sacrifices needed to be the types of parents capable of preparing well-adjusted children for taking on the world as it stands now. Others may disagree with me on these points, and that’s fine, but what I’m mostly driving at here is that it all doesn’t merely boil down to a choice between motherhood or corporate ladder-climbing. Some of us reject both of those avenues. And that’s okay. Seems to me life is complicated enough right about now without shouldering the responsibility of trying not to make a mess out of the life of new humans who depend on us for support and guidance when we clearly don’t know what the heck we’re doing in our own lives. But that’s just my view there.
Moving on, yes, I agree with Gavin that it doesn’t make a lick of sense that feminists are defending Islamic traditions while ignoring that those same traditions are the most patriarchal in existence on the planet at this time. Western civilizations are what have allowed feminism to come into being in the first place, and protected women’s rights to pursue personal autonomy in shaping our lives as we see fit despite doing so challenging Christian values of old. It is precisely this Western civilization that feminists are railing against that has proven so permissive in tolerating their perspectives, even when taken to extremes and infiltrating our universities to a staggering degree while proclaiming socialistic aims to be superior to the capitalistic structure our society has been built on. In other words, that we as women have the freedom today to act and live as we do in the Western world is directly correlated with the elevation of individual rights within Western cultures. We would NOT have that under Sharia Law — and if you doubt me, please relocate to Saudi Arabia and find out. Go learn how well feminism is received in countries such as that. We’d love to hear about your experiences, though you may want to vlog during the process since there’s no telling if you’ll be returning to the West in the end of your exploratory “sabbatical.”
[And on a related note, this is a BIG problem I have with people like Hillary Clinton claiming to be a champion of women’s rights while at the same time taking money from the Saudi royal family, just as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton did before her. It’s shit like that that makes our two-party system look like a ridiculous sham, along with both parties receiving extraordinary funding from Goldman Sachs as well. But that Hillary Clinton can pretend to care about women’s rights when she’s in cahoots with leaders of Saudi Arabia is jaw-dropping to someone like me. Makes her appear to be little more than a politician out for herself, period, the rest of us be damned. She’s not the first to embrace that strategy, as already acknowledged, but she’s certainly done nothing to sever such ties and change directions. And if that’s what feminism has come to be today, then good riddance. We don’t need it any longer if that’s the case. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.]
That’s admittedly a confusing amount of cognitive dissonance there. White men are blamed full-force, yet the progress made by feminism was supported by countless of white males. Read all about it. Same is true of civil rights among black folks, as well as the abolition of slavery. White males have most certainly not categorically proven to be our enemies — quite the contrary — and that deserves to be stated and recognized. Yet this ideological position refuses to allow its adherents to do so since that might undermine its central tenants. Then it’s an ideology not worth following if it cannot allow its followers to be honest with themselves or to critically assess the information available regardless of whether the facts bolster its cause. And this is where feminists keep losing me, time and again — for as academic as so many of them claim to be, their biases tend to get in the way to such an extent that it’s mind-boggling. We’re left debating the same old talking points again and again, and like Heather demonstrated there, when the topic turns to these obvious examples of cognitive dissonance she and her comrades default to cultural relativism in order to avoid scrutinizing the conflicting claims. I cannot go for this. Will not. It’s intellectually dishonest and leads nowhere productive. Just encourages an endless reel of circle-jerking within echo chambers and repetitive weak talking points that cannot get to the heart of the matter. Basically, it keeps feminists believing they’re relevant, especially within academe, despite they themselves demonstrating this is decreasingly the case.
What else? Cat-calling….meh. First world problems. Threats are one thing, but random, crude flirtations are another. For the record, the crudest cat-calling I’ve received over time has all come by way of black men, including the most menacing behavior and comments. That’s my truth. Speaking as someone born and largely raised in Mississippi who now resides in a (predominantly white) Midwestern city. Can we talk about that without being labeled as racists? Likely not. But if I went off about white males specifically, who’d have a problem?
That’s the problem. The narrative is being spun to where everybody but white males are deemed to be victims of white males, nevermind any evidence to the contrary. Where’s the fairness in that? This is what people mean when they say feminism’s pendulum has swung too far to an extreme. It’s become nonsensical and willfully ignorant of facts. Now, granted, Gavin might not be the best guy to have a deeply thoughtful discussion with on such topics, considering he’s angling to entertain his audience rather than remain serious. But plenty of us out here have gotten to where we are thanks to support and guidance and friendship extended by white males. Even with sex completely taken off the table. And even where we’re not in a position to reciprocate their generosity in equal measure. Does that cease to matter? Surely some will claim such talk is my internalization of “white male supremacy and patriarchy.” Ugh. Can’t frickin’ be real with people who choose to view life in such a compartmentalized fashion.
I’ve had my share of problems with all sorts of males, but so too have I had my share of problems from other women, namely feminists who speak over me and dismiss my life experiences as peripheral anomalies. That’s bullshit, quite frankly. Basically, if we don’t all toe the same line, then our opinions, ideas and stories somehow don’t count. That’s a group-speak perspective, and it’s bullshit. So much for celebrating unique expressions of individuality. Doesn’t count when we veer too far off the beaten path forged by feminists apparently. A person can be as wacky and wild as she dares when it comes to fashion and aesthetics and other trivialities, but we may NOT contradict the feminist narrative lest we be deemed “self-hating” or “standing in the way of Progress” or too stupid to appreciate what all our feminist sisters have supposedly done for us. Ugh. It’s so crazy. Fully and completely mind-boggling.
This is why I so rarely choose to touch on such topics these days. Frickin’ irritating to wade through, though Heather showed herself in that interview to be more reasonable than plenty of other feminists I’ve encountered. At least she didn’t talk over Gavin and throw a fit and get all sassy and condescending. The narrative as it’s being spun just looks ludicrous to me in terms of how much is left out of it. Also, what may sound good in theory or look good on paper doesn’t mean it will translate as hoped in actual reality. If humans haven’t learned that lesson by now I’m not sure what else it will take. Personally, I think the best thing any of us could do right about now is slow our roll and take time with a wide assortment of information, for years on end, rather than jumping to conclusions and joining political causes aiming to overhaul Western civilizations in an effort to bring about some utopian fantasy that very, very likely will turn out to usher in a nightmare. But plenty of people don’t see it this way, so all I can do is sit back and observe hell on earth being constructed. And that’s a frustrating realization, to know that all the reasoning in the world can’t penetrate where it’s not wanted.