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Member since: Mon Aug 23, 2004, 10:18 PM
Number of posts: 37,136

Journal Archives

An Open Letter to White Male Comedians

Hey guys*: Listen, I know you're mad at me. I mean, maybe not me specifically, but a figurative "me"—the type of woman who thinks she's funny, who thinks she understands comedy, who has opinions (and shares them) about what kinds of jokes comics "should" or "should not" tell.

I speak up for women, which sometimes involves criticizing men. I don't believe that "rape jokes" should be a completely unregulated market. And I understand that, to you, criticizing a comedian's execution on certain subject matters can seem indistinguishable from censorship and conservatism. So I know you're mad at me and I know why.

But comedy has a serious gender problem, and I really can't stop complaining about it until it's fucking fixed. Comedy clubs are an overtly hostile space for women. Even just presuming we can talk about comedy gets women ripped to shreds by territorial dudes desperate to defend their authority over what's funny. "Jokes" about rape and gendered violence are treated like an inevitability instead of a choice; like they're beyond questioning; like they're somehow equally sacred alongside women's actual humanity and physical sanctity. When women complain, however civilly, they're met with condescension, dismissal, and the tacit (or, often, explicit) message that this is not yours, you are not welcome here. It's fucked up, you guys. And I'm saying that as a friend with the best intentions.

Hey, Men, I'm Funnier Than You
Oh, great! Let's talk some more about how women aren't funny. Science has performed yet… Read…
Comedy has always been my go-to art form—it's been more valuable to me, in terms of emotional solace, than film or music, and it's certainly on par with literature. I know a lot of you can relate to that feeling. That doesn't mean I have the same perspective as, say, a hardened road comic, but I get paid to perform on stages, in various contexts, all the time. I've done stand-up in a brightly-lit pizzeria at 6 pm in front of four people who were not informed that there would be comedy (try it, it's great). I've written a weekly comedy column in the newspaper. Most of my friends are comics (many of them are white males!) and my boyfriend is a comic. But I get that there's no amount of experience that could give me "cred" with every single one of you, and anyway, these goal posts are easy to move—even if I were a full-time comic, you could always say I wasn't "good enough" for my opinion to matter. (Plus, it's no secret that plenty of people don't think female comics count as comics at all.) So fuck it. Whatever. What I'm saying here is that I'm not a fucking tourist. I'm not a bachelorette party. And if you're not performing for people like me—discerning lifelong comedy fans—then I don't know why you're doing comedy at all.


An Interactive Map of Racist, Homophobic and Ableist Tweets in America

Created by the datavisualization experts at Floating Sheep, the interactive map was made in response to criticism that a previous map – which plotted the distribution of racial epithets in the wake of Obama's re-election – had arrived at specious conclusions about the relative amount of racist content emanating from Mississippi and Alabama. Via Floating Sheep:

In order to address [one such criticism] , students at Humboldt State manually read and coded the sentiment of [hundreds of thousands of tweets containing homophobic, racist, or ableist slurs] to determine if the given word was used in a positive, negative or neutral manner. This allowed us to avoid using any algorithmic sentiment analysis or natural language processing, as many algorithms would have simply classified a tweet as ‘negative’ when the word was used in a neutral or positive way. For example the phrase ‘dyke’, while often negative when referring to an individual person, was also used in positive ways (e.g. “dykes on bikes #SFPride”). The students were able to discern which were negative, neutral, or positive. Only those tweets used in an explicitly negative way are included in the map... All together, the students determined over 150,000 geotagged tweets with a hateful slur to be negative.
The image up top is the map of all the homophobic tweets deemed hateful. Over at the interactive map, viewers can see similar maps for racist and ableist tweets, and even parse the data to examine the geographic distributions of individual words. The results were compelling. "Even when normalized," write the researchers, "many of the slurs included in our analysis display little meaningful spatial distribution":


Spanx founder Sara Blakely is first female billionaire to donate half her fortune to charity

Not being a spanx wearer, which looks like sweaty torture to me, but is apparently a bigger 'thing' than I realized, I have to give props to this young woman. (I do like those stretchy body form or shelf camisoles because I refuse to wear bras--- also sweaty torture--I just need a bit of support for comfort)

The youngest woman in the world to make $1bn (£650m) on her own was approached by Bill Gates to commit half her wealth to the philanthropy, according to Forbes magazine.
The Giving Pledge, run by Gates and Buffet, was launched in June 2010 and encourages the world's richest people to give away at least half of their fortune.
Sara Blakely said she decided to join the scheme to invest in women - "one of the greatest returns on investment".
She wrote: "I pledge to invest in women because I believe it offers one of the greatest returns on investment. I am committed to the belief that we would all be in a much better place if half the human race (women) were empowered to prosper, invent, be educated, start their own businesses, run for office – essentially be given the chance to soar."
Forbes named Ms Blakely the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world last year. Her company, Spanx, manufactures shaping underwear that promises to make women look as though they have dropped a dress size.


Can You Tell The Difference Between A Men's Magazine And A Rapist?

Well, this is upsetting. According to a new study, people can't tell the difference between quotes from British "lad mags" and interviews with convicted rapists. And given the choice, men are actually more likely to agree with the rapists.

The University of Surrey reports on the study (conducted jointly with researchers at Middlesex University), to be published in the British Journal of Psychology. Researchers gave a group of men and women quotes from the British lad mags FHM, Loaded, Nuts and Zoo, as well as excerpts from interviews with actual convicted rapists originally published in the book The Rapist Files. The participants couldn't reliably identify which statements came from magazines and which from rapists — what's more, they rated the magazine quotes as slightly more derogatory than the statements made by men serving time for raping women. The researchers also showed both sets of quotes to a separate group of men — the men were more likely to identify with the rapists' statements than the lad mag excerpts. The only slightly bright spot in the study: when researchers randomly (and sometimes incorrectly) labelled the quotes as coming from either rapists or magazines, the men were more likely to identify with the ones allegedly drawn from mags. At least they didn't want to agree with rapists.


Cultural Sexism: What If Amanda Knox Had Been Andrew Knox?

These phrases, as reported by ABC News's Diane Sawyer, have been used by the media to describe Amanda Knox, the American study abroad student who, while living in Perugia, Italy, in 2007, was charged with murder. Specifically, she was charged with killing her female roommate, who was found in their apartment in a state of partial undress with her throat slit. After four years in prison, Knox's conviction was overturned. She is now back in the United States (although the acquittal itself was overturned last month, and Italy wants her to return for a retrial.)

Obviously, I have no idea whether the prosecutor's argument against Knox, including the charge that the murder resulted from sex games gone awry, has a shred of truth to it. Here's what I do know: If Amanda Knox had been Andrew Knox, the breathless and prolonged excitement around his sex life would be greatly diminished, or absent altogether. If Amanda had been Andrew, he wouldn't have been labeled "a sex-mad flatmate" in the media.

No, just as Frank Bruni writes in last Sunday's New York Times, the "veritable drumbeat of sexual shaming" heaped on Amanda Knox amounts to sexism run rampant.

While he finds the case constructed against Amanda Knox to be "profoundly flawed", it's the sexism Bruni focuses on. As he puts it: "For men, lust is a tripwire. For women, it's a noose."


MRAs at The Spearhead Blame Women, Feminism for Cleveland Abductions

So The Spearhead has weighed in on the Cleveland abduction cases, and has not failed to disappoint.

Spearhead head boy WF Price uses the terrible unfolding drama as an opportunity to attack the notion of patriarchy. His logic: the alleged abductors weren’t rich dudes, so therefore patriarchy is a lie. No, really, that’s his argument:

Feminists love to point to these incidents and use them to discredit the overwhelming majority of ordinary men, as though they have anything in common with the Castro brothers. They are used to portray every middle class guy as a potential menace to society and freak who would keep girls in a sex dungeon. But it turns out that, in fact, the fellows who kidnapped these girls are about what you’d expect: a few disheveled, low-class weirdos.

So why is it that despite the fact that the guys who commit these crimes are almost always on the bottom of the male power and privilege scale, feminists are constantly linking abuse of women to men’s power, and agitating for stripping what remaining male privilege exists?

It’s time for the patriarchy/male privilege narrative to be exposed for the sham it is. Privileged men are least likely to abuse women; patriarchal types are most likely to protect them. It is overwhelmingly the powerless, those without privilege and the undesirable who resort to crime to obtain sex. The few others, like Ted Bundy, are simply the exceptions that prove the rule.

Price ends his post with an especially nasty bit of victim blaming that seems to be a favorite trope of MRA types:

"But perhaps the real issue here is that women aren’t as interested in making up stories about guys like the Castro brothers, because those guys don’t turn them on like Christian Bale in American Psycho"


Because, only disenfranchised brown men rape and kidnap right? Oh wait......

Warren Farrell on Unemployment, Salesmanship, and Other Things That Are Like Rape, Supposedly

(This guy is repulsive, but given his fan base not one who can be safely ignored. Thus this second thread)

Once in prison, your son’s nubile, young body combined with his reputation for not fighting makes him a perfect candidate for homosexual rape and, therefore, AIDS. In brief, he is subject to being killed. …

Do male-only draft registration and combat requirements amount, then, to the legalized rape of men? Yes. (p. 135, Myth of Male Power, 1993 hardcover edition)

Many women report that rape leaves them feeling humiliated, violated helpless, angry, guilty, self blaming, depressive, lower in self-esteem, and suicidal. Their vulnerability leaves them feeling powerless, as if the whole world were an elephant and they are an ant. Similarly, men who are fired or experience any of “the three unemployment’s – underemployment, unemployment, and the fear of unemployment” – often feel humiliated, violated, helpless, angry, guilty, self blaming, depressive, lower in self-esteem, and suicidal.their vulnerability leaves them feeling powerless, as if the whole world were an elephant and they are an ant.

Oh, it gets worse:

Unemployment deprives men of that which has given many men the respect and love of women; rape violates the body that has given many women the appreciation and love of men. Few men feel they chose unemployment, just as few women feel they chose to be raped. (p. 173)

Huh. Don’t women get fired, too? And aren’t some men raped? Well, sure, but women who lose their jobs don’t really count.

Of course, unemployment affects women and rape also affects men. But the unemployed man is the subject of ridicule. … Despite the similarity between the unemployment of men and the rape of women, no one would dare joke about the worthlessness of a raped woman.” (p. 173)


How I Came To Love Metrosexual And Hipster Men

(This is a very cute and interesting article about gender identity and the authors evolving feminism. Her 'point' system for the 'masculinity' of men was a LOL for me)

“So,” I told myself. “So you’re dating a metrosexual.”

At first, still enchanted by the tight jeans and hair gel, I felt like a pioneer. I was a woman dating a “New Man.” I considered myself an open-minded person. I took one undergraduate course in gender and sexuality; I knew that gender was fluid. Why should it matter how masculine your partner is if you like him? But after a couple months of adding points for bravado and subtracting for his account at Banana Republic, I realized that it did matter. At least a little. It bothered me that people assumed my boyfriend was gay.

Later, when I fell head over heels for a guy named Steve, I found myself subtracting points when he, like all the others, exhibited feminine traits. Like Travis, Steve was into fashion. This time it was studded belts instead of Banana sweaters, and ironic T-shirts instead of designer jeans, but the principle was the same. My suspicions were validated on that embarrassing day when Steve met my family for the first time. He showed up wearing his skinny jeans, tight T-shirt, and a bandana tied in a peculiar fashion around his neck. Minus five. When my not-usually-so-insensitive brother told me that Steve “looked gay” after the game, I felt ashamed. On top of that, I felt ashamed for feeling ashamed. Right there, drowning in that pool of shame, I concluded that I, the straightest girl in the world, was dating a metrosexual, again.

I was wrong. Steve wasn’t a metrosexual; he was a hipster. It was 2007 and hipsterdom was just blossoming in the uber-hip neighborhoods of New York and San Francisco. If the “metrosexual” was a guy who embraced his feminine side, the “hipster” was a guy who wasn’t fussed about traditional expectations of gender. After I moved to Boston in 2009 and started hanging out in the hipster neighborhood of Allston Village where I saw more and more of my peers sporting skinny jeans, hoodies, and unisex hairstyles, gender roles began to feel less important.

Over the next four years, I realized that rugged, angular bodies, machismo and facial hair—the masculine qualities I found so attractive—could still be found in men who were emotional and cared about their appearance. And as I began to date men who were open about their feelings and who were not embarrassed or concerned with “looking gay,” a subtle shift began to take place in me. Somewhere down the line, I stopped counting. Feminine traits no longer felt like flaws. I also began to notice some of the “masculine” traits I so loved in my female friends, and even in myself.


Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy. Let’s Unpack That.

(Looking over the comments and disagreements over GoT-- which as I said I have very not feminist reasons for not watching-- as far as brutal sex, I've read books probably a bit more accurate where either gender is brutalized but females then as now in most cases of course get the lions share.

One very interesting fantasy series equalized gender religious power during what would be considered medieval times. Either gender can be the equivalent to Bishop, say or any religious leadership.

The author-- who I cant remember right now took pains to say her books were not historically accurate, but she created a rich, intriguing world for all that. Edit: ha! I remember, the Crown of Stars series by Kate Elliot; and yes the main female protagonist gets raped, buts its relevant to the plot line only as she overcomes her trauma and fear, and escapes her tormentor--who wants her unrealized power far more than her wants her body. The rapes are neither detailed or graphic. Nor does she have legal recourse in this world. In this series, sexual assault is very much about power.

And let's not forget practices such as the historically accurate 'Castrato' in which untold thousands of young boys were castrated to maintain their singing voices. From what I'm reading, GoT probably took the actual content of the books and sexed it up. I remember a Machiavellian plot that took forever to come together. Blech. ANY way...)

History is not a long series of centuries in which men did all the interesting/important things and women stayed home and twiddled their thumbs in between pushing out babies, making soup and dying in childbirth.
History is actually a long series of centuries of men writing down what they thought was important and interesting, and FORGETTING TO WRITE ABOUT WOMEN. It’s also a long series of centuries of women’s work and women’s writing being actively denigrated by men. Writings were destroyed, contributions were downplayed, and women were actively oppressed against, absolutely.

But the forgetting part is vitally important. Most historians and other writers of what we now consider “primary sources” simply didn’t think about women and their contribution to society. They took it for granted, except when that contribution or its lack directly affected men.
This does not in any way mean that the female contribution to society was in fact less interesting or important, or complicated, simply that history—the process of writing down and preserving of the facts, not the facts/events themselves—was looking the other way.

In history, from primary sources through most of the 20th century (I will absolve our current century-in-progress out of kindness but let’s not kid ourselves here), the assumption has always been that men’s actions are more politically and historically significant to society, BECAUSE THEY ARE PERFORMED BY MEN.


The Gender Coverup

(Long article but worth the read. I heard a suggestion I followed once. I spent a year reading only female authors--it changed my perspective)

I am a Young Adult author. And I am female. I spend a lot of time around people who talk about books. These people include: other authors, publishers, librarians, booksellers, and loads and loads and loads of readers. I talk to hundreds of people a day online. I meet people at book signings and conventions and all sorts of events, and I hear what they have to say about all kinds of books. And I've noticed a lot of things about how people talk about books.

When I hear people talk about "trashy" books, 95% of the time, they are talking about books written by women. When I see or hear the terms "light," "fluffy," "breezy," or "beach read"... 95% of the time, they are talking about books written by women. Many times I hear people talking about books they have not read -- books they've seen or heard about. I hear their predictions about those books. And then I hear people slapping labels on books they haven't read, making predictions. Again, I hear the same things. "Oh, that's just some romance." "I'll read that when I just want something brainless."

The books in question? You guessed it. Written by women. And some of those books, I'll note to myself, are fairly hardcore and literary, and I'll try to explain that. "Oh?" people will say. "Really? I thought it was just some chick lit book."

Have I heard people pass comparable judgments on books written by men? Yes and no. You tend not to hear "light," "fluffy," "breezy," or "beach read." It tends to be more straightforward--that they liked it, didn't like it, hadn't read it, might read it. There are fewer assumptions made. Somehow, we have put books into gender categories.

"But!" many people say in one collective voice, "Books don't have genders! Books are just books!"

"No!" some other people say. "There are girl books and boy books and man books and 'chick lit.' It is known."

"I don't care," say some other people. Probably most of the people. Because a lot of people don't read much or see why any of this affects their lives. But I believe it does affect us all, very much so, because these are all subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) value judgments on what kind of narratives matter.

"But!" some of those people who are still paying attention cry. "Boys don't like to/can't read about girls!"

"&^%$@," say I.

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