Miss Misconception Says Sexism is Gross

Jumping right in…I have had a hell of a day. I made over $1,000 for the coffee shop today in drinks and pastries, and took home 10% of that via my pay. I had the conversation the other day with Ken that it is not myself I (and pretty much everyone else) am working to support. I am working to support the upper crust. Perhaps they have earned their place up above us peons, but that is neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that I’m working to support faceless entities in their wealth with my blood, sweat and tears. In return, I am paid just enough money that I can keep afloat to continue working for them. This is not just my company. This is not just me. This is nationwide. And (sorry) raising the minimum wage isn’t going to help…

This message has been brought to you by AnnaRK.

Moving on…There are some other unsettling issues that came across my consciousness today that I feel smack of a certain intolerability that I would like to share them with the readers. Not that anything can really be done about any of this, but I feel that knowledge is powerful, and perhaps if your eyes are opened like mine were today, then perhaps we can work towards solution on these. i.e. maybe this infuriating shit won’t happen years from now. Ever hopeful. 

First on the docket was the reminder I got at 8 a.m. this morning that sexism is alive and well. And I got this wake up call from another female who not only realized what she was doing, but thought it a kind of funny irony. It made me feel like spiders were crawling all along my open flesh.

This woman was telling me about a new hire she had brought on to her company, and how she had terrible news about this new hire. Her face, her body language, and her manner conveyed the worst. The woman said to me that she had found out that this new female hire had a health condition, and I was sure that this lady she had hired had terminal cancer or something even worse. 

Imagine my surprise when the company manager revealed to me that her new worker did not have a life threatening illness…no. Her “health condition” was that the new hire was pregnant. The company manager (Reminder: she’s a woman too) let me know that if she had known that this potential hire was pregnant, she would have not hired her. 

Wow. I was honestly speechless. I had heard things like this went on, but I somehow didn’t think I’d ever witness it. In my bubble of naivety, I thought, surely…women aren’t discriminated against getting a job because of what is or isn’t in their womb? I WAS WRONG. And I do understand running a business and picking the best qualified candidate for the job and for the company assets. But, this new hire was chosen because her merits DID co-align with the job description, and yet if she had revealed her personal life, she would have been tossed on the “no” pile as quick as anything. It’s disgusting. It’s even more disturbing because you would think a female company manager would understand the opposition that women face within the workplace and would take this into account.

But, there is sort of a happy ending. Because the young woman whom the company manager was discussing, is hired and she can’t be let go unless she does something that merits her unemployment. Did I mention that this young woman who is pregnant is only 19? Call me idiotic, and perhaps I am to be blogging about this at the risk of someone reading this and connecting the dots, but I’ve got a little more compassion for my fellow humans. It’s not charity, but it is a certain decency that I think got swept away in this instance. I wish this young woman the best of luck and hope that she can prove herself to move up the ranks to where she can assume the job of this company manager and prove to the motherfuckers that a woman is NOT her womb.

Issue no. 2: I should no longer be surprised, but I think my sense of wonder just has a really bad memory. I went into the used book store yesterday to sell a plethora of cds. It was a semi-difficult trip because I was selling cds that had been with me since I began my cd collection in middle school (the horrorshow that all was). Indeed, I sold to the used book store the very first cd I ever received: Faith Hill’s “This Kiss.” Not really a particular gem, but it had sentimentality. Along with it went cds that altogether totalled to hundreds of dollars spent, and the memories attached to their purchase and journey alongside me from every move I’ve made around this small small town. 

It was a difficult thing to put these cds in the box and essentially give them away. They felt like a part of me. They weren’t just property, they were my thoughts, my feelings, my nostalgia that had shaped and molded my blank clay adolescence into the sassy, coffee-slinging feminist doodle-bug crazy that I’ve become. (Yay?) Yet, as soon as the cds had been dragged and lugged and worried over to where they were such a burden to get to that used book store, I felt that letting them go was perfect liberation. The music is still with me. Every time I hear a Third Eye Blind song, I can recall the feelings it has for me. I don’t need the physical object to feel these emotions. And with the physical object gone and out of my life I am able to move about my apartment more freely, with more space, and when I move to my next abode (Anarchist commune, here I come!) I will not have something so silly as heavy plastic to hold me back. I plan on cutting back more and more on my material possessions. Giving things away, little by little, to unburden myself continuously. I’d like to use my scant monies to buy experiences and outings that create these memories that I can always carry with me without an added weight on my Earthly presence.  

The other thing that happened at the book store that made me just shake my head as I stood in the aisle was the Women’s Studies section. If I expected it to be better in the used book store than it was in a corporate book store, I was delusional. I found the section easily again. It was located right beside “Gay Studies,” which was actually four to five shelves overflowing with nothing but Gay Fiction. Because apparently homosexual non-fiction is just too hard for our town to stomach. And the woman’s studies section was ONE shelf of books that looked like a dour mockery of reading as a general concept. I’ll read some pretty insipid stuff just to say I have tried it, but this stuff was bottom barrel. Sigh. Enlightenment is just going to have to wait if you seek it out in a used book store.

Issue 3: (The last one, I promise) Regular readers of the blog will note that I made an announcement last entry. I declared my status as “taken,” and I did so because I believe it is a matter of respect for the other person to make your intentions known in these things. The other end of the coin is that those outside your relationship SHOULD respect your wishes when you make such a status change. Well, I guess this entry is just going to be littered with misconception after missed conception (see what I did there?). Because, the male friends I have in my life just don’t seem to get it. I don’t feel comfortable going over to your house for you to cook me grilled cheese and watch a movie together now that I’m seeing someone. When you push the invite, over my suggestions that we meet up at a public place for hangs, it shows that you don’t respect me, you don’t respect my intentions, and you don’t respect my man. If you did, you would understand that I’m giving you a “soft no” that is really important to pick up on.

I’m not a girl who has a problem with hanging out with male friends once I have entered a relationship. As Erasure says: People are people. And I trust myself to behave appropriately according to my beliefs even when I’m not held to any accountable standard. But, there’s tact. And you just don’t put yourself in situations where you are with a single dude friend at his apartment and he’s cooking you dinner. They make documentaries about this kind of thing!

The problem isn’t my guy friend necessarily. He, and many other guys, don’t understand that pushing someone against their will and their stated intentions into situations is not only “not cool, bro” but it’s borderline predatory. Repeatedly messaging a woman after she has pointedly ignored you and/or made no attempts to further any kind of friendship/relationship between you too, showing up at her apartment after she has repeatedly made excuses not to hang out with you, and constantly making her make these awkward refusals to hang out with you in solitary situations is not good. And yes, this has ALL happened to me, and it has ALL happened again since I made my declaration of being in a relationship. Speaking up and out about my wishes and my intentions fell on deaf ears that seemed to take my message as license to try harder to stake some kind of claim on me.

I read an article this week where this behaviour was denoted as acceptable because it fell under the category of socially awkward. Believe me, socially awkward happens. But the difference between socially awkward people and predatory creepers is that the former party will backtrack as soon as they realize they have made an incorrect move, statement or action as to put another person at unease. The predators and creepers will not backtrack. They will march on, and use the “socially awkward” or scapegoat of the offended party in question and their “unclear message” as reason to continue these violations.

I enjoy being friends with this guy, and I like talking to him about pop culture. He doesn’t realize that he’s creating this wall between us where I want to avoid him and his friendship because of the awkward corner he wants to trap me in. Here’s an article that highlights it a bit better than I am: http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2014/03/socially-awkward-isnt-an-excuse/

So, my question is, do guys have to deal with women endlessly hounding them for access to their private time and space when they have made known that they expend their romantic affections solely on one person? Maybe I’m complaining about first world problems, but it’s just exhausting.

Alright, that’s it. My rant on today’s vicious realities has reached its end. Thanks for reading, and please send me some comments. I’d love to hear other perspectives on these issues.

-Anna R. Kotopple

Feminist Womanifesto

I’m not saying I regret what I posted yesterday, because it was what was on my mind and that’s nothing I wish to retract, but I apologize if it bored you. I know that personally I tire very quickly to hearing people gush how wonderful/mysterious/attractive/insightful/irritating their “other” is. I especially can’t stand to hear how happy they are when I’m feeling confused and bored and destructive with my own feelings towards the unfairer sex. I hope that’s a similar shared feeling with other humans, because, if not, it just means I’m self-centered and more bitter than I’d like. Either way, I’m going to plead the excuse that I’m only human…most days…I think. 

So I’m going to finally get to what iit means to me to be a feminist today, and still I hesitate. Not because I’m afraid of being branded with this oft categorized “dirty word,” but rather, because I’m not sure I can say anything that hasn’t already been said (and better said) by others out there. And too, because I think the people who want to argue about feminism, and slap one word equivalents upon it, are not people who it is really worth arguing with. My mother always says that concerning relgion she brings an open mind to the table because really, no one knows for absolute 100% sure what is the “TRUTH,” and we aren’t going to know until we go toe-up and into whatever afterlife may or may not be waiting for us. Therefore, she says, it’s pointless to get so hot in an argument, because, you can feel as confident as you want, but no one actually knows. I agree. And I loosely extend this to feminism because no one knows what feminsm means to the individual feminist or anti-feminst anymore. 

True. There’s a definition of feminism. Feminism: a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic and social rights for women. But one of the things I love (and hate) about femism is this definition that offers room for interpretation with application to the individual life. It’s wonderful that this definition gives me the liberty to say that when a sexist joke is told and I say (true Morrissey style) “That joke isn’t funny anymore,” that I’m not only standing up for my right to be able to say what I think, I’m also saying this type of idea is damaging to women and their struggle for equal rights that are on par with the rights of anyone else. But, I understand that people don’t like to be corrected for bad behavior, even if perhaps they know deep down that that kind of teasing and shaming based on sex is wrong…so when someone retorts with a comment like “bitch” or “feminist” I tend to take it as par for the course, and tell them to find a new come back because those are so so very over played.

To some, feminism may be the right to take to the streets with posters and get angry about suppression and disrespect from the half of the human race that’s supposed to be our partners (not saying that they are our only option though, go go gay rights). But it’s not JUST that definition that femists should be viewed as. I’m not angry, and I’m not marching, and I’m not burning my bra (I’d never do that: no. 1 expensive  no. 2 bras are wonderful, and serve a valid purpose in my every day life), and I don’t hate men (just the opposite), and I’m not a lesbian (see previous post). The stereotypes of feminism are designed to inhibit progress and draw attention from the real purpose of the movement, and that’s change for the better for women so that we have more opportunities to make our dreams come true, we can feel respected AND loved, and we can show younger generations that a strong woman IS a desirable thing not to be equated with someone who will be lonely, unattractive or despised.

So if I’m not in the streets burning my bra, having promiscuous sex with a variety of partners, or yelling at small children in my yard about equal pay for equal work: what the hell am I doing to promote the feminist cause? Well, first, I educate myself. I read up on the good things men and women are doing (and the bad things too) and I promote women and men who are working to promote a level playing field. Also, I act the part of feminist whenever I stick up for myself or others that are being bullied. Whether it’s a student in my class that’s being made fun of for her hair color choice or it’s asking a friend to not judge a woman’s sexual status based on what she wears OR (and this one was a doozy) diplomatically straightening out Lanks when he said a particular woman was “easy.” For the record, I’m very proud of that last one, because I remained calm and let him know that there is huge inequality between men and women when a man can sleep with a woman on the first date and be praised, and a woman who does the same is shamed and called such things as “easy.” For once, Lanks was speechless. Then again, he was probably just trying to fuck with my head about all of it. He’s a psychology major, and he tends to use his skills for his amusement and my chagrin.

I really could go on and on. There’s so many little acts of disrespect that we can let go or we can politely,or depending on the severity, not so politely adress. I’ve been called: girl, sweetie, ma’m, dear, and lady, all in one day, depending on how the person who used the term viewed my status as a human. I’ve had a customer reach into my name badge on my chest, grab my pen, and say “I just wanted to click it.” I’ve had a customer say, as I dusted a fixture, “They’ve got you on your knees again, huh?” And then again, I’ve had a very gentlemanly gentleman correct his friend that kept calling me “Lank’s girlfriend,” by saying “She has a name. How about you call her by that?” (Swoon) He also stepped up and told his friend to back off when the guy made a comment about my breasts. (Double swoon…for Lanks, not that other guy, obviously ) And this just proves that femisism needs its male allies just as much, if not more, than feminine crusaders.

Point is, I’ve had sexist comments and jokes and tests to stand up for myself and others, and I use these to further the cause. It may not be the most effective method, but by asking my brother to judge women by their merits, not their legs, and acting as a role model alongside this, I’m encouraging him to choose a woman who respects herself and him and  who will pass this on to their children or all they encounter. Take a swig and pass the Feminist juice, so to speak.    

If you are interested in being a more active feminist, fighting a feminist, or knowing more about the struggle that IS real (not a myth, thank-you-very-much), I suggest reading the so-called feminist bible: “The Feminine Mystique.” The work is a bit dated these days and flawed in certain areas, but it’s a place to start and it’s written well. Watch a film on Gertrude Stein, and see how this attractive and intelligent woman has crusaded for women’s rights AND found the love of her life with a man who supported her ideas. And take this for the road…it’s not about women so much as it is about everyone’s rights, and the fight to help everyone (black skin, white skin, female, male, homosexual, asexual, fat, skinny, disabled, healthy) accomplish what they want to with this blip of a life on the cosmic scale. I love all you humans and semi-human lifeforms. Go do something wonderful with your one wild and precious life.

-Anna R. Kotopple