#YesAllWomen – Women’s bodies as a delivery mechanism for statements about men’s power.

I ran a slightly different version of this post in March; in light of the weekend’s events, and the subsequent #YesAllWomen responses, I’ve decided to re-up it.

*******

I wrote the above headline as a tweet recently, just after reading about the recent stabbing death of a teenage Palestinian girl by her brother, “for allegedly shaming her family.”

Ever since writing those 72 characters, though, I can’t stop thinking about them. Because that’s it, that’s the whole story: Women’s bodies are used as a delivery mechanism for statements about men’s power. Everywhere. All the time. Witness Friday’s shootings near UC Santa Barbara.

Honor killings are a particularly obvious example (the kind of example that allows Westerners to feel that we’re off the hook on these issues) because a family’s honor is defined by how chaste the men are able to keep their women. If the women stray (or are perceived to have strayed) from a very narrow definition of proper behavior, in certain cultures and circumstances the men are not only free to kill the women, they’re expected to.

But as we were reminded this weekend, women’s bodies are not just the delivery mechanism for statements about men’s power in Foreign Places that are Far Away. They’re used for making such statements all around the globe, every day, all day.

Rape. Sexual assault. Workplace harassment. Street harassment. Domestic violence. Outright murder. In each case, the attacker or harasser is making clear that his victim (and whoever else might be listening) knows who’s got power over whom. The victim’s body is a tool toward these ends.

Likewise the fight to legally prevent women from having access to the reproductive health care of our choice. When male politicians and cultural leaders declare that pregnant women are “hosts”, or that women who want access to birth control as part of their healthcare are uncontrolled sluts and/or prostitutes, or ask if women want access to abortions, why can’t men have access to rape? – they’re declaring their right to deny women physical autonomy.

When women don’t earn as much as men for the same work, and are only sporadically allowed access to the same work; when women cannot afford to better the physical conditions of their lives without the aid of a better-paid husband; when it continues to be culturally suspect if a man is supported by a woman, and culturally rewarded if a man earns enough money to “allow” his wife to not work — women’s physical productivity is a tool with which men assert or declare their power in the workplace, in society, and at home.

Polygamy; male “scoring” vs. female “sluttiness”; women as cooks but not as chefs; women as accessories but not as leads; women told to be pleasant to men who are rude; women told they’re not Real Geeks; pre-teens who can’t walk to school without hearing grown men talk about their bodies; girls and women told to shape and re-shape their bodies by an entertainment business dominated by men — all are direct examples or outgrowths of the same principle, a principle that frequently overlaps with others: Brown men may not be seen as having as much power as white men, nor poor men as much power as the rich, the cultural elite need to be protected from the unwashed, all of it in an endless cycle of social drama and jockeying for position. As is often true for oppressed populations, some women support this status quo, serving to perpetuate the very system that hurts them and their sisters — but their involvement doesn’t change the basic fact.

And that basic fact is this: At the end of the day, I cannot be sure that my body is mine. My daughter cannot be sure that her body is hers. Our bodies are free game to whatever man needs to tell the world that he is powerful. Our human right to physical autonomy is not a given.

Women’s bodies are delivery mechanisms for statements about men’s power. Everywhere. Every day. And as a recent study shows – it really is all women.

All damn day long.

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Women’s bodies as a delivery mechanism for statements about men’s power.

I wrote the above headline as a tweet last week, just after reading about the recent stabbing death of a teenage Palestinian girl by her brother, “for allegedly shaming her family.”

Ever since writing those 72 characters, though, I can’t stop thinking about them. Because that’s it, that’s the whole story: Women’s bodies are used as a delivery mechanism for statements about men’s power. Everywhere. All the time.

Honor killings are perhaps the most obvious case (the kind of case that allows Westerners to feel that we’re off the hook on these issues) because a family’s honor is defined by how chaste the men are able to keep their women. If the women stray (or are perceived to have strayed) from a very narrow definition of proper behavior, in certain cultures and circumstances the men are not only free to kill the women, they’re expected to.

But women’s bodies are not just the delivery mechanism for statements about men’s power in Foreign Places that are Far Away. They’re used for making such statements all around the globe, every day, all day.

Rape. Sexual assault. Workplace harassment. Street harassment. Domestic violence. In each case, the attacker or harasser is making clear that his victim (and whoever else might be listening) knows who’s got power over whom. The victim’s body is a tool toward these ends.

Likewise the fight to legally prevent women from having access to the reproductive health care of our choice. When male politicians and cultural leaders declare that pregnant women are “hosts”, or that women who want access to birth control as part of their healthcare are uncontrolled sluts and/or prostitutes, or ask if women want access to abortions, why can’t men have access to rape? — they’re declaring their right to deny women physical autonomy.

When women don’t earn as much as men for the same work, and are only sporadically allowed access to the same work; when women cannot afford to better the physical conditions of their lives without the aid of a better-paid husband; when it continues to be culturally suspect if a man is supported by a woman, and culturally rewarded if a man earns enough money to “allow” his wife to not work — women’s physical productivity is a tool with which men assert or declare their power in the workplace, in society, and at home.

Polygamy; male “scoring” vs. female “sluttiness”; women as cooks but not as chefs; women as accessories but not as leads; women told to be pleasant to men who are rude; women told they’re not Real Geeks; pre-teens who can’t walk to school without hearing grown men talk about their bodies; girls and women told to shape and re-shape their bodies by an entertainment business dominated by men — all are direct examples or outgrowths of the same principle, a principle that frequently overlaps with others: Brown men may not be seen as having as much power as white men, nor poor men as much power as the rich, the cultural elite need to be protected from the unwashed, all of it in an endless cycle of social drama and jockeying for position. As is often true for oppressed populations, some women support this status quo, serving to perpetuate the very system that hurts them and their sisters — but their involvement doesn’t change the basic fact.

And that basic fact is this: At the end of the day, I cannot be sure that my body is mine. My daughter cannot be sure that her body is hers. Our bodies are free game to whatever man needs to tell the world that he is powerful. Our human right to physical autonomy is not a given.

Women’s bodies are delivery mechanisms for statements about men’s power. Everywhere. Every day.

All damn day long.

What is normal? On the changing of American social discourse.

I was reminded of this post today and decided to re-up it. Because why not?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the broad American social struggle of the past 60-odd years, about what ties the whole messy package together. I’ve been thinking about how for the vast majority of human history, men have ruled the roost, but only men of a certain socio-economic standing — something that has varied from culture to culture (much as the ethnicity, religion, and geographical seat of these men has varied), but has always translated to “power.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about how, in this country, in this time, when white, Christian men of a certain socio-economic standing (and heteronormative identity) complain that something is being ripped from their hands, that order hangs in the balance, they’re right.

They’re right, because ever since the dawn of the Civil Rights movement (or, in fact, ever since abolition and universal suffrage, but more comprehensively since the dawn of the Civil Rights movement), more and more people have been chipping away – tchink, tchink, tchink – at that order, and the central American discourse has become about who gets to set the boundaries of our discourse, and who gets to determine what is normative behavior.

Like everything else in human history, there’s no straight trajectory, if only because the Human Venn Diagram is too messy. Black men are men; white women are white; rich Asian Americans are rich; Christians with handicaps are Christians; and every one of them is something else besides.

But if we look at the arc of American social and political upheaval since about 1955, that’s what it comes down to: Who gets to set the boundaries of our discourse, and who gets to determine what is normative behavior?

Within those questions are, of course, many other questions (not least, of course: Where does your right to help shape our discourse impinge on mine? And: What are the words with which we may reasonably hold that discourse?), and every individual and community struggle is unique. I’m not trying to draw unwarranted parallels, or erase diversity of experience — it just strikes me that when history looks back in 100, 200 years, that’s what people will see: A massive upheaval of norms and mores, from all corners and all comers, a mighty tussle, often with individuals and communities tumbling over and on top of each other and each other’s needs and rights as we all continue to chip away  – tchink, tchink, tchink – at what was once Normal.

Seeing this arc, seeing a unifying question that goes beyond the rather imprecise metrics of “equality” and “perfecting our union,” helps me also to grasp what we in social justice circles so clumsily call “intersectionality” — because really, if in my struggle to achieve the space to contribute to the social compact and determine its parameters, I leave others behind, what have I accomplished? My struggle to achieve, say, the right to decide my own body’s future is entirely of a piece — is wrapped in the same garment of destiny — as that of a black man to wear a hoodie without suspicion, and a trans* woman to live as her most authentic self, and a Muslim in a wheelchair to both wear her hijab and have access to her classes.

What we’ve been saying for the last six decades, with more and more people listening as the years fly and crawl by, is that all of this belongs to all of us. We all get to say what society is and does. We all get to set and then move the boundaries of what’s ok. We are — all of us, even (often) the straight, white dudes — rethinking and reshaping the social compact itself.

This strikes me as a fundamentally American thing to do — wasn’t Independence the breaking of one compact to build something new? Isn’t our very Idea rooted in an ever-expanding circle of rights and interconnected responsibilities? Our system is flawed, positively riddled with imperfections, but it’s structured to allow us to continuously fix those flaws. It’s fundamentally American to do so.

Maybe this isn’t a particularly new idea. Many people have probably said and written similar things, and I’m late to the understanding. But this has been a fascinating notion for me to consider, and, ultimately, a tremendously hopeful one. This is our conversation, and we’re changing the rules — right now. Together. All of us.

Who gets to decide what’s normal?

whatisnormalI’ve been thinking a lot lately about the broad American social struggle of the past 60-odd years, about what ties the whole messy package together. I’ve been thinking about how for the vast majority of human history, men have ruled the roost, but only men of a certain socio-economic standing — something that has varied from culture to culture (much as the ethnicity, religion, and geographical seat of these men has varied), but has always translated to “power.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about how, in this country, in this time, when white, Christian men of a certain socio-economic standing (and heteronormative identity) complain that something is being ripped from their hands, that order hangs in the balance, they’re right.

They’re right, because ever since the dawn of the Civil Rights movement (or, in fact, ever since abolition and universal suffrage, but more comprehensively since the dawn of the Civil Rights movement), more and more people have been chipping away — tchink, tchink, tchink — at that order, and the central American discourse has become about who gets to set the boundaries of our discourse, and who gets to determine what is normative behavior.

Like everything else in human history, there’s no straight trajectory, if only because the Human Venn Diagram is too messy. Black men are men; white women are white; rich Asian Americans are rich; Christians with handicaps are Christians; and every one of them is something else besides.

But if we look at the arc of American social and political upheaval since about 1955, that’s what it comes down to: Who gets to set the boundaries of our discourse, and who gets to determine what is normative behavior?

Within those questions are, of course, many other questions (not least, of course: Where does your right to help shape our discourse impinge on mine? And: What are the words with which we may reasonably hold that discourse?), and every individual and community struggle is unique. I’m not trying to draw unwarranted parallels, or erase diversity of experience — it just strikes me that when history looks back in 100, 200 years, that’s what people will see: A massive upheaval of norms and mores, from all corners and all comers, a mighty tussle, often with individuals and communities tumbling over and on top of each other and each other’s needs and rights as we all continue to chip away  — tchink, tchink, tchink — at what was once Normal.

Seeing this arc, seeing a unifying question that goes beyond the rather imprecise metrics of “equality” and “perfecting our union,” helps me also to grasp what we in social justice circles so clumsily call “intersectionality” — because really, if in my struggle to achieve the space to contribute to the social compact and determine its parameters, I leave others behind, what have I accomplished? My struggle to achieve, say, the right to decide my own body’s future is entirely of a piece — is wrapped in the same garment of destiny — as that of a black man to wear a hoodie without suspicion, and a trans* woman to live as her most authentic self, and a Muslim in a wheelchair to both wear her hijab and have access to her classes.

What we’ve been saying for the last six decades, with more and more people listening as the years fly and crawl by, is that all of this belongs to all of us. We all get to say what society is and does. We all get to set and then move the boundaries of what’s ok. We are — all of us, even (often) the straight, white dudes — rethinking and reshaping the social compact itself.

This strikes me as a fundamentally American thing to do — wasn’t Independence the breaking of one compact to build something new? Isn’t our very Idea rooted in an ever-expanding circle of rights and interconnected responsibilities? Our system is flawed, positively riddled with imperfections, but it’s structured to allow us to continuously fix those flaws. It’s fundamentally American to do so.

Maybe this isn’t a particularly new idea. Many people have probably said and written similar things, and I’m late to the understanding. But this has been a fascinating notion for me to consider, and, ultimately, a tremendously hopeful one. This is our conversation, and we’re changing the rules — right now. Together. All of us.

Acceptable alternatives. (Or: Please stop insulting my genitalia). (And yes: Here be curse words).

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:THATCHER_Margaret.pngMargaret Thatcher has died. I have a lot of opinions about Margaret Thatcher (aside from anything else, bear in mind that at the height of the AIDS crisis, I had friends who were sick and dying) but I have a pretty firm rule about not speaking ill of the dead in the immediate aftermath of their deaths. May those who loved Margaret Thatcher be comforted in this time of mourning.

However, lots of other people on my side of the political map will have lots to say, and one of the things they have already started to say is the word “cunt.”

And so I hereunder re-up my piece about using *ahem* certain words as insults (with a small edit or two to make it au courant). It might make you laugh! Who can tell.

************************

Ok, I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely say it againandagainandagain. But.

Insulting someone with a word that is meant as a rude descriptor of female genitalia is

NOT OK.

Not.ok.

Not.

Ok.

You know why it’s not ok?

Because it’s misogynist and lazy and unkind and sexist and dehumanizing and fucking wrong.

No, you may not call that right-wing nut-job a cunt just because she is a right-wing nut-job. Not even if you feel that she is an evil right-wing nut-job, not even if you feel that she is beneath all contempt and should be treated as naught but a grease stain on the fabric of life.

Because it is always wrong to insult someone by dehumanizing an entire class of human beings. 

Furthermore you may not call someone who is lacking in courage, or is perhaps weak, or is perhaps unwilling to face an unpleasant reality, or is just, bottom line, someone you really detest, a pussy. Not only because doing so indicates a gross misunderstanding of the relative fortitude of the various human genitalia (here, let Hal Sparks explain it for you), but mainly because it is always wrong to insult someone by dehumanizing an entire class of human beings.

I realize, however, that habits being what they are and human culture being a slow-moving thing, it may be hard to think outside the dehumanizing-women box.

“Why Emily!” you declare. “How can I insult the memory of a once powerful British Prime Minister and/or Ann Coulter without access to my words?! I need my words!!1!”

And to that I say: Heck, this is your lucky day!

The English language is positively chockablock with words! It’s so full of words, some folks have made dictionaries to hold ‘em all. No, I mean it!

Thus, as a public service, I offer hereunder a smattering of acceptable alternatives to the words “cunt,” and “pussy,” for all your insult needs:

Cunt – may I suggest: Asshole, assclown, asswipe, fucker, dung-beetle, bunghole, imbecile, putrid waste of human skin, reprehensible sociopath, evil-doer, psycho-hack, lying sack of filth, human dregs, piece of shit, or, indeed: naught but a grease stain on the fabric of life. If you’re on Twitter and character-count is an issue, may I suggest: Ass (not only does this simple yet elegant descriptor convey contempt, it even saves you an entire character!).

Pussy – here I humbly offer: Wimp, weakling, coward, quitter, failure, rat, gutless, gutless rat, worthless piece of spineless trash, fraidy-cat, scaredy-cat, feeble, or, if you’re feeling particularly fancy that day: Poltroon.

There! /dusts off hands/

You may want to print this out and carry it around in your wallet for easy reference; you may also find that a thesaurus is your friend. Either way, now you know: There are many acceptable alternatives to “cunt” and “pussy” out there. Go, fly, be free! Go find new words!

But if you call yourself a progressive and still want to cling to words that demean and belittle me, my daughter, my mother, my sister, and every single woman you know (including those who may not have been born with female genitalia but are nonetheless women)?

Then you had better check not your dictionary, but your own damn self.

/ellaesther out

Acceptable alternatives. (Or: Please stop insulting my genitalia). (And yes: Curse words, ahoy).

Ok, I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely say it againandagainandagain. But.

Insulting someone with a word that is meant as a rude descriptor of female genitalia is

NOT OK.

Not.ok.

Not.

Ok.

You know why it’s not ok?

Because it’s misogynist and lazy and unkind and sexist and dehumanizing and fucking wrong.

No, you may not call that right-wing nut-job a cunt just because she is a right-wing nut-job. Not even if you feel that she is an evil right-wing nut-job, not even if you feel that she is beneath all contempt and should be treated as naught but a grease stain on the fabric of life.

Because it is always wrong to insult someone by dehumanizing an entire class of human beings. 

Furthermore you may not call someone who is lacking in courage, or is perhaps weak, or is perhaps unwilling to face an unpleasant reality, or is just, bottom line, someone you really detest, a pussy. Not only because doing so indicates a gross misunderstanding of the relative fortitude of the various human genitalia (here, let Hal Sparks explain it for you), but mainly because it is always wrong to insult someone by dehumanizing an entire class of human beings.

I realize, however, that habits being what they are and human culture being a slow-moving thing, it may be hard to think outside the dehumanizing-women box.

“Why Emily!” you declare. “How can I insult Ann Coulter and/or some random feckless member of the Romney/Ryan campaign without access to my words?! I need my words!!1!”

And to that I say: Heck, this is your lucky day!

The English language is positively chockablock with words! It’s so full of words, some folks have made dictionaries to hold ’em all. No, I mean it!

Thus, as a public service, I offer hereunder a smattering of acceptable alternatives to the words “cunt,” and “pussy,” for all your insult needs:

Cunt – may I suggest: Asshole, assclown, asswipe, fucker, dung-beetle, bunghole, imbecile, putrid waste of human skin, reprehensible sociopath, evil-doer, psycho-hack, lying sack of filth, human dregs, piece of shit, or, indeed: naught but a grease stain on the fabric of life. If you’re on Twitter and character-count is an issue, may I suggest: Ass (not only does this simple yet elegant descriptor convey contempt, it even saves you an entire character!).

Pussy – here I humbly offer: Wimp, weakling, coward, quitter, failure, rat, gutless, gutless rat, worthless piece of spineless trash, fraidy-cat, scaredy-cat, feeble, or, if you’re feeling particularly fancy that day: Poltroon.

There! /dusts off hands/

You may want to print this out and carry it around in your wallet for easy reference; you may also find that a thesaurus is your friend. Either way, now you know: There are many acceptable alternatives to “cunt” and “pussy” out there. Go, fly, be free! Go find new words!

But if you call yourself a progressive and still want to cling to words that demean and belittle me, my daughter, my mother, my sister, and every single woman you know (including those who may not have been born with female genitalia but are nonetheless women)?

Then you had better check not your dictionary, but your own damn self.

/ellaesther out

On women & sexism in pop culture – on bloggingheads! With Alyssa Rosenberg!

I was on bloggingheads.tv again, and this time I was a guest host! And I didn’t even talk about Israel/Palestine*! Squee! (Thank you, vacationing The Posner Show host Sarah Posner!)

I was really, really lucky and got to talk with Alyssa Rosenberg, who writes for Think Progress and The Atlantic and is easily one of my favorite pop culture writers (certainly one of the very few I follow regularly). We talked about women in pop culture, the economic incentives for the production of sexist entertainment, Louis C.K.’s response to Daniel Tosh’s “wouldn’t it be funny if she was gang-raped right now?” joke, and whether pop culture can in fact be separated from politics. I talked about talking with my kids about all this stuff, Alyssa talked about the importance of diversity in entertainment, and we agreed that problematic entertainment is far more interesting than homogeneity. Plus which, I suggested that even the mighty Joss Whedon (Firefly, Avengers)  isn’t perfect—and posited that that’s okay! (And please note: I was wearing a Firefly tee as I posited that positing. I am a Browncoat).

Following is a three minute snippet. To watch the rest of the episode, please click through to The Posner Show at bloggingheads.tv (and again I say: Thank you Sarah! And thank you bloggingheads!)

*

*as I did the first time…

Dear America: Are you effing kidding me with this?

Thanks to Twitter and Matt Duss (National Security Policy Analyst for the Center for American Progress) I now know this, and now you have to know it too:

*

You know what, I’m sure that both Michelle Obama and Ann Romney are terrific bakers. Unparalleled, maybe. It’s possible that their life-partners are as well — I hear tell that the menfolk have lately studied the map and found both pantry and oven in these topsy-turvy modern times — and lord knows, I am all about a nice cookie. I happen to favor chocolate chips over M&Ms in this area, but I have no great love for the abomination that is “white chocolate,” so I’ll probably stick with my own recipe, thankyouverymuch. Also? I like a nice, chewy oatmeal-raisin.

But oh my God. Oh my God! Are we really still doing this? In the 21st century? Are we really still acting like the wives of candidates need to play the role of Harriet to the candidates’ Ozzie? That America needs to believe that the First Lady is our mom? That all Humans In Possession Of Ovaries are, by-definition, Good In The Kitchen?

I don’t know a lot about Ann Romney, but according to her husband’s campaign website, she’s been pretty heavily involved in some pretty good charities: “As First Lady of MA, she continued her work on behalf of disadvantaged women and children in her community and abroad… has volunteered much of her time to raise awareness of [Multiple Sclerosis] as a Board Member of the New England Chapter of the MS Society… One of her priorities within the United Way has been as initiator, co-chair and now member of the Faith & Action Comte, a coalition that provides funding to urban church programs designed to serve at-risk youth….” So on and so forth.

And Michelle Obama? Such a good lawyer that she’s the one they picked to train the newbie who would become her husband and ultimately our President.

I would suggest that rather than pit these two accomplished women against each other in a benighted bake-off that we conduct a series of interviews with them, together and apart, to learn their thoughts on matters such as at-risk youth and intellectual property law (one of Ms. Obama’s areas) — or, we could just, you know: Stop pretending the spouses have anything to do with it.

I AM AN AMERICAN VOTER, HEAR ME ROAR: I vote not for a family, not for a pretend mommy, not for a dog gamboling about the lawn (however cute Bo may be), and not for whoever manages to best meet some outmoded, useless, and ultimately damaging set of cultural expectations of female-vs-male behaviors. I VOTE FOR THE GORRAM CANDIDATE.

Honest to God, America. Cut it the fuck out.

Progressives are feminists or they’re not Progressives.

Here’s a radical notion: If you’re a man and you call yourself a Progressive, you can’t sling sexist insults at women.

Any women.

Not just Progressive women. Not just women you like. Not just your mom.

If you want me to take you seriously and believe that you are genuinely committed to the Progressive agenda, you may not take sexist swipes at Conservative women, either — not even the really awful ones.

Not Michele Bachmann.

Not Sarah Palin.

Not New York Daily News columnist SE Cupp, of whom I had never heard until Hustler magazine (a decidedly questionable source of Progressivism, I admit, despite what Larry Flynt might think) photoshopped an image of her with a penis in her mouth, and opined:

S.E. Cupp is a lovely young lady who read too much Ayn Rand in high school and ended up joining the dark side. Cupp, an author and media commentator who often shows up on Fox News programs, is undeniably cute. But her hotness is diminished when she espouses dumb ideas like defunding Planned Parenthood. Perhaps the method pictured here is Ms. Cupp’s suggestion for avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.

So yes, the latest example of men on the left who think it’s ok to viciously dehumanize Conservative women by reducing them to their sexual organs and/or conventional attractiveness is provided by Hustler — a publication predicated on dehumanizing women by reducing them to their sexual organs and/or conventional attractiveness. BUT.

But, as can be seen by clicking on the links embedded in the names of Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin above, Hustler is far from the first or last example. Need more?

Ed Schultz and Laura Ingram. Keith Olbermann and Ann Coulter. Keith Olbermann and Carrie “opposite marriage” Prejean. Matt Taibbi and Michelle Malkin. Bill Maher and Karen Santorum. Bill Maher and Megyn Kelly. Michael Moore and… all women (some of whom are, presumably, Conservative).

And perhaps unsurprisingly (to me, at least) it doesn’t stop at the Republican Party door — it turns out that so-called Progressive men are often happy to say these things about women they don’t like on the left, too: Chris Matthews and Hillary Clinton. Keith Olbermann and Hillary Clinton. Matt Taibbi and Hillary Clinton. Matt Taibbi and Erica Jong.

In some of these cases, the men in question apologized, and did so in a fashion that to me seemed sincere (Olbermann, for instance, and Schultz), and that’s to be respected.

But I’m not going to applaud it, because I am just so damn tired of the whole thing, and honest to God: I know I have to expect this from the other side of the aisle — but from my compatriots, too?

It’s everywhere, this treatment of women, everywhere. And it is most certainly not limited to Famous Men. It’s in conversations, and on Twitter, and on reddit, and in blogposts, and among comments on blogs, and on Youtube, and at the work place, and at school, and on the street.

It’s exhausting. It’s demoralizing. It’s heartbreaking. And it’s fucking everywhere.

If you are a man somewhere on the left side of America’s political map and you don’t understand these facts well enough to understand that pulling old-school sexism out of your back pocket and wielding it against Conservative women is just plain wrong — you’re betraying me. You’re betraying me, and all the Progressive women in your life, and any daughters you may have, and ultimately, the cause of Progressives everywhere.

Just as I support the right of Log Cabin Republicans to get married (despite their party’s efforts to prevent it) and the right of African-American Republicans to vote (despite their party’s efforts to roll back the Voting Rights Act), I support the right of Conservative women to be treated as human beings (despite their party’s efforts to legislate women as something less).

This is not about party affiliation — this is about the radical notion that women are people. All women.

Even the Conservative ones.

The daily barrage of insults.

Update below.

Every day of my life — all day long — I have to ignore insults in order to partake in pop culture, general conversation, and/or intellectual pursuits.

If I am to enjoy the music on the radio, or the jokes in a movie, or a conversation among like-minded political animals, I have to close my ears and numb my senses on a regular, sometimes hourly basis. I have to pause and think: “Is that bad enough for me to have to not like this righteous beat anymore? Or can I carry on bobbing my head without being a traitor to myself, my daughter, my mother, my sister, my aunt, and about 80% of my friends?”

I know I write about this a lot, but it’s only because it makes me want to tear my hair out. Or move to a distant planet. It’s only because it really, really matters and very few people who aren’t women (and not a lot of them) seem to notice or, more to the point, care.

For instance:

Yesterday morning, the boy was telling me about what transpired to be a very funny animated video providing a literalist interpretation to the lyrics of an entirely enjoyable stupid song, the wildly popular “Party Rock Anthem” — and thus I heard my 12 year old say the words “so when they say ‘I run through hoes like Drano’….”

Yesterday afternoon, the same boy showed me a delightful, funny, and in fact quite interesting video made by a young video blogger named Charlie McDonnell, someone who is part of the so-called “Nerdfighter” community (all part of the Vlogbrothers phenomenon, about which I posted earlier). The Nerdfighters take as their goal in life “to increase awesome in the world and decrease suck” — by which they mean: Be the change you want to see in the world. They’re good people, led by good people. And there’s Charlie, in a “Fun Science” video, teaching us all about the nature of sound — making it fun and clever and amusing and generally increasing the awesome — and at the very end, he makes a small, silly, throw-away joke, referring to a man who had failed at something as a woman.

Then last night, during the Republican debate, folks on my side of the political map were getting justifiably angry about the ease with which the GOP candidates dehumanize undocumented workers by constantly and consistently using the phrase “illegal aliens”  — and one gentleman tweeted (in all caps, which, given the anger, makes sense to me): “BITCH YOU DON’T OWN THE EARTH NO ONE IS AN ILLEGAL ALIEN WE’RE ALL HUMANS!!”

So.

Yesterday morning, I said something to the boy before he even got to the point of explaining how the animators had interpreted “running through hoes like Drano” (it’s a can of Drano, running under an honor guard of garden hoes — click here to watch, it’s actually pretty good). I said something to him in the afternoon, once Charlie’s Fun Science had faded to black and I’d said how much I’d liked it (it’s decidedly great — click here to watch). I almost said something in the evening to the stranger on Twitter, but I was fairly certain I would be seen as derailing, or missing the point. So I didn’t. And frankly, one gets so tired of always having to say something.

But you know what English-speaking world? When you call women hoes, or sling “bitch” around, or insult men by calling them women? You are telling me, my daughter, my mother, my sister, my aunt, and about 80% of my friends (and 50% of the English-speaking world) that we are less.

Less than human, less than men, less than worthy.

And it is not derailing, or humorless, or missing-the-point, to point it out. Because I am not less than human, less than a man, or less than worthy.

But some days (most days) I don’t point it out. I don’t even let it register. Because it wears me down, and wears me out, and I am just fucking tired.

*****

UPDATE: And then in the course of my afternoon, I learn that there is a new book out that is actually titled: Becoming China’s Bitch. In interviewing the author about it, a writer with Foreign Policy (!) posed the following questions: “When did you first realize we were in danger of becoming China’s bitch?…What can we do to prevent becoming China’s bitch?… How do we make China our bitch?” Yes, fucking really.