I posted this on Daily Kos, so it’s mostly written for that community, but some of the things I mention directly allude to things I read here, so I want to repost.  I’ll post my tip jar comment at the top, though, because here I care more that that thanks get across, not the mojo.  

I forgot to add (none / 0)

I feel like I’ve been extremely lucky for most of my life
and I want to say thank you to the women who fought for the freedom I have to be the woman I am.

by KB on Thu Jun 9th, 2005 at 13:11:58 PDT

So the pie flamewars look like they are subsiding a bit, maybe passions have cooled and I think the community at large is coming to the point where most of us would like to have dialogue and reason prevail.

I think Armando’s diary is reflective of that fact.  One of the things he said was, tell us what we need to do.  I know I can’t do that, because I can’t speak for all of the women here.  There isn’t an all-encompassing women’s point of view on this, just as there is not an all-encompassing men’s point of view.  
Our ideas about gender and sex are shaped by our education, our role models, our media, our life experiences.  As I’ve mentioned, though I was personally not offended by the pie ad, and only slightly miffed at Markos’ sort-of apology, I was upset by the whole fracas because the women whose departure concerned me seemed to be women who were on the front lines fighting for the rights and equality that I enjoy today as a young woman.  I have never lived when my right to an abortion wasn’t protected.  It was never assumed that I would go to college just to find a husband, or that educating me wasn’t even worth the money or effort.  It was never assumed that a father or husband would make my purchasing or medical decisions for me.  And so forth.

It wasn’t always like that for some of these women, though, and in losing them we’ve lost the best people to educate us about where we’ve been and where we might be headed.  

Well, when the greater leave, the lesser must step up.  So I thought I would write a diary where women and men could share the experiences that shaped their views on masculinity and femininity.  About gender roles.  About porn.  About sexual objectification or exploitation.  About societal expectations.  About relationships.  About whatever you feel is relevant to your outlook.  Only as far as you personally feel comfortable, of course.  I’ve heard a few women allude to painful memories of abuse or rape, and while those might be edifying, no one should relive their pain for that purpose if they aren’t ready.

I’m hoping that this kind of sharing will give us as a community a better insight into why as a community we melted down over this.  I’ll go first.

I’m 24 years old.  I was raised in the traditional nuclear family.  My parents have been married 26 years and love each other and my siblings and I very much.  My parents are mostly apolitical (they vote and that’s it) and religious only on a personal level.

I tell you these things because I think they partly shaped the gender dynamics in my household.  I suppose you could say my dad was nominally the head of the household, but most of what I observed in my parents’ relationship was equality and power-sharing.  No gender-based deference, mostly whoever cared the most would win in any disagreement.  

My mom was not what I would call a political feminist, so I wasn’t introduced to feminism in my home.  I’m not sure she would have considered it necessary, for two reasons.

One, the respect already accorded to her as a woman, both in my parent’s relationship and the home she grew up in.  My grandparents had a little plate hanging on the wall that said, “I’m the boss in this house.  And I have my wife’s permission to say so.”  Which about sums it up.  

Two, my mom has told me that all she ever really wanted was a home, a husband, and kids (she said she never wanted to work, she wanted to raise her kids, but money issues in my family made that impossible).  This may have something to do with the time in which she was raised, but I’ve never once in 24 years heard any hint of frustrated career or educational ambitions.  She got what she wanted and for all she says and I can tell she’s happy.  

I, as the oldest (maybe as the only girl, but how can I tell which is which), was often expected to be the “responsible” one and sit for and take care of my younger brothers and cousins (all males until I was about sixteen).  So I’m very comfortable around men being “men” (stereotype alert) and not shy about telling what to do if necessary.

I was a Communications major in college.  So I’ve studied some media criticism, the “male gaze” so forth and so on, so I “see it” when people make arguments of about the exploitative nature of the ads, but I’ve never delved deep into feminist theory in an academic sense.

Currently, I work in a mostly female-dominated profession, in a fairly progressive company, and I’m not yet old or advanced enough to have reached the “glass ceiling” so I’m lucky to say I’ve not experienced job discrimination.  Though I will point out that the upper management in my company is almost entirely male.  

I’ve never been raped, sexually abused, or had to have an abortion, though I have plenty of female friends who have.  I, of course, have been ogled and objectified and it makes me feel gross.  Otherwise, I love sex and don’t have a lot of issues about sexualized images in the media (though I see objections of parents and may change my mind if I have kids, though I’m more strongly opposed to censorship that I am to sexy media).  I am bisexual and have had serious relationships with both sexes (and boy can that shatter some gender-based assumptions real quick), though I’m currently sort-of single.  

My position on feminism is this: women should get to do whatever makes them happy in life absent any constraints placed upon them due to their gender.  For example, a woman should NEVER make less than a man because she is a woman.  A woman should be able to make her own medical and reproductive decisions on her own and with whomever she chooses to involve.  A woman should decide whether she wants to be a CEO or a housewife and stay-at-home mom, and she should never hear bullshit from anyone about a woman’s “place” for her choices.

So that’s me.  I think the pie war damage might have been much mitigated if more people had said, “I may not agree with you, but I want to try understand better why you’re upset.”  In my experience, that can calm people down a lot, even when you don’t end up giving them their way.

One request, though: this isn’t really a pie war diary.  PLEASE don’t refight it.  No trolling, no flaming.  Try not to mention it, if you can.  Tell us about you and your experience being a man or woman.  

Floor’s open.  Make us understand.  

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