abuse, feminism, feminist, gender, media, misogyny, race, racism, strenght, Uncategorized

Give Us Le-ss Misogyny and Racism

The significant uptake and influence of fandoms over their respective show/movie/media can have amazing effects. Just look at Brooklyn 99 loyal fanbases efforts to see their favourite crime-fighting sitcom renewed, or, more recently, the #SaveShadowhunters hashtag which takes pride in (the need for more) LGBT+ representation. Just as fandoms can be wonderful and inclusive spaces, so too can they be vitriolic and destructive, as the recent case of Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Marie Tran.

Tran was apparently driven off the picture sharing network Instagram earlier this month owing to the needless and vile influx of abuse and harassment; her decision to virtually pack it in has led to many of her co-workers and fans lamentation, but that has not stopped Give Us Legends from claiming responsibility and claiming pride in what they have accomplished.

GiveUsLegendsHateGroup

It’s disconcerting and downright scary that someone would find the abuse of another person as “bloody glorious,” it more worrying that they call for further acts in the name of “forced diversity”

Digital violence is real; abuse does not happen in a vacuum, it has affects and influences the people involved. It is a common misconception to think it is easy to sign out and leave the comments behind; the reality is that this abuse has racial and misogynistic overtures which not only belittle Tran (and others, let’s not forget Leslie Jones’ abuse) but support and boaster such hegemonic structures.

What the user defines as “forced diversity” is a mechanism currently being heralded by far right political groups to reaffirm white male hegemony. These groups maintain that diversity politics and affirmative actions processes are in themselves somehow “racist.” These are groups which fail to account for an already unfair playing field; one which sees white as default, acceptable and welcomed while People of Colour are at worst the anti-thesis of their white counterpart, at best different. Reni Eddo-Lodge details this well in the recent book Why I’m not Longer Talking (To White People) About Race. To quote Eddo-Lodge at length, because she has both lived this reality and details it so succintly:

“Positive discrimination initiatives are often vehemently opposed. Descriptions of the work addressing the over-representation of whiteness inevitably reduce it to tokenism, nothing more than an insult to the good hard-working people who get their high-ranking jobs on merit alone. Whenever I do the panel-event circuit, meritocracy and quotas tend to be an issue that rests heavily on audiences’ minds. The main questions asked are: is it fair? Do quotas mean that women and people of colour are receiving special treatment, getting leg-ups others can’t access? Surely we should be judging candidates on merit alone? The underlying assumption to all opposition to positive discrimination is that it just isn’t fair play.
The insistence is on merit, insinuating that any current majority white leadership in any industry has got there through hard work and no outside help, as if whiteness isn’t its own leg-up, as if it doesn’t imply a familiarity that warms an interviewer to a candidate. When each of the sectors I mentioned earlier have such dire racial representation, you’d have to be fooling yourself if you really think that the homogeneous glut of middle-aged white men currently clogging the upper echelons of most professions got there purely through talent alone. We don’t live in a meritocracy, and to pretend that simple hard work will elevate all to success is an exercise in wilful ignorance. Opposing positive discrimination based on apprehensions about getting the best person for the job
means inadvertently revealing what you think talent looks like, and the kind of person in which you think talent resides. Because, if the current system worked correctly, and if hiring practices were successfully recruiting and promoting the right people for the right jobs in all circumstances, I seriously doubt that so many leadership positions would be occupied by white middle-aged men. Those who insist on fairness fail to recognise that the current state of play is far from fair.”

– Eddo-Lodge pg. 78-79*

Groups such as We Are Legends, which build a community based on anti-diversity, while they may maintain other ideals (in this case, magically re-glorifying the Star Wars through heterosexual, masculine and significantly, white representation), are primarily interested in maintaining patriarchal structures which only benefits them (often, heterosexual, masculine and significantly, white).

tumblr_p9vgv1MIos1qkt2rqo1_1280

These groups are afraid of the (often still decidedly token) female and PoC characters who are finally emerging on screen. Reactions to Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as protagonists on the Star Wars reboot depicts this enough; it would be no surprise to find them next targeting L3-37 for her representation of a humanitarian/(robotarian?) freedom fighter if she had a social media presence. (Here’s hoping her voice actor is left alone, given that she is the main delight for most the movie, and, you know, a human being?)

null

Kelly Marie Tran’s Instagram account is still there, but it’s empty of posts, leaving her abusers no opportunity to abuse. Her account picture still stares out, her bio still reads “afraid but doing it anyway”. It exists now at once as both her own attempt at self-care and, perhaps, her space of protest.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

*I quote Eddi-Lodge at length and copyright that work to her; I feel that, in the discussion of “positive discrimination” and affirmative action policies, her work details both a truth and a reality of what PoC live and work daily.

Advertisements
abuse, advice, feminism, feminist, GBV, gender, misogyny, rape, strenght, Uncategorized

Being Victim and Being Brave

Yesterday, I opened Roxane Gay’s new edited collection, Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture, a selection of stories of abuse, harassment, trauma and surviving. I knew, given my history with rape and it’s structures, it would be no easy read.

The first three stories (introduction included) were visceral, troubling and unnerving. The fourth cut me to the quick:

“Sometimes people tell me that something bad happened to me, but I am brave and strong. I don’t want to be told that I am brave or strong. I am not right just because he was wrong. I don’t want to be made noble.
I want someone willing to watch me thrash and crumple because that, too, is the truth, and it needs a witness. “He broke me,” I say to a friend. “You’re not broken,” she whispers back. I turn my palms up, wishing I could show her the pieces.”

– “& the Truth is, I Have No Story,” Claire Schwartz

I cannot speak for how hard these words hit me: they collaborated with a truth inside me, a bothersome narrative which I find others reaffirming for me once they hear I was raped/assaulted.

It is the same mantra which they will tell countless others:

“You’re a survivor/Brave/Strong/Better/[Input inspirational comment here]”

And I do understand the impulse and the kindness which drives them to tell me and others these words. I also rail against them, because they erase the messy truth of the event, the negate the reality of rape and that to become a survivor in any way, one is first a victim.

That’s a denigrated word nowadays: victim. It’s frowned upon to see a someone, post-rape, as a victim:

“You’re a survivor”

But to be a survivor at all, one first needs to be a victim. Sometimes, after rape/harassment/assault, you need to be broken. You get to be torn apart and take the time necessary to re-piece parts of yourself together, however haphazardly. I needed time – a lot of it – to repair and recollect. I look back on that time, full of self-pity, loathing and anger, and know I was not the image of a survivor; I also know that I needed that time to find recovery and locate self-care in myself.

I recall one day at feminist event, one of my peers told us her story, told us her rape, I sympathized, felt an instinctual bond, a desire to protect. Another attendee interrupted her:

“Can I let you know, you are not a victim, you are a survivor”

I remember thinking: What is wrong with being a victim. Why is it so negated? So hated a term? Why do others feel the need to remove that identity from us?

Is it their own fear? Their own unwillingness to see the unjust realities of the world? An uneasiness over how easily rape can happen? Or is does it fall back on the old moniker: ‘everything happens for a reason’ so of course, you survived this and became better?

I cannot tell, I do not know the reason behind these platitudes; I do know their is nothing wrong with being a victim.

One cannot become a survivor without having first been a victim, and there is nothing wrong with that truth.

abuse, domestic violence, feminism, feminist, literature, misogyny, sexism, violence, women, writer

50 Shades of Gre-garious Domestic Violence

I’ve never read the book.

I’ll own up to that much. “Fifty Shades of Grey” was never going to float my boat; I prefer my porn more consensual…

But, when the badly written smut hit the fan, I was intrigued – decent representations of female sexuality are few and far between in popular fictions – so, as any good scholar would, I did my research and, well…

tumblr_inline_nj2kzgUGKU1ryh89t tumblr_inline_nj2lc7bfTH1ryh89t tumblr_inline_nj7j6rreZ81ryh89t tumblr_inline_nj7j67tc1h1ryh89t tumblr_nj0mmeabYA1rjsbhwo1_500 tumblr_nj04xroJ8g1rjsbhwo1_500 tumblr_nj04xroJ8g1rjsbhwo3_500 tumblr_nj04xroJ8g1rjsbhwo4_500-1 tumblr_nj04xroJ8g1rjsbhwo5_500-1 tumblr_nj04xroJ8g1rjsbhwo8_500-1

I think the examples really speak from themselves; taken straight from the book, they highlight the one-sided, abusive, domineering and controlling relationship fostered between protagonist Ana and the “charming” (please note the quotation marks) Christian…

I read these samples of dialogue back when the text first hit the bestselling lists and, sick to my stomach at this violent, abusive behaviour masquerading as sexual “play” and sado-macho activities, decided that I’d give this disgrace parading as literature a miss. 50 shades simply isn’t for me… and I don’t want to go on a rant against the women who enjoyed the text or the movie – let’s face it, Twilight was pretty popular, so of course 50 Shades would and will continue to dominate the bookshelves for some time to come.

If the release date – Valentine’s Day –  didn’t tip you off, the movie experience has been dubbed the romantic experience of the year. It has experienced one of the biggest box office openings so far this year, is expected to gross billions more and is only the first installment in an eventual trilogy – or, well, being more honest quadrilogy: Hollywood’s bound to make the last book a double feature…

This all links to a continuing and disheartening trend in the dominant and controlling partner as desirable in contemporary fiction and cinema: first Edward Cullen, now the new Edward Cullen in masquerading in fanfiction as a millionaire, FORBS 500 candidate and an even worse tendency to romanticise violence against women, reducing all issues of consent and feminist milestone in the last century to meaningless trifle which will only get in the way of all the “romance” (quotation marks, remember!).

If or if not certain women or men found the movie or literary experience worthwhile and got a few shivers in the process, that’s fine. Censorship has never been my thing; too Third Reich Nazism for me and my liberal values, the important thing for me with this text is the need for awareness. The public who consume Fifty Shades should endeavour not to reproduce its messages.

As with Twilight, we need to ensure women and men are aware of the issues this book presents, the abusive behaviour depicted through a suave and powerful character, the notable and problematic lack of consent in a slave-master relationship. The romanticisation of these texts is dangerous for women, through the consumption of these texts the public relearns the abusive lessons of the past, forgoing all feminist gains, and women become sexual commodities in need of controlling and deserving a good spanking… non-consensual, of course. Through these texts women and men relearn and regurgitate a frightening culture where they are the main commodity to be taken and had.

This is what we need to ensure comes out of the 50 Shades experience:

By all means, go to the cinema, enjoy the book, reread, rewatch, climax even! But understand that this book is a fictional representation of how romantic and intimate relationships should NOT work. This text is an example of a dangerous, abusive and terrifying relationship, it is proof of how a patriarchal structure still influences our minds and the contexts of how our relationships should work.

Moreover, if you respect your partner, it is a blueprint on how NOT to treat them.

abuse, advice, domestic violence, feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, rape, sexism, strenght, women

1 is 2 Many

Watch this minute one video in which President Obama, Vice President Biden, Daniel Craig, Benicio Del Toro, Dulé Hill, Seth Meyers and Steve Carell as they advocate an end to sexual assault.

The video, in a change from many mainstream reviews of assault and rape, places the responsibility of stopping rape on men – on the rapists and assaulters, not the victim:

 

‘If I saw it happening, I’d never blame her, I’d help her.’

and encourages people to be understanding and supportive of victims.

The video was published by the White House and includes a selection of prominent male figures, encouraging men to take responsibility for the rape epidemics all over the world.

 


 

 

In the video about, both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden discuss the Council on Women and Girls and their joint desire to end violence against women.

President Obama says that as a government, and as a nation, we have the capacity to stop sexual assault, support those who have survived it, and bring perpetrators to justice.

Biden, who has long been an advocate for women’s protection from rape and violence, in the video states:

Freedom from sexual assault is a basic human right, no man has the right to raise a hand to a women for any reason, any reason, other than self-defense.

Furthermore, Biden encourages that women no longer be blamed for their assault; he correlates the survivors of rape and assault with those who have been robbed or attacked, and emphasises that these men and women are never asked questions such as ‘what were you wearing’, ‘did you cause this’ etc.

President Obama’s depiction of sexual assault and rape is empathetic, racial, ethnically, and sexually diverse in its understanding, and emotionally sympathetic towards survirours and their families struggles. Moreover, Obama highlights the severe self-doubt and emotional baggage associated with the aftermath of rape and how this can affect much more than just the individual:

It has to matter to all of us, because when a young girl or a young boy starts to question their self-worth after being assaulted and maybe starts withdrawing, we’re all deprived of their full potential. When a young women drops out of school after being attacked, that’s not just a loss for her, that’s a loss for our country.

What is evident here, is that President Obama is implying that the men and women who commit assault or rape damage more than just one individual life, couple, or family, but – furthermore – damage the nation in which they belong, to his great “shame.”

Vice President Biden emphasises:

No man has a right to go beyond no.

abuse, feminism, feminist, misogyny, rape, women

“We Have All Been Touched By Evil”

Trigger warning: rape, abuse, distress.

An Irish man has been handed down two consecutive life sentences for the rape and abuse of two young girls (age 6 and 9) in county Athlone, Ireland.

But this is not about him, or the political system. This isn’t even about justice being served.  This is about two young children, on the cusp of adolescence, who probably still enjoyed the sunshine, the sound of chains clanging on their bikes, and the laughter of their friends.

Their own supportive and grieving families came forward to the media with the following statements:

We have all been touched by this evil.

The youngest victim’s father has since stated that the families must now “live everyday” with this nightmare,  and that his daughter has since experienced severe anxiety, has difficulty sleeping, and sees “creepy men” everywhere.

Her mother emphasised:

Words cannot express my hurt, anger and pain. I feel I am living a nightmare I can’t wake up from

Justice Paul Carney, upon handing down the charge, stated that he found it “too upsetting to rehash the details,” such were the harrowing statements involved in the court case. But, once again, this is not about the court case, or the judge, or the details involved. The is about two little girls.

Those girls will never again experience the same innocence and trust in the world or in humankind. And how dare some selfish, inhumane excuse for a man take that away from them.  How dare anyone assume that kind of power over another human being. 

 

 

 

abuse, feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, sexism, violence, women

“Opressed Majority”

Trigger warning: Sexual Assault

Eleonore Pourriat’s short film presents a world reversed.

The ten minute film literally reverses the sexist paradigm, presenting women as the one’s in control, placing them in the position of the sexist, misandrist, and cat-calling characters and a young, stay-at-home Dad who suffers through these injustices and one account of sexual assault after defending himself from a gang of jeering women.

Every small detail bespeaks the misogyny which rules our modern society, despite its role reversal; Pourriat’s film raises all the right questions and it’s about time society answered them honestly.

 

 

abortion, abuse, advice, feminism, feminist, misogyny, pro-choice, pro-life, Uncategorized, women

Ireland’s New Abortion Laws

After the tragedy that was Savita Halappanavar and child’s untimely deaths (the mother’s being more than preventable)  in 2012, the Irish government is finally inducting new laws which aim at protecting the life of the mother.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 will ensure that doctors can protect the life of the mother if the pregnancy poses “real and substantial” risks, including the threat of suicide.

The new laws seem even more essential after the Health Information and Quality Authority in October 2013   published a report detailing Savita’s case, and stating firmly and clearly that the Irish health system had failed in giving her the most basic of health treatments and therein preventing her death.

Yet, despite the obvious sense and humanity (especially concerning women) in the coming law, controversy continues to surround the much needed changes; one priest recently resigned from the board of a Catholic-owned hospital after they agreed to the new legislation while many more continue to protest and employ pro-life scare tactics, as seen in the image below and many of their (often false) publication and so-called “findings.”

0e1786185_tears-billboard-mk1

For me, the real question which needs to be asked here is whether this legislation is really enough? Of course, it is extremely significant in terms of protecting the mother and is a huge step for the pro-choice movement and Irish women in general; yet does it go far enough? The legislation, after all, does not protect the mother in cases of rape, incest, foetal abnormality, or inevitable miscarriage which does not affect the mother’s health (accept, of course, her own sense of self and mental health…). Article 40.3.3 which equates the mothers life with that of the unborn foetus does not permit abortion in these cases, although the right to travel remains within the mother’s constitutional rights. In the case of fatal foetal abnormalities, of the estimated 1,500 cases diagnosed in Ireland every year almost 80 per cent of these women will travel to Great Britain in order to obtain an abortion; meanwhile an estimated 4,000 Irish women traveled to Britain in 2012 for the same procedure.

Yet, the demonisation and attack on women who consider, have, or admit they have had an abortion remains pertinent even in our modern culture. Women are treated as unworthy of control over their own bodies; they are incapable of making mature, conscious, and truly aware decisions regarding their bodies; they are not granted complete recognition as a human being because women’s bodies are a public property and belong to a public who demonise abortion simply due to old world understandings, false accusations, scare tactics, and archaic religious beliefs.

Is this how women deserve to be treated?

abuse, domestic violence, feminism, feminist, misogyny, violence, women

Calling “Cut” on Domestic Violence, Keira Knightly Supports Women’s Aid

Trigger warning: Domestic Violence.

UK-based domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid depicts the shocking horror of domestic violence, performed by academy award nominee Keira Knightly. Domestic violence continues to affect both women and men worldwide, both physically and mentally. The affects are dire and catastrophic; people in abusive relationships often feel trapped, stifled and far too insecure to leave the relationship while others are physically and psychologically threatened if they attempt to do so. The results are evident with an estimated two women a week dying as a result of an abusive relationship.

The short film, chillingly, depicts Knightly playing herself – a high-profile, world renowned actor – suffering at the hands of a jealous, abusive partner. Knightly seemingly mistakes the attack for an act, and attempts to remind him that abuse and violence is not part of the script, is not what should be happening to her or any women. The film ends with the powerful dictation:

Isn’t It Time Someone Called Cut?