18 March, 2010

Feminazery Future

Just a quickie (gosh, a sex synonym - that'll upset all the impotent male rage aimed at this blog recently) but given the number of idiots who have doddered over to our corner of the internet recently to vent their confused spleen at feminism, what do you say we put up a second Personifesto, a Fuckyoufesto if you will, explaining in suitably caustic but nonetheless clear language what feminism is, why it matters, and why we write this blog? Would writers and readers be amenable to this kind of feminism101-type deal?

Or I could just collect the best clangers for a post all of their own, make them feel more at home, the little darlings?

Over and out. x

17 March, 2010

We're not in a supermarket - please stop sticking labels everywhere.

What type of feminist are you? First, second or third wave? Anarcha-feminist or Difference feminist? Anti-pornography or sex positive? And most importantly, does it really matter?

Now, before we start, I'd like to say I am fully aware of the irony involved in writing a blog denouncing feminist in-fighting by engaging in what looks suspiciously like feminist in-fighting. I'm not perfect, okay?

What has me a little riled is some of the terminology that's been bandied about in the publicity surrounding Anna Arrowsmith (AKA Anna Span, porn director) and her standing for the Liberal Democrats. I say this may look like in-fighting because I take issue with the way Arrowsmith describes herself: as a "pro-sex" or "sex-positive" feminist.

For those not au-fait with all the various forms of feminism purporting to exist, pro-sex or sex-positive feminists are generally pro-pornography and to varying degrees, supportive of the sex industry, from stripping and pole-dancing to prostitution (I don't claim to be especially well versed in the intracacies of the pro-sex movement, so be kind if you feel I'm misprepresenting you). The ideas follow largely on from those first touted by second-wave feminists.

I am, to stick yet another label on myself, anti-pornography. I do not believe that stripping or pole-dancing are "liberating" or without negative impact on women and while I agree with legalising prostitution (but criminalising men who use prostitutes) I'd be far happier if the oldest profession ceased to exist altogether. But here's the rub: I'm not "sex-negative". As Hadley Freeman of the Guardian put it in an article on the same topic today, "I've never met a feminist who was 'anti-sex'".

No one actually uses the terms "sex-negative" or "anti-sex" concerning feminism as far as I have seen, but they are implied by their positive opposites. "Pro-sex" instantly sounds argumentative and snide: if you're not "pro-sex" you must be anti, therefore your opinion on issues relating to sex and feminism is not valid because you're just an uptight prude. Maybe I'm reading a *little* bit too much into people's intentions with their terminology, but you've got to admit, the implication is there.

And it's not helpful, not in the slightest. Whether you're "sex-positive" or "anti-porn", first wave or third wave, we're all working towards the same overall goal. Why weaken the movement by dividing ourselves into little groups and cliques? What's great about your in-house bloggers here at Feminazery is that we all have different ideas and opinions about what feminism means to us personally, but we're all good feminists and largely good friends, because we know we're united where it counts - working towards equality and fair treatment for women everywhere. The detail is just a distraction.

09 March, 2010

Oh no you did not just say that

I was catching up on my procrastination when Hairy Bloke (the manly man himself) twittered this, in hipster magazine Platform. And I know that anything he refers to as "impressively, deeply, deeply offensive stuff" is probably going to be bad.

So I read it.

And then I frothed at the mouth.

And now I blog.

The article is titled "Ways Not To Fuck Up A Fuck". I hereby suggest it be retitled "Lessons In 'Nice Guy' Douchebaggery and How To Be A Misogynistic Arse".

The first how-not-to is called "Lying about having already done it", and the result is, apparently,
"Two things then happen: she feels totally violated and refuses to talk to you (this shit is worse than rape for some girls), and the guy tells everyone what a fucking loser you are for lying about it."
Oh yes. Because some silly skinny-jeans wearing trust-fund "artist" tells his friends he's had sex with you in order to mark you as "his", this is somehow worse than rape. I wonder if Robert Foster has ever found himself agreeing with the sentiments "she was wearing a short skirt so she was asking for it" or "having her handbag stolen is more traumatic".

On to the next section, titled "Getting mad that it’s not happening":
"After a few weeks of being a nice fucking guy (probably about a month of talking on the phone, meeting on lunch breaks and staying over but getting nothing) things get pretty frustrating. If nothing at all has happened at the six week mark, leave it, because she knows what the fuck is up but she just doesn’t find you attractive and the best thing you can do is walk away, cos if she’s the kind of self-involved bitch that keeps a sucker hanging around for 6 weeks then she’ll miss the attention and be on your dick in no time".
Buh? Maybe, Robert Foster, she didn't want to jump into bed with you straight away because she had an inkling that because you're a "nice fucking guy" you are actually a woman-hating entitled dickwad who thinks being nice to someone with tits and a vagina automatically results in you being able to put your penis inside her. Here's a tip, Robert Foster: no, it doesn't.

"If you haven’t been intimate with someone but they gave you the gift of their number or their BBM, they might be a little into you, which is totally fair enough, you’re a nice guy and you were funny and you bought her a drink but didn’t force her to hang out with you overly long, follow her around the bar like a psycho cos you got too drunk or wink at her or any of that shit."
Still doesn't entitle you to a shag. Ever. Do you know why, Robert Foster? Because you bought her a drink. She gave you her number. It's not an all-access pass to her vagina. But it's ok, because you're a "nice fucking guy" who equates dating-but-not-having-sex as ruining some poor man's life.

But Robert Foster doesn't stop there.

"Sleeping in their bed and trying it on over and over again
If you’ve been trying and trying with a girl who’s not so sure but at least keen to talk to you, and it gets really late and she says you can sleep over at hers, but then stipulates a ‘no funny business’ clause in the verbal contract of you sleeping in her bed, then you’ve got to suck it up and take it, pal. ‘No’ does sometimes mean ‘yes’, but if she’s been firm about it before you’ve got under the covers, then just roll over and go to sleep, safe in the knowledge that you’ve made some healthy baby steps towards wetting your dick but tonight is not the night.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you really did read that right.

"'No' does sometimes mean 'yes'"

He said it.

What. The. Blithering. Fuck?


You know what that is, Robert Foster? That, Mr "nice fucking guy" is called the Women-Hating Rape Apologist's Favourite Line. And it's BOLLOCKS. No =/= yes. It is that fucking simple. They are two entirely mutually-exclusive answers. Opposite answers, in fact. No is used to express refusal or denial, and yes is used to express permission, acceptance. If you, or anyone else, is having issues confusing the two, might I suggest a quiet evening spent with the dictionary, or possibly a role-playing scenario. Or therapy.

The entire article is a stream of women-hating douchebaggery, of the worst variety, because it tries to come across as funny and cool. It's not funny. It's not even a little bit funny, it's just offensive. It's just nasty. It's misogynist claptrap. And it's really, really not fucking hipster.

04 March, 2010

Exotification and infantilisation – even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious

So atrocious, in fact, that my über-white Microsoft Word didn’t recognise either word. It helpfully suggested ‘detoxification’ in place of exotification – that’s far more fitting with our culture, you know.

Well, no. It isn’t. The exotification and infantilisation of women of colour – particularly Asian women – are things we see all the time. Firstly, let me be clear: I’m white. I’m aware than I’m meandering round in the cosy warmth of the herd, and I can’t know the half of what women of colour experience every day. But, from where I’m standing, on my humble little podium of privilege, it’s becoming clearer all the time that attitudes toward women of colour are not improving.

I have a good friend, a Filipina (something else that Microsoft Word doesn’t recognise). Whenever we were together (alas, cruel distance separates us now), she experienced the kind of sexist discrimination you can probably imagine. Old guys making kissy-kissy noises at her on the street, soap-dodging shop keepers asking me to tell her how pretty she is – in short, men on the street shamelessly regarding her as some cute accessory - something I’d brought with me and that might, possibly, be available if they were charming enough. It’s the age old “Thai bride” syndrome (did you not know that every woman from the Far East is Thai?) – exotification in the extreme.

Sadly for these charmers, my friend has an MA in Post-Colonialism and is infinitely more likely to tear them a new one than offer them a happy ending of any sort. And I’m not even going to tell you where she’s going to shove than lotus blossom.

Something which has been creeping up into my awareness, though, perches uncomfortably on the opposite end of the spectrum - that rack of pigeon holes society tries to fit us into.

Another good friend (yes, I have two!) – an Indian Muslim – wears a headscarf and Western clothes which she adapts to suit her choice to cover up. We go out together - shopping, to a café, whatever - and never fail to attract looks. There’s a difference, though. These aren’t the kind of pervy-paternal, admiring glances that my Fili friend attracts. No, these are mistrusting, cold stares, which start at the headscarf, work their way down to her feet and then slide sideways to me – what, precisely, am I doing with her?

It seems that there are two very clear brackets for non-white women to fit into, and it’s pretty obvious which one gets the thumbs up from men. Filipina, Thai, Chinese, Japanese... it’s all about the delicate features and the almond eyes (tell me you haven’t heard this before). Even our sisters in Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh are getting it – lucky girls! – as long as they’re not choosing to cover up. The minute you cover up, something changes and you become the lowest of the low.

You’ll see it almost daily from the Great Unwashed who comment on the Daily Mail stories. Non-white women are constantly touted as the best thing since sliced bread – “You really should try one!”. Muslim women, though, are different. They’re sly. They’ve got something to hide. They’re up themselves – “Who wants to look at you anyway?”.

It’s almost as though their sweet, brown flesh – so inviting – is not their own and, by covering it up, they’re depriving these white men of their right to feast upon the exotic beauty. They’re removing themselves from the pigeon hole these men have shoved them into. But that’s not why men are angry at them. No, that’s not it at all. They're angry "for them". And there's always some justification - some reason that a woman who covers up is wrong:

She does it because her husband makes her.

She does it because she’s oppressed.

She does it because she’s so blinded by religion that she just has no choice.

Let’s get one thing straight – we all do things because we are a product of the ideology we grew up in. Even if we rebel, it’s because we have something to rebel against. It is categorically impossible to be outside the system. Every choice we make, we make for a reason. It’s just that when that choice involved covering up, it seems to attract more anger, more vitriol than many others. Men abuse women in headscarves, they question their ability to decide things for themselves, they try to force legislation through that will make that woman show herself. They remove those women’s rights to make their own decisions. They infantilise them.

It simply cannot be, they say, that any woman in her right mind would object to showing her body. There must be a reason. Desperately they snuffle for one, completely ignoring what is – in most cases – the obvious. Muslim women, like other women, wear what they want.

Irrespective of our views on organised religion and the patriarchal (or not) roots of faith, I think – if we’re honest with ourselves – we know these men don’t care about the liberation of women of colour. The arguments don’t hold up. White women used to cover their hair. My great-aunt had a fabulous collection of rain-proof, sun-proof and industrial hair-spray-proof headscarves. Why did she wear them? Because she wanted to. She thought it was smart. She thought it was decent. Other women were wearing them.

It seems that men simply cannot bring themselves to accept that some women of colour choose to cover up. They don’t care about the reason, although they cite it until they’re blue in the faces: They’re being oppressed! Even the BNP – that woman-hating cesspit of a party – cites this as one of the key reasons Islam is “a wicked, wicked religion”. And this from a party full of gang-rapists, whose policies would systematically remove women’s rights to autonomy.

White women are deified if they’re the kind of middle-class, married, stay-at-home mums the 1950s dreamed of. Women of colour – and this is the uncomfortable truth – are supposed to be that juicy, exotic bit on the side, who’ll look up at men with their big, brown eyes, and think nothing but sweet, lotus-scented thoughts. We’re all being pigeon-holed, it’s just that they’re forcing us into different pockets. Divide and conquer.

Let me be blunt. I am white, and I cover up. I don’t cover my hair, but there’s not much else you’ll see. And why? Because I feel oppressed by the acres of female flesh used to sell, attract, flaunt, manipulate and coax us into submission. I’m rebelling, gently enough, against a system I can’t get out of. Sure I’m frigid. I’m a dyke. A stuck-up feminazi, who hates men and has an attitude problem. The big difference is this, though: no one questions the fact that it’s my choice. It’s time to reiterate our support to women who choose not to buy into the ever-changing, ever more sexualised image of women today, and that includes our sisters who choose to cover up.