Goodbye Readers

Confessions of a Latte Liberal is going into hibernation for a while.

At the present time, I simply don’t have the time to be blogging.  There are problems in my personal life that I have to deal with and they will require all of my time and attention.  I will miss you all terribly, and thank you support.  I hope to resume blogging one day, but for now my personal life takes precedence.

Thank you for understanding,

Cafeaulait

I’m really hoping to hear more from Joe, of LankyJoe who is a male feminist blogger. His writing is good, and he understands the correct use of the word “misandry.” I’m in love.

lankyjoe

The other day, while walking home from work, a man on the street made some unsolicited comments to a woman with whom I shared the sidewalk, comments that included, “Baby you look good! You got sexy feet!” The woman kept walking, paying the man no attention. Years ago, I would have thought that this was a harmless compliment, but the person I am now realized that this constituted harassment. Did I say anything to the man about it? No. Mostly I didn’t want to potentially start a fight with a stranger on the street. The point is, I did nothing.

That episode was not the motivating factor for starting this blog. I’ve been meaning to address what I perceived to be a scarcity of pro-feminist blog material written by men for a while now, and had intended to call my contribution “No Man’s Land”. I thought that both the literal reading…

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Ask Men-Gifts for Women

As part of my holiday countdown, I’m looking at suggested gifts for women.  This is from Ask Men’s most Romantic Gifts for Her, which, although heteronoramtive, actually has some decent ideas.   It also makes me weep for the state of humanity, because, as you shall see, it assumes that the its readers are remarkably stupid.
  1. Membership to an of the month club-cool.  I’d like one of those.
  2. Cashmere sweater in neutral colors and neutral cut.-AskMen, I’m impressed.
  3. Lingerie-Tricky, tricky tricky.  Also, make sure that you’re buying this for her and not for you.  I wrote a companion piece on how to shop for lingerie for your SO.
  4. Something inscribed with something romantic-If your significant other is into that sort of stuff.
  5. Something engraved-symbolizing commitment.  I’m not analyzing the gift that much, but it is truly a lovely gift.
  6. Show tickets (to something that she’d like)-that had to be said?  Gifts are for the person who’s name is on them.  Not the giver.
  7. Something vintage-could be romantic.  If they like stuff.
  8. Scrapbook: no.  I don’t want stuff.
  9. Weekend Getaway: “Women love surprises and women love weekend getaways.”  Hopefully you’re not springing this on her on Friday afternoon.  Women love surprises and weekend getaways, Surprise honey!
  10. Jewelry-the old tried and true.  In all honesty, I don’t know if I want jewelry, especially expensive jewelry that isn’t my style and I’d feel guilty for never wearing.

Unfortunately, the authors assume their readers are idiots, and give such helpful advice including the radical idea that if she doesn’t have pierced ears, you shouldn’t buy her earrings.  Ask Men sagely continues, saying “Check to see what kind of jewelry she owns and wears, and buy something similar.”  Ask Men explained a few simple concepts “All women love jewelry, but not all women love all jewelry.”  Switch the first all women to “many women,” and you’re getting there.  But this is an Ask Men article that doesn’t treat women as monolithic entities, so cookies for them.

So, if you choose not to do gifts this holiday season, you don’t have to worry about this.  But for those who do and need some help, here’s a woman’s take on some men’s advice.

This is absolutely powerful and exactly what I wanted to write.

Unladylike Musings

**Trigger Warning**

“I am over rape.

I am over rape culture, rape mentality, rape pages on Facebook.

I am over the thousands of people who signed those pages with their real names without shame.

I am over people demanding their right to rape pages, and calling it freedom of speech or justifying it as a joke.

I am over people not understanding that rape is not a joke and I am over being told I don’t have a sense of humor, and women don’t have a sense of humor, when most women I know (and I know a lot) are really fucking funny. We just don’t think that uninvited penises up our anus, or our vagina is a laugh riot.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Eve Ensler, the author of the Vagina Monologues, and the founder of One Billion Rising, again puts words to the…

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Got a Pocketful of Sunshine (Award)

First of all, a huge thank you to Sara of Project Sara for nominating me for this award.  I love Sara’s blog and want to meet her in real life.  She reminds me of my roommate, with her funny anecdotes and sharp social commentary.  On the subject, thank you roommate, for being awesome and helping me deal with numerous blog induced panics.  Because my roommate is awesome.  Also, if you’re reading this, I will replace the soy milk I borrowed to put in my coffee.  Sara, if you’re ever in the Philadelphia area, I will gladly take you out for beverages of your choice.

Anyway, back to the blog and blog awards.  The Sunshine award is an award given to bloggers who inspire other bloggers.  It’s so easy to get frustrated, and I’m flattered to be a ray of sunshine in someone else’s day.  That’s actually one of the reasons I started this blog; I was frustrated and reading about feminism and inequality made me angry.  I wanted to change, and I didn’t know how.  So I decided to start profiling awesome people who were inspiring, or to show people easy activism, “social justice to go,” if you will.

I”m thrilled to receive this award, now to fulfill the requirements of the award, I’ll answer the questions about me and nominate ten other bloggers who inspire me.

Q&A:

  1. Who is your favorite philosopher?  Whoever I’m not reading for class this week.  Sorry, I’m not much for philosophy.  Ask me about my favorite author, my general worldview, etc, and I’ll write you a novel.
  2. What is your favorite number? 42.  It’s a nerd thing.
  3. What is your favorite animal? -Owls.  I’m a night owl and they’re beautiful, powerful, and strong creatures.  Plus, the owl was the pet of ancient Greek goddess Athena, goddess of wisdom.
  4. What is your favorite time of day?-Nightime.  I love the contrast between soft lights and stars.
  5. What are your Facebook and Twitter?  I use Facebook to see pictures of my cousin’s really adorable kids, and to check up on my old classmates.  A surprising number of them have babies, and I wonder if I’m getting old.  My twitter account is affiliated with the blog, and that’s pretty much all I use it for.  Not much of a fan of Twitter, honestly.  I just don’t have the time.  Plus, the format is #annoying.  I am on Pinterest though.  Check me out.
  6. What is your favorite holiday?-Hands down Halloween.  I love costumes, dressing up, creativity, and free candy.  I was a bat as a child, I’ve been a gypsy, a stewardess, Pokerface (out of cards), sixties girl, and when I was little a ballerina/fairy/princess.  In my defense, i was five and liked all the pieces so I wore them together.
  7. What is your physical favorite activity?-Kayaking.  I’m terrible at it, but I love the feeling of being close to the water, powerful and one with nature.  I’ve kayaked on lakes, rivers, and in the ocean.  It’s so much fun, especially ocean kayaking.    I’d love to learn to surf, but i can’t balance to save my life.  I also love ice skating and wish that I hadn’t quit gymnastics before I learned who to do handsprings and tucks.
  8. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?-Coffee. (You couldn’t tell from my blogger ID is cafeaulait (coffee with milk) or my blog’s name; Confessions of a Latte Liberal?)   Slit my wrists open and I will bleed coffee.
  9. What is your passion?-reading, feminism, writing, drawing stick figures, and historical fashion.  Fun fact, when I was younger, i wanted to be a costume designer for the BBC period dramas.
  10. What is your favorite flower?-Sunflowers.  They’re tall, proud and strong.

I’m honored to receive this awesome award.  So I’d like to pass the award on to:

    • Reasonable Conversations -the author describes issues well.
    • The Dancing Professor– an academic mix of history, privilege and real life.  Plus, she teaches at the University I attend, so I especially get her posts.  Full disclosure, I’ve never taken her class.
    • Make Me a Sammich: Rosie, you are awesome beyond words.  I love this blog, its design, content, and style.  It has serious discussions of feminist issues, complete with Rosie the Riverter imagery.   Nothing says we can do it like Rosie the Riveter.
    • Online Dating-While I’ll Soon Be a Crazy Cat Lady: This woman is hilariously chronicling her exploits in online dating.  I read her blog just to laugh at all the crazy people in the world.  Especially when I blog a lot about serious issues, it’s always nice to have a funny anecdote to read to brighten your day.
    • End Rape Culture: Exactly what it sounds, and it profiles people who are fighting and tells about what they do.
    • Captain Awkward -Love the advice style format.
    • BroadBlogs: Broadblogs has a really good combination of serious theory with real life examples.  I like her links and she doesn’t despair or rant.  She explores the issues with a critical eye and is definitely worth reading.
    • Small Girl, Big City-Blogmistress Meg is delightful, and has been really supportive of me.  She is really cheerful and writes about living in Paris.  Remind me to catch the next plain to Paris, so I can have un cafe au lait, sil vows plait.
    • Damn Right I’m a Feminist: This blog is amazing.  Although the blog mistress swears, she has great feminist songs of the day, feminist quotes of the day, and is always to the point and inspiring.  She finds the best material.
    • Shakesville-for anyone who doesn’t know the magic of Shakesville, I’d highly suggest reading it.  It’s a safe space with clearly written articles that articulate all the little things that bother you..   Best of all, it includes suggestions for activist men, and a healthy community for discussions.
Not a nominee for the award, but I just want to also recommend Prego and the Loon.  I love her blog, about escaping an abusive relationship and as a survivor, I emphasize with her.  She is a powerful writer, and I want to share her strength.  Warning: her writing is gritty, real, and sometimes dark.  It’s well worth the read, but not a sunshine inspiring blog.  Sorry, Prego, I really do love you.
Other shout outs include: The Human Rights Warrior, who profiles international efforts for justice.  She always has new issues to learn about and is a role model.
Happy blogging, and check out the awesome work these bloggers have already done.

Time for a Party-Picking a Theme

College Party Themes are Terrible

Toga party

Toga party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My roommate and I want to host a party.  So we found many suggestions for party themes.  They fall into four categories: Non-offensive but overdone, Sexist and Offensive, Just Plain Offensive, and Just Because it Rhymes, It Doesn’t Mean that it’s a Good Idea.
Non-Offensive, but Overdone Party Themes
You can find these in every depiction of college life ever.
  • ABC parties
  • Letter parties
  • Rubics cube parties
  • High School Steroeytpe parties
  • Blacklight parties
  • Decade Parties
  • Toga Parties
  • Movie Themed parties
Sexist and Offensive Party Themes 
These parties provide two options for costumes, one a slutty female costume, and the other, a powerful male complement.  They inevitably have the word “Ho” in the title.
  • CEO’s and Corporate Ho’s
  • Pimps and Ho’s
  • Kingtuts and Egyptian Sluts
  • Lawyer Bros and Prison Hoes
  • Lifeguard Bros and Surfer Hoes
  • GI Joes and Army Hoes
  • Gangsters and Flappers
  • Golf Pro’s and Tennis Hoes
  • Pirates and Wenches
  • Yoga Hoes and Workout Bro’s
Just Plain Offensive Party Themes:
These parties are built on stereotypes of cultures and treat these cultural trends as novelties, instead of real people’s lives
  • Crossdress party
  • Colonial Bros and NavaHoes
  • Fiesta Party
  • Cowboys and Indians
  • White Trash
Just because it Rhymes, Doesn’t Mean it’s a Good Idea Party Themes 
These party themes are either pointless, mix unrelated things or have unsavory implications.
  • Bathing Suits and Cowboy Boots
  • Kegs and Eggs
  • 80’s Lady or Pagent Baby-Three words-Honey Boo Boo.
  • Guys in Ties and Girls in Pearls
  • Black Out or Get Out-Because nothing says fun like alcohol poisoning.
Roommate and I aren’t big on drinking and want to host a party that doesn’t emphasize drinking and is still fun, clever and creative.
Any ideas for a fun, inclusive and novel party theme?  Tell us about your best parties in the comments.

In Response to Dear Men

My Dear Men, You are Not Rapists post generated quite a bit of controversy.  I don’t know if I can answer every single criticism or argument raised, so I think that I’ll start with the most obvious.

Why I didn’t write this piece about men who are the victims of abuse, or why I’m not writing about what women should do.

  • This piece is not about that.   This piece is about how not to freak people out in public.  Complaining about things I didn’t cover is equivalent to complaining about how an article on coffee brewing doesn’t talk about rooibus tea.  (Which is delicious, by the way.)  Nobody complains because there’s no Red Pony in Moby Dick.  It’s not the topic of the piece at hand.  If you would like to read an essay on these topics, I’m always looking for guest postings.  I don’t know what it’s like to live as a man, so I can try to write a post on it, but it would be based on my assumptions and conversations with my friends.  Email me at cafeaulait0913@gmail.com if you have an article for the website.
  • Yes, rape against men is heinous, under-reported, and just as real as men raping women.  Yes, women can rape women, men can rape women, men can rape men and women can rape men.  Everyone has the potential to rape.  Rapists are people who choose to rape, regardless of gender.  I never argued that that isn’t the case, that only men rape, but evidently, I needed to clarify that.  The reason that it wasn’t in the article is that it wasn’t the focus of this piece.  That is a whole part of the rape culture, that assumes men always want sex, and thus diminishes male rape.  This is a case in which the existing social structure and societal expectations hurt men, too.  I’m trying to dismantle that social structure, so that people take all rape seriously, and male victims are believed, and men don’t feel profiled.  

On Profiling Men as Rapists.

First of all, the definition of rape used to be problematic.  It was changed, due to feminist pressures in the past year to a more inclusive definition of rape.  So now, legally, rape can be between anyone.At least in the US, where I’m from.  My apologies to my international readers.  I’m not up on the rape laws in other countries.    So, the feminist movement is helping you, by opening more options for men.  It is the reason you can now legally be raped.  It is trying to eliminate the benevolent sexism in divorce settlements, based on antiquated gender roles and stereotypical beliefs about caregivers.  But I’m derailing the discussion here.

  • Rape is a behavior, not a physical trait.  As such, people are not easily sorted into “rapist” or “not a rapist.” People either rape or don’t, but there is no way to tell just by looking at them.  We can only judge based on your behavior; it’s the only thing we have to go on.  As to the suggestion that non-rapists should just wear bracelets that say “SAFE,” it wouldn’t work.  I mean, no one would ever admit to being a rapist, so the bracelets would be useless.  We can’t just give bracelets to non-rapists, issue stars to be worn on their clothing’s, or look for specific head shapes.  Because we’re looking for an action, a behavior, not a character trait.
  • Rape is a behavior, a predatory behavior.  Rapists are people who engage in sexually predatory behavior.  So in order to recognize a rapist, we look for predatory behaviors with sexual overtones.  So when we tell you not to act like a rapist, it means listen for verbal and non-verbal no’s.  It means respect people’s personal space, and be polite to them.  Don’t stare at their appealing appendages. Don’t try to use force, physical, verbal or emotional.  Don’t act like a predator, and you won’t be treated like one.

I received two main criticisms on this piece.

My Statistics:

There were questions about the accuracy of the one in four statistic.  I was basing the information on the activist groups who use One in Four as a name.  I’ll have to go back and look at the studies to see where the number came from.  But regardless, the number is still to high, and the fear is too high.  So, I’ll work to put out correct statistics on rape and sexual assault.  In the meantime, do not say, “but the numbers are wrong,” and move on with your life.  Try to be more compassionate of this fact, and recognize that we hate being cautious, we hate worrying about rape, we hate second guessing stares and horn honks.  We hate having to lock our doors, and we hate feeling like we’re profiling you as rapists.  Because we know that you’re not.  We know that you are decent people, who probably just want to get home to your family, dog, or TiVo’d episode of Game of Thrones.

Every time I’m walking home at night, I’m very aware of my surroundings.  When I’m aware of another person’s presence, I look at them quickly to evaluate the threat level.  Most of the time, they’re tired students, walking in groups, or a few lone wolves, leaving the library.  They are no threat to me, and I continue walking in peace.  The men who hang around the train station, shouting at women to smile, and harassing passerby’s are much more of a threat.  They have noticed me and have shown themselves to be aggressive, without regards for the boundaries of others.  They are threatening.  When I perceive threatening people like them around, I speed up or look twice at who is following me.  When I’m doing this,  I feel terribly guilty.  I know that you’re probably just as tired as anyone.  I know that I’m being irrational, that I’m in more danger with the people that I know than I am with the stranger.  But I still feel that twinge of fear and I just try to get home.

Acquaintance Rape: 

  • It’s true that a majority of the rapes are not stranger rapes, but media fear mongering, combined with victim blaming, a lifetime of admonitions for going out after dark, and a general uneasiness that night brings, can make walking alone at night scary.  Which is a shame because I adore walking at night.  It’s the same reason that people fear going on airplanes.  A few well-published cases contribute to an overall sense of  fear about what is statistically unlikely.  That doesn’t invalidate the fears, but it means that we should be considerate and try to help the seat mate who isn’t comfortable with flying.  If there are things that women do at night that intimidate men, send me a list and I’ll publish it.

Men are statistically more likely to be hurt in street violence.   I’d believe this statistic, and again, I’d like to do a parallel piece on walking home at night as a man.

The same behaviors that label the stranger as a rapist also label family members and friends a threat.  However, walking alone at night is a bit intimidating to everyone, and the boogeyman rapist is an easier way to label that fear.  It doesn’t mean that it’s fair to the good men to be profiled as rapists.

But it’s also not fair to call women paranoid or crazy, when they are trying to stay safe.  Posters have commented that it’s unfair that women “profile all men as rapists” and should defend themselves instead of asking men to change their behavior.  These same commentators complain when women nearly mace them at night.  You can’t demand that women protect themselves and then chide them for doing so.  So we are mocked if we act fearful of you, blamed if we don’t and something happens.  Labeled as paranoid if we protect ourselves, labeled as negligent and careless if we don’t.  We’re just asking for men to be aware of this.

On the Problematic nature of the Schroedinger’s Rapist piece

I know that people have given Kate Harding a lot of flack for writing something that could be construed as Schroedinger’s mugger.  The analogy is problematic, but rapist and mugger is a false equivalency.   Generally speaking, anyone can mug anyone, but the person most likely to rape a woman is a man.  A mugging victim won’t be shredded in court.  A mugging victim won’t be asked if he or she had “post donation regret.”  A mugging victim won’t be asked to reconsider filing charges, so as to not ruin the mugger’s life.

The equivalency only holds when we compare a man following us home at night, without a word of explanation, and who is focusing on us to a person who has been staring at our purse, fits the profile of a mugger, and is now making a beeline for our purse.  It’s not that you possess a Y chromosome, or the appearance of possessing a Y chromosome.  It’s that you are violating our personal space, and acting in a predatory manner, exactly like a rapist would.  Add the extreme cost of sexual assault or rape, we do an expected utility calculation, figuring out that for us, we’d rather be safe than sorry.  I just wrote that we’re more aware that you could rape us.   We can theoretically rape you too, but it’s much harder for us to physically overpower you, random stranger, so it feels less dangerous, at least to us.   We know that you’re not rapists; we know that stranger rape is largely a Law and Order SVU-induced myth.

But we’ve been told since we were very young that strangers are dangerous.  I remember the first time I was alone with a strange man.  I was ten, and he was driving me home in a taxi.  I had never ridden in a taxi before, and I was visiting a strange city with my mother and our car had broken down.  I clutched the car door for dear life the entire ride, so that if he decided to force himself on me, I could throw myself out of the car.  He was the nicest guy.  He saw my fear, and drove me home.  He never tried to say, “It’s all right, honey, I won’t hurt you.” He never did anything remotely threatening, just drove me home and wished me a pleasant day.  He didn’t act mad or offended.  He just saw a scared little girl and he did his best to accommodate her fear.  Because he was a decent man.  I’ve ridden in many taxi’s since then, and I’ve never been afraid of the driver since.

To the nice taxi-driver-I doubt you’re reading this, but I’m sorry that I made you feel like a bad person.

To this day, I’m more afraid of the people that I know than the mythical stranger rapist.  But even so, I’m cautious at night, and I do watch the behavior of people around me.

It doesn’t debilitate our entire lives, and we don’t fear every single man that we meet.  Even those of us who do fear rape, still go out after dark, go to the movies or the bar.  Even those of us who fear rape are not so crippingly agoraphobic that we never leave our houses.  Generally speaking, we don’t think that men who are polite and respectful, men who read the social cues, men who are minding their own business, and men who don’t follow us at night, are rapists.  We see them as individuals minding their own business, and we go on with our journey.

On to more specific comments:

On the argument that women should take self defense or carry a weapon.

  • First of all, in many places, it’s illegal to carry a weapon.  Even mace.  And second of all, using a weapon makes it more likely that that weapon will be turned on you.  You’re escalating the danger of the situation, especially if you aren’t a professional.
  • Weapons and self defense classes are not the answer.  Besides, as mentioned in the article, linked to in the article, women already do a lot to protect themselves against sexual assault.  We are simply asking that people be aware of that and show some courtesy.
  • It’s basic manners.  If the person next to you has a broken leg, you give them a chair so they can get home sooner.   You let the elderly man ahead of you in line at the grocery store out of respect.  If the person standing next to you is visibly afraid of you, I don’t care what gender you are, you still should be a decent human being and not make that person any more uncomfortable.  For the poster who commented that he has crippling social anxiety, I’d let him go first in the elevator, especially if I can sense that I’m making him uncomfortable.
  • No, you don’t HAVE to.  But it’s selfish and insensitive to go throughout your life saying, “I’ll do what I like; who cares if I offend people or make them uncomfortable?”  I’m not stopping you; just asking to consider that you share the planet with a few billion other people, and you should be nice to them.

To Stuff and Gus, and anyone else who wondered why this piece targeted men:

  • I’m a woman, and I haven’t lived as a man.  I can guess your responses to my actions, but I would rather hear it from the mouth of the affected.  I wrote to tell men that many women have written about these behaviors, and that these behaviors make many women feel a certain way.  I’m telling you how many women feel so that you decide what to do with this information.
  • You are right; I don’t know what it feels like to be a man.  I can’t know.  So why don’t you write a piece and I’ll post it?  My email is cafeaulait0913@gmail.com.

On my commenting policy:

  • Yes, I censored comments for profanity. I try not to use it, and I expect everyone commenting on my blog to do the same.  I am not violating your free speech by saying that profane language is not welcome here.  I am not the government.  I am not taking away any of your rights.  I am just trying to moderate a discussion here.  And I’d like to keep it safe for work.
  • Any comment that has “TL:DR” is going to be deleted.  If you didn’t bother to read the piece, or are insinuating that you didn’t read the piece, I will block your comment.

To the commentator who called me “princess:”

  • Calling me princess was rude at worst, inaccurate at best.  I am the moderator or the author.  I have no royal blood and haven’t married into a royal bloodline.  Nor am I a Disney character.  I am not a princess, and do not appreciate being addressed as such.  Let’s stick to arguing the facts, and keep the discourse civil.  You can say that the article was terrible, sexist, whatever you want to say.  But separate criticisms of the poster from their postings.

To TUA and Emily:

  • Expect a full response sometime over the weekend.  You gave me a lot of material to work with!

Again, there was a lot of food for thought, and I’m trying to answer most of the critiques.  As I’ve said repeatedly, if you want a male perspective, you’ve already said that I can’t do that, so you have to write it.  I can’t wait to publish it!  Email me at cafeaulait0913@gmail.com.

Thanks for the critiques,

Cafeaulait

What kind of comments should I allow?