Posts tagged objectification
I love women,” coming from a man, almost always means “I love when women please me,” “I love to imagine fucking women,” “I love to jack off to women’s pornified bodies,” “I love women who don’t challenge me in a way that makes me uncomfortable,” or “I love the idea of women.
Maybe we’ll all “lighten up” a bit when women are permitted to be successful without having to be literally on display for the male gaze while the real, full humans get to talk about serious, important things.

Tom’s generous praise — that is he willing to consider fucking a 42-year-old woman who looks like Cameron Diaz — tells us much more about feminism’s failures (or rather, patriarchy’s strength) than it does its successes, despite the fact that he claims it is, in fact, “feminism that has made forty-two-year-old women so desirable.”

You see, we have not yet managed to understand that women’s power exists outside of fuckability. That a man might be willing to maybe consider a 42-year-old woman attractive enough to fuck is, society believes, feminism’s greatest success. But what Tom understands to be an accomplishment is actually merely significant of the fact that women are still defined and valued based on their relationships to men.

It’s unsurprising that Paris doesn’t get the point of feminism. She doesn’t understand why it exists and she can’t relate to it. She thinks feminism is about her and her “freedom” to do whatever she likes. But maybe feminism isn’t about you, Paris? Maybe it’s not about your freedom to successfully perform femininity and your freedom to enjoy catcalls, just as it isn’t about women’s “freedom” to self-objectify.

Feminism is about addressing systems of power that oppress women, globally. It isn’t about you feeling cute. It’s about the women and girls who are raped and abused and murdered every single day, around the world, because they are female. It’s about the fact that most of us do feel afraid, despite the fact that you “weren’t raised that way.” It’s about the fact that performing femininity, even though some of us may have learned to enjoy parts of it, isn’t a privilege in a patriarchy.

You have the right to speak for yourself, Paris. Everyone does. You have the right to feel however you like about your experiences, too. But you’re right — you don’t represent all women. And you certainly don’t represent feminism.

(via No, ‘female-appreciation’ is not the same thing as feminism)

"Turns out sexual revolutions that happen in a patriarchy are mostly about dicks, alas."

The myth that “beauty is power” is actually super destructive because it tricks young women into thinking that if men want them, they will be empowered, which is, alas, not true. Because the kind of “power” that comes from having men lust after you is fleeting and holds no real weight in the grand scheme of things. It might make you feel good momentarily, until you realize that men don’t respect you because they like your boobs, nor will your fuckability bring things like political power and freedom from male violence. As long as women are seen as (and see themselves as) pretty, sexy objects, they will continue to to be viewed and treated, primarily, as sex-holes for men (i.e. not full human beings but the kind of beings who were invented for men to use and abuse and play with and then discard when they get bored).

- Meghan Murphy

Why not boycott the NFL? (Or, Buy Nothing Day is for bros) 

I saw this Tweet today and, while I don’t completely agree that “Black Friday is a ‘feminine’ Super Bowl,” it did lead me to think about the left’s priorities… Black Friday is, without a doubt, a fairly horrid phenomenon in the U.S. (now extended into Canada), wherein consumer culture, corporate greed, and anti-labour practices collide. The holiday tradition of over-consumption, beginning on Black Friday and ending at Boxing Day Week, in a mountain of things and post-holiday depression, led Adbusters to attach itself to the promotion of “Buy Nothing Day,” which takes place the day after American Thanksgiving.

There have been a number of smart critiques of Buy Nothing Day (and, more generally, Adbusters‘ focus on consumption and it’s branding of non-consumption) and, while I appreciate the efforts of individuals to avoid participating in the buying frenzy that surrounds the holidays, I find some of these boycotts and actions to be overly simplistic as well as conveniently lacking in gender (and, in fact, class) analysis.

When I think of the anti-consumerist movement, I think about white men. The notion of “not buying” on one particular day strikes me as something that’s fairly easy to do so long as you don’t need anything (food, diapers, whatever). Busy, overworked people — particularly those with families — may or may not have the luxery of picking the days upon which they spend money. It’s relevant to note, also, that for single mothers (and, really, mothers in general — single or not), this “consumption” will rest solely on their shoulders, whether it’s buying gifts for the kids or groceries for dinner. How nice that a bunch of “radical” white men have invented a form of activism that completely ignores the realities of many women’s lives. Women, I suppose, should feel guilty for perpetuating capitalism and consumer culture because they had to use their days off to do their Christmas/grocery shopping. If Kalle Lasn can avoid the mall, we all should!

But beyond the fact that Buy Nothing Day is both a classist and sexist invention, I find it interesting that certain factions of the left focus so much on Black Friday and on consumption around the holidays, but conveniently ignore the sexist, capitalist, violent, ridiculousness that is the Super Bowl — a decidedly male-centered celebration. Watching professional football is now a tradition intricately tied to American Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl, specifically, is basically a holiday for men.

I’m not anti-sport. Yes, I’d rather stare at the wall than watch sports on TV, but I understand that others enjoy watching, and that’s fine. But the NFL is not merely about sport. It’s about profit and it’s about advertisers. And it is, therefore, about consumption. And not just the consumption of products, but the consumption of women’s bodies. Think Super Bowl ads.

Oh, and let’s not forget about the decorative ladies required for “sports.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 5.38.28 PM

M.I.A. gets it, calling the Super Bowl “a massive waste of time, a massive waste of money, [and] a massive display of powerful corporation d–k shaking”

So why does a violent, sexist, franchise that exists for men and is primarily about corporate profit get a pass while shopping doesn’t? Oh right. Dude culture.

It isn’t complicated. The Super Bowl is about celebrating masculine culture, corporate profit, and objectifying women. At least the holidays are for men and women.

I’m not completely mean and no fun. And I’m certainly not defending a holiday that celebrates both colonialism and consumerism all at once. I’m also not literally asking that all you men to stop watching football if you enjoy such banalities; but I am asking that, in your efforts to fake activism, don’t throw women and the working class under the bus. If you can manage to get all up in arms about shopping, you can also manage to muster some energy for commentary around the corporate greed and sexism that is very much a part of the NFL and the Super Bowl.

Sinead O’Connor is (mostly) right about Miley Cyrus. Now let the ageism and sexism begin! 

I won’t deny that there were parts of Sinead O’Connor’s viral letter to Miley Cyrus that bothered me.

To say that “your body is for you and your boyfriend” irked me a little for heteronormative reasons but also because it seems frame the female body as some kind of private gift only your boyfriend gets access to. For O’Connor to put herself in the position of “mother” to Miley (“it is said in the spirit of motherliness and with love”) is also bothersome because, well, simply because one is an older woman, that shouldn’t make a person necessarily a “nurturing” or “mothering” figure (though I get that O’Connor might feel “protective” of Cyrus in some way). I don’t find the woman = mother stereotype to be particularly useful, progressive, or accurate. Also, Sinead is not by any means Miley’s “mother.” Beyond that, the phrase “young lady” reads as a scolding from your teacher back in 1953.

But to dwell on these flaws is to miss the primary (and the most relevant) point of the letter, which is this: sexualization does not equal empowerment.

O’Connor tells Cyrus that which all girls and young women should know (not just celebrities, though it does impact young women in the entertainment industry particularly), which is that those who encourage you to objectify yourself, those who give you attention because you are appealing to men, those who tell you that power comes from desirability are wrong. Those people don’t care about your well-being and they don’t care about female liberation and empowerment. In Miley’s situation, they care (as O’Connor points out) about profiting off of your naked ass.

The point many are glossing over amongst nonsensical commentary around “slut-shaming” and “judging” is this:

Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.

Having been in the music industry herself and having lived longer in this world than Cyrus, O’Connor is perfectly in her right to position herself as a mentor of sorts. Of course these days it’s popular to throw older women under the bus, as many immediately did, making O’Connor into your old, no-fun, prudish, mom. This isn’t just a trend that’s popular with mainstream sexists, but with the third wave as well — you may have encountered sexist/ageist attacks on second wave feminists who are regularly accused of being “sex negative” or “stuck in the past” or whatever else we like to say to dismiss women who know more than we do. Sorry, but every 20 year old thinks they know it all. But 20 year olds, in fact, know very little. This isn’t to say that young people must necessarily defer to their elders in all circumstances, but playing to ageist, sexist tropes just makes you sound like a catty, obnoxious, teenager.

Cyrus goes one step further into the misogyny dung heap, accusing O’Connor of being, essentially, “crazy” and making fun of her struggles with mental illness:

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 5.03.23 PM

Some took the obvious “women aren’t victims!” route, trying to frame critiques of a sexist industry and culture as a form of disempowerment in and of itself.

The rest immediately began to accuse O’Connor of “slut-shaming.” And to those folks, I have to wonder if you even have any idea what you are talking about. Objectification and sexualization have nothing to do with female sexuality. Cyrus is not “doing her own thing FUCK YEAH” — she is marketing a sexualized image for profit. And primarily, as O’Connor points out, those who profit from this image will be powerful men who will remain rich and powerful long after Cyrus has been used up and discarded.

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 5.01.48 PMSlut-shaming isn’t a real thing, for starters (it’s just misogyny, lovies), but what we need to understand about this COMPLETELY OVERUSED term is that being critical of a culture that pressures women and girls to pornify themselves and offers them few other options in terms of gaining self-worth and power, is not the same as being critical of an individual’s sexuality. This is an image Cyrus is presenting to the public (or being pressured to present) — it’s about representation. If you can’t differentiate between that and Miley’s private desires and/or sex life, then you may want to tread a little more lightly when entering into conversations about feminism and female liberation.

O’Connor says that which we can all see is true: the music industry will try, with all their might, to exploit young women — to “prostitute” them, as she says; meaning to use their bodies and sexualities to profit.

Real empowerment of yourself as a woman would be to in future refuse to exploit your body or your sexuality in order for men to make money from you. I needn’t even ask the question. I’ve been in the business long enough to know that men are making more money than you are from you getting naked.

From Terry Richardson’s recent photo shoot with Miley Cyrus

And here’s what O’Connor knows that Cyrus, and many other young women (including myself at that age) don’t know: that power you feel — the power you get from having men want you — is fleeting. Further reinforcing this particular kind of imaginary “empowerment” only perpetuates the idea that, without sexual appeal and without youth, women are useless, irrelevant, and invisible.

While disgusting Terry Richardson (who, by the way, is known to be a sexual predator) is busy turning Cyrus into soft-core porn, we’re all busy trying to make sure everyone knows how empowered! and in charge of her own sexuality! Cyrus is; telling anyone who dares to state the obvious that they are judgy slut-shamers. Why not point your busy twitter fingers at the exploitative industry or the pervy Richardson rather than at those who tell the truth, that “the music business doesn’t give a sh– about you, or any of us. They will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its what YOU wanted”?

What O’Connor says is (mostly) right: “Women are to be valued for so much more than their sexuality. We aren’t merely objects of desire.” And she deserves to be listened to and respected, not mocked.

Responding to critiques of burlesque cheat sheet (crazy-making edition) 

It’s no secret that I’m not a huge fan of burlesque. I think it’s a boring, overplayed example of what you might call neosexism or retro sexism – meaning that the “vintage” veneer and claims of “subversion,” “irony,” or postfeminism are meant to disguise the fact that it’s just the same old sexism that’s been going on for centuries. When it comes to burlesque, and, for that matter, anything that looks like sexism (see: pole-dancing classes, American Apparel ads, and “feminist pornography“) but is billed as not-sexist-because-women-like-it, the most useful tests to apply are these:

1) Are dudes doing it?

2) Are dudes trying to explain to you that it’s actually feminist?

If dudes aren’t doing it but are simultaneously trying to convince you that it’s liberating, empowering, or progressive, then you can count on a 99% chance of sexist fuckery.

Having published the odd critique here and there, and, more generally, mushed burlesque in to the sexism-in-disguise category with the assumption that a phenomenon centered around women getting naked on stage doesn’t need all that detailed an explanation of the ways in which these performances still objectify women, even if these women are enthusiastically participating in their own objectification and the objectification of others, what I’ve learned is this: It doesn’t actually matter what your critique is and how well you articulate it, because the burlesque community will respond to you in the same way every single time.

As such, I’ve compiled a helpful list of every single response you will definitely get, over and over again, every time you say anything marginally critical of burlesque. I’m not sure what the purpose of this list is except to encourage you to ignore these types of responses because there is not a single thing you can say or do to avoid them, as well as to point out the absolute unwillingness of burlesque defenders to engage in any self-reflection or critique of their fav hobby.

While the arguments can be generally summed up as: “But I like it,” I’ve provided you with more detailed responses as well. Enjoy!

1) You haven’t done enough “research”

I’ve been getting this same response for years. No matter how many burlesque shows I endure, I have never been to enough, so long as I continue to critique the phenomenon. I am told that, either, I have only seen “amateur” performances ( though I have watched plenty of awkward amateurs, I have also seen the professionals, who are equally as boring and objectified), or that I haven’t been to enough “alternative” shows.

What’s the rule here? How many burlesque performaces do we have to sit through before we are allowed to decide that, not only do we never want to sit through another burlesque performance again, but that we have good reason to avoid doing so in the future?

What this argument boils down to is that those who love burlesque refuse to believe that any other human being might not love the thing they love which, to boil it down even further, is to say: “As both the center of the universe and a petulant child, everyone must like what I like. If they don’t like what I like they are wrong and offend me by forcing me to think about the things I like and why I like them, which makes my head feel funny.”

2) You don’t understand

Similar to the “you haven’t done enough research” response, “you don’t understand” stems from an unwillingness to use (or lack of familiarity with using) one’s brain for the purposes of critical thinking. This response translates to: “You don’t agree with me/like the same things I like and I can’t come up with a logical response to your argument.”

“You clearly don’t understand burlesque” is kind of a hilarious response if you think about it, because burlesque really isn’t very complicated. What they really mean is: “You aren’t inside my head/bubble and I don’t care to acknowledge that which exists outside my head/bubble.” Again, it’s that problem of thinking about things when one doesn’t particularly like thinking about things issue.

3) Anything I do that makes ME feel good is feminist! (FUCKYEAH)

I don’t have much to say about this response. It can be easily addressed by repeating this handy mantra: “Just because you like it, doesn’t make it feminist.”

Which is not the same thing as saying you can’t like it. I like all sorts of things that aren’t feminist, despite the fact that I am a feminist. I just don’t pretend like my undereye concealer is some kind of radical movement. Patriarchy does not live in my undereye circles, nor will it go away if I appear less tired/sickly.

4) But there are women in the audience! Women erase sexism!

As we’ve learned from things like “feminist pornography” and pole dancing classes, just because women are doing things that are sexist or rooted in misogynist practices, doesn’t negate the sexism.

Women internalize the male gaze. You probably notice the way you look at women on the street — I do. Women sexualize women’s body parts just as men do, focusing on their bodies and appearances in ways we tend not to with men. When we watch things like film, television, and pornography, as well as when we look at ads, we are looking through a male lens. So we all learn to adopt the male gaze. When women’s bodies are objectified on screen or in American Apparel ads, we learn to see women as objects. We do this regardless of whether or not we are men.

The male gaze is still present even when there are women in the audience. Women go to strip clubs too — does that suddenly make strip clubs feminist? Does that mean the women performing at the strip club aren’t being objectified when women are looking?

This argument makes no sense but is brought up again and again with aplomb as though it’s never occurred to us before and will BLOW OUR MINDS into little tiny pieces.

You are welcome to spend an hour trying to explain the male gaze to these people, but at the end of the day I’m not sure they care. If they did they probably wouldn’t be doing burlesque in the first place.

5) Boylesque

Repeat after me: The exception does not make the rule.

You can reuse this argument in response to classics such as these:

- but women abuse men too

- but men are prostitutes too

- but men post sexy selfies too

- but men do strip shows too

- but women take up too much space on the bus sometimes too

6) Different body types in burlesque = feminism

I appreciate the representation of bodies that aren’t skinny white ones. I really do. BUT women who are not skinny and white are objectified and sexualized too. I find it very odd that people think that, somehow, if you objectify bigger bodies or if you objectify women who aren’t white, this is somehow progressive.

In any case, most women in burlesque are still skinny and white. So whatever.

7) If you don’t like burlesque then don’t go to burlesque shows

Ok, deal. I promise to never intentionally go to a burlesque show ever again so long as you promise not to objectify women in order to sell your “art.” No deal? How about I don’t have to stare at ass while reading my local paper? Or how about every single lefty or feminist fundrasier ever doesn’t include a burlesque performance? Also no? Aw man. I feel like we’re going to have to keep talking about this then, eh?

Local “artist” promoting his “music”

8) You are turning me into an object by talking about the objectification of women

This is a tricky one. So, this is the same as telling people who point out racism that they are being racist. In talking about the objectification of women, we are not, in fact, turning anyone into an object. Pointing out that women’s bodies and body parts are treated as and viewed as things which exist to-be-looked-at doesn’t reinforce that phenomenon — rather it is critical of it.

In making this argument (that those who point out objectification are actually doing the objectifying), you are asking people to stop thinking and to stop speaking up about inequality. Which makes you a reinforcer of the status quo. Bad move!

9) I’m not being objectified because I choose to objectify myself

So, everyone makes choices. Sometimes and often those choices are limited by our place in society and the culture and systems that surround us. Choosing to prostitute oneself, for example, does not make prostitution a feminist industry. It also doesn’t mean that you are responsible for patriarchy or men’s sense of entitlement around access to women’s bodies; but simply inserting the word “choice” into a sentence doesn’t actually change the meaning or root of the action or situation. I “choose” to watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (and Orange County!). Does that mean that I’m subverting patriarchy from my couch? Just as “choosing” to post sexy selfies on Instagram doesn’t amount to a feminist act simply because you’ve decided to objectify yourself. It doesn’t make you a terrible person either. Do you see what I’m getting at here? If not, please refer back to point number three.

10) You have to be on the inside to understand/form a valid critique

Ok, so let me get this straight. In order to be critical of anything (and in order for that critique to be legit), you have to actually be the thing you are critiquing? Does this also mean that women who haven’t been abused or raped can’t be critical of abuse and rape? Does it mean white people can’t be critical of racism? Does it mean men mustn’t say anything negative about prostitution because they themselves aren’t prostitutes? Am I not allowed to say that fast food is bad for you unless I eat a bunch of fast food? Drivers shouldn’t run people over! Oh wait — I’m not a driver, can’t say that :(

This is the dumbest argument ever. If we left critical conversations only to the people who were actually doing whatever we were being critical of then nobody would get to say anything about anything ever. Ex: “Capitalism sucks!” “SHUT UP, YOU AREN’T A CAPITALIST. YOU DON’T GET IT. YOU’RE NOT ON THE INSIDE.” See what I’m getting at? Stop this crap. It’s illogical and anti-intellectual.

11) You’re a prude and you hate boobs

I also hate sex, men, vaginas, penises, and joy. Can we move on?

But seriously. I have little to no interest in engaging with this silliness because it’s an anti-feminist, cheap, meaningless trope. Accusing feminists of being man/sex-haters because they speak against the exploitation of women is what sexist, anti-feminist men do. If you want to participate in that sort of thing, again, why are we talking? We clearly have different goals in life — yours being to ensure equality and freedom is never a thing, and mine to work towards women having “human being” status some day.

 

As a general rule of thumb you will learn, if you ever bother writing anything remotely critical about burlesque (which I doubt you will because, honestly, does anyone really give two shits about burlesque anymore? I feel like a broken record at this point…), that people who like burlesque only like burlesque. They don’t bother engaging with other topics yet suddenly develop a passionate interest in whatever they’ve decided feminism is once someone starts talking about the inherent sexism in taking off one’s clothes and shaking one’s boobs for an audience. Your response should be: If you have no real interest in the feminist movement or in liberating women from patriarchal oppression, why are we talking? And then don’t talk to them anymore unless you get masochistic pleasure from being screamed at by people who once took half a Women’s Studies 101 class and left as soon as they heard the word subjectivity.

Femen was founded and is controlled by a man. Exactly zero people are surprised 

Femen, aka, CLASSICAL FEMINISM IS DEAD ALSO LOOK AT OUR BOOOOOBS, turns out to have been founded and controlled by a man named Victor Svyatski.

Outed” by Australian film-maker Kitty Green, she says: “It’s his movement and he hand-picked the girls. He hand-picked the prettiest girls because the prettiest girls sell more papers. The prettiest girls get on the front page… that became their image, that became the way they sold the brand.”

I swear I don’t want to go all “I TOLD YOU SO SUCKERS” but seriously. We talked about this.

We talked about the fact that the whole point of Femen was to capture the male gaze, thereby capturing the attention of the media. We talked about the fact that we should be skeptical “anytime anyone makes reference to a “new face of feminism” and that face is either lingerie, something about pole dancing, or boobs.” We talked about the fact that “if a dude posts a photo of boobs and tells you it’s feminism, it’s not.”

All feminists who are smart and unfooled by the self-objectification-is-empowerment crap and who haven’t come down with a bad case of burlesque-brain like the rest of the third wave also knew better than to fall for the Femen garbage. So now is the time we all join together and rub this news obnoxiously in the faces of every dumbo who fell for this crap. WE TOLD YOU AND WE ARE RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG. FOREVER. Oh do we sound gloaty? Do you not like that? DON’T CARE. Feminism needs smarty-pants gloaters more than porn-loving FEMINISM IS ABOUT LOOKING HOT AND SEXY AND DOING WHAT WE WANT FUCK YEAH mush-brains. Also! Feminism isn’t here to give you a boner. If it is giving you a boner you may want to question whether or not that’s because this “feminism” is actually porn in a verysexy nurse outfit shoddy disguise.

Green, who made a documentary about Femen (which is currently screening at the Venice Film Festival), lead her to discover Svyatski’s influence over the group. He sounds like a real gem, too.

The Independent reports that “Initially, Mr Svyatski refused to allow Ms Green to film him but she was determined that he should feature” and quoted Green as saying: “It was a big moral thing for me because I realized how this organization was run. He was quite horrible with the girls. He would scream at them and call them bitches.” “He is Femen,” she said.

Svyatski admits, in the film, that maybe somewhere in his “deep self-conscious,” he started Femen to “get girls” and seems to think the women are incapable of doing feminist activism without his leadership.

Creepily, one Femen activist in the film is said to have compared the relationship between the women and Svyatski as being like a kind of “Stockholm syndrome.” You know, like when a bond forms between victim and abuser? Or like how people who have been kidnapped develop an emotional connection to their captor?

COOL, RIGHT?

New headline: “Abusive man sells new brand of feminism under banner of boobs. All media falls for it, as per usual.”

Subhead: “Dear media, stop selling us out. Love, actual feminism.”

Pay close attention to this one, defenders of “Go Topless Day,” Slutwalk, “feminist porn,” burlesque, and sex-work-is-an-empowering-and-sexy-choice-for-sexy-empowered-women. Feminism isn’t a sexy thing to look at. Nor is it a brand. Feminism isn’t fun and sexy despite the fact that many fun and sexy feminists exist. The fun and sexy part is maybe a sidebar, but it isn’t the main event. The main event is a lot of decidedly unsexy activism and law-changing and fighting and hard conversations. The main event is about ending violence against women and rape and incest and objectification and harassment and the practice of men paying to abuse women and girls under the guise of free speech and all that very, very unsexy stuff that dudes don’t like taking pictures of or jacking off to.

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