Au Lecteur

That’s what she read – July 25, 2013

Posted in Feministing, That's what she read by aulecteur on July 25, 2013

I just started following the Good Men Project with an eye to widening my perspective on feminist issues and how gender stereotyping affects boys and men (and how it in turn affects women – vicious cycle). I’m disappointed GMP shared this letter, which I agree is apologist and normalizing.

I don’t know who the anonymous writer is but I sense that he’s just a seemingly nice guy who likes to have fun and maybe someone I’d hang out with. But he is a rapist. Rape defined as having sex with someone who does not or cannot consent. He’s not a monster lurking in dark alleyways or stalking women on their way to their cars. He’s a normal dude at a party and he’s a rapist. Because he has sex with women who do not or cannot consent.

So there it is. A rapist who is admitting to rape but because of rape culture (yes, it exists), he’s able to rationalize his behaviour and make non-consenting women culpable because we don’t punish perpetrators, we blame the victim and blame it on the a-a-a-a-a- al-co-hol.  The critique states: “I know that I talk a lot about rape culture, but you guys? This is rape culture right here. It’s articles like these that make men feel better about raping women. It’s articles like these that contribute to victim blaming (if a woman doesn’t want to be raped, she shouldn’t drink so much, right?) It’s articles like these that normalize rape, that make rape seem like a by-product of enjoying oneself, that make rape seem inevitable and uncontrollable.”

I wonder what my man friends think of this article. Let me know!

The article on GMP I’d Rather Risk Rape Than Quit Partying, The Good Men Project, December 2012

The critique: “I’d Rather Risk Rape Than Quit Partying” – Rape Culture and The Good Men Project, The Belle Jar, December 2012

 

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That’s what she read – June 4

Posted in That's what she read by aulecteur on June 4, 2013

So many interesting things to read. Here are a few of them. It’s a good mix covering rape jokes, Mad Men and Dove’s marketing bullshit.

 

What do rapists think about rape jokes?, XOjane.com, June 4, 2013

This article presents one of the best argument against rape jokes – the best being that they’re gross, you sick0. This article posits shame is the key to understanding why rape jokes are best left out of a comic’s set. It says basically, who’s side are you on, anyway? Would you rather be on the side of women (your mother, grandmother, sister, friends…) or rapists, in general as “rapists” or personally; men who are potentially, I hate to say it, your father, grandfather, brother, friends…? Rape jokes normalize sexual assault, sex without consent. It’s funny to take advantage or violate a woman who can’t, for whatever reason, object.

“My ex-girlfriend never made me wear a condom… She was on the pill: Ambien!”

This joke is funny. You know why? Because of the element of surprise. Perfectly timed, a pregnant pause after the set up, the joke lands with aplomb. You laugh because you get the joke, and it is clever. But when you think about it, don’t you just know it’s incredibly wrong to laugh about what is the reality of an unknowable number of women, and with every possibility, a woman in the comedy club, as the article states.

“Ultimately, the question of comedians making the sort of rape jokes that comfort rapists isn’t really a matter of can they make those jokes, or even a question of should they. It’s your mic, man, you can do whatever you want to do while you’re holding it. The question is, if you’ve got that mic in your hand, why do you want to use it to make rapists feel better?”

 

Is Megan Going To Be Murdered On “Mad Men”?, Buzzfeed.com, June 4, 2013

H/T to Reddit for this theory of murder most foul on Mad Men. I totally buy it and think it would be seriously excellent television. Is it wrong that I want this to happen? I do love a bit of ultra violence.

 

Dove’s Real Beauty is bogus, Canada.com, May 31, 2013

I knew this but in case you didn’t, check it out. Dove’s brand is all about “real beauty” and changing the perception of what is beautiful, right? Well, their parent company is Unilever which also owns AXE, which is notorious for using the sex appeal of your typical hottie to sell body spray. It’s all marketing, kids.

That’s what she read – June 1

Posted in Feministing, That's what she read by aulecteur on June 1, 2013

I read a bunch today but got stuck on this one about how women are often shutdown by emotionally manipulative jerks. Huge kudos to the author. This is a fantastic piece.

Why Women Aren’t Crazy, GoodMenProject.com, Sept 18, 2011

This article uses one of my favourite terms for emotional manipulation: gaslighting. I learned this term years ago, probably in that second-year women’s studies class I took as an elective while doing my undergrad in Mass Communications. The term spoke to me because a) it’s from a movie (Gaslight, 1944, starring Ingrid Bergman), b) I’ve been gaslit my whole life. Growing up I was always told that I was too sensitive. Countless family dinners ended with me leaving the table to cry in my room. I ran away from home (to the backyard) when I was eleven because I felt so emotionally about the uprooting of a tree in our backyard. I remember feeling scared that I was so upset. I didn’t want anyone to know I was freaking out about a tree. I probably thought obviously I’m too sensitive if I’m this upset about a tree (was it even about the tree? I don’t know), and because we didn’t really talk about feelings in my house, I didn’t know what to do about it and nobody helped me express myself.

I relate to an example in this article. The author talks about a friend who worked for a boss who made comments like “Can’t you do something right?” or “Why did I hire you?” and when she reacted and told him those comments weren’t helpful, he told her to relax, that she was overreacting. I was in a similar situation for 2 years, enduring the abuse of a boss who would cut me down at every turn, nothing I ever did was right. The author says “Abbie thinks her boss is just being a jerk in these moments, but the truth is, he is making those comments to manipulate her into thinking her reactions are out of whack. And it’s exactly that kind manipulation that has left her feeling guilty about being sensitive, and as a result, she has not left her job.” – Yes. Exactly. Every time my boss (full disclosure: it was a woman) cut me down, I thought it must have been something I did; don’t take it personally, it’s about the work. And so I stayed for 2 years. Two years of discounting my feelings because I must just be too sensitive. And because I didn’t have the tools to deal with my emotions and the stress, I drank a lot. Ah, avoidance.

Another more recent example of how my lifelong experience with gaslighting affects me today. After I blogged That’s what she read yesterday, a friend, a feminist, texted me that I should be proud of him for not making a comment about how my feministy post was anomalous against the other most recent posts, which are all recipes. He writes:

“You should be proud of me. I had enough self restraint to not comment on your blog post about all your other posts belonging in the kitchen ;)”

Obviously my clever friend was joking. If I had reacted to him as I felt, he would have said it was a joke. The winkie face meant it was a joke, that I was to take no offence. The point I’m getting at is that after years of being told I’m too sensitive, I second guess my reactions to things and do what I think the other person wants instead of being true to myself. I constantly defer to others because I lack confidence in what I want because I’ve been treated as irrational my entire life. But don’t even listen to me because, you know, I’ve been on my rag for like 20 years, so you know, bitches be crazy.

And that sarcasm? Yeah. I’ll work on that.

Long story short, gaslighting. Don’t do it. Just be respectful of other people’s feelings. If you say something rude or insensitive – or something you wouldn’t say to a man – and she responds standing up for herself, please don’t ask her to sit down and shut up.

 

The Case For Vegetarianism Delivered By A Toddler, NPR, June 1, 2013

Something fun now. This is a video of a three year old who has been asked by his mother to eat octopus gnocchi. But octopus are animals…and if we eat them, that means they’re dead. Chickens are animals, cows are animals, pigs are animals…It’s a very rational argument why he doesn’t want to eat the octopus dish. Parenting win at the end.

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That’s what she read – May 31

Posted in That's what she read by aulecteur on May 31, 2013

I’m starting this new thing. I’m calling it “That’s what she read,” obviously a clever play on that thing that people say to highlight awkward, not always obvious sexual innuendo. It’s completely appropriate because most of what I read has a feminist bend – and if for some reason if it doesn’t, I’ll add it myself with a wee bit of commentary about why I read this article (or saved it to read later – I’m very busy and important).

This isn’t a thing about books because Lord knows this category would collect dust. It’s news articles and awesome stuff I trip over on the Internet – mostly via my expertly curated Facebook News Feed. Speaking of which, that brings me to my first article.

Misogynist Speech on Facebook – New York Times, May 31

I’ve been watching this story for a week or so. Basically some women got uppity because Facebook is super lax about allowing anti-women content on the site (but is super vigilant about removing content showing women in control of their own bodies like breastfeeding pictures and educational content). There are countless Pages and Groups and thousands of images allowed to remain on Facebook; images that depict women as the victims of rape, abuse and general misogynistic trolling. Women, Action & the Media (WAM) started a call to action focused at Facebook’s advertisers, basically saying to them look how shitty and stupid your brand looks placed next to this vile, degrading, offensive, maddening, hate speech. Is this the brand association you were hoping for when you planned your Facebook advertising campaign and targeted your audience? It wasn’t until frat house Facebook  was at risk of losing ad cash that they acted in the slightest to correct the situation. The situation being that they provide a platform where users are allowed to post shit like actual video of actual people actually being raped (Rehtaeh Parsons, for one). If that’s not the sickest shit, I just don’t know…

There’s a picture with this article that turns my stomach. This is not funny. This is not a joke. This is threatening and intimidating and violent and disrespectful. And if you think there’s anything funny about the idea of foregoing safe, consensual sex in favour of RAPE, don’t lie to yourself, there is something wrong with you and your attitude towards women.

Another article I read ended with “Today, women won the Internet.” Cute take on a meme but that certainly remains to be seen. Facebook is but one giant in a colossal universe – and they were only motivated by the threat of revenue loss, not by any sense of morality. Take it upon yourself, this crusade of moral outrage, and call bullshit on everyday sexism. I’m so sick of this culture of sexism. It’s so fucked up. Women have the right to self-determination, to control their own bodies. This means we can wear what we want, make our own decisions about our reproductive health, decide who we have sex with and how much sex we have, etc.

How can you identify everyday sexism? Reverse the gender roles in any given situation and if a man looks ridiculous doing something, it’s sexist. As an example, here are some “Men-ups.”

These pro-lifers are fine when women die, Salon.com, May 30

I’m as pro-choice as it gets. In this story, a woman in El Salvador is DYING and the Supreme Court decision says that the life of her non-viable fetus is more important to save than her own. The article says “The court placed the life of the anencephalic baby over Beatriz’s life. Justice here does not respect the rights of women.” And that’s it. For me, the abortion issue is not a right-to-life thing, it’s a gender thing. It’s another example of men controlling women’s bodies. When we say Courts, we’re talking about men. When we say the Church, we’re talking about men. I firmly believe: no uterus, no vote. Laws such as this don’t do no one no favours.

A Brave Fan Asks Patrick Stewart A Question He Doesn’t Usually Get And Is Given A Beautiful Answer, Upworthy, May 31

This video of Patrick Stewart was popular today. I finally watched it and was so moved. So moved. His attitude about violence towards women is exactly the message we need to share. He says “It’s in our [men’s] hands to stop violence towards women,” and “Violence is never a choice a man should make.” This puts the onus on men to stop the violence and not women who are often told “you must have done something to provoke him,” as his mother was often told. He explains how he grew up in a home plagued by domestic violence and it wasn’t until later in life that he learned that his father’s actions were a result of the man’s untreated PTSD – called Shell Shock back in the day when men were told to suck it up and be a man. This is an excellent point too – that we need to take care of men too and change the tired stereotype that oppresses and constrains them. <This language is borrowed from the sub-header of the next article.

We need to talk about masculinity, The Guardian, May 16

Do men need to be “men”? What is a man anyway? The article says “domestic and gendered violence always increases during times of high unemployment and social breakdown, because men often find it easier to take their feelings of frustration and powerlessness out on women.” Women and men want the same thing, as the article says, “What men do want, however, is to feel needed, and wanted, and useful, and loved.” It’s a basic human instinct. The “Traditional Male” is the breadwinner and the brave soldier. The “Traditional Female” is barefoot and pregnant. The article goes on to say that there have always been men that didn’t fit into the stereotype (“too poor, too queer, too sensitive, too disabled, too compassionate or simply too clever to submit to whatever model of “masculinity” society relied upon to keep its wars fought and its factories staffed”). For modern societies to thrive in 2013 and beyond, we need to let go of the forms of social control called “Traditional masculinity” and”traditional femininity.” Read this article. It’s a good one.