#womenwrites (9.10.16)

Louis Theroux’s new Jimmy Savile documentary is a horrible misstep by @ProfKarenBoyle

Mother at The Feminist Poet

The outing of Elena Ferrante and the power of naming by Lili Loofbourrow

Who cares who Elena Ferrante really is? She owes us nothing | Suzanne Moore

This is how a dyspraxia diagnosis changed my life by Lucinda Borrell

Louis Theroux, Jimmy Savile and the failure to recognise the obvious: misogyny by @Thrupennybit

Self-Care or Speaking Out? A Black Feminist Dilemma by @ClaireShrugged

9 Uncanny Women Who Live in Your Neighbourhood at The Daly Woolf

Peter Tatchell’s approach to prostitution is anything but progressive  via @FeministCurrent

Trans Identity Within Women’s Spaces  by MHeket

Why Donald Trump and Billy Bush’s leaked conversation is so awful by Alexandra Petri

‘I Thought I Was Stupid’: The Hidden Struggle for Women with ADHD by Maria Yogada

A Few Words on the Blatant Disrespect Being Shown to Angela Davis by Kirsten West Savali

The not-so-unexpected challenge of new mothers: Dealing with entitled men via @FeministCurrent

 

Shadowhunters: Erasing the Brave Women to make Soft Porn

UnknownApparently, I’m one of the only few people who enjoyed the film Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Based on the YA fiction books written by Cassandra Clare, the film is about Clary who, on her 16th birthday, discovers she isn’t a normal girl but a shadow hunter – born to fight demons. Being YA fiction, there is the usual love story between Clary and the boy who saves her life, Jace. But, at it’s heart, City of Bones is a book about a group of teenagers fighting to save the world whilst dealing with friendships and love. All are brave, intelligent and loyal. And the two female characters, Clary and Isabelle, are both kick-ass fighters. Granted, its all a bit silly and escapism but, as the new Ghostbusters film has shown, girls want to see more films with brave girls. Not less.

This is why the new television series being shown in the UK on Netflix is such a disappointment. Much was made by the producers of having more space in which to be creative with the source material – something that definitely required better writers than they’ve hired (teenage boy in lust with teenage girl: “you’re so interesting” said no boy ever.) Instead of having two brave girls, they’ve gone with a much more whiny Clary and, most appallingly, Isabelle is no longer a brave shadow hunter equal to the boys. She’s a sex kitten who spends most of her time naked or having sex. Shadowhunters is aimed at an older audience so sex isn’t a problem. It’s the fact that the only person, out of all the main characters, who is having sex is the girl. And, not just having sex but her form of fighting demons involves being sexual.

This is Isabelle Lightwood in the film

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 10.54.26isabelle-lightwood-with-swordThis is Isabelle Lightwood in the Netflix series – going into battle against vampires who outnumber them 10 to 1.

 

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Everyone else is dressed for battle in black leather.

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Isabelle is in kitten heels and a tight red dress – one she’s just put back on covered in fairy dust having had sex with said fae to find out how to enter the vampire’s lair. Because, despite having access to a IT department that would make Apple jealous and, therefore, access to city planning information, the only way to discover how to enter the vampire’s clearly marked out lair through abandoned subway tunnels is for Isabelle to writhe around a bed half-naked with a random fae dude – something none of the boys are expected to do.

I know Netflix wants to be edgy, you just have to look at how much time Jessica Jones spends having sex rather than being a superhero to see that, but erasing yet another brave girl and turning her into nothing more than a sex-obsessed plaything for the boys isn’t edgy or exciting. It’s just the same old porn culture insisting that girls can’t be brave fighters. Their only role is victim or sex toy.

Kathleen Barry’s The Prostitution of Sexuality: The Global Exploitation of Women

Kathleen Barry’s The Prostitution of Sexuality was first published in 1995 and grew out of her work and activism following the publication of Female Sexual Slavery in 1979. The first half of the book, which is just theory, is brilliant. The second half felt outdated as it is based almost entirely on the research undertaken for Female Sexual Slavery. I would argue that the situation is actually worse now than it was even 10 years ago, particularly in relation to rape as an accepted tactic of war. I’d be interested to read an epilogue to the book which examines the reality of women’s experiences of sexual exploitation now and whether Barry thinks it is worse for women or if its just that I’ve become more aware of sexual exploitation.

I cannot recommend this book enough though. Barry’s theory on the global exploitation of women is incredibly important. She destroys the idea that prostitution can be consented to within a capitalist-patriarchy. She clearly proves that the sexualisation of human bodies renders women passive objects and men active participants. Barry challenges the heteronormative construction of pornography and prostitution and the hegemonic nature of capitalism which is built on the bodies of women.

I am adding this book to my list of Top Ten Feminist Theory Texts (in no particular order):

1. Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse

2. Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences. 

3. Susan Faludi’s Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women

4. Kat Banyard’s The Equality Illusion: The Truth about Women and Men Today

5. Susan Maushart’s Wifework: What Marriage Really Means for Women

6. Sheila Jeffreys’ Beauty and Misogyny

7. Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue

8. Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics

9. Melinda Tankard Reist’s Big Porn Inc

10. Kathleen Barry’s The Prostitution of Sexuality: The Global Exploitation of Women

#ReadingonlyBooksWrittenByWomen : On Pornography and Prostitution


I’ve been enjoying theme reading these past few months: February was Black History Month in North America and March was, obviously, a celebration of women’s history. This month I’m going to read feminist critiques of prostitution and pornography. As ever, I probably won’t make it through the whole list but these are the texts I have lined up:

Melinda Tankard Reist’s Big Porn Inc.: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry
Karen Boyle’s Everyday Pornography
Laura Lederer’s Take by The Night: Women on Pornography
Jennifer Hayashi Danns with Sandrine Leveque’s Stripped: The Bare Faced Reality of Lap Dancing
Trine Rogg Korsvik & Ane Sto’s The Nordic Approach: Feminists Write Candidly about the Nordic Battle to Ban the Purchase of Sex
Andrea Dworkin‘s Pornography: Men Possessing Women
Linda Lovelace’s Ordeal 
Linda Lovelace’s Out of Bondage
Kathleen Barry’s The Prostitution of Sexuality: The Global Exploitation of Women 
Sheila Jeffrey’s Anticlimax: A Feminist Perspective on the Sexual Revolution
Christine Stark & Rebecca Whisnant’s Not For Sale:  Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography

These are some texts I highly recommend:

Gail Dines’ Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality
Robert Jensen’s Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity
Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture
Julia Long’s Anti-Porn The Resurgence of Anti-Pornography Feminism
Melinda Tankard Reist’s Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls
Natasha Walter’s Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism

Anne of Green Gables is a Redheaded Child Not a Blonde Playboy Centerfold

This is the new cover of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s children’s classic Anne of Green Gables. You remember Anne: a redheaded, 11 year old orphan who hates her hair and who is sent to live with Matthew and Marilla who wanted a boy; a girl who spends the first two books learning to love herself both as a female and one with a red hair. At least, it’s been a while since I’ve read the book but I definitely remember Anne being a redhead and a child; not a retro-Playboy centrefold. I definitely don’t remember Anne rolling about in a haystack like a supporting body in Dukes of Hazzard. Being 7 am, I have taken the liberty of checking with Wikipedia  to make sure I’m not completely out-to-lunch with this. They’re pretty sure Anne is supposed to a redheaded child too. Now, I do know that Wikipedia isn’t always the most accurate source of information but even they can’t confuse a redheaded child with an 18 year blonde with breasts being posed in a sexualised manner.

Has it really come to the point that one of the best books written for girls by a brilliant author which has already sold more than 50 million copies and been translated into 20 languages needs to be repackaged as if the target audience is middle-aged men with a teenage girl sex fetish? Because, they’ve never struck me as the target audience for Anne of Green Gables. And, frankly, everything else in our culture is targeted at them. Why can’t girls have one book that doesn’t erase our lived experiences?

Why does everything have to reference a pornified, heteronormative sexuality?

Why do we assume young girls won’t want to read a book about another young girl, especially since 50 million of us already have, if she isn’t sexualised?

FFS, the whole point of Anne of Green Gables is learning to love ourselves even if we have freckles, red hair and aren’t called Cordelia. It is not a book about a blond teenager learning to be a sex object. It’s a book about a child discovering themselves and loving themselves.

This is precisely the kind of shit which evidences why porn culture is so insidious.

Anne should not pass the Patriarchal Fuckability Test. 

She is a child; to pretend otherwise is disgusting and creepy. 


This is the cover of the edition I have. Notice that Anne is both a redhead and a child; not a blonde woman being posed in a sexualised manner.

Plus, let’s be totally honest here, there is NO WAY Marilla would let Anne prance about in a boy’s shirt.

This is from the Mumsnet thread I started today. I thought it needed sharing:

FastidiaBlueberry Thu 07-Feb-13 12:04:17
Who is the publisher?

This really is pernicious and a brilliant example of porn culture.

Any child buying this book is receiving the message that being a girl means being sexy before being anything else. Even if the words in the book say something completely different and don’t even talk about the need to be fuckable, the subliminal message is that even when you’re busy doing other stuff, sexy is where it’s at. If this goes on, it will almost be impossible to find pictures of female humans which don’t emphasise their fuckability above every other aspect of them. Are we to look forward to a representation of Hermione Granger suggestively holding her wand in her mouth, or near her arse or something, a la 50 shades? WTF?

Who the fuck thought it was a good idea, is the publishing house full of child-molesters or something?

I mean seriously, what possesses an otherwise normal person, to imagine that the best representation of an 11 year old red-haired girl with freckles (something the book is very specific about) is a sexualised picture of a teenager? There’s something actually quite sinister about this, what is wrong with the adults who authorised this cover? I really do think they should be forced to make a statement about why they felt it was appropriate to pornify the image of a child on a book whose target market is female children. It’s beyond disgusting, it’s actually amazing – as if peadophiles are working in the office and deciding the artwork and the normal adults there are accepting the paedophile view of the world, that every child is a potential fuck. 

And of course, we’re all going to be told that we’re overreacting, it’s only a picture and it’s fine for 8 year old girls to be brainwashed in this way.

FFS.

A teacher was fired because she was a porn actress.


So, not only has a junior high science teacher in California  been fired for appearing in a pornographic movie, a three-judge commission upheld her firing. She was fired because the internet means the porn films she starred in will *always* be available to students.


This is the point were I have to make my bias clear: I am anti-porn.  I do not think it’s possible to create pornography which is unharmful in a culture which constructs women as a sex class. In a post-patriarchy world things might be completely different. But, we aren’t there yet and I do believe that porn, in its current incarnation, is inherently harmful due to its reductive construction of a racist heteronormative sexuality which privileges the male orgasm at the expense of women’s physical and emotional well-being.

Being anti-porn is political stance. It is a critique of the capitalist-patriarchal structures which harm us all (within and out with porn).

However, this article isn’t about questioning the role of porn in our culture. It’s about slut-shaming. It’s holding one woman responsible for the ignorance of her former colleagues and the fact that porn culture is so pervasive that students in the middle school where she taught found and watched some of the porn films she was in. 


According to the district superintendent Jeff Chancer  her decision to “engage in pornography was incompatible with her responsibilities as a role model for students,”. Stacie Halas did not participate in the porn industry whilst a teacher. She made several films during a 9 month period in 2005 – 2006 because of poverty. She was not showing porn films in her classroom. She was not sharing the porn films with her students. She was not flogging them to her students. She appeared in several movies 8 years ago. And, this is enough to have her fired. 

I clearly missed the module in my education degree which said that only perfect people were allowed to be teachers. 

There is little discussion here of how the students, in middle school, accessed the films. Or, why children were watching porn. Surely, the access children have to porn is far more problematic than one teacher appearing in a porn film. Yes, I get that once the children found out, it would have been harder for Halas to do her job. But, let’s be honest here, teenagers are just like adults. They can be equally cruel and a bunch of teenagers writing profanity on the teachers window is part of the job description. It happens even to perfect members of staff who never found themselves broke and taking a job in a porn film. 

Really though, the reason Halas worked within the porn industry is irrelevant for this. It only impacted her job because her co-workers complained to the school administration about it. It only impacted her job because she was fired. Halas was forced out of her job by slut-shaming reactionaries.

I am anti-porn but I can not see how preventing a woman from working as a teacher will end the pornification of our society and the hyper-sexualisation of childhood. This has taught her students that porn actresses are all sluts who do not deserve respect or basic human dignity. It has taught her students that slut-shaming is a perfectly acceptable activity. It has taught her students that it is acceptable to mock those who make different decisions than ourselves. It has taught them that it is okay to humiliate those who have fewer choices than they do. 

This is a horrible story. My sympathy is with Halas and not the slut-shaming, hypocritical arseholes who are preventing her from doing a job she was trained for. More importantly, I wouldn’t want my children to be taught by people lacking in both empathy and the critical skills necessary to engage constructively in our Capitalist-Patriarchy. 

And, by the way Huff Post, those “student-teacher sex scandals” at the bottom are cases of child rape, possession of child pornography and other forms of sexual violence. Not “sex scandals”. They are also all women; women who are convicted sex offenders. They are not comparable to a woman who used to work in the porn industry. Working in porn is not a criminal offence; raping a 14 year old boy is a crime. Could you at least pretend to keep that straight?

Watch Porn. Cure Breast Cancer

This rocked up on my FaceBook feed and I genuinely thought it was a joke. I couldn’t believe that the misogynists were now using breast cancer as a way to promote the use of porn. This is actually what Men’s Health writes about Pornhub’s campaign:

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which means every man should do his part in helping to find a cure for the terrible disease that afflicts 1 in 8 U.S. women. And you can start by staring at hot, naked porn stars.

Yep, men can help cure breast cancer by participating in the degradation and objectification of women’s bodies. They can help cure breast cancer not by financially supporting cancer research but by financially supporting the rape and torture of women’s bodies. And, Pornhub is being totally generous with their campaign and are going to donate a whole penny for the  every thirty videos watched under the two channels “Big Tit’s” and “Small Tit’s”. That’s right 1 penny for every 30 videos. Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that that one penny won’t cut too much into their profit margins. Thankfully, the charity named on Pornhub’s media release, the Susan G Komen Foundation, have refused to take the donation.* 

As ever, I am behind the times since this campaign started on the first of October. I may have been aware of it then and just filed it under “shit that will make me incandescent with rage” and then thought of it no more. I probably would have missed it completely if the link to the article in Men’s Health wasn’t making the rounds of FB. I can safely say I have never perused that particular magazine before and won’t be doing so again. It is an appalling example of heteronormative misogyny. Men’s Health is quite clearly just another Lad’s mag. This is something I did not need to know. And, seriously in an article on raising money for breast cancer was it absolutely necessary to sneak in a reference to teaching your girlfriend to love porn? Really? In this context, “teaching” sounds a lot like brainwashing. And, calling the (extremely limited) donation “porn pennies” is freaking creepy. Really, really creepy. But, hey, if that doesn’t creep you out, this will:* 

Meanwhile, here’s one more awesome way to save breasts: Touch ‘em! Men’s Health partnered with the charity Fuck Cancer, and we want you to pledge to be a gentleman. If you find something fishy on your favorite pair of breasts, you could save a life—90 percent of cancers are curable if caught in stage one. Click the image below and take the pledge to touch some breasts now!**

And, if the above doesn’t depress you, Men’s Health seems to be running a campaign with a charity called Fuck Cancer called Fuck Cancer: Touch Some Breasts which calls for men to take a pledge on Facebook to touch some breasts to help identify breast cancer in its early stages. Because a bunch of creepy men are so much likely to help identify breast cancer by grabbing their partners breasts. Their is actually no information easily visible on how to check breasts effectively or what the other signs of breast cancer might be so mostly this is just a cheap trick to abuse women’s bodies and tell them it’s for their own good.

Having read Men’s Health’s sex tips, I think it is safe to say that none of the staff are having sexually satisfying relationships with their partners. Well, they may be. I suspect their partners might be balancing their cheque books during coitus instead.***

* I may be over-using the word creepy here. It’s becoming somewhat of a habit. I promise to invest in a thesaurus tomorrow.

*** There was a link here. I have taken it out. They don’t need anymore aattention.

** Men’s Health has an article on words not to use during sex. I’m reclaiming coitus because they are too weird for words.


UPDATE: FeministCurrent has written about the problematic breast cancer campaigns here, as has I Blame the Patriarchy here.

"My Elegant Gathering of White Pussies"

This appears to be quite a popular search term for my blog. I don’t want to disappoint my readers so here are some images of white pussies for your enjoyment: