Tag Archives: Misogyny

Ashley Judd takes on patriarchy, the media, and the conversation about women

I really have nothing to add to Ashley Judd’s fantastic takedown of the current media obsession over her appearance, except to encourage you to read it in full. A lengthy excerpt:

The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted. […]

[T]he recent speculation and accusations [have been] pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embod[y] what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle. The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about. […]

That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times — I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women. […]

I hope the sharing of my thoughts can generate a new conversation: Why was a puffy face cause for such a conversation in the first place? How, and why, did people participate? If not in the conversation about me, in parallel ones about women in your sphere? What is the gloating about? What is the condemnation about? What is the self-righteous alleged “all knowing” stance of the media about? How does this symbolize constraints on girls and women, and encroach on our right to be simply as we are, at any given moment? How can we as individuals in our private lives make adjustments that support us in shedding unconscious actions, internalized beliefs, and fears about our worthiness, that perpetuate such meanness? What can we do as families, as groups of friends? Is what girls and women can do different from what boys and men can do? What does this have to do with how women are treated in the workplace?

I ask especially how we can leverage strong female-to-female alliances to confront and change that there is no winning here as women. It doesn’t actually matter if we are aging naturally, or resorting to surgical assistance. We experience brutal criticism. The dialogue is constructed so that our bodies are a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others — and in my case, to the actual public. […]

If this conversation about me is going to be had, I will do my part to insist that it is a feminist one, because it has been misogynistic from the start. Who makes the fantastic leap from being sick, or gaining some weight over the winter, to a conclusion of plastic surgery? Our culture, that’s who. The insanity has to stop, because as focused on me as it appears to have been, it is about all girls and women. In fact, it’s about boys and men, too, who are equally objectified and ridiculed, according to heteronormative definitions of masculinity that deny the full and dynamic range of their personhood. It affects each and every one of us, in multiple and nefarious ways: our self-image, how we show up in our relationships and at work, our sense of our worth, value, and potential as human beings. Join in — and help change — the Conversation.

The whole article is very much worth your time. And The Takeaway offers a very smart conversation about it here.

(h/t Feministing; image via Jezebel)

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It’s International Anti-Street Harassment Week, and you must read this

Coinciding with International Anti-Street Harassment Week, Alice Xie has written a powerful essay, “My Street, My Body, My Right,” that’s a must-read for everyone who thinks that their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, colleagues, girlfriends, and women everywhere deserve better:

I was sexually harassed on a regular basis from the year I turned fourteen until the year I left for college. I tried so hard, every day, to ignore it. But I couldn’t. It changed me. The irrepressible nervousness when a stranger approached. Being afraid to look any man on the street in the eyes. Worrying I was being followed. Not wanting to leave my house unless I had to. Crying. Not crying until I got home, then crying. Hating myself for crying. Playing the faces of dozens of men back in my mind — I remember them all. Wondering what would have happened if I had bumped into them in a deserted area. The rape nightmares.

But the worst part was how it warped my own view of myself. Maybe it was my fault, I thought. Maybe I was asking for it. It was because I was small and weak, I thought. I hated myself for my own helplessness. Hated myself every time the snappy retort, the “leave me alone,” the “stop,” bubbled up furiously in my heart only to wilt in my throat. The tiny, illogical, and unshakable fear that no matter how hard I worked, I would never amount to anything more than a body. That my feelings — my disgust, the anger and loathing written all over my face — would deter no one because they simply did not matter. That it would only get worse as I grew older. That my only worth was sexual. That I was less than human. That I was nothing.

Go here to read the rest, and to find resources for more information and action.

(h/t The Dish, with follow-up posts here and here.)

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It’s not cute. It’s abuse.

I highly recommend this righteous rant from the blog Views from the Couch:

I am sure every girl can recall, at least once as a child, coming home and telling their parents, uncle, aunt or grandparent about a boy who had pulled her hair, hit her, teased her, pushed her or committed some other playground crime. I will bet money that most of those, if not all, will tell you that they were told “Oh, that just means he likes you”. I never really thought much about it before having a daughter of my own. I find it appalling that this line of bullshit is still being fed to young children. Look, if you want to tell your child that being verbally and/or physically abused is an acceptable sign of affection, i urge you to rethink your parenting strategy. If you try and feed MY daughter that crap, you better bring protective gear because I am going to shower you with the brand of “affection” you are endorsing.

When the fuck was it decided that we should start teaching our daughters to accept being belittled, disrespected and abused as endearing treatment? And we have the audacity to wonder why women stay in abusive relationships? How did society become so oblivious to the fact that we were conditioning our daughters to endure abusive treatment, much less view it as romantic overtures? Is this where the phrase “hitting on girls” comes from? Well, here is a tip: Save the “it’s so cute when he gets hateful/physical with her because it means he loves her” asshattery  for your own kids, not mine. While you’re at it, keep them away from my kids until you decide to teach them respect and boundaries.

This, a thousand times this.

Read the whole thing.

(Image via Growing Up Smart)

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It’s International Women’s Day. Are we equals yet?

Judi Dench and Daniel Craig ask the question:

More here.

Not a disagreement, but a very small qualification: Dench says that men “have hardly any chance of falling victim to sexual assault.” While it’s true that a woman is much more likely to be raped than a man, sexual assault on males does exist — particularly in wartime situations — and ignoring it hurts our attempts to see the bigger picture and work towards the elimination of all sexual violence. Charli Carpenter has an excellent post about it here.

That said, I can’t recommend this video enough. Just one among many statistics that should shock and shame us: “Women are responsible for two-thirds of the work done worldwide, yet earn only ten percent of the total income and own one percent of the property.” And when it comes to lack of education, rape, and domestic violence — even in supposedly more enlightened societies — the numbers are horrifying.

We’re living in the twenty-first century, in the wake of the American Revolution, the civil rights movement, the women’s liberation movement, and other mass uprisings and social upheavals worldwide — all inspired by the idea that we as individuals are entitled to our full and equal share of dignity and freedom. Yet misogyny persistseven as we claim to want dignity for all. The bitter irony of the rape of Lara Logan during the “people power” revolt in Egypt shows just how vast the distance is between our dreams of “equality” and “dignity” and the way things really stand.

We can do better than this. We must do better than this.

(via FlickFilosopher)

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“Secrecy is the handmaiden of evil”: speaking out against misogyny

There’s been a lot of commentary in the wake of CBS reporter Lara Logan’s brutal rape at the height of the Egyptian protests; I feel compelled to share this perspective, from Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates compares the struggle against rape to the civil rights movement, in which he sees the call for nonviolence as a voluntary relinquishing of a basic right, that of self-defense, in the hopes of securing even more fundamental human rights. (And in fact the Egyptian people have just done the very same thing.) Similarly, he sees women who bravely speak out about rape as giving up their right to privacy, in order to address a greater evil:

Even when it happens close to us, we often do not know because the victims do not speak. They have every reason in the world not to speak, beginning with the fact that much of the world stands ready to punish them for it. Surely in Egypt, right now, women are suffering from the same evil which Lara Logan suffered. They can expect no sympathetic public outcry upon naming of the crime and executors. Likely quite the opposite.

I would not argue for a compulsive airing of suffering, but I would argue that secrecy is the handmaiden of evil. And while we all can understand why a victim would never speak on such a horror, moreover we can understand the great injustice in even requiring the victim to part with their natural rights, it’s worth supporting that speech when it happens.

There are many wise and powerfully personal statements in the comments section as well. Emily Hauser links to her post on the matter, which I also strongly recommend. And in a comment further down that personally strikes a chord with me, she writes:

The role of men is absolutely key in this struggle.

When we teach girls to own their bodies and to say no and to take self-defense classes and to speak up when all that doesn’t work — while that’s important, all we’re doing is managing the problem. We’re not solving it.

If we want to actually solve the problem, if we want to make rape a terrible rarity, rather than a terrible common-place, men need to be an active part of the solution. They need to educate themselves, educate each other, educate their boys, name and shame, and be absolutely unequivocal in their support for women in the fight. Only when it becomes unthinkable for men will we begin to remove it from our midst.

Absolutely right. It will take more than women speaking out about misogyny, whether it manifests in rape or other forms of degradation and marginalization; it will take men who listen, and who tell other men to listen. It means all of us fiercely calling out rape culture wherever and whenever we see it. It means all of us calling down shame and rage and scorn — and the full force of the law — on individuals who rape (whether the victims are women, men, or children), and on the institutions that enable them. It means the long hard work of building a society in which women and men are simply accorded the respect and dignity that is their due as human beings; and for that we need all hands on deck. Men have to step up. *I* have to step up.

For the sake of my wife and daughter — and for my own sake, for the privilege of looking at myself in the mirror with a clean conscience — I’ll do everything I can.

(Image by slytherin-prince)

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