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If I was to steal a chocolate bar because it was sitting at the counter looking all tasty, it’d be theft. Nobody would say but oh, look at the creamy picture on the packaging. It was taunting him. He had no choice. It was instinct. Impulse. Drives and desires beyond his control.
If I walked into some person’s home and said I lived there, I’d be arrested. Nobody would say to the owners that they should invest in curtains so that people couldn’t see how nice their house was so easily. Nobody would tell them that they were ‘asking for it’.
And if I beat a guy up because he was a loud mouth I’d be charged. Nobody would say oh but look at him, he’s a dick. He’s got gel in his hair and he’s wearing a shirt that says “How about a nice cup of shut the fuck up”. The dude is a wanker, he got what he deserved. More importantly, even if they did say that, it wouldn’t effect my charges.
But if a woman is wearing a short skirt then it will dramatically sway people’s opinions in a rape case. Was it cut above the knee? Was your waist showing? These are serious that will be asked in a court case.
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Twitter is aflutter with a new hashtag, #mencallmethings, where people (mostly feminists and women-identified folks) are sharing online harassment stories. It’s not pretty.
Online harassment is a subject close to my heart (unfortunately) - it’s something I’ve written about at length and something that Feministing has tried to shine a spotlight on for years. These days, it’s something I don’t write about often because of just how bad it’s gotten. I can’t remember the last day where I opened my email and there wasn’t a piece of vicious (often sexual, often violent) hate mail there. I also don’t write about it because these days I’m loathe to give any attention to harassers - in part because that’s what they’re so desperate for, but also because the threats have become so bad that my life offline has been seriously impaired by it and I’m just plain scared.
But that’s the goal of harassers - to scare, to terrorize, but most of all, to shut us up.
So I’m glad that #mencallmethings exists (though women harass as well - my earliest experience with severe online harassment was by a female blogger). I think it’s important for people to feel a sense of community and know that they’re not alonewhen it comes to misogyny and online harassment. But I also think one of the the most important things about sharing our stories - and this is why Feministing started “Anti-Feminist Mailbag” - is that people need to know the consequences that oppressed communities face when they dare to speak up or write about their experiences and lives.
So keep writing, y’all. (Or blogging, tweeting, Tumbling, whatevs) It’s working.
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“It’s man-haters like you that give feminism a bad name.”
I was accused of being a “reverse sexist man basher” recently because of this obviously 100% serious quote, and while I initially found it kind of amusing, but now I’m just irritated. Sorry, reverse sexism is bullshit. Sexism is about structural oppression, not hurt feelings. While I hate being the white girl who quotes Malcolm X in reference to something unrelated to race, I think this is pretty appropriate:
Usually the black racist has been produced by the white racist. In most cases where you see it, it is the reaction to white racism, and if you analyze it closely, it’s not really black racism… If we react to white racism with a violent reaction, to me that’s not black racism. If you come to put a rope around my neck and I hang you for it, to me that’s not racism. Yours is racism, but my reaction has nothing to do with racism…
Let’s make something clear: When women “hate” men, it’s more of a sense of fear and mistrust than it is actual out-and-out hatred. The quote I linked earlier was written not only out of frustration towards the shitty male activists I’ve encountered over the years who dominate conversations that they really have no business taking part in, but in anger towards the MULTIPLE men I’ve encountered than overcompensate for their women-hating by pretending to be feminists. I’ve had three friends who were sexually assaulted by men they met at feminist groups. Yeah, I’ve met some pretty okay guys that don’t fit that description, but they’re not the ones who make those sorts of statements.
I’m just sick of people pretending that people like me who post over-the-top quotes on tumblr as a cathartic way of dealing with my frustration are the reason feminism isn’t more popular. It’s not the “man-haters” that make feminism hard to take seriously by mainstream society. That’s a red herring. The reason feminism isn’t taken seriously is the same reason feminism exists in the first place - society doesn’t give a shit about women! But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Ready for a story, kiddos?
My first job was waiting tables at a bed and breakfast over the summer when I was 16. At some point I was carrying a stack of plates through the dining room, and two older male customers held open a door for me. I thanked them in the peppy “customer service” voice, and one said “Oh, it’s no problem. Y’know, I’ve been afraid to hold open doors for young ladies ever since one of them called me a ‘chauvinist pig’ for doing it back when feminism was the big thing.” His friend made a scoffing sound and said something to the effect of “Thank god that’s over.” It’s obvious that the woman in his (probably exaggerated!) story had given him reason to believe that feminists were rude and reactionary harpies that didn’t want anything to do with men, not even a nice gesture like holding open a door. This interaction had obviously had some profound effect on him, enough for him to be repeating it to random waitresses unprovoked 30 years later.
While this guy was hung up on how some feminist may have wronged him 3 decades ago, I and the women who worked at the resturaunt were dealing with slightly more modern issues. The head chef, a rude, obnoxious man in his 40s was making our lives very difficult. On my first day on the job told me I could ask him for anything, even if it was “X rated”. He’d constantly make sexualised gestures to me and the other (teenaged!) female servers, and at one point thought it was a hilarious joke to grind his crotch against my ass when I bent over to reach something. The 3 other men in the room burst out laughing and cheered “YEAH”, while the other waitress told them to knock it off and asked me if I was okay once we had left the kitchen. We tried to get something done about his behaviour, but we were replaceable teenage girls and he was Big Important Head Chef, so we were told to simply “ignore it” by our male boss. Our boss chastised the oldest woman working there who had encouraged us to come forward, telling her not to “rile us up”. Another woman who worked as a housekeeper in the hotel had been propositioned by a guest who later tried to lock her in his room as she was cleaning it. Later in the summer, my manager missed work for a few days because her boyfriend had beaten her badly enough to put her in the hospital. If I were to make a generlization about the men we were dealing with that summer, I’d be called “unfair”, “reverse sexist”, or a “man basher”. But that guy with the door-holding-for-ungrateful-bitch story? Well, even though he may have been making it up or exaggarating or did something else to provoke her response (like saying “nice ass, baby” as she walked through the door) or maybe she was just some weirdo who got her rocks off on making men uncomfortable, it’s okay for him to write off all feminists as extremist bitches because of one comment from a stranger thirty years ago. And sure, it’s a rude comment and it may have caught him off guard. But let’s be honest, did her reaction make him feel like less of a person? Did it put him in danger? Did it physically hurt him? The sexual harrasment I recieved at that job made me feel sub-human. Every time I was due to work on the shift with the all-male kitchen staff, I was put completely on edge and I’d feel physically sick from the stress. I cannot even imagine the sheer terror my co-worker felt when she was barricaded in that stranger’s hotel room. My manager was put in the hospital by someone who supposedly loved her, but you can sure as hell bet that if she expressed any sort of anger towards men she’d be “irrational” and “overreacting”, because “not all men are like that”!
So, let’s put things into perspective. Assholes like Tucker Max who have made a career out of skeezy-as-fuck stories about how great it is to degrade women? Doesn’t give men a bad name. 1 in 3 men admitted anonymusly that they would rape a woman if they knew they could get away with it, and 2 out of 5 admit to forcefully coercing (read: raping) women? Doesn’t give men a bad name. The rape of “enemy” women by men in nearly every army throught history? Doesn’t give men a bad name. Jokingly putting “misandry” as my political views on facebook? Horrible! That gives feminism a bad name! So that’s unforgivable, but there is literally nothing men can do that will ever give women permission to even JOKE about hating them?
I’m not saying that men are born scumbags. Male assholery is a learned behavior that is only encouraged when they realize that they can take advantage of women with absolutely no consequences. Look, I obviously don’t hate all men, because it would be impossible for me to live in the world without involving them at some point. Even if I somehow resolved to not say more than 5 words to any man, I’d still be surrounded by the male perspective - literature, advertising, media, you name it, is mainly geared towards and usually produced by men. But it’s easy for men to live in this world and not give two shits about what women’s lives are like. It is entirely possible (and let’s be honest, encouraged) for a man to never read a book or watch a movie written by a woman from the female perspective in his adult life. Men can live in the “boy’s club” bubble for as long as they please, and that’s dangerous, especially when those men get into positions of power. That’s why we have people like Mitt Romeny trying to ban hormonal birth control. He doesn’t understand how important it is to the health and lives millions of women, because he never bothered to ask. And honestly, he probably doesn’t care.
This is why “reverse sexism” is bullshit, women DIE because of misogyny. Nothing fucking happens when I post shit on Tumblr about how infurating it is to deal with dudebro males. Hating men isn’t “just as bad” as hating women, because there is no cultural reinforcement that encourages us to think of men as sub-human objects. Look, I’ll take “misandry” off of my Facebook political views once men start taking women seriously and leard that abusing, raping, and generally treating women like shit is not acceptable. We’ll call it square.
Dean Spade is the first openly trans law professor. Meaghan Winter interviews him for Granta.
FUCKING READ THIS SHIT. NEXT TIME ANYONE THINKS IT’S OKAY TO RAG ON TRANS* PEOPLE (BECAUSE LOLOL THEIR EXISTENCE IS JUST SO FUNNY, ISN’T IT FUNNY THAT SOME PEOPLE AREN’T EXACTLY LIKE ME), I AM GOING TO PRINT THIS QUOTE OUT AND STAPLE IT TO THE ASSHOLE’S FOREHEAD. Fucking read this shit and think hard, think as hard as you can, about how tragic this is. Your tittering and joking and mocking and bullying — which is, painfully obviously, motivated by an indoctrinated discomfort that you are too ignorant or complacent to question the morality of — is what facilitates violence against the trans* community. No, you don’t have to personally pull the trigger, or raise your fist, or deny care and shelter.
All you have to do is systematically dehumanize. All you have to do is deny the weight of your words and the pedestal of your privilege, ignore the suffering that you can conveniently shrug off after an insensitive SNL skit or forum post because what does it matter to me if these people are dying?
“Empowered” and “sexy” are not universally synonymous. That a woman is not a sex kitten does not mean that she’s any less comfortable or empowered or any of that stuff. See above, re: not a homogenous demographic. Stop making sexiness a universal demand. Let some characters be unsexy. And for f*ck’s sake, please, please stop drawing women who are injured, or dead, or being tortured, or punching bad guys, in sex-kitten pin-up poses. That is bad visual storytelling, and it is INCREDIBLY creepy. Let women be heroes for the sake of heroism. Women don’t have to be damaged or traumatized to be strong, or to want to make a difference. Corollary: Dropping rape into a backstory is not a panacea for making a female character complex and gritty.
Imagine you have a daughter. Imagine the kind of women you’d like her to want to grow up to be. Write them. Write women you’d want to be friends — really good friends — with. Write women you’d get in arguments with. Write women you’d be legitimately scared of. Write women like your mom, like your aunts, like your wife, like your friends, like your nieces and nephews and daughters and bosses and friends. We are not aliens… This, too, goes back to “doing things.” A lot of the time, male characters act, and female characters are acted upon. Let female characters make difficult choices — and sometimes choose wrong — and have struggles and the same real victories. Because without those things, they’re not characters; they’re just window dressing."