purity is bullshit, she says

Can you feel it? That big downhill slide we’re on?

Pipe lines wrecking the rain forest, fracking wrecking the water, greenhouse gases wrecking the weather. The “big picture” is all wreck [sic] and ruin.

My way of coping with that awareness is usually by focusing on my own little picture. And blogging about it — grandsons and gardens, nostalgia and nuisances.

But when it comes to the way, across the globe, that women are treated, portrayed, denied, discouraged, wrecked and ruined, I take it personally, especially since I remember the early days of our feminist struggle, when so many of us joined with each other, and with wise and willing male supporters, to push back against a sexist system set to designate who we were and are and could or couldn’t be.

If you think it’s any better these days, all you have to do is look and listen to know that you are wrong. Cultural attitudes. in general, and the attitudes of many males, in particular, have become even more misogynistic.

NPR’s article about the Amanda Knox case points up one aspect of this rampant “cultural sexism.”

If Amanda Knox had been Andrew Knox, the breathless and prolonged excitement around his sex life would be greatly diminished, or absent altogether. If Amanda had been Andrew, he wouldn’t have been labeled “a sex-mad flatmate” in the media.

No, just in last Sunday’s New York Times, the “veritable drumbeat of sexual shaming” heaped on Amanda Knox amounts to sexism run rampant.

While we should have already evolved way beyond the gender roles that our early progenitors adopted as necessary for survival (see NPR article linked above), the attitudes and behaviors of too many young males indicate that the opposite is happening. As a culture, we are not only backsliding; we are slipping into a subversive hatred of women that is triggering both vocal and physical violence against females.

Voicing the young, strong, liberated, and angry perspective of women who refuse to let sexist male attitudes intimidate, suppress, and repress their sexuality is Lindy West’s article in Jezebel entitled Female “Purity” is Bullshit.

She says:

Girls and women, if no one has ever told you this before, or if you just have trouble believing it: you are good, you are whole, you are yours. You do not exist to please men, and your value as a human being is not contingent upon your sexual capital. “Purity” is a lie. Do not even worry about any of this garbage, because it’s about as real as a fucking unicorn. And like my Nana always used to say, “Never take life advice from a grown man who believes that unicorns are ‘extinct.'”

And this “good girl” shit isn’t just limited to odious ding-dongs like dude-who-doesn’t-know-the-difference-between-extinct-and-fucking-mythological. I know plenty of progressive, liberal, adult men who openly say they’re looking for a “good girl”—who prioritize some paternalistic illusion of “self-respect” over personality and chemistry. And to those dudes, I say, HOW DO YOU NOT SEE HOW CREEPY THIS IS. Can you imagine if women went around saying they were just looking for a “good boy” and sometimes they “jokingly” scout kindergartens for promising baby virgins?!?!?! Groooooooooss!!!!!

West’s article is a hoot and holler to read. It is raw. And truthful. And angering. It is the way it is but shouldn’t be.

I don’t know how the bad attitudes of misogynist males can be changed. I don’t know how to prevent their younger brothers from becoming just like them. Is there a warped Y chromosome or strain of testosterone that is being unknowingly spread to each generation of males? Is it something in the water? Is it something that we should put in the water?

I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that there needs to be more females refusing to put up with stupid men’s bullshit.

It’s no Eden.

A volunteering moment: A memory-impaired nonagenarian pats me on the butt. I just ignore it, since earlier today, for the first time, he actually conversed with me and willingly participated in a group activity. I can’t save the world, but today I make a sad old man smile.

Twice a week I volunteer at a geriatric facility that includes folks in assisted living (where I lead “Trivia” and other such group sessions) and a separate space for individuals who are memory-impaired (with whom I sing songs, share photographs and stories, go out for walks, and even play kids’ games). I think doing these things is my way of compensating for the fact that so much of this world is in such a large scale mess that I have no power to affect any of it in any positive way.

I don’t have the money to contribute to saving abused animals, abused environments, and abused people; listening to Sara McLachlan sing in the ASPCA commercial only makes my distress worse, so I avoid even doing that.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all of the horrors of the “big picture,” I cut out a piece of the “little picture” that I might be able make a little better. Maybe this geriatric facility is not the worse place in the world for elders to find themselves, but it’s no Eden, either. However, it is a place where I can make a difference without the effort impacting me in a negative way.

As a matter of fact, I’m always surprised at how much of the time I spend with these folks that I actually enjoy. Sometimes I even get inspired in crafty ways that I’d never expect.

For example, I noticed one woman had a really pretty quilted pouch attached to the front of her walker. It’s just big enough to hold some tissues, a few photos, and a pair of glasses. You can buy similar ones online for about $35. It’s a handy little item that I realized other women who use walkers would find helpful. So, I’ve been inspired to design my own version that combines crochet and fabric. Maybe I’ll try to sell them online. Maybe I’ll just give them as gifts. Either way, I now have the kind of creatively useful project that I like to work on at home as I sit around in the evening and watch escapist television.

In her post today on Time Goes By, Ronni Bennett confesses to having become a “cowardly” about dealing with the overwhelming problems in the world around her. She says:

Confronted with calamity – personal, private or global – I have always been strong, eager to understand and self-confident in my ability to do my best to help when I can and pass the word on to others who might have more resources than I.

Now, I’ve become a coward. If I cannot look at the photos, will not read the news stories, won’t listen to the appeals for starving children and abused animals, how can I possibly be part of any solution.

In a real way, it’s my similar cowardice that has led me to volunteer where I do. I can feel I’m helping to make the lives of at least a very small part of the human population a little better, in only three or four hours a week. And, as it turns out (as it so often does when you give of yourself), I get back unexpected appreciation and inspiration.

Although I can do without the nonagenarian’s pat on the butt.

My testosterone theory on “House”

I have always had a theory about testosterone levels and aggressiveness, and this last episode of “House” pretty much makes my point. In this episode, a man chooses to let his testosterone level stay low because it keeps him being a better person. (That’s a paraphrase, but it’s also the gist of it.)

With men in power ganging up on us women to limit our control of our own bodies, maybe we women need to suggest some limiting that men should do.

Googling around for some supportive information, I found the following, here, after scrolling down a bit:

An excellent book on testosterone and behavior is James McBride Dabbs “Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior” ( McGraw Hill, 2000).

In modern advanced cultures, somewhat lower testosterone appear to be of great benefit…. For our ancestors 20,000 years ago, individual strength and aggression were critical to survival. But obtaining rewards in modern cultures usually require patience, cunning, and interpersonal skills.

The use of anti-androgens and DHT blockers may improve male health. Testosterone has often been suspected as a cause of the increased heart disease in men. Studies of men who were castrated in the 1920’s in the USA found that they lived an average of 13.6 years longer than comparable men. In contrast, smoking one pack of cigarettes daily reduces one’s life span by an average of 4.9 years. (Hamilton & Mesler 1969)

Now, the issue (for me and many other women, as well as many pacifist-minded males) is not how to deplete men’s testosterone so that they lose their masculinity; rather it is how to enable men to maintain a level androgenic hormones that keeps their aggressiveness in a manageable range.

Apparently, testosterone is only one of the adrogen-related male hormones. The other two are dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and androstenedione.

From what I’ve begun to read, it’s the levels of DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) that can easily be reduced, and that reduction can have an aggression-lessening effect.

So, I’m suggesting that scientists start doing studies that track how the quality of men’s lives (and especially their relationships with women) improve by blocking some of their DHT.

In the meanwhile, how about putting some DHT blockers in Congressional water supplies?? I read here that spearmint tea has some anti-androgenic properties. How about we send Congress cartons and cartons of spearmint tea and spearmint gum?

The Sensuous Male

He’s on my mind today both because last night was Salsa dancing at Club Matrixx and because there are some current posts on Blog Sisters complaining about having to deal with men ogling them and making ridiculous noises and gestures.

I think that many men are confused about the differences between sexist and sexy. In my opinion, many men don’t have clue about “sensuality,” especially their own. In my opinion, the guys who stand around and ogle women are completely out of touch with their own sensuality.

Contrast that with the guys out dancing Salsa last night. I don’t know any of their names yet; I’ve only been there several times so far, and I go there to dance, not talk. And I do dance — and the Salsa is a sensuous dance.

One short, paunchy, thinly gray-haired guy, always dressed, in a suit is the best dancer there. He feels the music; every move reflects the intention of every beat. He leads gently but assuredly, holds me firmly, close but not suffacatingly so; he watches and makes sure we keep in touch. He is short, paunchy, thinly gray-haired and marvelously sensual. He loves to dance. He likes women. He doesn’t ogle. He’s having too much fun. He stops me on my way out to say goodnight. I ask him to save me a few dances next week. You bet, he says.

Another, a young guy, glasses, nice looking, serious, shy, dressed down. His movements are smaller scaled but just as sensual. When we get into a groove, the patterns flowing as though we had choreographed them, his face breaks into a wide smile. His eyes twinkle. We are one with the music and the sensuality of the dance. He is in the moment. He doesn’t ogle. He’s having too much fun.

I’m 62 years old and past the age at which I get ogled by guys out of touch with their own sensuality. Boy, do those guys need to learn to Salsa.