Misogynistic Advertising Walk of Shame: Those Stupid Bounty Ads

I have never liked these. The “putting men in dresses to do housework” schtick has been around for a while. It’s never been funny. It will never be funny. It’s a lazy marketing technique lacking all attempts at creative or critical thinking.

I also think they are completely misogynistic twaddle designed only to reinforce the fallacious (and deliberate) assumption that men are somehow physically and psychologically incapable of housework. Since this theory is usually accompanied by the idea that men need porn because they are more “visual” than women, I’ve always thought it was either serious cognitive dissonance or outright stupidity. You can’t have it both ways. That way lies hypocrisy.

I also think these commercials buy into some fairly transphobic constructions of gender, femininity and masculinity. Since the ASA declared this ad transphobic, I would expect that the Bounty ads will be pulled. Not that I have any faith in the ASA. They seem to work in fairy land for the most part.

So, I’m adding Bounty to my boycott list [not that I buy paper towels what with the whole environmental impact issue] but now officially boycotting for misogyny and transphobia rather than just because of the environment.

The Problem with the Patriarchal Construction of Consent

I’ve been trying to clarify my thoughts on consent and the remarkable problems some men seem to be having with the issue [see every nincompoop supporting the convicted rapist Ched Evans]. This was written by my dear friend Basil on the I Believe Her: Supporting the Innocent Victim of Ched Evans FB page. Basil says it so much better than I could:

I think there is an enormous confusion over consent and what it means and that consent in itself, is a very loaded and problematic term. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have never consented to sex in my life; when I have sex, I actively participate in the process, I don’t just passively consent to the process being done to me. I think this is where the problem lies; historically, men made the laws and men got to define what sex means and they defined it as something which men do to women; men’s sexuality was said to be active while women’s was passive.

The rape laws we have inherited, although they have been tweaked and modified a bit, still rest on this fundamentally wrong, misogynist assumption that came from a time when the idea of women’s active sexuality was horrifying to the men who got to make the laws. Let’s face it, rapists got to define what rape was and seeing as how most rapists don’t consider themselves rapists, it’s no wonder that a lot of men with confused and abusive attitudes to women, get themselves in a muddle when confronted by rape. We live in a society which constantly tells women that they aren’t being raped when they are; Hence the 85% non-reporting rate when women are raped – most rape victims know that they will be told that they haven’t been raped when they have and many of them actually manage to convince themselves that they haven’t been raped, “because he didn’t beat me up” or “I didn’t fight him off” or “he didn’t use any other violence” etc. This is what happens, when men get to define what sex and rape are, in a society with the historical baggage our one has.

Basil also tweeted this: Consent: a concept invented by men to give themselves permission to rape women then get to call it something other than rape.

I usually say this: If you don’t understand the legal definition of consent, you shouldn’t be having sex because there’s a pretty good chance you’re a rapist.

What Men can do to destroy the Patriarchy

I am rather bored by all the men who claim that the only way to be feminists is to be allowed into every possible women-only space and mansplain’ where feminists went wrong. It’s an unbelievably obnoxious silencing technique and an amazing display of white, male privilege. [Yeah, I’m looking at that sub-section of whiny-arsed men on Mumsnet who insist on telling women that birth trauma doesn’t exist because they’ve seen their wives give birth and it was all fine.]

This is a partial list of organisations that men can be involved with to help defeat the patriarchy, either through activism or financial support:

The White Ribbon Campaign: run by men to end male violence against women.. They organise marches on December 6th to raise awareness of violence against women. I notice the whiners who demand the right to march on women-organised Reclaim the Night marches are never committed to helping organise men-only marches. Too much like hard work?

Object: runs campaigns against the sexual objectification of women. They fought to have lap dancing clubs rezoned under English law as sex establishments and not cafes. They are currently running campaigns to end Page 3 in the Sun and challenging the demand for prostitution which is, basically, rape.

Stop Porn Culture: Make Love, Not Porn

UK Feminista: A Movement of Ordinary Women and Men campaigning for Gender Equality

SCASE: Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation

Fawcett Society

Organisations that men can help financially support to destroy the Patriarchy:

Rape Crisis (England/Wales)

Rape Crisis (Scotland)
Women’s Aid (Scotland)
Womankind Worldwide

Women’s Environmental Network
Or, and this here is just a wee suggestion, men can stop raping women, physically assaulting women, raping prostitutes and using porn. Challenge any misogynistic, racist, disabilist and homophobic language. All of which will help to destroy the patriarchy.

The Story the Media isn’t covering: The Scottish Cup Final

Today is the Scottish Cup Final. Apparently, it’s the Hibs and the Hearts playing. I don’t follow football and I actually don’t care all that much. At least, I don’t care about who actually wins the Scottish Cup. What I do care about is the consequences of the game on women. All sporting events bring an increase in domestic violence, rape and the abuse and trafficking of prostitutes. In 2010, the Association of Chief Police Officers made public warnings about the increase in domestic violence during the World Cup. The Washington Post covered the increased risk of sex trafficking during the Super Bowl. The 2010 Vancouver Olympics was accompanied by the highly successful “Buying Sex is not a Sport” campaign. There is very real media coverage of the increase in violence but it isn’t targeting that group of men who will use their victory/defeat as an excuse to hurt women. We need more athletes, especially professional footballers, to stand up and start taking responsibility for the consequences of the hyper-masculine culture which they inhabit. After all, I didn’t see huge swathes of footballers calling Ched Evans a rapist, even after he was convicted. It isn’t just athletes who can stop violence against women. Everyone needs to step up and take responsibility for the safety of women around them.

These are the statistics on domestic violence in “normal” situations:
  • A victim can suffer from 35 attacks before the abuse is reported to the police.
  • In the UK on average two women per week are killed by a current or former male partner.
  • Domestic abuse accounts for 15 per cent of all violent incidents.
  • One in four women and one in six men will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime with women at greater risk of repeat victimisation and serious injury.
  • 89 per cent of those suffering four or more incidents are women.
  • One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute
The 2006 World Cup campaign saw an average increase of 25% in terms of domestic violence calls. By 2010, research by Manchester police was suggesting an average of 30% higher than normal; this research was confirmed by the Home Office. That is for domestic violence alone.  It does not cover rape, sexual violence or the abuse of prostitutes. 

Dr Catherine Palmer, of Durham University, was tasked with reviewing all the literature which could demonstrate a link between violence against women and sport after the World Cup in 2010. The report is available here via the End Violence Against Women Coalition. These are the themes raised in the report: 
• there are clear links between expressions and enactments of masculinity and sport- related violence against women;
• sport-related violence against women occurs in a range of settings and contexts, including homes, pubs and clubs, hotel rooms, brothels, the street and other public spaces;
• sport-related violence against women is perpetrated by both male athletes and by male fans or consumers of sport and sporting events, as well as by coaches of female athletes;
• human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation remains difficult to quantify, with the research evidence frequently being contradictory, but literature suggests that events such as London 2012 may well provide a context in which women and girls could be trafficked;
• the literature suggests that the influx of tourists, site workers and contractors, the media, and indeed the athletes themselves, at major sporting events creates a particular environment that may have an impact on women’s safety;
• the literature suggests the increased population in the UK for the Olympic Games and Paralympics and the Commonwealth Games may create a greater demand for on and off street prostitution;
• events such as the 2010 World Cup have highlighted the connections between sports spectatorship and intimate partner violence, and the need for police, authorities and services to be aware of this when planning sporting events;
• excessive alcohol consumption is a contributing factor in the above;
• the literature suggests that there is sufficient evidence for agencies and authorities to be concerned about a potential increase in trafficking, prostitution, sexual exploitation, sexual assault and harassment, and intimate partner violence. There is a need to act now in order to respond to and prepare for London 2012, Glasgow 2014 and other major sporting events.

These statistics are horrifying and we, as a society, are simply not taking the responsibility for changing the patriarchal structures which consider it normal to abuse women’s bodies as a reaction to how their team performed. 

Today, everyone needs to take responsibility for the safety of women. 
Witnessing violence without phoning the police is condoning violence.
Men who “buy” prostitutes are committing sexual violence.
Sex trafficking includes moving women within a city.

Dial 999


Women’s Aid: 0808 2000 247
Rape Crisis Scotland: 08088 010 302 

Breastfeeding, SIDS and Women-Blaming Culture

This article published in The Australian is currently doing the rounds on Facebook. Basically, a research and advocacy group called sids and kids has added breastfeeding to the list of things which statistically decrease the chances of an infant dying of SIDS. This isn’t new research and the links between SIDS and breastfeeding have been reported here previously. Scientific research has demonstrated time and time again that breast milk is best for babies and the World Health Organisation recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months and then up to 2 years. I posted a link on my FB wall. The first two comments suggested that the publication of the research was designed specifically to make women feel like shit.

I don’t think anyone can argue with the research but what comes up, time and time again, is the idea that somehow promoting this research is done only to “punish” women who formula feed. Now, I’m usually at the head of the queue at the woman-blaming culture protests and am a firm believer that the Patriarchy deliberately and maliciously sets women up to police other women’s behaviour to the detriment of all women. The Patriarchy punishes women in a million and one ways. I just don’t think the issue of breastfeeding and SIDS is about women-blaming culture or, at least, it shouldn’t be. It should be about what has the best outcomes for infants and mothers. Breastfeeding has health benefits for both the mother and the infant and very few women are physically incapable of breastfeeding. Statistically, the number of women who physically can’t breastfeed is insignificant in the face of the number of women who “can’t” for cultural reasons. The reason many women “can’t” breastfeed is because of structural inequalities in employment and home life, lack of support, and the constant misinformation spouted by so-called professionals like Dr. Christian Jessen and Gina Ford. Ford, at least, has the excuse of not being a medical doctor. Dr. Christian is just a misogynistic tool.

Breast-feeding is normal. This doesn’t mean that women who choose not to or who can’t breast feed are bad mothers. It simply means that breast milk fits the needs of babies in terms of their immune systems and long-term health as a result of millions of years of evolution. What we need to do is separate the emotion from the science. Breast feeding, like putting a baby on their back to sleep, statistically decreases the chance of an infant dying of SIDS. It doesn’t prevent SIDS nor does it mean a mother who loses a child to SIDS and who didn’t breastfeed is responsible for her child dying. That would be women-blaming [not to mention vile, disgusting, evil and utterly lacking in humanity]. It is totally reasonable to kick anyone who said such a despicable thing viciously in the shins.

We need to support women who want to breastfeed better and we need to tackle the misinformation about formula which actively puts babies at risk: like how to prepare formula properly. We also need to challenge the myths of breastfeeding like the fact that breastfeeding doesn’t change the shape of your breasts: pregnancy does that. And, really, who the fuck cares that your breasts have changed shape because of pregnancy? Bodies change. That doesn’t change who you are; nor does it make you less sexual if you do. Frankly, if your partner finds you less sexy because your body has changed shaped after birthing his child, then you need to kick his pathetic, judgemental, whiny-arse to the curb. Because real men don’t think like that.

We need to ensure that every woman has access to real information about breastfeeding and formula feeding in order for each woman to make the best choice for herself and her child. We need to respect the decision of each individual woman whilst exploring the structural inequalities which force women to make “choices” which are not appropriate for them. What we can not do is refuse to publish information that might make some women upset because they did not breastfeed. Preventing all women from accessing real information because a few women might get upset is precisely how the Patriarchy victimises women: by withholding information and pitting women against women.

Ann Summers I-Scream sponsored by Screaming O: Who Would Have Thunk it?

It’s hardly surprising that the I-Scream tour was sponsored by the Screaming O. This article comes from xbiz which is one of the leading porn industry journals: 

LOS ANGELES — The Screaming O and the Scream Team have teamed with U.K. retailer Ann Summers for the “I Scream” truck tour, handing out free ice cream and sexy treats across the British countryside.
And for a snapshot of their best “O-faces,” fans get a chance to win baskets full of Screaming O goodies.
“It’s been great fun traveling the countryside with the Ann Summers team and seeing what kinds of O-faces our products inspire across the pond,” The Screaming O partner Keith Caggiano said. “There’s nothing quite like interacting one-on-one with your fans — especially when there are Screaming O sex toys and sweet treats involved!”
The Ann Summers I Scream Van took off from Newcastle and headed to Manchester, Liverpool, London and Birmingham. “To the Scream Team’s delight, the crowds have been nothing but thrilled to take part in the festivities with a constant crowd surrounding the truck. Knowing that only the most authentic, ridiculous and giggle-inducing O-faces make the cut in the contest, British Screaming O fans have made sure to make sweet, silly love to the camera,” the company said.

I blogged about my disgust of the Ann Summers campaign here. I’m still angry. The normalisation of hyper-masculine, hetero-normative sexuality and branding aimed at children is destructive and reductive. It’s damaging to our children and diminishes their ability to form healthy sexual relationships as adults. This shit needs to stop.

The Patriarchy hurts Men too Shocker

Obviously, this is only a shocking piece of information if you follow Pat Robertson’s understanding of feminism and, as such, are mostly likely clinically stupid. Anyone in possession of basic critical thinking skills would find it perfectly obvious that some men are also victimised by the patriarchy. Hyper-masculinity, as a social construct, is damaging and destructive to men. The answer to the damage caused by hyper-masculinity is feminism. It is the destruction of the harmful sex/gender binaries of man/woman. It is an end to the racist, disabilist, homophobic and misogynistic capitalist-patriarchy which privileges white wealthy men at the expense of everyone else.

It also requires everyone acknowledging that the violence experienced by men in the patriarchy is caused by other men. Men are victims of rape. They are raped by other men. Men physically assaulted in the streets are assaulted by other men. Men are over-represented in the prison population because men commit more crimes than women.

If men want to stop being victims of the patriarchy, then they need to stop whinging about feminism and stand up and do something. Men are over-represented in politics and industry. It is men who vote against extended paternity leave and men who assume that childcare is the preserve of women. That is the reason women get main residency in cases of divorce: they do the vast majority of the childcare before. Men are also the main perpetrators of domestic violence against women and other men. Men are the perpetrators of rape in war. Men are the perpetrators of most wars and not just because they are over-represented as front-line soldiers. It is men in charge of governments and industrial-military complexes who make the decision to go to war. It is these same men who commit genocide and massive human rights abuses against civilian populations.

If men want to end the culture of hyper-masculinity, then men need to stop purchasing porn. They need to stop “buying” prostitutes, which really is just a euphemism for rape. Men need to stop raping. Men need to stop going to lap dancing and strip clubs. Men need to stop buying lad mags. Men need to start tackling homophobia and misogyny in sport. Men need to start taking responsibility for childcare and housework. Men need to start taking responsibility for rape culture. The reason there are more rape crisis centres for women is because women fought for them. If men are worried about male victims of rape, then men should get off their arses and start lobbying for them. Or, considering the vast majority of wealth in the world is in the hands of men, men can just pay for rape crisis centres for men and women. Women are the first to be physically hurt in economic crises. Women are held responsible for infertility, birth control, abortion and children.

As Suzanne Moore’s critique of David Benatar’s The Second Sexism makes clear: the problem is the competition victimhood created by middle class white men who are hysterical at the thought of losing all of their privileges in a sex/gender equitable society. The backlash against feminism isn’t because it’s gone too far. It’s because the men who are privileged by the Patriarchy are too selfish, arrogant and ignorant to give up their power. We need to stop trying to write hierarchies of victimhood and privilege and destroy, once and for all, the the capitalist-patriarchal structures which constrain and violate our humanity.

An ad the ASA actually managed to ban

I will reiterate previous rants on advertising: who the fuck actually approves this shit? Seriously, is there some new requirement in marketing that you actually need to be both stupid and malicious ? Because, I don’t see how anyone with any sense would think that getting someone to spot the difference between the “Stallions” and the “mares” would be anything other than offensive. Yeah, I get that it was “Ladies Day” at the Cheltenham Festival but, honestly, these stupid arse commercials which put men in dresses to be edgy are about as intellectually challenging as a potted plant. 

In general, I think the ASA are about as useful as a chocolate tea pot but I’m hoping this ruling will see an end to the unbelievably stupid Bounty commercials. After all, if this ad is transphobic then those stupid ass Bounty ones are too.

Now, all we need is for the ASA to work out what misogyny is. I may start sending them a copy of the OED with every complaint letter with the relevant words highlighted.

Dear Dunfermline Abbey: Racism isn’t the best way to advertise

So, this has nothing to do with feminism or women. But, it fucked me off as a historian. It’s racist, ahistorical and just all kinds of stupid.

Dunfermline Abbey, in it’s official, tourist description says this:

Having only around 200 hundred years of history of their own, Americans and Australians find it particularly hard to grasp that just by going through the door of the Church into the Nave, they are travelling back from 1818 when the new Church was begun to 1072 when Queen Margaret`s Church was begun.

And, yes, I had to read that at least three times to understand that which ever tool wrote that blurb and the other nincompoops who approved it don’t believe that North America or Australia have a history more than 200 years old. Even if you were so unbelievably stupid and you went with the White Supremacists version of history, white people have been running about the North American continent continuously since the 1490’s. Hell, the first public school opened in Boston in 1635 which is just slightly more than 200 years old. There is even evidence of a Norse settlement in L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland Canada which dates to about 1000 A.D. But, that’s only if you’re a white supremacist and stupid.

Those of us that aren’t clinically stupid may have heard of these people called the Indigenous Americans, the Inuit, Inuvialuit and numerous First Nations people who have definitely been strolling about North America for roughly 10 000 years. Australia too, funnily enough, was inhabited by non-white people for a rather longer period of time than white people have been there. I don’t know who wrote that blurb but they shouldn’t be allowed to write such racist shite. It’s embarrassing , arrogant and unrelentingly stupid. FFS, a semi-literate 6 year old with access to google could tell them they were wrong. How a group of adults got together and decided that was okay to print boggles my mind.

Not to mention, the whole insulting your customers isn’t the best way to encourage business. But, mostly, I’m pissed about the racism. And, before I get any white supremacist apologists leaving stupid comments, erasing the very real history and culture of First Nations is racism.
UPDATE: Dunfermline Abbey seems to have changed the link. Here is a link to the original post:
The full text is here:The tomb of King Robert the Bruce with many other royal and historical associations attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year. The Abbey Shop has a fine selection of Scottish visitor collectables.Each year approximately 30,000 to 35,000 visitors make their way into the Abbey Church and there are a variety of reasons why they do so.

Some visitors come to ask about the history of the Church and its connection with St Margaret, some are keen to know about Robert the Bruce or one of the other seven Kings of Scotland who are buried in the Abbey.

Having only around 200 hundred years of history of their own, Americans and Australians find it particularly hard to grasp that just by going through the door of the Church into the Nave, they are travelling back from 1818 when the new Church was begun to 1072 when Queen Margaret`s Church was begun.

Visitors who are especially interested in stained glass also come to admire the magnificent windows, each by a different artist and from different dates. Each window has a story or a little secret hidden in it, remember to look for the tiny Bruce spider and try to find the Crown of Scotland hidden in a half open cupboard. Should you come to look at them remember to bring binoculars and you will be amazed at what you see.

The pulpit is a wonderful example of the craftsman`s art and it is much admired. Visitors marvel at the story that it tells and the quality of the workmanship. It is hard to believe that it cost £270 in 1889. Every once in a while a visitor can be found wandering around it looking longingly up – we can now tell when a visitor is a Minister nine times out of ten.

Occasionally, the interest is in the graveyard helping someone to look for a member of their family and it is wonderful when they are successful in locating a headstone or a plaque in the memorial chapel to someone they know. In 2008 visitors contributed to our Church the sum of £4,500 via the donation boxes and this is excluding the money they spend in the shop.

We always try to give our visitors a warm welcome to the Abbey Church and regularly the same people return and bring their families with them, even from as far as Australia.


The original wording is still listed here: http://www.exploringscotland.co.uk/printer_friendly.php?id=3685

Please sign this petition to help grant Margarita López Gómez liberty for a crime she did not commit.

*This text is taken directly from the petition 
The story of Margarita López Gómez, an indigenous woman from Chiapas, Mexico is heartbreaking. She married Juan Velasco López at the age of twelve. Velasco López had paid López Gómez’s father ten bottle of alcohol to arrange the marriage a year earlier. Velasco López took Margarita to a different town where they lived together in a rented room. Two months later, she returned to her home village where she complained to the village authorities that her husband beat her daily. They told her that Velasco Gómez “was her husband and she should put up with it.”   
Later Velasco López bought himself a new wife, Juana, who he brought to live in the family home. Both wives had six children each. Velasco Gómez continued to be violent on a daily basis and often came home drunk. Soon López Gómez also became an alcoholic. He also raped one of Margarita’s daughters, Sonia, repeatedly from the age of eight and at twelve, she became pregnant twice as a result.
In 2005, aged fifteen with two children as a result of her father’s sexual violence, Sonia killed her father one night as he lay drunk with her mother. She and her mother, her sisters, brothers and her own children fled back to Margarita López Gómez’s home village. They lived there for two months until Juana arrived with her six children. She had no money and decided to visit Margarita to see if Juan Velasco had left her any money. The presence of Juana in the village raised questions and the manner of Juan’s death became known.
Juana, Margarita and Sonia were arrested. Sonia spent two and half years in juvenile detention before being released. Juana was imprisoned for two years for helping cover up the murder. Margarita was sentenced to 15 years in prison for murder as the judge refused to accept that she was drunk at the time and believed her to be the principle culprit. She was convicted based on a confession allegedly obtained during her interrogation, which was conducted in Spanish, a language she did not understand. This is illegal; by law she should have been given access to a translator. She later repudiated this confession repeatedly. 
Margarita was imprisoned in a male prison in Venustiano Carranza and, to keep her from the other prisoners, was kept in a cage in solitary confinement for nearly four years. In 2008 she was transferred to a prison in San Cristobal de las Casas, the capital of Chiapas. Thanks to the intervention of the Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Mujer de Chiapas (Women’s Human Rights Centre in Chiapas) and the work of her lawyer, her sentence was reduced to eleven years eight months. Finally, after much more hard work, Rosa López Santis, lawyer for the Women’s Human Right Centre, was able to secure her release on a suspended sentence on 10 February 2012.
However, the suffering the state of Chiapas has imposed on Margarita appears never ending. The the terms of Margarita’s release include the requirement to go to the state capital, San Cristobal de las Casas each month to sign a report in the local prison. She must also send a monthly report of her work activities via registered mail every month. These conditions are not due to expire until 2016. This might seem a small price to pay for her freedom, however Margarita lives in a small village many hours away from the state capital. She has a very ill mother and young children to care for and no settled means of income. Paying to go to San Cristobal each month is practically impossible for her, and makes it very likely she will be unable to meet the terms of her sentence.
Margarita López Gómez spent seven years in prison for a crime she did not commit. She spent four years in a cage in a male prison, where she was raped and became pregnant with her youngest child, who she was never allowed to care for. Now, with this suspended sentence it appears that the authorities continue to unfairly punish Margarita and her family and aim to return her to prison. This is scandalous and unacceptable. Please join with the Centro de derechos de la mujer de Chiapas (The Women’s Rights Centre of Chiapas) Chief Judge Juan Gabriel Coutiño Gómez of Chiapas’ Supreme Court, to grant immediate liberty without conditions to Margarita.