Mr. and Mrs. Family Values

A white, middle-class, southern boy, born into a single-parent family, raised by his mother alone, who grew up and divorced his first wife, has never paid alimony or child support, has no contact with his children, had an affair, and has a lesbian sister who is starting her own family. Who could such a model of diversity be? Why, it’s Newt Gingrich!

What about this one: A mother of five children, one a newborn with Down’s syndrome, leaves home to pursue a career as the CEO of a major organization. She has a taste for high fashion. Her husband, a union worker and part-time fisherman, goes along for the ride. Her unwed sixteen-year-old daughter is pregnant and the baby’s father is another sixteen-year-old whose MySpace profile says he is a “redneck” who loves dirt bikes, “loves to play hockey”, and does “not want kids.” Then his mother is arrested for selling illegal drugs.

Did you guess? That’s right, it’s Sarah Palin. Granted, this is from a few years ago, back when she had a great view of Russia. (I know, cheap shot.)

 

These families aren’t really the “traditional” families America is looking for, right? They’re not the husband and wife, 2.5 kids and a pet in a house with a picket fence that dominate our culture. Except this 2.5 kids thing isn’t exactly the norm anymore, and hasn’t been since around 1950 or so, if ever. Only one out of every ten families look like the “norm”. The rest looks like: wife breadwinners and stay at home dads, two working parents, single parents, divorced parents, second marriages, childless couples, adopted children, unmarried couples with and without children, blended families, gay and lesbian parents, etc., etc.

Surely, this is evidence that the family is crumbling; our beautiful, sacred marriages are being corrupted and destroyed. I mean, half of all marriages end in divorce! What other evidence could you ask for?

But it’s not. Americans clearly still believe in marriage. After they get divorced, they get remarried. And if that marriage fails, well then you’re on the prowl for until-death-do-us-part number three! Or in Larry King’s case, wife number eight.

Marriage and the family has been as resilient and diverse as the American people themselves. We’ve been debating for the last century whether or not the family is in crisis. People were sure that if women got the right to vote, the family would collapse. They knew if women were allowed into college, the increased blood flow to their brain would dry up their ovaries and the human species would die. They thought if women went to work, the household would fall into shambles and the children would grow up emotionally-wrecked felons.

Marriage and the family adapts and changes as we see fit, as everything must that is going to survive. And if marriage can survive the family collapsing, ovaries shriveling, human extinction, a generation of rampant child criminals, and the 21st century, I don’t know what we could do to kill it now.

That’s right, even you, Kim Cardassia–Oh! I’m sorry, Kardashian.

                                                                                                                                                                My mistake…

Mulan is Badass. And also Real!

Mulan, one of my favorite all-time Disney movies and heroines, is a feminist. I don’t know how you can miss it. The entire time throughout the movie, men and women are telling her what she must do and who she must be, and a woman should ____. Get married. Bear sons. Be punctual. Poised. Graceful. Skinny, but not too skinny. Able to fricken pour tea without setting the Matchmaker on fire, for goodness sake! Mulan is not any of those things, and she struggles with her self-identity, fearful of failing and bringing shame to her family.

Then a war starts. Her father is wounded and can’t go to war, but he must. So, to protect her father, she cuts her hair, dresses as a dude, and enlists in his place, but (surprise!) struggles. All her life, she’s been a woman, delicate and fragile and lovely. Now it’s Be a Man, dammit! Finally, she’s allowed to grow, to become strong, to think, to sweat, and eventually she rises up the ranks to one of the best soldiers there. She becomes as swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon.

(Off topic, do we hear all the ways they are characterizing men? It’s all really violent natural disasters; the pinnacle being mysterious as the dark side of the moon. All the way into space now, huh? You’re not just the most terrifying and destructive things on Earth, but otherworldly. I see. Interesting.)

So then they go off to battle. And this is not a normal battle. This is like fifty billion-to-one massive start-praying-guys-cause-we-are-so-effed smackdown. But is Mulan terrified? Hell no. She’s all like “Chilax guys, I got this.” Mulan, single-handedly, with one cannon, takes down the swarming anthill of Huns. Then, when she tries to warn people that the head Hun dude Shan-Yu is still alive, no one listens to her! After saving all these people, no one will take her seriously just because she’s an innie instead of an outie. At this point, if it were me, I’d say screw them. Just go home, take a nap, and let Shan-Yu teach them a lesson, but Mulan is a much better person than I am.

Then, my absolute favorite part, the soldiers are trying to break into the palace after Shan-Yu kidnaps the Emperor (the same way Gaston tries to break into the Beast’s castle), and the boys leave General Li (which is technically abandonment) to follow Mulan and crossdress as: Concubines.Image

And damn, do they look fabulous!

Mulan goes on to save the Emperor herself, and General Li, then kills Shan-Yu, saving China a second time, and after all that manages to scrape together a great fireworks show to celebrate. Then she goes home. She rejects the money, the fame, the prestige she’s offered and goes home to her family with no regrets. That’s how you do it. Kick their asses to Kingdom Come, then walk away. Like Cincinnatus. 

And then all of China bows down to you. That part still gives me chills.

The coolest thing about Mulan however, is that she most likely may have probably actually existed!Image

This story if very old, like 12th century old, so some of the details may be a bit fuzzy, but basically it went down like this:

Her name was Hua Mulan. The bad guy was Tujie. Tujie decided that he wanted more land, and the best and easiest way to get more land was to take it from others. That didn’t got down so well, so the Emperor decided to wage war, and a man from every family was called. Mulan’s father had taught her how to fight, but he was old, and her little brother was too young. He wouldn’t let Mulan go in his place, and so she dressed up as a boy and confronted her father in a fight and won, proving she could handle herself. He was convinced. But he still didn’t want her to go, so she dressed as a man again and went anyways. Like all stubborn children do.

The war lasted 12 years, and Mulan was an exceptional soldier, eventually becoming a general. No one discovered her secret, not even her good friend General Li.

Finally, the enemy king was ambushed and captured. The war was over. Money was handed out to all the soldiers, but Mulan refused, wanting only a camel to get home. She wanted to get out of there as fast as possible because he commanding General thought Mulan would be a perfect husband for his daughter. So Mulan pretended to be injured and snuck away on her camel.

But this commander dude couldn’t take a hint, so he sent General Li after her with wedding gifts and instructions to go arrange the marriage. And then Li discovered General Mulan was a in fact woman! So what did he do? The only logical thing. He married her. And everyone lived happily ever after… as far as we can tell.

Feminist in cartoon and in life. Long story short: Mulan was a pretty badass woman lady person.  

Heterosexual Questionnaire

1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?

2. When and how did you decide you were a heterosexual?

3. Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?

4. Is it possible that your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?

5. If you have never slept with a person of the same sex, is it possible that all you need is a good gay lover?

6. Do your parents know that you are straight?
Do your friends and/or roommate(s) know?
How did they react?

7. Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Can’t you just be who you are and keep it quiet?

8. Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?

9. Why do heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into their lifestyle?

10. A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexual. Do you consider it safe to expose children to heterosexual teachers?

11. Just what do men and women do in bed together? How can they truly know how to please each other, being so anatomically different?

12. With all the societal support marriage receives, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?

13. Statistics show that lesbians have the lowest incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. Is it really safe for a woman to maintain a heterosexual lifestyle and run the risk of disease and pregnancy?

14. How can you become a whole person if you limit yourself to compulsive, exclusive heterosexuality?

15. Considering the menace of overpopulation, how could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual?

16. Could you trust a heterosexual therapist to be objective? Don’t you feel s/he might be inclined to influence you in the direction of her/his own leanings?

17. There seem to be very few happy heterosexuals. Techniques have been developed that might enable you to change if you really want to. Have you considered trying aversion therapy?

18. Would you want your child to be heterosexual, knowing the problems that s/he would face?

Baby Storm: the Genderless Child in a Gendered World

Somewhere up in Canada there lives a family. I have never met these people, never been invited to their house, I do not know their names. Yet, I know that they have a baby. This baby is named Storm, but I don’t know what sex this baby is. The mother isn’t telling anyone in an attempt to raise the child “genderless”. Or, perhaps not genderless, but more like without all the social pressures and stereotypes of what it means to be a male or a female (such as the all-pink aisle in Target. I wonder what that’s for?)

Alright, so I looked up their names. Halleluiah Google! The mother’s name is Kathy Witterick. After refusing to reveal her baby’s sex, the story exploded and went viral. People all over not just her nation, but our nation as well, couldn’t help but wonder what was in between this baby’s legs. But it’s only natural to want to know, right? Human nature has us constantly wondering about what’s between everybody’s legs!

It’s true, though. Ever see a guy wearing a dress, or a person in a baggy tee-shirt and jeans that you just couldn’t figure out? You do a double take, stare a little longer than usual, squint your eyes, tilt your head. Not going to lie, it’s kind of weird. But that’s because we’ve gendered ourselves so much.

Humans do this weird thing where we cover up what makes us male or female (our genitals), but we cover them in an explicit way that lets everyone know what’s underneath. Womens clothes are usually colored, cute, frilly, tight; while mens clothes tend to be more baggy, more neutral in color, more sport-like, more “masculine”. Here’s more ways we gender ourselves: men are buff, women are toned. Men are strong and distant, women are emotional. Men play sports and get dirty and sweaty and grunt, and women wear makeup and hairspray and perfume and talk. These stereotypes are built into our clothes, our personalities, our bodies. We do gender all the time, constantly, whether we realize it or not. It comes out of our mouths, and shows in our hair, and in the way we walk and sit in a chair.

Now, back to the baby. Is it so bad that the mother is raising her child “genderless” because we’ve so gendered our culture? We exaggerate the differences between our sexualities. And people who don’t exaggerate, maybe a girl with short hair who wears loose graphic tee-shirts, or a slimmer guy who’s sensitive and cares about how he looks, their sexualities are questioned because they deviate from the exaggerated norms we’ve created as a society about what it is to be male or female.

A lot of people are upset because if the baby doesn’t understand gender norms, will s/he be able to fit into society? Will Baby Storm not fit in because s/he doesn’t know if s/he’s male or female? Will children not accept him/her even though s/he’s a perfectly nice human being? Possibly. This decision will most likely affect Baby Storm’s entire life. But is it the mother’s fault for refusing to accept the way in which society operates, or is it our fault for participating in and continuing gendered society?
Is it anyone’s fault at all?

What do you think?

You are Beautiful. Really Truly.

You are beautiful.

You are worthwhile.

You are perfect.

You’re not too fat. You’re not too skinny. You’re not too blonde. You’re not too brown. You’re not too pale. You’re not ugly.
Your freckles are cute.

You’re nose is not too big. Your lips are not too thin. Your hair is not too flat, or too bushy, or straight or frizzy or curly.

I’d bet money your eyes are fricken glorious.

Your breasts are not too small. Your pecks are not too flat. Your arms are not too flabby. Your butt is not too big. Your eyelashes are fine the way they are. Your cheeks are like glow-in-the-dark roses. Your smile is not too dull; it’s brilliant. Your eyelids look fantastic flesh-colored.

Your skin is perfect. Your dark spots don’t contract from your beauty. Your acne doesn’t reflect your character. Your scars don’t detract from your personality. Your imperfections make you interesting.

My skin is not blemish-free. In fact, it’s the worst its ever been in my entire lifetime, including those pesky pubescent years. My skin is… I’ll say it, horrible. So much acne. So many acne scars, pock marks, blotches, and bumps litter the surface of my head you’d think it was the surface of the moon. The doctors I’ve seen say that some of it will clear up in time, some of it with medication, and the rest with lasers.

The first thing I thought when the doctor said lasers was no way. No way, Jose! (Or whatever your name happens to be.) But then I went to visit my family who I hadn’t seen in a year. While there, three people confronted me about my acne. The first was a stranger who asked my how I had scarred my face. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. At first I thought I had somehow unknowingly scratched it on something, like a tree branch. But then the truth slowly dawned on me, and my stomach sunk to my knees. Awkward and uncomfortable silence followed. No one said anything else.

The second person was my grandpa, who just made a comment on it out of concern. The last was my grandmother, bless her good-intentioned heart. That probably made me feel the worst. She had an at-length conversation about it, asking me questions: had I seen a doctor? do I have any medication? what am I doing about it? On and on, turning my face one way and then the other to inspect my cheeks. Oh awkward grandma, how you embarrass me. But I still love you.

It was about at that point I started getting really self-conscious about it. It seemed that on every commercial break was some ad about Proactive, Skin ID, Flawless Finish Foundation, Skin Perfecting something or other. I’ve seen these commercials all my life, it feels, but they’ve never stuck with my like this.

It’s not fun, the feeling of inadequacy. I was seriously considering the lasers.

Well, that was a few months ago, and now I’m back to Screw That. So what if my face isn’t as smooth as a baby’s bottom? Who cares if its not the supple flesh of a summer peach? I’ll tell you who cares: Assholes care.

Girls down at the watering hole giving you the once over? Are their eyes fixating on that giant angry volcano erupting hellfire from your nose? Who cares. Seriously. What does it matter? Some people just need to look down onto other to feel better about themselves.

Don’t worry about it. Does one, or two, or ten zits on your face make you a horrible person? No. Are they going to plaster a giant red Z for zit on your jacket? I don’t think so. Will your zit somehow cause the Earth to line up with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy and start the zombie apocalypse that will kill us all at the end of this year? Dear god, I hope not. Imma say a tentative no. I’ll get back to you on that by New Years.

And if a guy (or girl) is going to dismiss you, stand you up, or diss you because of a few red bumps, then he wasn’t your knight in shining armor to begin with. He was just some punk in an aluminum foil hat.

If people don’t like you for exactly who you are, then they’re not worth being around. Friends are supposed to be there to support one another. If they’re not supporting you, they’re not your friend.

A very wise man once said that he wished we could all judge each other not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our characters. Even though I know Martin Luther King Jr. was talking about something very different, I think the spirit of what he said still holds; I’m just adding another color to the spectrum: red and blotchy.

As for me, I’m not getting the laser treatment. I don’t need it. I don’t care if my face never entirely clears up. I am already beautiful. 

Debunking Leviticus

In honor of the one year anniversary repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

Something I’ve been hearing about a lot recently in the world is gay marriage. Gay this, gay that, it’s wrong, it’s right, I don’t like it, it’s not natural, on and on and on. Gay marriage, or rather, marriage equality (because gay people don’t gay walk their dog or gay grocery shop) is ridiculous. It’s absurd; absolutely ludicrous! There is no reason that everyone shouldn’t be allowed to be married, to publicly show their love, to have tax breaks, to visit their partner in the hospital when their sick, or adopt a child together.

Besides the fact that withholding marriage from a specific category of people is the textbook definition of discrimination, especially in the home of the free and the land of the brave, people try to use the Bible to somehow legitimize their prejudice.

Here for you now, is the Debunking of Leviticus, so you too can stop hate and ignorance it its tracks!

“‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” (Leviticus 18:22)

This is probably the most famous line used against marriage equality. First, Leviticus also said no haircuts, polyester clothes, divorce, tattoos, football, shellfish, fortune telling, and gold jewelry, among other things (like if your wife saves your life by grabbing the attackers genitals, you have to cut off her hand. For shizzle. How bizarrely specific is that?). If you’re going to follow one rule, you have to follow them all. You can’t just pick and choose.

That’s right, no more drunken football games in your poly-cotton blend jersey with your local fortune teller and Cash-4-Gold representative after divorcing your crab-scarfing Barbershop spouse anymore. I know what you’re thinking. What am I going to do with my Tuesday nights now? I’m in the same boat, my friend. Back to Boggle, I suppose.

Second, Leviticus is in the Old Testament, which is specifically meant for Jews, not Christians.

And third, none of it even matters because Jesus invalidated all of it, along with Original Sin, when he died on the cross and instated a new set of rules so we could all go to Heaven. (But I’m sure God cares more about who you decide to marry rather than being a good person or following His teachings.)

I’ve also heard arguments that people of the same sex coming together is somehow against God, or against the Bible. Just in the same way that it doesn’t matter what I think of your relationship, it doesn’t matter what your God thinks of their relationship, because in fact it may not be the same omnipotent deity. And it also doesn’t matter if you don’t like their relationship.

If I don’t like my neighbor’s marriage, can I stop it? No, I can’t. Do I have a say in your marriage because I think blondes and brunettes don’t mix? Because Muggles and Wizards don’t mix? No, I do not. No one should have any say in anyone else’s marriage besides the people in that relationship. (Am I sounding crazy yet?)

Love is not just a right, it’s something unique and beautiful to our species. It’s not only insane to think someone could regulate it, I find it ugly. Love is like breathing. No more can anyone control how many breaths a person takes in their lifetime, can you control the zombie apocalypse, or, you know, the person who they’ll love.

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I am a Nerd, Thank You Very Much

I am socially awkward. I am introverted. Rather than going out with my friends, partying, or patrolling for cute guys, I like to stay in and read, or write, or watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I love Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Firefly, Narnia, Legend of the Seeker, X-Men, Primeval, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Portal, the list goes on. I am a nerd. A nerd I say!

However, my sister says I’m not a nerd. She says I’m not cool enough to be a nerd.

So in recent events, the “nerd” has grown in popularity. Except not really. Things that used to be looked down upon have suddenly sprung up as not only being socially acceptable, but endorsed. But these supposed “nerds” are not actually nerds. The popular people are still the popular people on the top of the food pyramid, and the socially awkward people are still on the bottom. As one of my favorite memes would say:

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It took me a long time to accept my identity as a nerd. People made fun of me, called me weird, and teased me, hissing out nerd like Basilisk venom. I used to lie awake at bed at night wishing as hard as anyone ever could to be anyone else but myself, wishing not to be a nerd.

It took years, and the vlogbrothers, to accept that part of myself. But I did accept it. And not only that, I learned to love that part of myself. And now, all of the sudden, the same people who cursed me with the name have now stolen it from me. They’ve stolen it from us. They’ve stolen our identity.

Well, who am I now? Where the hell do I belong? I can’t be a nerd, I’m still not “popular”, so where does that leave me?

It leaves me in the desert on a horse with no name.

It leaves me standing on a beach with naught but a name and your word it’s the one I need.

And I don’t care if Shakespeare thinks that a name doesn’t matter, and that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Name does matter. And I have lost mine.

No. No I have not. I am not just going to sit idly by, blooming on the walls, while something so important to me is stripped away like hair on Michael Phelps. No can do. I reclaim my nerdom, clamping it close to my heart with white-knuckled fists. You cannot take away my name.

Dear people who think they can just put on a pair of glasses and call themselves a nerd, GTFO. This is my territory, and I intend to keep it. I plan to defend my title as vigorously as Dr. McCoy defends his. I intend to keep it like Smeagol keeps the Ring. I mean to fight for it like Peter does for Narnia. And for Aslan! And I shall treasure it like Snape does Lily. Always.

Best Wishes,

thenerdfightingfeminist