This is a feminist blog, but blog entries are typically written from a radfem standpoint: radical feminists challenge, undermine, resist, dismantle, and generally fuck with the patriarchy, wherein the male/masculine is privileged and the female/feminine is subordinated.
First, there’s the noise of the motor. Men like noise. They think they’re the ones making it. So they think they sound like a lion or a bear. They think they’re threatening. Instead of just bloody annoying.
Second, there’s the stink of the exhaust fumes. Men like stink. Most of them are still farting at the dinner table and snickering about it.
Third, since they often go fishing with other men, they get to compete. Men like competing. Anywhere, anytime, with anyone, about anything.
First one of the men will stand, perhaps casually, explaining to his buddies that he can get a better cast. A mild discomfort will start to spread among the other guys, but not one of them will be able to explain it. Certainly it’s not that they’re afraid their buddy may fall out of the boat. Eventually a second guy will stand. And his discomfort will go away. Or at least recede a bit. Depending on how tall he is, relative to the first guy. The remaining two guys will become even more incomprehensibly uncomfortable, until eventually they too will stand. There. That’s better. Despite the increasing precariousness of the whole. Then the first guy will stand up on one of the seats, and almost immediately another one will stand on the prow. Of course the lot of them will likely go overboard, but apparently that’s not a foreseeable result.
Lastly, there’s something very sexual, very masturbatory about reeling in, moving one’s hand around and around at cock level. No wonder they wanna be a rock star strutting around on stage strumming an instrument slung low just right there. And no wonder men go fishing for hours.
1. SlutWalk was reportedly initiated in response to a police officer’s comment about not dressing like a slut if you don’t want to get raped. The underlying assumption is that one’s attire — specific items or style — sends a message. And indeed it does. High heels, fishnet stockings, and a heavily made-up face are considered invitations. So if a woman is wearing ‘fuck me shoes’, she can hardly complain if someone fucks her. But is that the message the woman is sending? A message that she’s sexually available to everyone? Maybe. Maybe not. Frankly, given the ambiguity, and the nature of the outcome in the case of misunderstanding, I wonder why women take the risk.
It’s much like wearing one’s gang colours in the territory of a rival gang. Of course it’s going to be provocative. Is any consequent assault legal? No. Is it deserved? No. Should it have been anticipated? Yes. So unless the intent was to make a point about the wrongness of gangs and violence, a point best made by arranging media presence for the incursion into the other gang’s territory, well, how stupid are you?
Granted, most women who dress in a sexually attractive way don’t go that far (fishnet stockings and heavy make-up), but why go any way at all? Why does a woman dress in a sexually attractive way? Why do women put on high heels, show their legs, wear bras that push up their breasts and tops that expose cleavage, redden their lips, and so on? What does she hope to attract exactly?
My first guess is that she hasn’t thought about it. She dresses in a sexually attractive way because, well, that’s what women in our society are expected to do.(1) In which case she’s an idiot. Doesn’t deserve to be raped, but really, she should think about what she does.
My second guess is that she dresses in a sexually attractive way because she wants to invite offers of sex.(2) But then, she shouldn’t be angry when she receives such offers, either in the form of whistles and call-outs or in more direct ways. That she may respond with anger or offense suggests that she wants to attract only offers she’s likely to accept, offers only from men she’s attracted to. But, men may cry, how’s a man to know? Um, try to make eye contact. If you can’t do that, she’s not interested. If you do make eye contact, smile. If she doesn’t smile back, she’s not interested. Surely that kind of body language isn’t too subtle to grasp.
And yet, many men seem to have such an incapacity for subtlety that if you act like bait, they may simply reach out and grab you. Are they entitled to do that? No. Any unauthorized touching is a violation. Is clothing authorization? Well, sometimes. Consider uniforms.
So it would be far less ambiguous if a woman who wants sex just extended the offers herself. Why take the passive route of inviting offers from likely candidates? Why make men try to figure out whether they’re a likely candidate? Why not just let them know and go from there?
2. Many people may not have been aware of the police officer’s comment. So what are they to make of SlutWalk? What are they to understand is the point? (Prerequisite to deciding whether to support SlutWalk or not.)
a) “It’s okay to be a slut!” Given the ‘sluttish’ appearance that many women present during the walk, this understanding is understandable. But whether or not one wants to endorse that message depends on the definition of ‘slut.’ See“What’s wrong with being a slut?”
b) “We’re proud to be sluts!”
c) “No woman deserves to be raped, regardless of her attire!” This is probably closest to the intended message, but in this case, better to have called it a “Walk Against Rape”. Better, further, to advocate changes that would make rape more likely to be reported and rapists more likely to be sentenced commensurate to the injuries they’ve caused. Perhaps better still to advocate a male-only curfew.
Of course, “SlutWalk” is far more provocative, far more attention-getting, than the ho-hum “Walk Against Rape”, but I don’t think the organizers considered the difficulty of reclaiming an insulting word. And ‘slut’ is a very difficult insulting word to reclaim. Harder than ‘bitch’ and ‘nigger’ and even those reclamation efforts haven’t been very successful. Mostly, success has been limited to conversations among women in the first case and conversations among blacks in the second. SlutWalk is not conducted in the presence of women only. So, really, did the organizers expect people in general to accept (let alone understand) their implied redefinition?
The organizers also didn’t think through the male over-dependence on visual signals. The gawkers and hecklers who typically undermine the event should be expected. The inability of men to process any verbal messages (even those just a few words long) in the presence of so-called ‘fuck me’ heels should be expected.
Consider that even Gwen Jacobs’ action to make it legal for women to be shirtless wasn’t immune to sexualization, despite the clearly non-sexual nature of her action; men (BOOBS!) hooted, men (BOOBS!) called out, and the media, no doubt reflecting a decision made by a man (BOOBS!), or perhaps a thoughtless woman, continues to use the sexualized “topless” instead of “shirtless” when reporting about the issue (BOOBS!). Imagine the response had Jacobs gone shirtless while also wearing short shorts exposing half buttocks. It would have been, to understate, a mixed message.
And that is, essentially, the problem with SlutWalk. High heels, exposed legs, pushed-up breasts, and a made-up faces sends a message that one is sexually available (which is why it’s appalling to me that it has become convention for women to wear heels and make-up in public every day all day) (those who accept that convention accept the view that women should be, or at least should seem to be, sexually available every day all day).(3) And if it doesn’t send a message that you’re sexually available, what message does it send? That you’re sexually attractive? Back to the top—what are you hoping to attract? (And why are you trying to attract that when you’re at work, working?)
d) “Women have a right to tease!” That seems to be the message SlutWalk conveys, given the likelihood that women who present themselves as sexually attractive aren’t actually trying to be sexually attractive to everyone or, at least, aren’t sexually available to everyone. And that’s a message that many women would not Especially those who know about the provocation defence.
There’s nothing wrong with extending invitations to sex. Doing so in public in such a non-specific way—that’s the problem. Especially given men’s inability to pick up on subtle cues and/or their refusal to understand the difference between yes and no, let alone yes and maybe. Maybe when men can handle a sexually charged atmosphere without assaulting… Maybe when other men penalize, one way or another, those who can’t handle a sexually charged atmosphere without assaulting…
In the meantime, we’re living in an occupied country, a country occupied by morally-underdeveloped people with power who think women are just walking receptacles for their dicks. So women who make themselves generally available, or present themselves as being generally available, are, simply, putting themselves at great risk (and, yes, in a way, getting what they asked for): some STDs are fatal; others are incurable; most have painful symptoms. And pregnancy has a life-long price tag.(4)
(1) There’s a difference between attractive and sexually attractive. At least, there should be. Perhaps because men dominate art and advertising, the two have been equivocated. (No doubt because everything is sexual for them. ) (Which may be to say, everything is about dominance for them.)
(2) Maybe part of her smiles to think of herself as a slut. She’s a bad girl, she’s dangerous, she’s taking risks, she’s a wild girl for once in her life. But that’s exactly what they want. Sexual access. No-strings-attached sex. We fell for that in the 60s too. Free love, sure, we’re not prudes, we’re okay with our bodies, we’re okay with sex, we’re ‘with it’. But they never took us seriously. They never considered us part of the movement. Behind our backs, they’d snicker and say the best position for a woman is prone ( Stokely Carmichael) (read your history, learn about your past).
(3) Of course there’s the possibility that if/when women forego the heels, bared legs, accentuated breasts and butts, and make-up, men will consider a little ankle to be an open invitation. Which just means the issue isn’t attire at all. It’s being female. In a patriarchy. (Which still means SlutWalk is off-target.)
(4) I hear the objections already: ‘No, wearing high heels and make-up doesn’t mean I’m sexually available! That’s the point!’ (And around and around we go.) Then why do you wear high heels and make-up? Seriously, think about it: high heels make the leg more shapely, attracting the male gaze, which follows your legs up…; make-up makes your face younger, supposedly prettier, lipstick attracts the male gaze to your lips… If you just want to be attractive, then what you do to your body wouldn’t be sexualized: you’d wear funky gold glittered hiking boots, you’d paint an iridescent rainbow across your face, you’d do a hundred other aesthetically interesting things…
One good thing about television stations’ mega-coverage of the Olympics is that women’s events are shown a lot. Often within close temporal proximity to men’s events. Comparison is inevitable. And interesting.
Consider volleyball. Now the women, when they dive for the ball, they do this really neat shoulder roll: it’s smooth, efficient, and really cool to see – you hardly know they went down, they’re back on their feet in a flash. The men’s technique? They do a belly flop. Really, it’s sort of a chest first body slam. Some follow through with a give-me-ten marines push-up, but most just kind of lie there for a second, face in the floor. I suppose they think the move looks dramatic, extra-heroic. I think it looks stupid.
And men’s basketball, now that’s not even a sport anymore. The guys are simply too big. Give me a ball small enough to hold upside-down with one hand, and I’ll be doing some pretty fancy dribbling too. Give me a net so low to the ground I can just reach up and touch it, and I’ll slam dunk every time. And give me a court I can cover in five strides, hell, I’ll play a whole game without even breaking into a sweat.
And yet even with these size advantages, men’s play pales in comparison to women’s play. For example, men pass the ball a lot less often – even though it’s easier to do so (one hand to throw/catch it, the other to screen the throw/catch). And even though they barely need to jump to make a basket, their timing and coordination is so poor, they hit the basket on their way down, often grabbing on to it for dear life so they can at least land on their feet. (By the way, a couple hundred pounds hanging onto the rim – I don’t know about you, but we used to yell at anyone who bent the rim and then kick them out of the game!)
And gymnastics – now, the differences between women’s and men’s gymnastics have always been rather obvious. For men, one of the big balance moves is a front scale: look at me, I can stand on one foot. For the women, the display of balance occurs on a 4″ wide beam, 3-4′ off the ground, and they practically land in a front scale – after an aerial-back-handspring-with-no-hands-something-or-other.
And the high bar. One bar. Oooooh. Try flipping around two of them, set at different heights.
And the men’s floor. Homophobia at its best. First rule, no music. That would be too much like dancing. (Even though men have been known to dance on occasion.) (Some even have a sense of rhythm.) Second rule, no curves. Ever notice the getting-into-the-corner move? What is that? It looks like a Nazi goose step with a half-turn and a double ‘Heil Hitler’ salute.
Consider track. Have you ever wondered why it took so long (100 years) for there to be a women’s triple jump event? It’s because we’re grown up now, hopscotch isn’t much of a challenge for us. (Y’know what event I’d like to see? Men’s double-dutch. That would be entertainment.)
And Usain Bolt doing the hundred in 9.69 seconds. My dog can do better than that. And she’s only six years old. But then, she’s black too. (Still, I’d like to see Usain try it with a tennis ball in his mouth.)
I used to think that the problem with rape was that women weren’t being explicit – they weren’t actually saying no, partly because men weren’t actually asking. Perhaps because there’s (still?) something shameful about sex that makes people reluctant to come right out and talk about it. Or maybe that would destroy the romance. Whatever.
I still think that a pre-sex explicit question-and-answer might be a valuable social custom, but I’m now thinking that a much bigger part of the problem is that women do say no, explicitly and implicitly, and men do understand that ‘no means no’ (I suspect the prevalence of the ‘no means yes’ belief is grossly exaggerated, if not completely fabricated, by men for men), but men don’t hear us: they continue to think that women, like children, should be seen (okay, looked at – all the time, everywhere) and not heard. And when they do hear us, they don’t take us seriously. We’ve all read the studies about how a woman will say something in a meeting. Silence. Then a little later, a man will say the same thing. Excellent idea, Bob! You’re promoted! Here’s a raise!
Lucinda Vandervort (“Mistake of Law and Sexual Assault: Consent and Mens Rea” in Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 2 ,1987-1988) presents a hypothetical sexual assault trial in which the defendant maintains that all of the woman’s neutral as well as non-cooperative behaviour really indicates consent. The hypothetical defendant may have been honestly mistaken in his belief that the woman consented (which is accepted as a defence in Vandervort’s hypothetical). But given the woman’s behaviour (she said no, she did not say yes, she did not co-operate), surely he was being unreasonable, not to mention arrogant, selfish, immature, or just incredibly stupid – to believe as he did.
And in fact, a standard of reasonable is used: “When an accused alleges that he believed that the complainant consented to the conduct that is the subject-matter of the charge, a judge, if satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and that, if believed by the jury, the evidence would constitute a defence, shall instruct the jury, when reviewing all the evidence relating to the determination of the honesty of the accused’s belief, to consider the presence or absence of reasonable grounds for that belief” (Criminal Code s.244(4), my emphasis).
But Vandervort says that a case such as her hypothetical would probably be screened out as unfounded by the police or rejected for prosecution by the Crown on the grounds that the mistaken belief in consent was not “sufficiently unreasonable” – that is, the defendant’s belief is deemed not only honest, it’s considered reasonable enough. What? What planet do you guys live on? Oh. Um, this one.
On a non-patriarchal planet, the man’s belief in consent, despite what the woman said (“I have to leave”, “Stop”) and did (she struggled, she pushed him away), as well as what she didn’t say (“I want to” “Yes”) and didn’t do (undress), would surely be considered unreasonable. And delusional. At the very least, ‘willfully blind’ (and thus unacceptable as a defence).
Further, Vandervort states that in sexual assault cases “the reasonable person standard … focuses on the type and degree of violence used by the assailant and compares it with that used in normal sexual encounters of a similar nature” and notes, somewhat dryly, that “normal sex appears to include some quite extra-ordinary forms of interaction, some of which are quite violent.” Indeed, according to Lorenne Clark and Debra Lewis (Rape: The Price of Coercive Sexuality, The Women’s Press, 1977), most men (against whom rape complaints were laid with the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department in 1970) consider violent behaviour to be normal for a sexual encounter. I wonder how many women would agree. (Though perhaps ‘preferred’ should be substituted for ‘normal’: it could be that a similar finding – that is, that most women also consider violent behaviour to be normal for a sexual encounter – merely reflects the reality of sex because it usually involves a man.)
Even so, one has to wonder just who’s being consulted about what’s normal? Consider Robin Weiner’s comments: “What is ‘normal’ according to male social norms and ‘reasonable’ according to male communication patterns and expectations does not accord with what women believe to be reasonable…. A woman may believe she has communicated her unwillingness to have sex – and other women would agree, thus making it a ‘reasonable’ female expression. Her male partner might still believe she is willing – and other men would agree with his interpretation, thus making it a ‘reasonable’ male interpretation…. The use of a reasonable person standard thus has a basic flaw. Courts do not clarify the perspective from which the ‘reasonableness’ standard should be applied” (“Shifting the Communication Burden: A Meaningful Consent Standard in Rape” in Harvard Women’s Law Journal 6, 1983). And anyway why isn’t what’s acceptable used instead? Just because everyone does it that way (it’s normal) doesn’t mean it’s right!
Look, guys, we take you seriously. We can’t help but do so. Your repertoire of facial expressions, your body language, and your attire are limited to ‘serious’ and ‘more serious’. And when we don’t take you seriously, when we laugh at you, for example, you get really mad.
So, please, show a little respect. Acknowledge that we too have brains. That we know what we want and what we don’t want. That we can express ourselves accurately. Take us seriously. Or don’t take us at all.
The other day, I stopped to help a neighbour whose car was stuck in his driveway. (It was winter. Snow.)
“Want me to push while you give it some gas?” I offered.
“Do you think you can?” he replied.
Well, if I didn’t think I could, I wouldn’t’ve offered. Numbnuts.
On another day, I heard another neighbour say that he’d seen the small tree across the path alongside my cabin (dragged there in an attempt to discourage ATVers), but he didn’t think I’d put it there. He thought to himself it was “too heavy for Peggy”.
(And yes, note the ‘Peggy’ – I’ve never introduced myself to anyone as ‘Peggy’, but he is not the only one to have gone for the diminutive version – do I call him Bobby instead of Bob?).
Here’s the thing. Both neighbours see me kayak every spring/summer/fall afternoon – all afternoon. They both see me hiking through the bush every winter afternoon – all afternoon. They both know I used to be a marathon runner, they’ve seen me go running. They both know (or would, if they’d actually thought about it) that I shovel my own driveway and split my own wood.
And yet pushing a car and moving a small fallen tree is apparently beyond my capabilities.
But not, apparently, beyond their capabilities. Because they’re male. Even though one is in his 70s and the other is in his 60s. Which means I’m considerably younger. Still, they must be stronger than me. Their worldview depends on it.
According to the Canadian Criminal Code (and probably a lot of other criminal codes), murder can be reduced to manslaughter if the person was provoked. Provocation is defined as “a wrongful act or an insult that is of such a nature as to be sufficient to deprive an ordinary person of the power of self-control is provocation for the purposes of this section if the accused acted on it on the sudden and before there was time for his passion to cool” (CCC 232.(2)).
It is unfortunate that “an ordinary person” is used as the standard for judgment rather than “a reasonable person”. The ordinary person, in my experience, is not particularly reasonable. The ordinary person is a walking mess of unacknowledged emotions and unexamined opinions, most of which are decidedly unreasonable.
Furthermore, in our society, an ordinary person is gendered, and given the specific use of “his” in 232(2), it seems that it is men who are (mostly) in mind for use of this defence.
The ordinary man doesn’t have a very high opinion of women. In particular, in our society, our heterosexist masculist society, men consider women to be almost solely sexual. And they consider them to be sexual property. The ordinary man also considers himself to be almost solely sexual. His physical strength and other supposed attributes of power (from his income to his hair) are also important, but mostly only as indicators of his sexual prowess or attractiveness (go figure). This means that an insult to his sexual prowess, or to any of the stand-ins, especially if uttered by a woman, who is, it goes without saying, a subordinate, may provide grounds for invoking the provocation defence.
Perhaps the typical scenario in which the defence is invoked is that of a married man who discovers his wife having sex with another man and in a “crime of passion” kills – either his wife or the other man or both. We call the murder a crime of passion, but really it’s just an outrage of proprietorship. Of course, maybe that’s what passion is in men: the expression of conquest, and ownership. O. R. Sullivan (“Anger and Excuse: Reassessing Provocation” in Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 13, 1993) calls it an “outrage at a failure to dominate” – which also makes sense, given the subordination of women (and the defence’s applicability to men). And Judy Steele (private correspondence) calls it an honor killing (the man’s honor is at stake).
If it really is passion we want to allow, then I should be excused for stealing a painting because I really like it, I’ve studied and admired art all my life, you could say I’m quite passionate about it…
And what exactly is passion, in an ordinary man, except rage – a testosterone tantrum? So we’re legitimizing man’s anger. (‘I was angry.’ ‘Oh well then. That’s okay. The man was angry.’) (No wonder they get angry so often. It’s a get out of jail free ticket.)
In fact, somehow, in our society, an angry man is more of a man than a calm man, let alone a fearful man, a grieving man, and so on. Real men must control their emotions, or, better, not have any (well, except anger). (It’s just a little ironic to allow a defence of emotion to those who pride themselves on not being emotional. Well, except for being angry.)
If we open the door to this unreasoned and unreasonable action, this knee-jerk response, shouldn’t we open the door to all knee-jerk responses? What makes this one so different it excuses murder? If it’s okay to kill someone because you think you own her, shouldn’t it be okay to kill someone because, oh, I don’t know, you think she’s a spy for the aliens? Or because she (or he) called you stupid?
A further indication that this defence is primarily intended for men is that if a sexually unattractive man makes a move on a woman (an insult to our sexual prowess), even an illegal move such as sexual touching without consent, we generally don’t kill the guy. And yet, apparently, an unsolicited homosexual advance can provoke a man to kill. After all, such an unwelcome sexual advance is enough to make you lose control. (Oh yeah? Hm. Let me get my gun. There’s a construction crew outside and a bunch of assholes down at the bar. And another bunch at work.)
I’m also not impressed that with this defence, the act must be done “on the sudden and before there was time for his passion to cool.” This means we’re condoning a lack of control. It has always puzzled me that premeditated murder is considered worse, not better, than unpremeditated murder. Doing something after some consideration should surely be better than doing something thoughtlessly, without stopping to think about it at all – even if the reasons for the behaviour turn out to be unacceptable ones. (And we should definitely teach kids the difference between acceptable reasons and unacceptable reasons.)
And funny how men seem to lose control only when a perceived-to-be subordinate frustrates their desires. When they lash out at a bigger guy, it’s just a fight. Better to be stupid than shamed? So the provocation defence is just a way out of the shame of ‘picking on’ someone not your own size? 
Furthermore, how can such loss of control be both a justification (as when the provocation defence is invoked – in which case what you did isn’t as wrong) and an excuse (as when temporary insanity is invoked – in which case what you did isn’t really your fault)?
Of course, yet another problem with allowing a provocation defence is that it puts at least part of the blame on the provoker. ‘It was her fault. She provoked me.’ I can see this for some situations; blame is often justly shared in a physical altercation. But in a murder? It’s her fault he killed her? Please. She mocks you? She nags? She makes fun of your sperm count? She complains about your failure to get a job, a real job, a good job? She talks to other men? She has sex with them? So call her a bitch and leave. And don’t look back. Send money for your kids or apply for custody if you want to look after them. Or put up with it until they’re sixteen and then leave. But geez louise d’ya have to kill her?
It is not irrelevant that short of the formal provocation defence, provocation is often invoked in sexual assault crimes as well. It’s a way to dodge blame. Not only do we allow this plea of provocation by men, we encourage, we expect, the provocation by women: women are expected to be sexually attractive all the time – to wear sexualizing make-up and attire, even at work. (Though given that men also rape asexualized women – we’ve all read about the 60-70-year-old victims – apparently it’s our fault just for being a woman. Can you say ‘Eve’?) It’s a neat little trick: encourage the provocative behavior, and allow the provocation defence. And yet, as Lucy Reed Harris (“Towards a Consent Standard in the Law of Rape” in University of Chicago Law Review 43, 1976) points out, “although a flagrant display of cash in public may very predictably precipitate a robbery, the law does not hold an alleged robbery victim responsible for his own foolishness in making such a display.” (Unless it were a woman being so foolish?)
When will we insist our boys grow up? If there’s a legitimate reason they lag behind girls in maturity development (and therefore have relatively little control) and language skills (which provide a much better response to an insult), then let’s just say it – they’re the inferior ones. And then let’s follow through, and restrict their access to weapons, for example. (A higher age limit for drinking, and driving, would also be a good idea. And a curfew for two or more men under thirty gathered together.)
 In the case of Robert Latimer, for example, the presence of premeditation should’ve made it better: he did not kill Tracy on the spur of the moment, out of anger; he thought about it, long and hard, literally for years, after trying every alternative…
 Because if it really is the case that you can’t control yourself, well, we can fix that – we can lock you up and keep you away from others or we can give you drugs that reduce that pesky testosterone.
– we’re barely in the top quarter when it comes to the gender gap in wages (we’re fourth worst)
– we’re barely in the top quarter when it comes to the gender gap in health (it’s safer to be pregnant in Estonia than in Canada)
– speaking of which, we’re one of the last six countries in the developed world not to have paternity leave
– we’re apparently unable to produce even one female Nobel prize winner (every single one of Canada’s 21 Nobel Laureates have been men)
– we’re barely in the top quarter when it comes to the gender gap in political power (even Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Mozambique, Costa Rica, Uganda, Angola, Nepal, Serbia, Slovenia, Ethiopia, and Mexico have more women in their parliaments than Canada does)
Every now and then, we hear the proposal that women be paid to stay at home and be moms. That women are paid to be surrogate mothers suggests that regular mothers also deserve payment. So. Should we pay regular mothers the same as surrogate mothers?
For starters, who is this ‘we’? Surrogate mothers are paid by the people who want their labor. Who wants the children of non-surrogate mothers? The state? If so, for what? There is no civil service labor shortage. We aren’t at war. And if we were, we would need more soldiers, not more children. So the job paid for should be not ‘making a child’ but ‘making a soldier’. Because if we’re going to pay, it would be a job. You’d have to wait for an opening and then apply. So not only would the state, should it be the employer of mothers, have the right to be quite specific about the job description (“Women wanted to make soldiers”), it would have the right to be quite specific about the qualifications (“genetic make-up must include average IQ or lower, above average physical health and fitness, pliant personality….”). And it would have the right to be quite specific about the performance standards – no drinking on the job, or substance abuse of any kind except that prescribed by the employer, etc.
You want to be paid for being a mother? Well, he who pays the piper picks the tune.
Men, I mean. After all, they are the ones who define themselves in relation to us: to be a man is to be whatever is not to be a woman.
If women are graceful, then to be graceful is feminine. A graceful man is effeminate. A real man is not graceful. He’s not necessarily clumsy, he’s just not-graceful.
If women like flowers, then men do not.
If women like pink and orange and mauve, then men do not.
And when women change their abilities, their desires, the men also change. For example, as soon as women became banktellers, suddenly men (real men) did not become banktellers. As soon as women were typists, men were not-typists. Et cetera.
I pity a whole sex that is so dependent. Living in a rut of reaction, they are simply incapable of such a proactive move as defining themselves for themselves. They didn’t even know they didn’t like quiche until we said we liked it.
Frankly, I fear for their future. At the rate women are doing, well, doing whatever they please, men will soon be, well, not.
And even though you don’t know any other guys who want to be nurseladies, you persist. Because quite simply, you think you’ll like nursing, as a career, a job, an endeavour. So you take your high school maths and sciences, you do quite well, and you get accepted into nursing school.
Where almost all the students are women. You feel like you don’t really belong, you feel odd, you stand out. There are a few other men in the class and at first you hang around with them, but you don’t really like them. Part of you thinks you should like them, but, well, you just don’t. You try hanging around with some of the women, and they’re pleasant enough and they talk to you, but you never get included in their group things outside of class. So you become a loner, part of nothing, sort of invisible. But you persist, you keep coming to class.
All the profs are women and they keep saying things like “Well, ladies…” as if you weren’t there. There’s one who makes a point of adding, as a cute afterthought, “and gentlemen”, but something in her tone bugs you and you’d rather she just stick to “Well, ladies”. And there’s another one who asked once why, with your build, you weren’t playing football instead. You were speechless. But you persist, you don’t drop out. (Even though you wonder sometimes at the average marks you get for work you think is above average.)
There’s only one men’s washroom in the whole building. On particularly bad days, it annoys you when you have to go to a different floor just to go to the washroom.
And it seems that some knowledge is assumed as background. Things like how to hold a baby. How are you supposed to know what they haven’t taught you yet?
And there are no nursing uniforms for you in the campus shop. Something special has to be ordered. It’s different, of course, and makes you stand out even more, as someone who doesn’t really belong with the group. This is especially bad in the training hospital – people keep thinking you’re security or something. Sometimes it seems you have to spend so much time and effort just getting accepted as a nurse, you don’t have anything left to actually do any nursing.
But you persist. Even though you probably won’t get a job when you graduate – men are thought to be not as emotionally sensitive, you’ve already been criticized for being gruff (you swear you were just speaking normally). And if you do get a job, it’ll probably be in some no-name hospital god-knows-where with no chance for advancement. None of the headnurses in any of the hospitals you’ve been in were men. But you persist.
One day it occurs to you that it would help if they stopped calling it ‘nurselady’ and just called it ‘nurse’. When you suggest that, you get weird looks as if you’re obsessed with sex or over-reacting (or both). A few agree to use just ‘nurse’, but the way they say it defeats the purpose. The same sort of thing happened when you said something about the uniforms and the washrooms. You were criticized for making a fuss. But you persist. Because damn it you want to be a nurse!