Maybe the ‘older feminists’ don’t know how to click links,
but they sure knew how to “click” brains.

Much bloggy hand-wringing has taken place, focused mainly on calling out Jezebels Slut Machine (Tracie Egan) and Moe for being drunk and making anti-feminist statements in public, while representing one of the internet’s most popular feminist blogs. Some, but not enough, angry verbiage has been directed at Lizz Winstead for her sober-ish attempts to pin the responsibility for rape on women who fuck a lot. I watched the whole interview and can safely say that feminism was not well represented.

People have been calling Moe and Tracie unprofessional, embarrassing, shameful, narcissistic, privileged, drunk, on and on. Its true. Jezebel’s editor apologized for their shitty representation of the site.

Amanda Marcotte, on the other end, offers an apologia that sees “dark”–but essentially feminist– humor in Moe and Tracie’s dismissal of rape, safe sex and women’s oppression.

Personally, I saw nothing funny in the sloshy train wreck of an interview. But there was one thing that I think can be seen as actually feminist; one which points to why internet feminism needs less Vice-magazine- bravado-with-ovaries and more old-fashioned consciousness raising.

See, I recognized one of those drunk “girls” (women?) onstage; the one who is inappropriately working through her rape out loud to friends and strangers, the one who’s been “wasting time” for 10 years, drinking and telling herself and everyone else it was no big deal. I’ve been that girl. Sometimes, I’m still her.

Listening to Moe remember that she said “no” eleven times, and remember that her rapist said he only did it to her because she was a “slut,” recast the earlier “funny” part of the conversation–the part where Lizz asked Moe and Tracie what made a woman a slut. It turned my stomach. I wanted to give Moe a hug and tell her that it wasn’t her fault.

Instead, she got Tracie calling her less-than-smart by implication and Winstead blaming her for not reporting her future-doctor rapist.

But miraculously, Moe got something, somewhere else, and a little bit of feminist consciousness slipped in. After the interview I went back and read this post by Moe, about “grey rape.” In it, she puts on the “no big deal” pose, doesn’t call her rapist a rapist, and doesn’t call her rape a rape. Her commenters and other bloggers point out where she might be wrong.

That on-line feminist intervention seems to have helped. Onstage, Moe called it rape. She got mad. She even names her rapist out loud, but his name is lost in the cross-talk. That’s a big moment. Its a terrifying moment. I’m sorry its a moment that Moe had to share with Tracie and Lizz.

But it is, most importantly, a feminist moment.

Its the beginning of letting go of all the self-hating beliefs that Moe unfortunately expressed in the rest of the interview and is now getting attacked for. Beliefs like “I’m a slut (and thats why I got raped),” beliefs like “I hate the boys club, but I’m not really oppressed,” beliefs like “I didn’t report my rape because I had better things to do–get drunk.”

I didn’t report either. And in Moe’s posts I see myself, and I remember what I used to think. I see myself in her hope that Dr. Douchey Dude “saves” people–as if that would make it “ok” or worth it somehow. I see myself in her search for control; in the way she looks at her decisions in the search for the cause of her rape, in the way that she accepts full responsibility for her decision not to report and thus for any subsequent rapes committed by her rapist.

But I wanted to ask her–and Lizz–“what would have happened if you’d reported it?” Because the truth is, Moe knew then and knows now that what would probably have happened. She probably would have been publicly shamed for being a drunk slut (which is ironically happening to her RIGHT NOW, anyway) and possibly been forced to leave her school. She would have been called crazy or vindictive or a pathetic woman scorned by a “notorious player”. Likely, nothing would have happened to the good doctor.

Realizing that we make choices in limited circumstances–that we are oppressed as women–is difficult. It feels bad to recognize the limits to our individual capacities to control our own lives and bodies. I can see why, for a decade, Moe didn’t want to do that. I know how that feels.

But its the first step to developing a truly feminist outlook, to letting go of the dark “humor,” of the self-blame, and of the internalized misogyny we saw so starkly on display at Thinking and Drinking. Its the first step toward developing the collective strategies that can give us the power we need to stop rape, and all the other forms of violence and discrimination women face. Even if it was ugly, I’m glad it finally happened for one young woman with a powerful public platform.

Congratulations, Moe. You have a powerful weapon in your hands; use it wisely!

*Updated to add*–good work Ann of Feministing, for kicking it old school with your talent for CR-type intervention. You rock.

Uh…ur doin’ it rong.

Following slowly, and likely unsteadily, on the heels of a few unknown and TV investigatorsnearly-year-old-experiments, everyone’s favorite-to-loathe “drink-soaked former-Trotskyist poinjay”, Hitch, has himself water-boarded.

So, while still completely unoriginal, this time Hitch is at least on the “right” side, and by that I mean the “side that is somewhat opposed to torture.”

That gets him no points with me. First, these supposedly anti-torture demonstrations do much to normalize the practice and make it looks as safe and normal as anything on ‘Fear Factor.”

Second, he couldn’t really do anything to make it all up at this point. This is the same moron who has steadfastly supported the many lies and illegalities of the Bush administration for the last eight years largely on the grounds that these policies, however duplicitous, support and are supported by his deeply racist worldview.

His attempt to take the moral high ground on this issue is repulsive, as his defense of these insane wars and the “clash of civilizations” logic they are rooted in has helped pave the way for secret prisons, torture, shock-and-awe and, yes water-boarding. It seems dishonest. I was hoping he’d finish up the article with a bit about how he tried it and how its not that bad.

Sure, he’d still be lying, but at least he wouldn’t be pretending that the policies hess been advocating for most of the last decade have nothing to do with the horrors he’s now condeming.

But he’s Chrisoher Hitchens; what else did you possibly expect?

Did I mention that he thinks “women aren’t funny?” Reading that essay the first time was like being forced to entertain an aging, rude and hard-of-hearing male relative at an outdoor wedding. I think the face I made while perusing the article must be somewhat like the ones Hitch encounters on women in the real world. Ones that, via the magic of narcissism and confirmation bias, have sadly led him to develop this unfortunate “women aren’t funny” thesis in the first place.

What I’m trying to say is that Htich and I clearly have different ideas of what makes funny.

Hitchens honestly seems to think this latest contribution to Vanity Fair is a probing look into America’s conflicted soul. Whereas the idea itself makes me laugh. “Christopher Hitchens Gets Water-boarded”. Ha! Seriously!

And his constant references to “the enemy” and descriptions of manly heroic soldiers are also a bit giggle- inducing, if they weren’t worrisome; though it is a bit amusing that he is concerned about this one isolated instance of self-torture causing neurological damage.

*UPDATED* to add: I actually find neither alcoholism nor water-boarding funny as general topics. Specifically, I don’t recommend that you watch any of the water-boarding videos all the way through if you are sensitive, as I am. I also don’t recommend that you watch clips of either Hitchens or Amy Winehouse performing live, as these are almost universally sad if they are recent.

The idea of Christopher Hitchens water-boarding himself still makes me laugh, though. I stand by that.

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Of course, you already knew that I am a bitter crone,
doomed to die alone with her cats. Fortunately, cats are funny.

 

Overall I like the gym. It meshes nicely with my many compulsions. Plus I am vain about my biceps.

But is this really necessary?:

Me (pulling on some kind of weight system meant to strengthen my back): “ug. phooe. phwee. ouch. ”

Dude-who-oogled-my-ass-*from below it*-while-stretching-on-his-back-and-then-followed-me-out-of-the-cardio-room: “I can help you learn to use the weight machines.”

Me: “no, thanks.”

Dude: “Don’t you want to make the most of your workout?”

Me: “Its 10pm. Its late. I don’t really like to meet strange men at the gym while wearing clothes that amount to unattractive underwear. I just want to work out. Please leave me alone.”

Dude (under his breath while walking away): “Bitch.”

It helped matters not at all that during the early stages of this interaction the gym in question had selected their entire playlist from the tracks suggested on the blog Stuff White People Like. Starting with the old chestnut “Baby Got Back.” Nice.

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Drunk and carefree with a twist of psuedo-political posturing! Sexy.

Yesterday on the Leonard Lopate Show, there was much (maybe too much) discussion of Elliot Spitzer’s apparent downfall at the hands of a high-class call girl. I wish i had something intelligent to share with you; either a well-crafted analysis of this juicy, juicy scandal or a nuanced position on the age-old debates about sex work, porn, blowjobs, on and on.

But I don’t.

Instead, I want to share with you an ad for an escort service that Lopate read aloud on-air. The copy is hilarious. Hilarious in a way that may cause you both to laugh uproariously and to vomit a little in your own mouth. Like when you eat candy corn on a roller coaster.

Behold:

Daniella is natural beauty and refinement. The elegance of an educated culured woman coupled with gaiety and fun… with the light-hearted feminism of a fine Merlot and the sweet, floral finish of a splendid Riesling you’ll agree that moments with Daniella are the ultimate in unrestrained luxury.

Now. I like feminism, Merlot and a little gaity in a gal as much as the next dude. Perhaps more. Not to mention a floral finish. But.

Lopate thought this blurb sounded “like a personal ad.” I’d like to point out that personal ads are generally written in the first person perspective, rather than from the pimps-eye-view. Personal ads also frequently include the author’s wants in addition to hir selling points and special features. I, personally, have never written an ad awkwardly organized around comparing myself to inanimate edibles.

Just saying.

I already hate 2008

January 11, 2008

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Please, Dudes. Don’t make me identify with Hillary. Or–God!–feel sorry for her. She’s been responsible for the death and rape of more people than your average Dude could hope to catcall in a single life time. And you think the problem with her is that she’s a bitch?
Fuck you.

Weapons of the Weak: Gossip

January 11, 2008

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Why don’t I just hit myself over the head with it, instead?
It would be easier, and cuter.

 

Bruno, as it turns out, and as those who’ve been around a few more bends than I likely anticipated, deserves another follow-up.

In fact, a lot has happened while the Wolf has been away from blogging, but I looked this site up and decided it might be worth doing again, even when writing some of these posts makes me slightly ill all over again.

Apparently, I was too hasty in not de-Dudifying my little island. And I was too hasty in assuming that an apology and an admission of wrongdoing was as good as a cease-and-desist decree.

But despite my naivite, I did do one thing right; I gossiped.

I’m going to say this once, people and don’t make me say this again: Gossip, shit-talking, bitchiness, and even the hated cock-blocking, these tactics are your friends. Anybody who tells you otherwise is an ass-hat, or at least guilty of protecting Dudes and injuring the women with whom said Dudes may interact.

I told everybody about Bruno. Did I think it might embarrass him? Yes. Did I care? No. Did I do it even after we made up? You bet.

It was the right move. What I learned in the process is that Bruno has a history of magical Dudeification with other young women. More, I won’t spell out here, but suffice it to say, I got off relatively easy.

I talked to Bruno about each instance as I learned of them. He was sad. He was sorry. He disagreed with some of the renditions. I educated. I castigated. I cajoled and sympathized. I figured now that he knew we all knew, it would really be over.

But then, it happened again–this time involving unwanted restraint and kissing of two much younger women, women who probably looked up to this Dude as an impressive activist. Two young women IN ONE EVENING.

When I found out, I felt like an utter fucking fool. My own misogynist logic became profoundly clear; I had been acting as if I believed that he didn’t mean to do it, despite loads of evidence to the contrary.

But fortunately, I wasn’t alone with my self-hating assumptions. These young women women weren’t only young, they were smart and put the power of shittalk on their side. They told–thats how I found out. Luckily, they told someone with whom I’d already discussed Bruno’s Were-Dude tendencies and my experience.

Thanks to gossip, Bruno could no longer operate one (or two, I suppose) molestation and apology at time. Instead we–all the women (that I know of) who had been made to feel subhuman and threatened by Bruno’s hateful behavior–confronted him. And because we are loving, forgiving souls, we still didn’t throw his stupid ass off the island.

I know. Nice, right?

Instead we asked him to 1) refrain from drinking on social situations involving our crew 2) stop hitting on people he meets through politics 3) read some shit already, and learn.

Perhaps, I’m just hopefully waiting to get hit over the head once more, but this feels like progress.

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If my experience is any guide (and according to MRA concern trolls, it is not) rudeness can be an effective and satisfying strategy against sexual harassment.

When I was a budding young man-hating bitch, I was still too young to drive. I therefore had to walk about a mile to the bus to get to my summer job at an art supply store. Back then I lived in Houston, Texas, a city that some have described as “the Asshole of America.” In fact, it is more accurately described as the Cunt of America; Houston is incredibly wet, ridiculously hot, and with a basically roundish geography that some people, unaccountably, find endlessly confusing.

In any case, I was walking along the bayou to the bus. It was hot as hell. For trips like this I always packed a 48oz plastic cup full of homemade iced tea (non-sweet; I was a traitor to the South even back then) . On this particular day, a white Ford Explorer slowed down. The Ford Explorer contained at least four baseball players from the nearby high school, wearing white baseball caps. White-capper Dudes. Great.

They start calling out “hey, babys” and “you look sexys” and “nice ass.” They speed off. They round the corner. They do that again. The slow down as the approach me once again from behind.

This time they drive slowly next to me, and the passenger leans out of the car, and describes, in a creepy whisper, sexual acts he would like to perform on my body in detail so crass and violent I can’t bring myself to repeat it even now 10 years later. Also, if I do, my readership, which seems to consist entirely of c8rpse p8rn surfers and MRA’s searching for “misandry,” would probably double.

I was young, inexperienced both with sex and with the level of hate directed at people with the bodies of adult women. But I only froze in anger and fear for a moment. In the next move, without turning to look at them, I threw the entire 48oz of iced tea in the window of the Explorer.

Passenger Dude stopped talking mid-charming discussion of my various orifices. The Explorer sped off, this time with no intention of circling back for more. I took pleasure in picturing Driver Dude explaining to his mom how the white upholstery came to be covered in tea…

Him: “We were stopped at a red light and this crazy girl threw tea at us!”

Mom: “yeah, my ass.”

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Whoa. What’d she say to him?

M. Leblanc over at Bitch Phd (she’s the Lawyer Bitch) asks us what we think: Should you be rude to your harasser?

My policy is this: when I’m in a one-off cat-call kind of situation, I ignore it. When its random guys saying “hello” on the street for no reason, I nod or say a quick “hello” back and keep walking. But when someone follows me, touches me, or won’t go away, I believe that safety requires rudeness.

First, I’ll defend my fairly passive response to what I think of as low-level background harassment. Yeah, its submissive. Yes, it totally capitulates to the patriarchal order in which half of humanity apparently thinks they have the right to order me to smile (which always makes me wish I didn’t have teeth.) And no, I don’t have to say hello to every joker who greets me politely on the street when what he really means is “you appear to be sexually available.”

But I do it anyway because my aim in every case is to stop the interaction as quickly as possible. With low-level harassers, responding negatively, and often even merely pointedly ignoring them, has the potential to escalate the situation. That escalation is what I want to avoid. A mere “hello” back tends to do the trick.

But some Dudes aren’t content with ritual submission. They want real submission. They want to humiliate you. They want to see you sweat. Maybe they really actually do want to attack you. These persistent fuckers are the gropers, the grabbers, the stand-to-closers, the follow you down the dark street nasties, and the keep-the-conversation-going-at-any-cost salesmen for misandry.

With these guys, its my firm belief that politeness kills. Being polite show you care what they think, that they are in control of the situation, not you. And with someone more interested in real rather than ritual submission, if they are in control, the incident is NOT going to end, no matter how uncomfortable you look or how much you silently pray that they will spontaneously combust. Quite the opposite. Thats just the thing that makes these Dudes’ panties wet.

Thats why rudeness–bitchiness, specifically– is a life-saving skill. It is unexpected. If I do it right, it throws the situation momentarily out of the Dude’s control, and gives me an opportunity to achieve my goal: Ending the disgusting interaction.

With the Grip Dude I am most proud that I was good and rude; I regret only that I wasn’t more impolite.

Its Not Me, Its Them

November 1, 2007

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— From Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

 

The Dudes have found me on the internet. This blogs top search terms include the following:

Sexy corpse

Real corpse

Rape sexy girl

Real sexy corpse

Now I know thats my fault and all, for talking about SVU. But I still hope those repulsive hate-porn watching motherfuckers die painfully and rot in hell. Also painfully.

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Screen shot from SVU: Can you tell if she’s just been raped?

Or if she’s just had an orgasm?

Does it really matter?

This post inspired me to start writing about an enormous and complex subject which is central to the motivation behind this blog, but which I’ve so far avoided like a darkened street corner or wearing a pony tail: the way misogyny and misogynist baseline assumptions operate in family and love relationships.

The topic of ABW’s criticism of the use and abuse of rape as a plot element is interesting, and a pet peeve of mine; but to my true delight, the comments confirmed the specific irritant which never fails to make me peevish in this regard: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The whole rationale of SVU is that using rape as a plot point is titillating and ceaselessly interesting. Most episodes open with an alluring full-body pan of a sexy corpse, shots which always remind me of that unfortunate epispode of America’s Next Top Model …

This irritating element of the show is combined with the normal retrograde plot formula of all L&O spin-offs: take a “real life” situation and write it as though the exact opposite thing actually happened. For example,when in real life a non-resisting peace protester is murdered by a soldier in the Middle East, L&O will have an Iraq veteran who is murdered, as it turns out, by a spoiled peace protester with a history of planting bombs! Or, perhaps, in reality, a child is found in a closet, starved nearly to death by his foster parents who are in it for the money. In L&O world, after several twists and turns, we learn that a child, seemingly the victim of abuse by his parents, is in fact perpetrating a complex plot to profit financially from an underground ring of of “parent fights” where his poor innocent guardians–who have been hiding their devil-child’s adopted status all along– are forced to attack one-another in poorly lit basements in the inner city, far from their suburban home.

Ok, I made that up, but if you watch the show, you know it could work.

The result of these two factors in SVU is that you not only have a show that uses rape to titillate and thus confuses rape with sex, you also have plots which undermine the audience’s knowledge and assumptions about the banal realities of rape: you get numerous women who are lying about rape; some of them turn out to actually be rapists themselves! You have dozens of straight-A white good girls who were raped because they were really secretly slutty drugged-out prostitutes. You get lots of men, accused of rape, who turn out to be innocent. The real rapists are often serial psychopaths who sometimes get their hands on the show’s stable of tough lady-cops.

Law & Order SVU is a nearly perfect distillation of of the most reactionary possible attitudes toward women, passed off as mainstream or even progressive sensibility dealing with complex phenomena.

I noticed these flaws the first time I ever watched the show, yet I’ve seen probably hundreds of episodes. Some of these episodes caused me to have painful flashbacks to my own experiences with rape; other episodes turned me into an angry ranting bitch; most I just found useful and amusing as objects of dissection.

But it would have been better for me not to watch this show. Twelve amusing discussions are not worth one flashback, and the experiences of watching the show was unpleasant for what it revealed about the person I then loved most in the world. So why did I watch it?

That’s right, The Dude. The Main Dude, or at least The ex-Main Dude.

Its not like he forced me to watch this show; he didn’t care at all whether I watched it or not. But I watched because he watched it, and because I couldn’t look away. And even if I could have looked away, I didn’t want him to watch it without me–without, at some point, having to think about the reality of rape, rather than the glamorous glossy version.

When I criticized the show and complained about my little problem with SVU and flashbacks, the Dude helpfully suggested that I not watch the show. When I asked why he liked the show, he didn’t answer.

I still wish I knew. Or, more accurately, given that we both knew what he liked about it, I wish I knew why he couldn’t or wouldn’t see that as a problem or at least something worthy of discussion. I think, to him, my disapproval of SVU was an expression of different leisure interests; if he liked and I didn’t, well that was because we were healthily individuated. And he would have appreciated it if I didn’t always have to point out what was sexist about the show. Eventually, I didn’t.

The misogynist logic I’m trying to expose here is, I think, this: “Rape=your problem, bitch. Not mine.”