Tracey Ullman’s “Mugged” is a brief comedy sketch which brilliantly challenges the norms of rape culture: more specifically the rape myths which position the victims as blame-worthy and responsible.
All puns intended here, an Ohio Bookshop has chosen to celebrate International Women’s Month by effectively silencing all their male authors — and doesn’t that make a nice change? — by displaying them spine inwards.
Loganberry Books, a feminist-oriented bookstore, and their small staff worked through around 8,000 books in order to protest the historical suppression of women’s voices and to ensure their voices are now heard in this playful and potentially controversial exhibition.
The act means that only female authors are left on view, their voices, narratives and histories made visible against their newly anonymous male colleagues. And it does make an interesting turn of events, especially as women’s literature and history has for so many centuries been oppressed and censored in myriad ways.
Varied attempts only the last two to three decades have been made to render women’s words more salient: it’s a great thing to see that continue in new and interesting formats.
In conclusion, I suppose, Happy International Women’s Month!
Racism and sexism is alive and well and rearing it’s unquenchable head once again!
Only yesterday, the US Treasury announced – in what will be a milestone for women and people of colour – that abolitionist WoC Harriet Tubman would grace the new $20 bill.
While the new bills won’t be available until around 2030 (or so the reports say), racists and sexists have taken to Twitter and other social media to lament the decision to represent blacks and women.
The biggest complaint I’ve seen so far is, strikingly, that Tubman doesn’t conform to modern (and often unattainable) standards of beauty. Many of the posts publicly found on Twitter question why Tubman’s “ugly ass” (that’s an actual quotation there, by the way”) should be on the bill;another claims, in what is evidently a racist trope, that Tubman belongs on food-stamps rather than currency. Shockingly, – in what can only be seen as a manifestation of the insidious nature behind sexism and racism – it seems even many people of colour are falling into this sexist rhetoric; as though having, say, Tyra Banks on the notes would have been more applicable and timely.
The more important question here, it seems, is why Tubman’s history is being relegated straight back to her physical appearance? Current ideology continuously positions women – of all races, ethnicity, and backgrounds – as relevant only according to the standards of beauty, physical appearance and attire they present; anything else which they may achieve during their lifetime is either an added bonus to this imperative or is, sadly, inconsequential.
So what does this treatment of Tubman reveal: that women continue to be regarded, despite their historical influence and present status, as relevant only as symbols of beauty in our culture. Tubman herself is quoted to have said:
I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.
It’s time to free women from this rhetoric, too.
A little over a month ago, we were all celebrating “Happy International Women’s Day” or some variation of that sentiment. Today, though, I doubt you’ll hear anyone exclaiming “Happy Equal Pay Day.”
Pretty obvious why, yeah?
Just to make the point abundantly clear: equal pay still does not exist between the sexes.
Despite three decades (or thereabouts) since the Second Wave filtered down and despite two decades of the statement “Feminism is Dead” and no longer relevant, women – I reiterate – are still not receiving equal pay to men.
Indeed, many third world countries, women and children are utilized as cheap labour accumulating pitiful wages alongside their male counterparts. Those so-called first world countries, many Western capitalist states, employ this slave/sweat shop labour abroad while denying women within their borders equal opportunity or wage. The National Organisation for Women estimates that even today women continue to earn only 79C to ever man’s dollar: and maybe us feminists are knitpicking over 21C difference when so many women suffer unbearable hours, horrendous conditions and loose change as a paycheck – but maybe it’s time to consider women everywhere as equally valuable as their male counterparts – as deserving of the same respect, wage, and opportunities.
This conversation, at this late stage in feminism’s history, in this so-called enlightened era for humanity, feels like flogging a corpse. There is nothing new that I can add to this conversation, there is no shocking revelation behind the facts that we know, that we’ve known for years now: and yet we still await that ultimate change in our society. The fact that a day has been laid aside for this sentiment – for it is, only a sentiment, and not an actuality – is nothing short of a smack in the face for women everywhere: for women of colour balancing two jobs and two children at minimum wage, for the college waitress living off of tips, for the sweatshop labourer slouched over in her cage. For women everywhere.
Happy Equal Pay Day, indeed.
A want to take a brief moment to wish everyone a Happy International Women’s Day!
It’s important, today of all days, to give voices and lend ears to marginalized and invisible classes of women – be they lower on the economic scale, Latino, Black, biracial, transgendered, lesbian, bisexual or in any other position of struggle.
After all, International Women’s Day began it’s brief existence as International Working Women’s Day. Notice the important distinction there?
This celebration of women began as a celebration, specifically, of the working classes who are so frequently denied a vocal position and who are marginalized and excluded from participating in the bourgeois socio-political hierarchy of capitalist patriarchal culture (wow, that was a mouthful…).
March 8, historically, has been a date of strike and protest for working women: in 1985 women working in a NYC textile factory protested for better pay and working conditions and their basic human rights as workers – better pay was, as is usually for women strikers a core element of this protest – in 1908 women in a similar industry went on strike in honor of their foresister’s – once again fighting for the same rights.
It was in 1910 that Clara Zetkin proclaimed March 8th the day for working women to celebrate their histories and continue to struggle for improved working conditions, pay and basic human rights.
The fact is, these women are so marginalized they have been marginalized – once again! – from their own movement.
So today, I celebrate working women everywhere.
For more information
“The following contains graphic content that may be emotionally unsettling but reflects the reality of what is happening daily on college campuses
“Til It Happens To You” Lady Gaga
To say Lady Gaga is a controversial persona might be a moot point at this stage. Certainly, many revile her many ostentatious looks as “over the top” and her celebrity persona as “attention seeking” based merely on image; but then there are her many droves of fans, her so called “Monsters” who adore these exact traits.
For me, there is nothing so important in the Cult of Gaga as her politics. Unlike many pop stars and celebrity personas with mass followings, one cannot accuse Gaga or shying away from the societal and political issues which affect – not only her – but her fanbase and her peers.
Indeed, Gaga is a well known supporter of the LGBTIA+ Community: her hit anthem “Born This Way” and her own queer activism are proof of this. She actively defends herself as a “bisexual” women – a sexual identity highly contested on grounds of (I am paraphrasing from a selection of argument I have had) “selfishness” and “attention seeking”- drawing attention to the difficulties and controversies currently surrounding claims to sexual identities and preferences facing those who put the B in LGBTIA+.
More recently, however, Gaga has loaned her celebrity status and her vocals to an equally significant issue: Rape.
In the last year, Gaga has emerged at the head of a vanguard against rape in America. Her haunting and emotional tribute to survivors and victims of sexual abuse, “Till It Happens To You” closes the recent documentary on campus rape “The Hunting Ground” and has come to openly identify herself as a survivor of rape, describing her own traumatic and emotional experiences and advocating as a survivor for an end to the rape culture which plagues college campuses and countless men and women.
Most recently, on Sunday night, Gaga invited and stood with a dozen or so survivors of sexual abuse and rape having just performed “Til It Happens To You”. The survivors – men and women; white and black – and Gaga raised their clasped hands to thunderous applause, both audience and performers in tears in this moment of solidarity against the rape epidemic.
Gaga dedicated the performance, earlier that night via her Twitter, to Kesha Rose – who was recently denied an appeal to break her Sony contract with her alleged rapist Dr Luke
@kesharose I’ll be thinking of u 2nite. This is not over we’ll stand by u until you are free to live a HAPPY life. Everyone deserves that.
Gaga went on to reveal her gratitude to these survivors and to celebrate their stories and their bravery via Instagram, in an image which, contrasting their grim faced sobriety during their performance, displays their joy and euphoria in their solidarity.
Thank you for standing next to me on stage. Thank you for all the things you said, for listening to my story and sharing yours. I will never forget it. 50 survivors, so brave, relentless determination.
The music video itself is a shocking narrative not only of the rape of different women and the aftermath of their attempted recoveries – but is itself an examination of gender and sexual identity. One of the narratives reveals a young woman binding her breasts – an act which implies her transsexual identity while her subsequent rape can be read as a “punishment” for her identity. The two other primary narratives of the music video, simultaneously, depict the horrors of acquaintance rape – where a seemingly friendly encounter becomes a violent act – and the drugging of two Asian women at a house party which follows with one of the women fighting off her attacker and then aiding her worse-off friend.
These emotional and, for many of us, all too real narratives take up only two minutes of the 5 minute 25 second video.
What follows is a depiction of the aftermath, when the trauma truly shows. The survivors are depicted with their inner most thoughts tattooed on their very bodies – the instruments of their assaults – from “I am Worthless” to “sometimes I hate myself” and all the thoughts which come with survival and the one hope so many women have following sexual assaults:
And while these three women among others are depicted walking away from their narratives of abuse with those who believe and support them, their is one woman left in the end. A silhouette of the next victim of the rape epidemic infecting college campuses.
The ultimate message of Gaga’s song is the simplest expression most rape survivors have: “believe me.” And with so many victims of abuse accused of being willing participants, of being too drunk, too naive, too provocative, this statement simplistically describes how many victims feels they will be treated following such traumatic experiences.
I’m more than a little proud of my educational resume – I know, it’s privileged of me to say so, I acknowledge that I have been lucky enough in my race/ethnicity/class that I have been able to achieve as I have, though I have worked hard as a motivated student and aspiring lecturer/researcher. So I’m proud of my college history: undergrad in NUI Maynooth – Ireland’s oldest college with its beautiful heritage and village location – and University College Dublin – boasting in its alumni one of my favourite authors, James Joyce and one of Ireland’s most extensive and innovative gender/sexualities/feminist research clusters – for my MA and PhD.
That pride has been severely bruised this week.
The student’s UCD’s School of Agricultural Science have been linked with a “revenge porn” group-chat page on Facebook. For those who are confused: revenge porn is a relatively recent term describing the process of posting and sharing intimate partner photographs on the web for others to rate and “enjoy.” It’s known as “revenge” porn owing to the wide selection of individuals who post such images following a break up, in an act of punishment and self-vindication (you know, the whole, “she was a whore anyways – sure look what she sent me!!”). That’s the basics of revenge porn, anyways, once you take out the emotional trauma, misogynistic mistreatment and sterilizing objectification involved for the victim. Oh, and let’s not forget: the rape and lad cultures which normalize and trivialize these acts of non-physical violence.
Getting back to my own bruised ego: I was, initially, unsure. Certainly, a university with such a vibrant gender and sexualities rhetoric and collection of researchers couldn’t host such small minded, egotistical (let’s be honest) “lads.” The two schools are, afterall, only divided by a footpath, more or less. Moreover, the Student’s Union has only this year reinvigorated their sexual harassment and affirmative consent efforts, hosting their first SlutWalk last November and holding bake-sales advocating “consent is sexy.” Surely, this establishment of educated individuals wouldn’t contribute to such dehumanizing actions; surely, they know better.
Alas, I was wrong. The college confirmed via email today that they are investigating the allegations and encourage victims and anyone with information to come forward, urging:
While we can deal with the breaches that we uncover or are brought to our attention, I appeal to our community not to show any tolerance for abusive behaviour on social media. I ask that each one of you recognise your responsibility in this regard.
The university’s pledge to investigate the page and potential members is a valiant one – no one should get away with mistreating women in such a manner – but already, the college has failed in one vital aspect.
The subject line of said email, reads:
Inappropriate use of social media
What should be the subject of this email? The use of social media? Or the people behind it and the people who suffer as a result?
The focus of this email should not have been misuse of Facebook but the inappropriate and cruel treatment of fellow students and peers.
Unfortunately, UCD has fallen into the techno-pessimistic trap: blaming the vehicle instead of the driver. We’ve all heard of the potential dangers of social media – for young people, cyberbullying and online predators are posed as a serious threat. But the threat is never depicted as a person at a keyboard, as what it really is. It is depicted as a digital profile page with no corporeal form behind the words and images on screen.
This logic is now applied to the dissemination of “revenge porn” also. It is the websites and domains which support posting and discussing images which are dangerous: this is easier than holding a person or group accountable.
This manner of blaming social media and/or the internet for harassment or bullying explicitly crops the person behind the post or page from the image and therein validates their actions. They are not accountable anymore: social media is.
So I say to the presidents, deans, lecturers, revenge-porn posters, chat groups, victims, students and peers at UCD and anyone else reading this: place the blame on the person responsible. Hold them fully accountable for their actions, these are college educated men who should be punished for such zealous mistreatment and cruelty. Recognize that the women they have victimized deserve some form of justice.
After all, if my ego is bruised, how must they feel?
After more than 50 women testifying and many waving their rights to anonymity, Bill Cosby has FINALLY been charged with the sexual assault of a women almost a decade ago.
In the last year the comedian has had numerous chargers of solicitation, drugging and subsequent assault and rape leveled against him, and though more than 50 women have come forward to testify against him, Cosby still maintains his innocence and had even began a defamation lawsuit against several of the women testifying against him.
The women involved, and those following this case with baited breath, are undoubtedly between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The rock being Cosby: a wealthy and famous man with a vast network of support and aid to back him and the money required to ensure a smooth ride. The hard place: the American law system and an ill-placed Statute of Limitations which renders most of these women’s experiences and suffering invalid.
In between the rock and the hard place is the environment these women inhabit: patriarchal society, where women’s experiences, their histories and their voices are misrepresented and distorted to suit the status quo. There is the age old mantra: she was asking for it. There is the stereotype: she’s a gold digger. There is the ever-present fall back: women are liars/crazy/jealous and everything in between which frees men from the accusation.
Here is the simple truth of this case: over fifty women have presented themselves as victims of Bill Cosby’s privilege, his disregard for human life and choice, his perception of the female body as an object for his consumption and pleasure. In a word, his entitlement to women.
More than fifty women have cried “wolf”, only to watch that wolf be welcomed back among the flock of sheep with open arms. These women’s experiences – like so many others – have been deemed invalid against the claim of one man and disregarded in the eyes of the law.
Andrea Constand claims Cosby assaulted her in 2004. Nearly a decade later, with thanks to Constsand and this unfortunate sisterhood of women, this wolf will finally be charged for his crimes against women.
These voices will be heard.
Very excited to hear that author Louise O’Neill is gaining the recognition she so rightly deserves.
Her chilling yet engaging debut “Only Ever Yours” details the tentative pressures placed on women in contemporary society but with the obligatory dysotopian twist… and will soon be adapted for film/TV.
O’Neill’s text highlights countless feminist issues affecting all women, focusing specifically on young women and teenagers experience of sex, beauty and the need to be desired, wanted and approved by others.
Most frightening (and perhaps accurately) O’Neill’s narrative depicts the competition fostered among and between women from a young age, the lack of sisterhood and friendship this produces, and the overall devastation and isolation as a result.
Meanwhile, O’Neill’s newest novel, “Asking For It” continues to examine the pressures women experience, focusing on the proliferation of rape culture in rural Ireland. Though I have not yet read her newest addition to the shelves, I have little doubt it and any work she produces in the future will continue to endorse the feminist agenda and highlight the misogyny and sexism rampant throughout our society – in rural Ireland or some far-off future…
Fox News has never been especially diplomatic or liberal in their reports… but these statements reach a new level of horror:
Fox News hosts Stacey Dash and Andrea Tantaros shared their thoughts on campus sexual assault last week — saying “good girls” avoid frat parties, and women who are raped are “bad girls” who “need to be kept away from liquor and boys.”
The myth of the victim as responsible for their own rape is a horrific one. Secondary victimisation for victims is an issue which threatens countless women and men who are raped/sexually assaulted. These issues need to be raised in the public consciousness and news casters need to be aware of how their words affect rape survivors.
Countless media and authorities figures continue to emphasise the victim as responsible party and as ‘asking for it.’ These rape myths need to be stymied. The damage has already been done for many but their are countless more who need our support and emphathy when they speak out about these horrors.
Join and spread the petition against these acts:
Educate yourself and others on the fallacy of “rape myths” and their affects.
Be better than those an Fox News.