A Few Thoughts, vol. 2

In October, I took a page out of Kelly’s book and decided to start a (apparently rare, since I haven’t written another post in months) series of posts for those thoughts that I can’t quite flesh out into a full-length post, but still want to talk about. Lately my notebook’s been filling up with these ideas again, and while I’d like to hopefully flesh out one or two of these ideas, I’d like to get them out there as much as I can now.

thoughts vol 2

Freedom of Speech

The Constitution is not your catch-all excuse to be a jackass. You don’t get to cry “freedom of speech” every time someone calls you out on your racist/sexist/homophobic/otherwise offensive and demeaning jokes, particularly when those “jokes” are contributing to a culture which continually puts down and both mentally and physically harms the people they are offensive towards. I can guarantee you that when the Constitution was written, that was not the intention.

I understand that a joke is oftentimes just a joke and that right now, this is probably a particularly controversial topic given recent events in France. However, making incredibly racist statements like “I got arrested for punching someone on New Years Eve. My instincts just kick in when I hear an Arab counting back from 10″ (this was an actual meme posted by one of my Facebook friends over the weekend) does not serve to prove your freedom or assert your right to free speech. What it does is prove is that whether or not you want to admit it, you’re incredibly bigoted and that you have no real understanding of either the Constitution or of relatively current events.


While watching Friends yesterday, I noticed that the guys’ Etch-a-Sketch changes throughout certain scenes. For example, in a scene I was watching yesterday, it flipped back and forth from “Get out” to “Poop” three times in one scene. Oooo the things you notice when you’re binge-watching Friends on Netflix.

That, and that Ross’s son would be about 20 years old right now. Just sayin’.

Cassandra C.

On Thursday, a Connecticut court ruled that a 17-year-old girl could be taken into state custody (despite having a good mother who had done absolutely nothing wrong), sedated, and tied to a hospital bed so as to receive cancer treatment she did not want.

Many people in support of the court’s decision to forcefully treat Cassandra are saying that she’s only 17 and therefore, a child in the eyes of the law. I’ll look over the fact that at 17, if Cassandra had committed a violent crime she’d be tried as an adult and that also at 17, she’s expected to be deciding what she wants to do for the rest of her life. If the overwhelming opinion is that she is an incompetent child unable to make her own medical decisions (which, later this year, you’ll all decide that she is magically capable of making on the day of her 18th birthday), then that would leave the decision up to her mother who also rejected chemotherapy, in accordance with her daughter’s wishes. Just because you do not agree with someone’s medical decisions does not mean you get to reject those decisions and replace them with your own.

Cassandra’s body is Cassandra’s body. Not her doctors’. Not Child Protective Services’. Not the state’s. Hers and hers alone which in America should be more than enough to mean that she gets to determine her own medical treatment. Even if the doctors are right that without this treatment, Cassandra will die in two years, that’s her decision to make.

Forcing treatment on someone who doesn’t want it is assault and a ridiculous violation of basic human rights, and I just cannot fathom why we need to be having this discussion in America. Why the doctors were ever able to call CPS and have Cassandra taken away from the only family she has. And why ultimately, the court sided with those doctors.

Crying Wolf

Obviously, I’m an outspoken feminist. It’s something I write about consistently on this blog, and regularly debate or discuss on social media and with people in my life. However, I recognize that there are limits to the things you will hear me say or do for that cause.

One thing that I see done constantly which I believe is hurting the case is feminists who speak out – loudly and with refusal to hear any opposing opinion – about “sexist” problems that frankly, just don’t exist (see: autocorrect is not out to propagate a misogynistic culture). While I understand the basic purpose of pointing out misogyny and sexism in everyday life (and absolutely agree with it!), finding sexism everywhere – even where it isn’t – only serves to make people stop listening (and is probably making you pretty miserable).

I am all for discussing any and all feminist issues – big or small – because they are all problems within our society which contribute to a much larger problem of continuing to hold men up over women. However, there has to be a line somewhere that people stop crossing just to discuss issues. Just to hold something up and call it sexism. The more you cry out about non-issues, the more people will decide that feminism must not be very serious because all of the issues you’re bringing up don’t exist. And that is a serious problem. 

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I’m (slowly) working on reading this book, and while I’m really enjoying learning more about myself and that I’m certainly not the only introvert in the world (it can sometimes feel that way), I’m also becoming a little discouraged.

Susan Cain does a fantastic job of discussing the amazing achievements of introverts throughout American history, and of the contributions we make to society, but none of that can mask the fact that, despite all of that, introverts are not only undervalued but avoided in mainstream society. In fact, Cain discusses a relatively long history of introverts being “bad” because they don’t want to spend every waking moment in the company of others, being deemed antisocial and therefore unhirable. We teach children that to not want to socialize is to be unsuccessful, and that position carries into our post-graduate lives when we start applying and interviewing for jobs in offices.

While I truly am enjoying Cain’s book (slowly, because it is filled with research and can be a little difficult to get through in a regular reading sort of way) and the things I’m learning from it, and I recognize that she can’t change the reality of the situation, the book is a little more disappointing than I’d been hoping for. In short, I’m still struggling with my identity as an introvert more than I’d been hoping I would after reading this book.

  • http://www.awashwithwonder.com/ Shannon

    About your crying wolf point, I also find that really frustrating.

    Earlier, I was reading a thread on Twitter, in which a few people were discussing atheism, and at one point, a man made a general statement about the general populations understanding of science, and a woman responded, “Don’t mansplain science to me.” And that effectively ended what could have been an interesting and helpful discussion. Men *do* sometimes feel the need to explain basic concepts to women, but every instance of a man talking to a woman is NOT mansplaining. Acting like it is devalues the term. I think sometimes feminists feel like they have to be on the constant defensive because so many people deny problems that are real, that we start to see possible examples of those problems everywhere.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I’m glad to hear you agree! I was worried that most people would get angry about that section and accuse me of “policing” what topics have a right to be discussed, which isn’t at all what I mean.

      The word mansplain is driving me absolutely insane, because like the situation you mentioned, it just gets used whenever any man tries to have any input that doesn’t 100 percent agree with every last thing a woman says in a conversation. Has it really gotten to a point where men aren’t even allowed to have an opinion on SCIENCE? I understand the term’s purpose, but I think that’s been forgotten for the most part and instead it gets used in contexts like this. I had a similar experience last week, with a woman on FB who insisted that the word “vulvas” not being in her iPhone autocorrect was a sexist issue. I pointed out that hundreds of other words having nothing to do with women or sex in general were ALSO not in there, and that it’s because they are words not commonly used (a few other people corroborated that same point, and she accused us all of policing her feminist content). A man then tried to point out that technically, vulvas isn’t a word – it’s vulvae – and that perhaps it’s not in autocorrect because it’s not technically correct, she freaked and told him to stop mansplaining to him (before going on to tell him, quite frankly, to go sit in a corner and watch silently while the big people talked – which is so beyond condescending it’s disgusting).

      It drives me crazy seeing the word used that way because it’s so counterproductive and, like you said, if used properly the word does have a purpose and a good meaning.

      • http://www.awashwithwonder.com/ Shannon

        Wow, that is really frustrating exchange. It’s hard because there are examples of everyday sexism which uphold the patriarchal culture and keep women as second class citizens and examining them is what helps us move forward…but everything in the world cannot be a sexist issue. That exchange you just described made me think about how we’ve built ourselves boxes out of self-identified labels, and we retreat to them all the time instead of meeting people in the middle and actually listening to what they say. So because I identify as feminist, obviously my every opinion is representative of feminism, and anyone who disagrees is a misogynist. All of this makes me want to spend more time reading feminist theory and less time publicly shaming a celebrity for not identifying as feminist.

  • http://www.kati-rose.com/ Kati Rose

    The free speech thing has been ridiculous lately. I’ve had to log off of so many social networks because I just got so damn frustrated at people using “free speech” as a right to spew hatred and think they were funny. It’s 2015, that’s problematic please stop doing it. Some people will sadly probably never learn.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I know – I just can’t stand people using the Constitution to defend bigotry and cruelty. It doesn’t add up and just is not even close to being the purpose of the right to free speech. I’m so sick of being told I’m infringing upon people’s right to free speech when I call them out on their shit.