Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘men

Happy Tuesday everyone!  I hope the week has started off well for all of you.  Here are some of my favorite posts of the past couple days.  Don’t forget to leave links to what you’ve been writing and reading in the comments!!

Oops, don’t care [o filthy grandeur!] – Chris Brown still love Rihanna, but do we really care?

Brief Thoughts on Feminism, Theorizing, Storytelling, Anarchism, and Community [Fiercly Independent] – why he identifies as a feminist and anarchist and the community that comes from that.

Straight Girls: Your Pretend Facebook Relationships Are Not Funny or Cute [Pieces of String] – straight girls in relationships on Facebook add to the erasure of lesbian relationships.

A Reflection: Feminism and Personal Growth [Small Strokes] – a reflection on how blogging and being involved in a feminist community online have brought about personal growth as a woman and a feminist.

Healthy Obligations [this ain’t livin’] – people are under no obligation to be healthy and why do people feel as if it is ok to comment on the health of others?  It’s none of their business.

Raising a Feminist/Raised a Feminist: A Mother’s and Daughter’s Perspective [Feministing] – a post from a mother and a daughter on raising and being raised a feminist.


A tweet from @TheUndomestic brought this iPhone application to my attention. At first, I thought it was a joke, but no, it’s real and can be purchased.

What is this iPhone app that I speak of? It’s the Girlfriend Keeper App! Because men forget birthdays and woman can be programed (in the words of TheUndomestic).

I started reading the description of the app and I seriously did think it was a joke, until I found it in the iTunes App Store. With this app, you can set it up to send automated text messages or emails to your significant other at certain time intervals based on the seriousness of your relationship. You can even enter information such as anniversary dates, birthdays, and eye color. The text messages that this app randomly generates to send to your significant other are not the kind of things that I would want to be recieving. Here are some examples:

“I just drove by a brown barn and it reminded me of your eyes.”
“It is 268 days until your birthday…”

I don’t know if having your eyes compared to a barn is something that is romantic. And I find it kind of creepy that it sends text messages that are “it is ___ days until your birthay.” That sounds kind of stalker-like (unless your birthday is only a couple days away).

But don’t worry, you’ll never be caught off guard when your significant other brings up an automated text message…there is a history function so that you can review all of the messages that you have sent.

Let’s get to some of the reviews of this app:

“My first three wives divorced me because I always forgot anniversaries. I am pretty sure my fourth marriage will work thanks to the Girlfriend app?” Mark, 22
“Great app but change that icon. For us married types the wife is going to flip when she see’s that. Make it look like an excel spreadsheet and label it GFK.”

Wow, sounds like some great guys that are using this app.

This app is not only offensive to women — thinking of women as “programmable” and appreciating of stalker-like text messages — but is also offensive to men. Men are obviously not capable of a “real” relationship where he actually cares for his significant other and wants to be involved in that person’s life. Men are obviously not capable of remembering a birthday or the color of someone’s eyes. They need an application to help them.

As I have been thinking about which artists and songs to highlight on Sing-A-Long Saturday, I have become more aware of the majority of the music that I listen to is performed by white males. Why is this? I believe in supporting female artists and artists of color, especially female artists and artists of color that are outside of the mainstream. But when it comes down to it, I choose white male singers/bands.

When looking at my “favorite music” section on my Facebook page, I have come to realize that 73% of those listed are all male bands or male singers, only 1 is a person of color, and only 18% were female singers…I did not have any all female bands listed.

Maybe I’m just attracted to the male voice — I do like when guys have a good singing voice — and that’s why a majority of my favorite music is performed by white men. Or maybe it’s that there are more white male singers/bands out there in most genres. Or maybe it’s that society has told us that white male performers are more worthy of our time.

Some of the female singers/bands that I do like (for bands, I am including bands that are at least half female) are:

  • Regina Spektor
  • Feist
  • She & Him
  • Ingrid Michaelson
  • Dar Williams
  • KT Tunstall
  • Girlyman

A lot of the music that I listen to is classic rock, alternative pop, folk-ish, and I think that those genres are dominated by white, male singers/bands in general. Or maybe I’m just missing the majority of the female artists.

Does anyone have any recommendations of female singers/bands? I am interested in expanding my horizons and supporting female artists.

Further Reading:
Why is most of the music I listen to written/performed by straight white males? [Pieces of String]

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A while ago, I wrote a post about the different sides of debate about if men can be feminists and came to the conclusion that yes, men can be feminists. Actually, what I decided was: “men can be feminists, but they are a fundamentally different kind of feminist than women.”

Since then, I have been thinking more about this, in light of some of the comments on the post and reading other posts from feminists. I have, in fact, changed my mind. Men can NOT be feminists.

This is not to say that men cannot have feminist values. I encourage all men to think about feminism and equality. I think when it comes to men and feminism, men can be pro-feminist or feminist-minded, but not truly feminists.

Men cannot truly understand what it means to be a woman. Just as a point of clarification: I want to make sure that it is understood that in this argument, I am including trans men and trans women. Trans women can be feminists because they are women and share some of the same experiences that cis-women do and face different kinds of oppression. Trans women, of course, will have differing experiences from cis-women, but there are differing experiences between all women. Also, trans men cannot be feminists for many of the same reasons.

When it comes to oppression, people can fight against it (and I strongly encourage them to), but they will never fully understand it unless they are subject to it. People with male privilege, no matter how much they are aware of their privilege, won’t be able to get rid of that privilege to fully understand the oppression that they are a part of (part of privilege is being complicit in oppression, even if you are aware of your privilege).

This post is not intended to discourage anyone in their feminist beliefs. I am all about men having feminist values. My only problem comes when men call themselves feminists, instead of pro-feminist, feminist-minded, etc. Recognizing one’s own male privilege is also about recognizing the oppression that you are complicit in, even if not purposefully. Therefore, it is hard to call yourself a feminist…only pro-feminist.

Further Reading:


With the introduction of Sing-A-Long Saturday, I have been thinking a lot about the music that I listen to. Most of the time when I listen to music, I am in my car and it is usually the radio. In Grand Rapids, there aren’t too many radio stations, so I usually land on one of two stations that play popular music. I listen to these stations a lot so I’m fairly familiar with the songs that they play, even to the point that I know the words to most of the regularly played songs.

But because these stations play popular music, a lot of the songs that I know the words to reinforce gender stereotypes and/or are just plain offensive to women. But I still enjoy listening to these stations and a lot of the music that they play. Thinking about this, I went into my iTunes library to look at my top 25 most played songs. I was kind of surprised (but kind of not, don’t judge me…) that the most played song* was “Don’t Trust Me” by 3oh!3.

I actually enjoy this song (as well as many similar songs) despite its offensive lyrics to oh so many groups of people. I think it’s catchy and has a good beat. But this doesn’t excuse the lyrics that tell us to “do the Helen Keller and talk with our hips,” that promote violence against women, etc.

So how can I like this song (and songs like it) with the feminist values that I have? I could say that I like to dance and this song has a good dance beat. But then why can I sing along with the entire song? I could say my interest in pop culture makes me want to know what is popular in the world of music (“Don’t Trust Me” has been topping the charts for a while). But I don’t really think that holds either.

So what is it then? I think it comes down to no one can be perfect all the time (I’m not intending to say that I am perfect at other times, because no one is). In a society that promotes sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, ageism…and all other -isms, it is hard to always 100% uphold your feminist beliefs in the activities you partake in. There is always going to be something that you do that does not 100% align with your feminist beliefs. It’s impossible to do in a society like ours.

And all I can say is, at least I’m aware that my taste in music is at some times problematic, my preference in movies and tv shows is definitely problematic at times, etc. I am always trying to analyze how I fit into the patriarchal society and part of that is looking at my investments in pop culture.

So for all you feminists out there that have problems reconciling some of your activities or investments in pop culture, just remember that while none of us can be perfect 100% of the time. And being aware of these problematic investments is one step ahead of many people. I’m going to keep analyzing my problematic investments in pop culture and society as a way to strengthen my feminist beliefs.

*This probably doesn’t excuse it, but it is important to note that my harddrive had to be replaced, thus wiping my iTunes library clean, this past January. So this is the most played song since January and I do a lot of my music listening in my car (both cd and radio).

I have been waiting for a while for 500 Days of Summer to come out in Grand Rapids. And today, I finally got to go see it. I have been in love with Zooey Deschanel since I saw Tin Man and Joseph Gordon-Levitt since 10 Things I Hate About You, so I thought they were going to be a great match up. I’m going to start off by saying that I really did like the movie overall, but there were some problematic things in it…like every movie.

So, let’s start off with the bad news first (aka, the stuff I didn’t like or found problematic):

It was told entirely from a male perspective: The movie was through the eyes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, Tom. We only got into the mind of Zooey Deschanel’s character, Summer, when she talked to Tom. So we never really got to fully see what she was thinking or feeling. And also because of this, Summer was portrayed, in some parts, as crazy, unemotional, or inconsiderate because all we saw of her was what Tom’s interpretation of her was. Granted, Tom’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings are just as valid and important to the story as Summer’s. But we never really get to hear Summer’s side of the story. We hear her explain her feelings to Tom, but it’s not the same as getting into her head as the movie does with Tom.

It portrays skinny women as the norm: Yes, most tv shows and movies do this. But the movie actually says it. At the beginning of the movie, the narrator is describing Summer. He says she’s normal height, normals weight, and slightly larger than normal shoe size, while pointing out on a still image, her height, weight, and shoe size. Normal weight = 121 lbs? I don’t think so.

Skanks, whores and “you’re a guy”: Summer is often referred to as a skank or whore when she does not conform to to societal feminine norms, such as her desire to not be in a serious relationship, or when she breaks up with Tom. I understand that you’re hurting, Tom – fictional movie character, but I don’t think that it’s ok to call her a skank or whore just because you got your feelings hurt. In addition to that, when Summer is explaing to Tom and his friend that she doesn’t want a serious relationship and doesn’t believe in love, she gets asked if she’s a lesbian and then it is declared that she’s a guy. Stereotypes much?

And now on the why I really did enjoy the movie…

Summer actually did have her own opinions and desires: Even though I talked above about how it’s told from Tom’s perspective and we never really got into Summer’s head, it is clear that Summer knows what she wants and has her own desires. She’s not afraid to tell Tom that she doesn’t want a serious relationship and refuses to put labels on their relationship. She doesn’t embody the stereotypical role of women (of wanting relationships and commitment) and she isn’t afraid to express it.

It’s got a pretty unique storyline and film editing: We know from the beginning that this is not a love story, which is kind of a lie, but kind of not. But this already puts it one step ahead of most rom-coms. The movie also jumps between times, which adds an interesting aspect to the storyline. At one point we see after they have broken up (sorry, but you know it’s coming) and then five minutes later we see when they are just starting to date and when they are in a happy relationship. This adds a lot of interest to the movie.

Dating advice from a little sister: Tom gets dating advice from his little sister, who I would estimate to be around 13 or 14 years old. She tells it like it is and actually has some good advice for him.

It definitely has its funny moments: While it’s not always funny to watch a depressed person on the big screen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt pulls it off. I laughed throughout the movie and so did a lot of people in the theater (unfortunately, the ones sitting close to me had really annoying, loud laughs).

500 Days of Summer is an big movie trying to be indie. While it’s definitely not on the bigger end of most movies made, it’s not exactly an indie film either, even though it tries to be. I do recommend this movie because it’s amusing, unique, and cute. And I love Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and they have great chemistry on screen. Have you seen 500 Days of Summer? What did you think of it?

To get a taste of their chemistry together, watch this video that they made to one of Zooey’s band’s songs (“Why Do You Let Me Stay Here” by She & Him):

I am also contemplating a post on Zooey Deschanel in response to a post at Tiger Beatdown and the comments it received, so stay tuned.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how female feminists react to men’s feelings about feminism, whether it is supportive of feminism or anti-feminist. Do women try to make men understand their viewpoints? Do women sometimes concede to men’s opinions? So I was really excited when my friend sent me this old post from the blog Hugo Schwyzer – “Words are not fists: some thoughts on how men work to defuse feminist anger.”

This blog is written by a history and gender studies professor, and in this post he reflects on how men in women’s studies courses preface statements (when they make them) with phrases along the lines of “I know I’m going to get killed for saying this, but…” The author sees this as a way for men to control women’s feminist anger (which women have every right to have).

By equating feminist anger with physical violence (“I’m going to get killed”), women might have the tendency to make the man feel safe and tone down their anger as a response.

Joking about getting beaten up (or putting on the football helmet) sends a message to young women in the classroom: “Tone it down. Take care of the men and their feelings. Don’t scare them off, because too much impassioned feminism is scary for guys.”

Many of these men might not be conscious of the fact that they do this and women might not be conscious that they are diffusing their feminist anger as a response.

Even men who are pro-feminist do this. And it’s a classic anti-feminist technique to silence women…

it forces women students to become conscious caretakers of their male peers by subduing their own frustration and anger. It reminds young women that they should strive to avoid being one of those “angry feminists” who (literally) scares men off and drives them away.

I have seen this technique used both in classrooms and in daily conversations. And I have to admit that they usually work. I want to make sure that everyone’s opinion is heard, that no one’s feelings get too hurt in the process, and that everyone feels “safe” in the conversation. And this usually results in me toning down my actual opinions. And it seems like I’m not the only one who does this.

But why do men do this? I understand anti-feminist men’s desire to silence feminist anger – strong, confident, feminist women are who they are fighting against. But why would pro-feminist men want to do this? The author of this post claims that it is because of men’s fear of be challenged and confronted, especially by a woman. But do all men have this intrinsic fear? I know many men who can hold a conversation about feminism and listen to the thoughts of women in this context. But when I was having those conversations, I wasn’t necessarily aware of this technique, so maybe they were doing it as well.

So as a feminist woman, I have to be aware of this silencing technique and try to not let it affect me. I have to stand by my opinions while still promoting a “safe” environment for conversation. And…

The first task of the pro-feminist male in this situation is to accept the reality and the legitimacy of the frustration and disappointment and anger that so many women have with men, and to accept it without making light of it or trying to defuse it or trying to soothe it. Pro-feminist men must work to confront their own fears about being the target of those feelings.

A conversation is a two-way street. It’s not entirely men’s fault, women have to not back down. But men have to listen to the real anger and frustration of women. It is important to look out for this technique, as both women and men.

As long as women’s voices are silenced, whether those voices are feminist or not, society will never have a chance of being equal. Everyone has to have a say. Equating verbal feminist anger with physical violence is just not an acceptable way of silencing women. Feminist anger and frustration has the right to be heard…especially in Women’s Studies classrooms, where this type of silencing technique has a tendancy to appear.

What are your experiences (both of men and women) of someone trying to diffuse your feminist anger? Do these techniques really work? How can we “fight back” against associating verbal disagreement with physical violence?