sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
 Listening to some TERF spew TERF bollocks on CBC and I'm struck by how close the TERF (and their buddies, the misogynist right) sound to the arguments of anti-immigration types. You were not born X, therefore you can never be X, etc. Is it then coincidence that the two greatest points of unity on the Alt Reich are the opposition to the human rights of immigrants and trans people?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
So the_axel and I are watching Sherlock. I don't think it's all that good, but it's visually cool and not very frequent, so I tend to watch it and then have Opinions that I want to share with the internet, particularly on the treatment of female characters.

spoilers for Sherlock S4 and also Black Sails and Hell on Wheels )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
Hopefully a continuing series where I criticize the left, but from a place of love. You know, if people are interested in that kind of thing.

Today is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. That's something I wholeheartedly support, being an unapologetic man-eating feminist myself. But like many good ideas that are too good for the moderates to fully ignore, it's quite often watered-down and turned into the merely symbolic, especially in public institutions like schools or quasi-public spaces like Facebook.

Dec. 6th is the anniversary of the massacre at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. Fourteen young women were murdered at the hands of a maniac, simply for the audacity for being female engineering students. In a country where mass shootings really don't happen often, it was shocking and horrific and leaves a deep psychological scar on any of us who remember, vividly, hearing the news.

Dec. 6th is a day for ritual now. Any well-meaning person of any gender dons the white ribbon (even though the original point was for men to show that they were against violence against women*). Schoolchildren make handprints on banners that declare, "these hands will never be used in violence," even though that is statistically unlikely to be the case. Posters go up, most with roses on them.

On Facebook, every other post is a list of the names of the dead, now with the requisite likes and hearts and crying faces and sometimes angry faces (from the leftists).

It's not that I don't think that these are all important rituals to have, or that these 14 women are not worth remembering. They absolutely are. But I'm uncomfortable when something I feel passionate about is reduced to a cut-and-paste of names and ages so that everyone can show how they remember, how important the ritual is, and how very not-sexist they are. It becomes an exercise in form over function.

Violence against women in Canada does not, by and large, look like a lunatic carefully sorting the female students from the male students and then gunning down the former. That has happened, but that is not what usually happens. Women are more likely to face violence at the hands of a loved one than a stranger. The dead are less likely to look like photogenic young students and more likely to look like this:

15317735_10210195526377609_9006564611569533908_n

Oh, you probably can't see that too well. That's the 1181 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada between 1980-2012, who rarely get spoken about on the one day that we get to talk about violence against women. Marc Lépine is dead, and beyond the reach of justice, but there still might be justice for the women pictured above. We won't know if we don't do anything about it.

It's not a day to talk about the women and girls in prison and foster care, or even victims of domestic violence. Not sex workers or trans women or non-status immigrants, who face a greater risk of violence and exploitation than the general population.  It's not a day to talk about women who have been raped by men who are deemed more trustworthy than they are, and thus are re-victimized in the press and the courts. If we took today to look at those things, we might look at violence against women as something other than a horrible event that happened once but is now safely in the past to be ritualized. We would have to see it as something ongoing, something in which all genders are complicit.

It's not a day to talk about misogyny, today, as rampant and widespread as ever, to shut down any number of MRA and Alt-Reich groups who have seized the zeigeist by the pussy. That would be politicizing things, and the National Day of Remembrance and Action is a hashtag, not, like, a political thing.

My beef is institutional, not individual. On a personal level, listing the names of the 14 victims of Dec. 6th is understandable, even laudable. On an institutional level, however, framing violence against women as a rare, dramatic act rather than a routine and persistent symptom of a patriarchal culture is not productive. I'm not going to lie and tell you I have an answer to this, or even that I know with certainty that it's a problem, per se. I guess I just want a louder, angrier, more complicated discussion. Not symbols, and not copy-and-paste. Ugly, unvarnished truth that moves towards action. For starters.


* Gender is, of course, more complicated, but a lot of us didn't know that in 1991 when Jack Layton was first promoting it.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
I found this post quite interesting. It's a video put out by Glamour (one of those magazines that tells women to be anxious about wearing the wrong foundation) about men and women's hygiene routines, and how long each take. It's pretty gender essentialist (I imagine trans woman and trans men have a vastly different experience, to point out the obvious) and an overgeneralization (after spending time in Mexico City with rationed water, I do know how to take a fast shower) but I think the point still stands—the performance of femininity robs you of time. Like, a lot of time.

What's interesting is the comments. BoingBoing skews white male, and there are dudes lining up to say that, no, my wife doesn't do that, or this is just about people being vain and doing what society expects, as if women don't face serious financial penalties for non-compliance. As if there isn't an election on where one candidate looks like a puffy orange bezoar and the other looks like a regular woman who pushed an illegal war in Iraq, and all the media emphasis is on her appearance and whether she smiles enough.

Nowhere did I see a woman pop on and say, "nope, this doesn't describe me." The women are all like, "yeah it takes longer in the bathroom because you guys can just whip it out and we have to sit, how is this rocket science?"

At a certain point, I feel like people are deliberately not getting it. Not just with gender, but with any site of oppression. You get the same with "colourblind" anti-BLM folks, who just want to pretzel-logic their way around the obvious, which is that black people are getting killed and jailed en masse. It's exhausting.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (abortion)
I have been trying really hard to not post about Trump, because I worry that his stubby choad gets to half-mast every time his name is mentioned, and also because enough people have been posting about the semi-sentient clump of hair and I'm quite sick of hearing about it.

But I was intrigued by the latest stupid-ass thing he said, because I don't actually think it was that stupid relative to most of the things he says—and he was forced to retract it.

It's the abortion thing, of course. I had to look it up because I keep seeing references to it on FB and I wasn't sure what the big deal was. He said that abortion should be illegal and women who have abortions should be punished. And enough collective shit was lost that he actually had to back down for once.

I find this startling.

Oh, not because I agree. I don't. It's a disgusting position. But because it is more ethically consistent than anyone else in the Republican/anti-abortion camp, and they're largely the ones bothered by the statement.

There are a number of things I don't understand about people who claim to be pro-life, but probably the biggest one is why they aren't all out there murdering abortion doctors, vigilante-style. I mean, I'm glad they're not. And logically, I know why they're not, even if they haven't examined it all too deeply. It's because they know that their position on abortion is fundamentally dishonest.

Trump's initial stance on punishing women is abhorrent, but it's honest. (I mean, it's not really, because he doesn't actually believe anything and he has the ideological coherency of a fairly dim third grader desperate for absolutely any sort of attention at all. No Republican is actually anti-abortion; they're all of the "it's moral and necessary if my mistress does it" school. But let's pretend, for the sake of argument, that he believes it.)

Those who oppose abortion claim to do so because they believe that the fetus is a person, deserving of full human rights. Except not really. Try asking an anti-choicer why they never protest outside of fertility clinics and if you ever get an answer, you come and tell me right away what it is, because I've never had one capable of justifying that. In their heart-of-hearts, they know that an embryo isn't really the same as a child. But all of their rhetoric suggests that killing an embryo is exactly the same as killing a baby.

So if abortion is actually murdering a baby, Trump's initial position made total sense. It's comparable to a contract killing—yes, you would charge a hit man with murder, but you would also prosecute the person who ordered the hit. The second you suggest that abortion should be legal but only the doctors should be charged, you open yourself up to the legal possibility where it's perfectly fine to arrange someone's death as long as you're not the one firing the gun.

If you ever want to get an anti-choicer to shut up really quickly (which, for me, is all of the time), the best thing to ask besides the question of fertility clinics is how they plan to sentence women who get abortions. Manslaughter? No, you don't just get an abortion on a whim. It'd have to be first-degree murder. I'm not a lawyer and don't even play one on the internet, but that's a lot of years. And given that one in three cis women will have an abortion in her lifetime, that's good news for the prison-industrial complex and deeply uncomfortable for everyone else.

I'm fascinated by this latest kerfuffle because it really exposes how no one who claims to be pro-life actually believes, deep down, that abortion is murder. The root desire in the anti-abortion soul is to punish women; the rest is just window-dressing. Trump had to backpeddle because he once again said out loud what they were all thinking. Whoops!
sabotabby: (furiosa)
Zoe Quinn's Tumblr post about why she dropped charges against the shitbag who's been making her life, and the lives of many women on the internet, a living hell, hit me really hard. Especially as I'm following the Ghomeshi trial, and the particularly odious Rosie DiManno columns where she calls out Ghomeshi's victims for not acting the way she'd like them to and not remembering trivial details from a traumatic event that happened years ago. I'm not linking to that.

Memory's tricky. Cops are coached about how to act on the witness stand, but I found out recently that in general, the Crown isn't allowed to coach witnesses, just the defence. The result is that women who testify against male abusers typically get torn apart, and that's part (though by no means all) of why rapists don't get convicted.

The games played on Quinn and on Ghomeshi's victims. I know these games. I have rarely posted publicly about my biological father, even in this little dead zone of the internet with my pseudonymity. But he used to play these memory games on me when we would fight about whatever. I would bring up an incident in which he'd been abusive, and he'd question me on these little irrelevant details, and thus make me doubt my own memories of the events. I think this is why I have difficulties remembering large swathes of my childhood. Reading about someone doing this to other women (was your hair up or down? What colour and model was the car?) is just beyond horrifying.

Quinn in particular hits home because she could be me. All she did was be a woman on the internet. She made stuff. It sounded like cool stuff, I dunno. It doesn't matter. She put herself out there as a creative person doing a thing, and some psycho from her past (ladies who date men, don't we all have at least one of those) rallied an army of misogynist slime to destroy her life and her family's lives.

And he's going to view this as a victory. They all will. Same if Ghomeshi gets off—doesn't matter if the criminal justice system doesn't determine innocence, just guilt, people are going to defend this guy and he's going to get to go on with his life while the victims' reputations will be tarnished forever.

I think Quinn is right to walk away from it all. The law isn't going to defend her. It was never meant to do that. You don't call the cops when you're raped, you don't expect them to understand Twitter, you can't possibly be that naïve anymore. The law exists to protect the already powerful and their property. And in the eyes of many, women are very much still the property of men.

Free speech only exists if a white guy wants to disparage those under him and escape criticism for it. Quinn's free speech doesn't get counted.

The message we're given, again and again, is to shut up. Unplug. Stay out of the public eye. If someone hurts you, acquiesce. Don't fight back. Don't take up space or make demands. Sit with our hands on our laps and hope that someone notices our purity and takes pity on us. It's not something I'm inclined to do, but then, it's not like it doesn't inform my life anyway.

My heart goes out to Quinn and to the women brave enough to testify against Ghomeshi. The system failed you. It was always meant to fail you.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
I just had a bunch of surprisingly productive discussions around feminism and harassment, spurred by the stupid verdict in the case of Gregory Alan Elliott, the latest Tropes vs. Women video, and the overall imbalance in what we mean when we talk about freedom of speech.

Both of these cases have a lot to do with how the law is unwilling (I almost typed "unable," but this isn't true—they're perfectly capable of understanding Twitter threats against cops) to take into account both gender dynamics and internet culture. Elliott was acquitted (and may go on to sue his victims) because they didn't act like perfect victims. Why, one might ask—and the judge did—would they block him and continue to respond to his tweets?

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how these things work. I know, because I've had stalkers and trolls. There is no perfect way to engage with them. Your mother might have said, "ignore the bully and he'll go away," but you knew even as a child that this wasn't true.

Internet discussion is largely public. This means that if I am telling the truth and Igor the Troll is telling a lie, our discussion is witnessed by outsiders. A typical exchange might go something like this:

Igor: Obvious falsehood nevertheless believed by those who have an interest in maintaining the status quo.
Sabs: Bunch of facts in rebuttal.
Igor: Shut up you cunt bitch ill rape your eyesocket.

(If you think I'm exaggerating, you're naïve af. This is mild by comparison to some of the things I've seen.)

Now, a logical judge, not taking gender or power into account, is going to think, "well, she can block him, why doesn't she just block him?" But Igor is not going to shut up. And to an audience—because this is the internet, and there is always an audience—if I shut up, Igor looks like the winner.

This is something that just won't make sense unless you spend a lot of time around kids, which I do. If you show kids a political debate and ask them who won, the kids will not identify the person who said the most accurate facts. They will identify the person who was the loudest and who, preferably, spouted the most insults. The primary reason, I'd argue, why Trump is popular is because most Americans haven't progressed past the developmental stage that my kids are in.

So my choosing to block and ignore may be, to me (and the judge) a sensible move of self-preservation, to Igor the Troll, and everyone watching, it looks like he won. Now, I can choose to ignore this, and I probably would, but it will be galling. It will sit under my skin. Igor the Troll will not stop talking because I've stopped talking. He may go on to talk about me, to spread rumours and lies, and he's less likely to be challenged because sensible people don't bother.

I fully understand why Guthrie and Reilly wouldn't, in this circumstance, act like perfect victims and just ignore the scum harassing them. Why should they? Why does Elliott get freedom of speech and they do not? Why is it always down to the woman to run away, to withdraw, to not go out at that time of night wearing that skirt?

Anyway, one dude messaged me and said he didn't get feminists. Did we want equality or supremacy? He compared feminism to vegans, and how there are some vegans who just are, and some vegans who reminded you that they were vegan every five minutes.

I used to draw this distinction too, before I saw what was happening to a vegan friend of mine on Tumblr. She'd post a vegan recipe and immediately get anon hate. Was it any wonder that rather than be intimidated into silence, she'd get louder in response? That got me thinking to just how often omnivores remind us that they're omnivores—bacon memes, posting jokes about vegetarians murdering carrots—but this stridency is entirely invisible, because most people are omnivores. Vegans are perceived as more obnoxious about their dietary choices not because they are (I'm firmly convinced they're not) but because it's Other, and thus marked as a political statement, while eating meat is neutral and unmarked.

Dude admitted he was afraid of women, so I unpacked that. It's the old Margaret Atwood quote: "Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them." We went back and forth for about 45 minutes, at the end of which I think he got it a bit more.

I had a similar conversation with another young man who'd posted a "political correctness has gone too far; you can't say anything without being called a racist or a sexist, FREEZED PEACH"-type rant. Now, it's probably not a secret that I don't believe in freedom of speech—as in I don't believe that it exists, period, or can exist—but I questioned him on his consistency. Did he believe, for example, that ISIS sympathizers on Twitter should have free speech? Was he vigorously defending their rights to say what they liked? Of course, he wasn't, so I walked him through his own flawed assumptions about what was violent and what was peaceful. I don't think he agreed with me by the end—I wouldn't expect him to, as he's not the sharpest chisel in the toolbox—but he remained remarkably civil throughout and thanked me.

I don't always have the time or patience to educate people about power dynamics or feminism or anti-racism, and I tend towards the hairtrigger emotional at the best of times, but I'm kinda pleased with how these various discussions went. I mean, it stresses me out that we still gotta fight these stupid battles, but what else can you do?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (she)
Two stories have really dominated my consciousness—and the consciousness of most people in this part of the world—over the past few months. One is the murder of Mike Brown by Darren Wilson; the other, is the exposure of Jian Ghomeshi as a serial rapist.

A few days ago, a grand jury voted against indicting Darren Wilson despite mounds of evidence and that whole thing where usually a prosecutor is working to prosecute the defendant, rather than exculpating him. Predictably, protests followed, and the state responded with brutal violence. That same day, Jian Ghomeshi surrendered to police and was let out on bail.

As these stories were developing, a parallel narrative emerged. Jian Ghomeshi's many, many victims were interrogated about their motives and methods. "Why," cried the concern trolls, "did these women not go to the police?" Any honest person knows the answer to this, but the question itself is a fundamentally dishonest one, designed to protect the powerful predator. The concern troll is concerned about due process and not trying the nice rich man in "the court of public opinion"; he extends no such concern to the victim, who shouldn't have been wearing such a short skirt/shouldn't have been into kink/shouldn't be working in the media, etc.

Likewise, both Mike Brown and those outraged by his murder and by the farce of the indictment hearing were placed under a scrutiny that the murderer (who profited quite handsomely for his crime, and even managed to get married while off on taxpayer-paid vacation!) somehow managed to avoid. "Why not wait for due process?" the concern trolls ask. "Why the anger, the rioting, the uppity insistence that this is about race?" Wilson was given the benefit of the doubt; the 18-year-old child he gunned down was not.

Now that The Almighty Law has spoken, we know that Ghomeshi may face jail for his crimes, and Wilson will not. (It bears pointing out that the two high-profile men who've been in the news for serial rape are both men of colour; some people get held accountable more than others.) Proof that the system works, right? The Powers That Be are listening and the bad guys get their day in court.

Except. There is no fucking way that Ghomeshi would ever, ever, see the inside of a courthouse if his victims hadn't gone to the media first. We know the CBC wouldn't have acted, and police would not have charged him. It was only the massive international outrage that forced the accumulation of evidence and the arrest.

Likewise, Wilson wouldn't have even made it to the indictment hearing were it not for the protests that have shaken Ferguson since August. That we even got as far as an obvious miscarriage of justice is credit to those who wouldn't let it get swept under the rug. Because of those—yes, violent—protests, the fact that a white cop murdered a black child is now an international issue.

Marginalized people have always been told to shut up and be patient while the system works, despite the fact that the system is designed to work against them. We've seen, over and over again, that trust and patience is rewarded with inaction or re-victimization. The only justice Wilson's, or Ghomeshi's, victims will ever see is brought about by working around the system, whether that means going to the media and generating outrage on social media, or burning shit in the streets. It feels very obvious for me to type this, but over and over again, I find myself arguing with well-meaning white liberals about the futility of sitting back and trusting in some sort of magical objective legal system. Here is your concrete proof. I can never be a pacifist because it is only the threat of all hell breaking loose that can threaten the dominance of the powerful.

o_O

Nov. 13th, 2014 07:50 am
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
There's a long discussion thread on one of the teacher groups I follow about a soon-to-be married woman who's wondering if she should change her name at work. (Keep in mind that changing your address when you're a teacher can be a nightmare of bureaucracy, so one generally doesn't do anything that can affect either staffing or professional certification if one can avoid it.)

And it occurs to me that this is one of those instances where I am so radically at odds with most of society, because I didn't know that women still frequently changed their names to their husbands upon marriage. Yes, some of my co-workers did, but they were very traditional and religious types. I didn't think most women did. But apparently the majority do.

I'm not going to comment because it's not my business (besides, my kids call me by my first name and I have no intention of ever getting married), but it seems very strange to me.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
So if you've been out of school for awhile (or maybe it doesn't happen in other countries like it does in North America), you may not know that dress codes are a big thing. As soon as the weather turns, the harassment starts. Girls (and while the odd boy gets coded over a pot leaf graphic or baggy pants, it's girls 90% of the time) get sent up to the office, get phone calls home, get sent home in some cases, over what they're wearing. Teachers are ordered to scrutinize every item covering each teenage body to determine if skirts and tops are long enough, if necklines are too low, if bra straps are too prominent. For teachers like me, who have zero interest in looking at teenage bodies and were raised to be polite and look at people's faces and not their asses, it's a situation that can range from awkward to my feminist principles are in conflict with my job.

By the way, the heteronormative, cisnormative, misogynist, victim-blaming thing where administrators tell young girls that their clothing is distracting the boys happens in pretty much every school as far as I know. I don't know if they teach that in principal school or what, but it's not an aberration. You'd think, because we are supposed to teach responsibility, the emphasis would be on the boys (or, hey, maybe girls are attracted to other girls, or not everyone identifies as one or the other, and by the way to teenagers everything is distracting and it doesn't actually matter what you wear) to keep their eyes in their own heads, but it's always the slut-shaming. Always.

(If you're wondering, I don't enforce a dress code. I do tell the boys to take off their hats, because it is an obviously visible thing if an admin walks in, and also because baseball caps are fugly. And if I can see a kid's entire ass, I will tell him to pull up his pants. But I do not feel comfortable telling a girl that her bra strap shouldn't show, because I feel like my bra strap shows a lot of the time and it's no biggie.)

There have been a bunch of good articles lately about dress codes in schools, but this is my favourite thus far:

It really bothers me how schools insist that girls wear bras (this starts at, like, age 8-14 when girls start budding. Many girls and/or their moms have embarrassing stories of female teachers quietly pulling them aside, and delicately suggesting that she get a training bra), but then simultaneously decree that bra straps are inappropriate. This is like insisting all boys must wear socks, but the tops of socks sticking out of the shoes are inappropriate.  It’s just… so arbitrary.
...

It’s yet another reminder, and reinforcement, that a girl’s appearance is more important, and demands more attention, than her other, non-visible qualities. You know, qualities like intelligence, perseverance, athletic ability, tenacity, creativity, a hard work ethic… attention to those attributes seem fade away rather quickly once an inch of skin is exposed.

Instead, it teaches her to view herself in a sexualized gaze, from an outsider’s point of view. At an increasingly young age, getting dressed in the morning turns from “does teal clash with yellow?” to “is this too much shoulder? Can someone see down this shirt? Would someone be able to look up this skirt on the stairs? What happens when I sit or bend over? I should test that.”

Anyway, the whole thing is worth a read, as is the link to Impression, which is an excellent photo essay about the impressions that clothes leave on women's bodies. I'm sort of tired of the argument where I work. Weirdly, Colleague Who Shall Not Be Named, not known for his progressive views in general, actually said some of the things I was thinking at the last staff meeting, which is that the adult obsession with teenage bodies is fucking creepy.

This is our culture, though. This is how we're raising young people to think—that girls are objects to be viewed, scrutinized, judged, that boys are the ones doing the watching, and if one doesn't see the connection to more violent forms of misogyny, one isn't paying enough attention.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
I haven't read any of the articles. Don't really care to. Bad things happening to children is something that I find difficult to read about and so I don't do so recreationally.

But. Whenever a woman publicly accuses a man of raping or molesting her, she is held up for public excoriation. She's accused of lying and worse. Her sexual history is interrogated, her name is dragged through the mud. It's bad enough in the case of a regular man; in the case of someone famous and well-loved, it is exponentially worse.

I don't believe in most cases the trade-off is worth it to lie. I mean, you'd have to be deeply fucked up to put yourself through that.
sabotabby: (books!)
Got a good kick out of this opinion piece, which argues that the problem with YA lit these days is that the boys are just too perfect. There is much handwringing about where this leaves poor actual adolescent boys with their bad teeth and acne and how they will have poor self-esteem because they can never measure up to dreamy Edward.

Seriously.

Best quote:
I can't help but wonder how I would take it if things were reversed - if male protagonists were always shown to fall for beautiful, fun, witty, confident, wealthy, kind girl-gamers, and men began expecting the same in real life. Surely, we'd crush their unrealistic expectations immediately.


You mean like every single piece of media out there?

This counterpoint is closer to reality (actually, there are a lot of less-than-physically perfect boys in YA literature) but fails to really skewer what is wrong with the first article.

First of all, the original article is talking about a problem that literally does not exist. I know a lot of teenage boys. I imagine that I know many more teenage boys (and girls) than Woodrow-Hill does, though maybe her regular job is as a high school teacher too. Not one of them has ever expressed self-esteem issues around a failure to measure up to fictional characters who serve as fantasy objects for teenage girls. Muscle-bound athletes, maybe. Sparkly vampires? Of all the boys I've taught, a grand total of two have ever copped to reading Twilight (I poll them every year; it's curriculum-related) and barely any will cop to reading anything, let alone YA books that are aimed at a primarily female audience.

Second, I know a lot of teenage girls too. You may be surprised to know this but they are, by and large, not stupid. Especially the ones who read. They can differentiate between fantasy and reality. Also, if they hold dudes to a slightly higher standard as the result of fiction (which is nothing new; a childhood infatuation with the Fourth Doctor left me with impossible standards. Also strange standards) and don't just get with the first mouth breather who snaps their bra strap because they think no one will ever love them—um, that's a good thing, right? We don't want teenage girls to date just anyone because they're afraid of being alone.

Other problems:

1) Let's talk about how fiction aimed at women is disproportionately demonized in the public discourse for its fetishization of male characters. The reverse is not true. Countless books, movies, and telly aimed at a male audience objectify women and place them on a pedestal, and few are mocked for it the way, say, Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey are mocked for it. Yes, those books are execrable for a variety of reasons. But compare to, say, the Transformers movies, which are also terrible. The latter are rightly criticized but don't attract the sort of tittering that the former two do. Plenty of creepy middle-aged men watched those movies and drooled over scantily-clad Megan Fox, but we don't see concern trolling articles about them the way we did about TwiMoms or housewives who buy e-readers so that they can secretly read shitty BDSM porn.

I honestly don't see the appeal in 90% of fictional perfect-type dudes (I mean, I get fetishizing fictional characters in general, but the ones described as flawless are typically boring to read about and/or watch), but let the ladies have our wank fantasies, okay?

2) I can name far more fictional examples of pudgy, old, and/or balding dudes getting with gorgeous ladies than I can name examples of pudgy, old, or less-than-perfectly symmetrical ladies getting with smoking hot dudes. It may be that I don't read romance fiction or much YA, and largely read fiction that's aimed at a male audience, but I still think I'm right. Extend that to TV and movies and you barely see women who aren't conventionally attractive at all.

3) If we are going to talk about how dudes with acne are underrepresented in YA literature, can we maybe talk about the underrepresentation of everyone who isn't a straight, white, middle-class, cisgendered person in YA literature? Because that is a much bigger problem.

4) Even when female characters are "flawed," it's usually not in a way that is recognizable to actual women. Bella isn't plain and overweight; she's too thin (but not athletic), too pale, and adorably clumsy. There aren't many YA female protagonists with love handles and acne.

5) God, not everything is about boys and their self-esteem. Boys have enough self-esteem. Too much, sometimes.

6) Edward is really not that dreamy. Most teenage girls I know are Team Jacob. (Or were; they're on to something new now.)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (gother than fuck)
[livejournal.com profile] jvmatucha asked a tough one:

In regards to Assimilate, the book you've read and that I'm very much enjoying, can you give me examples of your criticism of Reed's work and of industrial culture in regards to unadmitted mainstream western influences, gender, and ethnicity?

(I'm already working on my own rant! One theme: Industrial, the whitest music on the planet!)

Or just give me a rant about sexism in counter culture music!


So, first up, if I hadn't also read a book about Communist mysticism in Central Europe, S. Alexander Reed's Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music would rate as the best non-fiction book I've read this year, and, indeed, in quite awhile. It's fantastic and I highly recommend it.

Secondly, no post about sexism and racism in industrial music would be complete without a link to Ad•ver•sary's We Demand Better, which is both a great introduction to and critique of some of the issues we're dealing with here. He's also interviewed in the book, by the way.

Thirdly, a disclaimer of my own: I'm white, I'm female, and I haven't personally encountered any more overt sexism or racism within the industrial music community than I have in any other circle I travel in, and possibly a bit less, though that's largely a factor of preferring music identified with radical left politics. (Though not exclusively. I like a lot of really problematic, vaguely right-wing music as well. But there are some bands where I wouldn't go to their shows because they/their audience scare me.) I have encountered individual people who have shitty gender/race/class analyses and are also into industrial, but correlation isn't causation, etc.

Much rambling. You've been warned. )

So that's it for Blogcember, unless anyone would like to suggest more topics.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
There is no one better equipped to advocate for the rights of girls in Third World countries than girls in Third World countries.

There is no one better to make a statement like this than two incredibly rich young white dudes from Canada.

Oh, Kielburgers. You are your own parody. The term "Backpfeifengesicht" was invented just for you.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
My favourite type of fashion rant—POCKETS!—and a nice way to test LJ's repost function and get back to posting things that aren't about tumors—Sabs

Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] cucumberseed at What we talk about when we talk about pockets
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy at What we talk about when we talk about pockets
This post is about pockets, feminism, design, autonomy and common sense. Please feel free to repost or link to it if you know people who'd benefit from the discussion.

A few weeks ago [livejournal.com profile] trillian_stars and I were out somewhere and she asked "Oooh, can I get a cup of coffee?" and I thought "why are you asking me? You don't need permission." But what I discovered was that her clothes had no pockets, so she had no money with her.

Mens clothes have pockets. My swimsuits have pockets. All of them do, and it's not unusual, because, what if you're swimming in the ocean and you find a fist full of pirate booty in the surf? You need somewhere to put it. Men are used to carrying stuff in their pockets, you put money there, you put car keys there. With money and car keys come power and independence. You can buy stuff, you can leave. The idea of some women's clothes not having pockets is baffling, but it's worse than that -- it's patriarchal because it makes the assumption that women will either carry a handbag, or they'll rely on men around them for money and keys and such things. (I noticed this also when Neil & Amanda were figuring out where her stuff had to go because she had no pockets.) Where do women carry tampons? Amanda wondered, In their boyfriend's pockets, Neil concluded.

I then noticed that none of [livejournal.com profile] trillian_stars' running clothes had pockets. Any pockets. Which is (as they always say on "Parking Wars") ridikulus. Who leaves the house with nothing? (It's not a rhetorical question, I actually can't think of anybody).

We fixed some of this by getting this runners wrist wallet from Poutfits on Etsy -- it holds money, ID, keys ... the sort of stuff you'd need. Plus you can wipe your nose on it. It solves the running-wear problem, but not the bigger problem.




Clickenzee to Embiggen!



The bigger problem is that people who design women's fashions are still designing pants and jackets that have no pockets. In fact, this jacket we got last December has ... no pockets. It's not a question of lines or shape, it's a question of autonomy.



Clickenzee to Embiggen



So I'm asking my friends who design women's clothes to consider putting pockets in them, they can be small, they can be out of the way, they can be inside the garment, but space enough to put ID, and cash and bus tokens. And maybe a phone. (And if you can design a surreptitious tampon stash, I'm sure Neil & Amanda & a lot of other people would appreciate it as well.)





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[Roller Derby Portraits]
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (humping bunny)
So I accidentally-except-not-really made [livejournal.com profile] fengi aware of demisexuals on Tumblr and discussion ensued. [livejournal.com profile] literarity made an interesting comment:

May be wishful thinking and hyperbole on my part but how dope would it be if a lot of this kind of argument was "merely" a backlash against an oversexed media by teenagers who have been exposed much earlier than we were to the vocabulary of sex & gender politics?


Which made me happy for a few minutes but then I was on my way to work and another thought occurred to me. It's this: Demisexual describes the sexual orientation of nearly every female character in popular culture that I can think of. I am actually wracking my brain for an example of a female character in media for a younger audience who is shown:

a) Having sex outside of the context of a long-term, monogamous, romantic relationship, and
b) Not being punished by the narrative for it.

I mean, granted I don't watch all that much telly (well, I do, but it's usually HBO stuff and the standards are different), or read much kid lit, and maybe it's just a genre thing, but if I think about the characters that the teenage girls I know could conceivably think of as role models—the Bella Swans and the Katniss Everdeens and the Alison Argents—they are all, as far as I can tell from an audience perspective, only attracted to men they want to be in a long-term, monogamous, romantic relationship with. And when I think of the counter-examples—Faith Lehane, Inara, that one time Buffy had a one-night stand—they're all punished for their transgressions in ways ranging from heartbreak to season-long comas.

So, can you argue that demisexual is a marginalized sexual identity when it's so reinforced in popular culture? Or am I wrong about just how hypersexualized kid media is or is not?

I should add that I'm in no way interested in policing anyone else's sexuality, and everyone ought to be free to identify however they like, obviously. But in response to Tumblr discussions wherein demisexuality is referred to as a site of oppression, I am wondering whether a sexual identity/orientation can be both celebrated by the dominant culture and marginalized.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
...by getting super drunk and sexually assaulting a woman!

ford watch 0 days photo fordwatch0_zps2241dfef.jpg

Publisher and former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson says:

Thought it was a friendly hello to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at the CJPAC Action Party tonight until he suggested I should have been in Florida with him last week because his wife wasn't there. Seriously wanted to punch him in the face. Happy International Women's Day!


ford pervs on sarah thomson photo 529805_10151581958414673_1452298706_n_zps62df3ff4.jpg
Where's his hand? No one wants to know.

He also grabbed her ass. She's demanding an apology and contemplating filing sexual assault charges against him.

So if this happened last night, why is the FordWatch count 0? Because he compounded his already poor decision making by releasing a statement. You should go read the whole thing because it's hilarious/terrifying, but here is my favourite bit (emphasis mine):

What is more surprising is that a woman who has aspired to be a civic leader would cry wolf on a day where we should be celebrating women across the globe.


Fuck this guy. Fuck this guy on behalf of every survivor of rape or sexual assault who's ever had their story questioned or disbelieved, their past interrogated, their actions dissected, or the blame shifted from the rapist to them. Fuck him so much.

His full title is now the Honourable Wife-Beating, Drunk-Driving, Bird-Flipping, Ass-Grabbing Mayor of the Increasingly Embarrassed City of Toronto.

In other news, the kids he coaches instead of doing mayoral stuff apparently don't like being called thugs and gangbangers by him or treated as political pawns. Who'd have guessed?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (abortion)
Via [livejournal.com profile] fengi"

I’m beginning to get some evidence from certain doctors and certain scientists that have done research on women’s wombs after they’ve gone through the surgery, and they’ve compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.

-Kevin Swanson, host of "the world’s largest homeschooling and Biblical worldview radio program". Source


In case you need a visual, here is a needlessly morbid self-portrait drawn after six years or so of being on the birth control pill:

fetal graveyard photo fetalgraveyard_zps7feb19e2.jpg

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