Celebrity hacks and victim-blaming: Responding to 3 common claims

Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities have had (nude) photos stolen. I noticed three, of many, recurring responses, mostly it seems from my fellow men dictating what women should do with their bodies. Cos, yeah: of course.

Others have said these things more eloquently. But here’s some responses to claims about celebrity privacy violations – i.e. nude photo leaks – that we need to keep reinforcing.

  1. “Who cares?”

Celebrities may be annoying to many; celebrity culture itself is to me largely horrible. Celebrities are not necessarily talented, merely people with a large audience. However, the key here is “people” – not monsters. Presumably we want a better world for people – thus if bad things happen to people, we should defend and support them. This isn’t about whether they themselves actually notice – but it does mean setting up an environment that reacts appropriately to when women have their photos leaked and aren’t berated as “sluts“; it’s about reinforcing a space, like the Internet, that doesn’t spread stolen information from people because they’re “hot”. After all, women who are not celebrities at all, have the same thing happen to them. [Read more...]

Women are people – even when they’re walking in the street

I wrote about what men can do regarding street harassment of women. Spoiler alert: don’t be assholes.

To be honest, it’s actually a tough situation – on the one hand you want to stand up, in different kinds of ways for the rights of people not to be targeted for their race, gender, etc.; on the other hand, you don’t want to treat them like fragile princesses, undermine their own strength, and so on. It’s a difficult balance. However, from what I’ve read and what women have told me – and what I’ve long suspected – silence is often worse when harassment occurs.

Anyway, I expand further over at Women24.

Women, science and the machine of exclusion

In my latest for The Daily Beast, I respond to a piece about how “females” just can’t brain science as well as men – or rather, that “females as a whole” tend to find science boring. Apparently. According to some dodgy data.

Anyway, I had some amazing input from some brilliant scientists who have had experience with this. There is also plenty of data supporting the machine thesis, that of a culture that makes science into a man’s space, that is unwelcoming to women, then uses women’s absence and disinterest (after they’ve been taught to be) that women don’t like science.

Of course while writing it, I forced myself to watch that awful Science: It’s a Girl Thing video again. *Shiver*

Remember this BS?

Yeah. I totally wonder why women found this so horrible! /s

UPDATE #2 Men cry foul cos evil feminism makes hitting on women more difficult

Would probably helped if I linked to the piece: Here.

That’s a piece I wrote, as a response to a Guardian post which – to say the least – I didn’t like. The piece claims campaigns like Everyday Sexism make hitting on women harder, because it makes all them “females” think confident flirtation is same as harassment.

Er, yeah. No.

I also commented directly on the piece itself, in the comment section, which got one… strange response.

Some readers can’t locate my comment Guardian site. I’ll reprint it here:

Since I’ve been following Everyday Sexism for a while, I find the author’s characterisation of the project different to mine. I’d be interested to see where exactly the claims come from that indicate all men do this – considering the campaign has been encouraging and welcoming men’s voices, too, who speak out and discourage this behaviour.

I’d also be interested where exactly the claim is made that mild flirtation is equated with street harassment. It seems to me if you can’t distinguish between the two then maybe that’s a serious problem and you should rethink what you mean by flirting – not what the woman you’re flirting with is “doing wrong”.

Of course, your intention could very well be one that truly is harmless and is non-threatening – but misinterpreted. And this I understand, to a small degree.

But considering, as you know, the environment in which women live and what some face everyday, that’s just… well… TOO BAD. Yes, it sucks that it’s harder to intitiate conversation and flirtation without being perceived as “yet another creep”. Yes, it sucks that women have been so constantly bombarded with such idiocy they change their behaviour, time of day for jogging or walking or doing basically anything (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/02/apps-and-online-programs-offer-new-ways-to-report-street-harassment.html), – because victim-blaming also is this pernicious, see?

It’s easy for us men to claim “but we’re nice guys and never do that” – but again, I assume most people can distinguish between the two behaviours.

There will exist genuine mistakes and misinterpretation – as there is in everything we do. Except here it’s compounded by the environment that so many women live in, everyday. The name of the project says it all.

In a world screaming for their attention, namecalling them when women refuse to give it, we shouldn’t be wagging our fingers when our kinder voices go unnoticed. We should be empathetic, target the environment and other men doing this – and also respect women enough to, you know, be able to tell the difference between harassment and harmless flirtation. I don’t see Everyday Sexism as ushering in the downfall of sexual freedom – I see it as protecting it, particularly women’s, so that we can all live in a better world.

(Weirdly, Dawkins linked to this comment – even though his quotation indicates his support of the very article I was criticising in that comment.)

PS: Ophelia also has some important insight, as always.

Suicide can be moral, but that’s no reason to egg people on

At the moment, in Cape Town, there’s a man threatening to jump to his death. Some are calling for him to jump.

I jotted down some thoughts about why suicide can be moral, but why that’s not the same as being part of a crowd yelling for him to leap to his death. And also oppose those who claim life is always worth living.