unblurring some lines

This is a picture of Miley Cyrus being liberated by Robin Thicke.
This is a picture of Miley Cyrus being liberated by Robin Thicke.

Right, Internet.  You have driven me to it. I am going to write a post about Miley Cyrus and I have no idea how I got here.

First off: I have literally zero fucking interest in Miley Cyrus. For a long time I did not realise that Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus were the same person, then I watched most of a Hannah Montana movie once when I was drunk. I think the screaming goat version of Party in the USA is comedy gold and there is a Miley Cyrus reference in an Amanda Palmer song I like and that was literally the extent of my knowledge of her until twenty four hours ago, when I became aware that I had missed the memo on her transformation from teeny-bopping American sweetheart into the gyrating mess of latex and lolling tongue that was jamming up my newsfeed yesterday morning.

ANYWAY.

As a piece of theatre, stripped of all social and cultural context, Miley Cyrus’s appearance at the 2013 VMA’s was abysmal. Her movements looked uncomfortable and uncoordinated, her costumes did not fit her properly, her voice sounded strained, the choreography was sloppy (I am generously assuming there was choreography involved.) Then Robin Thicke made his listless entrance and the whole thing was catapulted into the realm of the truly surreal as Miley’s cavorting became even more frantic and the presence of a much older man made her look even more like a toddler doing wobbly burlesque in Mummy’s heels and lipstick. It was awful. Nobody had a good time.

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girls don’t play real games

Thankfully the obscene number of hours I’ve racked up on Don’t Starve don’t count, because it’s not a real game
Thankfully the obscene number of hours I have racked up on Don’t Starve don’t count, because it’s not a real game

Three times in as many months, I have had some variation on the following conversation with three different dudes.

Me: Blah blah blah so misogyny in games is obviously a thing blah blah…
Dude: But girls don’t even play videogames!
Me: Actually, they do. Recent surveys show that around 45 per cent of gamers are women and this number grows every year. Also, overall, the number of female gamers is significantly higher than the number of teenage male gamers, who are commonly considered to be the primary target market for videogames.
Dude: … yeah, but girls don’t play real games.

You know, they only play Sims 3 or Angry Birds or whatever. They’re not serious gamers. Serious gamers play, you know, real games.

Inevitably, after a little bit of probing, the definition of “real games” turns out to be “Xbox first-person shooters.”

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we need to talk about trolls

Welcome to Twitter. Now get back in the kitchen. Bitch.
Welcome to Twitter. Now get back in the kitchen. Bitch.

Or rather, we need to stop talking about them. But let me explain.

Back in the early days of the Internet, when I was desperately waiting to turn thirteen so I could join Elfwood, the word “troll” meant something specific. It meant an anonymous person who deliberately posts false, inflammatory or outright stupid things for the sake of getting a reaction.

This traditional form of trolling is not harmless. As this article on the figure of the troll points out, trolls usually rely on being as abusive or offensive as possible. However, trolling used to come with a layer of self-awareness at the very least, and functioned as a powerful form of disruptive satire at its best. The troll made an art out of being as infuriating as possible while remaining believable. Their goal was to make people angry, mostly for perverse personal amusement but also sometimes to challenge entrenched views within a certain community. And so the prevalent wisdom was not to “feed the trolls” because that’s exactly what the trolls want.

Nowadays, troll seems to mean literally any asshole with an Internet connection and trolling means any incident of online abuse. The goal of Twitter users who are frequently branded as trolls may be to make people angry but it is also in a large part intended to shut people up and specifically to shut women up, which is why the brief #twittersilence response to events of the past weeks was somewhat misguided.

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link farm #3: women and children and gays oh my

I like to imagine he's just screaming "BAAAAAAABY!!!"
I like to imagine he’s just screaming “ROYAAAAAAAAAAAAAL… BAAAAAAABY!!!”

So apparently a royal baby was born. I didn’t know Kate Middleton was pregnant until two weeks ago because I have very little interest in monarchy that does not involve Lannisters and Starks, so unless they call the baby Tyrion-Robb-Jon, I’m probably going to forget it exists within a week. Anyway, Kate Middleton apparently did her royal duty in a timely fashion and everyone seems pleased. Also, David Cameron chose this special day to propose a ban on online pornography to protect the innocence of children because children are innocent and porn corrodes their innocence and DEAR GOD WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

Blocking Porn –  A Survivor’s Perspective – (Content note: Discussion of child sex abuse) A really powerful piece on how Cameron’s professed concerns about childhood “innocence” do not address any of the underlying cultural narratives that are actually deeply harmful to children. I really should have included a point about media literacy in my sex ed post.

Dear Daily Mail – Love her or hate her, Amanda Fucking Palmer can subvert a patriarchal norm like nobody’s business. Here she is on BBC’s Newsnight discussing her reaction to the Daily Mail’s photo of her “escaped boob” in more detail.

Oh Texas – Pro-life congressman sponsors bill that would cut funding to a program that stops many children living in poverty from going hungry. Once again, life is only important when it’s contained inside a woman who has the audacity to think she should have a say about what happens to her uterus!

15 Steps to becoming a Gay Male Feminist – (Content note: Discussion of rape, abortion, sexual harassment) A fantastic article about one man’s discovery of feminism, with pit stops at drag, alternative menstrual products and body acceptance along the way.

Your Right To Butt Sex – Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is pushing to reinstate a Crimes Against Nature law, which would make oral and anal sex felony offenses. Yes, you read that correctly, and no, you did not fall into a time warp and it is in fact 2013. Fortunately, the bawdy ladies of The View are having none of it.

Jesus Isn’t A Dick So Keep Him Out Of My Vagina – Is this 14 year-old girl probably the best 14 year-old girl in the world? Yes. The answer is yes. 

thank you for your concern

Concern troll of the week
Concern troll of the week

Susan Venker has a lot of ideas about what women need to do to be happy. Most of them involve marrying young and giving up their jobs and their income to raise children and do housework. She likes writing articles about how all the successful driven women out there are going to be sooooooo sorry that they pursued careers instead of focusing on settling down with Mr. Right and how they are going to be sooooooo lonely when they realise that all the “good” men out there actually want submissive little housewives because BIOLOGY OR SOMETHING.

Her entire outlook on life is stupid for a variety of reasons.

Primarily:

  1. She lives in a heteronormative bubble. She is going to be shocked when she discovers that gay and queer and trans* women are a thing now.
  2. Marriage is no longer the pinnacle of female achievement.
  3. Very few of these bright successful women she’s so worried about are going find marital bliss with a man who wants a glorified servant/fuck toy combo.

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street harassment, now with extra sad

Stop Telling Women To Smile - the anti-street harassment artwork of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, photo courtesy of NYU News
Stop Telling Women To Smile – the anti-street harassment artwork of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, photo courtesy of NYU News

A few weeks ago, my friend Emily of Rosie Says almost broke the internet with her article on Role/Reboot, A Letter To The Guy Who Harassed Me Outside The Bar. It’s a fantastic piece that cogently and calmly articulates why being on the receiving end of “jokes” and “compliments” from strange men is rarely a funny or flattering experience. Response was overwhelming and Emily has been documenting a lot of the feedback, both negative and positive.

Today, she posted A Letter To The Girl I Harassed, a response from a male reader that attempts to flip the perspective once again and give us insight into the mind of a harasser. While the letter writer admits that his attitude is not healthy, he feels that other guys will relate to it. Emily says she finds the letter disturbing and a little scary, but mainly sad, and calls for empathy on all fronts. My reaction was less kind. For me, this letter reads as a steaming pile of entitlement and essentialism and I find the “predator/prey zero sum game” narrative kind of terrifying. But there is one paragraph that really stuck out to me.

Being in the presence of a woman can be anguish. It’s loneliness (and sometimes horniness), and all that other Freudian bullshit rolled up into mundane moments. Just walking down the street can make me feel helpless when I pass a woman sometimes. I can’t shake it. If I could shake it, I would. Trust me. It’s no fun. But this is the hand I’m dealt, so I roll with it.”

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here is my soft perspective

"Your new soft pink boardroom decor, courtesy of soft pink lady board members!"
“Your new soft pink boardroom decor, courtesy of soft pink lady board members!”

Last week, I moved to Oxford, which involved a lot of driving in the car with my mother, which in turn meant a lot of listening to the radio. I love Irish radio. We are a nation of excellent talkers.

However, last week on Irish radio, there was a moment of epic genderfail and I said several words that I would never normally say in front of my mother.

Don’t get me wrong, I hear a lot of genderfail from mainstream media outlets on a regular basis. As I have previously discussed, living on Feminist Internet can be an insulated experience and I am frequently startled by the levels of stupidity I encounter outside it. On Feminist Internet, even in the heat of disagreement, people understand the basics; for example, vague stereotypes are not a good starting point for productive debate.

This incident of genderfail was particularly infuriating because it came from a successful businesswoman who was trying to advocate for other businesswomen. To do so, she resorted to ridiculous generalisations about Women: The Monolith that would have been shouted down on any reputable feminist blog or forum within seconds.

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