piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
so the onion took on chris brown once again in an article titled Heartbroken Chris Brown Always Thought Rihanna Was Woman He’d Beat To Death. cue scores of tweeting feminists who are upset at the onion because "violence against women isn't funny".

like, duh.

hanna rosin in slate at least doesn't misunderstand the onion, but to me her piece still misses the mark. what's most interesting me here is that people are arguing about whether or not the fictional violence was "funny". why? that's not the only way to assess the article.

i never once thought the article was making fun of violence, or was using violence against women to score a cheap laugh. i didn't think that the fictional violence was funny either (though i think that sometimes it can be; i usually appreciate it when it is turned against a bully). instead the article is completely unsubtle satire, directed at chris brown and his enablers, media and fans alike. i can actually appreciate the lack of subtlety, because really, chris brown doesn't deserve any. any laughs this got from me were in appreciation of the satire itself, of it pointing a huge, shaming arrow at entertainment news and gossip, at chris brown's fans who think he's hot, at a culture which raises women to blame themselves and stay with men who abuse them, at the fact that this man is not in jail where he should be, but instead continues to be treated as if he were a person we should empathize with while he jerks out some tears over his most recent breakup with the woman he abused.

i didn't laugh out loud because my funnybone was tickled (it wasn't), i guffawed at the perfect skewering, and i sort of snorted at the irony that some of the best analysis and insight we get is from comedic outlets like the onion and jon stewart, who're skewering mainstream media mercilessly, and pointing out exactly how wrong our culture is to venerate this shite. that's neither misogynistic nor racist.

i'm not sure what is up with the offended feminists. i don't subscribe to the dumb idea that feminists don't have a sense of humour, and it annoys me when people talk down to those who don't laugh at the same things; one size does definitely not fit all when it comes to humour. there are many allegedly funny things that don't amuse me, and i don't think my sense of humour is impaired; a lot of humour out there is stupid, thoughtless, or cruel. i also think satire overlaps with humour instead of being a pure subset, and it's highly context-driven, so it's all too easy to miss. but i thought this was not subtle at all, and yet a number of feminists really do seem to completely miss the point in this case. or is it something i am not seeing?
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
i have alas no chance to boycott bacardi because i so rarely drink alcohol, and bacardi isn't on my list for those times. but if i did, oh man, i'd throw out even unopened bottles now.

i'm mostly used to misogyny in ads directed at men, but this one is directed at women: all you need is an ugly girlfriend. bonus: it comes with a fat phobia chaser.

and of course, my idea of ugly doesn't match bacardi's at all. WTF is wrong with these people? i mean, i know what's wrong, actually, but how come THEY don't see it?

[ETA: the online ad was produced by israeli agency mccann digital. apparently the site has since been pulled, because bermudan-HQed bacardi isn't happy with its israeli affiliate. but, you know? not good enough, if you wait with the pulling until the shit hits the blogosphere.]
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
harlan ellison has said some things about the breast-grabbing incident on his message board. that board has the world's most ancient and clunky interface; you'll need to scroll down until you find his posts, first dating from Tuesday, August 29 2006 12:19:50.

I was unaware of any problem proceeding from my intendedly-childlike grabbing of Connie Willis's left breast, as she was exhorting me to behave.

and in another post:

On a more serious note: if, in fact, Connie (or Courtney, or Cordelia) were/are/might in any way be offended by this latest demonstration of give'n'take jackanapery between Connie and Harlan (now in its longest-run on Broadway), you may all rest assured I will apologize vehemently, will crawl to Colorado through broken glass and steaming embers, and beg her (their) forgiveness. I need no one to prompt me.

that seems like evidence that the context was not the usual context in which i immediately define something as sexual assault. i still think it was wrong, even if intended as "childlike grabbing", still think that even if it doesn't upset the one you groped, if it upsets the audience, you need to think about what you're doing a lot more.

fortunately he doesn't make any excuses about it: Did I fail to mention, I am 100% guilty as charged, and NO ONE should attempt to cobble up mitigating excuses for my behavior? As with everything else I REALLY DO (as opposed to the bullshit that is gossiped third-hand by dolts), I am responsible for my actions 100% and am prepared to shoulder all consequences

that sounds about right. though ... *augh* ... so many things to criticize in those posts. but i've got other things to talk about. importantly he doesn't acknowledge, and i wonder whether he even realizes, that he might owe an apology to the audience as well. if other people tense up worrying whether they might have to intervene, whether this is going somewhere they do not want to condone, whether this is sending a message to young members of the subculture that is corrosive, then the entertainer is failing absolutely necessary communications. shocking the audience to wake them up from bourgeois slumber is something that's irrelevant here -- that's not what he was doing.

still, context does matter. how i feel about a grope, and how i react differs vastly based on whether i know the person doing it. i've been groped by drunken friends in college, and i wasn't about to call the cops. i didn't particularly enjoy it, mind, but it also didn't frighten me or make me feel cheap, or any number of personally negative things; it was in the same category with having to watch whether one of those inebriated was about to upchuck. reaction: take hand, move it away, say "don't do that", the end. the sort of mildly unpleasant thing that you've occasionally got to do among peers when somebody intrudes on your domain in some manner, and i don't reserve that domain for sexual or physical acts only; i have a long list of co-workers behaving badly in completely non-sexual ways.

that's a huge, huge difference from how i felt when i was forced into sexual acts by somebody who had power over me. and i do not like to have that sort of thing conflated with "stupid things pals might do" -- the former is what should get charges pressed, the latter is what needs a good talking-to. where it gets more difficult is on the borderline between "friend" and "people i know because we hang out in the same subculture". some of you will remember L who started to hang out in soc.singles when it was still in its "classic" incarnation, and how L did some inappropriate touching at his first boink in NC. L was pretty obviously confused about permissions; other people were cuddly, so why not he as well. *sigh*. L didn't grok the nuances at all, and that was a difficult discussion to have with him.

touching others is such a fraught realm. now i want to write another post about aunt harriet and her cheek pinching.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)



so, harlan ellison grabbed connie willis's boob at the hugos. the sfnal blogosphere has erupted and wants to collectively kick harlan in the 'nads.

which might be a good idea. i think he could use a good 'nad kicking, and has done so for a long time. and i mean that metaphorically; just sayin'.

while i am merely moved to play with photoshop. *sigh* -- but really, that's a darn good job there if i say so myself; i got the colours of the heads adjusted really well. ok. i better say what i think about the incident.

yes, it was wrong. no, his notoriety and fame are no excuse. he apparently thought it was time to put the "terrible" back into his enfant -- i don't grok mr ellison's personal behaviour. i think much of his writing is brilliant, but i am not a fan who defends his antics, some of which are truly eyeroll-inducing, and he strikes me as a spoiled brat and a bully, which is not a good thing in a grown man. while i've never heard a bad thing about connie willis -- i go out and buy everything she writes; she's one of my personal favourites. if somebody truly embarrassed her in a moment of triumph, i'd find that really nasty. and if that happened, he should be censured by whatever agency has that right (the SFWA?). but they ought to damn well talk to her first.

there are undertones in the discussions that bother me. i don't know either ellison or willis personally. while looking for source images for the above perversion of rembrandt's work, i found quite a number in which they were close, standing arm in arm and very obviously friendly; not just mugging it up for the camera. and there is a photo from the awards ceremony in which they're giving each other a sound smooch right on the mouth; i don't know whether that happened before or after the boob grab, and who started it -- is it possible she did the kissing, and he got her back by grabbing her boob? did he grab first, and then she smooched him as in-kind payback? he also apparently fellated the microphone -- was this whole thing an act? were either of them having alcohol? i don't know these people, so i don't know whether anything brought this on, or whether he is just a total arsehole.

it sounds all very grand to talk about how this is an example of how men have the power to put women back in their place anytime, even if those women are highly accomplished professionals. is that what ellison did? is that what connie willis thinks he did? then shouldn't she be the one to be outraged? it's not like he can ruin her career, which might keep a less experienced, newer writer from speaking up. is she a meek flower who has been socialized to not be critical of men in public? she doesn't sound meek in her writing, but that's her writing.

as i said, it was wrong; but i don't know whether it was a badly timed joke in a personal relationship that allows for such jokes in private, or an assault on her professional standing. and i think it gives him way too much power to assume it was the latter. the lack of outraged reaction from ms willis makes it wonder whether it was the former, and i dislike it when people proclaim those bits about socialization as if that were the only thing that might keep a person from immediate payback. maybe she actually didn't take it that seriously. maybe it's a lot more embarrassing to have everybody and zir brother yapping about it now, including those of us who weren't even there. i'm willing to bite the head off a stranger who touches me inappropriately, while somebody who is a friend might touch me inappropriately and i'd react differently -- but not because of my socialization, but because i care about this person, and i'd rather settle this in person than in public.

i sometimes wonder about the impression total strangers get of the paramour and my relationship when they inadvertantly overhear our banter. because man, that impression wouldn't be good. and yet we have a marvelous relationship; there isn't even a remote presence of power games and all that rot. i hope we'd know better than to let it all hang out at an awards ceremony, but if we did because one of us was badly off our meds and overexcited, i would resent it if people concluded that the ostensible woman in our r'ship is socialized to not defend herself. that, too, is patronizing.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
ranting, that is, here's another one. :)

betsy posted a link to an article about the failures of "choice" feminism, and i came out of reading it with a diametrically opposed view to hers.

lots of interesting stuff in that article which i will completely ignore. but it misses one huge area despite touching on it, and misses is so badly that it mostly self-destructed in front of my eyes.

Half my Times brides quit before the first baby came. In interviews, at least half of them expressed a hope never to work again. None had realistic plans to work. More importantly, when they quit, they were already alienated from their work or at least not committed to a life of work. One, a female MBA, said she could never figure out why the men at her workplace, which fired her, were so excited about making deals. “It’s only money,” she mused.

*ding*. it's only money. it's only a job. it's not as earth-shakingly important as some make it out to be, unless one loves it -- but not everyone will love it. and if one has the money (inherited or married into) to avoid the workplace in which one doesn't actually love anything, heck, why not? because most work SUCKS. if more people could afford not to work, guess what? they'd be staying home! they'd be volunteering their time for different things. they'd be learning new things and play with them for a while. they might still work, they might even still feel duty to do some boring work, but not 8 hours a day, most of their working lives.

i don't have children. but i've left the rat race. and i am never going back. i'd cut back all the luxuries in my life before i'd go back. i might even choose to live as a hermit in the woods before i'd go back.

The family -- with its repetitious, socially invisible, physical tasks -- is a necessary part of life, but it allows fewer opportunities for full human flourishing than public spheres like the market or the government.

you know? i used to believe that. hey, i was a workoholic. work was exciting! the work, not necessarily the jobs. there is so much soul-deadening crap in the average workplace, i am glad to be out of it. and while i don't want children, listening to people like ailbhe talk about the joy and stimulation they get from being with their kids makes it sound a heck of a lot more interesting than many jobs women are stuck with who do work outside the home. i get so much more fulfillment from staying at home, even without kids. repetitive tasks? yeah, they're good zen. socially invisible? in circles who adore the fly lady? ha. they're visible enough for my taste. physical tasks make me feel accomplished; they have well-defined beginning and ends, and i can stack up a pile of stuff that says "that's what you did today!". after 4 decades of intellectual labour with much of it wasted on proprietary bits of code that don't do anything important i am coming to like menial tasks. they're easy. they leave room to think. and they're a small part of my life because i don't accept keeping a spotless house as my goal in life. the rest of the time i have free to do with as i please.

a common thread among the women I interviewed was a self-important idealism about the kinds of intellectual, prestigious, socially meaningful, politics-free jobs worth their incalculably valuable presence. So the second rule is that women must treat the first few years after college as an opportunity to lose their capitalism virginity and prepare for good work, which they will then treat seriously.

or maybe women will continue to choose to opt out of this particular game that's designed by -- oh, look! men. why not look a little closer at the grail of the capitalist work ethic and whose idea that is, and why?

this is where the article fails incredibly badly. there is no deeper analysis of what exactly satisfies women and why. just an assumption that being a working (just not working at home!) part of capitalist society is better, because the other path involves -- ewww -- cleaning, such low-caste stuff. oh yeah, and because it wastes the efforts of feminists, and makes it harder for those women who do want the executive jobs. i appreciate the sentiment, but i think patronizing other women's choices is still wrong, and elevating stock brokers over janitors is classist. society could in fact function just fine without the former -- but if nobody did the cleaning, welcome to hell.

Housekeeping and child-rearing in the nuclear family is not interesting and not socially validated. Justice requires that it not be assigned to women on the basis of their gender and at the sacrifice of their access to money, power, and honor.

this is one of the largest problems! and the writer of the article doesn't even see it. indeed, feminism has failed SAHMs; by not convincing this society that the work of making a home and rearing children is just as important (if not more so) and just as fulfilling (if not more so) than the work of an international business lawyer. because if society got its priorities straight, men would learn to feel that way, and more of them would choose that path, believe you me.

for me it's been the depression that conked the workoholic over the head and changed everything, not a child. but it's resulted in a similar attitude. because having time to hang out with the paramour and the *poing*, and really talk about what we think, and float in the ocean, and volunteer my time for various causes, and play video games, and write, and socialize over the net with far-away friends, and banter together, and learn new things about the world and share them, all those things are much more fun than working 95% of jobs. immeasurably more fun. and more enriching.

capitalist society can eat my shorts. this family's life is way better.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
interesting discussion over at [livejournal.com profile] matociquala's. check it out. i am just pulling my main comment across.

As a woman in modern society, I have to understand the male perspective if I am going to succeed in navigating society. They, on the other hand, have the luxury of making a parlor game of wondering "what women want," and so forth--because they are not forced to understand the dominant (and external) paradigm.

hm. ya know, i buy this for ethnic, religious, sexual/gender minorities, but not entirely for the big gender divide. here's why: caucasians in the US don't have to care and know what people of colour want and go through. they can live their entire lives without giving a second thought to the experience of non-whites, and without actually interacting on a meaningful level with anyone who's of a clearly different skin colour.

on the other hand, what women want is still quite important to most men, and much more than a parlor game. they grow up having a mother, having sisters. if they're heterosexual, they have to interact with women not only for sex, but also to be married to, and start a family with. men cannot go through life completely oblivious to women's experiences.

women are not actually a minority, they're all around men. and that changes the dynamic you're describing.

they really don't understand that what a single black mother of three with no high school education wants is to go to bed at night not worrying that her kids are hungry or coming down with something

this is also about class in addition to sex and ethnicity, isn't it? and possibly more about class than about the other groupings. the guys and gals who run the country have no more of a clue what it's like for a young black man in harlem who's trying to provide for his family either. in fact i am surprised you left class out of your list.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
one in a long if casual series illuminating "why i am not a feminist, but an egalitarian humanist".

this was originally written as a comment in somebody else's LJ, but i decided not to post it because the thread was too old, and because i went off on a tangent. the post that started it regarded a feminist protest of violence against women and children as "duh, like who's in favour of violence these days other than psychos". then there was a reply saying that feminists are doing it because people need to have it pointed out, that everyone accepts violence by strangers as the real thing, but domestic abuse is somehow not viewed as just as bad. and that didn't ring true for me -- but i wonder whether i am now too far removed from the mainstream to have a good feel for what they think. i'm judging mostly by what i read on mainstream news and social commentary on blogs.

i've been straining my brain and i cannot think of any people nowadays openly claiming domestic abuse against women isn't a serious problem, anywhere i read. nobody (in any significant numbers that i can see) wants women be injured by their husbands [*]. i think some feminists might be misreading a reaction against broadening the term "violence" as a denial that abuse happens. i myself do make a distinction between "violence" and "force" (and lots of acquaintance rape uses force, IMO, not violence), but i think either is inappropriate in a supposedly loving relationship; i don't make the distinction in order to trivialize acquaintance rape -- i think it is by far a more serious problem than stranger rape. i think that such protests are done simply because domestic abuse keeps happening. (i'll keep my thoughts about their efficacy for myself just now so this doesn't become about that.) i don't know a single person who thinks domestic abuse is ok, not even a little bit (excepting self-defense).

what i can think of however, is plenty of people who're upset at violence against women, who are outraged at pedophilia -- but they think spanking is ok, and is somehow a totally different thing, not violence at all, not even inappropriate force. and frankly, i don't see feminists at large actually having this on their agenda -- when they do seem to care about children as a matter of policy, it's all about pedophilia as well, and the incredibly common woman-on-child violence is a dirty little secret that is swept under the rug. google some time for hits about spanking and feminism, and you'll find vastly more hits about BDSM and its defense, together with conservative rants against all of what allegedly destroys the family (where feminism and anti-spanking movements are named separately), than you find feminist critique of spanking. i consider feminism's silence on the issue of spanking to be particularly suspicious, since it doesn't happen to fit well with the idea that men are the aggressors and women the victims.

maybe feminism shouldn't be about children but just about women; that'd be sort of ok by me -- though i find some issues hard to separate, especially in the areas of sexual abuse, and well, the battle of equality starts long before the age of majority. but then take children off the signs that purport to be against violence. it's long struck me as a token effort, and i dislike tokenism, especially when it uses children.

i agree that it seems harder for people to empathize with domestic than with stranger violence. i see it in myself; i do empathize just as much initially (if not more; i find abuse by loved ones so much more destructive than abuse by strangers), but i have difficulties maintaining that empathy when somebody stays in an abusive situation (assuming no death threats are involved), when somebody falls more than once for the abject apology route after the abuse, when somebody says "but i love him!". if anything, i think feminism needs to support those women more, because they obviously still have very bad tapes running in their heads with "stand by your man" as the soundtrack, and some fundamentally horribly damaging ideas about what love is.

and i wonder how much spanking has to answer for regarding those tapes, how much it is responsible for bad boundaries, and how much it has to do with raising men who become abusers. how can this possibly not be a feminist concern? at least be on the table for discussion?

[*] upon rereading i remembered that i've read sean connery is purported to have said that some women need slapping around. but upon googling this i see that that's not what he said. and while what he did say is questionable, i'd really like to see the full context for it before i count it as evidence.
piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] supergee linked to a blog entry and i read it, and its comments on rape, and i am gonna noodle some on it over here.

these are times when i feel completely out of the mainstream. there is no date rape within my circles, there are no men who talk about women as if they were asking for it, there is not a single man who doesn't understand that "no means no", and in fact just about all of them go for "only unequivocal yes while in full possession of one's capacities means yes" (which i think is a much better, if not as pithy, yardstick). rapist talk is not part of the male culture i see around me. maybe geeks needing the proverbial 2x4 over the head to even recognize an interest goes a ways towards that, but i also believe there are huge numbers of men who are thoughtful and considerate, and who are not potential rapists by the mere virtue of having a penis. i am tired of seeing them slagged by association; it's goddamn sexist to do so.

it's not like i haven't had my share of experiences, mind. however, women feature as overall more abusive in my personal history than men, and frankly, the sexual abuse when i was a prepubescent teen does not rank as the most heinous act against me, and my life wasn't ruined by it. the reaction to it, now that left bigger scars. and there is something about rape culture on the side of people who fight it that goes too far into creating and encouraging victimhood. rape is horrible, yes. but one can survive it hale and hearty, without casting all men into the same role as the arsehole who did it. and women need to own their own gender's abusiveness, some of which leaves damn big scars. i don't feel in "never-ending danger" of rape. i am, in fact, completely unafraid of date rape. [1] and i believe stranger rape gets blown way out of proportion. men are statistically in more danger of being mugged -- but there is no movement to take back that night.

sure, men ought to speak out against rapist-style talk when they come across it. women also ought to speak out when a woman perpetuates the "no means maybe" notion. but IMO everyone gets to fight the battles they choose to fight, and not getting into an argument with a stranger in a bar is a legitimate choice, as is not taking every drunken woman who dances on top of the bar under one's wing so she won't get raped. women who get so drunk that they no longer know what they're doing also bear responsibility for their actions, and i don't want to hear the brush-off that i am "blaming the victim" when i say that.

ergo, i don't think rape is an issue that only men need to become more thoughtful about. date rape is to me just one of the many nasty outgrowths of people not working half as hard on actual communication with others as they work on any number of other, less important things.

[1] here's why i am not afraid of date rape: i think the dating culture is moronic, and i don't go out with relative strangers for the purpose of romance and sex. i also don't care to go out and have fun "like men" (as if they all did the same thing!) -- i see no fun in going to bars and "bonding" with people while drinking. in fact, i stay away from activities that involve large amounts of alcohol, since my experience has resulted in this pithy saying: "instant idiot -- just add alcohol". i don't think emulating men in every stupid thing they do and then demanding that one be able to do so without danger (as if men are not in danger as well!) is smart or realistic.

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