From Marguerite Duras:
(...) when women don’t write about desire, . . . they’ve entered the realm of plagiarism.
From Marguerite Duras:
(...) when women don’t write about desire, . . . they’ve entered the realm of plagiarism.
The sentence of the day from Martha Vicinus:
Sexuality, unlike race or gender, is most often seen in terms of identity, rather than power.
Women’s application of makeup is an update of the Narcissus myth. It cannot be applied; or at least not well; without looking in a mirror. The self-reflexive gaze required has elements of the lover’s gaze: Eyes and lips are focal points and demand the most attention and care. Thus, applying makeup is a ritual of self-love, a kind of worship at the shrine of the self, though it can also reflect insecurity and even self-loathing. At its best, it is an exercise in self-critique, and, if you’ll permit me to be grandiose, a path to self-knowledge.
Sugary excerpt from Mary Beard's must read article over at the London Review of Books:
For it seems to me that many aspects of this traditional package of views about the unsuitability of women for public speaking in general – a package going back in its essentials over two millennia – still underlies some of our own assumptions about, and awkwardness with, the female voice in public. Take the language we still use to describe the sound of women’s speech, which isn’t all that far from James or our pontificating Romans. In making a public case, in fighting their corner, in speaking out, what are women said to be? ‘Strident’; they ‘whinge’ and they ‘whine’.(....) Contrast the ‘deep-voiced’ man with all the connotations of profundity that the simple word ‘deep’ brings. It is still the case that when listeners hear a female voice, they don’t hear a voice that connotes authority; or rather they have not learned how to hear authority in it; they don’t hear muthos. And it isn’t just voice: you can add in the craggy or wrinkled faces that signal mature wisdom in the case of a bloke, but ‘past-my-use-by-date’ in the case of a woman.
They don’t tend to hear a voice of expertise either; at least, not outside the traditional spheres of women’s sectional interests. (...) More interesting is another cultural connection this reveals: that unpopular, controversial or just plain different views when voiced by a woman are taken as indications of her stupidity. It’s not that you disagree, it’s that she’s stupid. ‘Sorry, love, you just don’t understand.’ I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been called ‘an ignorant moron’.
Yes ! :
My heritage includes Woody Allen films, but it also, sadly, includes rape culture. And though I hope Allen’s comedic legacy will be part of my kids’ lives, I badly want them to live in a world where abuse victims are supported by society and their abusers no longer protected.
To end rape culture, we must vigorously question our own allegiance to powerful, talented men at the exclusion of the people they allegedly hurt. We self-styled cultural sophisticates may be ace at sifting the artist out from the creation. But that’s not enough. If we aren’t going to be hypocrites, we have to hush the din of applause to let victims’ voices through.
Ah oui ! :
Why, at a moment when French culture and ideas have never felt less influential in the world, are we being told to look to France for the answers to all our ills? Clearly, France, in our collective imagination, has become a nostalgic parody of itself. At the same time the French, all these writers agree, seem to have retained something that we’ve lost: a relatively healthy relationship to food, to our children, and to the opposite sex.
(...)So what lies behind the French woman’s ineffable charm? For a start, because she hasn’t been entirely reconstructed by feminism, she’s playing a more traditional role. Secondly, she’s relatively free of the guilt that seems to emanate like toxic fumes from all areas of Anglo-American life—from parenting, to sexual relationships, to food. And lastly, she has a much more flexible relationship with the truth: none of my French girlfriends have any scruples about lying when it comes to dieting or plastic surgery, even to their closest friends. None of them have had lip jobs, even when they clearly have. Taking the lead from Catherine Deneuve (upheld in several of these books as the archduchess of “growing old gracefully”) the watchword in this matter, as in most matters relating to the mystique of the French woman, is deny, deny, deny.
The big questions of feminism used to be about tangible, practical things: should women have the right to vote, to the contraceptive pill, to equal pay? Now, the ‘big’ questions are introspective, c questions mired simply in identity politics, and based on small, perceived instances of sexist abuse.
A good reason to read and to love Belle Waring:
The past is a region ruled by the soft bigotry of low expectations. We all allow it to run up against the asymptote of any moral value we hold dear now. We are moved by the ideals of Thomas Jefferson even though we know he took his wife’s little sister, the sister she brought with her as a six-month old baby, the very youngest part of her dowerage when she married him—he took that grown girl as a slave concubine, and raped that woman until he died. We would all think it a very idiotic objection to The Good Soldier Švejk that women weren’t allowed to serve in the military at that time and so it didn’t bear reading. My favorite part of the Odyssey is book XXII, when Odysseus, having strung his bow, turns its arrows on the suitors and, eventually, kills them all. This is despite the fact that he and Telemachus go on to hang the 12 faithless maids with a ship’s cable strung between the courtyard and another interior building, so that none of them will die cleanly, and they struggle like birds with their feet fluttering above the ground for a little while, until they are still. There is no point in traveling into the land of “how many children had Lady MacBeth,” but, at the same time—the suitors raped those women, at least some of them, and likely all, if we use our imagination even in the most limited and machine-like fashion on the situation. Still it is my favorite, because I am vengeful.
Sugary excerpt of the week so far from Zoe Holman:
Discussing the traditional role of corporeality in protest, Judith Butler recently noted that: “if there is a body in the public sphere, it is masculine, free to create, but not itself created... When male citizens enter into the public square to debate questions of justice, revenge, war, and emancipation, they take the illuminated public square for granted as the architecturally bounded theatre of their speech.” By contrast, the female body has customarily been associated with the sexual, the childish, the labouring and the pre-political. This being the case, Butler argues for the need to interrogate and challenge the division of gendered bodies into “one that appears publicly to speak and act, and another, feminine, foreign and mute, that is generally relegated to the private and pre-political sphere.” (...)
Boobs can be fun. Boobs can be frivolous, primal or sexy. For this reason, they are compelling. In the right context, they might prove powerful. But they are also distracting. And for those women wishing to enter the theatre of political speech to debate questions of justice, emancipation, war, or indeed the sales tax on tampons, to achieve something more than lechery and to be taken seriously, they may prove a diversion.
Pertinent stuff from Any Davidson on the Steubenville's rape trial:
There is something deeply harmful in all of the adults reinforcing the idea that the lives of teen-age boys are destroyed when a girl says what they have done. There is also something incomplete about just replying that they deserved the consequences (as much as they do). For one thing, it can mean asking a sixteen-year-old to be the one to judge the weight of her own trauma. It isn’t trivializing the seriousness of the sentence to say that teen-agers always think, when one door is closed, that everything is over, and that it’s the job of grownups to explain that it isn’t. A different life is not a worthless one. (Absent parents, not incidentally, are a theme of this story.)
The problem is that Americans are as obsessed with absolute justice as they are with absolute freedom.
Sugary excerpt of the day from Jennifer Vanasco:
Why do we in the media try to make some women standard bearers for all women? (...) A man who writes an inspiring business book meant to help people get ahead at work doesn’t have his wrist slapped because he’s promoting himself as well — of course he is! And a man who tries to change a failing corporate culture is more likely to be lauded as courageous than accused as cowardly, as [Marissa] Mayer was. (...) Not everything every woman does is a social statement. And it shouldn’t have to be.
En quelle année sommes-nous ?
Perhaps my problem with it has more to do with no longer finding feminism to be a useful filter through which to look at the world. The Fourth Wave of feminism (apparently it is a thing, yes) looks exactly like the Third Wave of feminism, and endlessly recapping Girls doesn't seem to be making the world a safer place for women. The two "feminist" works I liked the most recently actually didn't have that much to do with outright feminism: Depression by Ann Cvetkovich and Why Love Hurts by Eva Illouz. (Also: Monoculture by FS Michaels.) They were more about, how do we live within this structure -- or outside this structure -- that was built by the patriarchy without losing our minds. This is the way things are set up, by capitalism and by that whole white male thing, and let's write about what that does to a person. Not just women, which is an important part of it. It has nothing to do with the rejection of feminism, and Brazilian waxes never come up for debate at all! It's about feminism just being one weapon in your arsenal. Your mighty, mighty arsenal.
From Nidra Poller:
Contraception and abortion alone could not bring about the desired transformation of the female condition. They were the technology. The metaphysics was what has become known as “gender studies.” In the early days of Women’s Liberation it was makeshift ideology peddled in volumes of look-alike fiction and non-fiction best sellers shouting that maternity was a drag, femininity a hype, sexual differences induced by cynical manipulation, love and marriage an extension of the military industrial complex, and men were chauvinist pigs. No more pink for girls and blue for boys. Sexually marked toys were not abandoned but switched: cars and trucks for girls, dolls and tea sets for boys. Women wanted, or were told they wanted, something called equality.
The harbingers of this “sexual revolution” were, more often than not, closet lesbians. Later we not only discovered that they were lesbians telling heterosexual women to kick their men in the balls and out of their lives, they were also playing stereotypical sexual roles in private, some as simpering mistresses to others more macho than any man could be.
I'm so speechless that I've lost my French!
Awesome stuff from Hilary Mantel:
Marie Antoinette was a woman eaten alive by her frocks. She was transfixed by appearances, stigmatised by her fashion choices. Politics were made personal in her. Her greed for self-gratification, her half-educated dabbling in public affairs, were adduced as a reason the French were bankrupt and miserable. It was ridiculous, of course. She was one individual with limited power and influence, who focused the rays of misogyny. She was a woman who couldn’t win. If she wore fine fabrics she was said to be extravagant. If she wore simple fabrics, she was accused of plotting to ruin the Lyon silk trade. But in truth she was all body and no soul: no soul, no sense, no sensitivity. She was so wedded to her appearance that when the royal family, in disguise, made its desperate escape from Paris, dashing for the border, she not only had several trunk loads of new clothes sent on in advance, but took her hairdresser along on the trip. Despite the weight of her mountainous hairdos, she didn’t feel her head wobbling on her shoulders. When she returned from that trip, to the prison Paris would become for her, it was said that her hair had turned grey overnight.
Antoinette as a royal consort was a gliding, smiling disaster, much like Diana in another time and another country. But Kate Middleton, as she was, appeared to have been designed by a committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile and the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss-varnished. When it was announced that Diana was to join the royal family, the Duke of Edinburgh is said to have given her his approval because she would ‘breed in some height’. Presumably Kate was designed to breed in some manners.
Beauty is always unproblematic and uncontroversial when it is/appears to be empty and yes, David Cameron can't read.
Pertinent stuff from Carly Lewis:
Male writers have had decades to remedy themselves, but still write jejunely about women, accentuating one isolated, exploitable trait (attractive, rebellious, sweet, rude, slutty, rich) for the sake of producing more easily understood subject matter. Until they learn (or at least try to learn) how to write about female subjects in a way that does not purposefully weave paternalistic generalizations into every paragraph, I propose a moratorium on this stagnant approach to literary writing. Let’s allow women to write about women for a little while. Maybe then we can swap the prevalent illusions of femininity for realistic portraits of women as complex human characters. I’m not saying that women are better writers than men, and I’m not saying all men lack the will to rise above stereotypes in their work (do you hear that, comment section?). I’m saying that something needs to change in the way literary profiles are written and the way the lives within them are handled, and that this would be a good step toward smoothing out what is currently an unbalanced gender structure in literary journalism. Too often, the privileged male writers whose bylines dominate the publications we read fail to write about women in a way that doesn’t simplify female existences into condescending phrases like “sassy kitten” and “bombshell.”
From Elissa Strauss:
According to Gawker, [Michael] Bloomberg once told a female colleague to “kill it” when she announced her pregnancy, only after teasing her about being too ugly to be engaged. Another Bloomberg employee complained of the institutional harassment at Bloomberg LP in the late 1990s, and believed that the misogynistic workplace culture was linked to her being raped by her superior in a hotel room. Also, “in 2007 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Bloomberg LP on behalf of 78 women who claimed that Bloomberg — who at that point was not involved in the day-to-day company operations, despite being a majority shareholder — and Bloomberg LP ‘fostered, condoned and perpetuated’ a hostile work environment for female employees.”
This is pretty bad, right? Nevertheless, nobody seemed to really care when they elected him to mayor the first, second or third time. And nobody seems to really care now either.
Imagine if there was a similar history of his saying or condoning disparaging remarks against blacks or Jews. Our inboxes and Facebook feeds would be filled with celebrity-endorsed pleas to sign online petitions pressuring him to resign from office. He would feel obligated to at least mutter some public apology, even if it clearly wasn’t heartfelt. But talk down to women like this, and the outrage is barely existent. (Think I am over exaggerating? Remember what happened with serial misogynist Charlie Sheen? The actor’s career was derailed by a single anti-semitic comment, after years of reports of domestic abuse and porn addiction.)
Sure, sexism can be more difficult to define than racism or anti-semitism (because humans + sex drives = messy), but when there is a pattern of misogynistic behavior like Bloomberg’s, albeit alleged, I wonder why we are so darn tolerant.
Well, the answer to that question explains in part why Obama is president.
Sugary excerpt of the day from Kathryn Joyce:
Even among nonhysterics, John Kerry’s 2004 defeat was attributed by liberal writers in part to his outspoken wife, and the excesses of the Tea Party are denounced most vigorously by Republican moderates who ridicule the movement’s female politicians as unserious.
Even in the Democrats’ 2012 convention, lauded for women’s central role, First Lady Michelle Obama’s otherwise powerful speech discounted her entire professional life in favor of her role as “mom in chief.” Listening to that speech, I don’t hear hysteria but rather calculation, which is sadly realistic at that. Understanding why it’s still necessary means understanding what continues to drive the backlash. And it demonstrates that, if the sexual counterrevolution is ever over, the unfinished work of the original revolution is still waiting.
From Rod Liddle:
I have lost count of the times my own penis — a harmless enough creature, really — has been invoked, most usually by women, during an attempted refutation of some point I have made in an article. It is, I have been assured, minuscule, or inoperative, or unwashed, or diseased, or nonexistent. Sometimes all of these things at once. And as with Mary [Beard], the remainder of my physical being is not left unremarked: fat, hideous, stinking, vile, ugly… oh, lordy, we could be here for weeks. It is nothing to do with misogyny; it is just what people reach for when they, perhaps temporarily, hate someone. I remember a short while ago a complaint that Muslims in the public eye were subjected to the most horrid nastiness — the journalist Mehdi Hasan was one of the loudest complainants. Again, no, Mehdi; it’s not your religion, or the colour of your skin — it’s you. It’s just you.
Aahh, the only answer to Liddle is it isn't your penis, it's you. That said, Rod Liddle is a dick!
The absurdity of the day from Heather Mac Donald:
Absent a showing that gender discrimination is causing the selection of inferior leaders, the sex of politicians and government officials is of no public import. And feminists’ cherished conceit that women today face a wall of overt or unconscious bias rests on deliberate blindness to the facts. No elite organization today fails to incorporate oppressive gender and race consciousness into its every hiring and promotion decision. Any woman in the public realm not acutely aware that her gender is a plus in getting selected for panels and media appearances, in all likelihood catapulting her ahead of more qualified male participants, is living in a state of denial.
Well, America is particularly in a state of denial when it comes to gender...
I agree with Kweli Jaoko on this with the usual caveat that I don't agree with the west/rest division:
The banality, say, of tweeting and hashtagging, is part of the socio-historical through which misogyny becomes reflexive. Banality becomes the training we put ourselves through to make misogyny reflexive. What might it mean to understand misogyny through the kind of training that produces reflexes? Certainly the banality of tweeting and hashtagging labors to traffic the misogyny of #TeamMafisi and pass it off as ordinary, everyday, as part of the affects and intensities exchanged through the internet, and therefore something one must put up with. The fallacy is that misogyny is slightly inconveniencing.
As Western media deploys an Orientalist lens that locates rape and misogyny squarely in India—meaning, in the Global South, outside the West, and, yet again, as the need to save brown women from brown men—I would like us to think locally. Misogyny is not just a problem in India; in Kenya; or on Twitter. It is a problem everywhere, including here in the West from where I write.
Well it is always easier and satisfying even to criticize the barbarians rather than to recognize the world has, how should I put it, a woman problem!
Great stuff from Sadhvi Sharma:
The Delhi rape has led to an outburst of middle-class angst about modern India and its populace, and has generated widespread demand for more authoritarian social control. Commentators have turned this extreme act of violence into a symbol of nationwide decay, encouraging every Indian to assume guilt. With everything from Bollywood to Indian family values, from economic growth to parenting style, being called into question, the reaction to the rape appears more and more removed from the incident itself.(...)There is something perverse about the way we’re all encouraged to feel culpable for this crime. The aspiring, emerging nation of India appears simultaneously anxious about its economic and social transformations, and particularly about how those transformations are impacting on a certain class of men, who are apparently ill-equipped to deal with them. ‘Is the sight of a young, smartly-dressed educated female professional generating a sense of displacement in men?’, asks one journalist. The feminist writer Urvashi Butalia thinks an increase in the incidence of rape in India is related to the slowing down of economies in recent years and the fact that the ‘slice of the pie’ is getting smaller. That is, faced with rapid economic and cultural change, the ordinary Indian male becomes an even more brutal creature.
Tragedies encourage irrationality and oversimplifications for accepting that le mal, evil, unconscionable acts are banal and that shit happens is usually difficult and so unsatisfying!
From Angela Bourke in the Dublin Review of Books:
Writing culture assumes “the reader” to be male, until marked otherwise ‑ statesmen and churchmen are commonly portrayed reading ‑ but the unsettling of this assumption has been a critical pastime for decades, under the joined banners of reader-response and feminist theory. A text’s meaning changes over time, according to the culture where it is read and understood, and according to who reads it. If that person is a woman, the meaning may become excitingly unpredictable, not because women are capricious, or any more so than men, but because little in our education, even if we are women, has prepared us for how anyone but a white, northern hemisphere, heterosexual male, will read.
A different perspective on the Petraeus affairs and the media (I may be abnormal, but I find all of it boring and useless, I'm trying to care and I cannot) from Jennifer Vanasco:
And the truth is, an affair is always the responsibility of both people involved. There is no victim. There is no hero. There is just human fallibility. We know that. And it might not be as sexy, but that’s the story we should write.
From Rosa Brooks :
It would be fair to say that the military still has something of a woman problem. Although most military jobs are now open to women -- the exception being certain combat jobs -- women still make up only a small minority of all military personnel (about 15 percent) and a still-smaller minority of senior officers (no surprise, given that today's senior women officers joined the military, by definition, in an era in which even fewer jobs were open to women).
The military remains plagued by allegations of sexual harassment and assault, and a number of studies by the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs have concluded that women in the military face higher rates of sexual assault than do civilian women. Here again, no big surprise: The military remains an overwhelmingly male -- and overwhelmingly macho -- institution. Women are outnumbered and often rendered nearly invisible in a culture in which nearly all senior officers are male. (...)Here's something I worry about: Will the fallout from the Petraeus scandal make it even tougher for military women to rise to senior rank? In the military as in the civilian world, career advancement often has as much to do with informal mentoring relationships as with formal education or qualifications. No one bats an eye when the (male) boss goes out running or drinking with his (male) subordinates, but post-Petraeus, how many male senior officers will do the same with female subordinates? Not a lot -- and though such risk-aversion may reduce any appearance of impropriety, it will also reduce the odds that women will get the crucial mentoring that is provided so freely to their male colleagues.
Well, the military is one of the best reflections of America and Americana, which means in short that it is America that has a woman problem not just its military.
I take issue with this from Amy Davidson via the New Yorker:
Romney has said that he does support exceptions to an abortion ban for victims of rape and incest, but, as I’ve written before, that does not make him a moderate. Who would a woman have to appeal to to prove that she had been raped in order to be allowed to end her pregnancy? How long would that take, how vulnerable would she have to make herself to legal machinations, further exposure to her rapist, or the condescending disdain of men like Mourdock? Or is that what he supposes he is sparing survivors of rape by taking the whole question of access for them off the table? How, for that matter, would Richard Mourdock and his cohort want her to prove that she might die if she saw the pregnancy through? Would a small but significant risk be enough? If she was denied access and did die, or was left disabled, where would God’s intention be?
There isn't such a thing as a moderate position on Abortion and people who argue that there is are usually trying to make another point and in this case, Davidson's point is that Romney is an extremist. She should just say it instead of using abortion to prove what is for her, obviously, a res ipsa loquitur literally.
It is alarming to assert but in America and elsewhere, there is only a right and a wrong position on Abortion, which means that there is no middle ground for it is impossible to be a little pregnant. For that reason, Abortion is no longer in my opinion a political issue, but solely one of human rights.
Interesting stuff from Jennifer Vanasco:
Most every story covering the debate mentioned how Romney’s “binders full of women” instantly became a social media meme, including a snarky Tumblr, an anti-Romney Facebook page, a website bought by a Democratic group, and a proliferation of original songs or mashups on YouTube.
Some good reporting from the Associated Press revealed that Romney actually didn’t ask for those resumes - instead, he was approached by the Massachusetts Government Appointments Project, a coalition of women’s groups that had requested and culled them because they were trying to boost “the number of women in top state government jobs.” However, a terrific Washington Post opinion piece explored why, even if Romney had requested the binders, the fact that he didn’t know any qualified women offhand from his days at Bain Capital suggests that he thinks of women as token hires. Writer Jena McGregor says that his answer during the debate gave the impression “that he thinks such groups [as MassGAP] hold the keys to special ‘binders full of women’ who can’t otherwise be found through normal human-resources channels such as leadership development programs, succession plans, and internal and external recruiting.’”
My only question about the issue is whether acknowledging the problem isn't as important as trying to fix it. The question is in my view critical because I believe that both parties treat women as children who can vote and who will always value candy (pun intended) over anything else
. It may be small of me, but I don't believe that just because Obama is pro-choice and pro-equal pa he is more pro-women (what does that mean?) than Romney.
Sugary excerpt of the day from Joey Fishkin:
Publicly, we are told that Clarence Thomas, for instance, was chosen simply because he was the best jurist for the job, and without any consideration at all of the optics of replacing Thurgood Marshall with an all-white court. Publicly, we are told that Sarah Palin was simply the most meritorious candidate for the job of Vice President, for reasons that had no connection to any efforts to diversify the Republican ticket. I find these assertions silly—and I say that as someone with tremendous respect for Justice Thomas, who (contrary to ill-informed liberal stereotype) has turned out to be a powerful and important voice on the Court.
And so I appreciate that Governor Romney has come out and said that he practiced affirmative action. Perhaps it is an easier thing for him to say in the case of sex than race, I do not know. But he said it, and that’s important.
It's hard to disagree with Fishkin, I'm tyring to, but his conclusion is on point.
From a comment on the live blogging of the Vice residential debate oer the Economist's Democracy in America blog:
[Paul] Ryan got "legitimately raped" tonight
Man (pun intended), Australia must be a fun country! I have to learn a lot more about what the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is talking about to comment substantively, but I must admit that I love parliamentary democracies. I do for at least one reason: debate, political leaders, whether they are in power or not, have to face others and answer questions and learn how to rumble no matter how powerful and entitled they become.
After what we saw last weekend in the US , it is hard not agree that power isolates and moreover makes one lose touch with reality because it, almost never, has to answer tough questions until debates in an election year; even then the answers are never persuasive and satisfying.
Sugary excerpt of the day from Michele Pridmore-Brown's review of Paul Seabright's The War of the Sexes, How conflict and cooperation have shaped men and women from prehistory to the present :
In general, the male evolves to “want” to score at all costs – whether that means being a bully, a martyr or something else entirely. The female, however, “knows” the real stakes are viable offspring. Of course, neither sex “knows” or “wants”, which would imply sentience or introspection; rather, they are unconscious vehicles for such behaviours. Insects and humans alike, we are the descendants of those who happened to play the game exceptionally well.
Quote of the year from Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, who epitomizes the fact that the end of Apartheid in his country didn't mean the end of misogyny:
I wouldn’t want to stay with daughters who are not getting married. Because that in itself is a problem in society … Kids are important to a woman because they actually give an extra training to a woman, to be a mother.
I agree with Chris Dillow on this with one caveat, I am trouble by the assertion that certainty and overconfidence are masculine traits:
Politics is still dominated by the silly masculine traits of certainty and overconfidence.
Why? Here's a theory. What people (or the media?) want from politicians is not an ability to take decisions, which requires the recognition of uncertainty.Instead, they want is a false sense of certainty, a "strong leader" with a "clear" direction. And this demand favours macho politicians, even if they are poor decision-makers.
More puzzling puzzling words (I swear I don't go looking for them they are just everywhere and find their way to me)on rape from Luke Samuel:
(...) the drive to expand society’s understanding of rape was dependent on a legalistic understanding of what constituted rape. It required women to view themselves as victims of rape in virtue of the fact that they had experienced penetration by a penis without consenting, and nothing more. This was, in part, an understandable reaction against the prejudices about rape complainants. But as women were encouraged more and more to measure their sexual encounters against the legal definition of rape, the space for judgement and common sense began to diminish. If women who had been penetrated without consent refused to acknowledge themselves as rape victims they were ‘in denial’. If men questioned whether every instance of non-consensual penetration was rape, they became rape ‘apologists’. Consequently, the drive to bring rape into popular consciousness had a significant side effect: it encouraged us to define our sexual encounters strictly in reference to the law rather than our own judgement.
In fact, this legalistic approach to what constitutes rape has significantly negative effects for our discussion of what ‘rape’ means. Perhaps, most obviously, it encourages the idea that rape is a simple crime, one which is wholly divorceable from any human context. In the language of many rape-awareness campaigners, ‘rape is rape’.
My point here isn't that Samuel is wrong and a moron, but simply that there is something unsettling about the way he says what he says that comes pretty close from being an apology not so much of rape, but of dismissive inculture by using the pretext that it is common sense and natural. Complexity and contextual factors are always essential and asserting that they are not when it is the norm in a legal setting to put them at the center of every mater is troubling.
Samuel is choosing to ignore the fact that in almost every rape case the "accuser" has a hell of time to get and to keep the status of victim precisely because rape is not rape.
Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape. (...)I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organisation. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape…(...) Even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.
I am having a hard time swallowing (no pun intended) the expression 'forcible rape...' In any case, I think that people who don't believe that marriage is a requirement for women who shouldn't be able to et a divorce when they want one and cannot say no to their husbands because their body is his and giving is is their divine obligation shouldn't comment on rape.
To get back to the core of the issue, I think that 'qualifying' rape is always dumb and abominable for Huckabee could have as well said that great things come from any 'evil." He may have as well said that 'Blacks' and 'Jews' in America should be grateful for slavery and the Shoah because those tragedies enable them to become Americans and to have a shot at the American dream. That would have been as dumb, cruel, inculture and mean as what he said simply to defend his conviction that sex is rarely about violence for after all there is one that takes what is naturally his to take and one that should always feel fulfilled and grateful for the possession/penetration/insertion/abuse.
George Galloway defending Julian Assange against rape accusations:
Woman A met Julian Assange, invited him back to her flat, gave him dinner, went to bed with him, had consensual sex with him, claims that she woke up to him having sex with her again. This is something which can happen, you know. I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.
First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
Is it just me or do politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have a problem with rape?
The most despairing thing about these statements is that they become all-encompassing for they erase everything else.
The female body is still, alas, a political object for women are their anatomy in the political field and elesewhere.
Sugary excerpt of the day from Linda Kelsey on Helen Gurley Brown:
During the 14 years I worked at Cosmopolitan, in two separate stints, rising through the ranks to the position of editor from 1985 to 1990, I wrestled with what critics saw as the contradictions at the heart of the magazine, but I also firmly believed – and still do – that the enduring success of Cosmopolitan is down to the fact that it has never shifted its focus from the things that really matter to young women, as laid down in the blueprint set by Helen Gurley Brown when she launched US Cosmo.
What are these things? Love, of course. And sex. And work. And men and relationships in general. These are the priorities in young women’s lives and in the 40 years since Cosmo launched in the UK, these priorities haven’t changed. What has changed dramatically is women’s sense of empowerment. Women are more confident in every aspect of their lives. They assume equality rather than having to fight for it every step of the way. They are in no hurry to marry or have children, though most still want to have a long-lasting partnership and a family. They are free to enjoy sex without guilt.
But are they still vulnerable? Of course they are. Do they still worry whether he’ll ring or notice their cellulite. Don’t we all? Do they still find it hard to negotiate relationships? Well, that’s the nature of relationships. Do they have sexual hang-ups? Not all of us have the sexual sangfroid of Samantha from Sex and the City.
I have nothing to say.
Sugary excerpt of the day from Sarah Wheeler's review of Eric Berkowitz's Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire:
In the Greek era, men even perceived women as sperm receptacles without eggs of their own, as Aeschylus has it in Eumenides: 'She who is called the mother is not her offspring's/Parent, but nurse to the newly sown embryo./The male - who mounts - begets.'
We are still in the Greek era!
Sentence du Dimanche from Chris Dillow:
There's a difference between being a woman and acting like a woman.
I suspect that Dillow is right, but for some reason that irks me.
Sugary excerpt of Friday from Andrew O'Hagan :
Each era gets the erotic writing it craves, or deserves, if that doesn’t sound too much like I’m asking you to spank me into an ecstasy of submission.The ﬁrst thing to say about this decade’s multi-million-selling contributor to the art of terrible writing about sex is that she will not easily be mistaken for Andrea Dworkin. It’s not that Fifty Shades of Grey and E.L. James’s other tie-me-up-tie-me-down spankbusters read as if feminism never happened: they read as if women never even got the vote.
Two sugary excerpts from Daniel Drezner and Democracy in America responding to Anne-Marie Slaughter's article on Women, work and family :
(...)a difference between men and women is that when parenting issues come up, it's totally cool for women to anguish about it -- in print, no less -- while it's happening. For men, it's totally cool to drink Scotch, brood and repress feelings about the costs of careerism for years until it all boils to the surface at some family vacation when the kids are grown up and resentments can be aired.
I'm reading Ms Slaughter's article while taking care of the kids for a week so my wife can lead a prestigious symposium in Italy, and I basically agree with all of this. But I also expect to be confronted with an obvious counterargument: why should we care if women make up only 15% of corporate officers because the system demands a choice between family and career, and they choose family? It's their choice. Even if women's greater prioritisation of the needs of their children is an inborn quality, so what? There are lots of inborn qualities that make some people or groups disproportionately unlikely to become CEOs: an excessive capacity for empathy, for example, or being short. We don't demand that society be reordered so that short people are proportionately represented in the ranks of CEOs. Certainly, women shouldn't be discriminated against on the basis of sex; those who choose to prioritise career over family should compete on an equal basis with like-minded men. But why should we reorder our society to guarantee that one group of people shouldn't have to choose between competing priorities, just because nature has decreed that they weigh those priorities differently?
Sugary excerpt of the night from Nathalie Rothschild on the popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy:
(...)the idea that modern women are aroused by the thought of sexual submission signifies a betrayal of the values that second-wave feminists fought so hard for on the barricades. (...)Being excited by fictional accounts of raunchy sex doesn’t necessarily equal any intention or desire to replicate them in real life.
No, the freedom to read crappy novels or to fantasise about being tied to a bed post is not what feminists went to the barricades for. Why should they have? Those are personal proclivities rather than matters of political struggle. The suggestion that women who read and enjoy Fifty Shades are debasing themselves, that they can’t cope with equality and don’t realise what’s good for them, is condescending and anti-feminist.
Sugary excerpt of the day from Jennifer Thorpe's take on the whole Brett Murray's Zuma painting (The Spear of the Nation) with his cock exposed:
Zuma has characterised himself as a man’s man. He celebrates a masculinity that emphasises sexual virility and supports polygamy in the face of an HIV epidemic spread by multiple concurrent partners; a masculinity that emphasises that men take sex when they want it and, despite being accused of rape, never once says that violence against women is wrong; and a masculinity that is heteronormative and homophobic (see comments about pushing down gay men, and appointment of John Qwelane and Mogoeng Mogoeng). His masculinity has been the core of his politics thus far, and perhaps the core appeal to those who vote for him. When it is under threat the very core of what he stands for is under threat. That the painting was defaced by men is interesting and reflects that perhaps these scary sentiments about manhood and its untouchability are shared by many other men, not only Msholozi.
For now we’ll have to see what happens in court for Zuma and for the two men who defaced Murray’s painting. In the meantime state resources will be spent in court cases that focus on what it means to be a man. The politics of the cock are alive and well. And this whole saga had taught us all that they are not up for discussion.
I have to admit that I believe that the painting to be on point for it goes to the core of what/who Zuma is and why his politics are problematic: they justify the worship of the cock, any vile behavior in the name of a non-existent africanness which force morality, ethics to be about who people are (which is determined by their race, gender, class for individuality isn't allowed) rather than about what they do. This explains why Zuma can rape have manly sex with a HIV positive woman and still become president of South Africa.
(...) And there’s the argument that the burqa objectifies women. I think the fact that women are often treated as objects for male use and control is a real problem. But let’s also think about porn magazines, the treatment of women in advertising and in the media, where women are treated as consumer objects and are encouraged to package themselves for male use and control in a way that eclipses their individuality. If you go to a high school dance, girls are wearing identical micro-skirts and packaging themselves as objects for a simulated group sex ritual that takes the place of dancing. There are lots of practices in our society that objectify women, unfortunately. To complain about one that happens to be the practice of the minority religion and not to examine yourself and the many ways in which you participate in such practices is terrible, especially when the force of law is brought to bear. In America, fortunately we don’t have bans on the burqa and the headscarf. But the French would ban you from walking down the street in a burqa, while you could wear a micro-skirt and your 4-inch heels and they’d think nothing of that. I think it’s just an ugly inconsistency.
The sentences of the week and possibly of the year are from Anita Diamant:
The basic insight of feminism is that women are human beings. I don’t think you can be a serious Jew and not be a feminist.
Ow, I'm all verklempt! I just wish someone would explain to me what it means to be a feminsit!
Elizabeth Drew has the best comment I've read so far on the Limbaugh/Fluke/contraception/safe sex/ religious freedom affair; her conclusion is particularly on point:
In the end the noisy and often passionate argument over insurance coverage for contraception came down not to “religious freedom,” nor even to women’s health, but to a contest over whether the issue would be more efficacious for turning out the Democrats’ or the Republicans’ base in November.
The trouble with the 'politics of safe sex' to use Drew's expression is precisely the fact that it is possible in America to play politics with safe sex and with women's bodies. It isn't about the fact that there are good and bad guys, but cunning politicians using private issues. to win elections.
Sentences of the morning, which made my weekend palatable from Laurie Penny:
Some people can't seem to understand the difference between taking a stand against sexism and taking a stand against sex, but it's a distinction that we must make if we want a women's movement that's smart and brave and useful.
Nichi Hodgson 's 'review' of Catherine Hakim's Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital made me laugh to tears. Sugar except:
The reason women have failed to capitalise on their erotic capital, says Hakim, is the fault of feminism allied with Christian conservatism. Puritan Anglo-Saxon feminism, including post-feminism, Hakim claims, is "profoundly uncomfortable with sexuality, and frames it in a relentlessly negative perspective." As such, "feminists have been so brainwashed by patriarchal ideology that they have been quite unable to understand how sexuality and erotic capital can be sources of erotic power." Feminism has established a "false dichotomy" between beauty and brains.
While I doubt Hakim would recognise a post-feminist if fondled by one in a bi-curious flurry, she seems to be blaming mind-body dualism on feminists, despite identifying "Western thought" as its source elsewhere in the book. She also seems to have missed the point of what feminism has ever wanted from sex. A minority of radicals excepted, all feminists have ever asked for is women's stake in imagining and enacting sexual desire. Employing your erotic capital may be sensible opportunism but it's also pretty boring manipulating men whose sexual fantasies are predicated on the script for a "Girls Gone Wild" episode; depressing too, if these same men constitute your pool of potential life partners.(...)That erotic capital enhances professional, market-place performance makes perfect sense. But applying it to personal, intimate relationships overlooks one very important point. You don't need to be living in a tree house and swapping sacks of millet for acorns to want to leave commercial transactions at the bedroom door. In the Anglo-Saxon West, now that we don't need to marry to preserve family fortunes, secure male heirs or find someone to "keep" us, some things are worth more than erotic capital-love, for example.
My view on Hodgson's take of Hakim is that it is unnecessary and a further indication that too many still don't understand that there is a difference between feminism and femininity and that feminism is to women's identity and rights (I have an deepening aversion for the term women's rights) what socialism is to liberalism/progressivism. It is tiresome even though often comically entertaining to see women still elevating and generalizing their personal views and differences as if speaking as a woman or as feminism means speaking for women and representing some other than an individual and therefore limited (and often irrelevant) viewpoint.
This sugary excerpt from Gary Younge is infuriating because it shows that people who have grand theory about identity politics without acknowledging its frivolity are cons:
Thinking of identities as being part of a fixed hierarchy is a terrible mistake. Being gay and black doesn’t mean that person has it twice as bad as a straight white woman. That’s the kind of mess some white feminists got into with the 2008 presidential debates between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. They suggested that somehow a black male candidate had it easy, and that it was much worse to be a white woman candidate, which is just crazy. Not that it was more difficult for Obama than her. It’s just that the terms of the discussion weren’t helpful to either of them.
One of the many reasons this is an obstacle is that identities aren’t fixed in place and time. Their meaning and relevance is always shifting. As much as anything, this book is an attack on essentialism, because one thing essentialists have always tried to do is suggest there is a fixed notion to who and what we are. Actually, we are many things to many people while also being one thing to ourselves. Whatever else is said about Hillary Clinton, no one questions her being born in America or claims she is a Muslim. They have certainly said other things – demeaned her on the basis of her relationship with her husband or etched out every laugh line, crease and wrinkle – but identity should not be a competition. And if it is made a competition, then everybody loses.
Hey Younge leave Hillary Clinton alone, isn't Black the new president ? So deal with it and explain to us one more time why the One had to be the One.
Citation du jour from Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French far right party Le Front National:
I believe that it's easier for a man to lose his grip on reality. As a woman, and a mother, you have a close relationship with reality.
I don't agree, with Le Pen for most women in politics are politicians(which isn't necessarily a bad thing) and become women when it is in their personal interest. Politics, nowadays, has very little to do with reality. People don't want politicians to tell them the 'truth' but to make them feel good, while telling them what they want to hear. It is especially in the US and in France.