Posts tagged sexism

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.

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.”

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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.

Gavin McInnes thinks male violence feeds babies, explains to women what women think 

Throw a little gasoline on the hipster sexism fire, folks — co-founder of Vice magazine* and “Godfather of hipsterdom,” Gavin McInnes threw a misogynistic tantrum on Huffington Post Live during a discussion about contemporary masculinity on Monday. Little known fact: Gavin McInnes is not only a scientist and knower of all facts, but he can SEE INSIDE OUR BRAINS, ladies. And what does he see? Misery.

McInnes drops so many truth bombs in the discussion that it’s hard to know where to begin, but his basic premise is that male aggression is natural and that feminism has made women miserable by forcing them to pretend to be men. You know how we all do that? Yeah. Well now we can stop. “You’re welcome” – Gavin McInnes.

It’s weird because I don’t have any babies and I hate doing chores, yet… strangely… I… feel… happy… what with my intact vagina, my ability to sleep in and the daily joy I experience when I don’t have to clean up another human being’s poo. I’m pretty sure McInnes would like to chalk me up to “anecdotal evidence,” if not for this little thing some of us like to call “history.”

Inside Gavin’s special little head, feminism has made women miserable. The problem with this argument is that, before feminism, women were miserable. And that’s why feminism was invented.

Let’s go ahead and assume that because one doesn’t need to actually read things in order to know ALL TRUE FACTS ABOUT EVERYTHING, Gavin has never heard of “the problem that has no name.” Don’t worry, little buddy. We’ll help you out on this one.

“The problem that has no name” is what Betty Friedan wrote about in her book, The Feminine Mystique. That book was published way back in 1963! (Seven short years before little Gavin would grace this earth with his omniscient presence.) Friedan surveyed women across America during the 50s (So that’s, like, fifty years ago, Gav. Way to stay abreast of cutting-edge research.) and found they were depressed and unfulfilled and didn’t know why. It was weird because they’d been told that fulfilling their “natural” roles as homemakers, mothers, and wives would bring them happiness. Turns out women had been fed a bunch of bullshit — coincidentally, the very same bullshit spewing out of Gavin’s mouth today.

As a professional scientist who knows all facts about everything, it’s odd that he would argue we go back fifty years and try something that already failed once, very badly.

Despite the millions of women around the world who aren’t supported by a male “breadwinner,” McInnes argues that men, indeed, are the breadwinners “in the majority of cases.” Lucky you, 10 million single mothers of the world! Lucky you, 15 million fatherless children in America! LUCKY YOU, EVERYONE! Gavin McInnes is telling the truth about REAL LIFE AND FACTS that fly in the face of history, statistics, and actual research. The courage it must take to blatantly lie in front of the entire world. *Swoooon* Ahem, I mean *blow jooobs*

Since only men run businesses and since men are naturally violent, it’s only reasonable to conclude that violence is necessary to make a living, which one needs to do in order to feed one’s families. ARE MEN SUPPOSED TO JUST LET US STARVE? That they do is beside the point. Also shush, Gavin is explaining science. Male violence is “crucial to our survival” and, as we all know, men are very, very concerned with women’s lives. Hence all the women murdered and beaten and raped by their loving husbands every day.

As we all know (but were afraid to cop to until Gavin McInnes liberated us just right this second), IT’S BEEN PROVEN that women are all miserable, thanks to what else but feminism (Making Women Miserable Since 1920™). It’s weird how he knows so much about what women think and need and feel, as a man. What’s even more weird is that he doesn’t even need to listen to the actual words that come out of women’s mouths in order to be able to see inside their pretty pink brains and know exactly what they want (spoiler: it’s to grow babies and clean Gavin McInnes’ house).

He exhibits this further by calling Mary Anne Franks, another panelist and a professor at the University of Miami School of Law, a “fucking idiot.” Okay girls, who spilled the beans? Next he’s going to figure out how much we love nonconsensual sex and being put in our place. SECRET’S OUT.

Franks points out that statistics show that both men and women are happier when they accept that there is no such thing as innate “femininity” or “masculinity.” In other words, there’s no such thing as a “male brain” or a “female brain.” Men aren’t “naturally” successful or aggressive just as women aren’t “naturally” passive homemakers.

Panelist, Micheal Addis, author of Invisible Men, aptly points out that what Gavin is doing (besides pounding his fists on the cave floor) is how masculinity works. Men are told they must behave in _____ way otherwise they will be called wimps, faggots, or (worst of all) “girls.” It’s those who define “masculinity” in a particular way who bully others into conforming. “This is called the policing of masculinity,” Addis says.

McInnes, of course, denies doing any of this (NO, NO, STUPID EVERYONE, HE’S DOING THE OPPOSITE) and claims we are simply “ignoring the vast majority of how people naturally behave.” Which is funny because it seems that, actually, Gavin is the one who is ignoring the vast majority of everything that’s actually true, scientifically proven, and statistically correct.

“You’re the ones doing the enforcing!” angry Gavin cries, before taking all his toys and stomping out of the room.

“You’ve got guys whose wives won’t even take their last names, who stay at home while the wife makes money… When you swing the pendulum so far away from the natural world, you all look like a bunch of fools.” Because, as we all know, in the “natural world” a lady orangutan’s father will walk her down the aisle in a white dress before sending her off into a life of domestic bliss as Mrs. Ape.

Gavin’s “gut” has told him that the “majority of women like being domestic and shaping lives,” and if anyone knows the real, inarguable truth about what women “like” it’s Gavin McInnes’ gut.

All joking aside, this guy is the whiniest, most childish, cry baby, bully asshole I’ve encountered in some time. I feel so fucking sorry for his wife. If he behaves this way in public I don’t even want to imagine how he behaves behind closed doors.

 

*McInnes left Vice in 2007 because of “creative differences.” Good fucking riddance.

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:

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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.

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.

Kathleen Hanna pretty much says it all about dudes and feminism 

Oh man. I just love this video of Kathleen Hanna explaining the origin of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” I recently discovered via The Frisky.

Hanna’s rendition of the song is amaaaazing, of course, but what I really loved was the way she was able to point out how ridiculous so many dudes are when it comes to understanding and actually giving a shit about sexism.

Along with the story of how the classic Nirvana song came to be, Hanna shares that, while on tour with her band, in the 90s, she had to get a job as a strip club in order to get enough money together to fix the van that would enable the band to go on tour.

At about the five minute mark, Hanna talks about having to open for a band called “Mutton Chops,” whose lead singer came up to her to ask what “guys can do to help you feminists.”

It was later that night that this band came in to the very strip club Hanna was working at. So she ends up having to strip for these dudes who had, hours earlier, faked a kind of vague interest in feminism until it became inconvenient (i.e when they’re dicks came into question).

Isn’t it all too predictable? Oh yeah, yeah, feminism. Totally into it. So… Strip club?

Anyway, watch the video. She’s so rad.

Pin-ups, porn culture, and white-centered postfeminism: On Hilda, the forgotten, plus-size pin-up 

A lot of folks have been posting about a “forgotten plus-sized pin-up” named Hilda who was created in the 1950s as she’s more full-figured than we’re used to seeing in sexualized images of women. Hilda was recently rediscoverd by the mainstream and now, it seems, feminist outlets everywhere are celebrating her image, mostly because she’s plus-sized (an expression I hate, for the record).

They’re not critiquing the fact that she is sexualized and objectified in the exact same way as the thin models; they’re just applauding their efforts on being superficially diverse.

Feminist blogs are celebrating Hilda’s image and calling her “beautiful” and “inspiring.” Meanwhile, those of us who routinely critique sexist displays of women in mainstream culture are left on the sidelines confused because we are well aware that the pin-up girl image helps facilitate women’s dehumanization.  Okay—maybe I didn’t get the memo, but why, as feminists, are we celebrating the pin-up?

Ok, I get it. We live in a culture where we claim to be post-everything. So, we pat ourselves on the back, acting like we’re so progressive because we hang up sexualized images of large women on our walls instead of thin women. Damn—so many activists!

Pin-ups were not created for women, no matter how many women’s eyes grace the model’s body. I mean, they’re called PIN-UPS. How much more objectifying can you get? They were created for the heteronormative male gaze. The fact that women keep trying to appropriate heterosexist male culture for their own liberation demonstrates a deeper problem.

We currently live in a “pin-up” culture where women are only granted visibility when they display their bodies for public consumption; therefore, most women are groomed and disciplined from young ages to have pin-up ready bodies.

That’s what white-centered postfeminism is all about. A vision of sexual liberation that hinges on the male gaze and male approval. Now we can sit here and have that long, uncritical, derailing conversation about women who “choose” to strip and enjoy being “pin-ups”; but I’m going to spare myself a stroke and move on, because talking about “individual agency” is irrelevant when we’re discussing hegemony.

When women fight to end negative media representations of women in contemporary culture, yet still circulate vintage images of white, female, pin-ups, they’re missing how the culture surrounding vintage pin-up girls largely informs the sexism that we’re trying to fight today.

This is what happens when we only focus on the individual and not the system that conditions the individual.

If we have a superficial surface-level understanding of oppression, then we will have superficial surface-level solutions. It’s that simple. Posting up any sized sexualized woman on your wall, originally created for men, won’t solve the reality that systemically, women are degraded, dehumanized, and are robbed of understanding their sexualities organically. It also teaches men that sexualizing “diverse” or “alternative” bodies is progressive and therefore acceptable.

Additionally, as I reiterate all of the time, the idea of publicly displaying your sexualized body is largely a white enterprise and endeavor. Black women are not granted the same privileges when we showcase our bodies because we’re viewed as public property; evidenced through our high rape rates and low pay-rates in spaces of sex work, etc.

The idea of a woman’s (sometimes nameless) body being on display for public consumption, ironically repackaged as “sexy” and “liberating” for women today, is merely another hint that feminism is being co-opted by patriarchy. I guess this is what happens when the most privileged, women are allowed to decide how feminist sexual empowerment looks. I’m afraid I just don’t understand how we can simultaneously critique sexist media culture, but then subscribe to the idea of pin-ups as feminist.

“Pin-up” images conjure up nostalgia for an era where women were disciplined to be “in their places” and had to comply with men dominating women.  This is another example of how “ironic” sexism and hipster culture is impacting women and feminism.

The pin-up girl image replicates some of the most damaging, clichéd, commercialized stereotypes of women’s sexualities — that we exist to invite the male, heterosexual gaze, that we need to “perform” sexiness publicly in order to be viewed as authentic sexual women — that we cannot conjure up any authentic sexual feelings without catering to a man’s desire first.

This kind of binary logic is not liberating. For example, I keep seeing this image posted everywhere:

The issue is not body size—the issue is that beauty standards (regardless of what they look like) define a woman’s worth. Since these “beauty standards” are being created through a white supremacist patriarchy, they will inevitably be exclusionary and limiting. Many fail to realize how exclusionary and limiting the actual concept of a “beauty standard” is — we are stuck in a perpetual battle over which expression of beauty is the most “real” or “beautiful.”  The idea that a “real” woman is defined through surface-level measurements, like skin tone, hair length, and body size is merely a manifestation of living in an uncritical neoliberal white supremacist patriarchy where women still do not have access to “defining” themselves.

In fact, I would argue that women are not even viewed as sentient human beings anymore, and the pin-up image helps solidify women’s dehumanization, alongside contemporary porn culture.

In reality, women have become units of measurement to help bolster men’s masculinity; therefore, women cannot benefit from these pin-up images as men do. In fact, it’s impossible to do so in a heterosexist patriarchy.

Even if you individually feel aroused by pin-up images of women as a woman, she is not meant to be your source of liberation. She is meant to be a symbolic tool of men’s oppression towards women. Her image is used as a discursive lesson: that life as a woman can be so easy if you just follow the gendered rules. All you have to do is flaunt your body and use your commodified femininity, and you will be celebrated. What better celebration can there be than men AND women gazing at your sexualized body and hanging your image on their wall for their needs?

We cannot conflate women’s natural sex drives with commercialized institutionalized mass-produced images of “sexy” women by men. If we do, we are being bamboozled into believing that women’s liberation can ever be *celebrated* in a patriarchal sexist culture that takes every opportunity to dehumanize women.

There’s an irony inherent in these “celebrations” of women’s bodies—an irony that’s worth paying attention to. Be suspicious of a culture that has to keep convincing you that you’re free and liberated while profiting off of your enslavement and oppression.

Remember, the pin-up is a distorted expression of men’s sexualities, not women’s. We have yet to have an expression of sexuality because we’re still trying to figure out what sexuality means for us. We cannot “reclaim” or “celebrate” women’s sexuality or bodies because being able to “reclaim” something means that you know what state it is currently in, or who currently possesses it. As women, if we are not aware that our sexuality does not belong to us currently, we will only be reclaiming and celebrating an expression and an image that was designed to keep us oppressed. In other words, in celebrating the pin-up, we are celebrating our own dehumanization.

Now, we can either start engaging in real feminist conversations about the pin-up, or we can just keep staring at the two dimensional images of women, who don’t speak, don’t think, don’t move, don’t eat, but smile.

Aphrodite Kocięda is a graduate student in Communication at the University of South Florida and a contributor to the Vegan Feminist Network. Her current graduate research focuses on feminist activism in a postfeminist rape culture climate.

The sweetest revenge (porn): Joe Francis meets karma 

Hi karma. Some days you warm my heart.

Joe Francis, misogynist extraordinaire and the man who brought us Girls Gone Wild,the soft core porn empire that made millions coercing drunk coeds to flash the camera or even perform sex acts for free is trying desperately keep a sex tape of his own from going public.

He’s threatening to sue any media outlet that releases the tape; his lawyer saying: “It is not only unfortunate, but it is a crime.

OH REALLY, JOE FRANCIS? REALLY IS IT A CRIME TO RELEASE VIDEOS OF OTHER PEOPLE PERFORMING SEX ACTS WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION? IS IT FATHOMABLE THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT LIKE IMAGES OF THEIR NAKED BODIES SHOPPED AROUND ON THE INTERNET? Oh. Ok then.

Just so we’re clear, it’s totally fine to convince drunk 18-year-olds to flash the camera and then sell those tapes to the world (because everyone is on their best behaviour and has the ability to make thoughtful and clear decisions while wasted on spring break and being egged on by groups of dude-bros), BUT it’s a crime to release Joe Francis’ sex tape to the world. Because he’s a special flower who deserves RESPECT even though he treats women like a form of currency/punching bags.

Francis went to court in 2006 over claims from two 17-year-old girls that they’d been told by a camera man that he was shooting a “private film” when, of course, he was not and over the the fact that the girls were not of age to consent. He managed to evade charges, though that was not the first or last time he was accused of turning underage girls into porn. He plead guilty to child abuse and prostitution charges in 2008, though he claimed to have “never committed any crime,” saying he only plead guilty in order to get out of jail.

Last month, Francis was found guilty of false imprisonment and of assault and will be sentenced in July, facing a maximum of five years in prison.

I hate to depend on criminal charges in order to prove a dude is a cretin, because we often end up dependent on the old everything-is-a-ok-so-long-as-there’s-consent adage or on the odd notion that there’s some kind of gaping difference between exploiting and objectifying a 17-year-old and exploiting and objectifying an 18-year-old. I’m relieved, of course, to see Francis charged for something — anything, as he seems to believe he’s not only untouchable, but that he’s doing nothing wrong and is some kind of defender of free speech and the First Amendment, but I wish that we didn’t have to rely on “consent” as the marker of ethical behaviour or wait until he is charged for actually assaulting women before deciding he’s scum.

In any case, no more pretending — this dude is the worst in every way.

It’s abhorrent that this sociopath moves freely among stars and celebs as though he’s some kind of legitimate business man and is viewed as a celebrity himself, though we’ve known for at least a decade that he’s a violent, sexist, pig. Of course this is how things go when we treat prostitution and pornography as just normal, acceptable, harmless parts of life (Here’s looking at you, “sex positive feminists!” Keep up the freedom fighting!).

In any case, I doubt the experience of trying to keep his own sex tape under wraps will cause Francis to make any connections between his own behaviour and how, oh maybe people don’t like their private lives and bodies shared and exploited for profit online, but I can’t help but enjoy the irony of it all.

Revenge porn is about porn 

If you haven’t yet heard about revenge porn, you’re lucky.

Notorious dickbag, Hunter Moore, is big into the revenge porn game. He can be credited with mainstreaming the concept of punishing your ex by posting their nude photos online without their permission via his website, IsAnyoneUp.com.

Doesn’t take much to get rich these days, just a complete lack of anything resembling a soul.

Not only would Moore post the photos, but he would also post the person’s name, location, and link to their social media accounts, also helpfully facilitating comments under the images critiquing the person’s appearance. Innovative, right!

Eight months after his original site shut down, Moore, committed as ever to cretin status, announced he would be launching a new site: HunterMoore.TV.

Of course, the fact that he manages to keep this up this seemingly “legally questionable” endeavour begs the question: “How is this actually legal?” explains, in an article for The Guardian, that (in the U.S.) under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, “website proprietors are not liable for content that is submitted to them by third parties.”

Even with that loophole, it’s clear that these sites aren’t going to get off scot-free.

Another revenge porn site (Gosh, it’s just a mystery why degrading women via porn is so popular!), Texxxan.com (and their hosting company, GoDaddy.com) is being sued by approximately two dozen women on the basis that the site was “significantly designed to cause severe embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional distress.”

The deal with revenge porn is that someone you once trusted enough to let take a photo of you engaged in a sexual act or text a photo of yourself naked to, now hates you enough to want to seek ‘revenge’ by turning you into publicly consumable porn.

Now, while the purpose of revenge porn is indeed, as Jill Filipovic writes for The Guardian, “to shame, humiliate and destroy the lives and reputations of young women,”(i.e. not just about masturbation), I would add that the existence of revenge porn is very much a result of a porn culture.

When we look at the ways women and girls are harassed and abused online, we see that it often isn’t just about words, rather it is often about porn. We see this in the Amanda Todd tragedy which happened back in October. While Todd was bullied and harassed, both online and by kids at school, she was also a victim of porn culture. As many feminists pointed out after she killed herself, Todd was not only ‘bullied’, as most of the mainstream media put it, but she was harassed in a completely misogynistic way. What many news outlets failed to mention was that Todd was turned into porn. A man she’d been chatting to online coerced her into showing her breasts via a webcam, later threatening to share the image with her friends and family unless she gave him a “show.” He followed through on his threat, circulating the image of Todd, who was in grade seven at the time, online.

Sound familiar?

It isn’t possible to separate what happened to Todd from this ‘revenge porn’ phenomenon, which is also why it isn’t possible to separate ‘revenge porn’ from ‘porn’.

Revenge porn is about degrading and humiliating women. It doesn’t work on men because men aren’t hated on a mass scale, as women are, and because men’s bodies are not used against them, in order to punish them.

Just as revenge porn isn’t simply about naked bodies, neither is mainstream porn. It’s the power dynamic that’s ‘sexy’ and it’s the degradation that separates both revenge porn and ‘regular’ porn from straight-up nudity and sex. When women are objectified, they lose power and men gain power. The male gaze is a disempowering one.

The fact that pornography is being used as a means to publicly harass and degrade all women (regardless of whether or not the woman in question was compensated for her image and/or the use of her body) should tell us something about pornography and about our misogynistic culture. It tells us that porn isn’t ‘just about sex’ or about ‘loving women’s bodies’ and that it isn’t somehow completely neutral.

The fact that 12-year-old girls are being pressured to text ‘sexy’ photos of themselves to boys and men (as well as older girls and women) is as a result of a porn culture. Porn cannot be separated from larger culture; isn’t something relegated to ‘adult only’ sites. It’s what we’re all supposed to be, as women, and it’s used against us. Feminists say ‘porn harms’ and often the public isn’t sure what that means. Well here’s an example.

Men like Hunter Moore grew up in the same culture that the man who harassed Amanda Todd did and in the same culture boys are growing up in today, learning that to coerce girls to turn themselves into porn gives them power.

It should be clear by now that porn is not about loving women.

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