In which a  Dude rudely tells a woman she’s wrong about sexism, misogyny and rape culture, which in a feat of epic meta perfectly illustrates sexism, misogyny and rape culture by perpetuating them.

This evening I tweeted;

Is Chomsky a rape apologist too? Would it be quicker to just list dudes on the left who aren’t rape apologists? (Do they exist?)

Then as if by magic I get a seemingly innocent question from a random bloke I don’t follow and who doesn’t follow me asking me to ‘explain it’.  Assuming he genuinely didn’t know what I was talking about and hence that’s why he was asking, I said it’s because of support for Assange and the belittling of the rape allegations. These two posts by AWOL explain the issues of why so many women have issues with Assange  and his rape apology brohorts…

(more…)

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Just a few days after writing my post about Language and Rape Culture another gem of rape culture crops up, deliberate mis-reporting and misrepresentation of  news that false rape accusations are indeed very rare. It is particularly disturbing this occurred on Newsbeat, the Radio 1 news strand aimed at a teen and young adult audience. An audience already deprived of any decent education about consent and abuse. I’m not going to link to the BBC but instead the F word which covers the story and explains why it is bullshit.  Glosswitch also eloquently explains why this focus is distorted, away from the truth that rape is the norm and false allegations are not, rape culture switches this.

Just another example that we live in a rape culture. That ‘male’ is the default lens through which our world is filtered, this is a perfect example of how society and rape culture twists the truth to make it more palatable to rape apologists and rapists. We’ve not moved on much from the age old tropes of devious, malicious women aiming to hurt the poor ickle men as much as we can. Women are painted as manipulative, overly emotional, witches, fundamentally untrustworthy, liars. In patriarchy, in rape culture we are never to be believed. On the rare occasion rape culture admits us to be victims of male violence and oppression, as opposed to devious, delusional manipulative harpies who are making it up to ruin a poor man’s life, we obviously brought it on ourselves. If only we’d not been women, none of this would ever have happened!  It is after all up to us, it is not the job of men to control their own behaviour.

Macbeth_illustration5_midPity the poor menz, forever Macbeth, incapable of making their own decisions they are manipulated into committing evil deeds for their own benefit, but only because some evil witches and a nagging wife made them do it! As Anita Sarkeesian points out in her ‘Evil Demon Seductress’  tropes vs women; “The harmful misogynist myth that this trope reinforces is that women primarily use their so-called sexual power as a way to manipulate, trick and control men. This fallacy is widespread and pervasive and some men even claim that women hold more power in society purely based on this absurd myth”.  Patriarchy loves to cast men in roles of no control, creating a false sense of victimhood and being ‘manipulated’ by women. MRA’s and other assorted misogynist douchenuggets love to assert that, despite being woefully under represented in almost every position of power ever from the media, law, politics, business etc, women are the ones who really control things by manipulating their poor innocent husbands and lovers. According to this trope women have magical vaginas men crave and we know this and manipulate men into doing our bidding, from forcing them to pay for dinner and shower us with gifts  before we will even think of sex to using our children and malicious lies to gain custody and lavish divorce settlements. It is exactly this age old cacophony of bullshit that is behind false allegation myths. Apart from the fact this is a conspiracy on a par with the aliens built the pyramids from behind the grassy knoll, it once again frames women’s entire existence from the viewpoint of men. Women are afforded no desire of their own, god forbid they be lesbian or asexual, the mere fact this ‘power’ we supposedly have in this scenario can only be accessed via men shows just show utterly sexist and misogynist it is, and even if it were true it would not mean women have power, power is not power if you have to defer it, if you have to access through someone else as you are deemed incapable of it in your own right. They do not think that if women were granted equal power in their own right then there would be no need for ‘manipulation’ anyway? It is not women who asserted that a woman’s only worth is via her attractiveness to men, once again this is patriarchy complaining about shit patriarchy invented, but finding a way to blame it on women. Yawn.

Patriarchy, whilst asserting the all powerful role of the male simultaneously seeks to cast men in the role of perpetual toddlers in mid tantrum, demanding women look after them and offering little back but screams about how it’s so unfair. This dichotomy appears to me to be a way of muffling that control, keeping it by presenting a face to the world that says ‘but look we’re helpless really! Look women do all the real work and have all the power! How can you hate us?’,  just more gas lighting from patriarchy attempting to shift the focus , yet again, onto men.

 

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This excellent article   by Helen Lewis about the continued harassment and vile hate speech directed towards the fabulous Anita Sarkeesian of the brilliant Feminist Frequency has angered me so much. I have been following this saga for a while but this article has illustrated some hideously vile comments, images and an overriding ideology of pure misogynist  hatred that dwarfs everything I read previously I just had to write about it.

TRIGGER WARNING for the whole post and links.

I’m a woman and I play video games. I love playing video games. I have played games since half these misogynist wankoids were in nappies. As much as I love video games and geeky things in general I know the culture that surrounds them is SEXIST AS SHIT.I am sick of people telling me I should ignore things that belittle my very identity and ‘stop being so sensitive’ just so I can feel a part of a culture surrounding a form of entertainment I enjoy and indulge in to RELAX and HAVE FUN. They are called ‘GAMES’ FFS not ‘ENDURANCE TESTS’, ‘ FESTIVALS OF HATRED’ or ‘WITCH HUNTS’. It says a lot about our society that women are expected to put up with, and indeed to anticipate and accept as an integral part of the whole thing,  hate speech just to play a game. This is not an isolated incident,  Bioware (a games company) writer Jennifer Helper was subject to a campaign of hatred and feminist blogger Laurie Penny has been subject to similar too, I could go on. Getting insulted online if you’re a woman is normal. I haven’t been but I imagine it’s because I largely hang out in ‘safe spaces’ onlineand I am not popular enough to attract any attention, it is also why I largely do not comment on many sites and engage in conversation, I and many other women effectively silence themselves because we know indulging in mainstream internet debate and conversation will often result in being insulted just for being a woman. Note this is not being respectfully disagreed with or having your points argued with, this is being subject to insults PURELY BECAUSE OF YOUR GENDER. There is a huge difference, I expect people to disagree with me, I accept that but I do not and should not have to, accept this disagreement to be combined with sexist insults and harassment that would NOT be used against a male using the same arguments. To quote Anita Sarkeesian;

 

“The image based harassment I’m discussing here is not part of any legitimate discourse but instead falls squarely into the category of misogynist abuse. It’s a critical distinction and is evidenced by the fact that all of the images are attacking my gender or presumed sexuality and rely heavily on pre-existing sexist stereotypes.”

 

 

Not Feeding the trolls and tacit acceptance

As much as the outright hatred disgusts me so too does the tacit acceptance of it by the ‘don’t feed the trolls just ignore it’ brigade. What this effectively amounts to is the silencing of women’s voices. It is telling us to shut up and put up with horrific abuse from people who would wish extreme violence upon us just because of gender. It is telling us to accept hate. Yes it’s the internet, but the internet is populated by real people behind the keyboards and those real people accept these views even if they ‘exaggerate’ it for online use an attention, there is still an acceptance of misogyny  and racism and just about every form of hatred you can imagine. Anything that threatens the dominance of the straight white male. Asking us to ‘ignore them’ in relation to the trolls is to ignore the fact that misogyny like this is rife, that shit like this is experienced by women on a regular basis, on-line and off. To ignore is is to silence the voices of millions of women who have been saying for years ‘this shit happens to us and it needs to stop’. It is to ignore the fact that rape ‘jokes’ online and sexual violence in the real world are related and are part of the same ideology. It is to ignore the fact that the people who post this violent shit online are real people who are out there in the real world, along with the attitudes that they display online even if they are ‘watered down’. The ‘joke’ excuse is void too; if anyone genuinely respected women they would not use such offensive stuff as bait for ‘humour’, they would know that in a culture where woman are regularly subject to sexual abuse, violence and harassment this shit is NOT SOMETHING YOU JOKE ABOUT, THIS SHIT IS REAL. THIS SHIT LEADS TO WOMEN BEING KILLED. The ‘humour’ excuse does not hold water when all it does is prop up disgusting attitudes towards women, when it does nothing to challenge them when all it does is enforce a status quo of hatred.

The same attitude that wishes rape on a woman online for ‘lulz’ is the same attitude that says a woman was ‘asking for it’ if she was dressed in a certain way, if she knew the guy, if she kissed the guy, uf she was drinking and a million and one other victim blaming tactics designed to shit the blame away from the rapist and on to the woman. It is the same attitude that allows rapists to walk free, that allows police officers to abuse women who came to them for safety and get away with it for so long.

Jay Smooth has a great video on why you should ‘feed the trolls’ (as well as another video on sexist gamer dudes, specifically about the Sarkeesian incident, imploring guys to speak out about this stuff). As he points out this type of ‘trolling’ happens a lot more often to people in marginalised groups, such as LGBT, women, people of colour etc and this is EXACTLY why it is an issue and we should not shut up. It’s aim is to uphold straight white male dominance of the internet, which is becoming an essential part of life and communication. It’s aim is to SHUT US UP, and it’s precisely because of that that we will NOT SHUT UP. Throughout history marginalised groups have been silenced by the patriarchal, kyriarchal society and we have been told to ‘just get on with it’ or that we ‘complain too much’ and ‘take offence too easily’ (because taking offence when you’re whole identity and existence is belitted and despised is you know being ‘too sensitive’). This is no different.  Tiger Beatdown also has an excellent post on the matter from back in 2011, proving this is not a ‘new’ thing which uses the author’s own horrific experiences to  explain exactly why this stuff is serious and needs to be challenged. To put is succinctly s.e smith of Tiger Beatdown says “This is a reality, and it doesn’t go away if we don’t talk about it”

It strikes me that perhaps the vast majority of the ‘don’t feed the trolls’ brigade are people coming from a place of privilege who have never had torrents of abuse directed towards them for being who they are. People whose identity is not belittled and maligned every day of their lives by trolls and in subtler forms by a mainstream media that is more subtle about it’s misogyny, racism, homophobia, disablism, transphobia etc. To say ‘don’t feed to trolls’ is to deny that many of us are expert witnesses in this because it is our lives, we can’t just switch off the computer and ignore stuff ‘online’ because ‘online’ does not exist in a vacuum and the kind of extreme attitudes expressed by trolls are expressed in much more subtle ways all over the ‘real world’.

It is not ‘our’ fault for being offended by offensive shit it is the attitudes of the people who seek toe demean us that is offensive. How can I not be offended by a world that tacitly accepts that it’s OK to hate me because I am a woman? That my voice and opinions are worth less because of the random allocation of chromosomes at my conception?

I will not shut up and I will continue to be angry because there is a lot of shit to be angry about. In short:

WOMEN WILL NOT SILENCED BY SOME SEXIST ARSEHOLES ONLINE AND I WILL KEEP PLAYING GAMES

I am playing Deus Ex: Human revolution atm which is brilliant and just so happens to be written by a woman, and perhaps not so coincidentally, is the only game I have seen with a human, respectable and realistic portrayal of sex workers.

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It’s a disease that spreads throughout our language and culture, if you throw badly you throw ‘like a girl’, we tell men to pull themselves together to ‘be a man’ and to ‘stop being pathetic, stop acting like such a girl’. ‘Girly’ , ‘Womanly’;  these are used to imply things and people that are weak, insubstantial, fluffy, throw away and inconsequential.  It’s been said that the worst thing a man can be called is a woman, and the worst thing a woman can be called is a woman. I would argue that the worst thing a woman can be called is ‘un-feminine’. To decry a woman as ‘not feminine’ , an insult often applied to feminist or any women who dares speak up for herself or challenge the narrow confines of what a woman should be. This goes beyond a negative perception of femaleness to imply weakness and flaw, it seeks to deny us an identity, it not only seeks to belittle women but denies us any association with our womanhood. It goes so deep into misogyny and touches the very core of it; it is something that seeks to divorce us from what we are, the deny us to ability to be ourselves. Female. Feminine. Women. By calling us ‘un-feminine’ someone not only implies we are ‘wrong’ for breaking the mould of ‘acceptable’ womanhood but seeks to deny us any association with our gender and identity as women.
Women sometimes don’t want to identify as feminist because ‘I like to be feminine’. Female sports stars get ridiculed for their ‘un-feminine’ appearance. Their broad shoulders strong thighs; things which makes them so amazing at what they do, features earned as the result of head work and dedication, they get poured over and insulted. We have this paradoxical pressure upon us to be both feminine whilst the very idea of ‘feminine’ seeks to deny us the reality of being female.
This myth of the ‘feminine ideal’ that is wheeled out every so often in these sorts of arguments is all pervading and poisonous. It seems to be less about celebrating what is wonderful about femininity and womanhood and more about presenting some airbrushed vacuous ideal of ‘femininity’ that has nothing to do with reality. It’s an ideal imposed upon us from outside, it’s impractical and stifling. It implies a weakness and submissiveness, things which are implied as an ideal that should be looked up to and replicated.
It presents women as ‘Female Eunuchs'; cutting us off from our essence, from what we are and making us void shells. The idea of the ‘female eunuch’, sterilised and sanitised to the point of being ‘Stepford’ women is an image that is so strong and so resonant. It illustrates the idea that this ideal is depriving us of something vital and real; It’s trying to destroy us by divorcing us from our very essence, cutting off what makes us women.
This is what ‘feminine’ has come to mean; a paradoxical image of femininity that is nothing but smoke, mirrors and a hollow core.  The words we associate with ‘feminine’: weak, passive, dependent, fragile, superficial. What is implied by this is submissiveness, a ‘seen and not heard’ a sit down look pretty don’t bother your brain. It’s the passivity that’s implied that irks me; physical and mental. ‘Feminine’ women and girls don’t get sweaty playing sports, don’t dirty themselves playing in the mud, don’t tax their ‘delicate’ brains with ‘difficult’ books. They stay inside, they play home or make home. It’s a passivity that has constrained and sent so many women to madness and misery. A Barbie doll with plastic tits with no nipples and plastic pants with no cunt. That’s what we ‘should’ be if we’re ‘feminine’. A mannequin. A vacuous void, but one that looks pretty on someone’s arm like a status handbag made of living breathing flesh. It is sold to us as ‘feminine hygiene’ products which are designed more to mkae us ashamed of our bodies than for hygiene, most in fact the are downright unhygienic with their chemical scents triggering irritation and infection.

Maybe we should reclaim the word? ‘Feminine’ should not be about passivity and superficial vacuous ‘beauty’ feminine should be redolent of strength; the blood sweat and tears we emit our whole lives, the scars we gain from puberty, pregnancy and life in general. A sharp mind and a quick intellect. The strength we have in endurance, to endure hardships; the women throughout history who have had to endure endure endure, the women who still do, the women who are belittled for the colour of their skin, their social status and for the fact they are women. It is no coincidence that women of colour, women of lower social status, women who do not appear to fit the stereotypical appearance of ‘female’  and those who do not fit in the painfully narrow ‘norms’ of rich able bodied heterosexual whiteness are vilified and seen as ‘un-feminine’  a lot more.They keep going, they endure, the create wonderful things, they are so goddamn strong, a strength that is used against them when it should be celebrated. They are the ‘true feminine’. Strong. Enduring. Intelligent. Challenging. Headstrong. Bold. Courageous. Heroic. These words describe the women I know, these words describe what is really feminine, not some scented waxed and airbrushed simulacra woman.
Insulting women who do not fit this mould by decrying us a ‘not feminine’ is denying us our womanhood, our gender, our whole identity as women, as females as ‘feminine’. It is casting us out as aliens, as unnatural and as ‘wrong’. It seeks to undermine us and deny us the very thing we are.
I wish to reclaim the word and celebrate femininity for what it really is, not celebrate a white washed, bleached out restrained and damaging fantasy. I’m feminine and proud.

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