Into the Woods: Could have been funny but ended up Mother-hating (Spoilers)

(spoilers)

Into the Woods is meant to be a modern twist on the traditional fairy tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel. Their stories are tied together by the Baker and his wife who cannot conceive a child due to a curse placed on their house by the witch next door. They need to find 4 items in three days to lift the curse: a cape as red as blood, corn-silk hair, a white as milk cow and a golden slipper.

This construction of the Baker and ‘his wife’ sets the scene for the whole film. The bumbling baker who can’t remember a simple set of instructions is the hero, whilst his possession-wife is brave, smart, funny, kind and dies. The baker gets everything he wanted in life: 3 children and a maid in Cinderella. His wife is killed. The idea that a ‘good’ family would be so desperate for a child that they would steal from another child is rather bizarre too. At least, the wife steals hair from Rapunzel. The baker, on the other hand, can’t steal from Little Red Riding Hood and returns her cape the moment he steals it. He earns the cape by killing the wolf.

I’m not a fan of the ‘women so desperate for a child they will do anything’ trope. The baker wants a child too but he isn’t punished for his failure to conceive – only his wife. His refusal to acknowledge his wife’s contributions to the marriage are not seen as flaws but the signs of a ‘good’ man.

The representation of women in the film is entirely sexist – all of them have serious character flaws. Little Red Riding Hood is so greedy she steals from the bakery AND eats the treats for her grandmother. Both her mother and grandmother are killed. The original curse on the witch was placed on her by her mother in punishment for failing to notice a thief. The witch curses her neighbours because she’s spiteful and hates her aged body. The original thief is the baker’s father who is forced into it by his pregnant wife (the father runs away but that’s because he’s sad not bad like the women). The witch steals Rapunzel to punish the mother. The baker’s wife dies because of her desire for a child. The woman giant is killed because she seeks justice for the theft of her property and the death of her husband (yes, the giant wants to eat Jack but Jack did steal from him first). Jack’s mother dies because she’s not very bright and thinks her son’s dim too.

Rapunzel and Cinderella are the only two women not ‘punished’ although Cinderella is sentenced to a life time of cleaning up after the baker and raising his children. Rapunzel goes off with the lesser of the two dim princes but without learning about her birth family. They are also not mothers and it is mothers who are classed as deserving of death.

Johnny Depp’s performance as the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood is the most ridiculous part of the film. It isn’t scary but rather creepy in the traditional sense. He stalks the young Red Riding Hood using words like lush. Granted, we know he wants to eat her but actually he appears at the sexual predator common in 80s stranger-danger messages for children. The sexualised imagery in this song is in complete contrast to a film that is obviously aimed at children. Beyond the distressing imagery of an adult man stalking a child with sexualised language, Depp’s performance is pretty much Jack Sparrow and his character from Dark Shadows all rolled into one. As much fun as Sparrow is, he’s already had 4 films – and Dark Shadows is a dreadful mess of drivel.

In contrast, the song ‘Agony’ performed by the two princes was a brilliant piece of satire:

It made them both look as pathetic, whiny and ridiculous as they are (and thank Gaia Cinderella dumped Charming’s arse).

What would have made this a true modern twist would be for the mothers to have survived and lived together. The baker punished for not recognising his wife as a person and Jack and Little Red Riding Hood held accountable for stealing without being killed. Even the witch reacted out of desperation and self-loathing. Her crimes are ones to be pitied. Instead, this is a film where mothers are punished for mothering.

10 reasons why single mums are great in bed.

The Metro is renown for its inability to accurately report on male violence against women and girls. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the article which suggests that Dr. Melvin Morse was justified in waterboarding his step-daughter because he researched near-death experiences in children. That was truly an awe-inspiring piece of journalism. Granted, I’m still slightly perturbed about the fact that their staff can’t tell the difference between bad sex and rape, but that’s only to be expected in a newspaper that thinks sexual violence is entertainment.

Today’s evidence of The Metro’s Misogyny is 10 reasons why single mums are great in bed.

First off we have the: unrealistic, patronising and downright freaking dangerous assumptions about single mothers:

There are plenty of things single mums have mastered the art of – multi-tasking, compromise and patience to name a few.

But it’s not just the ability to breathe deeply and count to ten that they rock at.

When it comes to sex, single mums have got it going on – and it’s got nothing to do with gratitude.

‘Compromise’ being code for doing exactly what their male partner wants regardless of their own pleasure. After all, no one ever talks about men “compromising” during sex. This is always the woman’s job. And, what’s with the obsession with insisting single mothers are still viable fucktoys?

And, they can fuck right off with the patience and ability to count to ten horseshit. Single mothers aren’t Mary Poppins in Ultimo. In the UK, many can’t afford Ultimo since they are living in poverty whilst their ex-partner commits child abuse by refusing to financially support his children. They multi-task because they have NO choice. Multi-tasking and patience don’t exactly come with the new hormones after you push a baby out of your vagina (or after a c-section).

1. Body confidence

When you’ve pushed a human being out of your vagina, suddenly something like a 3-inch stretch mark carries less significance.

Trust me on this one, you don’t want more detail.

I’m so glad that Katy Horwood thinks all single mothers have great body confidence. I’ve never met a woman who was actually confident about their body – never mind women who are juggling work with childrearing without help. But, hey, let’s pretend single mothers don’t actually livein a white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy and are required to pass the Patriarchal Fuckability Test whilst cooking dinner (or shoving chicken nuggets and chips in the oven because they are exhausted).

We also need to be totally honest here – there is a reason the images of single mothers that accompany the article feature young, attractive white women: because even Horwood doesn’t believe fat women can have body confidence. And, we all know that Black single mothers are pretty much the scions of satan walking the earth. There is a reason the term reproductive justice was coined by Black Women and it isn’t because they were worried about looking sexy for random dudes reading the Metro. Being poor is just too tacky to mention. And, we won’t mention disabled mothers. Who wants to fuck them?

2. Appreciation

There’s nothing like Peppa Pig on loop for the last 36 months and daily conversations about the pros and cons of a roller-skating disco party to encourage gentle enquiries about the availability of beds at your local mental health hospital.

If you want your date to cry with joy for just leaving the house, date a single mum – thankful for a parking ticket if it means they can have a conversation with another adult about something other than Disneyland, can you imagine what they’re like in the sack.

Single mothers are so desperate to be fucked that they are grateful for a dude shoving their penis in them. It doesn’t matter how horrible or abusive a man is, single mothers are so desperate for sex they’ll do anything (obviously this doesn’t apply to fat women or lesbians, because they don’t count as the acceptable face of “single mothers”

3. Hot sex and lots of it

Your date gets out once a month and has a babysitter until 10.30pm.

Cinema? Art gallery? Walk along the Thames? LOL.

Single mothers: always gagging for it. You don’t even have to pretend you actually want to date them. They’ll be so desperate they’ll shag you in the backseat of a Mini in a Tescos parking lot.

4. No small talk

And if she’s lucky enough to have a free evening, not only will you get the reverse cowgirl instead of a stroll through Richmond park but you’ll also get the pleasure of some serious zeds after.

If you think you’ve mastered the art of dozing off after a shag, try three nights of unbroken sleep in the last four years.

Let the snooze off begin.

Because, really, who the fuck wants to actually talk to a single mother. You might have to learn their name or something.

5. Condoms

If there is one thing guaranteed to make a woman stringent about birth control, it’s solo child rearing.

The only unexpected surprise she wants from you is the ability to get it up again 10 minutes after your last orgasm.

Gosh, who knew that birth control was TOTALLY the responsibility of the woman? Granted, I’m a single mother so maybe my perception is skewed but don’t men have the penis that the condom goes on? Are they no longer capable of putting one on themselves? Or, saying no to sex without a condom?

6. Wet wipes

Always in a single mum’s handbag. Handy.

Apparently, there’s now a law banning men from buying wet wipes. Who knew?

7. Biological clocks

Tick, tick, tick.

Is the scary sound you will not be hearing from your single mum girlfriend after two months of dating.

Been there, done it… now where were we, ah yes – orgasms.

Cus, it’s not like men’s fertility and the quality of their sperm doesn’t deteriorate with age. Or, men might want to have children. Or, women who don’t want to have children. Or, non-single mothers are so desperate to get pregnant they’ll fuck anyone.

8. They know what they want

When time is precious and adult interaction scarce, suddenly getting things right first time matters a lot.

Forget fumbling sex and not knowing what’s working or not – single mums spell it out.

And without the luxury of Sunday lie-ins and seven day-a-week shag options, single mums make sure it counts – and rarely get headaches.

Single mums never get headaches and women that do: well, they’re just hateful. Who gives a shit about consent when a dick is involved?

Course, if you are still having ‘fumbling sex’ over the age of 21, the problem is you. Not the women you’re dating.

9. Role play

Spending the majority of her waking life barking orders, when it comes to role play in the bedroom, single mums have it wrapped up.

You’ve been a bad boy, straight to bed with no supper!

Ya hear me.

Because women who aren’t single mothers are incapable of expressing their sexual desires. Or, something.

10. But know how to cuddle like a pro too

Just don’t ask for milk.

Because this isn’t creepy at all.

Katy Horwood is supposedly a relationships expert – one steeped in misogyny with a soupçon of racism. Just for funsies.

Language Does Matter: FGM is not “cissexist”

These four tweets have been appearing in my TL for days.

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The term FGM is not cissexist. Female genital mutilation, as defined by the World Health Organisation,

“includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. … FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

This definition does not even begin to describe the actual practise and consequences of female genital mutilation. The long-term consequences of FGM includes: sterility, difficulty urinating, increased infant and maternal mortality, fistulas, bleeding, and infections. As an organisation, the WHO has serious problems with misogyny, racism, and classism. It replicates capitalist, patriarchal white supremacist controls over women’s bodies, an allegiance to wealthy industrialised nations and far too much investment from pharmaceutical corporations whose whole raison d’être is making money: not helping people.

Yet, even the WHO recognises that FGM is a form of violence against women and girls. It is only performed on girls. We need to be able to name this crime – just as we need to name every other form of violence against women and girls. We will not end violence against women and girls by obfuscating language.

We need to be able to talk about abortion, access to birth control, and all other forms of reproductive justice as women’s issues. We need to recognise and label these as forms of violence against women and girls. We need to be clear that male circumcision is not equivalent to female genital mutilation. It may not be medically necessary and it may cause pain to infant boys, but it does not maim and kill infant boys like the practise of female genital mutilation does. Circumcision does not cause sterility or result in difficulty in urination. It doesn’t kill.

It is not “cissexist” to talk about the biological reality of women’s bodies and the damage done to them within a capitalist-patriarchy. Frankly, even the suggestion that it is “cissexist” demonstrates a fundamental inability to actually understand the reality of lives of women and girls in our world. I am incredibly angry at living in a society in which identity politics have not only erased all political and theoretical understandings of the oppression of women as a class but that we have to see this type of bullshit bandied about as if it’s The Most Important Thing Ever Written. It’s not. It’s just the same women-hating shite that we have to deal with on a daily basis.

The term FGM is not “cissexist” and suggesting that it is is misogyny.

The Women Who Mapped the Universe And Still Couldn’t Get Any Respect

The Smithsonian published this article last year but I’ve only just come across via Facebook. It’s a great piece on misogyny and cultural femicide with one teensy tiny omission. They don’t actually name the 80 women in the article. Now, I do understand the pressures of space in the production of a glossy magazine such as the Smithsonian but an article on the erasure of women which doesn’t name the 80 women seems to miss the point, particularly when these women were derided as Pickering’s Harem.

Natasha Geiling is so very clear on the role of misogyny, gendered stereotypes, patriarchal control and sexual harassment that not naming the women seems odd. There are links to information on the women in the online version but not, apparently, in the magazine. These women were the only reason that Edward Charles Pickering, director of the Harvard Observatory, could photograph and catalogue the entire sky. Their work is invaluable, yet we only know them as Pickering’s Harem.

We really need a feminist to write a collective biography of these 80 women!

The photographs and information below are taken from here:

pickering-611

 

A print of this HCO photograph was found in an album that had once belonged to Annie Jump Cannon. The print was dated by tracing the HCO serial number on it to the record books in the Harvard College Observatory Collection of Astronomical Photographs. The women were identified by comparing the print to other HCO photographs on which Margaret Harwood or Annie Jump Cannon had noted the names.

This picture which includes Edward Charles Pickering, the Director of HCO (1877-1919), was taken on 13 May 1913 in front of Building C, which faces north. At that time it was the newest and largest building of Harvard College Observatory. It was specially built of brick to protect the astronomical data and glass negatives from fire. Since the astronomical photographs were stored on the ground floor and most of the women worked on the top floor, the building had a dumb waiter to convey the plates up and down. The women all worked in a large room on the east end of the third floor. Pickering had his offices on the west end across the central hallway. All the other men worked on the lower levels.

At the far left of the photograph is Margaret Harwood (AB Radcliffe 1907, MA University of California 1916), who had just completed her first year as Astronomical Fellow at the Maria Mitchell Observatory. She was later appointed director there, the first woman to be appointed director of an independent observatory. Beside her in the back row is Mollie O’Reilly, a computer from 1906 to 1918. Next to Pickering is Edith Gill, a computer since 1989. Then comes Annie Jump Cannon (BA Wellesley 1884), who at that time was about halfway through classifying stellar spectra for the Henry Draper Catalogue. Behind Miss Cannon is Evelyn Leland, a computer from 1889 to 1925. Next is Florence Cushman, a computer since 1888. Behind Miss Cushman is Marion Whyte, who worked for Miss Cannon as a recorder from 1911 to 1913. At the far right of this row is Grace Brooks, a computer from 1906 to 1920.

Ahead of Miss Harwood in the front row is Arville Walker (AB Radcliffe 1906), who served as assistant from 1906 until 1922. From 1922 until 1957 she held the position of secretary to Harlow Shapley, who succeeded Pickering as Director. The next woman may be Johanna Mackie, an assistant from 1903 to 1920. She received a gold medal from the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) for discovering the first nova in the constellation of Lyra. In front of Pickering is Alta Carpenter, a computer from 1906 to 1920. Next is Mabel Gill, a computer since 1892. And finally, Ida Woods (BA Wellesley 1893), who joined the corps of women computers just after graduation. In 1920 she received the first AAVSO nova medal; by 1927, she had seven bars on it for her discoveries of novae on photographs of the Milky Way.

Barbara L. Welther published the photograph and some of the text in a note about “Pickering’s Harem” in Isis 73, 94 for March 1982.

annie-611 pickering-611

The Myth of the "Girl" Brain; or how to spot a misogynist

I wasn’t going to bother writing about this again since my views are pretty clear to anyone who’s come across my rantings on “girl and boy” brains. Some of the media coverage of the new research “proving” brain differences has been excellent. Glosswitch wrote a great review in the New Statesman as did  Marstrina at Not A Zero Sum Game. I was ignoring because it irritates me no end to see people claiming that  gender science is totes real and completely removed from our culture. 

I’m fairly certain there are only three kinds of people who believe in “girl” brains:
  1. Those with poor literacy skills
  2. Nincompoops
  3. Misogynists.
Anyone growing up with an access to good education falls into the last two categories. And, most are misogynists. They may not think they are but the only reason to believe in inherent differences between men and women based on junk science is if you believe that women are inferior to men. The myth of “girl” brains only serves to maintain the status quo: which is a culture where women earn 70% of what men earn, are fired for getting pregnant and are blamed for being a victim of a crime.


Here’s the thing, we just don’t have the ability to tell what is clearly a genetic difference versus what differences are caused by socialisation. Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences breaks down the problems with the science and the refusal the effects of socialisation in a patriarchal culture. I won’t bother repeating what she wrote since everyone needs to read this book; especially for the Daddy Rat research.

Every time someones claim that they can ‘see’ observable differences, whether in MRI scans or toddlers playing, I am reminded of Nazi scientists who swore blind they could see observable differences in the skull sizes of Jewish and African people. I am reminded of 19th eugenicists who claimed the same. In 20 years, we may have the science which can conclusively prove, once and for all, whether or not there are actually differences between the brains of men and women; or prove that actually the statistically insignificant differences we see now are nothing more the process of socialisation on the human brain.

Until then, I’m going to assume that those who insist in genetic differences are either nincompoops or misogynists with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo: and women’s inferiority. 

Isabel Ashdown’s Glasshopper and Hurry Up and Wait

I read Isabel Ashdown’s Hurry Up and Wait first. It was one of those multiple-narrator-exposing-a-secret books which I generally enjoy. I wasn’t very sure about this one though. I’m never very fond of books which use school reunions as a plot device. It’s too tired a plot device and, unfortunately, the secret far too obvious from the beginning. I wouldn’t have bothered reading her other books had I not been stuck in the car and Glasshopper was the only book downloaded on my kindle app. It was Glasshopper. Glasshopper was just wrong; in many ways.  Unlike Hurry Up and Wait, Glasshopper had a male protagonist and that made the problem with Ashdown’s books obvious.

Ashdown really doesn’t like the women characters in her books. All of the characters are flawed but Ashdown seems to blame the women for not being able to deal psychologically with their trauma whilst the men are forgiven. In Glasshopper’, male violence isn’t even considered a reason worthy of exploring when the real problem is male violence. I would have snarled and then ignored had I not come across this blurb for Hurry Up and Wait which appears on Ashdown’s website:

In her eagerly anticipated second novel Mail on Sunday Novel Competition winner Isabel Ashdown explores the treacherous territory of adolescent friendships, and traces across the decades the repercussions of a dangerous relationship.

There was no “dangerous relationship”.  A violent sexual predator targeting teenagers does not enter into a “relationship” with them. He was a rapist. He targeted young, vulnerable girls. And, he raped them. The moment people start using phrases like “dangerous relationships” is the moment we start obfuscating child rape. Ashdown has done for child rape what Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife did for domestic violence.

I would like back the 3 hours it took me to read both books and the 20 minutes I spent writing this. 

Good Men Project: Their Misogyny isn’t really a Surprise.

I’ve been quite surprised at the response to the Good Men Project’s* current foray into rape apologism. I thought most people were aware that the Good Men Project was nothing more than a front for Misogynist Rights Activists with an extremely reductive construction of masculinity based on an incredibly harmful gendered binary of sexes. I didn’t realise anyone still took them seriously. I’ve had them on my list of arseholes for years. I had always assumed that their name was just another example of patriarchal hypocrisy. 

Personally, I’m not surprised that they ran an article written by Alyssa Royse which was nothing more than a handbook on how to be a rapist or that they’ve actually ran an article written by a man who is proud to be a rapist. They’ve been waltzing about the issue of rape apologism for a while now. They certainly have form for minimising male violence against women. And, they have form for all sorts of victim-blaming behaviour. The Good Men Project are nothing more than an attempt at mass gaslighting women into thinking that male violence is normative behaviour.

Frankly, I struggle to take anyone who who writes for the GMP seriously. I snorted with laugter at Ozy Frantz’s declaration that he was parting ways with GMP because of the pro-rape article whilst simultaneously calling the editor Noah Brand a feminist. I’m glad Ozy Frantz is leaving GMP. More of their writers need to remove their collective patriarchal blinkers and part ways with GMP, but, no one who publishes an article by a rapist bragging about being a rapist is a feminist. This isn’t a multiple POV issue, like GMP were claiming on twitter. 

There are only two stances on rape: either you support rape or you don’t. It is a dichotomy. There are no grey areas or women who encouraged their own rape. There are only rapists. You don’t get to call yourself a feminist if you make excuses for rape. Yes, we live in a patriarchal society in which rape myths are endemic but the true test of feminism is being called on your  behaviour and then reassessing your stance. Pretending that whatever issue raised isn’t relevant is just the normal reinforcement of the Patriarchy (Vagenda might want to take note of this issue too). And, we all make mistakes. No one is a perfect feminist but when you publish blogs written by people defending rape, you aren’t a feminist. 

I don’t care what brand of feminism you think you are, once you try to defend a rapist, you aren’t a feminist. That is our base line. You defend male violence against women in any form and you aren’t a feminist. So, Ozy Frantz you are just wrong in your defence of Noah Brand. He is not a feminist and he clearly never was. 

UPDATE: Feministe has written a very good rebuttal to the rape apologism at GMP. They are also calling for a boycott of all the writers who either blog for GMP or who cross-post on them. I will be joining them. 

*I’m not going to link to their blog because it will increase their advertising revenue.

Eat Battery Farmed Chickens and Save Women: Challenging PETA’s Reinforcement of Rape Culture


I know that this flies in the face of common sense and compassion but bear with me here. PETA’s campaigns are based on the idea that the objectification, sexualisation, and torture of women’s bodies are a great way to raise awareness of animal rights. They glamorise, romanticise and eroticise Violence against Women because they refuse to either acknowledge the construction of “woman as object” within the Patriarchy, or take responsibility for the harm they cause to women by their campaigns. PETA usually uses the bodies of young, thin, blonde, white women as a canvas for their protest. Whilst their protests garner public attention, it isn’t because people are interested in animal rights. PETA have become a spectacle; their message lost in medium of their protest. PETA also seem to have completely forgotten what exactly they have been campaigning for and instead have become obsessed with out-porning the porn industry in their objectification of tortured women’s bodies.

PETA’s newest campaign is called “Fur Trim is Unattractive” and it has been getting considerable amount of press for both the level of misogyny and the generalised nincompoopery within it. It isn’t a new campaign though. It is yet another recycled campaign designed to shock; despite being neither original nor interesting. It’s the normal “women with pubic hair are unfuckable” motif, as evidenced by the entire porn industry. One would have thought that an organisation who campaigns against the cosmetic industry’s animal testing practises might be aware of the links between pornography, the fashion-beauty complex, and the unnecessary torture of animals. One would be wrong. The very last thing PETA is, is self-aware. Nor do they care that they are supposedly campaigning to prevent the torture of animals by financially profiting from the torturing the bodies of vulnerable women in porn.

Whilst it is undoubtedly unpleasant, the “Fur is Unattractive” campaign is actually rather tame for PETA. Over the past few years, their campaigns and street protests have become increasingly violent and quite deliberate in their use of Violence against Women. They are no longer content with using the bodies of naked women or even carving up women’s bodies as if we were meat. This year alone they have had one advertisement, developed for the Superbowl, banned for having women simulate sex with vegetables; an ad which was only marginally less offensive from Voina’s ‘protest’ art involving women having sex with frozen chickens. Their second ad campaign this year, entitled ‘Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom out of Me’, should have been called An Ode to Violence Against Women: The Romance Period. It features a physically and sexually assaulted woman wearing a neck brace and covered in bruises because her boyfriend, newly vegan, has pounded her in every way possible. Apparently some of the unfortunate consequences of veganism and the subsequent “mind-blowing intercourse” are “sex injuries such as whiplash, pulled muscles, rug burn, and even a dislocated hip.” That isn’t sex. It is rape.

A third campaign developed this year to celebrate World Vegan Day involves a large number of men gyrating, in increasingly more violent ways, with vegetables in place of their penis. Surprisingly, nothing makes me want to give up bacon like a Dude with a cucumber for a penis, or so I’m lead to believe. I’m not entirely sure what PETA was aiming for with this but this is pretty much the definition of creepy:

“A cucumber has never looked so good – or so wicked. In honour of World Vegan Day, watch this spicy video that gives a wink to the sexual health benefits of going vegan by showcasing men enthusiastically and proudly showing off some healthy protrusions from their trousers.”

PETA have pretty much become a parody of themselves. It would be amusing if it weren’t for their constant perpetuation and perpetration of rape culture.

So, I say we start eating battery-farmed chickens to raise awareness of the objectification, sexualisation and torture of women’s bodies. After all, PETA doesn’t care how it raises awareness or who funds its campaigns, so why should feminists? PETA have gone so far as to develop their own porn channel to supposedly raise awareness of the abuse of animals. You don’t see feminist groups raising funds by offering to kill rabbits live on the web; perhaps we should.

I believe PETA’s advertising campaigns buy into the hyper-sexualised and hyper-masculinised culture in which women are treated as no more than Patriarchal fucktoys. PETA support, perpetuate, and perpetrate rape culture.

So, if PETA wants to reduce the discourse on animal cruelty to simply objectifying women as an advertising tool and encouraging rape culture, I’m going to start buying battery-farmed chickens.