Category Archives: Feminism

Facebook Continues to Fight on Behalf of the Bastards

(via @EveryDaySexism and  Calling on feminist programmers: It’s time for a mass exodus from Facebook.)

Facebook has been taking a bit of a kicking from feminists recently. Since they have decided that:

  1. Images women upload of themselves breastfeeding are indecent and should be removed.
  2. Images men upload of unconscious women with ‘hilarious’ captions such as “Roofies: Just too easy” are perfectly acceptable and should stay up.

The number of such images/groups which upload such images which have been reported and ignored boggles belief. Women Action Media has started the #FBRape campaign, to try to pressure advertisers into removing their ads for as long as Facebook continues to endorse violence against women.

I am so behind this. Companies will continue to do whatever they like until people organise and pressure them in unity. Facebook is no different. The people advertise with them need to understand that their adverts indirectly support this kind of behaviour. This is the best kind of activism – it is easy to get involved, it will make a real difference if successful and most of all it’s effective. A quick flick through Women Action Media’s website will get you to a list of their victories so far.

However, it takes more than merely organising to stop those geniuses at Facebook from being total pricks. The main link at the top of this post is from a woman who has been banned from Facebook for asking them to stop letting vile posts stay on their website. It boggles my fucking mind. Cyber-feminism has clearly never been more important – many props to all the people fighting to make a difference.


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Filed under Advertising, Feminism

Rape Culture Raises its Ugly Head Once More

Ugh, it seems I can’t read anything on the internet without finding out something else that disgusts me. This story, summarised by Chris Clarke at Pharyngula, describes a story in the US that’s passed under my radar. Occidental College, the LA-based liberal arts college with a distinguished history, has a major rape problem. That on its own doesn’t mark it out as special: the world has a major rape problem.

The thing that marks it out as special is the actions of the college itself when faced with allegations of rape against its students. It placed protecting its reputation ahead of pursuing rapists. It first attempted to talk women out of raising allegations, then placing as much of the consequences of the allegations on the women. If they had to find a student guilty of rape, they gave out a slap on the wrist and didn’t raise criminal charges. What little punishments the rapists received were often reduced on appeal.

This, right here, is rape culture. The process of normalising rape and making it fit into a background of activity is rape culture. Victim-blaming and the minimising of consequences is rape culture. The college has now promised to change things, and has introduced real measures to make their students’ lives better. But the fact that it takes a sustained campaign to force an institution to behave properly is rape culture. We need to end rape culture.

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Filed under Ethics, Feminism

In Which I Wonder What Some Men Think Women Think After They’ve Been Harassed

I’ve been wondering about this for a while. What’s kicked me off into actually getting off my arse and sitting down to write about it is the Lord Rennard/Lib Dem Cover-Up story (link here to an early story summary if you’ve missed it).

I don’t wonder what men think when they see a story like the Lord Rennard story. I wonder what men think the victims are thinking immediately after the harassment. I know that’s like a third-order consciousness or something, but bear with me.

The reason I wonder what some men think goes through a woman’s mind after being sexually harassed is this: There are so many men out there who seem to think women view sexual harassment as an opportunity to enact revenge in the medium-to-long-term future. Revenge for what? Whatever the man in question happens to dream up: that’s what.

For instance, Michael White, in the Guardian had to wonder why the claims against Lord Rennard are surfacing now. But here’s what I don’t get: does Mr. White believe that the women involved, who were touched inappropriately, or invited to inappropriate places, or worse; does he really believe that their first thought afterwards was “Hmm. I think I’ll hold on to this to save up for a by-election when I can really do some collateral damage”?

This kind of thinking really frustrates me. We saw it in the Julian Assange debacle, where hordes of men decided en masse that the women must have been exaggerating to bring down the Chosen One. And we’re seeing it now, where a bunch of self-righteous (mostly) male keepers of truth have all openly wondered why the women are only coming forward now and why there were not more specific allegations made at the time.

I’ve never been raped, but I have been the victim of a serious incident of sexual harassment from another man – a man older and more senior than myself, in much the same way as Lord Rennard was to these women. I did one thing and one thing only at the time: I fled the fuck away as quickly as I possibly could. It was only later that afternoon that I was able to return and report the offence to someone who could do something about it. I was promised things would be handled and things were quietly swept under the carpet. I don’t believe there was any real punishment for the offender involved, although he may have had a quiet talking to, I suppose.

After that, I felt impotent, which I suppose I should feel a sense of irony over. Ultimately the incident wasn’t enough to see this man dealt with in any way. And it doesn’t feel like there is anything else I can do – all power feels like it has taken away from me. But if in 10 years I see his face in the paper with similar allegations, you can bet your life I’m calling the paper up and adding my experience into the story. Because sometimes that’s the only way these people see justice for their behaviour.

My experience is just one person’s experience. And it’s not even a woman’s experience. I’m not going to pretend to truly understand what other people go through when they are raped, abused or harassed. I’m explicitly telling you not to generalise from what I’ve written and apply it to other people.

Instead, the message needs to be that second-guessing people’s motives for publicly coming forward with rape or sexual abuse allegations is damaging to the women coming forward and to all other women who may have to face coming forward with their own story in the future. This creates a culture of hostility towards victims and makes no ones lives any better.

There are many reasons why people don’t come forward with accusations of rape or sexual harassment for years at a time, and it is not our place to second-guess those reasons. Our job is to support victims as best we can and try, bit by bit, to change our world into one where sex is consensual and women are treated as equals instead of meat.

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Filed under Feminism, Journalism, Politics

Misogyny and the Gym

Some of my friends may know that I’m a regular gym-goer. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I don’t like it so much, but generally I hate not going to the gym more than going. This isn’t the forum to talk about why I go; instead I want to talk about the culture at gyms themselves.

Mostly, the atmosphere at the gyms I’ve attended is kind of okay. But then I’m a reasonably-in-shape male, so presumably all the total dickheads out there see me as one of their own. Which is a good thing, I guess.

But on the occasions I see someone who doesn’t fit into their stereotype of a gym person (i.e. not male), the seething among the olympic lifters begins. I want to make clear that it’s not a majority of people who act like awful fucks, but there’s definitely more than in the outside world (and if I did a scientific study, I’m pretty sure the difference would be statistically significant).

Just yesterday for example, I was in the middle of a… No, wait, k’know what? I’m going to write this blog post in the voice of a fitness blogger. I’ll start again. Oh, and imagine I’m speaking like Johnnie Vaughan would if he took a cocktail of anabolic steroids.

SO, yesterday is was hitting the weights HARD. And I mean HARD. I was fucking beasting my way through a SERIOUSLY hardcore set when some other dude heads on over my way and asks if the Smith machine is free. This rookie wanted to bench on a Smith machine – hitting big numbers on a machine like this won’t end up getting you that ROCK-HARD body you always wanted, as you won’t get it with a restricted ROM.

He’s asking me this shit in the middle of a CRAZY fucking set. I mean, I am in the ZONE. And the worst thing was, he has to walk past this CHICK to come and ask me. Good for her that she’s working out and getting herself TOGETHER – the real men out there won’t TAKE a girl in unless she’s got TIGHT abs and great ti-

Yeah, I can’t carry on doing this. It’s giving me a headache. I’m going back to my normal voice – if you haven’t heard it, it’s smooth, sultry, and slightly annoying after the first few sentences.

Basically I was in the middle of something, and a guy asked whether a specific piece of equipment was free. Which is kind of annoying, but kind of understandable. Unless there’s someone standing right next to me (and nearer him), not wearing headphones, and taking a rest between sets. Then, surely, it’s worth asking the other person.

Why didn’t he? Personally, I think it’s because she was a woman, and he didn’t think she belonged. Why do I think that? First, he was wearing a T-shirt which read “Read this while I stare at your tits”, second he decided not to ask her in the first place, and third, he ignored her when she answered his question anyway. He just pretended she was invisible and inaudible and waited for me to answer instead.

I know it sounds a bit petty, but this everyday misogyny can so easily fade into the background unless someone comments. There’s just this general vibe I get from some people at the gym that it’s a guy’s space, which men graciously allow women to use sometimes. From men telling women to stop using equipment so they can, to the arse-staring and creepshots whenever a woman walks past in stretchy workout gear.

My least favourite event was a woman walking into the free-weights area (that most manly of places) and look around for a second. She could have been looking for anything: a free bench, the dumbbell rack, a squat rack, anything at all. But no, one guy realised she must be completely lost. Why would a girl want to work out with free weights, he wondered to himself. What came out his mouth was: “The cross-trainers are on the other side of the gym, love”.

That’s a gym I never went back to.

I remember some guys complaining in a changing rooms about women’s-only branches of Fitness First which have opened around London. Where are the men’s-only gyms? These morons asked that question over and over, while I shook my head silently knowing the real answer: they’re fucking everywhere.

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Filed under Feminism, Fitness

Feminists: Debasing Marriage Since Never

I caught this blog post through a long chain of bigots, and people reporting on bigots. What begins as a discussing on Isaac Newton’s brilliant invention of the milled edge coin quickly descends into a poorly structured metaphor about how feminists are destroying marriage.

How? You may ask. Our intrepid reporter explains:

Men looking to marry face the same kind of dilemma ancient merchants used to face.  Feminists and their enablers have slowly shaved off the value of marriage for men.  Marriage for men no longer means: 

  • Being the legally and socially recognized head of the household.
  • An expectation of regular sex.
  • Legal rights to children.
  • Lifetime commitment.

Well, if this is the destruction of marriage, count me in. Being in a somewhat equal relationship (sometime we watch TV I don’t like, sometimes I pretend to be an aeroplane in public just to be annoying, I’m pretty sure the power roughly balances out).

And he hits all the standard dick-swinging woman-hating lonely-old-man tropes. Mischaracterisation of abuse as female histrionics:

 Oh, and we also have some new laws which assume you are an abuser if your wife decides she needs some drama or extra leverage against you. 

Then there’s the attempt to paint all women as serial sluts:

It took her so long to find you that you can’t reasonably expect her chastity to be perfectly in tact.  I mean, it’s mostly there, but it suffered a ding or two.  Her virginity was gone to her first boyfriend, but don’t worry it was very romantic and she still has fond memories of that special time.  Not too long after that those jerks at the frat house did a number on her pride, but you can’t hold that against her.   

There are more, I’m sure. But I have a headache and want to sit in the corner.

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Filed under Feminism

Youth Unemployment and the Bloody Media

I’ve been planning a post for while concerning how irritating much of the mainstream media is on the subject of Youth Unemployment (imagine there’s a lot of reverb when I say those words, Mysterons-style). The condescending tone and vague sound of surprise from puffed-up journalists, a large portion of whom will have been privately educated (the successful ones, at least, as I am reliably informed by Owen Jones).

However, I haven’t managed to find a suitably pithy and witty response to such arse-water, and the topic is swiftly forgotten as my mind becomes enraged by some other piece of absolute bull within a few minutes.

But I need try no longer! For the awesome and far-funnier-than-me-by-half Vagenda have beaten me to it. And as a person who didn’t fall into unemployment following graduation, all I can offer is solidarity as opposed to the Vagenda’s genuine empathy.

I was one of the lucky ones, and I’m not so arrogant as to think it was my genius which got me my graduate position, and that anyone who failed to graduate into a job must by definition be an overindulged moron who’s long-term suffering is merely the price we must pay in a society where intellectual superhumans like myself can reign supreme. I definitely don’t think that.

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Filed under Economy, Feminism, Journalism

Sexism in Adverts

Well done to the man who put this together. I’ve been planning on talking about adverts again when my rage about the real world dies down a bit, but at least this is something which is just as successful at making my teeth clench as institutionalised racism or mainstream left-wing politics.

If any of you didn’t think we’re boxed into gender roles from day one, try the advert mashup game, then quietly weep to yourself.

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Filed under Advertising, Feminism

Boots and Adverts

I was wrong. I blogged a while ago that adverts which try to sell by pushing traditional roles on people annoy me. I also said that it doesn’t happen too often. That’s the bit where I was wrong.

I used to passively get annoyed at them – if I happened to notice anything was wrong iu’d get me, but since writing that post I’ve spotted these issues more often.

Let me offer another example which has annoyed me for a long time (one day I promise I’ll talk about adverts which annoy me for reasons other than sexism): the recent round of Boots adverts. I’m going to pick a particularly egregious version of these ads.

It’s a good thing for Boots that they have disabled comments for this page. As well as avoiding the random homeopathy spammers which I assume go after pharmacies, this is the sort of advert which brings out the MRAs in their droves.

Since I’m a sucker for punishment, I thought I’d see if I could find any such opinions and it wasn’t difficult (even I’m not crazy enough to start hunting through places like Reddit, though). First, why adverts like this aren’t anti-men: if two people are equally sick and one gets to rest while the other one has to work all the harder, who do think has the role power?

As a person who is not a woman, I can’t speak from experience about how misogyny harms women. I’ve talked about why men should be feminists for selfish reasons, but here there is only one reason to consider this advert sexist: it patronises women as unpaid servants to their over-sensitive man-child partners and then has the gall to put music over top which implies it is somehow empowering. “Yes, you can [find better ways to please your man]!!!1!” is not an empowering message, it’s deeply patronising and teaching people to rationalise a culture gender-stereotyping.

Noooooow, back to the over-sensitive men-children:

[T]hey have managed to portray men as stupid, incapable and lazy whilst implying that “The girls” have the answer to everything. 

Ah, the “this portrays men as bad – why aren’t the men portrayed as superior in every way?!” remark. Ultimately this advert, along with many of the others, doesn’t portray women as having the answer to everything, but merely being servile.

Of course there are adverts for men that could be considered sexist but I don’t think any of them attack women so blatently [sic].

Except, perhaps, Yorkie’s “it’s not for girls”, the endless Fairy Liquid/Febreeze/Mr. Muscle showing women doing all the housework, Lynx ads, about a third of all posters I see on the tube that aren’t for West End shows and all adverts for female beauty products which portray any deviation from the “standard” female body type as undesirable. And Lynx.

In fact, the erstwhile author correctly identifies the Lynx ads as sexist, but believes that it’s okay because the Lynx effect is “meant to be more of a fantasy”. Sure – the really really really blatant kind of sexism is fine as long as women are getting undressed while it’s happen. Excuse me while I go and spank a stranger.

Women can laugh all they want, they’re just jealous of our bigger brains and general hardiness 

Aaand I’m back. No comment for this one, but I challenge anyone to read this and not shudder at the thought that you might actually know this person – I’m sure somebody has to.

Only women shop at Boots anyway so who cares?

And the award for misunderstanding the issue goes to… Mr. the above. And I close with some helpful advice for any self-respecting Real Man(TM) from one of our more flagrant of commentators. If ever you find yourself telling a woman to shut up and make a sandwich, and for the briefest moment realise what a bottom-feeding, waste-of-air piece of human offal you are, remember these words as a reminder of just how much worse you could be, and that is still hope for you yet top become a real human being:

I think you’re menstruating, frankly.
Have a can of man the **** up already

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Filed under Advertising, Feminism

Why Feminism is a good thing for men, too

I was heading out to the London Dungeons with my girlfriend last Sunday. We had a lot of fun and the actors were mostly very good, although for some it’s not too hard to see why they’re not West End stars yet. There were a few moments which were pretty good for making you jump, but all was child friendly and the dialogue was occasionally inspired.

However, the thing which has stuck with me was a tube poster – an advert for SurvivorsUK, a charity helping victims of sexual assault and professionals who work with victims of sexual assault. All very admirable, and always worthy of praise and support. What made this stand out against other charities is that SurvivorsUK, as you will already know if you have clicked on the above links, is a charity for male victims of abuse.

It is a singularly sorry state of affairs that support for male victims of abuse is so rare that I feel it worthy of special comment. But it is. This almost sounds like I’m about to turn this blog post in to a heavy-handed, misogynistic “what about teh menz!!1!” type rant and that the title of this post is merely an unsubtle bait-and-switch, but before you judge me, check out the poster itself:

Yes, this is aimed at the rugby-playing, beer-swilling “real men” who would, if given the opportunity, describe themselves as “beer chugging, banter loving, footie watching, womanising man – a LAD“. It is aimed at the people who believe that getting raped, or admitting weakness, or showing emotion, or treating women like other human beings instead of walking, talking vaginas are somehow not proper men.

This is aimed at the men who feel the need to add “No homo” to the end of any internet comment which is in any way not entirely critical of another man. This is aimed at exactly the kind of men who oppose the feminist movement. It is aimed at them because misogyny is hurting them too.

About halfway through writing this post I noticed Jason Thibeault has a great post about this topic, which I recommend reading. His feeling is that the use of the phrase “real men” is reinforcing a harmful stereotype of men:

The “talking about it takes real strength” line does in fact undermine that toxic stoicism. But reinforcing the idea that there’s a Real Man archetype, and it involves being strong, is kind of terrible to those men who do not see themselves as strong enough.

And I agree with that point – but the ad is trying to reach a specific subset of men. And it’s the one which has  already fallen for the real man party line. They make websites crowing about it. Before we can help people, we need to reach them. This is one small way of doing so, but it all fits in with the larger idea of feminism.

I am a feminist because I wholeheartedly support equality for women. But (somewhat more selfishly) I am a feminist because a world without feminism is one with gender roles such as these for men, which ultimately are unbelievably harmful. How many men are harmed by this? According to SurvivorsUK’s own website:

About 3% of men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. 

(National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. 1998)

So quite a lot then, and if these go unreported because of a rape culture in which only women who dress like sluts get raped, then our society is much the poorer.

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Filed under Ethics, Feminism