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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Women’s History Month: Wikipedia linkaround, pictures, and we’ve never known our place edition.

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I meant to blog more for women’s history month, but it’s been a heller. So instead of doing individual posts like I wanted to, I’m going to present you with a shitload of links and pictures. My first women’s history month was about women at peace,  but given all the fuckery that’s been flying around, I feel compelled to opine on women rulers and warriors.

There is an interesting narrative that is a close cousin of the “Western women don’t need feminism! You need to quit whining and save those brown women over there!” trope, which is that prior to the rise of feminism, women knew their goddamn place and goddamn well stayed in it. And that place was as breeding livestock and house slaves (and that this was a natural and effective social order, which I will write about more later, because, LOLWhut?).

This assertion that women had no agency receives regretful assent from some (young, usually white, usually American) feminists, and crowing chest beating posturing when spouted off by misogynists (who also like to threateningly imply that when modern civilization breaks down, the worst of the patriarchy will rise again and put us uppity bitches back in our place as fuckable footstools).

LOLLERSKATES.

The point of this post is to demonstrate that there has never been a time in  human history where there were not uppity women, picking up weapons and getting all uppity-in-your-fucking-skull with them, and building giant ass monuments and just generally seizing power where power existed to be seized.

It should serve as a reminder that men are women are much more alike than we are different, and that we are equally capable of violence, courage and politics.

Some of these women took the reins of power in the most Machiavellian ways imaginable (I’m looking at you Shammuramat, oh god please don’t haunt-murder me with your lioness), and ruled with an iron fist.

Some fought against colonization, and fought in spite of the patriarchy at home. They had different motivations, noble and base, which should shock absolutely nobody, since women are just people like men.

Finally, I hope that this post is also a slap to the face of racist-misogynists who would very much like to believe that women of color are just naturally subservient exotic playthings and always have been, because nature!

So.

In no particular order, but maybe sort of chronologically, I don’t know– let’s begin with evidence for ancient Eurasian warrior women, who may have been the basis for the Greek legends of the Amazons (some of the article is meh, but wev).

Shit is about to get REAL.

 

Also,  Pharaoh Hatshepsut.

 

Not to be fucked with

Hatshepsut was not to be fucked with, ruled as Pharaoh (very successfully) for 22 years, and had this built as her mortuary temple:

Fancy!

Assyrian Queen Shammuramat. Not to be fucked with. At all. Military and (evil) political genius, and that’s saying something when you talk about Assyrians.

 

I will fuck your shit up. I have a fucking lioness laying behind me. Try it.

Shang dynasty general and priestess Fu Hao. Mother, wife, oracle, warrior, bad ass woman with a god damned huge ax.

 

Look at the huge fucking ax. And ask yourself, would you fuck with her?

The Gladiatrix. I urge you to click through and read Juvenal’s whingy passage about women “denying the sex they were born with” to be fighters. There is NOTHING NEW about the shit spouted by evo-psychers and anti-feminists (venn diagram shows massive overlap between these groups). Oh look, they’re being called Amazons!

Stop! You're supposed to be subservient and weak, damnit!

Tomyris, Scythian Queen, defeated Persian king Cyrus the Great and stuck his fucking head in a fucking bag of blood, just to be witty: “I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall”.

 

Just to be witty, you guys.

Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, Syrian queen of Egypt who famously revolted against the roman empire. She was defeated by Aurelian, and there are various accounts of her death. One account is that she was so awesome that she was given a villa and became a prominent socialite in Rome and died a natural death. However, she may have gone on a hunger strike, or been beheaded. Regardless, she was badass.

 

Zenobia, conquerer of things, possessor of epic side-eye.

Of course I’m going to include Queen Boudica!

 

The Roman empire inspired many women to rage, it seems.

 

The Tru’ng Sisters, martial arts practicioners and badasses, who pushed the Han chinese out of Vietnam in AD 43, with an army mainly comprised of women warriors. This section also warrants a special mention of the bad-fucking-assery of one Phùng Thị Chính, a noblewoman who fought alongside the sisters, and was in charge of protecting the flank. She was pregnant, and legend says she gave birth on the battlefield and held her newborn in one arm while swordfighting with the other. Someone explain to me why this has not been in a movie?

 

Did I mention that they rode into battle on God damned Elephants?

Tomoe Gozen, Lady Samurai about whom this is written: “She was [. . .] a remarkably strong archer, and as a swordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors.” –Tale of the Heike

 

Beheading has never been so colorful.

Some delightful information about  Saxon, Viking, and Scots women warriors.

Gráinne Ní Mháill, Irish pirate who met queen Elizabeth (who also deserves a nod on this post), and was generally bad ass.

 

Axes seem to be a common theme here.

Yaa Asantewaa, Queen Mother of the Asante people ( a kingdom in present day Ghana), who fought against British colonizers for her people, and is quoted as saying:

Now I see that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our king. If it [was] in the brave days of Osei TutuOkomfo Anokye, and Opoku Ware, chiefs would not sit down to see their king to be taken away without firing a shot. No European could have dared speak to chiefs of Asante in the way the governor spoke to you this morning. Is it true that the bravery of Asante is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be! I must say this: if you, the men of Asante, will not go forward, then we will. We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.

I'll bet she has an ax hidden somewhere.

” 

 

Lozen, Apache Warrior and Prophet. She fought beside Geronimo in resistance to the colonization of America, among other things.  Click through the read the account of her leading women and children across the Rio Grande. She was a badass.

Bad.Ass.

Rani Lakshmi Bai, Resisted British colonial rule in India, and was a leading figure in the 1857 rebellion. Bad.Ass.

Again, I would bet you anything that there's an Ax somewhere nearby.

Lyudmila Mykhailivna Pavlichenko, WWII Soviet sniper with 309 confirmed kills. She was studying history in 1941 when the german army invaded, and was among the first volunteers for the war effort.

Tell me again about women in combat, and how they ought not be there. No, tell her!

Jewish Women Resistance Fighters.

Sara Ginaite at the liberation of Vilna.

With more information on women soldiers here via the BBC.

This is hardly an adequate or complete list of women who took power, or who resisted the march of empires. But I hope that the it stands as evidence that there have always been, and will always be, uppity women, taking up arms, being badass, fighting for their people and for themselves–being human.

Oh, and I hope that it’s also evidence for hollywood sexism, because jesus cheese and crackers christ, you can’t tell me that none of these women are fucking epic, and deserve movies. Not scantily clad 18 year old blonde nymphets with guns movies, real movies.

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3,000 Hits!

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Here, enjoy this fine, fine song.



I saw a slush ball resembling the bust of Cicero, and I am tired.

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It looked like this guy. It even had the epic suspicious/seriously (!?!?!) face.

This is going to be a ramblin’ shamblin’ festival of fuck my lifery. So, you know. You’ve been warned.

I am not so far from thirty, which is fine. I’m cool with that. But I have the odd combination of a very young looking face, and an expression of contempt and loathing that can fell a PUA without a word. This is difficult for people to process.

“Why that uppity young snot!” They seem to think, “I’ll take her down a peg or three!”

I should mention that this has been a lifelong situation for me, and I fully grasp that I am the cilantro of people– people that like me, really like me, and we have a rollicking good time and everything is fantastic.  And to other people I apparently taste like soap. The people who like me outnumber the people who don’t, and their kindness more than makes up for the rest.

But. The people who don’t like me, tend to be people in positions of authority. And they tend to try to take me down as many notches/pegs as they possibly can, even though it never works.

I’m not kidding. It’s not that I don’t politely do whatever I’m asked to do (within reason), I do. It’s not that I’m not polite and courteous, I am.

I do my job, I do good work, I show up on time, and that’s it. That’s all. I am not deferential. I will politely listen and do things how you want them done, but I will not be trained in how-I-ought-to-behave. I started out low, bosses, and you will never be able to push me back down.

I understand the dues paying culture of working in America. I’ve been officially working and paying in to SSI every year since I was twelve, which is well over half of my life.

Which is the crux of my complaint. Dues, I have paid them. I’ve worked cleaning toilets, I’ve painted houses and rolled around in batshit and 100 year old dust in a museum attic laying down caulk.   I’ve cleaned up more metric tons of animal shit and piss than I care to think about. I’ve been wrist deep in animal blood and puke and name-your-fluid. I’ve assisted in the euthanasia of unwanted animals, even when it broke my heart. I’ve worked serving food, I’ve worked grooming dogs, and I spent five years as collection for an evil company that shall not be named.

Five years in collections is, by the way, a lifetime. Most people burn out before the twelve month mark because it’s a hideous soul crushing job that robs you of all compassion for yourself and everyone else. I hated every single minute of it, and I stayed only because I had no other choice and hoped that I could at least be the kinder gentler more helpful bill collector. I called people with dying spouses, dying children, who had lost their homes, who were dying themselves. I heard adults beating children, and each other, while I could sit there and do absolutely nothing.

I called a woman who had found out only a few minutes before that her daughter had been murdered (and yes, trust me, it was real. It was viscerally present in her voice) and who hadn’t even had the chance to call her family, and was so polite and so lost and in so much more pain than most people can imagine. I drove home crying 4 nights out of 5. But I stuck it out, because it was what was rational for me at the time. I quit that job only when my health began to deteriorate and a supervisor began to harass me.

I have a steel backbone, for various reasons, not the least of which is growing up in a family of Jehova’s Witnesses as a public dissenter. Like my list of jobs above, I have a laundry list of insults that were lobbed at me as a child: Whore (regular), Whore of Babylon (where are my purple vestements and my kir royale in a golden chalice? And the many headed leopard thing I should be riding?), slut, witch (this is hard to explain to secular people, but yes, they really, genuinely 100% believed that I was consorting with demons), and on, and on. And on. I was taken out of school in 2nd grade and homeschooled from there until college, which wasn’t so bad in some ways since my parents were conflicted enough about their religion to have an awesome library and let me read pretty much whatever I wanted via the process of not having their shit together and not paying attention to what was going on. But it meant that I was isolated from anyone who was not a Jehovah’s Witness, until I was old enough to start reaching out on my own. I learned to be alone, and be ok with it. I learned to love nature as refuge and a friend. I had great experiences making friends online, before and after I left home, and I am still friends with many of those people IRL, a decade on.

Anyone who has had a childhood in a dysfunctional, abusive family, can pretty much fill in the rest of the hunger, neglect, beatings, poorness bingo card. I didn’t have it worse than anyone in the world ever, but I didn’t have it great. Which is no excuse to be an asshole, and I’m not. In fact, all of these experiences have made me take the position that if I cannot treat someone well, it’s better for me to leave them alone completely. My personal acquaintance with pain has made me believe that compassion and empathy and altruism are the best things about being a social creature, and I try to practice them regularly.

However. Unless my job description specifically and openly demands ego stroking, I won’t. And no amount of pushing me around will get that out of me.

Trust me, bosses, I always feel like saying, you will not succeed where an entire doomsday cult, my family, and several exes failed.

But here we are again, right now, and I am tired. I am in pain, I have no energy, I have decided to go ahead with a hysterectomy in hopes of ending the pain and feeling better, but that won’t happen until after I finish my language classes and get my B.A. (I already have my B.S., but immigration being what it is in the US, I decided that coming back to finish my last year of language would be a good way to kill time until Mr. Lee Hales was able to get here) in May. And so, right now. I am just tired.

I am tired of friendliness being a demand on my person with no quid pro quo. I am tired of being taken to task, not for failing to do my job, or doing it poorly, but for failing to defer, failing to get in line, sit down, shut up, and take it.

I realize that the common thread here is my failure to conform to expectations of age and femininity. Women are supposed to be warm and open, giving and deferential to authority. Young women are supposed to be inexperienced. The sticky uppy nail gets pounded down and so forth.

I don’t have a point here. I realize  that I’m lucky to be working at all, even if only for 10 hours a week. I know how privileged I am to be able to have the option of coming back for a B.A., to be educated at all. I have shit loads of privilege. I am also poor, and hurting and just fucking tired.

Post me some funny comments, ok? Put up silly gifs and pictures of adorbs jumping spiders. Make interesting comments. Something. Make my day less rage inducing. I’m about ready to move to the moon.

I want a cat sized jumping spider with which to cuddle. And scare assholes. But mostly cuddle.

Welcome to South Dakota, Where Abortion Seeking Women aren’t People, Freedom of Religion Means Nothing, and Democracy is a Rule Just Begging to be Broken

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Well Hello There Stranger!

I see you’ve come to visit us in South Dakota. I’ll bet you were thinking this would be a good place to eat some hot dish, get a sweat- shirt with howling elk on it, pet a bison, feel your heart swell with anti-environmental more than a little racist patriotism, and so on.

Perhaps you were drawn in by the promise of landscapes such as these:

 

Uh. Oops. Not that one.

That's More Like It.

And This Too!

And So On.

 

My Personal Submission for Best Swimming Hole in the Universe.

Ah, South Dakota! Heart of America! Come for the Overwhelming Whiteness and Highest Rates of Rape, Stay for the Real American Values! Freedom! The Poorest County In The Nation! The Corn Palace! Cosmos Mystery Area (Multiple Entendres!)! A Great Whopping Monument to Democracy! Soybeans! A State Bird that is Actually an Invasive Chinese Species (Hackneyed Joke About How It’s All A Metaphor!)!

And yet, my friend. I must tell you something. Here, have some kuchen (it’s the state dessert!) while you listen. And some cream corn and orange jello with julianned (cause fancy!) carrots,  raisins and miracle whip in it.

You see, our esteemed Gov. Daugaard (this is the sound a bison makes through it’s nose when taking a hard poop, trufax) has recently signed into law H.B. 1217, which requires all abortion seeking women to undergo a 72 hour waiting period (but don’t despair, you can’t still buy a gun and get married much more quickly. Priorities!) AND to undergo pre-abortion counseling at a Crisis Pregnancy Center.

In order for the sole doctor who flies in once a week to perform abortions on the Eastern side of the state (it’s a big state, enjoy your 8 hour drive through the vasty nothingness!), to actually perform an abortion, that doctor must receive paperwork proving that said woman has undergone this “counseling.”

Here’s the fun and special, super-freedom, democratic, constitutional, excellent eagle with a single tear justice for all real American values catch: the CPC is under no legal obligation to provide such paperwork to either the abortion seeking woman or her doctor. In fact, neither of them has any legal recourse to make the CPC provide such proof. The woman could come to the CPC for “counseling” with three witnesses and a public notary, and this would not be sufficient for the doctor to legally perform an abortion.

Another fun fact: South Dakota has voted down a ban on abortion, twice. Now, my kuchen eating friend, enjoy this bison steak and venison sausage with frybread while I explain the gosh darned seriousness of it all.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers in South Dakota are all, without exception, arms of Christian outreach ministry programs. They are religious organizations (who also receive money from the state, because Constitutional Values!), who are not bound by HIPAA, are not required to have any licensed trained medical staff, and whose “counselors,” are not required to be trained or licensed.

That is to say, women seeking abortions in the state of South Dakota are now legally required visit a christian “counselor,” who may (probably) has no actual education or training as a counselor of anyone, is explicitly anti-choice, and has the legal ability to tell anyone and everyone that said woman was/is seeking abortion services. Including her abusive partner if she has one. Who may well have deliberately sabotaged her birth control, because that is a well documented facet of abuse.

Oh, and these people have revocation power over whether a woman who does not want to be pregnant remains pregnant. Pregnancy can end in many ways, but trust when I say that abortion is far and away the safest of all of the ways that pregnancy can end.

Of course, the burden is now on our great state (all 800,000 of us!) to prove that pregnant, abortion seeking women are not constitutionally people, with a right to privacy, freedom of religion, and freedom in making medical choices.

They should also have to prove that they aren’t fucking racketeering fascists who will gleefully subvert democracy when it suits them, but I doubt it will come up.

Now, why the Governor signed this thing into law, I cannot tell you. Planned Parenthood has already announced that they will take this to court.

And they will win, because this is a huge overstep.

We are not a wealthy or densely populated state (except in terms of Midwestern nice! We have So Much of That!), and we have a budget crisis that has been “solved” by making deep cuts to education and Medicaid, resulting the loss of somewhere between 800-1,000 jobs, and also us eating our fucking seed corn.

In short, we don’t have the fucking money to try and be all “the state has a right to legally enact our hatred of women!” and get our legal fannies kicked.

We shouldn’t be doing this because it is wrong, wrong wrongity wrong.

It is like compelling a person of color to receive “counseling” from a white supremacist. The anti-choice position is, and has always been about hating women and their autonomy and sexuality. No-one should ever be compelled to listen to someone who hates them, in order to make a private choice about their body and their life.

It is absolutely abusive and coercive in the very worst and most open way to compel anyone to submit to a religion not of their choosing in order to receive medical care that it their constitutional right. It is degrading and insulting to women to suppose that we haven’t already considered out choices, seeing as we are, you know, sentient fucking humans.

Lest you think that this on of those stupid dumb lady things, I would argue that it is an insult to everyone who voted a ban down twice. It is an insult to and a mockery of the democratic system.

This is why the whole abortion fight is a litmus test both for misogyny and for trying out unconstitutional laws on the populace. You know the drill, “first they came for the women and I said nothing….” and so on.

So, I encourage people who care about women, who are pro-choice, who are pro-democracy, who believe in the democratic model and in our constitutional rights–  protest the hell out of this nonsense, loudly. Talk about it. Expose it to the light. Come and protest with us.

Note: I will NOT tolerate any debate about abortion as such in the comments, so don’t even try it. Anti-choice trolling will earn you a perma-ban that will never, ever be lifted. This is a pro-choice blog, and the bullshit arguments of anti-choicers are not welcome here.

 

 

Some Further Thoughts on Biology, Sex, Gender and Bodies

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UPDATED: Edited for typos and to add a few things here and there to clarify.

This was fomented partially by this post over at Fannie’s Room, a most excellent feminist blog–(I’ll just say that it is damned disrespectful not to give an opponent a chance, regardless of gender. I don’t really care what the flying fuck that kid’s reasons are/were– faith [snort], awkward boners [those definitely never happen in same sex wrestling, right?], masculinity which says that you are a loser if a girl beats you, but your victory is hollow if you beat her because she is a stinky weak gross pathetic girl [oh, yeah no, those are GREAT reasons] it’s a cop out).

However, what I want to talk about is how every time I read the comments on a discussion of women, men, and athletics, I hear this gem repeated ad nauseum:

“The best man will always beat the best woman, because men are stronger and faster and that is just biology!”

It seems to be part of the landscape of sports itself, which is why sports remain sex segregated, and for the record I will say I do think that women should not summarily be barred from competing at the same level as men, and when they do, for fuck’s sake take them seriously.

It is my understanding that as with most things, sports often comes down to skill and quick thinking more than strength alone, like most human endeavors. So that’s where I’m approaching this from.

I am not now, and have never been terribly interested in human athletics, or sports. I won’t say I don’t respect the drive and ambition and toughness of athletes of any gender or none at all, I do. But I am not a team player, so team sports just leave me cold. I enjoy watching solo athletes like gymnasts do their thing, but I inevitably end up comparing humans to non-humans which is really just unfair (I have seen a Chamois, and you sir, are no Chamois!), and then I get bored and wander off in search of snacks. In the entomological spirit of life, I am a spider and not an ant. And not even a cool spider, really, just some Linyphiid hanging out in my web being boring. So I approach this with some trepidation, as an outsider, not an expert.

Pictured: Other picture stopped working. Mr. Lee Hales on the left, myself on the right, our messy house, typical day. "What should we eat for dinner?" "I don't know." "Neither do I"

But I do know one thing for sure.

Sports are not natural, and sports are not certainly not part of human biology, except insofar as they require the use of human bodies.

Sports are artificial systems with rules and codes of behavior and action which have been invented and regulated by men, generally speaking. Able bodied, athletically inclined, almost always cis, men. Men who thought of themselves as men, distinct from women at least.

We already know why it’s problematic to say the least, to conflate biological sex with cultural gender. I use the term gender as opposed to sex throughout this piece because this whole thing rests precariously on culturally gendered ideas about biological sex having bodies, where you don’t actually know the biological sex of the players.

 

Pictured: Not something seen on the Savannah 70,000 years ago.

Many sports take advantage of men’s upper body strength and higher center of gravity, which you would expect, given, again that they were created by and for  men’s bodies.

It seems perfectly reasonable then, that in sports created by men for men’s bodies, men’s bodies would excell. That is intended result, right?

And I want to be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with creating a system where you and your body can win. As a rule, people don’t like to set themselves up to fail, so I don’t think this is some grand universal travesty of justice, so long as other bodies are also supported in creating systems where they can win. And that those bodies, and the things they can do that men’s bodies can and cannot, are respected and not treated as second tier or less serious.

The problem comes in when we just go ahead and swallow the unspoken assumptions built into the idea that because the best man competing in a sport designed for his body will beat the best woman competing against him (and I can’t even speak to whether this is true, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, my metaphorical setae start quivering when I read an absolute statement which is basically untestable) in a sport not designed for her body, it proves that men and their bodies are just better. Stronger, more useful, more important, inevitably dominant, full stop. More biologically human, in fact.

The other problem is that this ignores variance within a gender and highlights variance between given genders. It creates this sense that every man can beat every woman at every sport full stop and that is why gender segregation is good because girls are stinky and weak and eeeeeeeeew (!!) which is just silly. Men are not an athletic monolith. Obviously. In a shocking (!!), absolutely shocking case of The Patriarchy Hurts Men Too, I, Pepper, reveal the truth! And the truth is that men valuing their worth in terms of athletic ability  favors men who can meet some arbitrary standard of athletic ability. So the argument isn’t doing most men any actual favors either.

The person saying or writing the “men’s bodies=best bodies” argument is saying or writing it with the idea that this “proves” something, or they wouldn’t bother. Sports I may not know, but rhetoric I am intimately familiar with.

It’s kind of a silly idea when you really unpack it:  In system designed for (some) men, (some) men do better than other people who are not (some) men, therefore (some) men are better/best. Welcome to the patriachy!

Oops, your logic hoisted itself on it’s own petard.

Pictured: You would logically assume you could escape the spiders by water, BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG! Also, I don't know how to find an image of a petard, or if I want to.

And then, of course is the issue of valuing certain kinds of strength over other kinds, certain kinds of speed, agility, nimbleness, and ability over other kinds.

Taking it on faith that what men’s bodies can do is just more valuable is asking too much of me. Asking me to accept this value judgement as “biology” is just a fucking joke. Biology is value free, you see. Biology values most whomever has the most surviving offspring. Since many, many, most men are not shining olympic athletes, biology doesn’t seem to give much a shit about athletic ability in the sporting sense.

Biology has always loved and hated and punished us humans quite blindly and quite equally. If you are going to tell me about size and strength and speed, and muscle mass, I am going to ask you if that is quite enough of a trade for external, vulnerable genitalia in a truly “natural” setting where there were no cups or even clothes to be had.

I am also going to tell you that sometimes leg strength, balance, lightness, smallness, and a lower center of gravity are quite useful in nature as nature, and probably in athletics as well.

Let me put it this way– if I start a new sport called crotchball, where participants must nimbly bounce a rugby  ball off of their pelvises and crotches without wearing any protection, and then exclaim “the best woman will always beat the best man in crotchball!” can you then infer that women’s bodies are simply better, tougher, more nimble, less vulnerable, more human?

Of course you can’t. You’d roll your eyes at me and sigh, and inform me that crotch shots are NOT part of the sporting tradition FOR A REASON PEPPER JESUS CHRIST.

It is not considered fair to cite one’s bodily advantages over men, or even that one is more tough than an able bodied athletic man. A disabled woman will be scoffed at if they say, “no, I am actually tougher than the toughest athlete playing on a broken/torn/popped [whatever], because I live and work and create and love and think and exist and carry on in worse pain than their pain on a constant basis, every day.”

Pointing out the arbitrary nature of these value judgments by noting that women also have average “natural” advantages such as more nimble hands which seems, oh, like it might be super valuable in many settings, gets you laughed out of the room.

It is absurd, in our culture, for a disabled person to say “I am an athlete. Not a second tier second rate athlete. A real athlete.” Obviously, I don’t want to conflate sex with gender, or either with being disabled, because these things are not the same. But they are treated the same in the discussion. Being female sexed, we are told, is an athletic disability, never fucking mind actual disabilities. Never mind that one can be female sexed and male gendered.

It’s about valuing bodies. It’s about certain assumptions and the careless bandying of the word “biology” as though biology itself values men more than women, the abled more than the disabled, the “normal” more than the different. As though biology has standards.

It does not.

That is simply not how biology or evolution works. If you can reproduce, and your offspring can produce, you have achieved biological fitness and… that’s it. It means nothing more or less than that. It is not about value. In the simplest terms, it’s about finding a niche, reproducing, and getting your offspring to survive. And not on the individual level either. If my not having children means that someone elses children survive, I have just increased my fitness, because we are the same species and as such genetically related. I CAN HAZ BIOLOGICAL VALUE!

Frankly speaking, biology is mightily tilted in favor of whoever carries the big reproductive cells.

 

Pictured: Ahem.

In nature, the value of having an extra layer of fat on your body cannot be overstated.

Male phenotype in humans actually doesn’t tell as much as you’d think about the relationship between the biological sexes, let alone the culturally situated genders.

Shockingly, upper body strength does not translate into easily applied and equitable systems of values, but then, it was never meant to be about equity was it?

The phenotype of the “athletic” human male tells me at a glance, that at some point in our history we were subject to sexual selection pressure, which can push the male phenotype toward a display phenotype and also ritualized fighting or mate guarding behaviors. However. It should be noted that fighting, biologically speaking, is not an indication of profound and awesome importance, power or favor (the opposite in fact). Fighting means you may lose, and losing means you may not reproduce.

Also, the genitals of humans seem to be a newer adaptation, and the adaptation seems to be about pleasure. That is to say, at some point in our evolutionary history, it appears that we started fucking for the fun of it, at which point fighting, display and mate guarding behaviors make zilch in the way of sense reproductively speaking. What the fuck is the point of displaying your fitness for a mate who may or may not be ovulating anyway? It’s counter productive and exhausting, and proving your worth as a mate by getting your partner off is way more interesting and fun.

So commonly held evo psych assertions of men=fighters=good because patriarchy because biology ignore that humans have cryptic ovulation and that both sexes and all genders seem to enjoy orgasms equally, which is also why homosexuality is a perfectly sensible adaptive behavior (with respect to asexual individuals, about whom I do not mean or wish to imply there is anything unnatural or wrong, there is not).

It doesn’t even make common intuitive sense, because if the value of the athletic male phenotype were in fact pure biology, if that was what really determined fitness, women and men would be quite similar and humans across the board would be quite similar.

No, these are the ideas of social rather than actual Darwinism, and the patriarchy.

You can tell that it isn’t biology, when women beat men in triathlons and this is attributed to mental rather than bodily toughness. You can tell because anytime women equalize or dominate an activity, that activity becomes one that men should not engage in because it is less worthy. The only good I could hope for out of this is that perhaps if enough women were in active combat men would give up and the incidence of war would drastically decrease. Fannie says it more eloquently on her blog than I am saying it here.

As with the whole idea of biological sex, where it’s complicated, the idea of special abilities conferring special value based on biological sex, should, I hope, seem flat out silly, if you’re still reading.

The last thing, of course, is that if men never compete with the rest of us, athletically speaking, they will never learn to respect what other bodies can do, and I don’t mean pay lip service, I mean really respect.

The disdain for other bodies is part of rape culture, and arguments perpetuating this disdain also insist that the argument be shored up in the form of corrective sadism and sexual violence that “proves”  that the other body is weak, that it is all that is not masculine, because what is masculine is natural, good and valuable.

So the sentiment that we began with, that men will always physically best the rest of the world, cannot be allowed to stand with its attendant assumptions unchallenged even if you disagree with my thoughts on sports and biology.

Even if it were true, completely 100% true, that every cis-man could beat everyone else at every physical challenge, it still wouldn’t prove that the patriarchy is a valid or good form of social organization.

At any rate, things with bodies are rarely as intuitive and sensible as they seem, and if sport were really real nature, we might see quite different outcomes than conventional wisdom would lead us to expect:

Pictured: Hydraulics (almost no musculature), an open circulatory system, and a passive gas exchange system at work. Nature, she does what she wants.

And now, One Argument I, Pepper, am done having.

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Because I like to steal Paprika’s thunder.

Pictured: What you will see just before the thankful darkness, if you try to have this argument with me.

One: You feminists are trying to say men and women are the same! But men and women are different, it’s just biology!

On the surface, this one seems innocuous and it  even seems true. the biological classes male and female are both phenotypically and genetically different  (biological sex is distinct from gender so the language of the statement itself is…well).  Where we drive 100 miles an hour into probelmville is the unspoken assumption that of the biological classes of sex, there is, firstly:

Male/Female

That is not true. Not even chromosomally. There are probably at least 5 distinct biological sex variations, perhaps up to 8 depending on who you ask. There is plenty of genital variance, secondary sex characteristic variance, size and build variance, not to mention gender presentation variance. There is  a double fucking rainbow of variance among humans, in terms of indicators of biological sex.

It can be very difficult to classify biological sex, and you may not know unless your biological sex causes a health issue or infertility or makes you too god damned athletic or not god damned athletic enough. Chromosomally, the only thing that no human being can ever be is YY with no X, two Y chromosomes alone (many people are XYY or otherwise poly Y) are incompatible with life, for humans, so far as we know. Otherwise, there are plenty of poly X people, XO people, and so on, in the world. There have been cases of XY individuals with “female” reproductive organs and capacities, who have produced Oocytes and gestated fetuses.

Biological sex is not simple or straightforward. Tell me how you classify someone “male” or “female” and I can tell you a way that that characteristic can be ambiguous. So if you start your evo-psych argument  with assumptions about “males” and “females” as though these are the only, or even the majority of biological sexes, and we can just go ahead and draw sweeping conclusions about these classes, oh, I would say it’s on, but really, what will happen is that I will laugh. I will just laugh at you, and your science, because your science is shite.

LOLWHUT, Your science is weaksauce.

This does in fact put most evo-psych studies in the dumpster for me, because of the way that such studies are constructed– unless you karyotyped every individual participant and eliminated or outlied those who were not “typical” XX and XY, you aren’t telling me about sex, and therefore you aren’t telling me about evolution, you are telling me a story about gender and culture, and my stories explain more than yours.

And even if these studies were conducted that way, I need to see evidence that XX and XY  are normal and typical, statistically, and that all other karyotypes are rare enough to be abnormal.  I have yet to see any such evidence. These variances in karyotype seem to occur regularly, and don’t always result in infertility or other problems affecting fitness (in the reproductive or true biological sense that they mean when they say survival of the fittest, it’s not a phrase about nature being a battlefield, it’s about surviving offspring). Because of this, I am unlikely to accept as valid arguments about hard lines of difference genetically speaking, between the sexes. We seem to have our biological sexes on a spectrum, rather than at two extremes.

Further, even if I accepted that XX and Xy are normal and typical, I need to see a strong link between sex and the performance of gender universally, to accept that we are talking about evolution and human biology, and not culture. There is no universal standard of masculinity, or femininity. There are some similarities across cultures, but these similarities also have ties with the economy of the culture, e.g. whether  the culture is agricultural or herding based and so on, and the religious practices of the culture. There are hunter gatherer societies where there is almost no division of labor between the genders, and where rape/battery/misogyny occurs so infrequently that it has no specific linguistic term. There are cultures which refer to themselves as matriarchal, and are matriarchal, without being mirrors of the patriarchy. I need these exceptions explained, before I can accept evo psych arguments which posit that the patriarchy is a natural biological fact of the human species, and is a mirror of the genetic and phenotypic differences of XX and XY individuals.

So yeah. My response to the men and women are just different it’s biology argument is that gender isn’t sex,  and we don’t yet understand sex linked behavior in all human populations well enough to draw the conclusion that men are superior to women and should be the dominant class. My response is, like most things, it is complicated, and studies using first world college kids are structurally inaccurate because they do not reflect the reality of most of the human experience, and are likely to reflect the biases of the studiers, which, like magic, prest blasto, they do. I’m done arguing about evo-psych until evo-psych demonstrates actual scientific rigor.

Until then, it means as little to me as Aristotle arguing that women are just incomplete men, or St. Augustine arguing that women are by nature sinful, or St. Jerome (original MRA, that one!) arguing that women are vile blood sucking temptresses, or a thousand other sexist arguments made by both men and women but usually men. It is a distorted grab at  a source of widely accepted authority (now it’s science, then it was philosophy and religion), to support the status quo favoring the dominant class.  Evo-psych is also, as prev. mentioned holy shit balls racist, so even if I didn’t know shit about science, I would still be suspicious, because racism is a sign of stinky garbage masquerading as “the truthy truth!”

What a Crap Night. Sigh.

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I had a shitty night, the kind of night that warrants reiteration of what should be obvious points. Points about tipping, and why you should, like, do it and stuff.

My wage is a paltry 3.00/hour. I am taxed on my hourly wage, 10% of my total sales, and any additional reported tips. All tips I earn via credit cards are automatically reported; I’m supposed to report my cash tips separately, but, well, I usually don’t. Because fuck that. (And most of my tips are credit card anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.)

What this means, then, is that when you tip below 10%, you have not merely denied me a socially acceptable tip; you have actually taken money away from me, because I am still being taxed as though you had behaved like a decent human being. It also means that you have not met the minimum standard of decency as determined by the IRS.

Allow me to repeat: the IRS thinks you are one cheap bastard.

Actually, I have fairly kind feelings toward the IRS. When I was 18, there was a bit of a clusterfuck resulting from the IRS’ mistaken belief that I owed them thousands of dollars in back taxes. The mix-up wasn’t their fault—they had every reason to suppose it was true. Anyway, once I finally obtained the necessary paperwork proving that I was not, in fact, the world’s youngest tax dodger, I sent it in a manilla envelope with a handwritten letter requesting to be reimbursed for the tax return they’d applied to my debt. Yes, a handwritten letter—because that screams professional.

But they acquiesced! They did! Four weeks later, I got a check for the exact amount I’d requested, and a note apologizing for the trouble they’d caused me.

So I don’t mind the IRS. Really, they’re just doing their jobs, and I’m all for apprehending white-collar criminals. But that makes it even worse when you don’t meet their human decency standard.

And you know, I can usually tell a shitty tipper the minute they walk in the door. I think most servers can. But although I was fully prepared for tonight’s murmuring, self-satisfied asspandas to leave me no more than 12%, I did not expect to be stiffed entirely. It’s not like I did anything wrong. They got their food, I checked on them, I refilled their drinks, everything your friendly waitress is supposed to do. And yet—nothing.

My other tables weren’t much better. The very nice but apparently cheap-as-fuck family in the corner? 4.75 on a 65.25 ticket. The two girls with the appetizer, shared entrée, and sodas? 4 on 32. The grouchy family with the screaming toddlers? 8 on 70. My last table left me 15 on 50, which, thank God, because that was the only reason I managed to average over ten percent for the entire night. But.

Bitching about tips isn’t exactly original, I realize. I’ve done it before. But what really angers me is the obvious sexism when it comes to tipping waitstaff.

All of the servers at my restaurant are women. We’ve had male servers, but they’ve never lasted long; they usually get fed up with the management and quit in a blaze of glory. Our cooks are men, and all the bartenders we’ve had have been men.

Our restaurant likes to think of itself as up-scale, but it isn’t; it’s just your typical steakhouse in a small town packed with restaurants. We don’t get many tables, and the food is only sporadically good. (It depends on who’s cooking.) A few weeks ago, I was looking for the blow torch so I could make crème brulee—yeah, we have to torch our own desserts; no, I don’t why—and found it in the hands of Saul, our most profoundly drug-addicted line cook. He was using it to “light a cigarette.”

So the restaurant is average, and the servers are women. This seems typical. If you go to a truly upscale restaurant, you will see plenty of male servers, and they make good money. But the less fancy you get, the more women you’ll find. I don’t mean to make sweeping generalizations, and I realize there are plenty of exceptions to that rule, but it’s still very common.

And it makes sense, because serving at an upscale restaurant requires a higher level of skill, and, well, we can haz sexism!!

Anyway, my point: Serving, especially at restaurants that are not considered upscale, is still widely considered Women’s Work; consequently, the women who work at such restaurants tend to be treated like crap.

The male servers I’ve worked with have been treated much, much differently from the female servers. This isn’t to say that customers consistently treat them wonderfully—they don’t—but there is, for example, a lot less finger-snapping. There are fewer pompous fucks holding their wine glasses aloft and waving them back and forth instead of just politely asking for another. There is less rage when their dining experiences don’t adhere to whatever ridiculous standard they’ve concocted in their heads. There is less overall entitlement.

Then there’s the sexual harassment. Assholes just love to harass female waitstaff. They love it because they can get away with it—not only because you’re at work, and they can complain to the management if you respond by telling them to go fuck themselves with a broom handle, but also because your tip depends on how well you tolerate it. You’re controlled by money, both on a large scale (whether you keep your job) and on a small scale (by what you make off that table).

Of course, tables like that rarely tip well anyway, but if you piss them off they often won’t tip at all. Also, they’ll become even bigger assholes.

Your typical male server will not have to deal with this. I don’t mean to erase any sexual harassment against men, because sure, it happens—but it doesn’t happen often, and not with society’s blessing. But, you know, women in the customer service industry are just asking for it, right? We’re not just here to serve you food; we’re here to serve you. When misogynists go out to eat, they get to imagine, for a brief moment in time, that they are living in their ideal fucking world—one in which tired, underpaid women zip around and cater to their every (food-related) desire.

Well, fuck all of you.

This isn’t to say that sexism is the only factor at work here—there’s also classism, racism…all the same tired, bullshit prejudices. It’s infuriating and exhausting. And every time I get a shitty tip, I want to run after the customers and explain to them:

When you go out to eat, you are paying for two things—food and service. The cost of the food is the price on the menu. The cost of the service is the tip. If you get good service and leave a bad tip, you have effectively stolen from your server. Because you are an asshole. And it’s probably related to your massive amounts of privilege and/or bias.

But why would they listen?—I’m just a waitress.