Tag Archives: misogyny

Men have got to be better

I’ve been meaning to write this for a long time and incidents keep happening that show beyond any doubt that a significant number of males need to wake up to themselves. I can’t think of a better way to put it: men have got to be better.

It isn’t as if men don’t have problems. Society forces a lot of messed up ideas on males from a young age in the name of masculinity and many women simply don’t understand the difficulties men face. But that’s a different conversation. And if you think the problems and injustices faced by men are worse than those suffered by women (or even equivalent) then simply put, you ARE the problem.

Women are murdered every week in Australia by their partners or ex-partners. That’s reality. One in three women you know has been sexually assaulted. One in six has been raped. And more often than not, when these cases are reported there’s a focus on what the woman should have done.

Why didn’t she leave him? Why was she walking there? Why was she alone? Why was she drinking? Why didn’t she know better?

A simple look at the reality faced by women shows that in practical terms there’s very little a woman can do to stop violence happening because it can happen at any time in any circumstance. Their own home is the most dangerous environment. They are in the most danger from men they know. There is only one person who can stop it from happening and that’s the attacker. Telling women how to avoid being attacked can’t possibly work as a primary message – it (at best) implicitly tells the attacker that it’s the woman’s fault. Until the primary message it to men, saying don’t attack women, nothing will change.

If you even started to equivocate then, YOU are the problem. “But she could have…” Yes, maybe she could have. But she shouldn’t have to. And glib statements made after the fact can’t possibly take into account what it was like when the attack happened. And make no mistake, every single time you comment on what a woman should or should not have done, you embolden attackers.

And now we come to the most sensitive part of the conversation. The derailing of discussions about violence against women by saying “not all men” do it. That approach is at best meaningless and self-serving. At worst, it’s pure evil. Deliberately designed to sabotage the conversation and shut down women who dare to speak out. The concept that as a man your feelings are hurt at the suggestion you might bear some responsibility for the plague of violence against women is utterly pathetic.

If you feel compelled to shut down women talking about the everyday reality they deal with because “not all men” do it, you are actively supporting the rapists. If you need to negate someone’s actual experiences because of your feelings you are utterly reprehensible and need to shut the fuck up.

And for those worthless losers who can’t stop with their obsession of saying not all men do it and think that is in any way a meaningful contribution, here are some home truths:

  • Statistically, it is almost certain that you work with, associate with or are related to a rapist
  • There’s no doubt at all that you or someone you hang out with is responsible for abusive or threatening behavior towards a woman that made her legitimately fear for her safety

And quite honestly, the more you protest, the more I suspect that you are the sort of scumbag that does these things on a regular basis.

If you can’t let women talk about what their lives are like without trying to shout them down and tell them why they’re wrong then I really don’t trust you when you protest you’re not guilty of treating women badly. On top of everything else, I can’t understand why so many men are threatened by the idea of women feeling safer. How could you possibly lose out if women feel safe? Imagine a world where a woman doesn’t fear that when you try to open a conversation with her, that means she’s in danger from you. Because it’s a world where women aren’t constantly threatened and assaulted by men.

I’ve seen some guys take exception to the term “Schrodinger’s Rapist”. This surprises me because I think it’s an excellent definition of why women have to be cautious of men who are NOT rapists. Like Schrodinger’s Cat who is both alive and dead until the box is open, women are confronted with so many situations where she should be safe but can be attacked without warning. She only knows for sure if a man is a rapist when she makes herself vulnerable and so up until that point, the man both is and is not a rapist. The worst thing is, in far too many cases, “vulnerable” means nothing more than existing as a woman.

If you say this reflects badly on women and not men, that it’s women and not men who have to change, then I think you’ve answered the Schrodinger’s Rapist question. You’re just waiting for the right opportunity to show who you really are.

And even at the (arguably) more innocuous end of the spectrum, being jerks to women – I don’t get this. To take an example that really bugs me – geek/nerd culture. Whether it happens online or at conventions/meetups there are always self-proclaimed “real” nerds who go out of their way to make women feel unwelcome and/or threatened. They call them fake geeks, they say they’re too fat to cosplay, they say they’re too hot to be a real nerd and they’re exploiting this for attention. In fact there’s no end of flaws these types can find with women when ultimately their only transgression is being female.

I don’t get it. Do you want sausage fests? Because this is how you get sausage fests!

I’m making a blatant appeal to self interest here. So long as women feel threatened and unsafe men are also going to lose (although in a far less awful way). Some purists don’t like the idea of using self-interest as a motivator, the simple fact women should deserve to go through life without living in fear of assault should be enough. Yes, it should be. But it isn’t. I’m a pragmatist. I’m looking for anything that works. And I truly believe men are hurting themselves with this “not all men” MRA bullshit.

Try listening. Try being supportive. Don’t make it about you. Because it isn’t about you. And if you can’t see why all men accepting responsibility for reducing violence against women is something that will benefit men, I think we’ve learned all we need to know about you.

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One “RadFem” doesn’t tell you anything about feminism – Why can’t people think?

There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t see an example of someone online spouting some ridiculous rubbish as if they are revealing some deep truth. I’m not talking about differences of opinion, I’m talking about instances where the briefest moment of reflection would reveal to all but the stupidest person that what they are about to post is utter bullshit. So why don’t these people think before they post? Well, it’s not like they get punished for their stupidity. And they have role models in major media outlets and political parties who *should* be punished when they spew deliberate lies but never are.

So why should anyone care about thinking before they talk shit? Here’s where I start to sound like an idealist. You become a better person when you apply thought and consideration to everything you do. You don’t have to agree with me. Believe it or not, I’m actually mature enough to accept the fact that there are people who see things differently to me, place importance on different things and want different outcomes from life. But if I can take apart your bullshit with a single sentence then you need to shut the fuck up.

My latest bout of frustration was triggered by a young man on Twitter who declared that feminists think all vaginal sex is rape. I’m not naming him because I’m not trying to start a witch hunt, I’m trying to start a conversation. My first impulse was ignore it – not worth bothering with that level of stupidity. Then he followed it up saying how since watching a video that told him feminists think all vaginal sex is rape he’d given up on people. I get annoyed when my twitter stream is polluted with shit like this. Obviously an easy step for me to take would be to unfollow this guy and in many cases that’s what I would have done. I was pissed off at his ignorance but I was also giving him the benefit of the doubt, assuming he could be reasoned with so I responded (in what was quite a restrained way for me) tweeting: “you know you’re talking utter fucking horseshit, right? That is NOT said by feminists. It just isn’t.”

His response was to link to a blog that was the source of his ire. The blog was obviously written by a seriously damaged individual. Or maybe by a dude who’s trying to discredit feminists. Or maybe by a female so desperate for notoriety that she’s fallen into the trap of thinking all attention is good attention. Whoever writes it, it’s drivel and will tell you nothing meaningful about feminism. And being able to trot out actual real humans who believe this sort of crap and identify themselves as feminist is pretty much meaningless. I can give you members of major political parties who seriously believe that a subterranean race of shape shifting lizard people hold every position of power on earth. Does that mean they speak for every other member of those political parties? 

Here’s where someone who doesn’t think (him) is vulnerable to someone who does think (me). When someone says/does something I disagree with I don’t simply focus on their words, I consider their motivation. I also consider what they actually said, not what they think they said or what they want me to see.

This guy has mentioned a video but given a link to an extremely obscure blog written by someone who calls themselves a “radfem”. There’s no way this guy has randomly stumbled on this blog so I ask him for his source and he points me to a video made by a well-known anti-feminist neckbeard on on YouTube (who I won’t dignify with a link). This video makes the same ridiculous assertion: because I have found something written by someone claiming to be a radfem it is legitimate to make the all encompassing statement that “feminists” think this. And the comments are a truly horrific parade of hate and bile. For every “get real, this is in no way representative of the feminist movement” there are dozens of “YES IT ARE! FEMIBITCHEZ JUST HATES MENS!”

This is where motivation becomes important. What was the video makers motivation for his statements? He isn’t an unintelligent person. I’ll go out on a limb and say he knows the statement “feminists say all vaginal sex is rape” is a lie. So someone who is capable of intelligent discourse makes a deliberately misleading and inflammatory statement that he knows will whip his reasonably large following into a frenzy. Why? A quest for notoriety? He really hates feminists and doesn’t care if he has to resort to lies to score points? He’s a pathetic, insecure loser who needs to convince himself that all of his failings are someone else’s fault? Maybe a combination of all of these, who knows?

But if you’ve repeated this lie (or similar lies) without thinking, what’s your motivation? The young man who triggered this rant acknowledged (when I pulled him up) that the statement “feminists think all vaginal sex is rape” is untrue. But he tweeted it. Multiple times. And he enjoyed the video. So what’s the motivation for spreading unfair stereotypes without any critical thought? People of all genders, races and creeds are guilty of doing this at some point so don’t get defensive and point out someone else doing it*. You can’t control other people’s behaviour – you can control yours. And using someone else’s bad behaviour to justify yours is a cop-out. The fact that you can point to someone on a different part of the political/racial/gender spectrum who is also saying/doing fucked things doesn’t make you any less fucked. That just means you’re both fucked.

So there’s my challenge for 2014: THINK! Think more. Don’t stop thinking. Acknowledge your error when someone points out your lazy thinking or total lack of thinking. You’ll never know everything so stop pretending you do. As soon as you think you can draw a line under any topic and stop thinking about it, that’s when you start moving backwards. Thinking isn’t always easy. It isn’t always comfortable. But it’s always the right thing to do. Think more. And bullshit less.

 

*A BRIEF NOTE: I know it’s possible to argue that I’m doing the exact thing I say you shouldn’t do – trying to modify someone’s behaviour. What I’m actually doing is attempting to start a conversation. If you obsess over this one point you’re aren’t clever – you’re insecure and the challenge to think and take responsibility scares you. Grow the fuck up.

P.S. Did it spook you to realise I knew what you were thinking?

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TitStare app is everything that’s wrong with Tech Industry

Over the weekend a couple of Australian developers presented their tastefully named “TitStare” app at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. In case you’re having trouble imagining what the app is for, there is no hidden subtlety. The developers said the app would let you “take photos of yourself, looking at tits” and allow men to look at women’s breasts whenever they wanted. 

Because if there’s one thing women are always telling me it’s that men never stare directly at their breasts. And men are really deprived if they want to stare at some tits. The certainly aren’t displayed larger the life on every second billboard. And they’re almost impossible to find on the internet.

This is of course all just a joke and everyone should laugh it off. That’s right, at an extremely high profile conference for an industry that is plagued with negativity and outright hostility towards women, when someone presents an app called “TitStare” and provokes chuckles from the overwhelmingly male audience there’s no problem. It’s “a bit of a laugh”. Tongue in cheek. Not at all an indictment of the rampant sexism in the technology industry.

I call bullshit.

I particularly call bullshit on the pathetic “apologies” given by the developers. Saying “If we offended anybody it was unintentionally done” does not absolve you – it defines the fucking problem! I’d actually have more time for the developers if they aggressively defended the app and told people to get over themselves. At least they’d have some integrity then. They’d still be tools. But they’d be tools who stood behind their actions. Presenting something like “TitStare” and saying you didn’t know it was offensively sexist makes you a self absorbed moron, so secure in your privilege that you’re unaware of the level of privilege you enjoy.

To their credit, TechCrunch offered a direct and unequivocal apology, owning their failure in letting the presentation happen. But I call bullshit on them saying they would screen all ideas before they are presented from now on (which gives them the excuse that this app was only presented because there was no screening process in place). Are you telling me that if someone developed an app called “Lynch the Nigger” they wouldn’t be stopped from presenting? Or even if there truly was NO screening are you telling me nobody would have crash tackled them from the stage before they got halfway through presenting an app with a name like that?

But TitStare wasn’t that offensive. It was simply a bit of tongue in cheek fun. And totally demeaning to women. But that’s business as usual. And it’s everything that’s everything that’s wrong with the tech industry.

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