No, the system does not work

It’s fashionable, this hobby of bullying women. Kelly Diels explores the fashion in Salon.

When Rebecca Meredith took the stage in March at the Glasgow Ancients, an annual university debate tournament, she and her debate partner, Marlena Valles, were prepared for a little heckling. After all, Meredith is ranked the third top university debater in Europe in 2012 and Valles won best speaker in Scotland’s 2013 national championship, so between the two of them they’ve “beaten men in debates hundreds of times” and “can deal with heckles,” writes Meredith in the Huffington Post. But even before the two debaters started speaking, a cadre of men in the audience began to boo, continued to boo throughout the debate, shouted “Shame, woman!” and “analysed their sexual attractiveness.” When a woman judge intervened, reports Lucy Sheriff, the men called the judge “a frigid bitch.” [Read more…]

Displacement behavior

I’ve been wondering how the Antis would respond, if at all. I couldn’t think of any way to do it – I have a terrible deficiency of imagination that way. I never can figure out how people are going to defend assholitude ahead of time, then when they do it it all seems so obvious. Stupid, banal, completely wrongheaded…but obvious.

A quick survey of Twitter shows some of how it’s going to go now. The vocabulary to be deployed includes

  • Drama
  • Blog hits
  • Due process
  • Slander
  • Lawsuits

There is complete silence about Carrie Poppy. Carrie Who? Never heard of her. [Read more…]

Apologies and threats collide in midair

Tony Wang of Twitter UK issued an apology for the harassment yesterday.

Twitter’s UK boss Tony Wang and senior director Del Harvey have apologized profusely to Caroline Criado-Perez, Stella Creasey and the leagues of other women who have received tweets that threaten death or rape in a response to their activism — including a handful of female journalists who have received bomb threats. [Read more…]

The purpose of trolls

Amanda Marcotte comments on the BBC Newsnight – Paul Mason – Twitter harassment campaign story to point out that misogynist harassers have an agenda.

But as awful as trolls are, they do serve a major purpose, if people are willing to accept that these are actual people expressing actual opinions, instead of imagining them, as too many people do, as almost a force of nature that the internet willed into existence and not people at all. That purpose is revealing that misogyny exists and it is widespread. [Read more…]

How to read satire

Stacy alerted me to a good (feminist) analysis of the Onion tweet.

First of all, she says, Quvenzhané Wallis is terrific, no question.

But you know what? All of the women at the Oscars last night are awesome. Just to have survived to that level in an industry that, at best, ignores women, and, at worst, actively despises them means they have to be awesome. Maybe they’re not awesome in ways that everyone sees or acknowledges. But in their own way, they’re fierce and strong and bursting with personality in an industry that is designed not to see women that way…

The best examples of how Hollywood hates women were supplied by Oscar host Seth MacFarlane himself. He sang an entire gleeful song about how he saw famous actresses’ breasts in movies, as if he were 12 years old and had no hope of seeing breasts in real life (maybe, with his attitudes, he doesn’t), including movies in which their characters are abused, even gang-raped. [Read more…]

We are told we are respected, and yet

Feminism is resurging, says Ellie Mae O’Hagan at Comment is Free. It’s resurging because there is still so god damn much sexist shit going on. In that sense it would be nice if feminism could drop dead because it’s no longer needed.

O’Hagan recently read The Feminine Mystique for the first time.

To my mind, the most amazing and miserable aspect of The Feminine Mystique is how relevant it still is. Women of my generation are still being sold lies to keep us obedient. We are told that we are valued, until we accuse a revered man of rape. We are told we are equal, and yet we still do most of the low-paid and unpaid work. We are told we are respected, and yet we are harassed in the street, objectified and ridiculed in the media, and haunted by words like nag, harridan and hysteric in our personal relationships.

And not just those. Also bitch, cunt, twat, pussy, slut, whore, ho… [Read more…]

Global pushback

Laurie Penny went to Dublin to report on women fighting to legalize abortion in Ireland, then she went to Cairo to report on women fighting sexual harassment in Tahrir Square. In both places, women told her they were sick of feeling ashamed.

From India to Ireland to Egypt, women are on the streets, on the airwaves, on the internet, getting organised and getting angry. They’re co-ordinating in their communities to combat sexual violence and taking a stand against archaic sexist legislation; they’re challenging harassment and rape culture. Across the world, women who are sick and tired of shame and fear are fighting back in unprecedented ways.

And because of the internet, we know about each other, we’re in contact with each other.

Sexism often functions as a pressure-release valve in times of social unrest – and when it does, it takes different forms, depending on local values. Right now, in Egypt, it’s groping, heckling and mob attacks; in Ireland, it’s rape apologism and a backlash against abortion and sexual equality; on the internet, it’s vicious slut-shaming and “revenge porn“. But this time, women are refusing to take it any more.

Like the Arab spring and Occupy in 2011, local movements with no apparent connection to one another are exchanging information and taking courage from one another’s struggles. The fight against misogyny is spreading online and via networks of solidarity and trust that develop rapidly, outside the traditional channels. I met Swedish and Iranian feminist activists in Dublin, and British feminist activists in Cairo, and have seen live information about the women’s marches in Egypt spread quickly through chains of activists from South Africa to the American Deep South.

What I’m saying. We’re linked up.

It’s too early to say whether the mood of mutiny will last. When people fight misogyny, they aren’t just fighting governments and police forces, religious organisations and strangers in the streets – they also have to deal with intolerance from their loved ones, from their colleagues, from friends and family members who can’t or won’t understand. Over the last few weeks I have been humbled by the bravery of the activists I’ve met, particularly the women. It takes a special sort of courage to cast off shame, to risk not just violence but also intimate rejection for the sake of a better future. And the thing about courage is that it’s contagious.

Dealing with friends who can’t or won’t understand is a tough one. Courage isn’t really even relevant to that. I’m not sure what is, other than resilience. At any rate, it’s a long game, to say the least.

 

No one to control them

When in doubt, harass women.

Shahira Amin has an article at Index on Censorship about the harassment of women in Tahrir Square.

Egyptian Salafi preacher Ahmed Mahmoud Abdulla — known as Abou Islam — recently made remarks justifying sexual violence against female protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, claiming that women who join protests are asking “to get raped”…

In a video posted online last Wednesday, Abdulla said that women who join the protests are “either crusaders who have no shame or widows who have no one to control them”. He also described them as “devils”, and added that “they talk like monsters”.

Yes that’s right, just throw everything. It all sticks, so it’s all good to throw. [Read more…]

Enormous splash damage

On the rest of Christian Munthe’s post on internet harassment in Sweden and in general.

The behaviour of the “net haters”, as the established term has come to be, is often equivalent or very close to criminal harassment, libel or threat. However, existing laws are obviously not constructed for a situation where these sort of patterns are the rule and occur in a systematic and coordinated (albeit perhaps not always in a specifically planned) way.

That’s an interesting point. So a one-off is criminal but a systematic campaign is free speech? [Read more…]

What they don’t get

What it’s like to be Rebecca.

She got a message this morning with a link.

The link was to a pornographic MS Paint drawing someone made of me and posted to a Rule 34 porn site under the username “rand0mathe1st.” The image depicts me bound and gagged, covered in semen, with a dildo up my ass. It reads, “Rebecca Watson is an object.” Here’s a link to a censored but still NSFW version that may be disturbing to you if you don’t get this shit sent to you all the time. It’s interesting to think of how much time and energy that person must spend thinking about me, fantasizing about sex with me, and wondering how much one should charge to rape me.

She thinks a lot about sloths, Rebecca adds, but enough to do that kind of thing? She gives it a shot, but it’s too boring. Go see the cute sloth face though.

Usually the troll messages just go into my trash bin and I get on with my day, but I thought the timing of it was too good to not mention. For a start, it handily supports Dr. Heldman’s lecture about objectification, posted below. But also, it should help make it clearer what women like me, like the other Skepchicks, like Stephanie Zvan, like Greta Christina, like Ophelia Benson, deal with on a daily basis. [Read more…]