The wounded body as the terrorist body

A few months ago I was rushing around in a last-minute flurry to prepare for a trip, when I slipped on my basement stairs and sprained my ankle. It hurt, but with some icing and some Advil I was able to walk, and so I set off for the airport.

In the security line I asked for an “opt-out pat-down,” the code phrase for, “I think your backscatter machine is an invasive and unnecessary performance in the grand theater of national security.” When you opt for a pat down, a TSA agent of your gender (God help you if you’re gender queer) gruffly directs you to a table, grabs your luggage from the belt, and instructs you to spread your legs and raise your arms while he/she runs a pair of gloves along your crotch, ass, and waist band. If you’re unlucky, you’ll also get a few unprofessional and indignant remarks, such as: “Why are you making us do this? The machine isn’t even that dangerous.”

Each time, before starting the pat-down, you’ll also be asked: “Do you have any painful or sensitive areas?” Normally my answer is “no.” However, having just rolled my ankle, I said “yes,” pointed to wear it hurt, and expected (naively) that the TSA agent would run her hands especially gently over my fresh wound. Instead, when she reached my ankle, she grabbed it tightly, rubbing it hard and scowling. In the 50 or so pat-downs I’ve received, never has a TSA agent handled a part of my body so roughly, insistently, and with such overt disdain and suspicion.

Needless to say, I felt angry — and I felt pain. When the agent went to run the gloves through the scanner that tests for explosive residue, I bent down to rub my sore ankle. “Don’t move!” she barked. My scan came up clean, she dismissed me with a wave of her hand, and I hobbled off.

I think about this incident often when I travel. I think about being lied to implicitly and misled, about how the question “Does anything hurt?” seems to communicate caring and respect for the bodies moving through the enormous parade of American security. I think about how, instead, that question was used as a litmus test to track down any area I might not want to be touched, any area where I might be concealing… who knows what. I think about how admitting that I felt pain meant that I was treated with less dignity and less compassion than someone who felt none (or did not admit to “weakness”). I think about how my injured body became a site of suspicion, how my wound made me a potential threat. And I think about what in the world I would do if I had chronic pain, or any number of other disabilities. Would my “sick” body be treated as a terrorist threat every time I tried to step onto a plane?

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Why ‘gamer cred’ is a fundamentally sexist concept

I’ve been making my living writing about video games, in some sense or another, for nearly a decade. And like many woman in the industry, I regularly confront my own compulsive need to assert my gamer cred. The fact is, people still assume that being female means you’re not on the inside of gaming, not really “one of us.” Gamer cred is the currency you use to buy back the right to be considered a goddamn human being. In a games conversation with a homosocial gaggle of men who figure you’ve never held a controller, you’re invisible — until you bust out the Ocarina of Time reference, jangle around your N64 keychain, and roll your eyes at the success of whatever new title in whatever longstanding series is still nowhere as good as the original. Throw down!

Over the last couple of years there’s been a lot of talk about what makes women “real” or “fake” gamers (see the “Idiot Nerd Girl” meme). Long told by society that playing video games wasn’t girly enough, women are now being condemned for not being gamer-y enough — at least in the eyes of the insular, defensive gaming masses. They’re being accused of jumping on the nerd wagon for the sex appeal and glory (really, people?) without earning their cred through long years of dedicated play. See also: you’re pretty, you intimidate me, get out of my tree house. The feminist pushback has largely focused on the hypocrisy and the pervasiveness of “fake girl gamer” shaming. Female gamers are just as “real” as male ones; whether you like it or not, we have the cred to prove it.

The problem is that gamer cred as an institution is fundamentally sexist. Let’s think about what counts toward your “gamer cred” score. 1) How much you play games. 2) How you perform your own gamer-ness. 3) How long you’ve been playing games.

Let’s start with 1 and 2. Cultural expectations prescribed for women are different than those prescribed for men (duh). If I am male, the contemporary culture around me encourages me to play games. I see other men playing games on TV and in movies. I have been socialized to bond with other men by challenging each other to rounds of Smash Bros. I have also been encouraged to perform my gamer-ness in loud, proud strokes. A wide array of t-shirts and paraphernalia specific to boy bodies is available to me. If I am female, on the other hand, I may play games a lot, or I may play games less frequently. I may socialize through gaming, or I may not. I may rock a games shirt (despite my limited options), or I may “pass” as a “normal” lady in normal lady clothes. But when I make those choices, I make them under a different set of conditions than men do. Your cred is not my cred. When you claim they’re the same, that there’s some objective scale, you impose on me a male standard that I’m going to have to fight uphill hard to live up to. And that’s straight up discrimination.

But it’s 3 I want to focus on: the incredibly sexist idea that you have more cred the longer you’ve been playing video games. You’ve seen the slogan with the NES controller: “Know your roots.” Let me make a confession, a confession that I have made to groups of male gamers before, a confession that is always met with looks of surprise and mild disdain. Here it goes. My first video game console was the N64. My first console game was Mario 64. Before the age of twelve, I had only ever touched a computer game. Now you know my shame. As a (male) fellow journalist once said upon hearing this, “Wow, Bonnie, I thought you had cred.”

Let me tell you something about a system like the Super NES, which came out in 1991, when I was six years old. No six-year-old buys her own game console. She plays with the toys that are bought for her, and what is bought for her is dictated by what society tells her parents are right for her age and gender. If I had waited until I could buy my own game consoles, I wouldn’t have started playing until I was sixteen and bought a GameCube (the horror). As it stands, the only reason I had access to a Nintendo 64 was because my little brother — who was around six himself when the console came out — got one for Hannukah. Like so many young girls, I had access to video games only through my brother. This isn’t because I wasn’t a “real” gamer. It’s because I was a girl.

When you judge gamer cred by how long someone has been playing, you discriminate against them based on factors outside of their control. You discriminate against women. You discriminate against people of color. You discriminate against those raised poor. We are here now, and we make the choice to play games. Counting our cred based on our past reveals how little you know about what it means to “really” love something, and what it means to just “fake” it.

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How to be a good girl

Despite my high-brow education, I have a major soft spot for reality television, the more “horrible” the better. Recently I’ve been watching a veritable marathon of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, which I’ve come to think of as the very “worst” reality series, judging by the disgusted and dismayed looks I get from my friends when I proclaim I find it fascinating. Ironically, as a scholar, I’ve learned more from the heavy-handed messiness of “bad” reality TV than from any number of “good” films: lessons that are both about filmmaking and cultural norms.

Watching 16 and Pregnant, for example, has gotten me thinking about the narratives women are told about pregnancy, abortion, and motherhood. Each teen mom’s story offers the audience both a voyeuristic melodrama and a cautionary tale. Each girl foolishly thinks that raising a baby won’t be “that hard.” Each girl inevitably gets lets down by her boyfriend or her family. Each girl ends her show with an intimate one-on-one with the camera in which she weepingly bemoans ever having sex. Public service messages (“Teen pregnancy is 100% preventable”) flash at commercial breaks. Don’t get pregnant, the show seems to shout; if you do, make the “right choice” and have an abortion.

Whether or not this is the correct message, it’s very familiar from my own teen education. Unlike many of the girls on 16 and Pregnant, I grew up in a liberal environment where kids where offered sex ed early, along with a health dose of fear-mongering about the dangers of intercourse. Had I gotten pregnant, carrying a baby to term would’ve never crossed my mind. Only “trashy” girls were teen moms, and bright young ladies on the path to college and success dealt with their troubles privately and with the appropriate amount of tight-lipped shame. Me, I didn’t get pregnant; I didn’t have an abortion. Had I though, abortion would have been the only “good girl” choice.

Even “good girls” are always precariously balancing on their own reproductive history, however. A few years ago I went to the doctor for a routine check-up at my university health center. The doctors there are used to treating 18-to-21-year-old undergrads, and they can be condescending, judgmental, and misleading about sexual health in that particularly insidious way that’s “for your own good.” The doctor, an older white man, went through a routine series of questions, including 1) Had I ever been pregnant and 2) Had I ever had an abortion. No, I answered to both. Apparently I passed the test. He smiled at me, patted my knee paternally, and said “Good girl.”

Only now do I realize how nefarious that preposterous, faux-medical compliment had been. It implies that, had I ever gotten pregnant or had an abortion, I would have failed. It implies that some women just can’t keep themselves together, but I was good because I was smarter and more responsible. It blatantly ignores the fact that women get pregnant and/or have abortions for any number of reasons, and none of them make them bad. At any point in my sexual history I could have accidentally gotten pregnant. I could have been raped. I could have wanted a child and changed my mind. And here was a doctor interrogating my body and proclaiming it good. Worst of all, I felt proud. Bestowing approval can be just as destructive as withholding it.

Now, as I reach a point in my life when I want kids, I dread facing a new set of judgments about my reproductive choices. Will I want a child for “good” reasons? Will I be a “good” mother? Will I be patted on the knee (or more likely the belly) and declared a “good woman” simply for wanting kids? And if, for some reason, I can’t have children, will I be a “bad girl” after all?

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Lessons from QGC: 10 steps to creating your own games conference

Things are still winding down from the wonder that was the Queerness and Games Conference. Video of the talks is now available online. Many touching thank-yous have been sent and received. Polygon’s Danielle Riendeau and UC Berkeley’s Daily Californian both honored us with thoughtful, insightful write-ups. My favorite quote, from Danielle: “I can’t imagine something like this existing ten — or even five — years ago, but now, I can’t imagine a future without it and other similar events.”

In that spirit, it’s been important to us to find ways to keep the ball rolling, and that means sharing what we learned from the event so that others can create their own inclusive, alternative games conferences. In my last post, I outlined our event budget. This time I want to talk about our major steps and timeline. The short version: the event, which was held at the end of October, 2013, took about nine months to create. Communication, organization, persistence, and a diverse and dedicated team of organizers was crucial. Here was our process, broken down into 10 steps:

1. The idea (December, 2012). “What we need is a conference about queerness and games!” proclaims Bonnie in a fit of wide-eyed idealism. Finding your idea means more than enthusiasm though. It also means knowing the field. Does your topic interest others? Is it currently underserved by the community? Can you imagine it becoming a conference?

2. The organizers (February, 2013). The Queerness and Games Conference didn’t become real until it had a strong team of organizers. For us diversity was key. By chatting with friends, listening through the grapevine, and reaching out into the unknown, we ended up with the perfect team that bridged academics and game development.

3. The date and location (March, 2013). The earlier you can lock down your days and your venue, the better. Knowing helped up present a concrete plan to potential speakers and sponsors.

4. Web presence and registration (March, 2013). Having a website and Twitter feed as soon as possible gave us somewhere to send people who wanted to learn more about the event. We used pretty basic tools for this, like WordPress and Eventbrite, so that the organizers could leap into creating our web presence as fast and easily as possible.

5. Writing the CFP and soliciting speakers (April, 2013). A call for papers is pretty standard in conference land. For us, however, we had a few different types of person to appeal to: academics, game developers, etc. We ended up writing an academic CFP as well as an adapted version for the website. We sent this out through public channels, and we also used it when we contacted individuals who we thought would make rad participants.

6. Funding (April, 2013). As I’ve mentioned, all of our funding came from university departments. We emailed or spoke to department heads individually, followed up doggedly, and made sure that our endless paperwork was in order.

7. Selecting and scheduling talks (July, August, September 2013). This takes a long time, in part because it requires being in regular contact with a lot of people. Our speakers had to submit their abstracts by July. In August we sent them feedback. In September we began collecting info on who was definitely coming, when they could speak, etc. By the end of September our schedule was set.

8. The volunteers (September, 2013). Also in September we tracked down volunteers. We found that doing a general online call for volunteers wasn’t too successful, but asking our friends, family, and coworkers turned up some amazing people.

9. Advertise, advertise, advertise (October, 2013). In a way, we’d been advertising through our web presence since the spring, but we definitely stepped up our game in the month before the conference. We had flyers, post cards, and posters — yes, like made of dead trees — that we plastered around campus. We sent out emails to related university departments. We posted a ton of friendly reminders on our Twitter feed.

10. Crunch time (late October, 2013). And then everything happened at once. In the final weeks we were active all the time: designing and printing the programs, locking down the catering, managing last-minute speaker crises, etc. This was definitely a good time to have blocked out with no other obligations.

Conference time! October 25 – 27, 2013. Also, we’re finding that It’s good to plan for about a month of post-conference work as well. This, so far, has involved things like getting speakers their honorariums, posting online content, and writing follow-up pieces like this one.

Yes, all in all, it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s totally worth it, and (with patience, passion, and a team of awesome people) it’s very doable. Now YOU try, because we want to hang out at your conferences.

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Lessons from QGC: Budgeting your games conference on a shoestring

Last week’s Queerness and Games Conference was more inspiring than we organizers ever could have imagined. During our final session, where we discussed the future of queerness and games, many participants expressed interest in starting conferences like QGCon in their own communities and/or universities. That is rad. After nine months of making QGCon a reality, there’s a lot of nitty-gritty insight into the process that I’d like to share, in the hopes that we can make your road to organizing a shoestring game conference a little less mysterious. So let’s talk about money,

One thing to remember before I toss out a bunch of numbers: the Queerness and Games Conference was free, free-ity, free. Huzzah for financial inclusivity! However, that meant that none of our funding came from ticket sales (though, if we had it to do again, we would have added the EventBrite “donate” button to our site much sooner). As a basic comparison, here is how the cost of attending QGCon compared to the cost of other popular 2013 games conferences:

Game Developer’s Conference, all-access pass: $2,100
Indie Cade, all-access pass: $450
Penny Arcade Expo, four-day pass: $95
GaymerX, three-day pass: $70
Different Games: free
Lost Levels: free

Given that, we’re particularly proud that we pulled off the following budget, though admittedly by the skin our teeth. First off, here is a list of everything that we spent money on:

$1,400: keynote speaker (travel and accommodations covered)
$400: featured speakers (travel and accommodations partially covered)
$1,250: space rental (technically one lecture hall and one classroom, but we really a whole building)
$300: printing (posters, post cards, 200 programs)
$65: assorted materials (name badges, plates and napkins)
$420: breakfast Saturday and Sunday (coffee, bagels, and fruit for 40)
$510: lunch for speakers/volunteers Saturday and Sunday (burritos for 30)
$200: dinner for night games (pizza for 50)
$540: speaker and volunteer dinner (Mexican food buffet for 40)
$95: drinks (wine, bottled water, soda)
Total spent: $5,180

You’ll notice that a large chunk of our budget went into food. On first glance, that might seem unnecessary ($200 for pizza?). However, it was important to us to promote conviviality and a sense of community. Providing meals encouraged people to spend more time at the event space. It also allowed speakers and volunteers to grab food between sessions without stressing about local eating options. Plus, free food made the conference more financially accessible to speakers and attendees from out of town. Another large chunk of our funds went to speakers. It was important to us, as much as possible, to use our funding to promote accessibility and diversity, which meant finding ways to include participants from beyond the Bay Area.

Where did we get that money? All of our funding came from academic departments on UC Berkeley campus. If you’re also looking for university funding, we recommend searching widely; think interdisciplinary. Some departments will likely shake their heads at your silly games. Others will like the snazzy idea of a games conference. Keep on pushing and prodding, and eventually the numbers will add up. Note: despite some concerns about corporate presence at the event, we did approach a handful of games companies for support. All of them turned us down, even those with dedicated “diversity” departments. Here is where our money ultimately came from:

$1,210: Berkeley Center for New Media
$1,500: Dean of Arts and Humanities
$500: Townsend Center for Humanities
$500: Department of Film & Media
$500: School of Information
$400: German Department
$200: New Media Working Group
$200: Comparative Literature Department
$100: Gender & Women’s Studies Department
—Total funding: $5,110

Anecdotal evidence from conversations I’ve had with grad students organizing conferences on more traditional topics tells me that $5,000 is in the low-to-middle for a weekend-long event. These other conferences also included significantly fewer speakers and participants (and significantly less tasty pizza). If you were operating on an even smaller budget, you could 1) spring for less food, 2) try to find a space that’s donated instead of rented and 3) do less dead-tree printing and offer more purely web-based materials.

Given the modest nature of our funding, we got creative in a few places to help keep our costs down. First, we arranged home stays with friends instead of stipends for our speakers who needed help with accommodations. Next, we printed a lot of our less formal materials on a departmental printer. In terms of people hours, we had an enormous amount of support from a core of volunteers, whose expertise replaced the cost of A/V help, etc. Finally, we ended up cutting out one of our free food moments — the closing reception, which was supposed to have wine, cheese, etc. Instead, we announced to the crowd that we were our of money (seriously), but that they should feel free to hang out, chat, and enjoy each other’s already intoxicating company.

Next time around, assuming there is a next time around (fingers crossed), we’re hoping that the success of QGCon 2013 will help us raise funds with a bit more eeeeeeease. In the mean time, though, we are grateful to all of our sponsors, our volunteers, our speakers — and everyone who made the Queerness and Games Conference amazing, even on a shoestring budget!

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The Queerness and Games Conference is fast approaching

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The Queerness and Games Conference is open for submissions!

I’m thrilled to say that the inaugural Queerness and Games Conference is officially moving from idea to full-blown reality. Thanks to my amazing co-organizers, we now have a website, a Twitter feed, an event space, a bit of basic funding, and the interest and support of both the industry and academia. I’m currently in Toronto for the American Comparative Literature Association conference, and everyone I talk seems excited to hear that we’re organizing a conference about the intersection of LGBT issues and video games. Plus, word is getting around. Today I mentioned the event to two separate digital humanities grad students I’d never met before, both of whom said, “Oh, everyone keeps telling me about that!”

The call for papers is now open, by the way, with a submission deadline of July 1. If this is a topic that you’d be interested in speaking to, we’d love to hear from you. Academics and game-related professionals from all disciplines are welcome to submit proposals for talks, panels, or experimental sessions. Possible topics include (but are definitely not limited to) LGBT representation in games, LGBT concerns in the games industries, and the intersection of queer theory and games studies. More detailed submission guidelines are available on our website. There you’ll also find contact info if you’d like to get in touch with the co-organizers with any questions. Spread the word! Tell your friends! Send us cool ideas and then come present them!

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Everything’s coming up queerness and games

I’m in the midst of co-organizing The Queerness and Games Conference (QGCon) a Berkeley’s Center for New Media, and I’m excited. The event is bringing together academics and game developers to talk about a variety of topics at the intersection of LGBT issues and video games: representation in games themselves, discrimination in the industry, but also how to combine queer studies and games studies. We’re aiming for something of an un-conference model, with traditional panel presentations, but also interactive workshops and maybe even a mini queer games jam. That’s happening the last weekend in October. Psst, keep an eye out for more info soon, including registration and a call for papers!

Maybe the most exciting part, however, is that it feels like, at this very moment, something is suddenly happening in queerness and games. In addition to our October conference, EA just held its half-day event Full Spectrum, which touched on similar issues in the industry (with mixed success, apparently, but all dialogues are good dialogues). Gamer X, “the first gaming and geek lifestyle convention with a focus on LGBTQ culture,” is happening this August in San Francisco. Now there’s a Kickstarter for a full-length feature documentary “exploring the queer side of gaming and LGBTQ presence in the game industry,” which has already raised $25,000+.

I’ve been a part of the games industry, in one form or another, for nine years now. (Wait, seriously? How old am I? Terrifying.) When I started out in 2004 as a games journalist who focused on gender and sexuality, I felt like one of the only voices in a vast crowd of people who insisted that “there was nothing gay about video games.” Even suggesting that we talk through these issues got me elaborate hate mail, even death threats. Just a few years back, when I presented to an auditorium of game development undergrads about implementing queer friendly design, I was met with comments like, “It had never occurred to me to put gay people in my games.”

Today, something is in the air. I’m thrilled to be re-entering the industry as a games academic at just this moment. I’m excited to see the industry begin to shift. I’m excited to see the conversations become complex and meaningful. I’m excited to see how games studies can meet queer studies. And I’m ecstatic that, when I talk to people about a Queerness and Games Conference, I’m met with support, enthusiasm, and understanding. After so many years of fighting for the legitimacy of exploring LGBT issues and games, it means an enormous amount to me every time somehow says, “Yes, that event it just what we need.”

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Games industry sexism: sometimes it’s the little things

Sometimes sexism in the games industry is big and blatant, as this week’s GDC controversies have made clear. Sexy ladies dance for our amusement at IDGA parties. Sexy ladies hand out energy drinks at Moscone. Some guy tells Felicia Day that there are no women in gaming, she tells that to a room full of women developers, and they all give the “I’ve totally been there and that guy needs a drink thrown in his face” nod.

Sometimes, though, it’s the little things — the little things that aren’t meant to be harmful. In fact they’re meant to be “funny” or “fun.” But they remind us that the devil is in the details, and the details are that women in the games industry are fighting an uphill battle against stereotypes both big and small. In some ways, the small ones hurt more, because they’re easier for others to dismiss as “unimportant,” and they have a way of wearing you down, sneaking into every day, not just the “big” days where some asshole tells you sexist things on a street corner.

At the Women in Games luncheon at GDC yesterday, which was lead by wonderful, intelligent, highly conscientious speakers, I was surprised to find that the gift bags left at our seats contained the following items, each imprinted with the Women in Games logo: a scarf, some chapstick, a series of nail files, and a keyring-sized compact mirror. It took me a minute to make sense of this array. Oh wait, we’re ladies! Ladies do their nails and check their makeup while fighting sexism, right? Given the strong, progressive tenor of the event, seeing the Women in Games logo on the front of the dainty compact mirror seemed like an insidious little kick in the teeth.

I’m not sure who made those swag decisions, and I’m not blaming the women who organized the luncheon. More likely, the luncheon sponsors, Xbox and Microsoft Studios (as the event material proudly announces), made the call. To me, however, this just proves the point. Hundreds of feminists can have an excellent discussion about how to change the industry. GDC can be dotted with talks about diversity and gender roles. But the money, the power, and the decisions still largely sit in the hands of the quietly but persistently sexist — those who jab at our sides from the wings, those who use the little things to remind us to stay in our place, even in our biggest moments.

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Married, female, and second class

I am a married person, and sometimes that makes me feel icky. I love my husband, but even saying that word (“husband”) makes my skin crawl a little — though not as much as saying the word “wife.” I got married because, after nine years together, my partner and I wanted to go from being joined at the hip to being joined financially and socially. However, as members of the queer community, we faced our moments of inner conflict, and still do. Why should we support the institution of marriage when so many others can’t get married at all? Why choose marriage (i.e. an official sanction from the government and mainstream culture) instead of just committing to each other off the books? Why do we deserve the privileges that come with being married, middle-class, white, of the same religious background, and of opposite genders? I would be lying if I said I don’t sometimes wonder if we made the right decision.

However, one thing I never realized until after I got married is that marriage doesn’t just come with unspoken privileges (it certainly does). It also comes with some surprisingly insidious gender biasing. And by biasing, to be clear, I mean bullshit. In a day and age when people know better than to blatantly discriminate against women in professional situations, somehow marriage makes sexism okay. The example that drives me up a wall every time is paperwork. Whenever I file taxes, the preparer refuses, refuses to list my name before my husband’s, despite the fact that I come first alphabetically, despite the fact that I handle the finances, and despite the fact that he’s not even there in the office. No matter how many times and in how many ways I protest, I hit a brick wall. “That’s just how it’s done. Why does it matter? He makes a lot more money than you, so these are basically his taxes.”

Buying a house was a nightmare. We signed our names hundreds of times on hundreds of forms. On every single one — every single one — I was not allowed to sign first. Most of the professionals involved (insurance agents, escrow agents, etc.) were women, and all gave me the same response: it’s not a big deal, sign the form already, besides your husband earns more than you so he’s the one who matters. The one who matters? You’ve got to be kidding. You’re telling me that if I were the game designer and he were the grad student, I could put my second-class lady signature on the first line? Somehow I seriously doubt it. How do you sleep at night knowing that you just bullied another woman into shutting up, taking a backseat, and smiling?

Then there are the moments of “well-intentioned” discrimination that make me feel like, by signing a marriage contract, I’ve accidentally sold myself into the days before second-wave feminism. A woman comes by to show me carpet samples. We’re looking at colors, I’m saying “yes” or “no,” and everything is normal until I mention my husband, at which point she declares with a knowing grin, “Well, we better not do anything without approval from the man of the house.” A contractor comes in to give an estimate on one of two days each week that I work from home. When he figures out that I’m married, he insists on doing the follow-up on a day I’m not available. Though I’ve told him multiple times that I’m a student and a teacher, he says, “You’re a housewife, right? Your schedule must be pretty open.” I’m a wife, and I’m standing in a house, but that doesn’t make me a housewife. I seriously have to say that?

Dear mainstreamers, I feel bad enough about signing up for marriage privilege, so could we cut the marriage sexism? Yes, my romantic relationship with a man is approved by the state of California. Yes, I’m still an equally valid, feminist subject. I’m not trying to evade paying taxes; I’m not trying to stop paying my mortgage. (Maybe I should be.) I’m simply asking that you let me be a “good” little member of the system by paying with my own damn name on the bill, my own damn name on the check, my own damn name on the return address label. You want us to get married, I know you do, and that makes me feel icky enough. If I’m going to stand here and play nice, the least you could do is cut out treating me like a second-class citizen.

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