inmyinternest:

This is a perceptive treatment of the priviledged distress, and I am sympathetic to that distress. Really, I am. But it also gets old, trying to be understanding about it. When I discuss feminism with anti-feminists, I’m nice as long as they’re nice to me. I’ve tried being nice even when the priviledged person isn’t. I’ve tried it and it didn’t work, and I lost my patience. Now I just use the same tone with them as they’re using with me. Seems more fair that way.

Originally posted on The Weekly Sift:

In a memorable scene from the 1998 film Pleasantville (in which two 1998 teen-agers are transported into the black-and-white world of a 1950s TV show), the father of the TV-perfect Parker family returns from work and says the magic words “Honey, I’m home!”, expecting them to conjure up a smiling wife, adorable children, and dinner on the table.

This time, though, it doesn’t work. No wife, no kids, no food. Confused, he repeats the invocation, as if he must have said it wrong. After searching the house, he wanders out into the rain and plaintively questions this strangely malfunctioning Universe: “Where’s my dinner?”

Privileged distress. I’m not bringing this up just to discuss old movies. As the culture evolves, people who benefitted from the old ways invariably see themselves as victims of change. The world used to fit them like a glove, but it no longer does. Increasingly, they find themselves…

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I’m an atheist and I think this was pretty funny… though to be honest, theists usually aren’t as dim as this list makes them out to be.

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Hating on Girls

I really hoped hatred of young girls was a marginal phenomenon but unfortunately, Soraya Chemaly’s article about a facebook page committed to hating “12-year-old sluts” got me thinking it’s a norm rather than an anomaly. (Here’s the article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/12-year-old-slut-meme-and_b_1911056.html?utm_hp_ref=tw).

The facebook page (here: https://www.facebook.com/12YearOldSlutMemes) dedicated to slut shaming little girls was created by two 19-year-old Australian guys who thought it was a good idea to have a page just to shame girls who have just reached puberty. They have now posted this message on their page:

Our intent in building this Facebook page was to bring to light the fact that many young girls under the age of consent are sexualising themselves in provocative photographs that they themselves post on their own Facebook pages to be seen by the world.Yes, we may have used language and content (publicly available content) that shocked many, that being said though; we did at least bring widespread attention to the issue.
Some have condemned our actions as promoting teen pornography or worse. The media have misrepresented our actions and our message, many articles, (even reputable news sources) have provided completely fabricated information that has since been taken as fact. A word to these entities, get your fucking facts straight.
We are two people who call it like we see it. We have made our point now and many people have agreed with us that these young girls are “not acting in their own best interests” … to put it mildly.
Having made our point.

In closing: Just because people don’t want to see, hear or know something, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.
We would like to close the page with immediate effect … but Facebook have taken away our capacity to do so.
Over to you Facebook.

So we’re moving on to uncover other “problems in society”. Watch this space.

James and Dom :)

I wish I had copied the original description of the page but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t about “uncovering problems in the society.” It was more along the lines of “making fun of underage sluts.” The only hint of the original stated purpose of the page that remains visible is in the About section, where James and Dom state their personal interests: “Embarrassing those who embarrass themselves.” James and Dom are right that sexualisation of young girls is a problem in our society. However, if they REALLY thought online bullying was an appropriate answer to that problem, I hope they will reconsider.

When a girl reaches puberty, takes a picture of her brand new cleavage and posts it on facebook, it’s easy to point and cry, “Haa haa, what a slut!” But that’s not pointing out a problem in the society, that’s re-enforcing a problem in the society. But then, why do young girls feel like they have to show some cleavage to gain social status?

One answer to that question is simply that teens are engrossed with their developing bodies. Their world is focused on the physical changes they’re experiencing, and naturally, they want their new bodies to be accepted. Young girls want reassurance that they are sexually attractive, and they will test their new charms on teens and adults alike. They will act flirty and they will dress suggestively.

It’s a very natural thing to do, and girls are permitted to do it in societies where sexuality is less of a taboo. It’s up to adults to be mature about it, and allow teen girls to go through that phase in their development undisturbed. It’s just that now there’s the internet, girls can test their charms on a much wider audience. And maybe they’re doing it more boldly than before, partly because of half-naked women being such a common sight in media, and partly because they can expose themselves in the privacy of their bedrooms.

What makes this slut shaming thing particularly sinister is that boys also go through a similar phase in their sexual awakening, but they rarely get bullied for it, and certainly not by adults. Boys post pictures of themselves in tank tops, flexing their muscles, showing off their six-pack, and they get away with it without being called sluts. When boys post topless pictures of themselves on the beach, or just flexing for the camera, the pictures aren’t seen as slutty, but as sporty or funny. Apparently it’s okay to show off a male body but a female body should be demurely covered.

Boys also flirt at adult women. I’ve been on the receiving end of this behaviour, and let me tell you, it’s a bit disturbing to have a 15-year-old jock smoldering at you over the teacher’s desk, or a 17-year-old suddenly lifting his shirt to show off his abs. But as an adult, I know this behaviour is a normal part of teenagers’ development. Their crude flirting is about learning a new behaviour, and they aren’t expecting their flirting to lead into anything.  They may act like they’re trying to seduce you but if you’re an adult, you must have enough sense to resist their efforts, and do it without ridiculing teens when they’re going through a fragile phase in their development. This goes for face to face encounters with flirty teens as well as the sexy pictures they post online.

Now, as for James and Dom, they’re still teenagers themselves, so maybe they can’t be expected to have an adult’s judgement. But still, attacking 12-year-old girls seems like a pretty base thing to do. Their page has 217000 likes. Think about it: 217000 people think that what James and Dom are doing is somehow commendable, or funny. Whatever happened to “Try picking on someone your own size”? If James and Dom had created a similar page dedicated to shaming and embarrassing 12-year-old boys, I’m sure people would have wondered what the hell was wrong with them. But they targeted girls, and 217000 people gave it the thumbs up.

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Equality in Education Leads to Equal Pay… Or Not!

I just read a rather convoluted editorial in Tuesday’s Aamulehti, concerning gender equality in education and the pay gap. The editor-in-chief, Jouko Jokinen, proposed that wages would rise in traditionally low paying women’s jobs in fields like healthcare and education, if more men could be lured into the traditional women’s professions.

For one thing, isn’t it pretty pathetic if the only way to raise wages in traditional women’s fields is to populate them with men? I’d rather see a raise in teachers and nurses’ wages, not because at least 40 % of teachers and nurses are suddenly men, but because those jobs are demanding. Finnish teachers are highly educated professionals who work hard in a stressful environment and who have a huge responsibility of not only the education and the upbringing of their pupils, but also of their safety and wellbeing during the school day. And I hardly need to tell you about the workload and the responsibility of the low paying women’s jobs in healthcare.

I raised my second objection to this editorial when it turned out that the editor-in-chief wasn’t really interested in raising women’s wages. All that talk about the pay gap and equality was just a Trojan horse hiding his real worry, which was the alarming number of female students in universities. The fact is, the majority of Finnish university students are female, and have been for over 10 years, if not 20.  Women hold the largest majorities in disciplines like languages and arts, psychology, sociology and medicine. Only the technical universities have, and I quote, “stood their ground.” Against women.

It’s not the same what words you use when you talk about these things. When Jokinen says technical universities have “stood their ground,” he makes it quite clear that he thinks having large numbers of female students in universities is a bad thing, something that should be opposed. And now we get to the bottom of this. Jokinen thinks there is something sinister and wrong in the way girls are doing so well in school. Thanks to their greater success in school, girls are better equipped to compete for the admittance to universities. The result is, more girls than boys pass the entrance exams.

The assertion that there is something wrong and unfair about girls’ academic success comes up from time to time. On the surface of it, yes, it does seem unfair that girls are raking in the academic achievements while boys are barely passing their exams. But it’s a fallacy to claim that the school system itself is somehow responsible for this. Historically, schools and universities have been the domain of boys and men. Since women’s emancipation, both genders have had the right to an education, but education hasn’t been changed to favour girls on the expense of boys. Sure, teaching and studying methods have changed over time, but the change has been to accommodate the short attention span of modern pupils. That doesn’t detract from boys’ chances to success. If anything, it should add to it.

As a teacher, I can promise you that schools do nothing to make boys into under achievers, and girls are not to blame for the boys’ poor success, either. There are no gender quotas for good grades, so girls are not “hogging” the success. Everyone who works hard and performs well gets a good grade. No matter how many girls get top grades, the boys can get the same grades – if they do the work.

As a teacher, I can also tell you that boys tend to do less work than girls. Obviously this is a generalisation and there are girls who work less than the average boy, and boys who work harder than the average girl. But the grand total of homework and classwork done by boys is smaller than the total of schoolwork girls put it. Again, schools are not at fault here. Schools and teachers do their best to support boys and to encourage and tempt them to participate in class, do their homework and prepare for their exams. But if schools are not to blame, then who? Or what? I would suggest that the culprit is, once again, patriarchy.

Like I’ve said before, patriarchy hurts men as much as it hurts women, and this is one way it does that. Because of our culture’s ingrained patriarchal stereotypes, boys will be boys. Boys learn early on to be bold, rebellious and independent. Boys don’t have to follow the rules, and no one can make them! Cool dudes don’t study because studying is for sissies!

Adopting this stereotypic gender role provides immediate reward for boys because it makes life instantly easier and more fun. They can skip studying to have more time for play, and be all the more cool for it. The boys who have achieved the admiration of their peers don’t really care about the poor grades because having bad or average grades is better for a boy’s street rep than having good grades. It takes a strong personality to go against this current and be a good student because that pretty much ruins a boy’s chances to be regarded as a cool guy.

Of course, these days many girls adopt the same rebellious attitude as boys. The difference is, such girls don’t usually get the unreserved support and admiration of their classmates. The gender roles sit in so deep that especially young kids still see an openly rebellious girl as an oddity and a noxious troublemaker rather than a hero. Girls have their own ways of being cool, ways that don’t require a systematic indifference to all school subjects.

Jokinen fails to see the real reasons behind boys’ poor performance in school, assuming the problem is in the school system rather than in the patriarchal society. His proposed remedy is to implement gender quotas to ensure that in fields where women are the majority, at least 40 % of students accepted to universities are male, and vice versa.

The idea may be well-meaning but it’s still absurd. Finnish universities choose their students based on their performance in the entrance exam. You get some bonus points for success in the matriculation exams but the entrance exam is what matters most. It would be really unfair to give some applicants a free pass based on their gender, while rejecting others, even if they get enough points in the entrance exam.

Jokinen claims that there is no equal pay without equality in education. Or, worded differently, we must have equal education to have equal pay. But that doesn’t make sense because if there was such a correlation, then the pay gap would be history… or actually, it would be reversed. As it is, women are better educated than men, but women still earn less than men. So clearly there is no correlation between equal educational opportunities and equal pay.

As for what constitutes equality in education – I don’t think gender quotas are it. Gender quotas assume there are no differences between genders. I bet such quotas could never be filled in certain areas because fewer men than women tend to be interested in teaching, and fewer women than men tend to be into mathematics. Implementing gender quotas is not going to make more women take interest in male dominated subjects, or vice versa. The best way to ensure equal education is to give everyone an equal chance to get an education, and we are already doing that. Now we just need to smash patriarchy so that boys will be free to seize their chance without being bullied for it by other boys.

 

 

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The Kissing Sailor and Other Forced Kisses

The Kissing Sailor, or “The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture” | Crates and Ribbons.


It’s amazing. I had never actually looked at this picture carefully enough to realise that the nurse was being kissed by force. When it was pointed out, it was obvious that this was not an embrace of two lovers: the way the woman’s hand is clenched into a fist and the way the man is holding her around the neck “in a vice grip,” as the woman herself described it, show that this woman had not given her consent. She hadn’t even see the man coming until he suddenly grabbed her and kissed her. In the interviews she doesn’t seem to feel particularly violated but she doesn’t mention having enjoyed it, either. The point is, she didn’t get to choose whether she wanted to kiss that man or not.

The willingness to ignore her lack of consent and to focus on the exultant feelings of the sailor at the end of WWII is, as Crates and Ribbons says, a symptom of rape culture, i.e. a culture where a woman’s consent is not important. When Crates and Ribbons pointed this out, dozens of people rushed to defend the sailor: those were special circumstances and the woman in the picture doesn’t explicitly say it was a traumatic experience for her. Maybe it was traumatic for her. Maybe she enjoyed it. Both options are slightly beside the point, which is that she didn’t get to choose whether she wanted to kiss that man or not. Strictly speaking, that icon of the end of the war portrays what would now be termed a sexual assault.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m far from crying “Rape!” A forced kiss is nothing compared to rape, and the sailor in the picture probably meant no harm. But now that I’ve seen the woman’s clenched fist and the sailor’s forceful grip, I cannot unsee it. It’s a different picture now. It’s not two people celebrating. Well, the sailor is celebrating but the nurse is shocked rigid.

To those of you who still don’t believe this kiss was non-consensual, therefore a sexual assault, one more picture. Look at her fist. It doesn’t look like she’s about to wrap her arm around this guy. It looks like she’s a wee bit uncomfortable, maybe thinking of punching him. Of course, no one can know for sure what’s going through her head in this moment but I’ve never made a fist while I’ve been kissed. But I have often clenched my hand into a fist when I’ve been groped in the street or on the dance floor. I haven’t actually punched anyone but when you’re assaulted, you form a fist without thinking about it.

These images evoke mixed feelings in me because I’ve been kissed like that by a stranger. It happened at a nightclub. I was coming down some stairs and there was a group of guys at the bottom of the staircase.  I reached the lowest step and the next thing I knew, I was being held in an iron tight grip, and kissed firmly on the mouth. I was shocked and I tried to struggle, to no avail. Then I noticed that the guy was actually really attractive, and because I had had that one drink too many, I went along with it. He was a good kisser, what can I say!

So that turned out to be a not-entirely-negative experience, even though it was forced on me. I still would have liked to have a choice, though! It was only a coincidence that I happened to like that guy. I might have found him repulsive, in which case I would have struggled harder, no matter how many drinks I had in me. And if I had been completely sober, I wouldn’t have stopped struggling, no matter how attractive the guy was.

It’s really not a good idea to just grab a stranger and kiss them without a warning. There’s no guarantee that the surprised person is going to like it.

This is isn’t the firm stand I was hoping to make against forcibly kissing someone! I feel like having enjoyed a forced kiss seriously undermines the credibility of my condemnation of such sexual assaults. All I can say is, it was just a lucky coincidence that I found the guy attractive, and even then I was a shocked that someone would just grab me like that, and that there was not a thing I could do about it. My struggling had exactly zero impact. If I hadn’t found him attractive, or if I had been sober, I would have been seriously shocked about the incident.

The point is, even if there is the off chance that someone might enjoy a forced kiss from a random stranger, it’s best not to count on that. And then again, even if the kissing sailor isn’t the romantic picture I always thought it was, it’s still a powerful image and it’s okay to appreciate the joyful feelings and the probable good intentions of the sailor, even if the actual gesture was somewhat misdirected.

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Innocence of Muslims and Freedom of Speech

Storming embassies and killing ambassadors is a disproportionate reaction to slander of a prophet. There is no excuse for such mindless violence. The Muslim rioters should acquaint themselves with the rest of the world enough to learn about freedom of speech, and to understand that in the western culture, it is commonplace to insult and make fun of religions and politicians. All voices should be heard. Often disagreement can be expressed with respect but we do not expect everyone who disagrees to do so respectfully. The thing is to not get provoked when someone tries to provoke you. Islam is not the only thing that gets ridiculed.

However, many people have pointed out that freedom of speech does not apply when the intention is to cause damage. The makers of this film didn’t invite anyone to start a riot but they must have known that making such a film would anger Muslims. Maybe they wanted to prove that Muslims are violent. If so, they succeeded. But that is not a moral victory for the film makers. They are at least indirectly responsible for the riots that lead to the deaths of innocent people. Maybe the film makers didn’t anticipate the proportions the riots would take but they must have understood there would be riots. And when there are riots, people get injured.

My take on all this is that nothing should be above criticism. We must be able to disagree, criticise and make fun of anything and everything, without someone resorting to violence to protest against our opinions. But, and this is big but, the purpose of the criticism and mocking should not be simply to offend someone. If you have a grievance against Islam or any religion, you can talk about it and you can laugh at it. But do it intelligently. Do it to raise discussion about the problem you perceive.

This film wasn’t intelligent, it wasn’t even funny, and it wasn’t made to raise discussion. Its only purpose was to provoke anger. As a consequence, Middle East got more fuel to its hatred of the Western culture and the West got a confirmation of its prejudices against the Middle Eastern culture. Everyone loses.

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Men as Helpless Victims

And you think feminists make men look bad!? Oh boy. You should see the accomplishments of the “men’s rights” advocates in this area! I stumbled on a Finnish blog post about the sexual abuse of men. I thought someone was addressing a widely ignored issue, and read on. It turned out the writer’s ideas about what counts as sexual abuse were more than a little obscure.

The post started with an anecdote about a middle-aged man called Pentti. He was married but he had an attractive younger colleague, Eeva, who was apparently hell-bent on seducing Pentti. She dressed in short skirts and flaunted her cleavage in poor Pentti’s face. Eeva was irresistibly cheerful and always friendly to Pentti (unlike Pentti’s wife, we are to assume) so Pentti ended up sleeping with Eeva.

That lead to a divorce so Pentti moved in with Eeva. He was then horrified to find out that Eeva dreamed of having children. They had children. Then Eeva told him they needed a bigger house for the growing family. Oh, was there no end to the demands! It wore Pentti out, having to go through all that again! Pentti regretted bitterly abandoning his first wife and the comfortable life they had together. Obviously this was all Eeva’s fault. She had sexually abused Pentti.

I’m not kidding. This was the writer’s take on the matter. He then went on to suggest that maybe women should be forced to wear burkhas to prevent them from seducing men with their sexy skirts and their cleavages.

I have the feeling this anecdote is made up. Not only is it completely ridiculous but also, the evil temptress is called Eeva… you know, Eve from the Bible. But even if the story is fictional, it shows the writer’s disturbing mindset, and this men’s rights advocate’s view of men is the most disturbing thing in his post. According to the writer, this Pentti was a completely helpless victim with no control over his actions. He slept with Eeva because she had a pair of tits. His wife left him, so he shacked up with Eeva. And then, Eeva wanted to start a family – what an evil bitch! But Pentti did everything Eeva wanted.

Pentti needs to take some responsibility for his own life. Seriously. If he didn’t want to have sex with Eeva because it might ruin his marriage, then he shouldn’t have had sex with her. If he didn’t want to have a serious relationship with Eeva, then he shouldn’t have moved in with her. And what kind of a pathetic loser agrees to start a family against his will? If the men’s rights people think this is normal for men, and women are to blame for it, that is a truly chilling outlook. Feminists at least assume adult men are capable of making their own decisions and taking responsibility for their actions.

Men’s rights advocates – quit snivelling and man up! Women are not responsible for your actions. You are.

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