The Internet is Angry Spice

Look, it’s been a very rough few months for me, although if you’re my friend on Facebook, you’d probably never know it. I’m not what you’d call vulnerable, not in detail anyway. I like to make a few jokes in the morning on FB and get through my day at the office by chatting with Frogtown or doing some “whatnot” online. The fact is–I’d been in some extremely serious negotiations for my life story and I’m rather exhausted. [Yes, you read that right. Yes, that means things have been super, mega important in my life lately.]

And I’ve been VERY political the past several months. My politics have also gone hand in hand with my anger, which has been a separate issue, but they’ve joined together nicely. To be quite honest, I’ve become the raging lunatics my parents are, except on the opposite side of the fence. They’re FOX news junkies. I was the Femininst Agenda girl. Both lunatics. Both biased. Both Angry Spice.

 So, I’ll admit it, Angry wasn’t my best look. But, there it was in all it’s glory, like Britney’s vagina spread open for ALL the world to see.

But I’ll break it down to you, before the Facebook drama (which 5 of you saw happen)…I had a terrible, shitty, downright sucky attack on my “great” family vacation in Alaska. I was sitting in Nome, in the parents house, and you know…FOX news was getting to me after several days in a row. My dad knows I HATE that shit (and literally have hated politics ALL my fucking life, Thanks Dad!) and he still has to narrate a play by play to me about the “liberal agendas” every move like it’s the fucking NFL playoffs.

It’s not the NFL playoffs. Those make me sleepy. At least I can nap during those.

FOX news doesn’t do much for me, typically, but there was one off handed remark that was made and you know I’m not going to repeat it online because I’m afraid the FBI will track my father down and do the hunt for red october over what he said. However, it was both racist and a terrible thing to say about any president. I’ll leave it at that.

What happened in the next few minutes, after I called him on his racist bullshit is that this launched a full on family fued.

In 2.5 seconds, my mom came running out to my dads defense and so did my brother. My brother even through in the choice words “fat whale” AND “fat cunt” in the same 5 minutes. It was getting classier by the minute and it was all directed at me, the enemy, the liberal, the atheist. [I’m glad they don’t know I’m bisexual. I might have been strung up outside and hanged.]

My family was insulted that I’d called my dad racist, yet he says racist things about President Obama constantly, and about immigrants (although, the family as a whole is getting better about that last one). It makes me cringe to be in the room with them for more than five minutes anymore because they can’t shut the fuck about their “views”.

And then I realized this is probably how I’ve become on Facebook, and although I think I’m “right” I’m pretty sure I’ve become more of an extremist than I originally intended on being. The ability to move from one extreme (Christian fundamentalism) to another (radical feminist, liberal atheist) is quite simple, and to be honest, I don’t have any theories or any books for you to read to back that up. It’s just an observation I’ve made.

My brother compared me to someone he and I both know–a brainless twat–who’s a liberal. He probably did it to piss me off, but he did it to illustrate a point. I’m just as bad as they are about politics, just on the other side of the fence, which doesn’t make me any less poisonous about it. It just makes my point of view different.

The fight escalated into various other issues like Why are you an atheist? Why do you hate ALL pastors? Why can’t you be exactly like us?   and other things my family is well-known for saying when they’re upset. But the bottom line is, I think I had a wakeup call that I’d been needing for awhile.

Not that I needed to change who I was–I didn’t. And that isn’t the point–actually quite the opposite. I’d been slowly changing to a more moderate viewpoint for months prior to my fight. In fact, I’d backed off from a few roles as moderator on some great political sites I’d been working with and had stepped back to be an observer and nothing more in both the feminist and the atheist worlds. I wanted to be objective and I’d been feeling the need for objectivism for awhile.

I guess my point is that whether I’m constantly evolving because of my radical behavior for years or just because I’m a dynamic sort of person, I’d like to continue to do so. I enjoy changing and growing. It’s exciting in a very dull sort of world. But more than that, for me, it shows an intellectual growth–stepping back and observing rather than fighting over the carcass of some already picked over argument. [Also, meditation is supposed to be good for anxiety, and I don’t think you can be angry and keep meditating. I’ll keep you posted on that one.]

Back to the aforementioned Facebook fight, over Daniel Tosh. Apparently, I became an open “disappointment” to my “feminist” friends. Or at least 4 of them who openly raged at me. One who blocked me and the other who I blocked because she harrassed me all day via message and statuses about me while I was at work, dragging other people into the argument. The others who tried to start fights….the others probably just internalized their rage. To be honest, I didn’t stick around for the drama. I went back to work.

What’s weird about the internet and Facebook, and I hope to get some more time to expand on this a bit more later this week, is that this whole Tosh.O situation became an internet gang bang where rape victims everywhere cried about…comedy. Bottom. Fucking. Line. Call it a difference in perspective, or call it me being insensitive, but I didn’t see the need to go so wild over the circumstances. And because I didn’t want to take it any further than what it was–a joke, and because I wanted to defend a comic I’ve LOVED for years, people talked shit about me to my face and behind my back. I just really don’t see how this is helping make progress in “rape culture” or being dignified human beings. Because nothing says “I’m a dignified feminist” like putting another woman down for having a contrary opinion or wanting to double check rape statistics.

Maybe we don’t have the same taste in a comedian, but if you think that YOU are such a NOBLE representation of women and the values of FREEDOM and honor, then by all means, go for it. Be our leader.

But my recommendation to you, in all sincerity, is to go join a fundamentalist church, where your condescention will be fully welcome:

Bravo, Assholes of the week. You’re Angry Spice.

Witchcraft as Heresy Against the Church

 

“The idea of witchcraft-as-heresy remained an element of Puritan belief for most of the century. However limited, it evidently had some impact on popular belief, since opposition to the established church was mentioned in witchcraft testimony against twenty-eight women…Their witchcraft is best understood in terms of the centuries-long tendency of Christian authorities to see their adversaries–especially their female adversaries–as witches…It was their perceived dissatisfaction with the religious system–and by extension with the religiously defined social system-that linked them to their sister witches.”

The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol F. Karlsen

Although this book discusses Colonial New England and the witchcraft trials, the thing that remains the same today is that Christian authorities still view their adversaries as performing witchcraft. They may not have the authority to hand us over to the police to be burned at the stake, but they do perceive our criticism of the church as walking with Satan, or working with him hand in hand.

 

My Religious Guilty Pleasures

Yesterday I magically found something called the Feminist Mormon Housewives Society which is a group of progressive Mormon housewives whose mission is to provide: “A safe place to be feminist and faithful.”

This isn’t a joke. These women are Mormon housewives who are feminist and progressive. They’re rethinking the way their Church talks about women and women’s roles in the home and the world.

I’ve only observed their discussions for a day and talked to a few of them, but they struggle with the same things that any mom’s and housewives struggle with. For example, one mom was feeling resentful over all the housework, cooking, and chauffeuring she had to do. The other wives (and a husband or two) chimed in and most of them had incredibly progressive ideas about what she could do to solve her problems. They were all thinking critically about what their Church told them, versus what worked and didn’t work.

I’m so intrigued by the community here. I’m also so intrigued because I know many Mormons and some of them hold very tightly to traditional gender roles. I even dated a Mormon who explained to me that I’d need to convert to Mormonism in order to marry him and I’d need to give up writing about sex, religion, and well, virtually everything I write about.

These fMh women are questioning gender roles and they’re encouraging their church to be more progressive. One woman posted a link to an LDS Basic Manual for Women: Developing Employment Skills.  The woman said that the church needed to step up and become more progressive–this isn’t the 50’s. I completely agree with her. It was intriguing to hear her say that.

I think what’s fascinating about the Internet is that it provides for many of us a community we may never have had living in our own cities, working at our jobs or going to school. The reason fMh Lisa started this community was because she didn’t have anyone she could talk to about certain issues. She was more liberal and progressive than many of the people she knew, so she turned to Google and typed in “liberal Mormon.” She then found a few blogs and after awhile decided to form a community specific to her own needs.

Blogging has done that for me–helped me form a community that’s specifically met my needs (and hopefully the needs of some of you). We’re a more progressive, liberal crowd here which is different from many of those who are recovering from Spiritual Abuse. Sometimes those other communities got too “Jesus-y” for me and I needed a place to be open and honest and candid without being judged or reprimanded. I’m interested in being me first and foremost and I don’t like a lot of the spiritual talk. And I hate being told what to do or what to think.

So cheers to Feminist Mormon Housewives! You’ve made my week. <3

Biblical Women Who Behaved Badly

I liked the women who behaved badly, and I liked the women who made men behave badly. I liked Jael, the warrior woman, who in the book of Judges lured the enemy commander Sisera into her lair, fed him a soporific potion and then hammered a peg through his temple and left him for dead. Jael was a heroine, a seductress in the service of God, but that makes her a minority of one: all the other self-actuating, sexually compelling Bible women were presented as Satan’s spawn.

Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel (author of Prozac Nation)

*Emphasis my own

Sexual Energy Cannot Be Contained

So Delilah was instantly heroic to me–perhaps this was misguided, perhaps this was just an attempt to find a God who looked like me–but the rabbis were all telling me that she was a witch, a bitch, a termagant, a whore. There were other problem women in the Bible, the main problem being that their sexual existence could not be denied, and while everything about a woman can be controlled and regulated–right down to whom she is or isn’t allowed to sleep with–her elusive, effulgent sexual anima, her ability to project lust and allure, cannot be contained by any set of rules. It just is. Sexual energy, like the warmth of the sunshine or the green color of grass, is an indigenous characteristic with exogenous manifestations that can’t be stopped, can’t be helped, and should not be blamed…Nothing the rabbis said had any real impact, but certainly I later noticed that even at this late date, women perceived to be sexual–never mind sexually powerful–are scary.

Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel (author of the bestselling book, Prozac Nation)

Witches and Witch Trials

Witch Burning
Witch burning. Illustration from a mid 19th century book.  Photo Credit: Mullica

I’m doing some research for the book I’m writing. The research is on witches and witchcraft and the book I’m studying (in addition to others) is called The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England  by Carol F. Karlsen. It’s a Norton Edition written in the late 80’s and filled with many great chapters. The one I’m currently stuck on is called Handmaidens of the Devil, describing religion’s role in the witch hunts. Religious rituals and symbols strictly guided gender roles, as they do today. Then, as now in fundamentalist Christian sects, women weren’t supposed to dissent or speak up against church leaders. For them to vary away from the norm in their gender roles was to call themselves into suspicion. If they varied from the norm and challenged the beliefs of God, they were suspect to being called a witch. However, certain factors had to be in place–typically the woman was unmarried, usually older and sometimes extremely poor or extremely wealthy.

If you can pick up a copy of this book, or something similar, I highly recommend it.

The Ramifications of Sex

Following the pattern of thinking of many fundamentalist Christians and Abstinence-only proponents, gets the  idea of “If you have sex, you deserve the consequences.”

Usually these consequences are a child, an STD, or the label of whore.

What brought this about is my re-post of a conversation I found on the Ask-Feminists subreddit about men being forced into fatherhood, without options like women have.  I for one feel sympathetic toward men who are forced into fatherhood–either by accident or by a woman lying to him, etc. Women can choose abortion, adoption, or single motherhood but men don’t have an option like that. Men can face time in prison for not paying their child support, which is problematic if the  man had no voice in the choice to become a parent. Of course a Christian friend of mine argues that the man did have a choice–he chose to have sex and therefore he should be a father. Sex is about responsibility and repercussions, after all.

The problem with this argument is that it assumes that having sex makes you morally inferior (especially if that’ sex is outside of marriage and for pleasure) and that sex cannot be about pleasure–it must be about procreation. This argument also supports homophobia, because two men and two women can not procreate in the heterosexual sense. Thusly, it’s also a heteronormative argument and in some ways it could be considered an anti-feminist argument.

I agree that people should be responsible while having sex. To me, that responsibility includes ensuring they and their partner are healthy and disease free, that they use Birth Control and/or condoms and that they are honest about what they want with one another. By no means do I feel that sex is just for procreation, though. To say so puts women (and men) back a few decades. If sex is for procreation only, then women might as well abstain completely unless they want to get knocked up.

Most people who believe sex is for procreation only also believe that women are the gatekeepers to sex and if they “give it up” they’re responsible for the “sin” just like Eve was responsible for the fall of man. Women who engage in sex are immoral, “deflowered” (implying that they’ve lost their innocence and beauty), and sluts.

Sex for pleasure is often not talked about in abstinence only circles, because the implication is that it doesn’t exist. Sex is a duty, not something you can enjoy. Sex makes a woman lose her “purity” (as if morality can be gained by refraining from sex or lost from having sex), unless it is in the confines of a marriage bed.

Women’s bodies and genitals have often been construed as being dirty. In the Old Testament of the Bible if a woman was on her period, she was considered unclean and a man couldn’t have sex with her. In her book, The Female Thing, Laura Kipnis talks about the historical context of this assumed dirtiness:

Recall the unhappy fact that throughout history there’s been a universal conviction that women are somehow dirtier than men. The male body is regarded, or is symbolically, as cleaner than the female body…Possibly it’s that outjuttings of the body, like a penis, are regarded as somehow cleaner than holes and cavities…The vagina is frequently associated with rot and decay…”

Even a woman’s emotional problems were considered to come from the uterus (Jessica Valenti talks about the term “hysteria” in her book The Purity Myth, which is where I found the Laura Kipnis quote above.)

So if sex is dirty and women’s genitals are dirty, we can only be redeemed by having sex for childbearing purposes.

And then of course, we have Michelle Bachmann crying out against the HPV vaccine, making false claims that it causes mental retardation and feeding into the whole Republican sex-hating party because god forbid girls have sex…someday.