Sunday, October 18, 2009

"The flip side of this charming worldview..."



(riffing off the same SP post that inspired this one)

I hadn't even gotten into fillyjonk's other point, the one that started me commenting on this piece, before I got distracted by what felt like the main point. Said other point being:

The flip side of this charming worldview, of course, is male anger at women who don’t make themselves available — see many of our friends in that now-closed thread — or women who have the gall to have a body they find unattractive. That’s the real problem with feminism, with fatness, with (for some pseudo-enlightened guys) the extremely thin beauty ideal: it’s a boner-killer, and boner primacy is a paramount law of the dude cabal. You don’t have to read very far between the lines of most troll comments to see that’s what it boils down to: how dare you possess a womanly body I can’t or don’t want to fuck.


One of the -other- charming Tucker Max slogans, by the way, (not sure if it made it to an actual bus ad or not; I wouldn't be surprised) was "Fat girls aren't people." A motto he, like so many of his fellow yrch, upholds faithfully by the same kind of invasive in-your-space crap as goes to the "lucky" "hot girls," except instead of aggressive and hostile come-ons often laced with insults, you get...insults, often laced with aggressive and hostile-come-ons. e.g. (via the same Schmucker-related comment thread, I can't be arsed linking back to the original again):

Hey Sara Lee, I was only kidding! COME BACK HERE--MY FRIEND LIKES TO GO HOGGIN. MORE CUSHION FOR THE PUSHIN! IT'S LIKE RIDING A MOPED!!

Of course, this is the same attraction/disgust other "undesirable" women get: the exotically fetishized racial "Other," particularly those whose stereotypes don't map to "hyperfeminine" (i.e. the Asian "Lotus Blossom"); trans women; women with disabilities (viz Fuckhead's charming "I'm two thirds of the way to a Helen Keller"), women who are -too- "slutty" or "low-class," including sex workers; and so forth.

And yes, of course, in this "charming worldview," women are never entirely "people," not -really- (nor for that matter are quite a lot of men, but that's not the subject of this particular post) . Women who're "friends" or "girlfriends" or otherwise "special" may be (sort of) excepted, as long as they don't step out of line or lose their attractiveness and/or utility or make too many demands, like decent treatment. **

But the women deemed "unfuckable" (except, of course, when it's in the name of supposed desperation, or in the interest of gathering exotic/disgusting stories to tell one's friends, or in the dudely bonding activity of attempting to degrade via fucking, or even that the dude in question is secretly attracted but of course can't admit to any such thing in front of his dudebros)--well, those women get to be, shall we say, more -overtly- "not real people." Further objectified. Further dehumanized. Further to fall. Ain't it the way.

One could examine -how- each of these particular ways of being "unpersoned" starts with being "unwomaned." As noted in previous posts and elsewhere, the way trans women are treated perhaps most sharply illuminates this curious phenomenon (i.e. [cis] women aren't -really- people, but compared to people and especially women who get cast outside either the favored or disfavored gender boxes, it's still a lot more "personed"). The "unwomaning"/"desexing" (and/or fetishizing) of women of color and women with disabilities each respectively happens in its own way, within its own context(s), but in service of roughly the same ends.

Fat-bashing and especially fat-woman-bashing is an interesting one, and one I realize I haven't talked about much in this blog, curiously enough, because I am fat. As for the etiology of "fat is a feminist issue," today is my day for quoting Shapely Prose, I guess, because this here is a really good breakdown:

(summarizing themes from feminist philosopher Susan Bordo's book Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body):

-Voracious hunger is considered a sign of manliness.

-Hunger for food and desire for sexuality are constructed as analogous, but this is a gendered analogy. When women are targeted, “their hunger for food is employed solely as a metaphor for their sexual appetite.” When men are targeted, the metaphor goes in reverse: eating delicious food is depicted as a sexual conquest. (The examples for this include hilariously awful ads of men whispering sweet nothings to their Betty Crocker desserts.)

-Female hunger is represented in terms of misogynistic fear: sex is imagined as a form of eating in which the woman consumes and destroys a male object of desire.

...The connection between hunger and desire, especially, can be subterranean: the ideal of thinness, of course, depends on you having the goal of a certain kind of fuckability — but even eating itself is depicted as an act of sensual abandon instead of a necessity for every living thing on earth. As such, men are commended for having hearty appetites — boys will be boys — and women are told to keep their mouths (and their knees) shut.

The quote I highlighted above is the one that was most illuminating to me, because it says (in my non-theory translation) that dieting is the ultimate act of repressive femininity. Essentially, what Bordo argues is that not eating when your body needs food is participating in your own marginalization — but it’s marginalization dressed up as a sexual ideal. This, I think, is why trolls and anti-FA jerkwads are so obsessed with the idea that we want them all to have sex with fatties: fat is, on some unacknowledged level, about sex in our culture.


And of course, while these days women aren't supposed to keep their knees shut, "sluttiness" is still considered degrading, even monstrous, particularly if it's the woman's idea/desire. Also see.

This is all even before we get to: what if the woman desires women rather than men.

Let's skip over the relatively obvious trope of "any woman who doesn't desire the misogynist is a dyke (and probably fat and ugly to boot, and nobody wants those grapes -anyway-), whether she actually is one or not."

Let's start with "yes I am, and especially seeing you represented as the alternative, THANK THE SWEET WEEPING JESUS, because annoying as tolerating your existence is -now-, I can't even imagine what it'd be like to -want- attention from a shitbag like you, which is of course assuming not only straight but either with really low self-esteem or a taste for smug often-not-exactly-gorgeous-themselves mediocrities with more beer than brains."

Not that I am saying that the latter is a small population: hey, it was good enough for Laura Bush.

But the truth is, as much as the political lesbian and other such might like to romanticize the notion, being Sapphically inclined is not actually all that much of an opt-out from being on the receiving end of this sort of bullshit. For one thing, as noted here recently, women, dykes included, can be appalling assholes too. In eerily similar-sounding ways those of the brodudes, even, amazingly enough.

Mostly, though, what happens is, as with any other woman, you're going along your way, minding your own business, and some hairbag or frathole or other form of arrested male development decides to inform you that He Would Not Fuck You Anyway, He Does Not Like You, Spam He Am.

This happens in a variety of contexts, online or off. Occasionally it's completely out of the blue; you just happen to be unfortunate enough to occupy the same airspace (or bandwidth) as the meatsack, and, more to the point, his buddies; you are merely the means to the end of scoring a laugh/bonding moment.

Other times it (also) turns out to be, however obscurely, the meatsack's way of expressing that you have Stepped Beyond Your Place, whatever that entails. A political opinion he does not care for, say; or your not smiling when urged to do so; or laughing too loudly in public (what if it were at him!)

The implication that being adjudged "fuckable"*** by some random wet fart is something one should aspire to in the first place should be as obvious and pathetic as its rough equivalent, the small child changing from "You're pretty!" to "You're ugly! I hate you!" when one tells her firmly that it is past her bedtime (actual experience and Click Moment when I was a young woman of babysitting age).

And yet, as has been the thesis here, grown men resort to this devastating retort all the bloody time. More to the point, they feel comfortable referring to an implicit, sometimes explicit, authority in doing so. "Every straight man with a set of eyes." It's true because it's true, because it's true. Obviously the chode in question is being ridiculously self-absorbed; yes, attraction is subjective, but it's more than that. He's comfortable believing he's the center of the universe because he's -used- to that impression being reinforced. Of -course- he doesn't find you fuckable, unworthy woman; and of -course- this should be something you should worry about. What, you thought your life had nothing to do with the whims and demands of Average Entitled Dudebro? Think again. Attention, attention must be paid.

And sooner or later, the old "just ignore them, dear" bromide being as ineffectual to address the root of the problem--i.e. the misogynistic entitled assholes are being misogynistic entitled assholes, and it's their own damn choice to do so, which is unsurprising because they're only being rewarded for it, by and large--one sighs, and cracks one's knuckles, and puts down one's copy of Fun Home or whatever else was a hell of a lot more interesting than the overgrown fratholes who still run way too much of the planet, and -gives- them some attention.

One trusts the recipients of said troll food attention are suitably appreciative.


**If you're depressed enough already after reading that Gawker piece, you might as well skip the comments, a good chunk of which boil down to,

"I don't believe it, and even if it's true that's not really that big a deal anyway, not like -real- abuse, and also it's her own damn fault for taking so much horrific crap from anyone. No sympathy."

The ex ("Bunny") herself would appear to be largely in agreement with the sentiment that she has/had her own reasons for dating a knob like Tucker, and so forth. And no, the repeated labeling of other women as "whores" and so on isn't exactly endearing, that is true. That said, I find her a hell of a lot more sympathetic than him. For one thing, she's actually a much more interesting writer.

***p.s. in case you didn't get your full share of ugly: not just fuckable, but rapeable.


"Nothing interferes with a man’s ability to score like a woman who doesn’t think his ego trumps her safety."


Via guerrillamamamedicine, over at Shapely Prose hits all the points that -should- be obvious, but apparently still aren't, to any number of dudes like o f'r instance this one.

We’ve recently had a number of dudes dropping in to complain that asking them to be sensitive to women’s boundaries is essentially cock-blocking them. Sure, they say, if they don’t talk to us when we clearly don’t want them to, they’ll be making us feel less threatened in a world where one in six women is the victim of sexual assault — but on the other hand, they won’t get to talk to us, and how is that fair? Nothing interferes with a man’s ability to score like a woman who doesn’t think his ego trumps her safety. Underlying this argument, along with a host of other scuzzy notions, is the same idea Saletan spikes and the Navy wives catch: that taking a “womanly body” out in public is an a priori invitation for male attention...

Then there were the guys who were clutching their pearls (if you know what I mean) in the epic thread, horrified that women might think they were a danger. After all, it’s not their fault that women feel threatened — they’re decent, humane guys. Maybe some men are dangerous, but not them, and aren’t we really creating the problem by not letting them prove how decent they are all over us?

Those guys are right, sort of. There are lots of great men out there — you can tell who they are because when they read that thread, or Saletan’s piece, they go “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?” And it really isn’t fair that sometimes their wives also think they can’t be trusted in a sub with 138 other guys and a lady. That’s not their fault. But it’s also not their wives’ fault, or the ladies’ fault. It’s the fault of a culture that tells all of us, over and over, that men just don’t have the ability to resist. A culture that assumes it’s women’s responsibility to keep themselves armored and invisible, because sexual violence is a direct result of temptation.

In other words, the same cultural bullshit that asserts men’s right to invade women’s personal space and/or fuck 13-year-olds also perpetuates the notion that men are more dick than brain. That’s why they just have to talk to women, when they can see the women don’t want to! That’s why they get addled by a womanly body when they know it comes with a pubescent mind! They don’t have the willpower or intelligence to not act like cavemen, at least not when faced with feminine wiles.

Fuck that noise! The real decent guys sure don’t deserve that. And the pearl-clutchers, the ones who were horrified by our insistence that rape doesn’t occur in the passive voice… well, who says they deserve it either?

...But what if that’s not good enough for you? What if you’re the kind of self-styled decent guy who still doesn’t feel like it’s fundamentally worthwhile to contribute to a culture where women don’t feel threatened because they aren’t threatened? What reason do you have to forego the rape-joke T-shirts, notice body language signals, object to misogyny, back off when asked to, maintain a comfortable distance, or any of the other little things you can do to bring rape culture down by degrees?

If the well-being of women isn’t enough for you, consider this: patriarchy thinks you’re fucking stupid. It thinks you’re a penis without a brain that’s worthwhile and powerful only because women are vaginas without brains and that’s somehow worse. It thinks you’re untrustworthy, that you can’t be left alone with a woman, that you can’t be left alone with a child. Feminists didn’t make that shit up — they’re just noting it and passing it on.


Anyone who wants to lump this in with "victim feminism" or whatever the current moniker is isn't paying attention. Yes, women have agency. And responsibility. Same as any other human. But what's conveniently left out of the equation a lot of the time, or at least underemphasized, is not only that men have responsibility (also! too!), but what that responsibility consists of. It's not about being "good." It's not about not overpowering delicate wimmins with your brute masculinity or however that incredibly tedious and ubiquitous cultural fetish/trope goes.

It's about have some fucking empathy. It's about, there -is- such a thing as community, no matter what Maggie Thatcher said. And while you're trumpeting about your rights, your individual autonomy, your -free speech-, all those terrific American concepts that are the very same ones we invoke with such handy catchphrases as "my body belongs to me" (nifty little one, there, applies to a lot more than reproductive rights), you might consider that other cliche wherein "your right to swing your fist ends at my nose."

And, further:

When a whole bunch of swinging dickheads are swinging like all get out and getting into womens' space, at minimum, your responsibility is to not -unsee it-, because it makes you uncomfortable. At -minimum-, you don't go: "Well, yes, he's a jerk, but hey, freedom of expression!" even as someone's standing there clutching her nose. At minimum, you don't go, "yes, okay, there's a lot of fist-swinging going on, (although not as much as you say there is, because -I- don't experience it), but it doesn't add up to anything; it doesn't signify; one and one and one and one do not add up to four, because I will it so."

A side note about the latter phenomenon:

How often do people-the "male pearl clutchers" alluded to above, for instance- not believe that things aren't as shitty as someone else says they are, not just because they wish to perpetuate said shittiness themselves or at least passively profit off it, but because they don't -want- to believe that shittiness exists? Because, that might fuck with their entire worldview as well as their self-image?

(part two to follow)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ZOMG BABY PANDAS





("and now for something completely different")



Moar! :D


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happy National Coming Out Day, y'all.




For all that I wasn't all that sold on the National Equality March, reading the twitstream kind of makes me wish i were there. Somewhat.

Saturday, October 10, 2009