#WomenAgainstFeminism, Feminist Critique and the Replication of Patriarchal Abuse

These are a few of the tweets currently being posted on #WomenAgainstFeminism by women who genuinely believe that feminism is a serious problem:

bc feminists today are truly intolerant, incapable of debate & will attack anyone who challenges their agenda

because I don’t need to blame everything that happens on a man.

Feminism has hurt men, women, and children to serve the few at the top who couldn’t make it on their own.

And, this is what some feminists are tweeting in response:

Still can’t believe the hashtag is real… I honestly can’t believe the world has people that stupid.

pointing out the stupid people on the tag how fun

i like how every girl in the tag that’s actually against feminism looks like janet reno. pick your battles, uglies.

It is absolutely true that many of the women who are posting grievances on the #WomenAgainstFeminism tag are white, privileged women and there are some very valid criticisms to be had of the tag but calling people ugly isn’t activism and it won’t change the opinions of those you are insulting. Pointing out the privilege of those dismissing feminism, like in this tweet:

“I am so privileged that I wont take the time to understand a movement that is for helping women who aren’t as lucky”

is absolutely essential. Calling Janet Reno ugly is not.

Critiquing the tag doesn’t require insulting the appearance & intelligence of the women posting on it. It doesn’t require replicating misogynistic language or insults. It requires an evidence-based answer – such as those pointing out the battle for women’s suffrage, rape laws, equal pay acts, maternity rights, reproductive freedoms and the ability to have your own bank account. It is feminism that one these rights for women. Feminism didn’t achieve any of these goals by being obnoxious to other women.

Feminists should understand that systemic misogyny within the capitalist-patriarchy makes it very difficult for women to see the reality of our oppression. Even naming male violence as an oppression results in women being belittled, abused and harassed online and off. Our education system is designed to teach children to pass exams – not to question authority. Our media is owned and dominated by white men who have a vested interest in preventing women from accessing knowledge.

This isn’t to say that the women who started this tag aren’t causing harm to other women. Of course they are but we don’t need to replicate patriarchal patterns of silencing against women who are blinded by their privilege or too afraid to speak out. This is the true demonstration of the power of the capitalist-patriarchy: using women to silence and control other women. We can challenge these women with kindness or with anger. but we do not need to engage in abusive language.

Instead of insulting the women who started the hasthag, let’s start a real discussion as to why women see feminism as threatening. Let’s start questioning their belief systems and pointing out the reality of the lives of women who do not have similar privileges.

 Calling women ugly and stupid is exactly what men do to us every single day. We do not need to be doing this to other women – even if they are tweeting out messages which cause harm to other women. We don’t need to replicate the lowest common denominator.

And, if you do feel the need to be abusive, why not target some of the men posting on the tag:

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My boyfriend performed anal sex without asking rape?

This was a search term on my blog today. If you found my blog searching this term, I’m so very sorry.

Sex without consent is rape. Anal sex without consent is rape. Your boyfriend had no right to engage in any sexual activity without asking permission or consent. Rape within a relationship is also domestic abuse. I understand how difficult this is and how hard it was for you  to reach out.

I believe you.  x

 

You can find support here:

Rape Crisis England/ Wales: 0808 802 9999

Rape Crisis (Scotland) 08088 01 03 02

Ending Victimisation and Blame

Women’s Aid: 0808 2000 247 

And, Baby Bangs? Just Wtf?

All together Now:

Ugly Baby:

dahliadrop2

 

Cute Baby:

 

dahliadrop 1

 

Ugly Baby & Cute Baby

bb1

Ugly Baby & Cute Baby

bb 2

Ugly Baby & Cute Baby

bb3

At least, I think this is what Baby Bangs is telling us with the production of fake hair for babies. Without fake hair, baby girls are UGLY.

And, seriously, who wants an ugly baby?

Not Baby Bangs, that’s for sure:

Our Philosophy
At Baby Bangs! we believe in the beauty of childhood. Our unique designs are sprinkled with MAGIC!~inspiring a world of whimsical wonder and mystical magical memorable moments for you and your baby girl to cherish Forever! For she is, and always will be, 
Your LiTTLe PRINCESS!

Babies can only live in a world of whimsical wonder and mystical magical memorable moments if they only look like girls. And, aren’t ugly.

Otherwise, their lives will suck.

Or, something.

 

<thank you to Sophia Greene for bringing this to my attention>

 

 

Girlie Glue: Because it’s never too early to be girly.

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I thought this was a late April Fool’s rocking up in my Twitter feed. But, no. It appears to be an actual product with an actual website so you can glue shit to your babies’ head so they don’t forget they are girls. Granted, I’ve always been under the impression that babies don’t actually know what “girl” is since they do precisely four things: eat, sleep, shit and cry. But, that’s totally irrelevant. Now, you can ensure that your baby and the world around them know you’ve bought into majorly damaging gendered stereotypes and glue ribbons and bows to your kid’s head. Just so no one destroys their identity by mistaking them for a boy.

Because that would fuck them up for life.

Gluing shit to your kids head, on the other hand, is totally normal.

And this does not fill me this confidence:

Girlie Glue is made with Agave nectar and other all natural Ingredients

It’s safe, 100% Honey-Free and washes away easily with water.

I don’t care that it washes out or that it’s “natural” (and let’s be totally realistic here, all sorts of shit you wouldn’t want near your kid are called natural). You are gluing shit to your babies head.

Actually gluing shit to your babies head.

So people know they are a girl.

I can’t even begin to describe how fucked up that is.

You have a baby. Not a dress-up dolly. It doesn’t matter if your baby is bald and someone in Tesco thinks they are a boy. It’s a baby. You need to cuddle them  - not dress them up like freaking Barbie.

Girls have their entire lives to be groomed into passing the patriarchal fuckability test. At least give them a few years before you start gluing shit to their heads. images 2 Unknown 1

 

High School Musical: Disney Goes Feminist

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Granted High School Musical 3 has a rather unnecessary number of shots of Sharpay Evans’ arse and there is a very clear evidence of bullying by the two main male leads: Troy Bolton and Chad Danforth who steal the clothes of two younger classmates and make them chase them through the school dressed only in towels. In HS-land this gets the bullied boys detention. In my-land, it gets the two bullies an in-school suspension and a ban from participation in after school activities because it constitutes sexual harassment. And, I can’t even begin to describe the horror which is the Tiki song in High School Musical 2: racism a go-go there.

There are also very few non-white actors in the films. The best friends of the two leads are both African-American but they both are stereotypes. Chad Danforth is basketball obsessed and a loyal friend. Taylor McKessie is bossy, demanding and over-organised. Her character is also incredibly intelligent and loyal to her best friend which is a departure from many portrayals of African-American characters in Disney films. But, they are still only supporting characters living stereotypes of what “good” African-American teenagers are interested in: boys do basketball and girls do smart & over-bossy. On the other hand, the main character Gabriella Montez is Hispanic-American, which is a major departure for mainstream Disney programs. Disney does feature non-white actors but only in supporting roles and frequently as crass stereotypes.

We can’t forget the issue of class as every single one of the characters lives in a huge house, including Gabriella Montez whose mother is a single parent. Poverty is never an issue. In fact, the characters can afford to just hop on planes and fly 1000 miles without so much blinking about the credit card charge. Obviously, abuse doesn’t exist and no one has any disabilities. It is the American Dream: a white heteronormative culture.

There are also serious problems with gender stereotyping. The mothers of all the teenagers are shown in kitchens only bringing in groceries, baking snacks, serving food, and interrupting private moments between teenagers. Fathers, on the other hand, are actively involved in coaching sports and being ‘cool’. The drama teacher is OTT in the ridiculous and Sharpay, well, Sharpay is a blond narcissistic ice queen who treats everyone like shit. Because, that is oh-so-original.

Yet, High School Musical is probably one of the most feminist films Disney has ever produced. The main character Gabriella is a “good” girl who wears virginal outfits. But, she’s also intelligent, loyal and prone to speeches on everyone working together. She changes everyone for the better by encouraging them to be true to themselves. She’s also true to herself valuing her education over her boyfriend. Gabriella isn’t mean and she doesn’t take shit from anyone. Yes, there is an unnecessary amount of twaddle about boyfriends and girlfriends and loving one another forever but Gabriella is an inspiring female character. The value placed on friendships between the teenage girls is so very, very different. With the exception of Sharpay, the girls support one another through their dreams, their hobbies and their lives.  They work together for each other and they talk about the importance of valuing yourself as an individual over any potential relationship.

It’s not a perfect feminist film but it’s a start. And, in a complete departure from normal Disney narratives, the boy follows the girl to university.

 

<this rant is brought to you by my daughters who’ve been watching the trilogy together>

 

A draft nomination for EVB for a National Diversity Award

National Diversity Award Nomination Form

This is my draft nomination for EVB. All criticism welcome (and needed). Do feel free to take this and change it to nominate EVB yourself!

Ending Victimisation and Blame are a campaign organisation which actively challenges victim blaming and myths about domestic and sexual violence and abuse in the media. Victim blaming and myths not only make it more difficult for women and children to report their abuse but it also results in the police, social workers, and criminal justice system from actually investigating the crimes of domestic and sexual violence and abuse to start with.

The media is a very powerful tool for transmitting myths and EVB’s work is essential in helping to change the discourse around domestic and sexual violence and abuse by demanding the media be held accountable for inaccurate reporting and misuse of legal terminology. EVB’s campaigning has resulted in numerous media outlets, from the Guardian to the BBCm changing headlines and rewriting articles.

EVB have also had success in campaigning to have the Attorney General review inappropriate sentencing of men convicted of sexual and domestic violence and abuse, including a case where a prosecutor labeled a 13 year old rape victim “predatory in all her actions” and therefore partially responsible for her own sexual assault.

Currently, 1 in 3 women experience sexual violence and 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence during their life time. A recent EU report suggests that these figures might be too positive and that many more women experience domestic and sexual violence and abuse. 2 women a week in the UK are murdered by their current or former partners. Domestic violence is on the increase in relationships among teenagers.

EVB is a small campaign which is only a year old but has already had a substantial impact on our culture. Their website hosts posts of personal experiences of victim blaming from survivors of domestic and sexual violence and abuse. For many, this is the first time they have been believed. That single act alone can change someone’s life.

Systemic victim blaming actively harms victims but so does media representation. We need the media to be held accountable for perpetuating damaging myths about domestic and sexual violence and abuse. We need victims to be able to report to the police knowing that they will be believed. We need to ensure that they can access support and medical attention without being treated as liars.

This is why EVB’s campaign is essential: no victim of domestic or sexual violence and abuse should ever think it is their fault. They should be able to access healthcare without being blamed. The police must be required to actively investigate every single incident of sexual violence reported to them and they must understand that domestic violence is a pattern of control and coercion not simply single incidents. Civil servants in front line services like housing, immigration, healthcare and education need to understand trauma so as to actively support victims and survivors. Teachers and social workers need mandatory training on victim awareness and trauma-informed practise.

EVB’s campaign demands a fundamental shift in our culture. They are a small campaign with big dreams and are already on the road to accomplishing them.

Banksy : Not a fan of feminism

To be fair, I’m not a fan of Banksy. I think his art is derivative and boring. It is classed as important because it doesn’t actually challenge anything. And, it was made by a dude with  a penis, which, in the art world, is more important than actually producing art.

I wasn’t exactly shocked when this image, taken from Banksy’s Facebook, rocked up in my twitter feed. Nor, was I shocked by the obscene amount of misogyny in the comments underneath this image. It’s just the kind of crap I’d expect from Banksy.

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(I can’t remember who tweeted this out. Give me a holler if it was you so I can credit you!)

#DickheadDetox : The Ricky Gervais Edition

I haven’t written a #DickheadDetox in several months as I’ve just been snowed under with other work. And, there are simply too many dickheads to write about.

I was remiss with Ricky Gervais though. He should have made this list years ago. Tonight, he gets to be part of my special list for this tweet:

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Granted, there are a million and one reasons Gervais should be on the Detox but I think the misogyny in this particular tweet sums him right up.

The “Magaluf Girl”: Consent, Alcohol and Coercion

I have been with my children all day. I’ve seen bits and pieces about the “Magaluf girl” giving blow jobs for a holiday but I didn’t want to look too closely because I could already guess how the media would report the story. A young woman who “gave” 24 men blow jobs whilst drunk in a club in Spain would only be reported one way: she was a slag, a slut and a whore.

I didn’t want to read because I remember the coverage of the sexual assault of a young girl at a concert at Slane Castle in Ireland last year: a 17 year old girl who was exploited, assaulted and then had to deal with the images being shared through social media. I thoroughly dislike the term “revenge porn” because it minimises sexual assault and rape with the suggesting of “consent”. Every single person who shared the images and video of the incident at Slane Castle was perpetrating sexual assault – particularly those who shared identifying details of the young woman.

The young woman, who will now be known as the demeaning term “Magaluf girl”, which may or may not be better than her real name being shared, is now experiencing a similar level of blame, harassment, and shaming as the young girl assaulted at Slane Castle. Yet, we still aren’t discussing the issue of sexual exploitation, consent to commit the acts, coercion, consent to share the images in the mass media and the role of men in the club, the audience, and the club owners  and managers who planned a game to have a young woman perform sex acts on multiple men.

@Seja75 has written an important critique of media coverage for Ending Victimisation and Blame but I disagree with part of her analysis. I don’t think it’s possible for a young woman who has been drinking in a club surrounded by large numbers of men cheering her on to have informed consent. Even if a woman has sexual fantasies involving exhibitionism, in a situation in a club with an audience, it is very difficult to feel safe enough to say no – to believe you have a choice to say no. Being surrounded by a large number of men is coercion.

This is without getting into the issue of sharing the video and images across the web. Here, I agree with Seja entirely: anyone who was actually concerned about issues of sexual exploitation and assault will have asked several questions including: has the young woman involved given consent to the the sex act? has the young woman consented to filming? Have the men involved consented to filming? Have the men consented to participating (and Seja raises some interesting questions about one of the men involved)? What was the role of the club in this event? Do they have informed consent? Do they even know what informed consent is?

Unlike Seja, I don’t think there is a best case scenario here. Young women are groomed into sexual exploitation from childhood. We are taught not to say no and we all learn very early what the consequences of saying no are. This is a clear case of sexual exploitation – by a club, by people at the club and by the media.

We need to start asking why men would line up to in a club surrounded by an audience to have a woman orally masturbate them. What is going through their heads at that moment?  Were they drunk and incapable of informed consent? Or, did they enter the club knowing that this was part of the evening?

We need to challenge the shaming of this young women but we also need to challenge a culture where a young woman could be put in a position like this. We need to start talking honestly about what informed consent actually means and we need to start looking at holding businesses accountable for sexual violence perpetrated on their premises but also created by their employees and managers. The staff who created this “blow job for a holiday” are guilty of coercion.

Sharing the images of this event is unethical and immoral. It isn’t required to discuss this case in the media. The media holds responsibility for further sexually assaulting this young woman, just as they did with the young woman at Slane Castle.

Whatever the answers to the questions raised, one point will remain: the media should be prohibited from sharing these images. And, any media outlet, blogger, tweeter or Reddit commentator who share these types of videos and images without consent should be legally prosecuted for sexual assault.

Defining transphobia

This is a really interesting statement posted by BuffytheReasonableFeminist on a Mumsnet thread in chat on what is the difference between the theory of gender is the Trans community and the political difference with feminism*:

“I want to be accepted as a woman, because that is what I am.”

“But ‘women’ to me is an oppressive stereotype that I want to challenge”

“I don’t want you to challenge it, because it I want it to stay how it is. It is my identity.”

“It’s my identity too and I don’t want you to define it for me.”

It’s a pretty good summation of the discussion on what constitutes transphobia from representatives of all forms of feminism, a transwoman, women who aren’t feminist (and one misogynist dick being a misogynist dick).