link farm #6: important and angry


First off, apologies for my long and undoubtedly keenly felt absence. In the last month, I have been busy completing a Masters, moving country again, starting a new job, finding somewhere to live and trying to revive my French. Many of these activities necessitated extended periods of being away from my beloved Internet.

BUT I AM BACK NOW. Here is a list of links from the past few weeks. Above, watch Lily Myers use beautiful words to express some sad things about the way women are socialised to apologise for taking up both physical and intellectual space.

This is a heavy link farm. There’s been a lot of crappy stuff in the news, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and I have not had much time for Feminism Lite recently. Most of this is link farm is articles and most of them are angry and important or both. Emphasis on the important.

NIRBHAYA: Human Rights Theatre (Kickstater, content note for graphic theatrical depictions of rape) Nirbhaya means “fearless one” and it is the pseudonym that the press gave to Delhi student Jyoti Singh Pandey, the young woman who was violently raped on a bus and subsequently died of her wounds last December. It “tackles the issue of sexual violence by exploring the true stories of sexual violence endured by each of the performers who use Jyoti’s death as a catalyst to break their silence.” It won multiple awards at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Watching the trailer made me go cold and start shivering. The company now want to take the show on tour in India. Theatre can change things and this is important. If you can afford to throw some money their way to help achieve this goal, you definitely should. 

Neo-liberalism and the Defanging of Feminism (video) This lecture is an hour long, but it’s essential viewing for anyone who takes their feminism seriously. Professor Gail Dines on how modern feminism has lost its way by focusing on “the individual rights of a small group of elite white women” instead of functioning as vehicle for radical social change. She absolutely annihilates I-choose-my-choice individualist feminism; the idea of feminism as a personal philosophy that’s different for every woman, a customisable set of beliefs that can be altered and decorated just like fun hat! It’s all grounded in historical context, economics, critical and political theory and… seriously, just go watch the whole thing.

Rebranding Feminism (article) The ever excellent Laurie Penny explains why the idea of “rebranding” feminism is and always will be a massive crock of shit, especially when the charge is being led by a “fashion and beauty magazine, not a historically notable manual for gender revolution.

African women blazing feminist trails (article) Did you know women form the majority in the parliament of Rwanda? Did you know Malawi, Liberia and Senegal all have female heads of state? Because I sure as hell didn’t. Minna Salami asks why these achievements have been met with loud silence from western feminists and why we aren’t taking more cues from the African women who have actually made real progress in the arena of political equality.

I Am So Very Tired (article) – For any woman, nerd or otherwise, who is sick and tired of having to state her case for being allowed to exist in traditional male-dominated spaces without being harassed or objectified, over and over again, online and offline, patiently wading through the same fucking prosaic, flawed and harmful arguments from gender essentialists, harassment defenders and fucking devil’s advocates, please have this cathartic rant from Foz Meadows. I love all of it, but especially this: “I am tired of assholes who think that playing Devil’s advocate about an issue alien to their experience but of deep personal significance to their interlocutor makes them both intellectually superior and more rationally objective on the specious basis that being dispassionate is the same as being right (because if they can stay calm while savagely kicking your open wound, then clearly, you have no excuse for screaming)

And finally, last week Emily Yoffe (of the Slate’s Dear Prudence) wrote a long article imaginatively entitled “College Women: Stop Getting Drunk” which is, shock horror, about how young ladies should never have more than two drinks – and certainly no shots! – if they don’t want to be raped by horny college boys. On the one hand, snore, because there is literally nothing in the entire article that has not been addressed, deconstructed and roundly and rigorously critiqued by feminists, in multiple forums, from multiple backgrounds, approximately one million thousand times. On the other, FUCK SAKE, because Yoffe has an extremely popular advice column, which implies that people actually take her views on this shit seriously. So yes, here are the two best takedowns of her harmful victim-blaming rape apologia.

Emily Yoffe: A Further Catalogue of the Ways She is Wrong (article) Thomas of Yes Means Yes is thorough, exacting and endlessly articulate on depth and breadth of Yoffe’s wrongness. Essential reading for anyone who is somehow STILL confused about this issue.

College Men: Stop Getting Drunk (article) The litmus test of sexist bullshit: do the same standards and rules apply to men? As Anna Friedman effectively illustrates, it’s drunk men doing all the raping, so why is it the ladies who have reign in their partying and forego tequila shots?

And on that note, I am going to lie down and watch some cartoons. Something resembling a regular blogging schedule should resume now that I have an apartment with an internet connection and a reliable source of tea.

2 thoughts on “link farm #6: important and angry

  1. I found the ‘Defanging of feminism’ lecture very inspiring.

    Initially I found some of her premises a bit strong because she comes at things from such a Marxist standpoint and personally, I find Marxist phenomenology to be extremely depressing – because, of course, it posits these all-pervasive economic conditions which almost cannot be overcome and which imply that, no, we don’t really have any individual agency. However, as she seems to believe we can make a difference through collective action, she ultimately transcends this (what she called) ‘intellectual pessimism’ with the ‘optimism of will.’

    I think with Marxism you always have to point to an exit, otherwise we would all just curl up and die.

    As the lecture wore on I realised that actually, I would go further than she does on some points. When she talks about the pervasive character of ideology, she didn’t emphasise just how far it goes. As Vaclev Havels points out in ‘The Power of the Powerless’, people not only come to accept the prevailing ideology; over time, it becomes so normalised and so insidious that they happily perpetuate it themselves, thereby contributing to their own opression.

    Calling postmodernism out on its bullshit will always go down well with me. In the beginning it was a necessary political tangent and it helped to bring discussion of minorities into mainstream discourse. Unfortunately, it exhausted itself; proving to be an infinite regress of excuses and justifications which render progress impossible by claiming all things are equally valid.

    Which brings us on to the embarrassing mistake that was ‘Slutwalk.’ I tried to explain why that was a massive pile of bullshit and because I stated some of it clumsily (and because of this third wave feminism individualist myth), people missed the point. Professor Dines seems to say it was a mistake for two reasons: 1) It regurgitates a porn aesthetic and porn language as being somehow empowering when, really, it’s not. (Havel’s perpetuation of one’s own oppression idea finds an echo here once more). And 2) Only women in a secure socioeconomic position can have the luxury of asserting this idea.

    I was certainly always in agreement with her on point number one and to be quite honest, I am sure I hadn’t even thought of point number two (of course I hadn’t, because…)

    However, I was also attempting to say that in a culture where porn is so pervasive, to the extent that women appear completely naked in music videos, I do not think it is accurate to claim that women who go out wearing almost zero clothes are making a 100% informed, autonomous decision. And yes, they can wear whatever they want; but I refuse to believe that’s what you actually want if you’ve been programmed into believing that’s what’s WANTED. Meanwhile, they encounter men who, having watched gonzo porn, are already brainwashed to believe that ‘these sluts want it’. And what do you have? People of both genders; mindlessly performing expressions of porn culture; clearly on a collision course. Does this justify rape? Absolutely not. Nothing justifies it, and of course the person to blame in any rape is the rapist. But I still maintain that a woman who goes out in almost zero clothing is unwittingly participating in her own degradation and she does so because the prevailing climate at the moment appears to be one in which the degradation of women is celebrated. It is an extremely dangerous climate, and it needs to be changed. ‘Slutwalk’ was most definitely not the way to change it.

    So I’ve stated my view a little better, and I’m sure it’s still controversial and liable to invite hostile response. But I would just emphasise that how much or how little clothing women wear is NOT the issue (and so, in a sense, discussion of it is slightly misdirected). How much clothing women wear (whether it is zero, or a burqa) is however, an index to attitudes and to the wider climate out there, so it is also not irrelevant. And I would argue it is certainly no more irrelevant than the popular apologist assertion that ‘everyone can do or wear what they want! And you’re not allowed to say anything about it because…that’s a judgement!’ As Gail Dines says: ‘Yes, I am judging.’ I’m not sure how anything is supposed to move forward without genuine critical response, no matter how unpopular and without a belief that there is such thing as better and more responsible practice, always. The fangs are back in.


  2. That video is amazing. I opened your post and rolled my eyes when I read the title of the video, thinking “gah, I don’t like poetry but I’ll give it a go” but that was frickin’ amazing. Thank you so much for sharing!


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