trixtah: (boom)
[A bit of 101 cross-posted from Fetlife]

I'm really sick of some individuals bitching about the term "rape culture". I realise it's confronting and in-your-face. It's intended to be.

It doesn't mean that women are labelling all or even most men as rapists. It certainly doesn't mean they are labelling YOU as a rapist - if that's the case, and they are speaking up, they won't be faffing around with that term - they would just say that "you're a rapist/abuser/creep". Simple.

But here is a nice concise definition to help explain the concept:

["Rape culture" is] referring to the culture that makes rape incredibly common, blames the victims for putting themselves in a position where they could be raped, and teaches women to avoid, at all costs, making a fuss over things that make them feel threatened, because they won’t be taken seriously anyway. It’s the culture that lets men get away with doing the things that make women feel threatened, because their feelings are so much more important than the women’s feelings.

To add to that, it's not just women (and trans* and gender-ambiguous people) who are subjected to the fallout of rape culture. It's the men who are supposed to believe they "can't help themselves". It's men being told that women have amazing skills at reading body language that men can't attain [1]. It's the decent guys who are supposed to yuk along with their mates making the shitty unwanted sexualised jokes and remarks [2]. It's being tarred with the same brush as that minority of men who go beyond the jokes and skeevy behaviour to actual sexual assault. As Kate Harding says:

...You and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I’d-hit-that and you just can’t reason with them and you can’t live with ‘em can’t shoot ‘em and she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can’t stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can’t play by the rules they don’t belong here and if they can’t take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they’re only good for fucking and cleaning and they’re not fit to be leaders and they’re too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they’d just stop overreacting and telling themselves they’re victims they’d realize they actually have all the power in this society and white men aren’t even allowed to do anything anymore and and and…

I get that you don’t really mean that shit. I get that you’re just talking out your ass.

But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women–to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.

And that guy? Thought you were on his side

And that is rape culture - the guys who do this shit thinking you and society in general [3] ARE on their side, implicitly. That "most guys" would do the same thing if they weren't too "pussywhipped" by "PC" or fear of the law.

Actually, most men don't rape, not because they are afraid of the law, but because they are decent. It's very simple. But given the constant harassment of women and other marginalised groups on the street, on public transport, at parties, at clubs, in the work place (if it's one of those work places), the low-level crap is part of the culture.

And that culture helps enable the men who do actually do the rapes and assaults because of the reluctance of us in society to follow up on the small shit and "have each other's backs". How many times have you laughed off some obviously-unwanted shitty remark or grab that a mate made? Every one of those occasions was when you had his back, not hers. It adds up.

And for the guys who get all up in arms and say "I'm not like that wah wah wah", well, if you're NOT like that, then any post on the internet discussing the problem is not about YOU. Really and truly. Does that help you focus on the actual problem now?

[1] Actually, men read body language with no problem pretty damn well constantly - you know when some dick at the pub is starting up the "are you looking at me?" routine, without him saying a word. You can walk into an office or a building site and spot who the bosses are. Etc etc.

[2] Sure, sometimes it's not unwanted, but there's a time and a place and the right jokes and right people.

[3] Yeah yeah, some few get prosecuted for rape - a minuscule proportion of the actual offenders.

trixtah: (Default)
For those who haven't come across it yet:

Old Spice Man, Feminist Hulk AND Judith Butler ... discourse, SMASH epistemological frameworks, and bake cake, in the bathroom.
trixtah: (Default)
I had no less than FOUR of my blokey team members standing around today chatting on the relative merits of various brands of Dijon mustard to give homemade vinaigrette the perfect touch.

This was AFTER a several minute discourse among the same individuals on the benefits of slow-cooking, and the best ethnic cookbook out there (apparently a Croatian one is a win for my team).

And people wonder if feminism has achieved anything. lol.

(After that, it was all on regarding tonight's rugby game, but I'm all about people not feeling boxed in)
trixtah: (Default)
I've been reading too much stuff about women, young and old, not having the faintest idea of how women's vulvas and labia can vary, and thinking that there is something wrong with them because one of their labia is 5mm longer than the other or suchlike.

So I'm thinking seriously of starting a website where there are galleries of pictures of as many vulvas as I can get. I would like them to be self-submitted, with some demographic information from the submitters (e.g. age, ethnicity, children, surgery, etc). I know that [ profile] vaginapagina has lots of pics, but their stuff doesn't really show up in Google searches. There is at least one other site with pictures of vulvas, but it seems to be there to drive traffic to porno sites (and has fucking flowers and people spreading their labia apart in a porno-like fashion. If you like it, fine, but I think there is a time and a place).

So, questions:

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 5

Is creating such a site a good idea?

View Answers

4 (80.0%)

0 (0.0%)

1 (20.0%)

If "yes" or "maybe", how to solicit contributions?

Feel free to comment further below. Of course, the ironic part is I probably wouldn't want to submit pictures of my own vulva at all - how to ask people to do something I'm personally not comfortable with? While I would not want to do anything with the pictures other than display them for the stated purpose, how to reassure people of that?
trixtah: (Default)
A lovely bumper sticker saying "Driver carries no cash - he's married".

Other than being so vile on more than one level, I was flabbergasted at the fact there was actually a woman sitting in the passenger seat of that car. Not that I really want to deny the ability of people to make willing life choices, but I really don't get women who would want to spend life with someone who thinks that sticker is funny. Or, god forbid, thinks it's funny herself.

Not that plenty of people don't get my life choices either, but still....

ETA: And somewhat unrelated, "never say never" has become a bit of a motto of mine, due to the number of occasions I've needed to backpedal on various notions over the years. I would like to say, however, I feel quite certain I would never ever want to be in a relationship with anyone who would be tempted to call me her wife. For at least two reasons. (Apropos of a post in SUID where a woman described her butch partner as such.)

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One of the blog maintainers at Shapely Prose has started up another blog of the stupid comments that trolls tried - or were able to - to leave, over at Helpful Comments. Other than the stunning intellect on display, the headings and tags are LULZworthy. Here's one in its entirety:

They call me MR. Creepface

“Good luck never finding a boyfriend. If anyone asked me for my full name and contact info before a first date, I wouldn’t show up. I am quite sure most guys would do the same. Crazy bitch.”
Tagged: ladies are crazy

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I have done sweet FA of my homework this weekend, because my motivation, frankly, is hovering around zero. I've also been reading the fascinating posts on Shapely Prose this weekend about women, harassment, and what we do about it.

The post series started off with Sweet Machine deconstructing - more in sorrow than in anger, in an entry called Would It Kill You to be Civil - the recent xckd cartoon featuring male and female figures not talking to each other on the train. The punchline boils down to the fact that the female really did want the guy to talk to her, and SM pointed out that buying into the standard fantasy of "she really wants it" wasn't such a good thing in this instance.

So, that lead to a monster thread, with a few people wondering why SM had problems with the strip, and literally hundreds of others enumerating the many and constant attempts by mainly men to pester, harass and otherwise make women feel unsafe on public transport and many other environments.

That led to a discussion sparked by some men wondering just what they can do to stop women feeling unsafe. In the interests of non-flippant discourse, everyone refrained from re-posting the Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work, and guest poster Starling did an entry a couple of days later called Schrödinger's Rapist; or a guy's guide to approaching a woman without being maced. Wow. That certainly brought them out of the woodwork, despite the fairly stringent moderation that the Shapely Prose posse do in the comments. Personally, I think "Schrödinger's Rapist" is a particularly elegant way of describing the syndrome where you don't want to engage in random conversation with random men due to the likelihood of their outright harassing you, or simply refusing to STFU and go away. The thing is, we are not blessed with psychic powers, and random dude who does not get the hint to leave it be, or refuses to kindly fuck off when invited to might simply be clueless, or might actually be dangerous. Who can tell, except from the displayed behaviour?

So, the resulting comment thread had a bunch of (mainly) guys blaming the victims, minimising, denying (more on this later), deploring the fact that they apparently can't talk to random strangers any more (according the feminist police) ,and generally refusing to take responsibility. There were accusations that all us paranoid feminists were painting all men as rapists - hello, why would anyone bother giving advice to men on avoiding been seen as engaging in pre-assault behaviour if we assumed they'd be assaulting us anyway? There was a bit of "what about teh MENZ?", with the responses that, of course, patriarchy and oppression fuck up everyone. And intersectionality, handled well by Kate Harding:

To the representatives of Dude Nation, if it helps, remind yourself that this is not just a man/woman thing. It is an “assessing the threat of a more privileged person” thing. I, for instance, am Schrodinger’s White Supremacist to every POC I meet, Schrodinger’s Homophobe to every gay person, etc. (If you’re white and straight, so are you! Welcome to the club!) Now, because I’m a woman, I’m statistically much less likely to get violent — but enough white, straight women are hateful assholes that I can’t fault anyone who does not share my various layers of privilege for assuming that said layers might, in fact, make me an asshole!

Nobody owes you their trust. And people who belong to oppressed groups have a damned good reason to be wary of people who don’t belong to the corresponding privileged ones — which means yes, those of us who have the privilege will sometimes have to prove ourselves. Is it unfair? Well, shit yes, systematic oppression is unfair in many ways, most of them far more damaging than that one.

A couple of days later, Fillyjonk put up another post soliciting responses from women who hadn't ever been harassed by men. As she observed in another entry, there seemed to be quite a bit of denial from some of the women commenters, but there were 80-something comments in total, with somewhat more than half being genuinely from women who had experienced NO harassment. Given the thousands of page views on the post, it came in at less than 2%.Maybe that many women are immune, but even so, think about that number. It's horrifying, really.

Now, all of this has been underpinned by the concept of rape culture, which is basically the fact that women are seen as commodities and without true agency. All sorts of things like "battle of the sexes" jokes, giggling at men who get assaulted by women, sexist advertising, rape being used as a method of aggression and punishment, yadda yadda yadda, all feed into it. Personally, I think that term is not the best, since it describes an effect of misogynistic culture, but I suppose it's a snappier phrase. It does have the advantage of highlighting the embodied aggression that is the underlying currrent of what "rape culture" describes.

Melissa McEwan over at Shakesville posted Rape Culture 101 article, which was great. If you want to know all the nuances of the term, that is the place to go. However, there was one aspect I do disagree with, and which I called out in the comments. She quotes the following assertion: It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent.

My problem with it is, naturally, that sex often is violent. Plenty of people who deem themselves to be 100% vanilla will have "rough sex" more or less frequently. Violence can be hot. NON-CONSENSUAL violence, not so much. Recognising that voilence is part of our psyches is not a bad thing - what may or may not be "bad" is the manner in which it is expressed and depicted. Or perhaps contact sports contribute to rape culture as well (hah, certainly plenty of sportsmen do, but that's a slightly different kettle of fish). Well, we'll see where my objections go at the OP. A good discussion of it from the kinky side of the fence is over at SM Feminist, particularly a guest post by Mz Muse called "BDSM: a class act?", but there are a few others tagged with "rape culture" over there.

Finally, I want to get back to some of the denial tactics employed at the Shapely Prose posts. More than one male commenter objected to the statistic of 1 in 6 women have been sexually assaulted, which could be extrapolated to imply that 1 in 60 men are rapists (generously assuming that one man will commit ten assaults). Some guys stated that tarring so many men with the rapist brush is bad, and by the way, the stat is talking about sexual assaults, not rape.

Dear fuckheads. Yes, it is a continuum. Yes, "sexual assault" can be used to describe someone rubbing up against you, feeling your tits, patting you on the butt, all the way through to actual penile penetration in one orifice or another, with or without accompanying beatings, torture and injury.

Cut for graphic triggering remarks on childhood sexual abuse )

trixtah: (Default)

Melissa McEwan at Shakesville, if you haven't seen it yet, has written a powerful article on why it is difficult sometimes for women to trust men.

There is the unwillingness to listen, a ferociously stubborn not getting it on so many things, so many important things. And the obdurate refusal to believe, to internalize, that my outrage is not manufactured and my injure not make-believe—an inflexible rejection of the possibility that my pain is authentic, in favor of the consolatory belief that I am angry because I'm a feminist (rather than the truth: that I'm a feminist because I'm angry).

And there is the denial about engaging in misogyny, even when it's evident, even when it's pointed out gently, softly, indulgently, carefully, with goodwill and the presumption that it was not intentional. There is the firm, fixed, unyielding denial—because it is better and easier to imply that I'm stupid or crazy, that I have imagined being insulted by someone about whom I care (just for the fun of it!), than it is to just admit a bloody mistake. Rather I am implied to be a hysteric than to say, simply, I'm sorry.

Not every man does all of these things, or even most of them, and certainly not all the time. But it only takes one, randomly and occasionally, exploding in a shower of cartoon stars like an unexpected punch in the nose, to send me staggering sideways, wondering what just happened.

As she says, not all men, or even most men, most of the time. But constantly, when you least expect it, someone - often someone who you assume will know better - will come out with a gratuitously casual sexist remark, and then wonder why you get all up in arms about it. Or else you shut up temporarily so as not to do the "angry feminist" thing constantly.

Then there are the men who are varying degrees of ignorant, and throw out that kind of thing all the time.

Hell, yesterday. Friday. At the moment, in conjunction with another team, we are migrating an important business application onto a new operating platform. There are two each of test and development servers, and one production server. The basic design of the production server is not changing, other than to move it to a new underlying host (it's Internet-facing, and requires firewalling and appropriate security). The test and dev servers were also sitting in a firewalled area, due to the fact an external consultant had access to the servers (weak justification, but never mind), but we decided to ditch the firewall since the external consultant was no longer in the picture, and the servers are accessed by internal users only. We were only migrating test and dev in the initial stage. Production would require a change control process to approve the re-platform, and would be a bit further down the track.

Full steam ahead, until our networking group decided in their wisdom and with no consultation with me or the other team leader (who is responsible for the app; I look after the server platform), to yank the IP addresses that they had allocated for the new servers, due to what they assumed was a change to the production "design envelope". With no network addresses, hello, there is no way to use the servers (or even build them). So one fuckwit in Networks - who involved the organisation's head engineering authority as part of his pathetic games - brought the work of two sections and four staff members to a grinding halt, due to what he thought was the case, and which he was entirely wrong about. And the first the other team leader and I heard about it was when Networking Fuckwit visited one of my staff members to tell him to stop work.

So, Friday morning was when it all hit the fan, but the other team leader and I needed to be in an unrelated meeting immediately after we got the news. She and I vented for a couple of minutes before the meeting convenor arrived (our manager), in the presence of a few other people. Men. Anyway, the meeting wrapped up, and we told our manager we needed a couple of words about this situation. As the other guys were leaving, one of them said "Watch out, boss. The ladies are feeling a bit worked up about this, and I wouldn't want to get in their way right now!". Cue much chuckling and jocularity from all the male members of the party. The guy who made the remark is a nice guy - mid 50s, always ready for a chat and a joke. But there you have it, just thrown out there. The other team leader and I rolled our eyes and waited for the amusement to subside before getting on with business.

Of course, this kind of thing happens all the time. Low key, pervasive. Then there is the more out-there aggressive stuff and outright misogyny (which, thankfully, I don't encounter much any more on a face-to-face basis). We all have stories to tell. We all deal with it, all the time, that kind of thoughtlessness. And it's worse when it comes from people that you like and think should be "better than that".

The essay also makes the point that anyone who is not in the dominant group will have similar experiences, and that seems true to me. I can certainly relate to this syndrome from the queer side as well. Look at all the crap this week about Caster Semenya, the South African runner, and all that "is it a he or a she" fuckwittedtude. It's pervasive.

Addendum: on another personal note, it's due to interactions like those that McEwan describes which contributes to the fact that I don't have heterosexual relationships. To use a bit of a reductive scale, I think I'm "naturally" around a Kinsey 4-5, but I've lived a Kinsey 5-6. While many men are too butch-looking for my taste, many are not. I simply don't trust men enough (and some of that is childhood issues, but some of it is not) to want to have an intimate relationship with one. So far. It's bad enough dealing with stupidity at work, but I won't be dismissed and have my concerns minimalised in my own space (I won't take that kind of thing from women either, and yes, I have dumped the one or two who did the internalised sexism thing).

I know men who do not engage in that kind of dismissive thing, but hm, my potential attraction to men in general is not compelling enough to bother seeking out relationships with that 1% who may not push my buttons.


Jul. 12th, 2009 09:07 pm
trixtah: (evil)
Sometimes things work out well: I am going to be in Melbourne next weekend, and work is paying for it. Of course, it's at the price of an all-day meeting on Friday with our branch manager (all the teamleaders and managers in the branch, plus three people from the programming team that sit outside his office door, god knows why). Still, yay short break!

Sociological Images has tons of interesting posts, but I liked this one that describes the essential cultural difference between Australia and NZ. Forget the ethnic makeup, NZ's more Pacific focus, the relative differences in how women are treated (although Australia is catching up, or, NZ is slipping) -- no, the major difference is that people in NZ spend nearly twice as much time a day eating as Australians do (ignore the "correlation" with relative obesity rates on that graph). I knew I liked my leisurely lunches, but I didn't know it was a cultural thing. Heh.

Another cool post on the blog is about a guy called Kasmeneo, who buys his clothing from anywhere in the department store, whether it's menswear or ladieswear. "That’s also my personal statement regarding equal rights - they include the right of clothing choice. What you see here is what I wear everyday, at work, in town, for shopping, whatever." So, he posts about his outfits on his Flickr, but I'll link the the Sociological Images "Rejecting the gender binary in fashion post" that has lots of pics and a discussion. A message, and pretty cute - his style definitely works for him. What else is needed?

On another tangent, about how bodies are represented in the media, the documentary Dreamworlds 3 is an excellent look into how women are portrayed in music videos. While there have always been gratuitous representations of women (and limited ones of men) in music videos, it's gotten progressively worse and worse over time, until I personally can't bear watching music TV these days (not that I have a TV, but you know, gyms and the like). There is a full, but small format and watermarked stream of the doco at the link, and it has some great discussion in it. Definitely worth watching.

And on a more cheerful note, space/time continuum kitteh, and the OMG most hilarious kitteh-pwns-hooman pic evah (I don't check out the Cheezburgers regularly these days, but they've been on a roll these last few weeks).

ETA: Extra bonus YouTubeness in the form of Rick Miller performing Bohemian Rhapsody in the styles of the "25 most annoying (male) voices in the music industry". Hilarious.

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How the Male Brain Can't See the Laundry Pile-Up [???]

Seriously, WTfuckingFuck? Ok, it's not quite an exercise in evolutionary psychology bingo, but it's verging on it in parts. Apparently men tend to tolerate long periods of silence because they were off hunting by themselves all day, silently waiting for animals, while women grew veges and children, which requires more social interaction. Yes, indeed, because early humans (or any apes) never hunted in packs at all, did they? Or felt the need to communicate before, during or after doing so. Nuh uh.

And while Wolf cites a couple of authors and calls their assertions "scientific evidence", I'm afraid that speculation into what early hunters did and didn't do, or the supposed fact that men have difficulty hearing women's tones of voice (seriously, WTF?) doesn't really add up to "evidence" or "scientific" to me. Perhaps the source material is based on something other than someone's speculation, but this article doesn't really demonstrate it.

You know, I'm not denying that men and women might have some biological differences that go beyond our chromosomes, genitals, or hormonal balance (and the effects all those things have), but I think that all that can be said of those is that some attributes might be more common in one sex than another. I don't think there is any attribute that is exclusive to one or the other sex ( and let's not even talk about I/S people, or even get into the question about how black and white anyone's sex might actually be, because, you know, range). I personally think that almost any supposedly-gendered attribute could be plotted similarly to my very scientific graph below, whether you're measuring talkativeness or physical strength. Sometimes the extreme ends might be stretched out further, but there is a fuckload of overlap.

trixtah: (Default)
As mentioned here. But I think this cartoon summarises things nicely:

Read more... )

Kind of reminiscent of Obama "cleaning up" after Bush. (And I wonder if Time deliberately chose that article title, because I've seen it less-charitably observed by some that things haven't changed that much in the White House from early times, with black men cleaning up the messes left by others).
trixtah: (Default)
Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women's contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements.

some inspiration )

You can find out about Grace Hopper, the first woman to write a computer language compiler, and the first to promote programming using English words, here. Funny that Augusta Ada was the first to write a computer algorithm - the logic and language parts of the computing equation more so than the actual mechanics.

One day, I hope to see a scene like the above one myself. A room full of women, learning, talking about and building technology. It hasn't happened to me yet - I tend to have to put up with scenes like these, where the women are typically outnumbered 5-to-1.

So here's to the young women who are not believing the crap that IT is solely about sitting around building or programming widgets (although it's about that too, for the more engineering-minded), but it's the glue that holds modern communications, information processing and knowledge management (if that's not too hackneyed a term) together. Knowledge - knowing where to find it and where to apply it - is power.
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And so are the men in South Africa (and many other places around the world, including the so-called "first world"), who carry out "corrective rapes":

It's a video, and likely to be disturbing for many, although it isn't graphic.

So, yeah, I'm lucky I was born where and when I was, and that I live in the kind of places I do. I'm not immune to rape, but I'm less likely to be targeted for it just because I'm a dyke. Although, of course, I do know people who were raped just because they were dykes. Or trans. Or sex workers. Or powerless in a myriad of ways.

trixtah: (Fem-uh-nist)
And on a more serious note, the National govt in NZ says to women in the public service: "No, you're not worth paying as much as men. Fuck off back to the kitchen, ladies."

The Government has axed two investigations aimed at improving the pay of women as it tries to save money by controlling public sector salaries. ...State Services Minister Tony Ryall said the [pay equity] investigations would "generate an additional form of remuneration pressure that is unaffordable in the current economic and fiscal environment".
Great! Saving money through discrimination! In the next news bulletin on Channel Trix, we look at how government can slash election costs up to 50% by repealing the 1893 Electoral Law Act that enfranchised those pesky women.
trixtah: (Fem-uh-nist)
Has anyone read Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, edited by Jessica Valenti (of Feministing fame)? It's a collection of essays, and there are some interesting titles:
  • Offensive Feminism: The Conservative Gender Norms That Perpetuate Rape Culture, and How Feminists Can Fight Back
  • Beyond Yes or No: Consent As Sexual Process
  • A Woman's Worth
  • A Love-Letter from an Anti-Rape Activist to Her Feminist Sex-Toy Store
  • The Fantasy of Acceptable "Non-Consent": Why the Female Sexual Submissive Scares Us (And Why She Shouldn't)
  • Invasion of Space by a Female
  • When Sexual Autonomy Isn't Enough: Sexual Violence Against Immigrant Women in the United States
  • Trial by Media: Black Female Lasciviousness and the Question of Consent
  • An Old Enemy in a New Outfit: How Date Rape Became Gray Rape and Why It Matters
  • Reclaiming Touch: Rape Culture, Explicit Verbal Consent and Body Sovereignty
  • Shame is the First Betrayer
  • Why Nice Guys Finish Last
  • Sex is Worth Fighting For
  • Purely Rape: The Myth of Sexual Purity and How It Reinforces Rape Culture
  • In Defence of Going Wild, or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Pleasure (and How You Can, Too)
...and many more, which also look very interesting. Naturally US-centric (especially the discussions of teenage sex-ed), but I think the broader question of how women's sexuality is perceived has common themes in Western culture. Not that many essays in this collection  seem to be examining the role of the media in this area, but I suppose that ground has been gone over many times. However, I think examining media portrayal of women could do with an update - was Naomi Wolf really the last to do a major look into it?

I'd be interested if anyone has read it - I think I'll be acquiring it in any case.
trixtah: (Fem-uh-nist)
It's the biggest circulation paper in NZ, and has a pretty good website, but its right-wing bias has become increasingly marked in recent years, and now there is a right-wing government, they're just having a ball.

Onto the dire crap of the day. Paul Holmes is a talkback dj and general "media personality". He's also a little shitfaced toad who should get fucked (although I believe he's "straight" these days), and emigrate to somewhere socially progressive like Saudi Arabia, where I'm sure the sexual politics would suit him right down to the ground. He was interviewing the putative new leader of the Labour Party (Phil Goff), who was explaining how the Labour Party should be proud of so many years of successful government. Holmes' skewer-em-when they're down interview technique elicited the following journalistic highpoint:

But when I suggested to him people might have been tired of being told what to do by intellectual left-wing feminist women, he acknowledged there had grown the perception of the "nanny" state.

Look, Paul, you pathetic little fucktard. We have been governed by jumped-up little selfish unreconstructed sexist classist dickwad men for the last nearly 200 years (Westminister parliamentary system), and some of us "intellectual" left-wing feminist women (who obviously aren't "people") are tired of the Entitlement you seem to feel is due to you and your ilk, and are tired of being told what to do by inadequate blustering Neanderthals. If you think having a few declared feminists in government in the last 9 years is such a threat to the country's (and your) health and well-being, you'd better either harden up and get used to it (once we get rid of this new lot of morons), or die in a fucking fire because you obviously aren't going to cope with life in this century where it's not all about women pandering to your and your equally-dinosaur mates' pathetic little penises egos.

Fuck I'm pissed off. GAH. Why why why did I click on that link?

trixtah: (Fem-uh-nist)
Before you all think I've been abducted by aliens, I'm not questioning the need for or aims of feminism in general (and if you do, why are you reading this?). What I'm wondering about is the label.

Why do we call ourselves "feminists"? I was having a wee wander through one well-known feminist journal due to some discussion on my flist, and found her rant against those people who call themselves "equalists", basically accusing them of copping out. Actually, I somewhat sympathise with that POV - I mean, "feminist" is the common label for those who believe in equality among the sexes, and I do wonder why people avoid it.

But one (young) commenter said that her interpretation of "feminist" was that we were trying to recreate some kind of matriarchy, which is why she went along with the "equalist" label. And, to be frank, when I first heard the "feminism" word, I thought pretty much exactly the same thing. I had to be educated as to its meaning.

I dislike terms that appear to say something, but actually mean something else. I called myself a lesbian-feminist for a couple of years, before realising that it was actually an outgrowth of the cultural feminist philosophy... and that concept has nothing at all to do with art. Perhaps it's the fact I'm a butch dyke, but to be honest, saying that all women as a group have intrinsic (and superior) qualities (as the difference feminists say as well) that no man could ever have really gets my hair standing on end. I hate that POV. I'm a bit allergic to fundamentalism, of any brand.

I called myself an anarcha-feminist before I realised that it didn't just mean a feminist with anarchist philosophical underpinnings - apparently one also needs to subscribe to the radical feminist assertion that oppression on a gender basis was the first (and most crucial) form of hierarchical oppression. I'm not sure about that. At all. I mean, who knows? The Wikipedia article makes this statement: "Anarcha-feminists believe that the struggle against patriarchy is an essential part of class struggle". I don't, in the classical sense. I think the Marxist notion of class struggle needs major reworking - think globalisation, for a start.

I suppose the little sub-label that best fits me is "sex-positive feminist", but I really really really dislike the dichotomy that it pulls up by implicitly labelling other feminists as "sex-negative" (although, actually, I do think some very few prominent feminists are sex-negative... but there are much fewer of them than there are sex-negative wankers who currently have political power). I dislike reactionary labels.

So, I don't have a satisfactory feminist sub-set label to put to myself. It brought me back to the idea, then, of why do we call ourselves "feminists"? I'm against sexism - I do not believe that anyone should be pigeonholed in any way due to their gender. I'm also against racism, but I don't call myself a "blackist" (well, I don't qualify, even if such a term existed). I'm against homophobia, but I don't call myself a "queerist". Sure, it's good to have identity pride, but I don't think it's necessary to have it to be against any of the -isms or -phobias that mitigate against fair treatment of any subculture.

I realise the feminist label has a historical context, going back to the suffrage movement. But other than that, why use it? It doesn't clearly represent the concept that it's supposedly for - well, unless you are a cultural/difference feminist. It tends to exclude men (or those who are in-between). And no, I'm not saying wah wah wah, those poor oppressed men - but while feminism can be seen to be a woman's phenomenon only, it can be hard for those who aren't women to see its relevance to them. Sure, unfair treatment of women is waaaay more pernicious than for men, but sexism fucks us all up.

By using the label, are we just recognising the fact that the balance needs to be weighted more to the female side to get to a point where the inequities stop? I dunno, I think I'd rather have a term that implies that the weight be removed from the privileged (male) side. While I agree that women need more privilege, that's just the means of achieving the desired (equality) outcome, not the aim itself.

So, thoughts, anyone? I'm not going to suddenly renounce the label - it is the accepted shorthand for my beliefs in that area, and well, I do have identity pride there too, heh - and I'm not quite so silly as to assume a label can encompass an entire belief set. But I'd like to hear people's ruminations on the benefits and drawbacks of this particular label.
trixtah: (Default)
Well, I just got to see Itty Bitty Titty Committee. It's a "look at grassroots-style feminist groups and the feisty young women who run them."

It follows a bunch of lesbo-anarcho-feminists in a group who run around shagging each other and carrying out "actions". I would probably have loved it 15 years ago, and it's kind of cute and amusing with the mild piss-takes of earnest queer/feminist politics. But it felt incredibly dated. Well, ok, there is a t/g character, and they have a website and mini camcorder. But they are listening to riot grrl punk (does anyone who wasn't around at the time actually buy Sleater-Kinney nowadays?), buying and making zines, reading 70's and 80's rad fem works, and not looking at anyone's website except their own. Oh, and they text each other as well. But does anyone have a standalone answer machine that's not their mobi's voicemail these days?

Really, it added up to adolescent dyke drama, lots of outmoded politics and passé music to me. The director, Jamie Babbit, is nearly my age, and I liked But I'm a Cheerleader. The humour about the "scene" was very reminiscent of that movie. But something supposedly situated today should actually be situated in the present. Or, if she had made the movie about the Queer Nation days of the early 90s, it would have been fine.

The cast were good, and quite a lot of the stuff portrayed was excruciatingly familiar. Maybe that's part of the reason I really felt like Jenny Shimizu's grumpy eye-rolling character throughout - been there, done that, and I don't need to relive it again (what was done at the time politically was valuable in many respects, and the whole ACT-UP/QN thing was very energising, but strategies and politics evolve, even if many of the issues haven't). And the interpersonal fuckups were too horribly real - amusing at times, but also cringeworthy.  God, maybe I am getting middle-aged. Unfortunately, Jamie Babbit's attempt to shoehorn nostalgia into a modern setting didn't really work for me.

6½ out of 10, for the sharply-observed characters and interpersonal stuff, even if I thought throughout, "Thank god I'm no longer 19!!" And, actually, the portrayal of the political shenanigans too, even if it is 15 years late. But I had to subtract 2 points for outdatedness and at least half for the movie name: " on-campus group called the Itty Bitty Titty Committee, whose focus is to empower women who suffer from D-cup envy." Obviously I've been a little too subsumed in some of those retro values when I find it not at all amusing from the viewpoint of someone suffering from less-than-D-cup envy. Or maybe real feminists really do have small tits. (I know, I know... it made me grumpy, as I say).
trixtah: (Default)
Best ever quote:

I don't want
[political] power. I just object to idiots having power over me.

Oh, and while I'm on the topic of reading, two annoyances. Why o why did I get that David and Leigh Eddings book out of the library? I knew I'd hate myself, and I do. The book was Polgara the Sorceress, and it's one of the Belgariad books, which are absolute tripe, but were entertaining enough on the initial read. But. O dear god, but. Apparently the last 40 years haven't happened for the Eddingses. Apparently women (even mighty sorceresses) play stupid "battle of the sexes" crap to manipulate the poor stupid men who don't realise that women really rule the world.  And men. (Sure they do, it's obvious).  Women also have special knowledge and skills that men can never hope to gain, such as knowing what someone really thinks by the marvels of feminine intuition.  I would open the book to get a quote... but I can't do it. Feh. It's bad enough when men come up with sexist bullshit, but when women do as well, it drives me right up the wall.

Then I read Beastmaster's Circus by "Andre Norton" and Lyn McConchie. Why why why do (did) established authors allow such tripe to come out under their names? Ok, I realise Andre Norton was practically on her deathbed at the time, but how did she get hooked up with this "co-author"? I read a couple of collaborations Norton did with PM Griffin, and they were fine (despite the fact I still can't get over Jellicoe on the Solar Queen having a love interest - he's queer, for god's sake!) What's worse is that Lyn McConchie is a kiwi. The plot is ok, but the writing is absolutely 100% crap. All the sentences are about 10 words each, except for the occasional longer one that comes complete with comma splice. A fact needs to be repeated about three times in as many paragraphs, preferably by different characters.

There is an entire plot point about booby-trapped cages, which one of the ambiguous characters has been aware of all along, and which isn't mentioned at all until the time comes to have a crisis because of it. Ok, you can err on the side of squid-on-the-mantelpiece, but to have the ambiguous character be working in and around the cages constantly and observing from his POV, not to mention a couple of people staying in one who apparently don't need to take any precautions... until it's time for a rescue attempt (not of the people), and then suddenly there's a booby trap? Puhlease. Oh, and the protagonist is saved by her unknown brother (of course, that was amply telegraphed about 150 pages before the big denouement) after conveniently redeeming himself and dying in the process. GAH.
trixtah: (Fem-uh-nist)
...actually, not really, but I LOL'd.

So, some nutso idiots in the US who feel they can decide what women should do with their bodies are fulminating about a new birth-control pill that stops periods (I imagine it works the same way as if you take the usual pill, but don't stop for the monthly bleed). This blog discussed the whole thing, complete with clips of a tv interview with the loudest nutter fulminating against the feminist "woman-controlling", "baby-hating" cabal that wants to make us all just like men. (In your dreams, love!)

Anyways, in the comments:

my feminist sisters, you’ve been TAKING birth control? i prefer to sharpen the pills, dip them in rattlesnake venom, and fire them directly at small children through a blowgun.

Yeah, us feminists are all about direct action! We're not doing enough for our child-hating agenda! (Ignore all that paid parental leave and subsidised childcare bullshit.) Quick, get those blowguns out now, and strike your blow for The Cause!!1!


trixtah: (Default)

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