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Tag Archives: Women Rights

Popular Feminism: Gendered Mass Violence

MAYBE YOU’VE SEEN this somewhere: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” The quote is attributed to the acclaimed author Margaret Atwood, and in the contemporary context of popular feminism, it is viral wallpaper. It makes an appearance in the second season of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. One finds it on Pinterest and Tumblr pages, on Instagram, in Twitter hashtags. Popular feminism has its fair share of memes, motivational phrases, and humorous quips, but some seem to have more resonance than others.

It is likely the second part of Atwood’s quote that explains its high visibility, because it throws a light on the fact that women are disproportionately victims of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault. I think, however, we need to pay attention to the link between the two statements: all too often, men kill women for laughing at them.

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/popular-feminism-gendered-mass-violence/

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Posted by on September 12, 2018 in North America, Reportages

 

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The Consent of the (Un)governed

Something has snapped. In early autumn, women and men finally began to come forward to speak, in numbers too big to dismiss, about sexual harassment and abuse. It started in Hollywood. It spread, under the #metoo hashtag — first coined 10 years ago by Tarana Burke — across industries, across oceans, to the very heart of politics. Powerful men are losing their jobs. We’re having consent conversations at the highest levels, with varying degrees of retrospective panic.

Something broke, is breaking still. Not like a glass breaks or like a heart breaks, but like the shell of an egg breaks — inexorably, and from the inside. Something wet and angry is fighting its way out of the dark, and it has claws.

A great many abusers and their allies have begged us to step back and examine the context in which they may or may not have sexually intimidated or physically threatened or forcibly penetrated one or several female irrelevances who have suddenly decided to tell the world their experiences as if they mattered.

https://longreads.com/2017/12/05/the-consent-of-the-ungoverned/?utm_source=Weekly+Longreads+Email&utm_campaign=75a3f46b87-Longreads_Top_5_December_8_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_bd2ad42066-75a3f46b87-238658565&mc_cid=75a3f46b87&mc_eid=0686d31577

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2018 in Reportages

 

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Does anyone have the right to sex?

On 23 May 2014, Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old college dropout, became the world’s most famous ‘incel’ – involuntary celibate. The term can, in theory, be applied to both men and women, but in practice it picks out not sexless men in general, but a certain kind of sexless man: the kind who is convinced he is owed sex, and is enraged by the women who deprive him of it. Rodger stabbed to death his two housemates, Weihan Wang and Cheng Hong, and a friend, George Chen, as they entered his apartment on Seville Road in Isla Vista, California. Three hours later he drove to the Alpha Phi sorority house near the campus of UC Santa Barbara. He shot three women on the lawn, killing two of them, Katherine Cooper and Veronika Weiss. Rodger then went on a drive-by shooting spree through Isla Vista, killing Christopher Michaels-Martinez, also a student at UCSB, with a single bullet to the chest inside a Deli Mart, and wounding 14 others. He eventually crashed his BMW coupé at an intersection. He was found dead by the police, having shot himself in the head.

In the hours between murdering three men in his apartment and driving to Alpha Phi, Rodger went to Starbucks, ordered coffee, and uploaded a video, ‘Elliot Rodger’s Retribution’, to his YouTube channel. He also emailed a 107,000-word memoir-manifesto, ‘My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger’, to a group of people including his parents, his therapist, former schoolteachers and childhood friends. Together these two documents detail the massacre to come and Rodger’s motivation. ‘All I ever wanted was to fit in and live a happy life,’ he explains at the beginning of ‘My Twisted World’, ‘but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me.’

He goes on to describe his privileged and happy early childhood in England – Rodger was the son of a successful British filmmaker – followed by his privileged and unhappy adolescence in Los Angeles as a short, bad-at-sports, shy, weird, friendless kid, desperate to be cool. He writes of dyeing his hair blond (Rodger was half-white and half-Malaysian; blond people were ‘so much more beautiful’); of finding ‘sanctuary’ in Halo and World of Warcraft; being shoved by a pretty girl at summer camp (‘That was the first experience of female cruelty I endured, and it traumatised me to no end’); becoming incensed by the sex lives of his peers (‘How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half-white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves’); dropping out of successive schools and then community college; and fantasising about a political order in which he ruled the world and sex was outlawed (‘All women must be quarantined like the plague they are’). The necessary result of all this, Rodger said, was his ‘War on Women’, in the course of which he would ‘punish all females’ for the crime of depriving him of sex. He would target the Alpha Phi sorority, ‘the hottest sorority of UCSB’, because it contained ‘the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender … hot, beautiful blonde girls … spoiled, heartless, wicked bitches’. He would show everyone that he was ‘the superior one, the true alpha male’.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n06/amia-srinivasan/does-anyone-have-the-right-to-sex

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2018 in Reportages

 

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A broken idea of sex is flourishing. Blame capitalism

Since the Toronto bloodbath, a lot of pundits have belatedly awoken to the existence of the “incel” (short for involuntary celibate) online subculture and much has been said about it. Too often, it has been treated as some alien, unfamiliar worldview. It’s really just an extreme version of sex under capitalism we’re all familiar with because it’s all around us in everything, everywhere and has been for a very long time. And maybe the problem with sex is capitalism.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/12/sex-capitalism-incel-movement-misogyny-feminism?CMP=soc_3156

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2018 in Reportages

 

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The Myth of Women’s ‘Empowerment’

For only $100, you can empower a woman in India. This manageable amount, according to the website of the organization India Partners, will provide a woman with her own sewing machine, allowing her to take the very first step on the march to empowerment.

Or you can send a chicken. Poultry farming, according to Melinda Gates, empowers women in developing countries by allowing them to “express their dignity and seize control.”

If chickens are not your empowerment tool of choice, Heifer International will, for $390, deliver an “enterpriser basket” to a woman in Africa. It includes rabbits, juvenile fish and silkworms.

 

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s Time to Resist the Excesses of #MeToo

A month or so ago, a friend and I mulled over when exactly the backlash to the then-peaking #MeToo moral panic would set in. Mid-January, we guessed, and sure enough here we are.

No, we were not being clairvoyant, just noting certain dynamics. The early exposure of Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and Harvey Weinstein — achieved by meticulous, scrupulous journalists and smart, determined women — quickly extended to more ambiguous and trivial cases. Distinctions among many different types of offenses — from bad behavior at private parties to brutal assault and rape of employees and co-workers — were being instantly lost in the fervor. Punishment was almost always the same — social ostracism and career destruction — whether you were Mark Halperin, who allegedly sexually assaulted women in his workplace, or Al Franken, damned because of mild handsiness and pretending to grope a woman’s breasts as a joke. Any presumption of innocence was regarded as a misogynist dodge, and an anonymous online list of accusations against named men in the media was created and circulated with nary an attempt by its instigators to substantiate a single one. Within a few weeks, the righteous exposure of hideous abuse of power had morphed into a more generalized revolution against the patriarchy.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/andrew-sullivan-time-to-resist-excesses-of-metoo.html

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2018 in North America

 

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We’re Not Done Here

Oh, girls, look what we’ve done now. We’ve gone too far. The growing backlash against the MeToo movement has finally settled on a form that can face itself in the mirror. The charge is hysteria, moral panic, hatred of sex, hatred of men. More specifically, as Andrew Sullivan complained in New York magazine this week, “the righteous exposure of hideous abuse of power had morphed into a more generalized revolution against the patriarchy.” Well, yes. That’s rather the point.

Sullivan is far from the only one to accuse the MeToo movement of becoming a moral panic about sexuality itself, and he joins a chorus of hand-wringers warning that if this continues — well, men will lose their jobs unjustly, and what could be worse than that, really? The story being put about is that women, girls, and a few presumably hoodwinked men are now so carried away by their “anger” and “temporary power” that, according to one piece in the Atlantic, they have become “dangerous.” Of course — what could be more terrifying than an angry, powerful woman, especially if you secretly care a little bit more about being comfortable than you do about justice? This was always how the counter-narrative was going to unfold: It was always going to become a meltdown about castrating feminist hellcats whipping up their followers into a Cybelian frenzy, interpreting any clumsy come-on as an attempted rape and murder. We know what happens when women get out of control, don’t we?

 

Charges like this are serious. Too serious to dismiss out of hand. I don’t mean to do so, not least because I am a queer person, and I do not take the notion of sex panic lightly. Why, then, are so many people so anxious to believe that this is one? There is at least one simple answer. It is easier — much, much easier — to manufacture an attack on sexuality than it is to imagine an attack on patriarchy.

We’re Not Done Here

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2018 in North America

 

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Asia Argento, Harvey Weinstein and Italy’s complex relationship with feminism

Italy has long been regarded as being backwards when it comes to gender rights and sexual harassment. So in many ways, its reaction to the recent wave of revelations about sexual harassment by men in positions of power all over the world was depressingly familiar. But, at the same time, it also revealed the strength and diversity of grassroots feminism there, despite the odds.

Simona Siri, a US-based Italian journalist, pronounced recently in The Washington Post that “the already present and strong sexist Italian culture now seems almost impossible to reverse”. This came following the startling backlash against Italian actor Asia Argento after she gave an an interview to Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker in which she accused Harvey Weinstein of a horrific sexual assault. Siri argued that Italy’s entrenched misogyny, embodied by the figure of Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, made fighting back futile for Italian women.

https://theconversation.com/asia-argento-harvey-weinstein-and-italys-complex-relationship-with-feminism-88496

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2018 in European Union

 

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Margaret Atwood faces feminist backlash on social media over #MeToo

Canadian author Margaret Atwood is facing a social media backlash after voicing concerns about the #MeToo movement and calling for due process in the case of a former university professor accused of sexual misconduct.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, Atwood said the #MeToo movement, which emerged in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, was the symptom of a broken legal system and had been “seen as a massive wake up call”.

However, she wondered where North American society would go from here. “If the legal system is bypassed because it is seen as ineffectual, what will take its place? Who will be the new power brokers?” Atwood asked.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/15/margaret-atwood-feminist-backlash-metoo

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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France’s Fight Over Sexual Freedom

After the backlash, comes the backlash to the backlash. It’s been fascinating to follow the torrent of responses in France this week to an open letter in Le Monde signed by French actress Catherine Deneuve and 99 other women, effectively saying that the #MeToo movement had gone too far and that women should own up to their own sexual agency. (I wrote about the letter here and you can find a full translation here.)

“Sexual Freedom Threatened, REALLY?” ran the headline of Thursday’s Libération, a left-wing daily, beneath photos of three signatories: Deneuve, Catherine Millet, the author of The Sexual Life of Catherine M., and Brigitte Lahaie, a talk-show host and former porn actress. The implication was, why should we listen to these women? “To entertain the idea that a groper on the metro ‘is the expression of a great sexual misery, or a non-event’”—as the Deneuve letter had—“presumes that you live on a planet without rush hour and have enough power and/or hours on the couch to relativize it at your leisure,” the paper wrote in an editorial.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/me-too-france-le-monde-letter-backlash/550361/

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2018 in European Union

 

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