Recently in Feminism Category

If you haven't noticed the sexualization of violence against women, you haven't been paying attention. A defense in rape trials is often that the accused was just doing what the victim liked: giving her violent sex. Women, our culture tries to tell us, like it rough.

But the truth is revealed by the fact that in images of women subjected to violent sex, the woman is rarely happy. She's crying. She's terrified. She's pleading and/or fighting for her life. The violence isn't a turn-on for the woman; it's a turn-on for the person or people about to harm her.

And it's a turn-on, apparently, for audiences. And anyone who intentionally and explicitly links sex and violence in order to titillate an audience is not only not a feminist, s/he is a misogynist. I'm talking to YOU, Joss Whedon.

Which brings us to Reason #3 that Dollhouse is Misogynist Bullshit: sex made violent and violence against women made sexy; sex and violence linked so closely you can't tell where one ends and the other begins.

Yesterday, after feeling nauseated and violated after seeing another episode of Dollhouse (nauseated and violated is how I feel after watching any episode of Dollhouse), I picked up Heartbreak, Andrea Dworkin's memoir, a gift from a friend that I had somehow managed not to read for a few years.

I read it in two hours, and it was a perfect antidote to Dollhouse, because it also left me nauseated, because it gave me a portrait of someone who was TRULY trying to fight violence against women, and who wasn't using the fact that violence against women existed as an excuse to depict more of it.

Dworkin's work made me remember ways I have been violated, but it didn't replicate the violation and tell me it was edgy entertainment.

After I finished reading it, I did some on-line research, and I found this image, which to me is a pretty damn good analogy for Dollhouse.

In other words, I might have to respect, on both legal and logical grounds, a person's right to produce images depicting the profound degradation, exploitation and torment of women, even if such images make me feel nauseated and violated. But don't expect me to believe that you're significantly different if you're also producing similar images, even if you argue that your agenda is to call attention to the fact that such images are being created in the first place--as if any of us didn't really realize that already, except for people who don't WANT to know. You're still offering as entertainment images of women being sexually exploited. You're still offering as entertainment images of women in fear for their lives. Instead of offering solutions to the problem you claim you're exploring, you've become part of it.

Do Fetuses Have More "Personhood" Than Women?

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Watch it and try to keep your jaw from dropping.

What Every Beacon of Liberty Needs

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check out this cartoon by Ann Talnaes,

Sexism, Subtle and Overt

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I was going to post a recipe for green beans today, but my inbox was too full of links to depressing stories about sexism, so the beans will have to wait. (They're worth waiting for, and I really will post the recipe, I promise.)

First of all, the sort-of good news: a graduate student named Sezgin Cihangir cares enough about sexism to study it and its effects. His doctoral dissertation concludes that "Women suffer more as a result of subtle sexism than as a result of blatant gender discrimination. The subtle forms of discrimination affect one's self-image, which lowers performance. Victims can come to think that they have been justifiably rejected." The findings aren't good news, but the fact that he has documented this phenomenon IS good news.

Now on to the bad news: Katha Pollitt writes about the Backlack Spectacular against women and feminism that she is seeing in the US, citing evidence including the fact that Washington University has given Phyllis Schlafly an honorary degree, that the supreme court denied women the right to sue over unequal pay, and women's shelters are closing left and right for lack of funding.

Kira Cochrane writes about the backlash in the UK, citing the unbelievable statistic that "the rape conviction rate in Britain has plummeted from 33% in the 70s to just 5.7% today, and that the 14,000 rapes reported each year are thought to be the tip of the iceberg - Solicitor General, Vera Baird, suggested that only 10%-20% of all cases are brought to the attention of the authorities." She also writes that

In interviews earlier this year, Alan Sugar, Amstrad founder, Apprentice star and government business adviser, repeatedly challenged a law instituted more than three decades ago. This law was one of the big wins of the 1970s feminist movement, making it illegal for women to be asked at interview whether they plan to have children, on the grounds that it is clearly discriminatory: a chance for employers to weed out any woman who wants to combine a family with work. "You're not allowed to ask, so it's easy," said Sugar, "just don't employ them."

Yeah. I have to go iron someone else's shirt now.

The guy who created that horrible racist button I mentioned earlier has apologized and withdrawn it, and the Texas Republican Party is DONATING TO CHARITY (probably the only time in the history of the organization it has ever done such a thing) the money it collected by leasing a booth him at the party's convention.

But all his nasty pins insulting Hillary and her gender? Those you can still buy.

The Easiest Targets for Violence

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The easiest targets for violence are women and female children.

I don't know what to say about Nicholas Kristof's editorial on rape as a weapon. Of course I've known about things like this for ages; of course my understanding that this sort of thing happens is one reason I'm a feminist. I guess I'll quote a passage:

it has become clear that mass rape is not just a byproduct of war but also sometimes a deliberate weapon.

“Rape in war has been going on since time immemorial,” said Stephen Lewis, a former Canadian ambassador who was the U.N.’s envoy for AIDS in Africa. “But it has taken a new twist as commanders have used it as a strategy of war.”

There are two reasons for this. First, mass rape is very effective militarily. From the viewpoint of a militia, getting into a firefight is risky, so it’s preferable to terrorize civilians sympathetic to a rival group and drive them away, depriving the rivals of support.

Second, mass rape attracts less international scrutiny than piles of bodies do, because the issue is indelicate and the victims are usually too ashamed to speak up.

I guess I'll say this:

Katie knows what she's talking about:

I liked this little editorial from Salon:

Make a Point at Current.com

So, the first thing that upset me was this article on mountaintop removal. I remember my sister, the hardcore Republican whose favorite channel is Fox News and great idol is Bill O'Reilly, telling me a few years about some tv show she'd seen on mountaintop removal, how horrible it was, how she wept as she watched it.... But did it make any difference at all in the way she shopped, consumed energy, thought about politics, or voted? Not a whit. She just thought it was too, too bad that these lovely mountains she'd never see were being destroyed. But she'd never see them, so why should SHE sacrifice or change anything about her life to save them?

Then there was this story about people facing economic hardship abandoning their pets. It struck me in part because I'd recently written something about the Mormon practice of stockpiling a two-year supply of, ideally, everything you need for two years: food, water, clothing, toilet paper, dog food. Yes, dog food: because, as I wrote, "You can't neglect to feed your dog just because Armageddon comes along." Hard times aren't Armageddon, but people are still throwing their cats out on the side of the road, tossing puppies down garbage chutes. I guess if people really don't have the money to feed their pets or get them veterinary care, they really don't have the money, but until it's truly a matter of feeding the dog or feeding the kid, couldn't they forgo some other luxury and honor the commitment they made in adopting the animal in the first place?

Finally, there was this piece from Salon called Little Girls Gone Wild, featuring an interview with M. Gigi Durham about her new book, The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It.

You have to have a subscription to read Salon, so you might not be able to see the article. But there's some pretty good stuff in it, for instance, this:

Salon: What are some of the distortions that girls learn from magazines and advertising about what girls' sexuality is all about?

MGD: If you've got it, flaunt it. Sex is only about baring the body, and exhibiting the body, and especially girls' bodies. That's a very narrow definition of what sexuality is. At the same time, you can't express yourself, you can't enjoy your body, you can't feel like your body is sexual unless you've got this perfect, sex goddess anatomy, which is something like a Barbie body. That's ridiculous, too. It makes girls end up hating their bodies, and not enjoying their own sensuality and sexuality. That's a real problem.

Then, there's this insistence that younger and younger girls are sexual. There's this huge emphasis on linking youth with sexuality. People mature sexually throughout their lives, and there is a lot of scientific evidence that women who are past menopause really enjoy sex. Children who are 12, 13 years old are not in a position to understand or cope with their sexuality very well. Linking sex to youthfulness is really dangerous.

Girls are always supposed to be changing their bodies and dressing up in order to attract male attention. There is not much emphasis on girls enjoying their own bodies, or even any reciprocity where boys might be thinking about what they could do to please girls. It's not very mutual.

So read all that if you want to feel worse too.... Or maybe I feel better, because at least someone is confronting the problem, getting the word out there. I don't know. MGD also advocates talking to children--even two-year-olds--about what marketing is and how it works, as in this:

I've done it. If they're watching a commercial on TV, and there is a toy, you can just start talking to them: "Do you think that toy is as good when you bring it home as it is on TV? Do you know why they make it look so fun, and like these kids are having so much fun? Because they really want you to spend money on it."

They understand.

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