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Part I was such a resounding success, it was only natural that Part II would also appear.  Melissa McEwan’s thoughts returns to DWR in the form of a repost of her helpful hints for all the dudes out there.  A big thanks to Shakesville for putting the concepts so clearly and succinctly.

Ms. McEwan says:

“Most blokes, whether they’re trying to be more feminist-minded or not, don’t consider themselves to be the sort of guy who disrespect women’s agency, and yet there are still myriad ways in which men are socialized to express ownership of women.

Here, I’m going to explore three of the prominent ways in which male ownership of women is expressed (and visit some ways in which they can be avoided): Exceptionalism, Breach of Consent, and Failure to Respect Agency.


Some expressions of ownership are insidious, subtle but dangerous: Exceptionalism, which is singling out one woman as an exception to the rule—that is, saying she defies the stereotypes of womanhood—is a less obvious but no less pernicious expression of ownership.

A man who expresses exceptionalism about his mother, his sister, his wife, his girlfriend, his female friend(s)—”My [woman/women] aren’t like those other women!”—is implicitly marking territory around women related to him, the boundary marked by women he is willing to see as individuals, and all other women, who are stripped of their individual humanity to be regarded as a monolith.

It can be difficult for men to accept that exceptionalism, which is often intended as a compliment (and frequently received as such!—because women are socialized to hate women just as much as men are), is, in fact, a profoundly damaging anti-feminist practice. But the flipside of “complimenting” individual women by detaching them from womankind is turning the vast majority of women into an indistinguishable horde with universally contemptible traits.

Exceptionalizing a woman can also, in the long term, serve to undermine her sense of self, as it obliquely encourages her, in a bid to retain her value as an Exceptional Woman, to reject any part of herself that might be seen as stereotypical of women. Even if not so intended, exceptionalism thus becomes a form of control, tacitly encouraging a woman to futilely try to wrench her personhood from her womanhood, which is impossible and thus ultimately breeds self-loathing and/or contempt for the man who exceptionalizes her.

If you find yourself thinking, “This woman is not like other women,” consider how much your understanding of “other women” comes from intimate knowledge of multitudinous individual woman vs. cultural narratives about women as a whole. Consider as well whether meeting one woman who bucks those narratives might suggest, in fact, not that she is one in (literally) three billion, but instead that women are more individual than is routinely suggested in vast and diverse ways throughout our culture.

It doesn’t undermine the specialness of a woman to regard her as a unique person well-suited to your personality and preferences and idiosyncrasies, as opposed to an Exceptional Woman. Indeed, it is more special to be regarded as a cool woman in a world full of cool women than it is the only cool woman on the planet.

Breach of Consent.
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The Westboro Baptist Church is the face of religion moderate religious folk prefer not to see.  Intolerance, hate, and ignorance are all lauded values that are encouraged and propagated through this vile system.  This clip is from 20/20 a mainstream documentary show in the USA.  20/20 gave a lot of air time to the fact that the WBC often protests at military funerals with its screeds celebrating the deaths of American soldiers.  Patriotism is one angle that you can still attack religion in the US.

The clip is horrendous.  The father and mother have the faces of the true believer (and they pass their hate on to their children), you can imagine they would be the ones happily torturing heretics and witches during the inquisition, or happily performing ethnic cleansing in the name of god.  This is the twisted syrupy-sick hate filled face of Theocracy.

We at DWR stand and denounce this behaviour, in the name of decency, morality and rationality; concomitantly announcing to the world that Religion has no place in the 21st century.

The answer if you have played any sort of video game where women fight is quite clear. Provocative perhaps, but possible in real life?

Blueprints for understanding the perspective of the marginalized can often be summarized succinctly as “STFU and listen”.  Here is a longer version though just to be extra clear.  A big thanks to Shakesville for the summary.

This, then, is a very rudimentary, but also very straightforward, primer for dudes who want to communicate more effectively with female partners, friends, relatives, and colleagues during good faith conversations about feminist issues:

1. Every woman is an expert on her own life and experiences.

2. No woman speaks for all women.

3. No woman speaks for all feminists.

4. Because of the way cultural dominance/privilege works, marginalized people are, by necessity and unavoidability, more knowledgeable about the lives of privileged people than the other way around. Immersion in a culture where male is treated as the Norm (and female a deviation of that Norm), and where masculinity is treated as aspirational (and femininity as undesirable), and where men’s stories are considered the Stories Worth Telling, and where manhood and mankind are so easily used as synonymous with personhood and humankind, and where everything down to the human forms on street signs reinforce the idea of maleness as default humanness, inevitably makes women de facto more conversant in male privilege than men are in female marginalization. That’s the practical reality of any kind of privilege—the dominant group can exist without knowing anything about marginalized group, but the marginalized group cannot safely or effectively exist without knowing something about the privileged group and its norms and values.

5. Which is not to say that men can’t become fluent, with effort. But it is important to remember that it does take effort. Even though men’s and women’s lives can look so similar at first glance, it is shocking how very different they can actually be. (For example.)

6. A woman with intersectional marginalizations cannot wrench herself into parts. Asking a woman to set aside her race, or disability, or sexuality, or body size, or stature, or whatever, in order to discuss a “woman’s issue,” is to fail to understand that one’s womanhood is inextricably linked to the other aspects of one’s identity.

7. It is similarly unfair to ask a woman to leave aside her personal experience and discuss feminist issues in the abstract. You are discussing the stuff of her life. Asking her to “not make it personal” is to ask her to wrench her womanhood from her personhood.

8. You are not objective on women’s issues because you’re not a woman. Your perception is just as subjective as hers is, but for a different reason. Either we stand to be marginalized by privilege or stand to benefit from it. That’s the reality of institutional bias; it compromises us all.

9. Don’t play Devil’s advocate. Seriously. Just don’t.

10. Listen.

Subnormality even has comics that match my feminist information week theme.  I’m impressed. ;)

It is nice to see the infringement on the rights of women abortion debate framed in such a succinct manner.

Melissa McEwan said:

“As I’ve said before (and will almost certainly have occasion to say many times again, until everyone is yawning about what a goddamn broken record I am), the anti-choice position is inherently violent, no matter how politely it is stated. If anyone else suggested that I should be forced to submit my body against my will to nine months of potential discomfort and pain, followed by an act that might include the skin and muscle between my vagina and anus being torn open, I don’t think we’d mince words about whether they were using violent rhetoric. But because we can couch it in the bullshit terminology of “a pro-life position,” that’s supposed to be evidence of civility.

That’s supposed to evidence of an unyielding belief in the sanctity of human life.


I am a human. That does not in any way feel like a respect for the sanctity of my life, or the quality of my life, or the agency over my life to which I am meant to have a public (and, according to Huckabee’s own religion, divine) right.

No one can argue, with any honesty or credibility, that they give a fuck about the sanctity of life if they would force a woman to carry to term an unwanted or unviable pregnancy against her will. That is the opposite of a respect for life, if the definition of “life” is to have any meaning at all.”

Run along anti-choice zealots…run along.

This is an appeal to clear the cobwebs and remember those crazy and badly acted action flicks. Gems like Commando and Total Recall. You can go early 90’s but we need the vintage of Action Genre. Please post your suggestions in the comments..:)

We just finished watching Total Recall, so you cannot use that one. :>


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February 2011


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