Hooray! Feminists have managed to make inequality between the sexes so obviously ludicrous, so obviously discriminatory, so unpalatable, that even men want in on the act. Sadly though, I think this is more an ‘own goal’ than a cause for celebration. It’s not unusual any more for a man to say that he’s a feminist, and it’s even less unusual for women to say that men can and should be involved in feminism. But for this to have become possible, it has been necessary for a shift in the understanding of what feminism is. Feminism, women’s fight for liberation from male oppression, has become widely understood as the struggle for gender equality. That this shift has happened as men have clamoured to be involved, is not a coincidence. Invite the oppressor to the game and the goal shifts. But the shift renders feminism meaningless. Gender is a social construct, it is one of patriarchy’s best tools for maintaining inequality and the illusion that inequality between the sexes is natural and inevitable. Gender is a hierarchy, it is subordination and domination sugar coated in pink and blue. Gender equality is an oxymoron, gender is inequality. Feminism needs to fight for the eradication of gender, not for it to be enshrined and protected in legislation.
As Andrea Dworkin identified, feminism requires that which patriarchy destroys in women, our ability to confront and resist male power. As women, too many of us are caught up in societal Stockholm syndrome. As an oppressed group too many of us have bonded with those who hold power and see society though their perspective. It is an understandable survival strategy, but it is also one of the ways our collusion is created. I understand how women love their male partners, their sons, fathers, male friends and relatives. I understand that some men, maybe even many or most men, are good men who respect women and purport to or even genuinely desire equality with women. As a sentient human being I understand that masculinity encompasses ways of being that some men reject or even feel imprisoned by. As a human being, I can sympathise with and support their desire for change. Yet cries that ‘patriarchy hurts men too’ leave the feminist in me unmoved. These positions are not mutually exclusive, but feminism needs to centre on women’s oppression, tinkering with gender equality will never produce the change for women that feminism demands. Whilst feminism must ensure that the additional structural oppressions faced by some women are not ignored and cannot be blind to the ways that class and race bring advantages for some women and disadvantages for others, the focus must be on women’s oppressions, not on men.
When we look at male violence against women, the difference between a liberal and a radical feminist analysis is the difference between looking for individual or class solutions. One of the biggest gains of feminism is getting male violence against women on to the policy agenda and almost seen as a mainstream issue. The biggest threat against this gain, is that those male dominated institutions of power, under the auspices of dealing with the problem, have shaken all but the barest hint of feminist analysis from discourse on the issue. To end male violence against women, we need to end male power, and dismantle all the institutions that uphold male supremacy. It is this power that creates and is reinforced by male violence against women. We will never end male violence by believing that we can change one man at a time, though sensitising education programmes. We will never end male violence against women by being gentle to men and sympathetic to the harms of masculinity to men, not without destroying the institutions that uphold and create male supremacy. We will never end male violence against women, against children, even against other men, if we fail to recognise and name men as the overwhelming primary perpetrators of almost all forms of violence.
Male involvement in the field of male violence against women became ‘men can be victims too’, became the failure to name male violence and this allows male violence against women as a cause and consequence of inequality to continue. How many men genuinely choose not to see the massive imbalance that is violence between the sexes, male violence against women? How many men do not know that rape, assault and murder of women are wrong? Men who want to support women in our struggle to end male violence need to join us naming the problem, they should not need to demand access to our spaces to do so. Men need to see male violence against women as the problem, not create women’s violence against men as a false equivalent and not place this as secondary to them learning how not to be harmed by masculinity. When we look at homicide, there is no sex equivalence, women are overwhelmingly killed by men; men too, are overwhelmingly killed by men. When men kill their women partners and ex-partners, it is usually after subjecting them to years of abuse, the comparatively few women who kill male partners or exes, usually do so after they themselves have been subject to years of abuse. There is no equivalence, not in rate, not in precursor to killing. Men need to learn to listen to feminists, to learn from us, rather than fight to have their voices be the ones that feminists listen to.
If our goal as feminists is not mass social change, the eradication of male power, but gradual blurring of the boundaries between what is deemed masculine and feminine, then sex inequality will never be erased. None of this means that men do not have a role in creating change, but that feminism has a particular role in creating how we understand the change that is needed. We can’t create equality from a system that is predicated upon inequality. We cannot afford for feminism to become the fight for gender equality rather than the end of male supremacy. This is why feminism cannot be for or about men. If our feminism does not make this obvious, which sex benefits from things staying as they are?
Karen Ingala Smith, read the full article here.
This is what happened to Hazel Higgleton in July 2013, after she split up with her boyfriend.
“I’m sure he put the video on every porn site he could possibly put it on, and then it just went viral and spread everywhere,” said Hazel, 25.
“I thought it was something that happens to celebrities. I didn’t think it would be an issue for people like me.”
Miss Higgleton, from Chelmsford in Essex, said the police were very sympathetic when she reported what she believed was a crime.
However, like many victims of revenge porn, she was told no legal action could be taken.
“They were so nice about it but they were upset themselves that they couldn’t do anything about it,” said Miss Higgleton.
“They thought it was terrible that nothing could be done about it, and they believed something had to be changed because they thought it was a very bad thing.”
Revenge porn is now being made a specific offence in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill and the government expects this to become law at some point in 2015, subject to the Parliamentary process.
However, revenge porn can already be prosecuted under several existing laws.
Luke King, from Nottingham, was jailed for harassment in November, after sharing an explicit photo of his former girlfriend using the messaging service WhatsApp.
It was thought to be one of the first revenge porn prosecutions.
Janine Smith, deputy chief crown prosecutor for the East Midlands, hopes it will encourage other victims to report incidents to police.
“Victims don’t necessarily understand it’s a criminal offence and so this is why it’s really good the case has been highlighted,” she said.
“Obviously it’s traumatic and terrible for the victim but it will say to tomorrow’s suspect or tomorrow’s victim that we take these cases really seriously.”
So why was Luke King prosecuted, while police told Hazel Higgleton that no action could be taken against her ex?
Essex Police was asked to comment but said it was unable to find a record of the incident.
Ms Smith said it would not be fair for her to comment on the police but said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) “can certainly make sure that we raise awareness within the police”.
“We could just highlight our guidance to them, so they are completely aware of our position,” she said.
The CPS updated its legal guidance in October to explain how revenge porn cases could be prosecuted.
The law has not changed but the guidance has clarified the different legislation under which a perpetrator could be charged.
The woman raped by footballer Ched Evans has had to change her name and move house five times, her father has said.
The father, who cannot be named to protect his daughter’s identity, said she was separated from her family and friends over the festive period and was not able to exchange Christmas presents with him after being identified by Twitter trolls.
She worked over Christmas to take her mind off her tormentors, who are supporters of Evans, her father said.
The Welsh former Sheffield United striker was jailed in April 2012 for raping the woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, north Wales. He denied rape, claiming the sex was consensual, but he was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon crown court.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, the victim’s father said: “It’s the fifth time she’s had to move in under three years, she is just living her life on the run.
“I couldn’t even see her over Christmas because it’s too risky for her to visit me. I don’t even know where she is living at the moment, so I haven’t been able to give her the Christmas presents I bought her.
“The last time I saw her was almost a year ago, and it’s been hard not having her at home over Christmas. I just want her near me so I can protect her.”
This article in the Guardian today illustrates very clearly how the term ‘sex work’ is an obfuscatory term that serves only to hide the abusive reality of the sex industry. It’s quite amazing, because the article as a whole illustrates how abusive and demeaning the sex industry is in India, but the use of ‘sex work’ smoothes this over.
The scene in Kamathipura, in the heart of Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, appears timeless. Established in the late 18th century by the British, the neighbourhood has been a hub of sex work and trafficking ever since.
This makes it sound like there are two separate activities: ‘sex work’, and trafficking, that both happen to occur in the same place, when in fact they are the same thing.
There is little thought for those who live and work here. Fatima, a 32-year-old sex worker, said the building in which she has lived and worked since being sold by her sister to a brothel owner at the age of 12 is slated for demolition.
Now, to most sane and rational people, being sold into sex slavery at the age of twelve is not ‘work’, but calling Fatima a ‘sex worker’ covers up this fact – was she a ‘juvenile sex worker’ when she was sold into slavery at twelve, or did the change magically occur on her 18th birthday?
About 10,000 female sex workers live in Kamathipura, an estimated third of the total 20 years ago. They come from all over India, as well as neighbouring countries Nepal and, increasingly, Bangladesh. Almost all have been trafficked, sold by relatives or lured by men who convinced them that a better life awaited them in Mumbai. Police are paid off, or turn a blind eye. A special trafficking court is little deterrent.
Now, if the vast majority of prostituted women in Kanathipura were forced into it (many as children as Fatima’s example above is unlikely to be a one-off), why are they being called ‘workers’?
Younger women, the new arrivals, are routinely kept captive, sometimes locked in small rooms for weeks or months on end or blackmailed into remaining.
For Sati Sheikh, 27, it was threats of violence to her two small children that kept her in a brothel, seeing about six clients every day. “They threatened to sell them both. I was compelled to work‚” she said.
Under any other circumstances, being coerced (“compelled”, “blackmailed”, threatened with violence) into sex is called rape, but here, because money changed hands, this rape is now called ‘work’, and the men who pay to rape these women and girls are merely ‘clients’ and the violence is made even more invisible.
One way out is through their children. NGOs working in the neighbourhood organise the placement of sons and daughters in local schools. When they are old enough, the children start work, allowing their mothers to pay off debts to brothel keepers and leave.
“I’ve done this for 20 years so my daughters won’t have to do it. My son is in college and working in an ice-cream parlour. He is now supporting me so I can stop,” said Devi, 36.
This is very clearly debt-bondage, in other words slavery, so why is it being called ‘work’?
The use of the term ‘sex work’ in place of prostitution only benefits the pimps and the johns, whose violence gets covered up under words like ‘work’ and ‘client’, and it is appalling that the mainstream press has so unquestioningly started using the term ‘sex work’ – every time this is used they are doing propaganda for the sex industry.
(Dutton & Painter, 1981). Several conditions have been identified that must be present for a traumatic bond to occur.
1. There must be an imbalance of power, with one person more in control of key aspects of the relationship, such as setting themselves up as the “authority” through such things as controlling the finances, or making most of the relationship decisions, or using threats and intimidations, so the relationship has become lopsided.
2. The abusive behavior is sporadic in nature. It is characterized by intermittent reinforcement, which means there is the alternating of highly intense positives (such as intense kindness or affection) and the negatives of the abusive behavior.
3. The victim engages in denial of the abuse for emotional self-protection. In severe abuse (this can be psychological or physical), one form of psychological protection strategy is dissociation, where the victim experiences the abuse as if it is not happening to them, but as if they are outside their body watching the scene unfold (like watching a movie). Dissociative states allow the victim to compartmentalize the abusive aspects of the relationship in order to focus on the positive aspects.The use of denial and distancing oneself from the abuse are forms of what is called cognitive dissonance. In abusive relationships this means that what is happening to the victim is so horrible, so far removed from their thoughts and expectations of the world, that it is “dissonant” or “out of tune” or “at odds” with their pre-existing expectations and reality. Since the victim feels powerless to change the situation, they rely on emotional strategies to try to make it less dissonant, to try to somehow make it fit. To cope with the contradicting behaviors of the abuser, and to survive the abuse, the person literally has to change how they perceive reality. Studies also show a person is more loyal and committed to a person or situation that is difficult, uncomfortable, or even humiliating, and the more the victim has invested in the relationship, the more they need to justify their position. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful “self-preservation” mechanism which can completely distort and override the truth, with the victim developing a tolerance for the abuse and “normalizing” the abusers behavior, despite evidence to the contrary.
4. The victim masks that the abuse is happening, may not have admitted it to anyone, not even themselves.
After that NYC catcalling video went viral online, some men (not all men!) were upset, not because they were trying to defend their right to shout “nice tits” at a random woman, but because even non-sexual comments were being defined as harassment. For instance, Michael Che, co-host of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, wrote on Facebook, “I want to apologize to all the women I’ve harassed with statements like ‘hi’ or ‘have a nice day.’”
In response to comments like these, This Week in Blackness CEO Elon James White created a hashtag called #DudesGreetingDudes:
The #DudesGreetingDudes tweets are hilarious because they’re ridiculous. After all, everyone knows men would never actually talk to each other like that.
But why wouldn’t they?
The common explanation is that street harassment – yes, including the “nice,” non-explicitly sexual kind – is ultimately about asserting male dominance over women, forcing them to give men their time and attention. It wouldn’t make sense for a man to infringe on another man’s mental and physical space in that way.
But I think there’s also a little more going on here, and it has to do with the ways in which men are socialized to view women not only as sexual objects, but as their sole outlet for companionship, support, and affirmation. They’re socialized to view women as caretakers and entertainers, too.
Why do men so rarely approach other men like this? Probably because they don’t see other men as receptive to it, and because they know that most men, just like themselves, were socialized to ignore this type of thing.
Women, on the other hand, are often socialized to tend to men, entertain them, and grant all of their requests for time and attention.
Men who approach women in this way may or may not be consciously aware of that gendered difference. It may be simple social learning – throughout the course of their lives, women have tended to pay attention to them in this way and other men haven’t, so they’ve learned to approach women and not men. A more cynical (but still probably accurate) explanation is that men know quite well that women are taught to indulge them, and so they choose women as the targets of their attempts to make conversation with strangers.
There’s also the rarely-spoken fact that many men are almost as afraid, if not as afraid, of other men as women are. If a man pesters a woman on the street, she is very unlikely to respond with physical violence. Other men are more likely to.
In this way, toxic masculinity – which perpetuates the idea that men should respond to irritation, anger, or offence with physical violence – hurts men, too. But the solution is to work to dismantle toxic masculinity, not to pester those who are less likely to respond with physical violence.
The expectation that women indulge random men’s desire for socialization and affirmation may be slightly less gross than the expectation that women indulge random men’s desire to spew sexual profanity at them, but it stems from the same basic premise – namely, that women must be willing to fulfill men’s desires at all times, whether it’s in the bedroom, in the workplace, in the subway, or on the street.
Over and over again we are told that men just want to “brighten” our day or make us “feel good.” But this was never about women’s feelings. If it were, then the moment mass numbers of women started speaking out about street harassment, these men would collectively go, “Oh, oops, I guess that didn’t make you feel so good.”
Instead, they insist over and over again that we actually do like it or that we’re actually too sensitive or that we would like it if only the guys were hotter or that feminism has ruined us.
It was never about how it makes women feel. It was always about how it makes men feel.
Many people are contemplating this question after the emergence of new information about Man Haron Monis, the alleged lone gunman responsible for the hostage situation that transpired Monday in Sydney.
Specifically, Monis, a 50-year-old Iranian political refugee granted asylum in Australia in 1996, has a history of sexual assault charges. As reported by Fusion, “In October he was charged with 40 counts of indecent and sexual assault, including 22 counts of aggravated sexual assault and 14 counts of aggravated indecent assault. He was also charged last year as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, the mother of their two children.” That’s in addition to an earlier charge of sexually assaulting a woman in 2002.
This tweet nails some unfortunate truths about sexual assault. First and foremost, society is still grappling with the right way to treat perpetrators of sexual violence. Monis received a sentence of 300 community service hours for sending “offensive and deplorable letters” to surviving families of fallen Australian service members.
But for the 40-plus counts of sexual assault, Monis had been free on bail. His next court appearance was set for Feb. 27, but he reportedly died when police rushed into the cafe where hostages were held. Let’s repeat: Monis would have remained free on bail through that appearance.
Monis’s situation reflects the larger laissez-faire attitude toward an epidemic of sexual assault in Australia. A 2014 study found that “16.4% of women 15 years old or older in Australia and New Zealand have been the victim of sexual assault by someone who wasn’t their partner. … This compares to the global average of 7.2%.” In a government study, 57% of female respondents reported being physically or sexually assaulted at least once in their lifetime.
The truth is that if violence against women was taken seriously, especially in the court of law, Monis would have been behind bars, and, potentially, the #SydneySiege never would have happened.
This sentiment has been widely expressed on Twitter, with people questioning how someone like Monis could be allowed his freedom:
We know it must be true, even a man is saying it in a mainstream paper!
Raunchy actually does not begin to describe the things that any kid can find with a few search words and a couple of clicks on a track pad or mouse. It’s a quick descent into an endless display of photographs and videos depicting sex in every variety, but dominated by perverse male fantasies of women performing like whores for men whose sexual techniques appear to have been learned in a prison cell. The worst stuff seems to be coming from Eastern Europe — misogynistic, obscene little movies reveling in the abuse and degradation of young women.
This is soul-disturbing stuff most human beings have never seen or experienced before. But now, any 14-year-old boy or girl can access it easily on a laptop in the privacy of a bedroom. And, though it costs money to get inside the websites where the porn industry rakes in its billions, there is so much free stuff available that no wall really exists to keep anyone away from the images.
It is not fashionable or cool to suggest that there is a problem with porn. Comedians such as Bill Maher make fun of conservative religious people who suggest that there is. Feminist objections get dismissed as harangues of sexless harpies. Libertarians defend the pornographers’ right of free expression. But common sense and a growing body of evidence suggest that there is a negative cost being paid that only begins with the sex trafficking and exploitation undergirding the lower depths of the porn industry.
A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior says that porn has become “a primary source of sexual education” that is embedding new codes of sexual behavior in young men. The survey of 487 American males of college age indicates that “the more pornography a man watches, the more likely he was to use it during sex, request particular pornographic sex acts of his partner, deliberately conjure images of pornography during sex to maintain arousal, and have concerns over his own sexual performance and body image. Further, higher pornography use was negatively associated with enjoying sexually intimate behaviors with a partner.”
In other words, young men who immerse themselves in porn develop disturbing expectations about sex and what they should demand from sex partners. College-age women who have to deal with these young men confirm that this is true and one wonders if the epidemic of sexual assault that has hit so many campuses might be exacerbated by the ubiquitous presence of porn, especially in fraternity life. There is some indication, as well, that porn has been a factor in sexual assaults in the military.
Here’s another disturbing fact: Law enforcement officials in Los Angeles are finding that, among very young perpetrators of sexual abuse — we’re talking 12-year-old boys here — access to porn is a very common driving force in their actions. Too young to know what normal, healthy sex might be, they become hyper-sexualized by pornographic videos of abusive sex acts.
It’s a shame he has to spoil it with a bullshit ‘only bad porn is bad’ argument at the end: “Erotica is not bad. Sexual imagery can be artistic, enlightening and just plain fun.”
‘Erotica’ is what the middle-classes call their porn, and ‘sexual imagery’ is so vague it is effectively meaningless.
What the fuck does a 2 to 5 year old need a bra for except to be hypersexualized as a child? How is this in any form appropriate?
So now I have several messages in my inbox defending children’s right to wear a bra. What the fucking hell, libfems?
And now there are like 5 messages calling me a pedophile, because I have a problem with a store selling a bra for toddlers.
tbh this is why people are calling u a pedo
we don’t see anything wrong with it because we don’t sexualize little girls.
in Feminist News today we discover that dressing toddlers in lingerie is the same as wearing comfortable clothes for the weather! Next: is your baby sexy enough to be a pole dancer? take our Liberated Sensual Infant quiz to find out! Please note that any critique of these behaviours will be called pedophilia or slut-shaming, depending on how young we think we can get away with calling a child a “slut” ;D
Pick ‘n’ Nix (tagged: “liberal feminism is the stupidest crock of dumbfuckery”)