Evolution of “Egalitarianism,” “Feminism,” and Such Words


In 2011, I wrote a post called “On Feminism and Egalitarianism” which was a follow-up to the post “SlutWalk NYC is pissing me off with its DSK protesting.” You can read the comments on all the posts, where I feel like I fairly dealt with the criticism.

Normally I wouldn’t be highlighting a controversial post at a critical time in my writing career. (If I had no backbone, I would simply delete the original post.) But, in the spirit of evolving conversation, I want to leave no stone unturned in documenting my evolving views in the context of societal change.

One aspect I neglected to emphasize, that I probably could have done a better job at in the original post, was the legal aspect.

Due Process is a very important issue to me. I don’t want to make this a “I was a victim, so I can’t be biased” point, but I have personally had my Due Process violated and was told by a private lawyer that they wouldn’t take my case. This discouraged me from even thinking about taking the case higher up to maybe the ACLU.

But I understand why the lawyer didn’t take the case. It would have been an uphill battle against a system in a case with somewhat unprovable evidence and questionable damages.

I’m not saying the alleged victim in the DSK case was lying. I’m not saying there’s no possibility the prosecutor dropped the case because of political pressure. All I was saying is that frivolous charges and lawsuits exist, and that sometimes (albeit rarely) people in power or not in power are falsely accused; I don’t know the specifics of this case other than what the media reported, and unless Slutwalk NYC had a source on the team with more inside information than NYT, they didn’t know the details of the dismissal either.

DSK sounds like a scumbag. I believe, through study data and personal experience, that when there’s multiple allegations about sexual abuse, there’s usually more fire than conspiratorial smoke.

Rhetoric Update

In this 2018 climate, I am no longer comfortable using the word “egalitarianism” casually. I have seen this word hijacked by too many MRAs who are more concerned with their own oppression than by the oppression of others.

And, of course, the power structures in this country have changed. If you’ve read this far, you know what I’m talking about.

I’m not an argumentative person by nature. If a person (usually a man) asks with a loaded tone if I’m a feminist these days, I just say Yes and leave it to them if they want to argue.


IOC Androgen Rules Unfairly Target “Manly” Female Athletes

Also cross-posted on The Feminine Miss Geek.

Caster Semenya, a track star who faced intense scrutiny in 2009 after allegations of being a man. -photo by Erik Van Leeuwen

The International Olympics Committee recently released a report titled,“IOC Regulations on Female Hyperandrogenism: Games of the XXX Olympiad in London, 2012,” which dictates that three doctors (a gynecologist ,a geneticist, and an endocrinologist) will get to decide if female athletes are actually female.

Sports is one of the very few remaining social structures where sex segregation and therefore sex testing is still generally acceptable. But the problem with these specific regulations is that they are based on faulty reasoning; there is no shortage of scientists that say testosterone levels are not the defining factor for being a woman, and there is no direct correlation between androgens and performance.

What’s more disturbing is that athletes can be singled out for additional medical testing simply for looking manly.

Via Suite 101:  

IOC Androgen Rules Unfairly Target “Manly” Female Athletes

Under this active policy, athletes legally living as women, but with naturally high testosterone, could be ineligible to compete in the Olympics. Moreover, anyone who deviates from the perceived norms of feminine characteristics could be subjected to additional medical testing as the report goes on to actively call for the National Olympic Committees to “actively investigate any perceived deviation in sex characteristics.”…

Genetic and bodily differences in sports are often obvious by sight: Gymnastics competitors have comparatively smaller frames than weightlifters. Taller women make better basketball players than short women. Michael Phelps has an unusually large torso and armspan, hypermobile joints, and is exceptionally close to the clinical levels of Marfan’s Syndrome.

There is no logically consistent reason to partition these genetic advantages from androgen levels and competitively strip a significant portion of female athletes their gender title.

The article gets more into citations from medical and ethical experts, saying the available scientific data does not back these IOC policies. If we must have two sex categories, then the process needs to be a more comprehensive process than three doctors comparing hormone levels to numbers on a chart.

And as far as I know, there are no policies for men that have “sub-male” levels testosterone. It’s a disturbingly unfair set of regulations that anyone caring about gender issues, sports, and basic fairness should complain about.

I’m not sure if this is the most direct way (comment if you have current contact info for the IOC), but the contact info for London Games-related complaints is:

“By phone
Call us on 0808 197 2012. Hours of operation are Monday to Sunday 9am–6pm.

By email
Email us at complaints@enquiries.london2012.com or by using the web form below.

In writing
Write to us at: Complaints, Communication and Public Affairs, The London 2012 Organising Committee, 23rd floor, 1 Churchill Place, London, E14 5LN.”

Read more at Suite101: IOC Androgen Rules Unfairly Target “Manly” Female Athletes | Suite101.com http://suite101.com/article/ioc-androgen-rules-unfairly-target-manly-female-athletes-a410665#ixzz22snZELIf

Men are NOT Raped More than Women in the US

[2013 edit: I realize that this post isn’t as clear in re: statistical analysis as I would like it to be. I doubt the premise will change, but I will do a more thorough data combing in a later post and link to it here in a edit when I do.]

[2016 edit: Here you go. “Men are NOT Raped More than Women in the US pt 2“]

Since I’ve been criticizing people that shit-talk men in my Cosmo post and my defense of DSK. I feel like I have to prove my gender egalitarianism now.

Progressive Current TV newscasters The Young Turks were straight up wrong about something last week. They called it a “fact.” I sent them an e-mail, but they never responded, so in my truth-crusading the need to bitch on my blog kicked in.

Dear Young Turks,

I’m writing in regards to your video “Men Raped More Than Women in US?” To your eponymous question, Cenk answered “yes” to men are raped more than women. This notion is simply wrong.

Cenk didn’t cite a statistic in the video, (which he should, if only to pass off blame in case the source is wrong) but the video comments cites Justice Department guidelines (but has no link).

You need to learn how to read and interpret primary sources before passing them off to your anchors as facts. Just because there are more men in prison than women, and there are prison rape epidemics, it does not immediately statistically necessitate that men are raped more than women.

Here is an excellent blog post from Feministe, which cites the Justice Dept. survey about prison sexual assault released in 2012:

The Justice Department survey is linked here. And… yeah. Those numbers are not quite correct, but they are nonetheless horrifying. First of all, “sexual assault” is not always the same as “rape,” and includes a variety of behavior that wouldn’t meet the legal standard for rape. So it’s not clear that there are actually more rapes of men than women, or more rapes of prisoners than non-prisoners…

According to RAINN, there are 213,000 victims of sexual assault in the United States every year.More than 9/10ths of those victims are women and girls. The numbers RAINN uses come from the Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The NCVS, though, is clear that its methodology for gathering sexual assault stats is pretty limited, and probably doesn’t present a 100% accurate picture of what victims experience. The NCVS also doesn’t seem to include prisoners (at least as far as I can tell), but would include people who were sexually assaulted in prison within the past year, but were out of prison at the time the NCVS was taken.

You had better be careful in the future with your fact-checking or risk alienating your women viewers.

People on youtube tried to be all snarky and present other studies with incompatible sampling techniques to prove the amount of men that underreport rape make up the difference. They failed and then I got downvoted for simply citing statistics from the same studies they were supposedly getting their information from.

One such study is the The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey on the CDC website, which still says, “Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives.”

Including stalking and other forms of violence bring the stats up to “More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States.” I still think it’s a good idea to include different forms of sexual violence, but if they broaden the definition too wide, example “stalking,” the statistics are going to include a bunch of unrelated experiences.

Prison rape is still a problem. Male and female rape are still problems. But we need to have honest conversations about the data and where it’s coming from if we’re going to fix it.

For more information on modern masculinity check out The Good Men Project.

Gender Stereotypes Purport that Women are Less Funny than Men

A psychology study from the University of California, San Diego Division of Social Sciences used a controlled version of the New Yorker Caption contest to assess the abilities of men and women to create humor.

Amanda Marcone from Slate comments on the significance of the study:

The study found that out of 16 men and 16 women whose caption-writing abilities were voted on in a gender-blind test, the men did slightly better, but so slightly that it’s pretty much insignificant [Males earning a 0.11 points more out of a possible 5.0 perfect score]… the most interesting findings of the study weren’t about the relative ratings of humor of men and women, but the biases of the test subjects when it came to measuring humor levels of men and women. While the subjects rated men’s and women’s caption-writing abilities roughly equally in a gender-blind test, they were so devoted to the stereotype of women being less funny that the subjects misinterpreted their own rankings.

I think that these trends indicate not that women are intrinsically less funny than men; it’s that not as many women are trying to break into comedy. Only one of the Last Comic Standing’s winners has been a women. Only one of the fourteen of Cracked Columnists is a woman. I’m looking at the line-up for The Comedy Cellar for tonight and there’s one.

But this doesn’t mean the ones that do try aren’t successful. A New Yorker blog notes, “When you look at the last thirty-two contests and factor in productivity, women come out on top. The twenty-two winning men entered an average of 70.22 contests, but the ten women averaged 6.4 entries—and four of them won on their first attempt.”

The results of the UC:SD study and the lack of number of women in comedy denotes larger cultural trends. I think that an important role in shaping these sociological trends, whether it’s that women statistically lack confidence or a notion that only pretty women should on stage, is the influence of early childhood experiences:

In one experiment, five young mothers were observed interacting with a 6 month old called Beth. They smiled at her often and offered her dolls to play with. She was seen as ‘sweet,’ having a ‘soft cry’. The reaction of a second group of mothers to a child the same age, named Adam, was noticeably different. They offered him a train or other ‘male’ toys to play with. Beth and Adam were actually the same child, dressed in different clothes.

-Experiment detailed in my sociology textbook [Anthony Giddens – 2006 – Social Science] to detail the early impression of gender roles. (via emaconly)

-file under ‘why i will not coercively gender my children and let them work it out for their own damn selves’ (via i-sauntered-vaguely-downwards)

On Feminism and Gender Egalitarianism

My post “SlutWalk NYC is pissing me off with its DSK protesting” is getting a fair number of hits from a Tumblr post that calls it, a “terrible post snarking on Slutwalk NYC organizers for protesting the dismissal of charges against DSK.” Mostly I was commenting on the accusatory rhetoric of the event’s Facebook page, which rifled my general sense of justice.

The post wasn’t all that snarky, considering snark is an intrinsic style of the blog, and my responses to the commenters were pretty tame.  I’m usually not very kind to people who don’t have their reality in the upright and locked position, but she was doing a good job of characterizing her own crazy. [edit: 2018 rhetoric check. I take back my use of the word “crazy” here. Being defensive is no excuse to not be kind to people whose intentions are in the right place.]


To preface this post’s main points, I want to note that I’m very familiar with feminism.  I attended a formerly all-women’s college soon after it went co-ed in an area with a strong sense of women’s studies, where I served as the Women’s Resource Center liaison to the Health Center.  I consider myself a strong gender egalitarian and if it wasn’t obvious from the rest of my blog, my politics are liberal and supportive of individual rights.

I also don’t want to debate the semantics of “feminism” since there have been so many differing women’s rights organizations and sub-cultures, so I just want to clarify I’m referring the general social movement that promotes gender egalitarianism under the presumption that women’s freedoms have been historically suppressed.

I do identify as a feminist, but when describing myself as such, I normally add a clarifying sentence involving the word “gender egalistarianism” after it.  And here’s why:  In feminism, as in every progressive movement, there will be extremists with whom mainstreamists will be reluctant to associate themselves.

I believe that there are feminists with reasonable expectations of society and there are also (characterization of a small minority) the belligerent misandrists who honestly feel that the collective male zeitgeist is consciously trying to impose its giant phallus on all their childhood hopes and dreams.

The best analogy I can think of for this reluctance to associate with the word “feminism,” despite its positive past, would be “animal activism.”  Certainly I feel passionately about animal rights, but some of PETA’s hypocrisy and ALF’s blatant terrorism makes me want to go all Jon Stewart and scream at the self-declared activists:   Stop, stop hurting America.

I don’t want spend a lot of time delineating what I deem “reasonable expectations” for feminism, but I think that the first step in an honest conversation about women’s rights is agreeing that the goals of First Wave feminism have largely been de jure met on paper, at least in the US and Industrialized Europe.

Yes, sexism still exists.  It should be handled seriously and on a case-by-case basis.  I believe, much to some libertarians’ chagrin, anti-discrimination laws are generally a good idea and should be enforced when violations occur.

Stereotypes also exist. Some of them are funny. Some of them contain statistical truths. Some of them create preconceptions in a society that can result in unfair treatment.  Again, stereotypes and sexist jokes are things that don’t necessarily normalize or condone societal injustice and should be judged on a case-by-case basis.

This doesn’t mean progressive movements should cease their work or that I feel that feminist is a shameful title.  But for gender egalitarianism to exist properly there needs to be an open dialogue about men’s rights, and this is something that I’ve found to be lost in [my school’s] women-oriented gender studies.

The collaborative writing project No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz, has some pretty good posts on male-centered sexism that I would recommend as good gender-issues reading.

As a feminist, I feel that the best ways I can promote gender egalitarianism are:  Vocalizing about sexism when I see it, supporting and promoting women’s reproductive rights and LGBT causes, being knowledgeable and active in political issues, and setting a strong role for myself in academics and work as an example of a confident, independent-minded women.

And to the misogynists, the misandrists, and the gynocentrists that completely ignore male issues: Stop, Stop Hurting Feminism.

The Economics of Being Female

I wikipedia'd "feminist." I got this chick. *shrug*

I’m a feminist.  Now, we can dabble semantics about what that word means and complicate it with adding modifiers like “first wave” and “third wave,” but the end of the day, it’s all about equality with men.  (Another debatable phrase.  I know.)

I’m not going to spend this post arguing about how the word “feminism” has come to have an unfortunate, pejorative rep.  (Thanks in part to Rush Limbaugh somehow associating it with Nazism.)

I want to talk about something else.   A topic that’s less touched upon in my experience:  The financial consequences in American society of having a XX chromosome and a subsequent vagina and tits.

I’m going to use myself as a reference because I think I have some credentials as being a woman.  Let’s take a look at some of the prices of clothing I have in my closet:

Pair of Skinny Jeans from Macy’s— $29.99

Blouse from Kohl’s— $14.99

Pair of Panties from Victoria’s Secret— $4.99

Full-coverage Bra From Aerie— $29.99

That’s $80 just to get dressed in the morning with standard, non-sale clothing from popular middle-class stores.  Not including shoes.  Matching shoes.  Women are notorious for having to have the matching shoes for the outfit.

I might be able to skim $30 of that total if I happen to be in the mall on sale days and snag the bra and jeans for half price.

My daily make-up:

A 2 oz bottle of Almay Cover-up/Foundation— $9.99  (It does last a few months, though.)

Peppermint lip gloss from Bath and Body works—$5.00

Prestige brand Liquid eyeliner— $5.99

I consider myself relatively low maintenance for a girl in terms of the amount of make-up I own.   I’m not including in there the price of make up brushes and utensils.

I could go into great detail about the cost of tampons, handbags, haircuts, hair styling products, perfume, lotion, and all the other miscellaneous girly implements and services, but I’m going to cut to the moral of the story:

If men ask me out on a date, I let them pay for it.  Because if I’m dishing out the equivalent or more just to make myself look presentable according to societal standards, then I believe I’m worth it.