On sexual aggressiveness

Male sexuality has been socially conditioned to comprise of the same components as sports: it is aggressive and domineering, and it views women as “opponents” to defeat in order achieve high status within a male social order. Boys are taught to drive forward to see how far their partners will allow them to reach sexually, preoccupying themselves with wondering what comes next rather than enjoying the moment, essentially displacing the excitement of intimacy with the excitement of competition, until finally, in order for a man to be aroused, a woman must be objectified. He has essentially lost the ability to become aroused without thinking of her in a dehumanized context. And living in a patriarchy, women undergo a similar transformation, in which they cannot achieve arousal unless they are in turn objectified. I strongly suspect this is why both men and women, during discussions about consent, express the sentiment that asking permission is a turn-off: it forces them to switch gears, because they have separated sex from love. An increasingly poignant thought is that this is correspondingly responsible for couples who have been together for a long time losing sexual interest in one another: they have known each other too intimately and too well (humanly) to achieve arousal in the objectifying fashion by which they have been conditioned.

As a Muslim woman (not to mention a self-respecting feminist), I don’t fucking play this game. While I deeply sympathize with men and the frustrations produced by this perilous conditioning on an abstract level, they are ultimately weaponizing my own sexuality (not theirs to weaponize) against me, and this generates far too much anger to subvert for sympathy. Yesterday I overheard a man stating that he uses men for stimulating intellectual conversation and women for sex, and all I could feel was sorry for him. Imagine not being able to relate to your partner on an intellectual level! Granted I don’t consider intelligence a fundamental criterion for love, but I still wet my panties over it.

Nonetheless I would rather never encounter these types than conceptually extend my sympathies for the fact that they’ve been robbed of honest emotional connection and intimacy by the culture they’ve constructed themselves.

Hilariously I’ve discovered that men who employ these tactics are less capable of overcoming the same sexual aggressiveness they exude. In exasperated reply to the uninvited advances of a particularly assertive man who, after attempting in vain to pick me up, jokingly advised, “Well don’t get your panties in a knot,” I shot back, “I can’t get my panties in a knot. Because I’m not wearing any,” in the most crude and viciously aggressive manner I could muster. He looked simultaneously shocked and disconcerted.

The same line could have been affectionate (I had to be extra vigilant not to sound receptive.) This deliberate practice of converting affection and playfulness into weaponry and… hunting is one of the most amoral aspects of patriarchy. And it cheats everyone.

The Feminist Root of Fairytales

"Master and Servant" by Linda Bergkvist

Evidently, fairytales have transformed these past centuries to perpetuate problematic cultural expectations of young girls. These complaints resonate with the contemporary feminist audience, who winces in dismay at tales of submissive princesses passively awaiting their knights in shining armor, who will valiantly defeat dragons, ogres, and evil stepmothers. Criticisms concerning the effects of these fairytales on young girls have generated adaptations, in both films and novels, increasingly characterized by stronger women who seize control of their destinies.

But fairytales since their origins have been feminist. From the beginning they were told by women, not by the men to whom they are currently credited, and these stories revolved around a female protagonists. Sometimes she was a princess, sometimes an average girl—the daughter of a merchant or artisan, and sometimes a poor peasant. But in every instance, she was brave, strong-willed, and spirited.

And everything around her attempted to control her, from fathers, to kings, to stepmothers, to evil witches, to tormenting sisters. And yet the heroine persevered. When her ending was not a happy one, it was never without a useful moral.

These tales were recounted by oppressed women, and they were a survival mechanism. Uncovered in every culture with eerie resemblances, the first thought to be a version of Cinderella dating back to 9th century China, fairytales inspired and liberated the women who gathered to tell them, providing a glimmer of hope—a chance to believe in escape—in societies where so many were denied freedom and education, and instead were (often forced) to wed and (more often still) die in childbirth, particularly if they were poor. (The stories were deemed unfitting for wealthy women—grimy peasants’ talk.) Upon marriage in several societies, a woman’s personhood would be engulfed entirely by her husband’s (considered one unit) and, as the stories replicate, she was often at the hands of abusive men.

The protagonists in these stories were positioned in circumstances beyond their control, faced with obstacle after obstacle that they had to overcome for their own safety and happiness. And these heroines survived, were even victorious, despite intense oppression. As Terri Windling writes in “Les Contes de Fees: The Literary Fairy Tales of France”, “Today, these tales may seem quaintly old-fashioned, dripping with too many pearls and jewels … but to audiences in 17th-century France the rich rococo language of the tales seemed cutting-edge and deliciously subversive … in deliberate contrast with the mannered restraint of works approved by the French Academy (an all-male institution).” Windling continues, stating that the elaborate and elegant language “also served another important function . . . disguising the subversive subtext of the stories and sliding them past the court censors. Critiques of court life (and even of the king) were embedded in flowery utopian tales and in dark, sharply dystopian ones. Not surprisingly, the tales by women often featured young (but clever) aristocratic girls whose lives were controlled by the arbitrary whims of fathers, kings, and elderly wicked fairies . . . as well as tales in which groups of wise fairies (i.e., intelligent, independent women) stepped in and put all to rights.”

These tales were not intended for children. It wasn’t until the early 1750s that they were rewritten to be suitable for a much younger audience. And even before then, when famous (male) collectors first began to record them, the tales were charged with indecency. They were morbid in nature, vulgar and crude, sensual, and casually violent.

They exposed a glaring reality.

And when the stories were changed, cruel mothers were rewritten as stepmothers and incestuous rapist fathers as monsters or the devil.

In my bookshelves among novels and non-fiction are a few volumes of fairytales, a couple with illustrations, that I’ve owned for a long time and that, since I was very young, have never failed to enchant me. There are a few stories that have stuck with me the longest; one tells the tale of a wealthy stranger who is accountable for the disappearance of several young women (one at a time): he arrives at their doors in the dead of the night and they are magically inclined to follow him to his dark manor filled with countless rooms of exquisite beauty. A gift is given to the victim—an egg—and she is commanded not to enter a specific, secret room. Every night the stranger demands to see the egg from her, and examines it. Inevitably, the woman will eventually enter the forbidden room, expecting it to be as beautiful as the others, and find—to her horror—that it contains a barrel full of body parts from his dead previous victims. In shock, she drops the egg, and it lands in the mess and becomes bloodied. Fervently she attempts to wash it before the man returns, but finds the stains will not disappear. When the man returns and calls to see the egg, he finds it sullied and the woman in tears, and hacks the woman to pieces. He then kidnaps his next victim, forcing her to follow him against her will. The last woman he kidnaps places the egg in the previous room before entering the forbidden one, sees what lies within, and at her touch the pieces reassemble into the women he’s killed. When he returns, she shows him the immaculate egg, and he believes she has not entered the forbidden. In the end, she defeats him, and the manor is lit on fire.

Today these stories are attributed to the Grimm brothers, Hans Christian Anderson, and other male collectors. They’ve been adjusted repeatedly to appeal to different audiences—which is all acceptable: contexts transform and so does feminist criteria, but the driving voices of the centuries of women behind these stories has been erased with their names. And this is not acceptable. In the contemporary media, reproduced fairytales are still drafted by men. Versions rewritten by men—of Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, etc.—are the most celebrated and massively manufactured. And while these versions do retain feminist elements (Belle saves the beast, Ariel is literally silenced by her desire for Eric) they are ultimately constructed by male voices.

The feminist versions are lesser known. In a version of The Little Mermaid, rewritten by a woman, our heroine loses her prince and dissolves, but with a different perspective. “I have known the sea and I have known the land, and now I will know the air,” she sighs amazedly to her new companions, sylphs, upon discovering the beautiful beings that inhabit the air. And Gail Carson Levine’s beloved Ella Enchanted, a retelling of Cinderella with a stubborn, forceful heroine (cursed by a faerie to obey everyone who gives her orders until she frees herself) was compromised in the film adaptation.

Rewriting fairytales is a powerful practice; it is a reclamation of a long—and lost—feminist tradition. Even stories that aren’t fairytales, and in fact appear in novels written by men, like the legend of Cupid and Psyche, harbor astonishing potential. (Who knows from whom the author heard it?) Psyche, a beautiful mortal woman, provokes the envy of Venus, who commands her son Cupid to shoot an arrow and penetrate Psyche while she sleeps, in such a way so that when she wakes she will see a vile creature before her and fall in love with it. After much arguing, Cupid reluctantly agrees, and in invisible form enters the room of the sleeping woman. He sees she is so beautiful that she cannot be safe, and he takes pity on her. As he reaches quietly for an arrow to fulfill his promise, she wakes suddenly, and looks into his eyes, and, startled, Cupid pricks himself with his own arrow, falling madly in love. He cannot complete the mission. When he reports this to Venus, she is furious and curses Psyche herself, so that Psyche cannot see him. Cupid, angered with his mother, vows to never shoot another arrow so that finally, Venus must agree to his demands, because no one is falling in love and thus the world has ceased worshipping her.

But Psyche betrays Cupid by breaking a vow, and in order to win back his love and forgiveness, must successfully undergo a series of three dangerous trials arranged by a vengeful Venus, each one more impossible than the former—the last of which includes a visit to the Underworld. Deeply moved, Cupid forgives Psyche by the end.

And even what may qualify as the most anti-feminist of traditions can be reclaimed and rewritten—why not? men have been claiming fairytales for centuries—because the act of writing, in itself, is empowering.

And so, here’s something rough I scribbled very quickly in class (when I should have been paying attention; we were discussing Hamlet and Freudian behaviors, mind you, and it was not the least bit interesting) alluding to characters traditionally rendered silent:

Helen to Penelope

Cousin, you are your husband’s wife, as sly
and patient, constant, loved and I—

launched a thousand ships, beguiled
Paris. I expect you comprehend

the unsteadiness of power, the impulses of men.
Penelope, you cried.

But recognize you wait, day after day, maintaining
what you may, aiming needles running thread

with disruptive suitors at your gate,
and war for your bed—

yet your husband is named valiant, brave;
I’d rather tremble before the wave

than stay to wash my linen sheets
unsung for dangers I quietly keep

away; who hymns my praise, Penelope?
Or yours? Men only celebrate waging wars!

Therefore, I did. So affectionate, keen,
writes the alleged seductress to the queen,

fault me not for your husband’s sins,
or for seeking liberty or rights therein.

With a glance I’ve conquered the sea
save judgment, patient Penelope!

__

Okay now go write.

On Interpreting the Qur’an and Subjectivity

As someone who has studied Arabic for a couple of years, compelled primarily by a desire to understand the Qur’an, and who remembers the frustration of not being able to understand it (and is aware of it still, because I have not mastered the language) I’m heartbroken when religious people—particularly women—dismiss their own interpretations on the basis that they are not familiar with the language, essentially surrendering the task to patriarchal scholars. Throughout Islamic history there have been an incredible number of female scholars, and it’s no accident that the numbers have dwindled to nothing as soon as self-appointed male gatekeepers were established. For women, acquiring an Islamic education has been deliberately made exceptionally difficult: most classes are segregated by sex, and to travel to other countries and enroll in Islamic schools the schools often require that the women are accompanied by a guardian. (Never mind that after the Prophet’s death women—the Prophet’s own wives—continued to live as they pleased without a “guardian.”) To exacerbate matters, a woman with egalitarian inclinations and interpretations will not be rewarded the respect of a scholar—indeed, if she disagrees, she will be stripped of integrity regardless of how strong and sound her arguments were (see: Amina Wadud) on the presumption that she cannot be impartial if she harbors a particular interest in a specific demographic, in this instance, women.

Male scholars will deny that their own misogynist interpretations are the product of any bias, which I find to be the height of utmost arrogance. Those in “grayer” gradations of misogyny (who, for example, prevent women from leading prayers but agree that domestic violence has incorrectly been made permissible by a misinterpreted verse) refuse to acknowledge the stark reality that if they admit these scholars are induced by bias, so are they themselves subject to the same biases–we can not accept “gradations”; misogyny is all the same. And we value ourselves as human beings far too much to allow it.

Patriarchy has infected Quranic interpretation to intolerable degrees. Most Muslims will be fast to point out that in Islam, God is neither male nor female, yet continue to masculinize God linguistically, and not innocently. If God is indeed not male, as Muslims claim, how do so many scholars justify using that basis to replicate a divine order on Earth in which the father rules—the patriarchy? Several scholars, including Tabrisi, who ordered women to bow before their husbands, drew parallels between God’s rule over men to men’s rule over women through attributing maleness to God and thus committing shirk. Husbands have been positioned higher than fathers, rendering ingratitude toward husbands as ingratitude toward God (Ashraf Ali Thanawi). Yet every Muslim would vigorously assert that God is neither male nor female while simultaneously insisting patriarchy is a recreation of Divine Order. Thus the premise is still present, if unspoken and violently denied. If they indeed reject the premise, they must admit they have failed to apply to the legal and social spheres the true order dictated in the moral sphere.

And the symptoms of these failures are evident everywhere. The word idribuhunna in verse 4:34, which is infamously translated as “to beat” thus authorizing men to beat their wives, is a derivative of daraba, which means “to leave” or “to go away” and which the Qur’an uses 17 different ways in different verses. The fact is that male scholars have chosen the worst meaning, blatantly violating the Qur’anic demand to follow the best:

Those who listen to the Word
and follow the best meaning in it;
those are the ones whom God has guided,
and those are the ones endued
with understanding. (Qur’an 39:18)

This was not observed, and that proves interpreting the Qur’an has less to do with accuracy or language and everything to do with sexual politics. And preventing women from interpreting the Qur’an, by instituting the prerequisite that they must know Arabic, and then making it impossible to pursue that education, is a deliberate attempt to keep women out of the self-appointed Ulema, so that we may be adequately policed by men.

If scholars, who know the Arabic language efficiently, arrive at incorrect conclusions, and continue to insist that “alternative” readings are not legitimate, they are not only denying that the Prophet’s companions differed extensively in their understandings of Quranic verses, but they are trapping themselves when it is revealed and widely accepted (as verse 4:34 is now beginning to be accepted) that for centuries they have been misinterpreting this verse, and that a long line of male scholars who deny women the practicality required to seek an education are reading their own male privilege and debauchery into the Qur’an—and deliberately so. If this were not true, the Qur’an would not differentiate between worse and better meanings in it, or acknowledge that some will interpret better than others according to their own morals and sense of impartiality. It is easy to insist that the Ummah will not agree on error while suppressing half the Ummah.

Male scholars must admit that they are politically motivated, culturally situated, economically invested, and sexually oppressive. They’re subject to the same biases as the rest of us mere mortals, who live in the context of culture and history. And if not, they will be forced to admit it as the truth comes to light and their lies unravel.

And these lies will unravel. The Qur’an has promised it. (17:81: Falsehood by its nature is bound to perish.) But when men are proven wrong, they exclaim that they had been correct in asserting that the Qur’an was not sexist all along (and thus we never needed feminism!) scrambling to cover how this betrays they were aware that their own interpretations were misogynist (if they suddenly are relieved by the soundness of egalitarian interpretation and acknowledge it as valid) and to deny women any due credit. As I wrote to Chally, “From the Muslim community one of the most common responses is that Islam does not ‘need’ feminist exegesis, because the Qur’an itself liberates women on its own. This is an age-old patriarchal strategy: men who are sexist bigots are unwilling to credit women with any hard-earned, rightful entitlement when we have secured our God-given rights. They will claim instead that (fine!) women deserve these rights, but not because of feminism, but instead because of the institutions created by men. While Islam is from God, men exploit the perception that religion is a patriarchal institution to pull the credit back toward themselves when women are victorious, allowing them to state that it is not feminist exegesis that liberated women but that it was their own patriarchal process by which sound exegesis is validated.” And other feminists, succumbing to the suggestion that religion is inherently patriarchal, aggravate the process of reclamation for religious feminists.

Misogynist readings of the Qur’an are invalid at such a fundamental level that it is astounding they’ve survived. Verse 6:82 reads,

It is those who believe
and confuse not their belief with zulm,
for them (only) there is security
and they are the guided. (Qur’an 6:82)

Divine justice maintains that zulm (wrong, or encroaching on rights) is never committed. If God is impartial and never unjustifiably encroaches on the rights of any being, God is therefore not misogynist, then it follows that the word of God cannot be misogynist. If one arrives at a misogynist interpretation, it is by virtue incorrect.

Yet scholars have insisted that not only are these injustices divinely founded—which entirely contradicts every verse of the Qur’an—they deliberately seek unjust interpretations. In Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Qur’an, a line in verse 4:43 that reads that men are the qawwamun ‘ala (financial maintainers and protectors of justice) of women, the meaning of the word is modified when translated via the rest of the verse referencing physical strength as the degree to which men are advantaged–when in fact qawwamun ‘ala is strictly to accommodate the socially constructed financial disadvantage of most women compared to most men; thus by alluding to physical strength Yusuf Ali makes a biological claim to justify men’s responsibilities toward women, and entirely alters the message of the Qur’an.

These examples—idribuhunna, qawwamun–are just some of the corrections that are reviving the Qur’an’s original message, and it’s only the beginning of what men have come to misconstrue over time. Consider this hadith,

“Woman has been created from a rib and in no way will be straight for you; so if you enjoy her you will do so while crookedness remains in her; but if you try to straighten her you will break her; breaking her being divorcing her.” (Sahih Muslim)

As we already know the Qur’an says nothing about woman being created from man’s rib, and in fact states that men and women were created from a single nafs (feminine)—but even with this aberration of a claim (that woman was created from man’s rib), the hadith retains some truthfulness and warns not to “straighten” her for you (addressing men). Indeed, it insists a man should divorce his wife before he attempts to ever change or “break” her!

But a variation of this hadith does not fully maintain this egalitarian message:

“I command you to treat women kindly. Woman has been created from a rib (the rib is crooked), and the most crooked part of the rib is the upper region. If you try to make it straight you will break it, and if you leave it as it is, it will remain curved. So treat women kindly.” (Al-Bukhari 7:189)

The “for you” (straight according to your own standards, not hers) acknowledging subjectivity is lost, and we are left with (objective) straightness and crookedness. Absurdly, the hadith points out that “the most crooked part of the rib is the upper region” as though faulting women’s heads. Though the message is still “treat them kindly” extreme differences in nature have been forged, and women are described as fragile (to easily break) and crooked, all contrary to this verse in the Qur’an which emphasizes similarities in nature,

Reverence
Your God
Who created you from a single Self (Nafs)
Created, of similar nature,
its mate (zauj) and from them twain
scattered like seeds
countless men and women;–
Reverence God,
through Whom ye demand
your mutual rights. (Qur’an 4:1)

Men’s biases and their political interests, and the manner in which words can be manipulated to reflect the agenda of the interpreter, are evident in these countless variations, and thus to be truly intellectually honest, as I stated before, male scholars must admit that they are politically motivated, culturally situated, economically invested, and sexually oppressive. They must admit that they have deliberately erected a system in which women are barred from becoming educated, which is directly against the Qur’an, and they have created a monopoly on interpretation. The Qur’an does not say only men can interpret it. It does not say only scholars can interpret it. And, in fact, most believers—including the Prophet himself—were not literate. The Qur’an is the Word of God, not the language of God.

Therefore to translate the Qur’an, one must understand Arabic, but interpreting the Qur’an, with a good translation, intera- and extratextually, does not require literacy. And the one who is most literate, as demonstrated, is not guaranteed to be correct, and is even destructive, privileging anti-women interpretations of centuries, twisted by the bias he fearfully and defensively projects onto feminists in the interests of perserving his power.

The Catholic Church Says Mother Theresa Should Have Been More Busy Speaking Out Against Abortion Instead of Ensuring Actual, Living Children Survive

Charity, it’s so overrated. Washington Post, via Feministe

A prominent U.S. Catholic nuns group said Thursday that it was “stunned” that the Vatican reprimanded it for spending too much time on poverty and social-justice concerns and not enough on condemning abortion and gay marriage.

In a stinging report on Wednesday, the Vatican said the Leadership Conference of Women Religious had been “silent on the right to life” and had failed to make the “Biblical view of family life and human sexuality” a central plank in its agenda.

It also reprimanded American nuns for expressing positions on political issues that differed, at times, from views held by U.S. bishops. Public disagreement with the bishops — “who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals” — is unacceptable, the report said.

How dare women disagree with bishops and other self-appointed gatekeepers! IN PUBLIC.

I can’t believe they have the AUDACITY to actually work to engender and espouse all the inherent goodness in religion like charity and hard work in very difficult conditions instead of being submissive to men and stuff! UNACCEPTABLE. Nuns should stop helping the sick, poor, orphaned, and dying so much and instead focus more on how women shouldn’t have rights. Let’s humiliate them more than we do our child molesters.

It is Tuesday. Here is a plant.

Plant(s). My youngest little brother has taken to growing plants in questionable containers by his windowsill, a feat I had never accomplished though I daydreamed of and romanticized it often. They are two baby tomato plants.

I would tell you their names, but I have not been home frequently enough to familiarize myself with their acquaintance. Before I knew it they were quite grown.

I imagine soon they will make their homes in the earth (the kind attached to other earth, and not confined in a container) as I already feel cranks in my bones thinking of how they must wish to stretch their roots. They will be situated next to the rose bush, a curtain of lemons sweeping beside them.

In my bathroom I rediscovered a fake sad flower that I’d known for years.

Loneliness personified. (Flowerified?)

Starting (hopefully before) this weekend will be Islam-y feminist-y business as usual.

The lipstick in the banner

Since months ago I’ve received a couple of emails that were all like “What color IS that?”, as well as a comment inquiring as to where I found an orange-based red lipstick (since both luxury brands and drugstore brands mostly carry blue-based reds) when I indignantly posted a photograph after someone had the audacity to tell me I shouldn’t be wearing red lipstick in the mosque. Unfortunately I didn’t see how incredibly perfect this lipstick was until it was discontinued, and I could not for the life of me find a replacement.

If your veins are green through your skin (as opposed to blue), your skintone is classified as “warm”, and rumor has it an orange-based red lipstick is better suited for you. Most lipsticks are blue-based and consequently look horrendously garish on my skin, and the ones that are orange-based are either bright neon (fabulous or yikes depending on your taste) or have either deeper wine or earthier brick and burgundy tones. The only lipstick I’ve found that comes close to being exactly on mark resembling the discontinued lipstick in color is Revlon’s #006, “Really Red,” but that one’s a matte. And while I love the velvety look of a matte red lip, there was something strangely alluring about the soft sultry supple finish of this lipstick, even when blotted to look matte.

The lipstick in the banner is by L’Oréal Paris, and it’s a satin finish—it’s also inspired by Penelope Cruz, who has an olive skintone like yours truly. When I purchased it, I hadn’t yet discovered that L’Oréal tested its products on animals, and once I did, I never repurchased it again. When I heard they planned to no longer test on animals starting 2012, I looked for the lipstick but found it had been discontinued.

I think it’s still available through outlets online. So if you’re interested in acquiring it here’s what to look for:

It’s a black tube, rimmed with gold, and (allegedly) Penelope Cruz’s signature. It’s gold inside when opened.

And there’s the color. I’ve begun to use it sparingly. It’s number 320 “Penelope’s red”, and was released as part of a collection. The rest of the collection (Colour Riche Star Secrets Lipcolour) is still available, so it’s… seemingly random that 320 has been discontinued. Swatched on my skin:

(Is it totally weird that there are more pictures of my hands on this blog than my face?)

I’m sorry it’s gone. I thought it was a total marketing sham that makeup brands have so many nuanced shades of the same color (to convince women that each one has a different effect on them, when really—who can tell the difference?), but I honestly haven’t found anything like this shade of lipstick—even when I marched into Sephora and handed the tube to a makeup artist to find a match. There was no matching color, and while others are alright nothing brightens my skin like this. Even shades that resembled it on my hand were drastically different in effect on my lips.

Anyway, hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend.

The War On Women, the War Over Us, and the War Among Us

“What you have is, is Mitt Romney running around the country saying ‘Well, my wife tells me what women really care about is economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.’ Guess what? His wife has never actually worked a day in her life. She’s—she’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that the majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and how do we worry about their future.” –Hilary Rosen

Very quickly, I have emerged (if temporarily) to comment on the statement made by Hilary Rosen regarding the range of Ann Romney’s experience in knowing what women care about—which, according to Romney, is only economic issues. Rosen pointed out that this was coming from someone who had never worked a day in her life, which would have been fine, if she hadn’t unwittingly actually used those exact words.

This is a Godsend to the Republican party.

Rosen’s comments annoyed me immensely and immediately. What she meant of course is that Romney had never earned wages (though phrasing it that way would have been equally devastating; those words have an underlying tone of disparagement evident precisely because she is talking to a woman). What she should have said is that Romney has not had to simultaneously raise children and work for wages. I understood Rosen’s intention, but nonetheless can not explain how furious I was with her, and how deeply offended.

Rosen explained herself immediately following the comment, unprompted, as you can see from the quote above, but the damage was done. Including for me. The first time I listened, I missed the reality of what followed that statement. It’s hard to absorb the rest when you have rage pounding at your ears because a woman has just privileged the patriarchal definition of “work” and validated centuries of oppression and injustice.

Naturally this dispute was immediately exploited to expand into the realm of partisan sexism when Rosen was in fact making a class argument. This is because there are men in the world, and men like to distort shit they don’t even care about to conveniently push their political agenda via ramming themselves in places they don’t belong. As if I weren’t pissed off enough already, I was annoyed a second time with the response of Democratic men who apologized for Rosen at once, even stating that she should not have attacked Mitt Romney’s family because “family is off limits.” Let me remind you that sexist bigot Mitt Romney is the one parading his wife all around the country to convince women that he doesn’t hate us (because apparently we’re stupid enough to take her word for it just because she’s a woman), and if a woman wants to make a comment about another woman’s political point and other women decide this is specifically concerning her sex, men need to STFU. We don’t care. Seriously. Shut up. The way Democratic men trip over themselves to apologize is pathetic, entitled, and very telling as to how insecure they are about their own stance on women’s rights. They don’t care about women any more than Republican men—they all care about politics.

Here is what I want to happen: I want Rosen to apologize to Romney—and thus to all mothers who may or may not be paid, and subsequently to me, because who knows what’ll happen in the future—for saying something so horrendous. Language is important. Check it. It creates and contributes to a culture of thought backed by historical bigotry. While this was a forgivable slip, especially considering Rosen herself has raised children, it was so unspeakably insulting given the context of our history and the hard, unrecognized work of housewives. That is WORK. Raising children should qualify as work experience. (Do you know how much women would MAKE if they were paid for half the crap they do?) Additionally, a woman who does not receive wages herself but whose spouse receives wages still has EVERY REASON to worry about the economy precisely because she has children she needs to clothe and feed.

While Rosen apologizes, I want all men—Democratic and Republican—to shut the fuck up and stop making it about whose party is the most sexist. (Really, Democrats? You legislatively won this.* Calm the hell down.)

Then I want Republican women to acknowledge she was referring to class—to mothers who raise children AND work (both in actually raising the children themselves and through paying jobs) and to women without children who are employed—not to women who can conveniently hire people to raise their children for them while they act indignant about attacks on hardworking housewives. Because that is the real issue. And I am interested in getting shit done.

*All GOP presidential candidates have signed the Personhood Pledge vowing to eliminate Planned Parenthood clinics. They introduced bills to redefine rape. Rush Limbaugh has called all women who use birth control whores. When asked why he believes insurance should not over contraceptives but should cover Viagra, Sean Hannity replied, “That’s a MEDICAL problem.” Republicans in the senate voted against Violence Against Women Act; they filibustered the Paycheck Fairness Act. States run by Republicans have introduced legislation to force women to undergo trans-vaginal probes against their will (rape) before receiving abortion and have cut budgets in health care, Social Security, and education that would disproportionately impact women. Republicans did not allow women to testify at the House contraception hearing. Scott Walker has repealed Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Law. Since January 2010 over 400 bills have have been introduced in the House attacking our reproductive rights. ALL Republicans, except for three Republican congressmen and two Republican senators, voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Republican Lisa Murkowski herself has stated she does not understand why her party is making these attacks.

Update: Rosen handled this perfectly.

Hilarious that Republicans are pretending to suddenly care about stay-at-home moms via Huffington Post: “Poor women who stay at home to raise their children should be given federal assistance for child care so that they can enter the job market and ‘have the dignity of work,’ Mitt Romney said in January.”

What? Wait, I thought they WERE working!

Most important job in the world unless you’re poor.

Mitt Romney, however, judging by his January remark, views stay-at-home moms who are supported by federal assistance much differently than those backed by hundreds of millions in private equity income. Poor women, he said, shouldn’t be given a choice, but instead should be required to work outside the home to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. “[E]ven if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work,” Romney said of moms on TANF.

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