Over the weekend, under the hashtag #twitterpurge, users took to Twitter to “expose” the nude photos they had of other people, with or without consent. The so-called purge primarily targeted girls and women. In other words, it was revenge porn.
As an attorney who helps clients remove revenge porn from the Internet, I recently got a call from a mother whose daughter had been contacted by a reporter for an interview. The 22-year-old learned from the reporter that four nude selfies of her had been featured on a site specifically for this kind of thing for nearly eight months and accumulated over 30,000 views. They had been posted with her full name, the name of the town where she lived, and with links to her Facebook and Twitter accounts. Above all of this information was a screed calling her a “cunt” and a “whore” and a “sick, suicidal bitch.”
That’s typical revenge porn; it’s bullying. “Porn” is a misnomer since it draws the focal point to the wrong spot, at least from the victim’s point of view. Victims have lost jobs, dropped out of school, moved, changed their names, attempted suicide, and more, after having their photos posted without consent. The nonconsensual exposition of privately taken or acquired images of a person, particularly nude images, coupled with assaultive language amounts to deeply damaging abuse.
Critiquing the #WomenAgainstFeminism tag doesn’t require insulting the appearance & intelligence of the women posting on it. It doesn’t require replicating misogynistic language or insults. It requires an evidence-based answer – such as those pointing out the battle for women’s suffrage, rape laws, equal pay acts, maternity rights, reproductive freedoms and the ability to have your own bank account. It is feminism that one these rights for women. Feminism didn’t achieve any of these goals by being obnoxious to other women.
Feminists should understand that systemic misogyny within the capitalist-patriarchy makes it very difficult for women to see the reality of our oppression. Even naming male violence as an oppression results in women being belittled, abused and harassed online and off. Our education system is designed to teach children to pass exams – not to question authority. Our media is owned and dominated by white men who have a vested interest in preventing women from accessing knowledge.
This isn’t to say that the women who started this tag aren’t causing harm to other women. Of course they are but we don’t need to replicate patriarchal patterns of silencing against women who are blinded by their privilege or too afraid to speak out. This is the true demonstration of the power of the capitalist-patriarchy: using women to silence and control other women. We can challenge these women with kindness or with anger. but we do not need to engage in abusive language.
Louise Pennington, My Elegant Gathering of White Snows.
More on the closure of the (current incarnation) of Feminist Times:
An anti-brand, non-brand not-for-profit that tried to monetise anti-capitalism. With what could be mistaken for Orwellian doublespeak but with the purest of ideals, Charlotte Raven’s Feminist Times wanted to save women from advertising and in doing so ensured its own downfall. After 12 months of being run as an online alternative to the glossies – with no advertising or big-brand partnerships and while paying its contributors (unlike many others) – Feminist Times was yesterday put on ice. The problem is that today’s mainstream feminists are no longer suspicious of advertising; in fact we are in an era where feminism is becoming advertising.
I was the Editor of Feminist Times for its last seven months. I’m too young to have been a libber or a Marxist feminist before the wall came down, and yet I’m pretty old-fashioned in my capitalist scepticism. I just don’t trust big business. I have this instinctual feeling that big business is bad for women. It undervalues us, sells ruthlessly to us and takes no prisoners in the name of profit or progress. Yet I am a massive hypocrite, because while I can spend hours watching disturbing Youtube videos of industrialised farming practices there’s nothing I love more after a couple of pints than a Big Mac. It’s like some knowing joke – yes I know I’m being bad, but because I know, that makes it all right. Doesn’t feel so right the next morning.
Deborah Coughlin: Feminist Times can be proud of what it did in promoting a brand-free feminism, The Independent.
Here’s a special round-up of posts on what was, sadly, the last week of Feminist Times in its current incarnation. The linked posts discuss the editors and writers’ experiences of their involvement in the site and many of the challenges that they faced in its maintenance. So long, FT. I’ll miss you.
- What Feiminist Times means to me: As feminist thought increases in popularity, I had always feared that it might be devalued into a sort of consumerist lifestyle politics, concerned with issues that failed to analyse the material conditions that create inequality. I’ve been proud to be part of a feminist website that has bucked this trend. Feminist Times has achieved something very few UK based feminist websites manage to do: it has captured the cacophony of jostling voices from many women who call themselves feminists. (Reni Eddo-Lodge, Contributing Editor).
- Feminist Times: Money and a room of our own: My biggest frustration will always be that during that time, while our content, our readership and our social engagement were going from strength to strength, our funding situation was steadily becoming less and less sustainable, despite the brilliant efforts of our fundraiser Jenna. As Deborah and I gradually reduced both our salaries and our working hours, we were grateful to still have use of the office all week for the freelance work that we took on to supplement our incomes (Sarah Graham, Deputy Editor, @SarahGraham7).
- The Best of Feminist Times:12 Days of Sexism: While everyone took a Christmas break, FemT spent the 12 days of Christmas looking back at the previous 12 months of sexism, as well as reflecting on a year in black feminism and the most and least read Feminist Times articles of 2013.
- Feminist Times: My Feminist Times ‘journey’: What a sad day! I kept thinking we would turn it around and praying for a miracle. Leaving our office for the last time last week, with the FemT box files in a shopping bag, I felt mainly sadness but also a little relief. No more sleepless nights worrying or fruitless hours writing supplicating emails to rich people. No more guilt about not being fully present for my husband and young children or my FemT colleagues. I’m looking forward to spending time with my family (as disgraced politicians say) with a clear conscience, and gathering my thoughts for the rest of the summer and possibly longer. I won’t miss being resented from afar; I am privileged but my life is far from enviable. I am in the early stages of Huntington’s disease, cognitively impaired, and struggling with many aspects of every day life. I lose things, break things, hurt myself, rage at Tom and the children. This is a symptom and can’t be addressed by anger management techniques. My dad is in the late stages of Huntington’s disease; he can’t speak, read, swallow or co ordinate his movement but is otherwise compos mentis and so all too aware of his predicament (Charlotte Raven, Editor-in-Chief).
- Feminist Times: Ten things I hate about feminism: Feminism is being co-opted and by 2016 it will be dead again. In 2009 I launched a feminist act called Gaggle, a weird punk choir. We were often ridiculed for being out and proud feminist. It was just five years ago and yet you couldn’t find a columnist who would admit they were a feminist, hence the website the F-word – it was taboo. You could tie several cats together, swing them and not hit a single feminist. Now you can’t. Feminist columns, T-shirts and events clog up the zeitgeist. Every night there’s another panel discussion about Women in Music, so much so that I can’t remember what it was like before this 4th wave? Something about cupcakes and burlesque, I think. Anyway, feminism is so popular right now that it’s one of the biggest buzz words in marketing for 2015, hence why Pantene is selling us feminist shampoo and Special K’s gone all “Dove” with it’s cornflakes. Unfortunately everything in fashion will go out of fashion. Like Skip Its, environmentalism and hipster beards, if feminism is dead again by 2016 what do we want to have achieved during this brief spell in the limelight? (Deborah Coughlin, Editor, @deb_rahcoughlin).
All else on another busy week with work and play.
- See How This Feminist Artist Brings Women’s Struggles to Life (feminspire): “When I started really getting into my painting and wasn’t doing just simple still lifes, I had no idea that I was a feminist painter or that I was going to become one, even though feminist paintings are exactly what I was creating from the beginning. I had no idea that that’s what was going on, it just kind of happened,” she says, “I mean, like, what percentage of people in the world are women? There are so many of us going through similar situations. Though I want to send a message to everybody, not just women, that these things affect us, and a lot of people don’t fully realize just how difficult certain aspects of being a woman are.”
- 6 Reasons Why We Should Stop Telling Each Other it’s “OK” to Be Single (feminspire): Why aren’t there reasons for why it’s “OK” to be in a relationship as well? The implication is that being in a relationship is some kind of ideal for women, or default. And that’s simply not the case.
- Many women scientists sexually harassed during fieldwork (nature): Working in the field sounds like a scientist’s dream, but for some, it can turn into a nightmare. The largest survey yet to examine the prevalence of sexual harassment among scientists doing field work suggests that it is an overlooked problem— and that female trainees may be disproportionately vulnerable.
- | 6 Female Creations Attributed to Dudes by @elizabethethird (aroomofourown): Back in the day when it was pretty much unheard of for women to be recognized as producers of creative or intellectual worth (specifically the 1800s…ish) Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Magie invented a board game called The Landlord’s Game (Monopoly).
- 6 Tips for Working in Solidarity with Muslim Women (everydayfeminism): For many, due to media portrayals, a Muslim feminist may seem like a contradiction. Media portrayals of Muslim women regularly oppress, fetishize, and politicize our bodies, and it is important to know that these portrayals of the oppressed Muslim women are often in stark contrast to our lived realities.
- ‘All the worlds a prison’ – 19th century career girls (fwsablog): If Victorian working women are represented at all in today’s culture, it is usually an image of poor women working in factories or mills, struggling to make ends meet. (For example, the recent Channel 4 historical drama The Mill.) As Author Wanda Neff says ‘The mill women have come to stand, in popular opinion, for the Victorian working woman.’ [i] The experiences of upper and middle class women who worked to give themselves financial independence or women who dedicated their lives to philanthropy outside the home, have not been as widely portrayed.
- Tackling the gender gap is simple: pay women more money. End of story. (theguardian): Here it is: we simply pay women more money. Whether we do this by reducing women’s tax burden, providing them with an income supplement, or allowing women to personally shake down their male colleagues until an appropriate amount of change falls from their pockets, I don’t mind. But it’s clear that sitting around furrowing our brows isn’t working, so it’s time to make some changes.
- States Prescribe Bad Medicine for Women Seeking Abortions (msmagazine):Days before senators testified on behalf of a bill to protect women’s health services, the National Partnership for Women and Families released a report detailing just how threatened these services are. Aptly titled “Bad Medicine,” the report focuses on a specific threat to women’s healthcare: laws restricting doctors’ professional discretion and mandating how abortions are performed. Such laws require doctors to choose between adhering to a one-size-fits-all law or doing what they know is best for the individual patient.
- Immigration is a feminist issue (msmagazine): [...] immigration laws are inherently sexist. The way the family visa system is set up, and the fact that men are still likely to earn more and have the “lead career” in a relationship, makes many women immigrants completely dependent on their husbands. This can trap women in poverty and abusive relationships. And of course if you happen to have brown skin, the system only gets more horrifically oppressive.
- More women in cabinet means better policy but greater conflict, research shows (theconversation): Having more women in cabinet is likely to lead to issues which are important to women being further up the political agenda. Yet commentators have pointed out that many of the females appointed to the cabinet have values and interests which might be considered as antithetical to the interests of women. So perhaps in this instance, the impact will be lessened. However, the government’s opponents might take comfort in another piece of research. A systematic review of the literature shows that Conservative women tend to have more left-leaning economic policies than their male counterparts. The big question now is how this more diverse cabinet will perform, not so much in terms of ideology but as a group able to take the best decisions. We know Conservative cabinets have traditionally been dominated by old white males; what now? Evidence from studies of diverse groups suggest a more diverse cabinet is likely to have more conflict, take longer to come to a decision, but come up with better solutions. Also we should expect members of the cabinet to be less satisfied with the group process.
- ‘I Don’t Need Feminism Because’: The Women Who Fight Equality (tokenfeminist): I have seen this happen too many times. It is a case of women refusing to acknowledge the significance of other women’s experiences, simply because they have not had similar ones. It is a blatant denial of facts and it takes away from those women any power that they had to begin with. Now, obviously I am not saying that all women need to constantly back each other up and never argue or disagree. Everyone is entitled to their opinions about individual issues, but no one is entitled to belittle the personal experiences of others or to suggest that the violence inflicted on women the world over does not matter simply because they themselves are doing fine.
Rest of image here (gender-focus).
And I couldn’t help but think, how long have young women been doing sexual things for free drinks — or even lame swag? Wet T-shirt contests. Mud wrestling. The entire “Girls Gone Wild” franchise. Mardi Gras. It’s practically built into college culture, the attempt to get women to compromise themselves — and I say “compromise” because that is what is eroticized, rather than the idea of a woman’s authentic, enthusiastic expression of her sexuality — whether it’s for a string of plastic beads or a “Girls Gone Wild” trucker hat.
But there’s a big difference between wet T-shirt contests and two dozen blow jobs. There’s long been a thrill in getting “good” girls to go “bad,” but thanks in part to the mainstreaming of hardcore porn and Spring Break raunch, pouring water on your boobs is no longer that provocative. A boob flash is passé, even quaint. Now, perhaps, it takes 24 blow jobs. OK, that’s hyperbole — but the bar for titillation and trespass has been raised.
The Truth About Sexploitative Party Games – alternet.
For many, it seems that the words “Islam” and “feminism” cannot coexist. As Ramadan, the month of Islamic fasting, gets under way, questions about how Muslim women “cope” with their religion often re-emerge. The challenge many of these women now face is explaining how being a Muslim does not mean they cannot also be feminists.
Despite understanding that millions of people from all walks of life follow Islamic tradition, we still assume that Islam is one singular entity. It is important to remember that there are many different Islams just like there are many different Christian, Buddhist, or Hindu traditions. That is why some Muslims are fasting this month and some are not, and why some women wear a niqab (face veil) and some don’t.
The hijab, or head covering, remains another popular point of contention. It’s remarkable that a headscarf, which actually symbolizes a very powerful feminist message, has been linked to patriarchal oppression in the Western world. I wore the hijab for many years, and no, I was not forced to do so. In fact, my decision to wear it was probably my very first conscious step towards becoming a feminist.
There are two messages the hijab is meant to convey, the first of which is very simple: the hijab is a physical representation of the woman’s faith. She is wearing it to identify herself as a Muslim woman. The second message the hijab symbolizes is that a woman’s body is her business. How she dresses and what she looks like is a personal choice and has nothing to do with anyone else. By wearing a hijab, a woman is saying that she is a Muslim, and that her physical being does not belong to anyone but herself.
Of course, that is to assume she has worn it willingly. Some women are indeed forced to wear a hijab, but to judge all Muslims based on that minority is unjust and irrational.
Not once did I say feminism isn’t for everybody. In fact, I expressly said that patriarchy hurts all of us. What Mr. James and others seem to not understand is that the aim of feminism is to secure political social equality for all genders. Last time I checked, it was men who had almost complete social and political freedom. I remember very clearly that men just made the decision to regulate women’s healthcare decisions when it comes to birth control and safe access to abortion services. Don’t forget the fact that men make more money than women in almost every industry, that men still dominate politics, and when a woman runs for office, more attention is given to her wardrobe than her policies. Oh, also remember that women are repeatedly called sluts and shamed across the media when they are assaulted or raped. Feminism is for everybody, as long as this “everybody”is working towards equal rights.
All else this week.
- Female Video Game Players Now Have Their Own E-Sports Competitions – newrepublic
- My Father on Feminism: A Middle-Aged, Straight, Cis, White Guy Talks about Women’s Issues – bust
- David Aaronovitch’s and the “Classic Panic” over Child Sexual Abuse – everydayvictimblaming
- Where is Diversity in Media? We’re Still Waiting. – bust
- Older women don’t need mansplaining boner prose in praise of their sexiness – theguardian
- 8 Lies We Need to Stop Spreading About Teenage Motherhood – everydayfeminism
- Iraqi Women Are the New Defenders of Baghdad – bust
- Greater Access to Contraception Would Ensure a Brighter Future for Today’s Youth – lipmag
- Women on strike have lost so much – enough is enough – theguardian
- “Kidnapped for Christ” Reveals the Dark World of Evangelical Teen Reform Schools – bitchmagazine
- Sex Workers Stage Protests Against Police Crackdowns at the World Cup – bitchmagazine
- Masculinism and the ‘F’ word: A Terrifying Tale in Modern Discourse – lipmag
- Suarez got a longer ban for biting than racism – feministtimes
- Meet the ‘nice,’ ‘normal’ johns of Canada – feministcurrent
- Real-Life Women Incarcerated in the “Orange is the New Black” Prison Are Now Inspiring Activists – bitchmagazine
- As a Trans Woman, I WANT People to Break the “Rule” About My Sex & Gender – feminspire
- The War on Women in My Hometown – thefeministwire
I’ve just finished watching True Detective. I started watching it, twice, but left it both times because of the ways in which violence against women, and women characters, were being portrayed.* In terms of the violence, I could see (I think) that they were trying to offer a disturbing portrayal of the often extreme misogyny-based violence that women suffer. I got that. I could also see that they were, perhaps, offering a critical commentary on a gendered world order which allows that violence to happen. That’s a possibility.
This critique becomes less convincing, though, when we examine the dismissive treatment of the main female characters on the show. Maggie, Marty’s long-suffering wife, whose only agentic act during eight episodes (to sleep with Rust) was, first, explained away as a play to destroy her marriage and, second, reduced to a conversation between Rust and Marty about their friendship. In other words, Maggie’s actions was all about them.
Lisa, Marty’s once affair, was naked for the most part (Marty, on the other hand, was fully clothed) and reduced to a way to explore Marty’s moral compass and, then, some of the stresses on his relationship with Rust. Her last scene in the series – where she literally caused a scene by being a hysterical, screaming woman – was difficult to watch. The agency that she had showed earlier in leaving Marty was removed when she was portrayed as an out-of-control haranguer. Indeed, the violence that Marty had perpetrated on both her and her date was forgotten as it became all about Marty again and his inner struggle.
Two other female characters stand out. First, there is Beth, the young woman with whom Marty has an affair later on. Beth and Marty first met when he and Rust visited a camp that was being used to sell under-age sex to men (a rape camp, in other words). Later on, Marty visits the shop in which Beth now works and they start an affair. Marty (or should I say, the writers) have such little care for the violence that this young woman had endured – testament I’m sure to their view of such violence in general – that she is nothing more but the next naked pawn in Marty’s story. Incidentally, when Marty is later violent towards Maggie when they fight about Beth (and her one infidelity, Rust, see above), it is never mentioned again. It is forgiveable in the story because he was scattered and confused and lost and messy back then and together and “better” now. So that’s OK then. Second, the unnamed half-sister of Errol Childress, who he is abusing, is last seen crouched down and crying when she hears the police sirens. She defended and adored her abuser to the last. Purpose served.
Finally, all of the young children – mostly girls, I gather – who were at the centre of the criminal case throughout the series were secondary in the finale when it became all about Rust and Marty’s futures and their renewed and strengthened friendship. Indeed, with the intensity of the finale, we barely had time to give them a second thought.
So, what does all of this mean? First, it means that women, and violence against women, are nothing more than plot points to drive a story about men forward. Second, the women who are subject to this portrayal are not given any of their own, meaningful agency because to do so would distract from the central story of male struggle and identity. Third, in using the women in the show as drivers for a story about the two men, they are reduced to insignificance (note that as Marty and Rust’s stories are developed, the women in their lives get less and less screen time) and the violence that they endured is nullified because it becomes a secondary, instrumental consideration for the viewer. There is simply too much else going on to give these women and that violence much thought.
The effects of these portrayals should not be underestimated – they make violence against women expected, unimportant, frequent, dramatic (even titillating) and inevitable. This piece in the New Statesman discusses the normalisation of violence against women on TV. The author – Doon Mackichan – remarks:
“I would argue that TV and film are exacerbating this issue with increasingly hardcore elements. Once seen, you can’t unsee it, and like abuse, it’s insidious, attacking women’s confidence and self-esteem. […] Mainstream TV drama centres on plots involving female bodies in varying degrees of manipulation, often like meat on a slab. It then proceeds to reveal how it happened in gruesome, titillating detail. Whether the woman gets retribution is not the argument – it is the main part, often, of the stories that focus on a woman’s torture, pain, fear and suffering and I am SICK, SICK SICK to the death of it.”
She also asks the question at the start of the piece:
“I wondered about starting this off with me entering with a face covered in made-up bruises. I wondered what your reaction might be. Would this be a more entertaining way of opening my talk. Would it grab your attention right from the beginning? Would you be intrigued? Or repulsed? Or would you be indifferent?”
We need to address the ubiquity of violence against women on our televisions and, at the very least, question the way it is being used to create a drama that then ignores its effects on women (or, indeed, reduces them to a driver for a larger, male-dominated story) and is irresponsible about the impact of dramatised violence on attitudes towards women.
Responsible television and story-telling would not use violence as a plot point and would centre any story that does have violence around women’s experience and that violence that they have suffered. Instead, we’re bombarded by portrayals that ask us to accept that this is a woman’s lot, that it allows men to be MEN, and that we, as women, should really be enjoying watching it.
* I returned to it because of the very reasons that I left it – I was sickened by the violence but I had to see what such a popular programme would do with everything that it introduced. In the end, as you can see, I was very, very disappointed.
Swapping misogyny for mental illness in explanations for violence against women (particularly when the explanations are a clear-cut as the Elliot Rodger case) is nothing more than excuse-making. It’s inaccurate and it prevents a criminal justice system from dealing with violence. It also covers up the extreme misogyny that women experience every day and that they’re taught to re-frame (“it was my fault”), ignore (“he says he won’t do it again”), and forgive (“he’s really sorry”). We need to call this spade a spade. On Feminist Times:
An actor called him a lunatic, and newspapers and magazines called him a madman and deranged. And while it may have been tempting to use these words to describe the young man who killed six people because of his arrogant attitude of entitlement to women, Elliott Rodger’s videos and manifesto made clear that his problem was not his mental health, but rather his unbridled misogyny.
Using mental health slurs to describe people who are violent or objectionable is not only inaccurate, it also promotes stigma and damaging attitudes towards people with mental health problems. This is why describing rapists and murderers as crazy, psychos or nutters is dangerous as well as lazy.
It is these attitudes that prevent people with mental health diagnoses from getting on with their lives. They cause people in a leafy Sheffield suburb to actively object to a charity-run crisis housein their backyard on their street. The resulting prejudice prevents us from getting jobs and causes people to fear and loathe us. It makes people avoid seeking treatment because they are so afraid of the stigma that comes alongside the ‘mentally ill’ label. As an anonymous contributor to Fementalists wrote:
“For those of us who are mentally ill, however, it stays with us, stabs at us. Whenever we hear this kind of thing we’re getting the message we’re not to be accepted as we are, that we’re bad, wrong, to be mocked, or worse, dangerous. To me, it’s a constant message sent by society that we are unwelcome in it.”
Rest: Feminist Times.
On the gender pay gap and the difficultly in closing it.
It would be fair to assume that we’re making steady, if slow, progress in equalizing pay between men and women as women become better educated and make inroads into the workforce. The gap did in fact narrow at a quick clip between the 1960s and 1990s and then kept shrinking—by 9.7 percentage points in the 1990s and by 3.1 points in the 2000s. But over the last decade, progress has slowed to a crawl: We’ve reduced the gap by just 1.7 percentage points. Today, women who work full-time, year-round make 77 percent of what men do.
So how can we earn back that momentum and erase that stubborn difference? A simple solution may still be unfeasible, at least politically: the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has been introduced ahandfuloftimes, starting in 2009, but has always been blocked by Republicans. It would, most importantly, prohibit employers from telling their workers they can’t discuss pay with peers, tighten the rules for what counts as a legitimate reason for gender pay disparities, and increase the penalties for unfair pay.
Incidentally, I didn’t even know about “salary secrecy”. First step: get rid of that. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. Really?
Considering such political impossibilities, it may be time to break it into bits and find other piecemeal solutions. One part of that lies with the courts, but before women can begin suing, they have to know what their co-workers make. The very first step would be to ban salary secrecy—the practice that employers have of prohibiting or strongly discouraging their workers from talking about compensation with each other. About half of employees toil under such regimes. President Obama recently issued an executive order that gets rid of salary secrecy for companies that contract with the government, impacting about 22 percent of the workforce. It’s progress, but it still leaves the vast majority of workers unprotected; the Paycheck Fairness Act would extend it to all Americans.
But here’s the crux. The onus remains on women to challenge their own lower wages, with all that that entails.
While these solutions would likely help reduce the wage gap, they all still put the onus on the women who need the help. That’s a big ask. Many women may be afraid to risk their jobs, careers, and resources to make a discrimination complaint (particularly considering that such a low percentage win their suits). A totally different solution that was in vogue in the ’70s and ’80s is “pay equity”: the idea that women doing comparable yet different work to men—but not the exact same job—should be paid the same. (Think a maid, who tends to be female, being paid the same as a janitor, who tends to be male.) There’s a real difference in pay between traditionally female jobs and traditionally male jobs. At the low-wage end, jobs that are 75 percent or more female pay nearly $150 less each week than those that are 75 percent men. At the high end, women’s work pays about $470 less.
Rest: New Republic.
Here’s an an excellent piece from Laurie Penny on the media shaming of “Magaluf Girl” and the intersection between class and misogyny in that shaming.
Sex sells, but sexism sells even better. Last week the Sun saw no contradiction in slut-shaming an unknown teenager on its front page for “performing sex acts” on more than 20 men in Magaluf, while featuring softcore pornography on page 3. According to witnesses, the teenage girl was promised an exotic holiday which later turned out to be the name of a cocktail. This is exploitation in anyone’s book, and yet the only story being told in the press is the story of a young girl’s shame.
This analysis is particularly accurate:
If there’s one thing the tabloid press hates more than women, it’s welfare recipients, but it saves up special stocks of loathing for people who are both. “White Dee” from the Channel 4 documentary Benefits Street has featured in much of the “Magaluf girl” coverage, for no other reason than the fact she once visited Magaluf. Readers were reminded of the precise amount White Dee claims in benefits, next to pictures of the single mother having fun on holiday, which is obviously not allowed. Poor people, and particularly poor women, are expected to be abject at all times.
The logic of misogyny is routinely used to undermine the social basis of welfare provision. The only way to ensure favourable coverage as a female in the public eye is to be young, white, rich and married to a member of the royal family. The antics of aristocrats and wealthy models, from Kate Middleton to Cara Delevingne, are covered by the same papers that profit from the sexual humiliation of working-class women – revering “good women” while demonising “bad women” and inviting readers to place themselves, their partners, relatives and friends, on that tired old scale.
All else on my radar this week.
- Income is a Poor Measure of American Inequality (thesocietypages)
- Newsflash: Facebook has Always Manipulated Your Emotions (thesocietypages)
- Yarl’s Wood women win chance to have their voices heard (downsizingcriminaljustice)
- Rape and reputation (thefword)
- The “Magaluf Girl”: Consent, Alcohol and Coercion (elegantgatheringofwhitesnows)
- ‘Lads Mags’ Now Less Sexist Than Newspapers (tokenfeminist)
- Magaluf Girl: Consent and Sexuality (everydayvictimblaming)
- “Papa Don’t Preach”: TED-like Talks at Malmo Nordic Women’s Forum May 2014 (feminismandreligion)
- Why “like a girl” shouldn’t be an insult (feministing)
- Magaluf Girl: Consent and Sexuality (everydayvictimblaming)
Would it all have been fine had she won a real holiday? That’s irrelevant because, in common with all forms of abuse, this young woman wasn’t given a choice. She wasn’t honestly offered the option of “performing” for the sake of some lousy £4 cocktail, which, drunk though she was, she’d probably have turned down. This muddies the issue of informed consent to a disquieting degree. If it’s true about the “holiday” trick, it has vague but creepy echoes of girls from poor countries who are told they are going to get a proper job abroad, but end up being sex-trafficked. Lured with the promise of one thing, but ending up with something quite different.
On the devious and upsetting manipulation of the”Magaluf Girl” and the extent to which she could ever have given her full consent to the act. (Note: she certainly didn’t give any consent to being filmed and plastered over the internet.)
Sexism clearly hasn’t gone away, and – guess what? – it never will. Sexism is when a woman is videoed giving what tabloids call “sexual favours” to men in a bar in a Magaluf and she is called “a slag” but the men are called “lads”, as happened this week (and as happened to a woman who went to an Eminem concert near Dublin last year, and as will happen again). We all know this is sexist – hell, even the Daily Mail admitted it knows this is A Bit Off. Awareness of what sexism is has never been greater, thanks to the return of feminism and call-outs of sexist acts on social media.
Ironic sexism is when someone deliberately exploits this awareness for attention. (You think you trolled Thicke on Twitter this week with the #AskThicke hashtag? He trolled you, my friends.) They believe a vague awareness of that offensive nature means anyone who finds their antics pathetic, stupid and indeed sexist is Just Not Getting the Joke. We saw this before, in the 90s with idiotic laddish culture, and we are seeing it again now. Back then, it was treated as a kind of release; now it is attention-seeking lechery dressed up as art (Bugg claims that his video is “a reference to the Electric Ladyland cover”, as though cultural referencing is some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card as opposed to an admission of a total lack of originality.)
The biggest irony about ironic sexism is that it’s not ironic at all. Irony is the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really think. Like it’s bro-in-arms, hipster racism, ironic sexism isn’t the opposite of sexism; it’s an open admission of sexism, with the bonus confession of being quite thick. Or, indeed, Thicke.
Hadley Freeman on We’re back to Loaded-style ironic sexism, then. Only without the irony.
Not everyone is enthusiastic about Loaded’s new plans.
Kat Banyard, a spokesperson for the Lose the Lads’ Mags campaign, said: “Since Lose the Lads’ Mags was launched by UK Feminista and Object, Nuts and Front have folded, Zoo’s sales have plummeted by a third, Stuff has dropped sexist covers and Loaded has announced it is ditching sexually objectifying content.
“This hugely significant sea-change in the magazine sector didn’t ‘just happen’. It was the thousands of people that stood up and demanded action who forced the hand of lads’ mag editors.”
She added: “For years the publishers of lads’ mags have peddled sexist, dehumanising images of women in order to turn a profit – but it is women and girls who have paid the price.
“Magazines like Loaded, Front, Nuts and Zoo have fueled attitudes that underpin violence against women – and that violence is at crisis levels. The changes we are seeing were hard fought for and long overdue.”
The demise of lads’ mags tells of a number of shifts taking place in 21st century Britain. And one of those is the rise of feminism. It tells us that activism works. That when we speak out together, rather than turn our heads, we can utterly transform the world around us.
Hannah Pool on The demise of lads’ mags, the rise of feminism
Last August, the Army private now known as Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in military prison. A day after the trial, Manning announced plans to undergo hormone therapy and begin public life as a woman. Her coming-out shone a light on a population that media rarely discusses: transgender women in prison.
I have a fat, accordion-style file folder—each section stuffed with mangled envelopes from across the country—full of heavy-hearted, handwritten letters from women I’ve never met. Shaylanna, Venus, Prada, and Eva: every letter flaunts the industrial, pre-stamped return address of a state prison, and every signature is a transgender woman living in a male facility.
With the help online networks that connect people to pen pals in prison, I wrote to all four women last fall, shortly after Chelsea Manning was convicted of leaking troves of classified documents to WikiLeaks and, a day later, came out as transgender. Ostracized by fellow prisoners and tarred by a system that refuses to acknowledge basic human rights, their letters spin a compelling—and woefully unsurprising—narrative.
All four women gave me permission to tell their stories. The names listed here reflect their chosen names; some self-applied during their incarceration, others chosen decades before.
Let’s start with Venus. Incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison, the maximum-security facility notorious for housing true-crime superstars Richard Ramirez, Charles Manson, and Scott Peterson, she writes of a lonely, dejected routine where she endeavors, above all, to just stay out of everyone else’s way. “I eat by myself most of the time,” she told me in one letter. “I don’t like being hated by many inmates and cops, but at least I’m not hiding behind my eyes like most people seem to do.” Incarcerated since 1981, Venus is celibate and “very burnt out on mean men,” as she writes. She craves the creature comforts of the outside world—“real makeup, real nylons, real high heels, real dresses, real panties”—and longs for a loving, meaningful relationship.
On Bitch Media.