Tag Archives: sexism

The Good, the Bad, the Ferguson

America’s pretty messed up right now.

We’ve got vitriolic divisions on racial lines, political lines, ideological lines, religious/non-religious lines… We’re divided on so many fronts, I still find myself unable to pledge allegiance to the flag. Why should I? It’s not true. One nation? Sure, even if a lot of people want to secede. Under God? Well, that’s definitely questionable. Indivisible? The only way we as a country could be indivisible right now is if we’ve already divided ourselves so much that we can no longer be divided. And we seem to be nearly there. With liberty and justice for all? That statement seems almost as laughable as “indivisible,” especially in the light of the events of Ferguson, Mo.

If you have no idea what events I’m talking about, go ye forth and seek ye a friggin’ newspaper and a house that isn’t under 6 miles of rock. The problems in Ferguson are so layered and numerous and ridiculous that one would THINK, as a nation, we could finally see eye-to-eye on something with only a few freak outliers in the data. I mean, we’ve got excessive, militarized police blowing responses out of proportion. We’ve got an unarmed, non-violent (at LEAST in that moment) person WHOSE SKIN COLOR OR CRIMINAL RECORD SHOULDN’T MATTER dead without a good explanation. If he was a criminal, he was executed without due process, a Constitutional right. We’ve got the freedom of assembly and the freedom of the press getting hampered by cops, not to mention the violations of the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments. And you’d better believe that 2nd amendment wouldn’t get upheld if a Ferguson protestor legally had a gun. We’ve got proof of this sort of activity happening all over the country for YEARS without appropriate punishments. We’ve got scientific data showing a decrease in police brutality and harassment claims anywhere cameras are required to be in cop cars or on their person. We KNOW, without a doubt, that there needs to be change. Race shouldn’t even be an issue.

But, no. Nothing’s ever that simple. See, too much has happened. There have been riots and looting. Those are bad, so Michael Brown deserved it. He may or may not have stolen cigars. Therefore, he deserved it. Oh, and he’s black. Which makes a difference. Because when you’re black, if you’re not an honors student planning to attend Harvard with a spotless record, a 4.0+ GPA and have never smoked, drank, had sex, owned a gun or hung out with another person of color who is less “perfect” than you, then you’re going to be demonized. This guy says all of this much more poignantly than I can, so I suggest you read it.

I was born extremely lucky. I reached into the lotto bowls of race and gender and got white male. As a man, I will tend to get preferential treatment over women when it comes to being hired and paid. I have a far lesser fear of sexual assault and rape. As a white person, I don’t have to worry about being treated as a stereotype. I don’t worry about being frisked. If I were to commit a crime, I’m likely to spend far less time in jail than a non-white person. And if I get randomly killed by police, at least I won’t get my name dragged through the dirt postmortem.

But do you know what the worst part of this all is? Nothing will really change. People will pretend it’s an isolated incident, like Eric Garner choked to death in New York, like Rodney King in California, like Trayvon Martin in Florida, like Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, like Michael Bell in Wisconsin. It was a fluke. It wasn’t a symbol of larger problems. They weren’t perfect people, so they deserved it. They goaded the cops. For goodness sake, we’ve got a crowdfunding campaign in support of Officer Darren Wilson, the man who shot Brown, and you can see how many people are apparently GLAD the boy got shot. Because blacks kill blacks and no one complains? Because he was a thug anyway? Excuse after excuse after excuse.

Nothing will change because we allow it to stay the same. Because we choose to see people as different and lesser than the rest of us.

America is going to be one of the most disastrously failed experiments if we let this keep happening, but there’s too much pride, ego and ignorance blinding people to that fact. Hopefully, I’m wrong. Hopefully, Brown’s death will ignite a spark of change for the better. Because we desperately need it before we burn.

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The Trouble With Portraying Sexuality

There’s something that’s been sitting on my mind for a while now, and I wasn’t really aware of the cognitive dissonance until I had a recent discussion with a friend of mine. In feminism, a movement apparently in its third wave according to academics, yet still struggling to find a unified front on many issues, there is a bit of an issue when it comes to the public perceptions of female sexuality.

Basically, it boils down to two views. First, you have the idea that sexuality should not be shameful. Sex isn’t something to shame people for having. Doing such can cause all sorts of psychological problems, first off. It’s a completely natural process that, unlike most animals in the world, is enjoyable for recreational purposes and is not solely a procreational action.

Unfortunately, when it comes to shame over sex, women get the worst rap. We all probably know the double standard by now… men who have multiple partners are conquerors. They’re virile. They’re manly. They can hold their tally like a trophy, the quantity of their conquests far outweighing their abilities (or inabilities) in the bed itself. Meanwhile, women are to keep their sexual lives quiet. Women with multiple partners are sluts. Shameful. Dirty. Broken. In a weird twist, sometimes people that want to help protect women from being sexual victims apply the term “victim” all over the place, even when sex is fully consensual… because it’s inconceivable for some people that a woman might seek out and desire sex. So, there’s the faction that wants to eliminate sex as a dirty word and deed, particularly for women. If a woman wants to be a stripper, let her. If she wants to be a prostitute/escort (when legal), why not? If she wants to dress provocatively, she should be allowed without being called names, or seen as “asking for sex.” Consent is different from how one dresses one’s self.

But then, there’s the other faction. The faction that says they’re tired of women being objectified and seen as sexual pleasure units. That’s tired of cleavage and boobs and butt on every single advertisement. That’s tired of having products directed at women (and men) because of their chromosomal makeup. Tired of the media using tired, false gender narratives and tropes, like the damsel in distress. But, mostly, tired of just being deemed as sexual, being boiled down to physical bodies and sexual performances. Tired of being “Hot Girl #3” on the TV.

Now, some of these things are shared by both groups, like being tired of the tropes and the gendered products. But sometimes, even those things find fractions between the factions. Because, despite being feminists and desiring an equality between all genders and sexualities, there’s just too many problems and not enough solutions.

It is definitely a problem that women exploring their sexualities are seen as sluts and looked down on. It is also definitely a problem that society demands sexual performance from women. It’s a hypocrisy that continues to harm our social makeup where men expect sex from women, and women have the choice of either being degraded for complying or degraded for not complying. And then possibly being raped and blamed for it by society. It’s not exactly a kind world for women today (and the scary thing is that it seems like it might be kinder than it once was).

I’ll give an example of the disparity. In the BBC show “Sherlock,” a show I find to be quite fantastic, in season 2 we were introduced to what is perhaps Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most infamous female character, Irene Adler. Appearing in “A Scandal In Bohemia,” she is the one woman Sherlock Holmes has shown obvious affection and admiration for. To quote,

To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. […] And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.

In the BBC show’s re-imagining of the character, she was recreated as a dominatrix, using her wits and dominance in the bedroom to put powerful people in compromising positions and obtain information she hoped to use to her advantage. In her first meeting with Holmed, she introduced herself in the nude as an attempt to throw him off his game. It worked. …but this portrayal exemplifies exactly the difference in the factions.

On the one hand, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with a woman willingly working in the sex industry. (We’ll skip the discussions of abuse and slavery for now to make the discussion simpler, but I wouldn’t count anyone coerced or forced into that industry in any fashion as working in it willingly.) There shouldn’t be anything wrong with a woman using her body or sexuality for any (legal) reason, even to win a battle of wits against a certain private detective. However, some feel that being portrayed as a sex worker diminished the focus on Adler’s mental acuity and ability as written originally by Doyle. It felt like a cheap gimmick, a typical jump in today’s media to make the woman a sexual being, an object of pleasure.

This is, of course, not helped out at all by show-runner Steven Moffat’s rather well-documented casual sexism and poor treatment of female characters in his other show, “Doctor Who.”

Personally, I think the Adler character (unlike many of the women in “Doctor Who”) was well done. The sexuality wasn’t really a focus the way I saw it. It was never portrayed in a gaudy, ridiculous fashion. Rather, it was run as a counter to Sherlock’s discomfort with the sensual, as sensuality requires physical and emotional responses that he has spent years ridding himself of for the sake of logic and reason. Others, like my friend, disagree.

The sad thing is, there’s not really a way I can see out of this sort of conundrum. It seems perfectly obvious to me that both factions have absolutely correct and poignant points. Both of these hypocritical philosophies of our society (particularly American) are damaging. On their own, they’re bad enough. Combined, they are a maelstrom of harm and sexism. And that’s just for the women. It damages men, too, as does our portrayal of men in the media. So, should one aspect be focused on more than the other? Can both be fixed without a complete reset of social norms and ideals? Or is this something we will constantly be fighting against, one way or another?

I honestly have no idea what should be done about these problems, save this: We need to talk about them and realize they’re problems. While we may not agree on the solutions, as long as we agree something is wrong, we can start to work toward answers. And since the world is full of people smarter than me, maybe the answer is just waiting for someone to mention the problem to the right person.

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“That Stupid Twilight Slut”

I almost hate myself for talking about this, but…

Did you know that Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson broke up? Oh. Em. Gee.

For those of you living under a rock and not knowing what I’m talking about, first: Where do you live and can I stay there? Second, I’m about to ruin your ignorance bubble.

Stewart and Pattinson are the actors of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen in the inexplicably popular “Twilight” film series, based on the inexplicably popular “Twilight” book series. Their characters are the two lead protagonists who are apparently in love… it’s a bit difficult to tell from the segments I’ve read and seen. But whatever. Anyway, the romance “blossomed” on set and off. Mostly off, I shouldn’t wonder. They’ve been dating for a while… I think they were engaged maybe? I really only notice the covers of the stupid magazines in the grocery line. And they tell me their relationship was an even better romance than Bella and Edward. It’d have to be, I should think.

Anyway, recently, pictures leaked revealing Stewart with another man. That man just happened to be the director of her most recent film, “Snow White and the Huntsman,” Rupert Sanders. Sanders just happens to be married with children. Keep that in mind, that’ll be important.

The fallout when this went public was, of course, very bad, for Stewart in particular. Pattinson moved out of their shared apartment and went radio silent for a while. Meanwhile, all the magazines and other publications (slightly hyperbolic, not all did this of course) went bananas. They all jumped all over this story, many calling Stewart a slut, “trampire” and many other colorful phrases.

Meanwhile, Sanders has gotten out of this seemingly unscathed. I can’t say I’ve seen anything at all talking about Sanders. I’ve seen some defenses of Stewart, but they are few and far between.

Which gets me to the crux of the post. Why exactly is Stewart getting slammed so hard?

Celebrity is certainly a factor. Before this scandal, there likely weren’t many who knew who Sanders was. Many still don’t. Meanwhile, we have Stewart and Pattinson’s existences shoved down our throats. So, certainly, the fact that they’re famous doesn’t help. But the vitriol leveled against Stewart is perplexing. Well, not perplexing. Not really. It’s just a sign of the perpetual sexism our society has gripping it.

Did Stewart do something bad? Yes. Reprehensible? If that’s the word you want to use, sure. But so did Sanders. You can call Stewart a slut or whatever. But if being a slut is defined by, in this situation, sexual infidelity, then Sanders is a slut, too. Personally, I think the word “slut” is useless beyond the perpetuation of gender separations and stereotypes. When used against women, it’s used to bring shame. Against men… Does it really get used against men in any negative way? It’s good that some women are attempting to eliminate the negative stigma associated with the word, but personally I think elimination of the word altogether would be better. It’s too inherently divisive and sexually charged, and seems to insinuate gender roles.

The horrific irony behind this entire thing is how women have been dragged into this double standard of hate and treating women as sub-par to men. “Twilight” was bad enough. Women fell in love with characters that embodied abusive, unhealthy relationships for any gender… but specifically targeted at women. And now, there are women attempting to slut-shame Stewart while completely ignoring the married man that consented to the affair, despite his and Stewart’s relationships.

Am I saying Sanders is worse than Stewart? No. They both did something that, in my mind, is irredeemable. Cheating is an immediate last straw for me, I’m pretty certain, and they cheated on their own partners and knowingly with someone with a partner. But, even so, it’s immensely unfair, wrong and kind of disgusting to rail against Stewart and Stewart alone.

If you want to blame someone for an affair, blame both parties. They both knew what they were doing and who they might hurt.

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We Men Play Video Games, Therefore We Know Stuff!

Okay. Once again, crappy hours and a desire to nap a lot due to early wakings lead me to have a rather… simple post.

And I tossed around several different subjects in my head.

The B.S. of anti-Christian bigotry claims from the GOP and Christian right.

The insanity and hypocrisy of human nature in taking joy and the high road whilst watching the reality TV shows about dysfunctional families like the Kardashians.

What the nuclear option being considered by Google, Facebook, Twitter and others would result in.

What a foreign country hitting us with a massive EMP blast would do to the US.

Why Glenn Beck is silly. Sub-genre: In regards to supporting protestors being treasonous.

…yeah. Lots of different topics.

But then I ran across this beautiful little gem on a friend’s Facebook from the gaming website Kotaku.com. This beautiful little gem wherein the manliest man forum on the manternet gets to manplain about wo-notso-men being portrayed as physically capable of doing things even remotely similar to the things men could do in video games.

Complaining about unrealistic things in video games.

And doing it in the most sexist, uninformed, ignorant, moronic way possible.

Seriously, take a look at this crap.

I’m not sure what I can say. I’m not sure what I should say. It seems so obvious that these people are… stupid. Plain and simple and dumb.

…so, instead of saying anything, I think I’ll link my female former rugby president Marine friend look at the article and start working on getting the names and addresses of the fellers making the comments on the forum.

…for their education’s sake.

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