Ludicrous asked an excellent set of questions on a post here a bit ago, and I thought I’d take it out of comment-section obscurity and upgrade it to a post of its own:
In which our own RQ riffs off my Fifty Shades of Fucking Abuse post. (say something about the gender binary) The floor is hers:
I got to thinking about your post during the day, and on what it means regarding who is reading what, and what kind of reading is marketed to whom. Especially romance and/or sex-related stuff, or, hell, just books that might have sex in them somewhere.
Because all those tired housewives? What’s marketed to them? Insipid romance where the man saves the day (or is horribly abusively ‘romantic,’ right, because what woman doesn’t love a good stalker?), magazines on housewifery and how-to-keep-your-man-interested… What else? Not much – I read a pretty decent science magazine (GEO, not to be confused with NatGeo) that explicitly states in its subscription description that it is geared towards middle-income, successful men. And what is in this magazine? Well, it’s not women in any state of undress – it’s very interesting science and geography articles, with nary a nod towards ‘typical’ male interests (except in advertising, and even that – alcohol, watches, suits…). Why can this kind of stuff not be geared towards women, too? Those bored housewives who are so uninteresting to their husbands – wouldn’t this kind of thing be perfect for them? Educate themselves while gaining a broader perspective on the world (they’ve had some neat articles on transgender children and non-traditional relationships, plus a very feminist one on the role of fathers from a scientific perspective), while acquiring information useful in ordinary, daily conversation with their far more worldly husbands. Sounds great to me, so why not market it as such?
Then there are the women’s magazines, which are… well, cooking, interior design, and, on occasion, nicely dressed and fully clothed men (there was that one comparison of Hugh Jackman on the cover of men’s and women’s magazines a while back). And that’s all fine, until it’s the only thing ‘appropriate’ for married women with children, and the thought of showing a bare-chested man in a housewife magazine (YUMM) is considered racy and borderline non-permissible… Where’s the women’s equivalent to FHM and Playboy? And I don’t mean just erotic shots, I mean the intelligent interviews with the interviewee posing in his underwear as eye-candy. I can think of a few local candidate athletes who would be perfect for this.
Women, especially women in long-term, childed relationships, don’t have sexuality. Not one worth talking about, at least, except as a ‘haha I bet you never have sex’ joke. This is something that needs to die a very, very painful and quick death (I’d say slow, but I’ve had enough of slow).
And that leaves me to wonder, from whence do women get their ideas about their own sexuality, in a fairly puritanical society that deems them worthy only of having children and being satisfied only under the wing of a man?
And that is what leaves them wide open for books like 50 Shades – because, unfortunately, with all the abusive aspects of it, and the childish language (they can’t even talk dirty enough because it will hurt the sensitivities of women? what?), it does speak plainly and openly about sexual love within the bounds of a relationship. I mean, I read a lot when I was young, and my first awakenings into sexuality came through SF/Fantasy novels (Hel-lo, Lions of Al-Rassan). And then for a while I made sure that all the books I read had at least one sex scene in them, because that shit was awesome! Masturbation material! (Sorry if it’s TMI.) And it was in all kinds of books!
Which leaves me to wonder, are people really so limited in their reading choices (and more specifically, are housewives really so limited in their reading material) that they have to resort to such ridiculous trash as 50 Shades to re-awaken those feelings? To allow them to feel like sexual beings again, to let them know that it’s perfectly normal to want sex and love your body and have someone do wonderful, touchy-feely, hot things to it? Is it just the marketing this time around? Is it a lack of resources to know that, hey, having kids doesn’t automatically turn the pleasure-centres in your vagina and environs off? Because there’s so much literature out there that can get people hot and bothered – if they bothered to look at it that way. But I think I’m slowly discovering that, indeed, there’s a very narrow lane you have to walk when you’re set in a certain role, a very narrow set of interests you’re supposed to cultivate in order to be the right kind of wife/mother/girlfriend. Because the gods forbid you start having fantasies about imaginary characters or unattainable athletes or actors on-screen… Because Hugh Jackman would set a bad precedent by taking his shirt off in a women’s magazine, while being all bare-chested and manily aggressive is perfectly fine for the men to see (because that’s how they should be, too!), but there’s no reciprocating audience to accept him as such, from a sexual point of view (I feel like there’s some underlying homophobia here, too, because sexy pictures of men might be looked at by gay men, and ew, right???).
I suppose this is a rant against the dual nature of marketing towards men and women (and never mind those who aren’t straight and cis, because… well, because, right?), how men are allowed to be sexual, women are too nurturing to understand, and women who want sex for the sake of sex and pleasure are sluts and shouldn’t be treated with respect… Yes, that’s rape culture. But is it really so ingrained that it subtly limits everyone’s reading choices? That it denies such self-examination and acceptance of all of one’s self?
I’m sad to think that the answer is yes – that the only way to awaken women’s ‘lost’ sexuality is through aggressive marketing piggy-backing on the coattails of an already-terrible romance. That there’s so much beautiful, sexy stuff written out there, that would appeal to both men and women without resorting to silly cliches and harmful stereotypes of romance that doesn’t get a single note of attention because… because it doesn’t fall neatly into a box. Because it doesn’t fall under the definition of ‘housewife’ or ‘husband’ or ‘sex after marriage’ (I’m pretty sure there isn’t even a box for that last one). And this is only in the context of plain, vanilla relationships (which can be pretty hot too).
The Lions of Al-Rassan isn’t marketed or ever described as a romance novel – even though, in essence, that’s what it is. No? And it’s not the only book that avoids the ‘romance’ label even though it is chock-full of romance.
Anyway. I’m not sure how to end this in a good way, because it’s saddening and slightly angering that this is what women have to resort to – that this is what is pushed at men as a model – because society is too afraid to acknowledge sex and sexuality as a real, living aspect of all adults, whether single, married, with or without kids, of any orientation or sexual proclivity. Sex is too awesome to be demeaned and swept under the rug like that – why does it happen?
(And yes, I have some idea… I just wish there was a better way to stand against it and make a change.)
Amanda Marcotte brought this horrific bit of fuckery to my attention: an app called Good2Go, which ostensibly is there to ensure both parties are enthusiastically consenting to sex, but really isn’t doing that job. Observe:
Worse, I feel this app could be seized upon by rapists as a way to rape women and get away with it.
In fact, Good2Go could contribute a dangerous new element to those he-said she-said rape cases. What Good2Go doesn’t tell users is that it keeps a private record of every “I’m Good2Go” agreement logged in its system, tied to both users’ personal phone numbers and Good2Go accounts. (Records of interactions where users say “No” or just want to talk are not logged in this way.) Allman says that regular users aren’t permitted access to those records, but a government official with a subpoena could. “It wouldn’t be released except under legal circumstances,” Allman told me. “But it does create a data point that there was an occasion where one party asked the other for affirmative consent, that could be useful in the future … there are cases, of course, as we know, where the accused is an innocent party, so in that case, it could be beneficial to him.”
So, in other words, if you’re a rapist, all you need to do is convince your victim that you’re having a legitimate hook-up. Get her to log in her “consent” on this app. Once the record of her saying she wants sex is created, you then rape her, by say, forcing her to do a bunch of stuff she didn’t want to do. If she says no, who cares? You created a record of her saying yes. It’s basically a way for rapists to give themselves blanket permission to rape someone by creating a point in time she said “yes”, and then saying everything that happened after that was covered by it. Sure, the app says that you can withdraw consent at any time, but if you’re going to court with this and she says, “Well, yes, I said yes to sex on the app, but I didn’t think he meant he would hold me down and anally rape me,” odds are that little disclaimer will not offer much protection to the victim. It’s already hard enough for victims of rape who were tricked into thinking they were on a real date only to have rape sprung on them to convince juries they weren’t consenting. This would make it a nightmare.
I have bolded the bits that screamed, “We don’t give a shit about consent, we just want to shelter rapists!” to me.
I’ll tell you right now, anybody trying to get me to use this app with them is getting nothing. I will not touch the app or them. They will be required to exit my presence immediately.
And if I end up on a jury, and some dumbshit wants to claim xe didn’t rape this person because look! the app recorded they consented! – well, let’s just say that fucker’s going down hard, because I will end them. I’ll know they’re playing silly buggers. I’ll know all they cared about was covering their ass, not making sure their partner was having safe, consensual fun with them.
If you’re having trouble seeing the problem, imagine an app called Good2Tattoo, which your tattoo artist made you use, and which only recorded you saying yes to getting a tattoo – but didn’t record if you said “no” or “yes, but not that Boy Bands Rule! tattoo you’re offering.” Imagine the tattoo artist stamped you permanently with the boy bands ink anyway, over your objections, and used your initial yes, recorded by the app, to argue in court that you agreed to the whole thing – and increased their chances of getting away with violating you because of it. That’s basically what this app is doing. And rapists will see it as a spiffy new tool in their getting-away-with-rape arsenal, whether they admit what they’re doing is rape or not.
As for those who genuinely think this app is a great idea and they should use it to protect themselves from false accusations of rape: I think you should probably not have sex with other people. Sex toys have gotten very good over the years. Please avail yourself of them instead, at least until you are educated enough to have consensual, safe sex with an enthusiastically consenting partner, sans awful app.
You know, I never thought I’d see the day when PZ Myers, the fire-breathing atheist whose passion for science and reason launched me full-tilt at science blogging, would despair of the atheist movement. But here that day is:
There is the great disappointment. The movement, whose whole premise demands a sweeping change of the culture, has discovered that it is far easier to defend the status quo than to change it. We’re willing to ask other people to think long and hard about their beliefs, to question and change, but all that other stuff that our culture planted in our heads, like beliefs about the sexes and races, like the rigid gender binary, like the suitability of women to thinking critically, like the automatic conferral of status by wealth, like the dehumanization of people who look like they might have had different great-grandparents than us, like the utility of simply killing people who disagree with us…oh, no, don’t ask us to change. We’re just here to promote atheism! One thing at a time! Once we’ve cleared away the deadwood of religion, then maybe we can think about encouraging a rational world that will have those nice things you’re talking about. Atheism is only about separation of church and state issues, or only about science and naturalism, or only about scholarly discussion of the accuracy of ancient texts, or only about fighting the barbarous customs of non-Western peoples…it’s only about the non-existence of gods, we can’t possibly consider side issues, like the harassment of women or the oppression of black communities or the diminishing educational opportunities of the poor, to be part of our brief!
Well, I’ve got news for the atheist movement: it all matters.
I will make a prediction, right here and now. The number of people identifying as “nones” will grow in this country in coming years, because we’re on the right side of history, and because organized religion is happily in the process of destroying itself with regressive social attitudes, scandals, and their bizarre focus on other-worldly issues that don’t help people. The number of people identifying as atheists will stagnate or even shrink, because organized atheism is happily in the process of destroying itself with regressive social attitudes, scandals, and their bizarre focus on irrelevant metaphysical differences that don’t help people.
I can’t say that’s a bad thing. The name of atheism has been burdened with unfair and inaccurate stigma for a great many years, and we’re now drifting into an era in which atheism will be burdened with a totally fair and accurate stigma.
Unless we change.
I don’t know that we can.
And it’s not just PZ, or the people he mentions within his post, who are disillusioned. I’ve seen comments from a goodly number of people who are either walking away or walked a long time ago. These are people who could be contributing to the movement: volunteers, donors, activists that we’ve lost because the leaders of our orgs can’t extract their heads from their asses. (Perhaps they would understand what right shits they’ve been if they read this excellent poem by our own Digital Cuttlefish. I value my continued existence too much to hold my breath, thought.)
I think the current incarnation of movement atheism is going to perish. It’s too self-satisfied, too unrepentantly sexist, too hostile to people of color, too ignorant of the poor, too opposed to social justice, to survive to the next generation. The churches are losing people who are needlessly cruel to others, dogmatically refuse to change, and then wonder where all the young people went. The atheist orgs will find themselves facing the same problem. They’ll be wondering where the women, the people of color, the majority of the LGBTQ folk have gone. They’ll sneer and say “Good riddance!” when they realize we’ve ended up over here, on the opposite side of the rift. They’ll retreat to their own enclaves, and they will think they’re important, but they won’t be the ones making a difference.
Because, despite disillusionment, we know that what we’re doing is necessary. It’s important. It matters.
Listen to RQ, answering PZ’s despairing “I don’t know that we can” with a firm yes, we can:
I can’t afford to believe that we can’t. None of us can (in my opinion). That being said, it’s awfully difficult sometimes. But I refuse to give up all hope, even if I have to force myself to do so with a conscious, bull-headed effort. I can’t afford to.
Maybe I’m not old or tired or worn out enough yet, but the day I give up all hope will be a day I die a death far more meaningful than the physical one. And I don’t think I will like myself after that day.
We won’t give up. We’ll just take our activism and our dollars and our passion elsewhere.
Listen to George Wiman, who lays out some options:
I’m sure not going to start believing in gods because a bunch of atheists are sexist yobs. I’m stuck as an atheist whatever the “movement” does. So I could disavow atheism and embrace “humanism” (which is too kind to religion for my taste)
Keep my head down and still my voice.
Identify as a humanist atheist or an A+ or something else which says “Keep your gods and your oppressive culture too.”
There’s the third option. We’ll be over here, taking our atheism and building something of value. We’ll be working on a better moral foundation. We’ll be applying our critical thinking skills to our society and culture. We’ll be going beyond realizing there’s no gods, and asking what comes next.
Listen to consciousness razor, who knows that atheism is a beginning, not a finish line:
We should* all realize, as atheists, that we have to take it upon ourselves to make the world a better place. No benevolent magic being is going to do it for us, and there also aren’t demons or some such which we can blame the bad stuff on. And there are no other (not god-like) mysterious, purposeful forces at work, which guides things toward a certain end. And we don’t get second chances, because death is a real thing that happens, not only a transition to some other kind of reality. So there really is no other good option. That’s our job as good rational human beings, because we cannot consistently come up with a good excuse for not doing it. If you’re not buying into that, yet call yourself an “atheist” anyway, what legitimate reason do you actually have to justify any of it?
*But obviously, we don’t all in fact do what we should. That’s not surprising in the least, or any reason to be “disillusioned.”
I’m disappointed, but not disillusioned. I expected better of our leaders, but I’m not surprised they didn’t deliver. And there will definitely be disappointments going forward, but they won’t stop me. It’s like Jon Scalzi says:
I think internalizing the fact that no opinion/belief/enthusiasm inoculates either you or anyone else from the baser aspects of the human condition, or the larger social milieu in which we all exist, is probably a very smart thing to do. It helps manage the disappointment when the cool new group you find yourself with is eventually revealed to be full of flawed and fallible human beings, and it helps to free you from the initial desire to rationalize shitty behavior within a group merely for the sake of identity politics. And on the rare occasions when everyone in the group is actually good and decent, it allows you to appreciate just how nice that really is.
All this bullshit? It’s been a booster shot. If the people who are supposedly leading movement atheism are terrible failures, so be it. There have been terrible people in every social movement. We can brush them aside and continue the necessary work. They don’t define us, and they won’t end our good work.
PZ’s the one who inspired me all those years ago. He lit the fire. He turned me into an unapologetic atheist. He rekindled my passion for science and gave me the conviction and the courage to blog it. He showed me that we could forge a better world without gods. He gave me hope. And I’ll be damned if I let a few assholes in the movement take that away. I don’t care if we have to tear the entire movement down and rebuild it from the foundation up. I don’t care how much that makes smug assholes like Dawkins and Harris howl, I don’t care how much it makes reported serial sexual harassers like Shermer shriek. I don’t care how many fuckwads scream and whine and try to flood our channels with death and rape threats. This isn’t their movement. They don’t get to define it.
Over the next several weeks, I won’t let up on the supposed leaders who are failing so spectacularly. But I’m not here to only tear down, but to build up. I’ll be bringing people and organizations to your attention who are doing excellent work. I’ll be finding work that deserves our support. In the coming months, I’ll be tracking down books and podcasts to replace those the ones we found invaluable before their creators turned out to be such spectacular failures as human beings. I’ll be giving you some humor boosts, and hopefully helpful memes with which to illustrate your own posts about the Deep Rifts™.
We don’t need the leaders who have failed us. We have each other. And we have it within us to change the world.
Let’s do this thing.
Here are two stories showing that the world we are asking for is not impossible. Two stories of young women getting falling-down intoxicated, in the presence of men.
This is how it should be when this happens.
I was a stupid teen once, like most people, and I did a lot of stupid things teens will do because they think their parents are ignorant idiots when they try to tell them that this is stupid.
So I got really drunk one night.
And then smoked weed.
Together with older guys (by older I mean just no longer teens).
To cut a long story short, at some point I threw up, and I really wanted to take a shower, because that was gross, and because I couldn’t walk anymore those guys helped me to the shower, undressed me, helped me shower, and at some point in that shower my memory stops and only returns when I wake up the next morning. In a clean T and undies. In my bedroll. Completely unraped.
I shouldn’t have to consider myself lucky for that.
No. This shouldn’t be luck. This should be the expected outcome. And it can be.
You and me both. I’ve had guys help me puke my guts out and never try a thing; I’ve chugged whiskey from the bottle just like one of the guys and subsequently passed out, to no negative result; I’ve been walked home, lent beds, lent clothing, with never a worry for my safety, even in a houseful of guys and the only woman staying overnight, with a party on the first floor (I had Saturday classes, so Friday nights were spent with this houseful of guys) and never a spot of trouble.
I know a factor in some of these stories is a lack of so-called sexual morals: it was a very sexually open sort of society, with a musical-chairs of partners and a no-hard-feelings attitude for anyone refusing to partner up with anyone else. And, I might add, a lack of mean-spirited gossip (in the sense that no one was ever put down or ridiculed or bullied for their sexual exploits). Heck, a friend of mine was on the point of penis-insertion with one of these guys, and she freaked out, said no, and you know what he did? He backed off, put his penis away, and made sure she was okay, and has never (to my knowledge) pressured or teased her about it in any way. And nobody got blamed for anything.
The factor in the second kind of these stories (university roomies) is, again, a sexual openness – it wasn’t the same level of sexual freedom, but several of the guys were volunteers with the Sexual Education Centre, and took a lot of pride in being knowledgeable about women and sex and generally not being assholes. I suppose they were as arrogant about it as any university students would be, but at least they got most things right. Playing strip foosball? No problem. It’s strip foosball, not foreplay. :P
Funny how neither one of those factors rests on denying women the opportunity to have fun as people…
Do you see the common factors? Do you see how certain cultural expectations within these groups were set? Funny what happens when we expect better of men, when we educate people that intoxication is not consent, that they should get consent before proceeding with sex, and if consent isn’t crystal-clear, don’t have sex.
Many naysayers have wanted to pretend we can’t have a world in which women are able to drink themselves under the table with the guys, and expect nothing worse than a hangover the next day. They’re wrong. We can educate kids and teens, and reinforce our expectations. Yes, we can’t stop every single human being from being a predator. But we can make it impossible for them to operate in a group. We can make it impossible for them to find cover for their boys-will-be-boys, hey-we-were-drunk-she-just-regrets-it excuses. In some spaces, that world is already here.
It’s not impossible. Just very hard work, and a will to do it. If you haven’t got that will, I suggest you stand aside and let us get to work.
A while ago, I was looking up some facts and stats on rape, and collected a handful of links that might prove useful when arguing with people who refuse to see that there is a substantial subset of men who are, indeed, the majority of the problem. It also speaks to why we shouldn’t tell daughters not to get raped as much as tell sons (and, indeed, daughters) not to rape. As even Narendra Modi says, “After all, the rapist is also someone’s son.” (Or daughter. Let’s not pretend women can never rape, and men can never suffer rape, because that’s hardly true. It’s just that men are overwhelmingly likely to be the perpetrators rather than the victims. And those men who want to argue that, answer this honestly: when you plan a first date with someone, are you afraid she may not sleep with you, or that she’ll be weird or boring, or you’ll make such a fool of yourself she’ll never want to see you again – or that she will violate and then possibly kill you?)
Right. Here are the links. Feel free to add your own links to good resources in the comments.
Here’s a story about a young woman, and a benevolent older married man, and the awkward dude who was obsessed with her. Go read the story, with this in mind:
When I tell this story to women, they spot The Question right away. The men don’t; they think that Dr Glass behaved like a gentleman, neither doing too much nor too little. They are feminist men, and good people. They have read “The Gift of Fear” and they talk about privilege and the patriarchy, and they don’t spot it.
I’m a woman, yet I didn’t spot The Question (I was too busy looking for it in the wrong place, alas. I got the creepy sinister vibe from the beginning, so when The Question should’ve popped, it was lost in the noise of ZOMG all of that is so fucking wrong. I felt like a right proper doofus when it was pointed out, because it went from well that had the potential to be a really awful situation to oshit it almost happened right there, and I didn’t see it). Tell me if you spotted it. For those of you who didn’t, what made you miss it? Did the whole tone of the story change once it was asked? Or were you not in the least surprised?
Don’t miss the original post that comment was left at. The whole thing is necessary, and bears repeating a hundred million times until our culture gets it and changes, but here’s the takeaway message:
I don’t know how we fix it, but one step has to be to stop tolerating it when it happens to us and when it happens to people we love. Making our social circles and spaces safe means making them AWKWARD AS HELL and UNSAFE for creeps and predators. It means constantly reframing the conversation away from the dominant narrative, so when stuff like the situations in these letters comes up we can say “That’s called sexual assault and it’s a crime. So I need you to stop talking to me about his feelings and pressuring me to invite him to parties.“
Direct your don’t-get-it guy friends, family and acquaintances to the two posts above. Tell them to read for comprehension. And don’t give them a pass if they don’t get it. We can’t stop repeating the message until it’s sunk in: this creepy, predatory behavior is wrong and has to stop. The people who can’t stop engaging in it cannot be part of our social spaces. Period.
That’s the only conclusion I can come to after a day spent reading about 18 year-old unarmed black kid Mike Brown’s murder by a white cop with a god complex. It’s 2014, and we’re still a society in which black parents have to explain to their kids how not to get killed by the police, and a society in which a black man can get executed for selling untaxed cigarettes, a black woman for opening her door to police, a young black man for lying face-down as the police compelled him to., and a black man can’t be assaulted by a white one without getting pepper-sprayed and detained. Meanwhile, white people can carry assault rifles wherever they wish, and even brandish them at police without getting shot instantly, but a black man can’t carry a BB gun in Wal-Mart without getting executed by police. An unarmed black teenager gets murdered by a policeman, and a white pundit wants to know why President Obama won’t offer the murderer condolences for having given in to the impulse to destroy an innocent human being.
Are we happy, white Americans? This is the country we’ve made. Remember all that tough-on-crime talk that’s kept us electing people who’ve promised more cops with more powerful weaponry? Remember how we all panicked after 9/11 and decided it was okay if our police were turned into paramilitary units? And how we’ve put all this heavy weaponry in the hands of white people who disproportionately target black people?
I want you to look at what’s happening in Ferguson, to the people who are peacefully protesting a black teenager’s murder.
This country was founded on the premise that citizens should be able to express their displeasure to their government. The Constitution enshrines the right to protest:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
States are as bound by that Constitution as the Federal government. And yet, in Ferguson, a young black man with his empty hands raised to the sky, petitioning his government for redress of a very serious grievance, is met with overwhelming force. In America, if you are a black person protesting the shooting of an unarmed black teenager, the First Amendment does not apply. You will be silenced with military hardware.
This is the world we’ve made.
Some of you may like it. You’re not likely to be targeted. You don’t have to walk out your front door with the possibility of getting shot to death by the police on your mind. You think the black people you’ve discriminated against and had your proxies brutalize and robbed of any hope of a future deserve everything the police dish out. You like the tough-on-crime rhetoric that lets you enjoy your drugs in peace while black kids have their slender chance at a decent life ruined over a little bit of pot. You can break the law in a thousand minor ways without being murdered by a cop, but will look for any tiny misdeed on the parts of the black folk executed by law enforcement. You think this society is just, that the police are in the right, and those who are suffering deserve their suffering. You think that everything the police do is justified if people who have suffered endless injustice are backed into a corner, and have no way out except to lash out. You condemn them for anything you can, just so that you won’t have to confront the uncomfortable fact that you’re part of a system that crushed them, and then sent riot police to attack them when they had the temerity to protest the brutality visited upon them.
I have nothing to say to you. I will not waste my time digging for that shred of humanity that may be left in you.
For those of us who just didn’t pay attention, who let our fear get the better of us, who didn’t realize the horrific scope of the problem because we never get pulled over for driving while white, stopped and frisked for being white in public, and are treated with at least a patina of respect by police officers who know they can’t get away with casual brutality toward white people, I think it’s well past time we wake the fuck up, and start doing something about the things we’ve allowed to happen in this country. It can start right now, with a signature on this petition, asking for a full investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown. Sign it now.
And then listen to the stories pouring out, the anger and the pain.
The young man was on his way to college the next day.
Yet he was brutally executed by fascist police state thugs in occupied territory and left to bleed in the street like a dog.
He did everything that white America claimed he should do to keep from being branded a savage and was murdered in cold blood.
As a black person in America, it’s getting exhausting to still have to explain, in the year 2014, your right to exist in this country. To explain that you are a human being whose value sits no lower than anyone else’s. To explain our basic humanity. And perhaps worst of all, to explain exactly why we are outraged.
We shouldn’t have to explain why it’s not acceptable for unarmed teenagers to be gunned down by the police.
Talking to people on Twitter about Mike Brown and what’s happening in Ferguson right now, I’ve noticed (again) how easily folks get distracted when Black people are murdered by the police. It seems as though every detail is more interesting, more important, more significant—including looting of a Walmart in Ferguson, which a local Fox news station focused its entire coverage on—than the actual life that was taken by police.
So, to get folks back on track to focus on what matters most here—the killing of yet another unarmed Black teenager—I’ve compiled this list of 6 Things To Stop Being Distracted By When A Black Person Gets Murdered By the Police.
Trayvon Martin was just walking home with skittles and a fucking iced tea. He was killed for nothing, bc of a racist scumbag who should be in prison. I’ve walked to the store at night before. I’ve worn a brightly colored tee shirt, and shorts. I’ve carried my cellphone and wallet at all times. Why? Because in the back of my mind, I have to worry about the possibility that someone will want to shoot me because I’m a person of color. Nevermind that I don’t own a gun, and don’t want to. Nevermind that I’ve never been in a fight in my life. Nevermind that I’m not an aggressive person prone to violence. Nevermind that I have a hard time hurting a roach, let alone another human being. No, nevermind all that. There are people out there that wish I were dead, or would take the opportunity to kill me for nothing.
Perhaps you’ve even heard of Ezell Ford, a 24 year old black man who was killed by police while he was walking along 65th street, some TWO HUNDRED blocks north of where a shooting had been reported. He was lying on the ground and obeying police orders when he was killed by police.
He died on August the 13th. oh look.
you all going to be paying attention when the next unarmed black man dies to police on the 15th? you gonna remember their names when there’s another black person lying dead in the street, killed by police on the 17th? are you going to remember eric garner’s name?
Racial profiling, disproportionate sentencing including the application of the death penalty, police brutality and murder, institutionalized discrimination, systemic inequality in matters of health and quality of life, changes in voting laws and redistricting to try to minimize Black votes, disproportionate rates of being the victims of violent crimes, involuntary sterilizations and contraceptives with serious side-effects offered without proper counseling, high maternal and infant mortality, children disappearing into the foster care system instead of being placed within their own communities, etc.
Some things have gotten better since We Charge Genocide, but mostly they’ve just gotten a little less official.
Here are a couple stories in which police officers shot people, and race was most certainly not a factor, because race is never a factor now that Barack Obama is President/Dictator for Life. We begin with the tragic death of a man named John Crawford, who was shot by police officers in an Ohio Walmart for the crime of shopping for a BB gun while black. While Crawford was busy exercising his Second Amendment rights, two other shoppers, April and Ronald Ritchie, decided they ought to inform the local police that a scary black man was carrying a gun in a store where guns are sold.
This is not the same as every race’s intraracial crime (yes, every fucking race has intraracial crime; every race does not face anti-Blackness [or settler colonialism, which connects to this history] and this particular historic structure of violence, however) nor would be prevented by the politics of respectability. Black people in America do not have the power of the police or the State. We cannot “earn humanity” through behavior, dress, or even beliefs. We are dehumanized as Black people based on who we are, the fact that we are Black, not based on what we do. A lack of “respect” for the city (one already under investigation for profiling and racist policing long before Michael was executed) didn’t kill Michael Brown. A long legacy of anti-Blackness and violence in that city, in this country, in our history is why he is dead.
I don’t care if Mike Brown was going to college soon. This should not matter. We should not have to prove Mike Brown was worthy of living. We should not have to account for the ways in which he is suitably respectable. We should not have to prove that his body did not deserve to be riddled with bullets. His community should not have to silence their anger so they won’t be accused of rioting, so they won’t become targets too.
Officers have tanks now. They have drones. They have automatic rifles, and planes, and helicopters, and they go through military-style boot camp training. It’s a constant complaint from what remains of this country’s civil liberties caucus. Just this last June, the ACLU issued a report on how police departments now possess arsenals in need of a use. Few paid attention, as usually happens.
The worst part of outfitting our police officers as soldiers has been psychological. Give a man access to drones, tanks, and body armor, and he’ll reasonably think that his job isn’t simply to maintain peace, but to eradicate danger. Instead of protecting and serving, police are searching and destroying.
If officers are soldiers, it follows that the neighborhoods they patrol are battlefields. And if they’re working battlefields, it follows that the population is the enemy. And because of correlations, rooted in historical injustice, between crime and income and income and race, the enemy population will consist largely of people of color, and especially of black men. Throughout the country, police officers are capturing, imprisoning, and killing black males at a ridiculous clip, waging a very literal war on people like Michael Brown.
Yet again, the protesters took to the sidewalks and streets, facing a row of police guarding the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office. “Hands up!” they chanted, their arms aloft. “Don’t shoot.”
“This is how the boy died!” Kendrick Strong, 42, hollered at police officers Tuesday morning. “This is how the boy died! With his hands up in the air!”
The hands-up — a sign of surrender and submission black men and boys here say they learn early on when dealing with police — has been transformed into a different kind of weapon.
Standing in his backyard along with a few friends and family was 24-year-old Rich West. And after seeing the police deploy tear gas as they marched down the empty street, West and his friends felt like protesting.
“You go home! You go home!” they chanted. As the police come closer, they all put their hands up.
Once again, the police officer with the megaphone ordered the protesters to go home.
“We’re in our yard!” they responded.
At one point West walked to his fence with his hands high up in the air.
“This my property! This my property!” he shouted, prompting police to fire a tear gas canister directly at his face.
Whether you identify positively or negatively with the term or the idea, whether you feel that uprising is an appropriate reaction to state violence or whether you prefer the term rebellion instead, the act of the riot is a historical one as necessary to democracy as any form of civil or uncivil disobedience.
One of Martin Luther King Jr.’s lesser known quotes ‘riot is the language of the unheard’ keeps me grounded here. In fact, did you know that MLK and many other non-violent black activists employed armed guards in the 60s?
Besides, all of this talk about ‘violence’ this and stereotypes that is just so unhelpful. Let’s maybe talk about the fact that in cases like this police deliberately censor footage gathered, in some cases arresting photographers for fear of sparking unrest. You know why that is? Because they understand what most riot shamers don’t: if you corner injured people, there is no where to go but against.
When your town is two-thirds black, your police force is almost exclusively white, and you’ve taken to the streets in tanks like it’s fucking Fallujah, you need to hush your cracker mouth about “respect.”
The white establishment is absolutely terrified that they may have gone just slightly too far by murdering a young black boy who was unarmed and whom witnesses claim was 35 feet away from the police officer who murdered him. And they’re expressing this terror by creating a paramilitary presence to gas and attack and try to frighten the living bejeezus out of the people who dare say “yeah, murdering that boy WAS a little too far over the line, thanks.”
You also think the stomp of boots, rumble of tanks, teargas, rubber bullets, big damn guns and real bullets can’t ever come marching to you. Because you don’t want to understand what happened yesterday. That day when a police force went rogue military and shut down a town is a day I thought I would not see. I didn’t think I’d live to see that happen, but I have. And what I have lived to see is fucking terrifying. It should scare the hell out of every single person in the U.S., regardless of class, colour, or location.
Never think it can’t happen here.
It’s time for the police to be de-militarized, time for this country to truly confront its problem with racism and racial injustice, and time for us to demand the brutality stops.
Comic-Con, mecca for geeks, reflects geek culture – and that includes the harassment (h/t). This isn’t the only event that’s put geeks harassing women who are also geeks in the spotlight recently, but it’s one of the biggest. It’s also seen a cosplayer brutally attacked.
Sexual harassment and misogyny are huge problems in fandom, as evinced by the above. So now seems like a good time to share this bit I’ve been meaning to highlight from Andy Khouri’s Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment.
This isn’t their problem, guys. It’s ours. We have to solve it.
Sexual harassment isn’t an occupational hazard. It’s not a glitch in the complex matrix of modern life. It’s not something that just “happens.” It’s something men do. It’s a choice men make. It’s a problem men enable. It’s sometimes a crime men commit. And it is not in the power nor the responsibility of women to wage war on this crime.
It’s on us.
How do we fight this war? We stop enabling. We check ourselves and, when necessary, wreck ourselves. Do you know a guy who’s hate-following women on Twitter just to troll them? You check him. Do you know a guy who’s writing disgusting screeds to women journalists because they don’t like the same things he likes? You check him. Do you know a professional whose discourse with women in his field is loaded with gender-specific language and condescension that could enable further abuse? You check him. Are your Twitter followers identifying you as a sympathetic ear for their sexist views? You check yourself. Is your website’s message board a cesspool of ignorance and hate? You check it like you actually give a damn. Do you know a guy who’s sending rape threats to women for any reason? Oh, you report that guy.
The more good people who speak out, the less chance creeps and assholes have to engage in bad behavior. No, it’s not fun. No, it’s not comfortable. Yes, it’s hard calling people out on this shit. But if we don’t, when we could have, we’re enabling that behavior. If you can do so safely, and without making the situation worse for the victim, check the creep.
While you’re at it, read this post from April 2013 by Meredith Placko.
At DragonCon last year, I witnessed a guy take photos of a girl’s backside at a group photo shoot. So many people were so involved with their own stuff, they failed to notice. But I sat there and watched as several people looked on at this guy and they said nothing. I broke off from my shoot and stood in front of the guy taking the lewd photos and confronted him. He took off before I could get any information about him. The girl had no idea she was even being photographed.
It’s easier to look the other way. Standing up and saying something means you have to get involved, you have to put effort into your actions. You may even come across as the bad guy. But standing up means you may save someone’s day.
And finish off with this post from Sushi Killer, which contains photos much better than my photoshopped jobs, horror stories, and bits like this:
One photographer mentioned that when he is working with a cosplayer and sees someone trying to take a picture of her butt or up her skirt, he jumps in front of their camera, blocking the shot with his own crotch. This draws attention to the pervert and can shame them, while also protecting the cosplayer.
I’d very much like to see more people at conventions intervene when creeps start creeping. I’d like to see this become the norm, until assholes get the message that their assholery isn’t welcome. Let’s make Comic-Con, all cons, and the geek world in general safe for geeks and unsafe for predators.
Miri’s got something to say. If you haven’t heard it yet, go over there and listen. Then tap your friends on the shoulder, and point them toward it. Share it on social media. Email it around to your friends and family and casual acquaintances. The next time you hear a dude sniveling about how women see him as a predator and that’s just not faaiir, tell him to shut up and read. The next time someone in your circle of acquaintance, whether they be man, woman or gender fluid, sneers at women for taking precautions, sit them down and walk them through this paragraph by paragraph. Check for reading comprehension at the end.
Too busy for the whole thing? Set it aside. Come back to it within the next day or two. But take a moment, right now, to read at least this much:
I’m going to go out on a limb a little here and then solidify that limb as much as possible. Men who refuse to take violence against women seriously until it happens right the fuck in front of their faces are as complicit in this injustice as men who commit violence against women. This is not to say that they are as individuals just as bad or just as sexist or whatever. It just means that, without their silence, their ignorance, their shrugging shoulders, this situation could not continue as it is. It cannot continue without the participation of men who commit violence, and it cannot continue without the participation of men who shrug it off or blame the victims or accuse them of “overreacting.” Both of these are gears have to turn in order for it to continue.
If you have to watch a woman be harassed or beaten or raped or almost raped in order to care, that means that even more women must be harassed or beaten or raped or almost raped in order for you to join in the fight against violence against women. If you have to watch a woman be harassed or beaten or raped or almost raped in order to care, that means that women’s personal accounts of violence–which they have little reason to lie about but many reasons to keep silent about–aren’t enough for you. If you have to watch a woman be harassed or beaten or raped or almost raped in order to care, that means that on some level–even if you won’t admit it–you think that there’s some level of “bad enough” that this shit needs to get before you’ll even acknowledge it as a problem, let alone actually do something about it.
But what’s it going to take for more men to actively, assertively challenge male violence against women? To shut down other men who excuse it or attempt to exonerate themselves by chanting “Not all men!” as though it were a magic spell? To refuse to support a type of masculinity that glorifies dominance and violence?
If what it takes is personally watching women being victimized by that type of masculinity, we’ve got a huge problem.
Don’t like women having to constantly be on guard? Do your part to make this a world in which women, trans folk, and other marginalized people can be just as carefree as most straight white dudes. Speak out. Stand up. Make a difference. Right bloody now.
Come help us create a better world.