Monthly Archives: October 2009

Man the hunter Hypocrite

32tarzanA man, let’s call him John, readies his spear as the exhausted and bleeding mammoth lets out a final sound of pain and begins to run toward the source of his current suffering. But before he can reach it, seven spears hit the dying animal square in the chest. With a loud, dull thud the mammoth slams into the dirt, unable to get back up again. The hunters roar and begin the process of slaughter and the gathering of meat, bone and hide. With heavy loads on their backs and in packs, dragging behind them, the hunters head back home. After days of tracking through the wilderness with his heavy load, John thinks longingly of his warm cave, his warm wife and the results of his virility. A hero’s welcome awaits him…

Were it not for that pesky saber tooth tiger at the entrance of his domain. Can that damn tiger not smell the urine, John so generously scattered over his territory? Angrily he drops his load and rushes toward the cave. He flings his arms about the neck of the tiger and with one smooth twist snaps it’s neck. The terrified faces of his wife and his little ones appear from the cave. They run over to John, hug him and cry. Then there is time to admire the abundance of meat that the children and wife will process and that will ensure their survival for the coming weeks. Humans are true carnivores, after all.

Oh, those good old days! That Utopian time of “Man the Hunter”! If only we could go back there. Modern man is not doing so well, various articles from several media sources inform us. He is “confused” as to what his role should be. He is “emasculated” by those evil women who demand respect, equal opportunities and a place in public sphere. Don’t they know that a man is lost without his role of “protector” and “provider” and sexual predator?

The above scenario is considered indisputable and eternal, by many people who subscribe to evolutionary-psychology and biological determinism. They claim that it has always been that way and therefore we ought not to attempt to change it. We should “leave things as they are and adhere to the status-quo, because that is much easier for everyone”.

To acknowledge the truth, I have mixed several species’ behavior in this little story, because of how often have I heard men being compared to cavemen, wild-dogs/wolves and apes. People carelessly throw around the seventies term “alpha-male” for instance, even though at the time it was based on an extremely crude understanding of the social structures of wolves, as it is explained here:


Evolutionary-psychology also has a tendency to not only project human behavior onto animals, but onto human societies of the past as well. For every piece of archaeological evidence found, there are at least several explanations possible as to what the precise status and function of that object was within that society. The truth is that we just don’t know and will in all likelihood never know exactly how people had organized their social structures or why. One thing is for sure though, how things are today are certainly not what they were in the past. If we only look back fifty to a hundred years ago, you can see how much has changed already. This “trend” will only continue. In another fifty to a hundred year people will consider us “ignorant” and “primitive” and will have wondered how could have lived “that way”.

flintstones-car

Humans, both women and men, have adapted to the technological age quite quickly. Children grow up using all sorts of machines with will later help them in their professional lives. It is only after puberty that some end up feeling restless and disconnected. I have never heard a child say anything to the likes of:

“Gee, I wish we could live like cavemen. That would be so swell.”

I have also never seen children play “cavemen” So where does this “nostalgia” come from?

Arnold-Schwarzenegger---Conan-the-Barbarian--C10102051People romanticize the role they hope men played before the first civilizations emerged. They portrait him as a musclebound, heterosexual, “heroic”, white men with a big beard and a spear in his hand, attacking large furry mammals. They argue that the role men played in the acquisition of food was vital to the survival of the human-species. Most anthropologists, nowadays, agree that at least sixty percent of the food sources came from gathering, fishing and hunting small game, which they speculate was done for the most part by women and children. They also mostly agree that these activities would take women far from home, where men would not be around protect them from those vicious saber tooth tigers.

So while it is true that evolutionary-psychology/biology and biological determinism can be regarded as utter bullshit, I argue that, however people lived in the past, it just doesn’t matter for the discussion of equal rights for both sexes. Societies change. Nobody can deny that. In order to survive, you have to change, to adapt and to make the most of it. You have to utilize the resources that you have in the best possible way. Denying 51% percent of the human race the opportunity to equally participate in and contribute to society is not adapting.

Furthermore, I don’t doubt that there are people who would indeed feel more comfortable “living off the land”. Well if you are such a person who gets all “nostalgic” over “how cavemen lived” and are of the opinion that you should “go back there”, then by all means do so. Go live in the wilderness and hunt and fish and gather. Stop using machinery and medical resources, because there are also people who do want those things around and would happily take your place on waiting lists and would love to have your job as well. And for fuck sake, stop expecting everyone else to think like you. Stop expecting other people to adjust their lives to your wishes. Stop feeling entitled to more opportunities and more resources just because you have a penis. Stop trying to tell other people how to live based on your archaic speculations. It doesn’t make any fucking sense, especially considering the evidence, or lack thereof, you use to disprove your own damn theories. People’s brains are in their heads and not their genitals.

* Credit goes to Gerda Lerner for writing the awesome book The Creation of Patriarchy. She is the inspiration for this post and the source of some of the knowledge it contains.

Proof of Heterosexuality

The gossip train in our school moves at full speed and the people on it are constantly speculating on who is dating whom? With whom are people getting in on? What kind of juicy news gets spread and who is the first to know?

I am never the first to know. Truth be told, most of it passes me by without me ever being any the wiser. For some part I am relieved. I really don’t care about other people’s personal lives and I consider it to be none of my business, just like I consider anyone’s personal life to be no one else’s business. Though knowing what people say about you can work as a barometer for the general attitude a group of people has toward you, in other cases you’re better of not knowing.

In this instance I was relieved with what I heard. The gossip train had linked me with a guy I often work with. I told them that I am not dating him, because I don’t like relationships. I feel that being in a monogamous relationship almost feels like claiming someone and being claimed in return. It feels very possessive to me and I have a big problem with possessing people and being a possession myself. Which is excellent material for another post.

In my school I have hidden the fact that I am feminist from my classmates and I doubt that they know. But should get wind of it, the label “lesbian” would most likely soon follow. I have heard homophobia expressed left and right by various people and I think that having that label would further hinder my connections. So the fact that they thought I was dating one of the guys in my class actually felt like a relieve. Even more so, because they considered our connection to inevitably lead to a relationship at some point.

That rumor, though false, has provided proof of heterosexuality and with it a little more acceptance. In this case it is an unearned privilege of which I felt the effects almost immediately. Here it is obvious that I am using my het-priveliges to gain acceptance in a peer group.

I am still trying to figure out how I feel about that. Using privilege that you haven’t earned, but that are based on characteristics you are born with, is a luxury that not everyone has. I have white-privilege, straight-privilege (though I could lose that if rumors were told that I was gay), able-body-privilege, even still some beauty privilege (despite the fact that I have become fat). My parents, though not the richest people, have always had a certain amount of wealth, so I get privilege from that too. I was raised in an environment where computer were the norm and my computer skills are in part also acquired due to privilege.

I really haven’t got a point I want to make with this post, but I am interested in other people’s opinions. So feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the use of unearned privileges. Is it ever OK? Is it sometimes inevitable? Please tell me what you think.

Fear

Stranger SafetyThis interesting post on whyI’mbitter got me to thinking and yes procrastinating doing my homework. I too have left drinks unattended in bars and have accepted drinks from relative strangers, without anything remarkably happening. I too have shared beds with drunk men who declared they would like to have sex, but backed off when I said that I didn’t want to. I have been hanging out with groups of men I hardly knew and have been places without anyone knowing were I was, or not calling when I was late, without me getting hurt.

So where does our fear come from? Does it really come from the probability of being attacked while out alone and being female? Or is there another force that drives this fear? When you look at the statistics the chances of being attacked somewhere in our lifetime, is for us women incredibly high. From the time that we are able to walk we have been given message such as “stranger danger” and the likes. Though as a child I have ignored these warnings at times.

That said, I may have ignored the warnings sometimes, but I have never forgotten them. When I am out by myself, I am acutely aware that I am out at night and by my lonesome self. I recognize the situation when I am in a car with a man I don’t know all that well. In part fear is clenching my throat and at the same time I am berating myself. Living in fear is no way to live and I have done enough “stupid things” that could have gotten me hurt. Only, nothing happened.

People have hurt me, but never in the situations I was warned against. Now that I am a feminist I also know that most of the warnings given to women and children are bullshit. The real danger for us comes from the men we know well and most attacks take place in our own home. How can we protect ourselves from that?

Still, if something were to happen to me and I had ignored the “advice” I have been given all my life, I would no doubt be kicking myself for not having been more on my guard. I would also, without a doubt, be blamed from all sides. Sure, there would be people who would take pity on me, but in a culture that holds women accountable for what others might do to them, the judgement and accusation would be written all over their faces. I believe that only feminists are truly able to take pity on a victim or a survivor.

There is only one thing that has always clearly stood out in how I dealt with life after people hurt me and that is the support or judgment I received from others. In scenarios where I got hurt and people truly supported me afterwards and gave me the time and empathy I needed to get back on my feet, recovery was significantly quicker, than when they didn’t or when I was blamed me for getting hurt. When I was accused of provoking an attack, in some cases, it even piled pain upon pain.

Even though the hurt that people can cause others can do a lot of damage, that sometimes never goes away, what seems to have even more of an impact is how the environment reacts to the victim or survivor of an attack.

So this has me wondering if the true source of the fear is not just the attack itself, but even more so the reactions from other people for, days, weeks, months or years to come?

Two Separate Crews

Yesterday I had a very interesting night meeting some former graduates of the maritime college I attend. It was generally a fun and interesting evening and I acquired some useful information about the maritime industry.

One issue that stands out was an asshole, who wasn’t even a maritime student, who fucking kept discounting my experiences in the software industry. I explained some of the processes for distributing software and on several occasions he actually told me: “No that is not what they do. That is not how it’s done.” At one point he even told me to “use some logic”. I would have been speechless, if I hadn’t been so annoyed by his “all knowing” attitude. Besides the things I already told him last night I would just like to add: “Go fuck yourself, you arrogant prick, for thinking you know better than someone who was actually there.” I think it is safe to conclude that this particular conversation was very unsatisfactory for both sides.

I later met up with a fellow maritime student, who is a sophomore, and one of the guys who organized the event. We got to talking about ships policies regarding hiring procedures, interns and crew. I related the situation I experienced on board last November, when I shipped out as passenger on a container feeder. I was wondering what a former maritime professional thought of the situation and he was of the opinion that something had happened on that ship that caused the distrust between the captain and the deck-crew.

I then asked him if it was common that there was such a divide between the Filipino crew members and the officers and he said that it was. The reason is that their culture is different and that they feel very uncomfortable socializing with the captain, the mates and the engineers. They eat in separate mess rooms or at separate times and they prefer different types of food. I am not entirely convinced of all that I was told. This situation may be true on European vessels, where most of the mates and the engineers are white. But even in these cases, all crew members are certified and many have a lot of experience with ships.

Having such a gap between deck and bridge/engine-room, means that you will lose a lot of experience and knowledge. With such a divide and a lack of communication it is almost like having too separate crews on board. What could be the use of such a system? Most ships also don’t require that many mates and engineers anymore. Which means that the number of officers have declined and that can sometimes lead to a feeling of isolation when you have very few people to talk to. This to me seems all the more reason to try and make the crew one unit, where the members will talk to each other, especially in informal settings.

Meal-times are an excellent informal setting where people can talk about the day and situations on board. It’s not an official meeting, but in my experiences in college and working in offices, such settings usually reveal problems people would have otherwise not brought up. This would apply to an all Filipino deck-crew as well. Though I know that deck-crews aren’t always all Filipino. I only use the situation I encountered as an example here.

Would they feel such discomfort dining with the captain? When I was on board, I would occasionally share a beer with them and the ship’s intern. They weren’t shy to talk to me, so I doubt that race is an issue. The problem seems to be with rank. However, some other comments that were made last night, make me wonder if it isn’t also the captains who are more comfortable with the situation. One of the guys I talked to said it is very easy when people just follow others without question and it might not be as much fun at the table if the crews all ate together as much as shifts would allow.

It might entirely be possible, that I won’t see it this way, once I have been on board for a couple of years. Perhaps I will then see it as an impossible situation, but I sure hope not. Because it looks to me that people can only gain from a united crew.

“Women Drivers”

I had a great weekend and was just trying to play a game on my DS, when some assholes felt the need to pick the seats near mine to sit down. What makes them assholes is their loud ass conversation about “how women can’t drive”. They talked so loudly that I could hear them, despite the fact that I was also listening to music. Unbelievable! How is it fucking OK to start dissing women within earshot of one of us?

Further it isn’t even true. Everywhere in the world men cause way more car accidents than women. Men do not only screw up more, but when they do the results are much more disastrous than when women do. More people have gotten killed by male drivers and. Some insurance companies have adjusted their policies accordingly.

So it is clear that it is men who are the sucky drivers, not women. Perhaps men shouldn’t even be behind the wheel at all. Perhaps all their focus on women drivers is to hide their own incompetence.

I am now seething and wish I had told the assholes to get fuck out of this railway carriage. Every time I don’t steer up trouble in situations like this I feel all the worse for it, because western society tends to view silence as acquiescence and these open insult are fucking not OK!

All their proof came from Youtube of course, on which I have been able find at leastas many male drivers fucking up, perhaps there are even more, cause when a man fucks up while driving his sex is often not mentioned. Unfortunately when you want to find car accidents mentioned on the internet then for men you actually have to search for “accidents”, with women you just have to search for “woman” and “car”. Now why is that, when the statics proof otherwise? And worse, men don’t just hurt themselves they hurt their passengers too, though this link is not particular feminist friendly, due to the fact that it tries to hold women accountable for accidents caused by male drivers.

At one job I’ve had these also sent round e-mails claiming that women can’t drive. So they decided to put one of the very few women working on camera there as she was pulling out of the parking lot. She didn’t get the turn in on attempt, so:

voila! we have more proof that she and all women can’t drive!

I wonder if they would have been laughing so hard if I had done the same to one of them. Assholes!

* The text is small, cause WordPress is being a pain in the ass and won’t let me fix this.

My Weight

Today in class we messed around a bit with a scale. We were suppose to weigh various large objects, but the scale we used was designed to weigh people. Some objects could not be weighed directly so somebody had to step on the scale and hold the object, afterwards we would subtract the person’s weight from the total and, well you get the idea.

One woman in my group exclaimed that she would “definitely not step on that scale!” When we were done with our assignment two guys stepped on the scale and they both weigh around 70 kilogram. I told the “lightweights” to get out of my way so I could step on the scale. I know that joking with people’s weight is a toxic thing to do, but sometimes I need a buffer against potential weight-related harassment.

I weigh 94 kilograms, which is at least twenty kilograms heavier than all of the people in my study-group. When I was done, the other woman in my group also stepped on the scale. She too is around 70 kilograms but assured us several times that usually she is “4 kilograms lighter” than the scale indicated.

I know where her anxiety comes from. I still feel it too at times, though overall I am a lot happier with my appearance, despite the fact that the vast majority of people think that fat=ugly and a whole bunch of other negative things they can think of.

This is why I like Joy Nash. She tells it like it is. I especially like this quote from her:

“Tell people how much you weigh. It’s just a stinking number.”

She is right. If you can diagnose every person on the planet with a scale alone and the prescribed treatment is always “lose weight”, than we would fucking all be doctors. No college degrees necessary.

So with that in mind I stepped on the scale in class and said my weight out loud. When I got home I put my height and weight in the sidebar of my blog and I want to encourage other (feminist) bloggers to do the same. Let’s stomp out this weight bigotry! Let’s do it today and start a new revolution, starting with the internet.