Unless you’ve been living under a big ol’ rock, you’ve probably heard some of the fuss about Nicki Minaj’s new song ‘Anaconda’. If not, a brief summary is that people don’t like it, they think it body-shames (specifically, skinny women) and that it’s anti-feminist. Which is a direct rebuttal to the people saying that the film clip can actually be considered empowering and doesn’t skinny-shame at all. I would like to say right now that I fall into the latter category completely. I’ve never been that big a fan of Nicki, I mean I love her image to death but her songs just aren’t quite my thing, which sucks because I am ALL about supporting black, female rappers in a misogynistic industry like the rap music scene. Before I get into why I like this particular song, I urge you to watch the clip now, even if you have already seen it, as I will reference it a couple of times:
OK so one of the first things people point out about this song is her use of “skinny bitches”. I’ll admit when I first listened to it I thought “great, skinny shaming! This is no better than Meghan Trainor’s damn song”. For reference, Meghan’s song “All About That Bass” has been a bone of contention to a lot of feminists because it’s packaged as a body-positivity song but is full of skinny-shaming (I will discuss this further later on). It’s a widely held belief in feminist circles that body-positivity shouldn’t come at the detriment of one body type over another. But otherwise I loved the song and was totally mesmerised by the film clip. I’m a member of an excellent feminist group on Facebook where we have discussed this video/song at length and it was through there that I started to question if Nicki was skinny-shaming at all, so I decided to do some research and see what other people have written about it.
As I kept researching I came across more articles that were pro-Nicki and so I not only started to side with them but started to vehemently agree with them. One article I loved in particular drew a comparison between Beyoncé who people are so readily to accept as being feminist (even before she “came out” as a feminist) and yet discount Nicki as being over-sexualised and anti-feminist. This is despite the fact Beyoncé has released some really problematic stuff in the past, but hey, she’s deemed classier so it’s easier to accept her brand of moderate and respectable feminism.
So what about the “skinny bitches” line. Could I ignore it when I’d had a few rants about skinny-shaming in Meghan Trainor’s song. No, but I was suddenly able to justify it. See, Nicki has reclaimed the word “bitch” to be an empowering word for woman, the female equivalent of men being called “boss”. With that in mind, when you hear the lyric “skinny bitches” it’s suddenly not a case of her saying “you’re a bitch because you’re skinny” but her just saying “skinny women” because remember, she also refers to herself as a fat-assed bitch. Yes, she does say “fuck the skinny bitches” which sounds pretty abrasive and mean at first, but after a closer look it’s really just her telling the skinny women to move it because her and her fat-assed friends are coming in to take over the club. I now interpret “skinny bitches” to refer to the skinny, mostly-white women like Miley Cyrus who’ve been trying to appropriate twerking from black women, telling them all to get out of the way because the women who twerked first and twerk best are here and they ain’t impressed.
So back to why ‘Anaconda’ is a more empowering song than Trainor’s. First off, “All About That Bass” is presented as a feel-good body-positive song, which is all lovely and fun until she actively shames a skinny woman by presenting one as “less attractive” and unable to dance in the clip. Meghan is also a thin-waisted curvy girl (therefore an acceptable kind of “fat” that is still considered attractive and desirable) who wrote a song about how bigger girls are better than skinny girls because as her mum says “boys like a little more booty to hold at night”. It’s just taking all the crap that fat women usually get and redirecting it at skinny women, which isn’t body positivity at all and is just plain ol’ skinny-shaming. But people don’t see that, they see a cute white girl in a cute music video being soooo cute and suddenly she’s the voice for all bigger women everywhere.
On the other hand, Minaj doesn’t have any such pretense. She’s doing what she usually does – the fuck you all type swagger that that you find in a lot of hip hop. At no point does she make the claim that she’s trying to make girls all feel good about themselves, her song is solely about her feeling good about her sexual prowess and how she much she loves her own big, fat ass. There’s a line that says “Say he don’t like em boney, he want something he can grab” which some might consider the same as Meghan’s booty line but the difference between them is that this is something a man has told her he specifically likes, whereas Meghan was told that to make her feel better about feeling fat/unattractive.
I guess it can all be interpreted differently depending on your own personal experience. Overall I find the idea of skinny-shaming to be a step backwards when it comes to body-positivity, but at the same time I’m not that upset by it. Yes some slim women find it offensive, and I agree that it kinda sucks. But skinny-shaming is in no way comparable to fat-shaming. Thin people, women especially, have this thing called thin privilege, where they can see thin people like themselves represented in an appealing manner in all forms of media, they can walk down the street in a pair of shorts and not have people sneering at them or calling them names, they don’t have people concern-trolling them about their health or how they’re a burden on the health system or how they’re undesirable. So when people get up in arms about skinny-shaming and how it’s as bad as fat-shaming, I feel sad because it’s not true and it’s hurtful to try and align two types of shaming that at face-value might seem similar, but in reality one is oppressive while the other is just about some temporarily hurt feelings. Oh and just a note; if your immediate response to the concept of thin privilege is to dismiss it is being untrue or ridiculous, perhaps you need reminding of the phrase “check your privilege” because the thing about privilege is that you don’t know you have it until it’s pointed out to you.
In the end, these are all my own interpretations based on my own observances and the articles I’ve read online. I have never been skinny-shamed in my life because I am not skinny, but I also haven’t experienced much fat-shaming as I’m kind of in-between. I’ve seen both though, and I gotta say, fat-shaming is a lot more common and hurtful than any of the skinny-shaming I’ve ever witnessed, which seems to mostly stem from jealousy instead of outright disgust. ‘Anaconda’ has a lyric that can easily be perceived as hurtful, but that is not necessarily how it’s intended. This is a song about having a fabulous, big ass and being proud of it. Nicki uses her sexuality to express this in a way that empowers her. Maybe it doesn’t empower you, that’s OK, but you can’t tell everyone else that they’re not allowed to feel empowered by it. I’m happy for women to be empowered by ‘All About That Bass’ too, I won’t deny it’s too problematic for me to really enjoy but I understand why others feel differently than me.
Anyway that’s my feminist fat vs thin rant for now! Back to your irregularly scheduled program of intermittent fashion and geeky posts by yours truly ;)
My name is Cara (but you can call me Ruby) and I like the colour pink, cartoons, movies, fist shaking, Harry Potter and 90s RnB. I live in Brisbane and occupy my time by fancying up nails and making kawaii stuff for your hair!
Yesterday morning I found our Rik Mayall had died when Ben let out a mournful “Noooooooo!” as I was getting ready for work. To be honest it really got to me, I can honestly say he was one of my heroes. I grew up watching him in Grim Tales, Drop Dead Fred, the Young Ones, Bottom and Blackadder, in fact my sister and I were totally obsessed with the Young Ones, watching it religiously and quoting it constantly. Drop Dead Fred has to be one of my top 10 favourite movies (even though the ending was a bit naff), I defy anyone from around my age to say they didn’t want their own Drop Dead Fred! Perhaps it’s a testament to how much I appreciate funny people but I always had a bit of a crush on Rik, even though he played utterly repulsive characters. There was something about his manic style, the way he turned the most deplorable scumbag into someone almost lovable (albeit in a pitiful kind of way), that I personally loved. This Vice article sums it up really nicely actually.
I’ll always regret how close I came to meeting him in 2005 when I was living in London. I found out about half an hour too late that he was doing a book signing, if I’d just read the newspaper a bit earlier I could have rushed in and made it. I was so mad at my friend who knew about it but had only thought to mention this when I’d lamented how upset I was at missing out. I have yet to even read his autobiography, possibly as some sort of dumb protest because I didn’t get a copy signed by him. Fortunately Ben has a very well-read copy which I will start reading tonight. I’ll also never forgive whoever made the decision to cut Peeves from the Harry Potter films. Rik Mayall was more Peeves than Peeves was.
RIP Rik. Thank you for all the fart jokes.
This house will become a shrine, and punks and skins and rastas will all gather round and hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader. And all the grown-ups will say, “But why are the kids crying?” And the kids will say, “Haven’t you heard? Rick is dead! The People’s Poet is dead!” And then one particularly sensitive and articulate teenager will say, “Other kids, do you understand nothing? How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?”
I’ve been on the internet for a long time now. I believe I first got access to the internet when I was about 12 or 13 which would have been 1995/1996 and I embraced it completely. I used to spend hours in chat rooms and on Red Hot Chili Peppers forums, most of which was sneakily done as it was dial-up and I was only meant to be online for an hour a day to be fair to everyone else and so as not to hog the phone line. Oh the trouble I’d get into from mum when she’d realise I’d been online for hours at a time! Looking back, I can’t recall ever being abused by anyone for anything on the internet back then. I had robust discussions with other RHCP fans and excellent chats with people in Yahoo chat rooms, I even tried cyber sex once which was mostly pretty hilarious to me, but usually I just chatted to random strangers from around the world about anything and everything.
I’m not sure what happened to the internet between then and now, why people started off civil and polite and are now absolute arseholes to anyone they disagree with or just don’t like the look of. Maybe I was lucky and just didn’t witness any online bullying, though the sheer amount of time I spent online, you’d think I would have seen something? Now days you hear nothing but reports of cyber bulling causing kids to commit suicide, about people being threatened for writing something online that others didn’t like, about “revenge porn” websites (that are actually created by stealing images by hacking email accounts and posting the racy photos online along with all of their contact details for good measure) and so on. When did the internet go from being a place to share information, to make friends in other countries and look up funny pictures to a virtual battlefield? Any why exactly is it that women seem to be bearing the brunt of it all?
I read a couple of good articles this week that go into depth about why the internet basically sucks for women (here and here, I definitely recommend them both) and it made me think back to all of the abuse I’ve suffered with little to no provocation except for the mere fact I am a female. I can’t remember the first time I received gender-specific abuse online but I’ve experienced it in almost every forum, from Facebook to Youtube and even on my own blog. I’ve also received abuse that’s got nothing to do with my being a woman and simply because of something I wrote online. But almost all of it has involved some sort of misogyny, even when whatever I wrote had literally nothing to do with gender. For example, back in 2009 I organised a fundraiser for the zombie walk I used to run. I posted about it on a few different music forums, which I thought was reasonable enough, until some dude decided he didn’t like it and started writing abusive comments. At first it was just about how lame zombie walks were but as I replied to him, he got meaner and more sexist, calling me a “silly little girl” and alluded that I was only doing the walk and this fundraiser to look cool to boys.
Other abuse I’ve received has been even more sexist and absolutely unprovoked. One time a random guy messaged me on facebook (as above) to “hook up” and when I called him out on his sexist behaviour he went CRAZY (see the second part of his abuse here), calling me slut, fat, a cunt and various other horrible things simply because I took offence to his initial, sleazy comment. Not too long after that, I got some horribly nasty comments on one of my Youtube videos where I was called fat, immature, insecure and ugly for no apparent reason. You can see the comments here and here. Those comments actually really hurt me because they weren’t as crazy sounding as the guy on facebook and so I unfortunately took them to heart. As a result I didn’t want to vlog any more, it just didn’t seem worth the stress when some other arsehole would just come along and write other nasty comments about my weight or whatever bothered them about me. I even got it from so-called “friends” on social media, who would attack me for a status update and really drill into me whenever I mentioned anything remotely related to girl problems, and especially anything to do with feminism (needless to say those jerks have been long deleted).
My experiences aren’t as bad as some other women who have been threatened with death and/or rape by hundreds, if not thousands of complete strangers. I can’t even imagine how I’d feel after receiving a barrage like that just because I wrote something on the internet that some men disagreed with. It’s also astounding at how much abuse women cop for daring to speak out against female issues, such as Lindy West who was sent a startling amount of abuse for her stance on rape jokes. Who are these people writing these vile comments and do they actually really feel that way? I’m inclined to suggest they don’t and just like to say horrible things online to get a reaction and have nothing else better to do, because surely no decent man thinks this way? If this is the case, does it lessen the seriousness of the threat or the abuse? I don’t think so, because no one knows for sure what that man is capable of and if he’s willing to post those sentiments so publicly, then surely there’s a distinct possibility his threats are real and ought to be taken seriously? Whatever the stance you take, it’s hard to deny it’s been happening for a while now and is only getting worse.
Unfortunately threats and abuse made online are rarely taken seriously, even though they would be if they were made in the form of a telephone call or posted letter. There is an assumption that you can just turn off your computer and walk away because they’re not “tangible” threats as such and should just be ignored. But with all that we do online these days, is that really true? To one person twitter is probably a silly waste of time, to another it’s a serious tool used for business, networking and communicating with friends. Telling the latter to just “turn it off and walk away” is paramount to telling them to disconnect their phone and block off their letterbox. Just because you don’t understand a particular form of social media, doesn’t mean anything said on there can just be dismissed. I once had to report a violation of the DVO I have against someone to the police as I was contacted through twitter, and actually had to explain how twitter works and was initially given the impression his contact by such means didn’t count (thankfully I eventually got on to an office who not only took it seriously but followed it up for me and gave me some good advice about the matter).
I wish I knew what was causing all of this vitriol towards women online or how to end it. I feel as though the general public is really struggling to deal with the internet because in the matter of 20 or so years it’s absolutely boomed and those who haven’t grown up with it don’t know how to teach younger generations how to deal with it when things go wrong. If my parents knew of all the things I used to look up online back in the day, they’d be appalled! But they didn’t have a clue, and I think that’s how it works in most families, the parents just don’t get what their kids are up to online and aren’t willing to learn so their kids grow up with little to no adult supervision in this aspect of their lives. Combine this with the fact there seems to be very little punishment for those who do do the wrong thing online, kids are growing up knowing they can get away with just about anything on the internet. And if boys aren’t being taught to respect women in every aspect of their lives, it’s hardly surprising that they’ll use the internet as a place to voice their grievances because the only people who are going to see are the faceless people on the internet. who are powerless to do anything about it.
Another day, another article about Miley Cyrus post-VMAs. I kind of feel like her performance at that joke of an awards show will become one of those “do you remember where you were when…” moments. I remember where I was, at work. I first learned about her “controversial” performance on facebook and then a few news sites as images and video started to emerge of her performance. More than anything, I remember the reactions people had. Before I watched the video I thought she’d done something really full-on based on peoples reactions, so I was really disappointed when I actually got around to watching it. That’s it??? It was such a non-event to me, and certainly not the most controversial thing I’ve seen done in pop music.
So many people, including friends on social media, appeared mortified that she’d dared dress and/or act the way she did. Many people lamented that the old Miley was now gone and this new one was horrible and a disgrace. While I thought her performance was tacky and probably unnecessary, I couldn’t understand why people seemed to angry/appalled. But then I guess it’s because I never cared that much for Miley to begin with, whereas a lot of other people did. For some reason people were taking great personal offence that she’d decided to strip herself of her cute, all-American, girl-next-door image and now wanted to join the ranks of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Madonna and countless other pop stars who use sexuality and unusual clothing choices to grab the public’s attention.
The more I think about it, the angrier I get. Not just at peoples dumb reactions to a celebrity they don’t even know and yet seem to think they have a say about what she does, but to every damn aspect of it. I hate the over reactions to something that wasn’t even that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. I hate the fact people are now acting like twerking is a new, exciting thing and actually proclaiming she is the queen of it (when she can’t even twerk at all). I hate how her body was critiqued because her bum wasn’t pert and perfect. I hate how Billy Ray Cyrus had to defend her, because idiots thought her dad should not let his adult daughter do undaughterly things on TV. I hated how she got all the flak and fucking Robin Thicke got nothing when his song is a rapey piece of shit and he looked like a puncier version of Beetlejuice in that damn suit. I hate how she’s obviously felt pressured to change her image like this in order to shed the Hannah Montana image that people cling so desperately to. I hate how she has to use her body and silly sexual gestures to get noticed, because it’s not enough that she can sing.
It’s a shit situation all round, but at the end of the day, it’s her life and she can do with it what she wants. She generated a HUGE amount of interest because of that performance, so really, if getting attention and some notoriety was her intention, then she did a fantastic job of it. I wish it wasn’t at the expense of her credibility and dignity, but hey, it’s pop music. Since when did pop stars ever get to keep their dignity? People should have let go of the Hannah Montana thing long ago, when she stopped playing that character and started growing up. They bitch and moan that her sexy new look is trashy and unattractive, but they forget that she was being fetishised as a underage sex symbol anyway, and at least now any sexual attraction to her is justified and less creepy because she is an adult, acting like an adult, and doing adult, sexy things that demand sexual thoughts.
I just hope that she gets all of this hyper-sexualised BS out of her system with this album, a few film clips, a photoshoot with Terry Richardson (ugghh) and then moves on to become the person she really is. If it turns out this is the real Miley, then good on her. Many of us go through most of our lives not knowing who we are or suppressing our true selves for the benefit of others. Whatever happens, I still won’t ever buy her records so really, it aint any of my damn business.
I love living in Australia, it’s a bloody good country in a lot of ways. But as a general rule, we’re a bunch of racists. Not necessarily outright racists who abuse non-whites for merely existing, but a lot of Australians are “casually racist” in that they don’t really like other races very much but claim they actually do while bitching about “bloody abo’s” or getting angry over the “problem” with boat people flooding our country.
It’s something that’s mostly glossed over, people make a remark that’s kind of racist and people just ignore it. I admit I have, because sometimes it’s too hard to confront someone about it or you just don’t have the time/energy to start a debate on what’s considered racist. A lot of the time these comments are made by people who don’t even realise they’ve said something racist, they’re just saying what they’ve heard a lot of other Aussie’s say and don’t see it as a problem. And because people never really point it out to them, they go through life not understand just how offensive their casual racism can be.
There’s been a lot of media attention on a 13 year old girl who called an AFL player an ape recently. While it seems like an obvious racial slur, the girl insists she didn’t mean it as such and has apologised profusely for yelling it out. But she’s now become the “face of racism in Australia” and has potentially had her young life ruined because the player in question, the AFL as a whole and the Australian media are portraying her as a racist, conveniently forgetting she’s only a kid and has already apologised. She’s more than made up for her silly comment with the aftermath of this event, and I think it’s horrendous how she was treated.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m defending this girl after claiming most Australians are mildly racist. Well, in my opinion this little girl is being used as a tool to prove we don’t tolerate racism, and unfairly so. Aussies are so keen to prove they’re not racist by vilifying others when they really ought to be looking at themselves. I’m sure most white Australians can think of something they’ve said or thought that’s far worse than calling a man an ape, so to harass this little girl is absolutely hypocritical of us to do. Even if you haven’t said/thought something like that yourself, think of all the time you’ve heard someone make a racist comment and not spoken up. It’s not exactly the same, but just because you’ve not vocalised such comments yourself doesn’t mean you’re any better than that little girl.
I think casual racism is a big problem in Australian society and every time we ignore it, insist it doesn’t exist, or blame it all on the one person who was caught saying the wrong thing, we are only making it worse. Silence implies consent. If you don’t tell someone they’ve been racist, how will they ever know? I’m as guilty as the next person of turning a deaf ear to racist remark, and it’s something I’m working on (so not only will I be a shouty feminist who berates anyone who makes a sexist remark, I’ll also tell you off for being racist, mwahaha). Next time you hear someone mention complain about some race for doing something they don’t like, let them know it’s not on. You don’t have to be an ass about it, a polite reminder will hopefully stop them. And if it doesn’t? Well, at least you tried. You can’t change the world in a day, right?
To conclude, I am going to leave you with something that’s very painful to watch but relevant to what I have been saying. The woman in this video is NOT representative of all Aussies but she’s definitely not alone in her horrible, racist beliefs. But her vitriol isn’t the only bad thing in this video. That bus has a lot of other people on it and the only reactions she gets involve some other bogan laughing along with her, someone filming it and the bus driver asking her to stop. That poor kid had to endure that abuse alone, and I was ashamed. Silence implies consent, so as far as she knows, she didn’t actually do anything wrong. Anyway, see for yourself. WARNING: FOUL LANGUAGE.
I have been described as a militant feminist a couple of times, including by my boyfriend (though in the nicest possible way, of course). If shouting at people for making g0-back-to-the-kitchen jokes or getting rage when I hear about a new case of victim-blaming in the case of male-on-female rape makes me a militant feminist, then I am fine with this! I don’t think women get angry enough about these sorts of topics and in many cases, are worse than men at perpetuating a lot of these myths about where a woman’s place is.
One issue that I feel strongly about is women taking her husbands surname after marriage. It just feels so wrong to me, I can’t think of how it benefits the woman at all and it’s just another outdated remnant of a time where women lost their identity as soon as they were married. It bothers me so much when I hear of friends who take on their husbands name, though none of my close friends have married yet so I’ve never discussed it with them or asked them why they decided to change their name. I find it old fashioned, unnecessary and totally sexist. But when I tell people this, they think I’m being ridiculous. It’s the done thing, it’d be so confusing not to have a shared family name, it’s no big deal etc. I’m also reminded that it’s a woman’s choice and isn’t that what feminism is about anyway? Letting women make their own choices?
I call BS on all of that. It’s a massive deal to go through the process of changing your surname. It’s not like you just wave your marriage certificate at a few utilities companies and be done with it, there’s expense involved and you have to go through a lot of legal rigmarole before contacting each company necessary to make the change. Then there’s the fact you now have a whole new name! You have to change your signature and make sure you remember to give your new name instead of your old one. And if it’s “not a big deal” then why don’t more men take on their wives names? I appreciate that a part of feminism is respecting a woman’s choice, but I’m of the opinion that most women don’t take their husbands names because they really want to , they just do it because it’s expected. Fuck that! If you have a terrible surname, I can absolutely understand you wanting to take your new husbands name to get rid of it (though if it’s so bad, I would have suggested changing it to something you actually want, not just taking on whatever boring surname your boyfriend-cum-husband happens to have). But when you marry a Smith or Cockburn, please don’t tell me you actually wanted his surname because gurl, I ain’t buyin’!
I just wish women were more open to the possibility of keeping their name, because I feel it’s a massive part of who you are, and to give it away just because it’s the “norm” seems silly to me. Why not explore other options? Why can’t your hubby take on your surname? Why not, if you can, merge both your surnames and both take it on? Sure you still have to go through all of the stress of changing your name, but at least you’re doing it together! I’m also not opposed to the idea of hyphenating names (I mostly enjoy how long and obnoxious they can be). There are other options and you, as a new wife, have every right to explore them and do what makes you happy. If taking on his surname is something you genuinely want, then good for you. But please do it because it’s what you want, not because you feel you have to, OK?
I understand I may be too much of a hardarse on this matter, but I feel really damn passionate about it. I have no intention of changing my surname after I get married (I mean, Westworth is a pretty neat and unusual name, I’d never want to lose it) and my kids will either take on my name or both parents names. I’ll be damned if I’m popping children out, only for their dad to get all the freaking credit! If my husband loves me, then he’ll understand. If he refuses, then I’ll kick his arse til he does or else not marry him!
What are your thoughts? If you’re married, did you take your partners name? What were your reasons for (not) doing so?
I tend to get on my feminist high-horse on a daily basis. There’s always something going on in the news about some poor woman being raped/murdered or simply highlighting the inequality between men and women. Depending on my mood I tend to post links to my facebook where I have a bit of a rant about the injustices of the world and maybe have a bit of a discussion about it with friends. Occasionally there is debate, sometimes heated but almost always respectful and well intention ed.
I made a point of mentioning that as it’s from the Daily Mail, it’s automatically kind of hard to believe or take seriously, but that I recommended it because of how it proves misogyny is still a big problem these days, even amongst the well-educated and wealthy, and that rape should never a joking matter. I feel these two facts are pretty obvious, and so I am always shocked and appalled when I get resistance to them from people. There was a massive fight about it, with one person being particularly vocal about how it was probably all a lie because of the site it was on and discounting it as female hysteria because there were no back up sources online (wut?). As one friend put it “Being critically aware is cool, but doubting off the bat has its roots in victim blaming and misogyny itself”.
It’s not just the media that’s sympathising with the rapists, the average joe on twitter has an opinion on it too as highlighted on Public Shaming (Warning: This tumblr will probably enrage you).
It is perplexing to me that even in the year 2013, people still don’t “get” what rape is. It’s as though rape is only genuine when it involves an innocent girl is raped by the creepy pervert hiding in the bushes. There is always a question of “what did the girl do to deserve the rape?” because it seems that unless you were dressed conservatively, are sober and you were walking in a safe area during daylight hours, it’s basically your fault that you got raped because you did something wrong (dressed “provocatively”, drank too much, walked in a bad area at night without a male escort etc) and you really should have know better. And unless a man forced himself on the violently, there’s always doubt about whether it’s really rape because maybe she lead him on, she just regretted having sex with him the next morning or the ever popular “well she didn’t say no”.
Just to be absolutely clear: RAPE IS RAPE.
We need to be beyond a time where we doubt a woman’s claim of rape before she even has a chance to explain what happened. Her being drunk or the fact she wore a short skirt should never, ever be justifications for her being sexually assaulted by anyone. There is no “lesson” being taught when a girl is raped. There is never something she has done to deserve rape as a punishment or lesson because no matter how repugnant she may be as a person, rape is never acceptable. It makes me furiously angry that everyone doesn’t know and accept this, but with everything that’s been happening in the world lately, it’s pretty darn clear that the general public either doesn’t realise or simple refuses to believe the truth. The fact a woman can be gang-raped to death and have people ask “Well why was she out after dark with a man who isn’t her husband?” or have a girl molested by a group of boys and have thousands of people the world over blaming her because she was drunk, only proves that there is a huge amount to do in terms of educating people on how victims of rape deserve to be treated. It’s not going to be easy and we’ll probably never get 100% there but I honestly think it’s possible.
I have so many opinions on this matter but I feel they can all be summed up with the following:
What people don’t understand is when we say “Teach men not to rape,” we’re not talking about telling them not to jump out of the bushes in a ski mask and grab the nearest female. We’re talking about the way we teach boys that masculinity is measured by power over others, and that they aren’t men unless they “get some.” We’re talking about teaching men (and women) that it’s not okay to laugh at jokes about rape and abuse. We’re talking about telling men that a lack of “No” doesn’t mean “Yes,” that if a woman is too drunk to consent they shouldn’t touch her, that dating someone – or even being married to someone – does not mean automatic consent. We’re talking about teaching boys to pay attention to the girl they’re with, and if she looks uncomfortable to stop and ask if she’s okay, because sometimes girls don’t know how to say stop in a situation like that. We’re talking about how women have the right to change their mind. Even if she’s been saying yes all night, if she says no, that’s it. It’s over. That’s what we mean when we say “Teach men not to rape.
Today a friend linked me to an article called Nerds: Stop Hating Women Please, asking for my opinion (with pleasure, Naomi!). It is based off a Facebook post by comic book artist Tony Harris who had a rant about women, particularly one’s who aren’t especially hot, who cosplay at comic book conventions. Basically he feels that most of these women aren’t real fans and are just dressing up because they’re attention seekers but are seeking the attention of nerdy guys who they wouldn’t give the time of day to when NOT at a convention.
As much as I hate to admit it, I do see his point. Problem is, he articulated it badly and is being a massive douchebag about it. What he should have said, and what I hope he actually meant, was that he hates posers at con’s and if you’re going to dress up as a character, make sure you’re doing it because you genuinely love the character/fandom and not because you think you’ll look cool/sexy/whatever in it. I think that if fair enough, because I feel that if you’re going to dress up as anything you should do it well and part of that is knowing what on earth you’re dressing up as.
Where he massively fucked up was aiming his vitriol at female cosplayers specifically, ad not only that, specifically the ones who are kinda-ok-looking but not totally hot. It’s as though he’s decided that only true girl-geeks are dorky, fat and ugly like the stereotypical geeky guy, while any girl who’s super duper hot isn’t trying to seek attention because she’s hot anyway, so like, whatever. WHAT THE HELL, DUDE? He actually seems bitter about being spurned by a girl for being a geek at some point in his life and now think all women are the same. And what about his awful opinion on his fellow guy-geeks? I’d be fuming if I was a male geek and I was tarred with the same brush as the worst examples of geeks.
I think Tony and any geeky guys out there who think like him need to understand a simple fact about women. Most of us do not dress the way we dress because we are seeking the attention of males. We wear what we were because we like it and/or it’s fashion. Sometimes fashion is revealing or shocking and therefore gets people’s attention. But attention-seeking is not the sole reason we dress in anything other than oversized hoodies and baggy jeans. Now, take into the equation what the typical female wears in comic books, film, video games etc and and ask yourselves this? What the hell else are we supposed to wear at conventions? Should we be making more modest versions of female super hero costumes in order to avoid being “attention seekers”? OH HALE NO!
Tony fucked up big time by focusing on women in his rant. Because this applies to men too. I see so many buff guys strutting around shirtless or in figure hugging lycra at conventions as their some super handsome comic book character, and I’m sure a number of them are only doing to to show off their hot-bod’s and not so much because they love the fandom. WHO CARES? Conventions are there for people to geek out over their favourite things, and dressing up is a huge part of the fun. If someone dresses up as a character and doesn’t know much about it, that’s their problem, not yours. It’s not your business if they look awful because they don’t have the perfect physique in their costume. Let them have their fun and go about and have yours.
I think that the people who deserve to be targeted at con’s are those who wear cheap, shitty costumes from Chinese websites that are ill-fitting and cheaply made. I don’t give a shit how much you love that character or their fandom, you look like a punce. I’m a firm believer (as I’ve mentioned before) that unless you’re doing to dress up properly, don’t bother. Just go in your normal clothes and take photos of the people who actually bothered to make an effort, regardless of how big a geek you think they are.
Please watch this video. I found this today while procrastinating and trawling through crappy news sites and it struck a cord with me. Bullies are jerks and I am sick of hearing about kids killing themselves after being relentlessly bullied. It should never happen and it boggles my mind that it keeps happening and is being fought against.
I was never really bullied in school. I’ve been super tall my whole life after some early growth spurts and so I never looked like a potential victim. Oh sure, tall kids get bullied too, but when you’re also a big ol’ loudmouth as I tend to be, bullies don’t really bother you much. They tried a few times though, but I’d usually laugh in their faces. I actually spent a lot of time defending kids against bullies in high school. Any time I saw someone teasing or hurting another kid in a bullying kind of way, I’d be all up in the bullies face yelling insults back and a few times, I lashed out physically (only minor things like a few face slaps and pinning them against a wall while I told them a thing or two). In most cases the bully stopped and as far as I knew stopped bullying that kid, at least while I was around. I did suffer some workplace bullying which was awful but I learne d alot from that, and will never let that happen to me again.
See, this is the thing with most bullies, be they at school or at work or online, people turn a blind eye to it. Which is RIDICULOUS! Standing up to a bully isn’t the same as standing up to a man holding a knife or a gun. You don’t even have to stand up to them yourself, if you think they might turn their attention to you (which should only be a problem if the bully is a violent one since, ya know, words can’t hurt you) because you can go report them to someone with authority and get them to sort it out. And if they won’t, go to someone else. There’s never an excuse to be a silent witness to bullying and by turning the other cheek, you’re almost as bad as the bully themselves.
Now that we have the internet, bullying can be sneakier and done with more secrecy because if the attacks are all sent via email or private message, there aren’t any witnesses. I’ve received some nasty online bullying before but mostly from complete strangers who take offense to something I’ve posted online and after initially getting a bit riled up, I am able to laugh about it and hit delete. But many people can’t do that and take those nasty words to heart and suffer in silence. It’s unfortunate that they feel they can’t tell friends or family about it and actually believe any of those vicious comments are true.
I don’t have any awesome advice on how to deal with bullying because I was very rarely subject to it. All I can say is, heed the advice given by Jennifer Livingston because it’s so, so good. No one deserves to be bullied ever, not as a kid and not as an adult, no matter what their situation in life. Bullies are cowards and we need to help each other out to stop them from destroying any more lives.
Unless you’re not from Australia, you may not know about Jill Meagher. In the very early hours of Saturday 22nd September, she started the extremely short walk home in Brunswick, one she’d probably walked alone many times before. But she never made it home and her husband reported her missing right away. Within a day or two the whole of the country was aware of her disappearance. On the morning of Friday 28th I woke to the news that her body had been discovered, raped and murdered 50km north of Melbourne and a man had been arrested in relation to her death.
I honestly haven’t stopped thinking about it since my boyfriend woke me up to tell me her body had been discovered. I was feeling ratshit from going to a gig the night before and the subsequent agony that my back was going through as a result, but I was wide awake as soon as I heard. I knew deep down that there wouldn’t be a happy ending when she was missing for more than three days and they found her belongings in an alley. But that doesn’t stop you from feeling sad when you find out what happened to her.
Without making this a big ol’ feminist rant, I just want to say how close to home this is for almost every female I know. We’re always told to be careful, not to walk alone at night (especially not while drunk) and always be wary of strange men. But who would ever think they’d be abducted while walking the 500m from a bar to your home in a busy neighbourhood? It goes to show that no matter how careful and prepared for the worse you are, it means nothing when you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was so sad to hear of people victim-shaming her for not calling her hubby to pick her up or catching a cab. It was 500 metres, of course it made sense to walk when she probably did it dozens of times before. I’ve made similar walks home while drunk before and while I had fleeting thoughts of worry that someone might try and hurt me, the fact it was a short distance in a busy area with lots of potential witnesses made the likeliness of my being hurt/grabbed seem impossible. I could have been so wrong just one of those times and never made it home. It’s so unfair that women have to be scared about being assaulted by simply walking by themselves at night, and then have people say “well you shouldn’t have done that” like we’re supposed to cover ourselves head to toe and have a man with us at every moment to avoid being attacked. It’s just bullshit.
I just hope Jill’s death won’t be in vain. I hope that it will affect people in such a way that we all start looking after one another a little better. Yes, killers and rapists will always be out there but maybe this will help make people more aware of the things happening around them and more willing to help out if someone seems to be in trouble. I also hope cab drivers stop refusing short trip fares, especially to the vulnerable and partners are more obliging to pick loved ones up instead of expecting them to make their own way home after a night out. If that’s what comes of of this terrible situation then at least Jill’s death wasn’t entirely pointless, especially if it ends up saving someone else’s life.