Rebecca West, on Feminism — and My Own, Personal Reasons for Calling Myself a Feminist

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Of my two parents, one (no longer living) was a misogynistic, manipulative, abusive monster, with a list of surviving victims longer than this entire blog-post. My mother, however, is living, and has always been a feminist. I was raised by one loving, feminist parent, while constantly doing mental, verbal, and sometimes even physical battle, in self-defense, against my other parent — as a matter of survival.

This accounts, I am certain, with the fact that, to this day, it is far easier for me to form friendships with women than with men. Simply put, it is difficult for me to trust men. Men commit an overwhelming majority of the murders which happen, as well as virtually all of the rapes, and it is male politicians, as a rule, who start most — perhaps all — of the world’s far-too-numerous wars, both in the present, and the past. When one’s earliest memory is having one’s mother save one’s own life, from death by shaken baby syndrome, at age 2 ½, inflicted by one’s own father, there is no escape from lifelong psychological fallout from such a traumatic event. This is my earliest memory, and one of the causes of my PTSD, with which I will have to struggle with for the rest of my life, for this condition, unfortunately, has no cure.

When my parents (finally) divorced, around my 20th birthday, I actually went to the trouble (and expense) to legally change my last name to my mother’s maiden name, and I did this to show everyone whose side I was on — and to shed a surname which I associate, to this day, only with negative things in my life. I regret nothing about this decision. I am glad that the monster found out about this name-change, shortly after I did it, for he deserved the pain I deliberately inflicted on him by this action.

I can follow exactly half of the Biblical commandment to “Honor thy father and they mother” (Exodus 20:12), but I cannot follow the other half, for this particular monster had no honor, nor did he deserve any, now, or at any time I can remember.

I also regret nothing about the fact that my deceased parent — the monster — is no longer able to hurt anyone, since what’s left of him is, well, underground, in the literal sense of the word. I did not attend the monster’s funeral, nor was I saddened, even in the slightest, when I learned of his death. He is completely unmourned by me — and I make no apologies for any of these things.

I do not speak, nor do I write, my original last name. There are over 1400 posts on this blog, and that name appears in none of them. The reason is simple: it is not my name.

I completely agree with Rebecca West’s perfectly-reasonable definition of feminism, shown above, and, since I do subscribe to the “radical notion” that women are actually people, I see no problem whatsoever with applying the word “feminist” to myself. I’m male, after all, only as an accident of birth, and am not going to let that “coin-flip” keep me from adopting labels of my own choosing. “Feminist” is a label I wear with pride, and for highly personal reasons, as explained above. I always have been, and will remain, opposed to any efforts (such as those from the radical religious right in America) to oppress the female majority of the population. If those efforts end up destroying the Republican Party in America — which will happen, unless they reform themselves first — then Republicans will have no one to blame but themselves, and their willingness to tolerate extreme misogyny among their own ranks.

Free the Frozen People!

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After seeing this sign in a local grocery store, I carefully searched the entire frozen food section, but I could find neither the frozen Mexican, nor the frozen Asian. Since they were gone, but the sign indicates they were there at one point, I concluded that the experiment was over, and hoped they had thawed out both experimental test subjects, found them still healthy after a few days in cryogenic suspended animation, and sent them home, each with a fat check to compensate them for the huge risk they just took.

However, even with compensation and signed consent forms, I still have certain ethical reservations about scientists performing this sort of experiment on actual human beings. Why not freeze, thaw, refreeze, and rethaw mice, instead? Is PETA really that scary?

Are they still doing these experiments, in my town or elsewhere? If so . . . free the frozen people!

There is one last thing about this whole thing which I just can’t figure out, though, and that’s this: why were they storing their frozen, experimental, human test subjects in the middle of a central Arkansas grocery store in the first place?

My Favorite Passage from the Bible, and How One Atheist Thinks We Just Might Use It to Avoid Extinction.

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You may already know I am an atheist, and may be unaware that some of us have favorite passages from the Bible which were not selected for purposes of ridicule, nor of criticism of the Bible, nor because of dislike of any religion. This is my favorite passage because it contains excellent advice. I do not need “faith,” as that word is commonly understood, nor a literal belief in the devil, to recognize, and appreciate, good advice.

What’s not to like about self-control? Or being alert? Those things can keep us all alive. They are important. I used to only cite the first sentence here as my favorite part of the Bible, but have decided to include two complete verses, for context, and elaboration through metaphor, as I interpret this passage. I see no reason not to.

Atheists (only capitalized at the beginning of a sentence, by the way) don’t have denominations, nor creeds, and there are as many different types of atheist as there are atheists. Atheism isn’t a religion — the word simply describes existence without religion. Everyone is born an atheist, albeit an unconscious one. Also, those who remain, or return to, atheism, change, during the course of our lives, just as theists do. The only people who do not change are the dead.

In defiance of stereotype, we are not all angry and bitter, although some of us, it must be admitted, are. (I used to be far more bitter than I am now, although I am working hard to change that.) Many of us even believe in non-theistic ideas which make absolutely no sense, such as, for example, 9/11 conspiracy theories. We only have one thing in common: we lack belief in deities. You almost certainly lack belief in at least some deities, ones which others fervently believe in. If you are a theist, well, atheists just take things a bit further than you — that’s all. We don’t all hate theists, and (thankfully) not all theists hate us. The ability to respectfully disagree is at least one of the keys to peaceful coexistence. Universal agreement among humans simply will not happen (and would be horribly boring, anyway), until the death of the penultimate person, at least. Even if there is a “last person alive” scenario in the (hopefully very distant) future, this unknown last human being will still have internal disagreements, and will almost certainly disagree with remembered ideas of the dead. In fact, given human nature, and history, such a disagreement might even be the cause of the next-to-last person’s death, at the hands of the last man, or woman, ever to live.

I do not want homo sapiens to end this way.  I’d like us to continue, for many generations, until evolution, and speciation, replace us with successor species, a long time from now — still people, but different, in ways we cannot now know, and, hopefully, people who have long ago learned to live without constantly killing each other.  Isn’t it about time we left this nasty habit called “war” behind, along with murder, rape, and the rest of the litany of human horror?

I’m a big fan of John Lennon, but I’d far rather imagine no war than “imagine no religion,” and I no longer accept the idea, common among atheists, that the second is a prerequisite for the first.

Since we have, as a species, figured out several ways to self-destruct, we cannot afford to wait for evolution to “teach” us how to coexist peacefully.  Evolution is far more efficient at destruction than creation, after all, being a random process.  Far more species have gone extinct than exist today, and the process of evolution simply does not care whether we live or die.  Entropy happens.  It took 3.85 billion years of natural selection to get here, and we will not get a second chance to get it right.

We must figure out effective ways to live with our differences now.  I do not mean that we should somehow erase our differences, for I have no desire to live in a world of clones of myself, and I doubt you want to live in your version of such a world, either.  We do, however, need to come to terms, as a world-wide society, with the inescapable fact that people are different.  We have a right to be different, it’s good that we are, and the fact that we vary so much is certainly is no excuse for killing, nor even hating, anyone.

There is another part of human nature that is on our side in our struggle for survival, and this is the hopeful part of this essay. We are good at figuring things out. We actually enjoy trying our best to solve puzzles. We pay hard-earned money for them constantly! Some of us absolutely obsess over single problems, for days — or years — at a time. Well, this is the best, most important problem we have ever faced, with the highest stakes imaginable:  how to avoid our own extinction. The world isn’t a casino with no exit, though.  It has been mostly a game of chance, so far — and we’ve been lucky to have made it to the present.  However, it doesn’t have to be the way it has been, with us stumbling through history, like drunk monkeys in a minefield — which we pretty much are, right now.

We have minds, and it’s time to use them. We can stop playing roulette, especially the Russian variety, and sit down at the table to play chess, instead. We can figure this out.

If this Big Problem isn’t solved soon, though, there may not be a long wait for extinction.  It could very well be later than you think.  Therefore, I encourage everyone to, in the words of the Bible, “Be self-controlled and alert.” That’s a good place to start.