sexual harassment

One of Those Obvious Discussions I Get to Be Disappointed We Need to Have

Fight: Mikasa awakens ― Detail of frame from Attack on Titan episode 6, 'The World the Girl Saw: The Struggle for Trost, Part 2'.

“I’m really tired of looking at weird penises every time I want to make a dinosaur joke or see if my ex-boyfriend is alive. This is just a fairly regular thing many of us deal with on social media, particularly if we are women.”

Julieanne Smolinski

You know, guys, she’s not wrong. Pay attention.

And no, I really don’t care if it’s not you, or it’s not your friends. Sexual harassment is not a recent invention. We don’t get to blame it on the pernicious influence of this Twitter demon. Get it the fuck together, guys. Is this really the one thing we can’t figure out?

What’s that? We’re not lost? Don’t need to stop for directions? We know what we’re doing? Bullshit. Get it the fuck together.

No, really, think about it: We know what we’re doing and this is what we’re coming up with? That’s even worse.

You had to think about it, didn’t you? Seriously: Pay attention, and get it the fuck together.

____________________

Smolinski, Julieanne. “Twitter Has Become a Park Filled With Bats and Perverts”. New York. 1 March 2016.

A Small Collection of Depressing Thoughts

Detail of frame from 'Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor' episode 4, "The Ark Adrift on the Lake …".

“But every now and then, when the irony is just too rich, we can also permit ourselves a moment to say, Oh, you felt too concerned for your safety to hold your little rape rally? That must be so hard for you.”

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Two questions insistently assert themselves:

A year ago, Roosh penned an essay in which he offered a modest proposal: “Make rape legal if done on private property. I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds.” He went on to explain, “Let’s make rape legal. Less women will be raped because they won’t voluntarily drug themselves with booze and follow a strange man into a bedroom, and less men will be unfairly jailed for what was anything but a maniacal alley rape.” Somehow this didn’t quite make it to the Supreme Court. (Also, it’s “fewer.”) But in January, he announced an International Meetup Day On February 6, 2016, promising, “will be the start of regular meetups that serve men in a way that internet sites do not.”

The plan, proposed for “heterosexual, masculine men” to gather for “165 meetings in 43 countries,” featured a secret code question fellow manly men could ask to signal each other — “Do you know where I can find a pet shop?” They were then to proceed to the “final location,” where, ostensibly, all three of them would say stuff like, “Bitches, man, am I right?” in bro solidarity. But while Roosh insisted that “Tribal meetings will not tolerate the promotion of illegal actions and will not engage in violence,” he also did vow that “I will exact furious retribution upon anyone who challenges you in public on that date.”

(Williams)

The first question to mind is both obvious and obscure: Just what is the target market, here? That is to say, just how many men from forty-three countries does one expect to turn up to one of a hundred sixty-five sites to celebrate the glories of rape? To the one, it’s a glaring question. To the other is a question of what that population would signify. There is, after all, the bizarre discourse swirling ’round the proposition of rape culture, in which there are the factions one might imagine―that is, those who rape and those who would stop them―but also a curious mix of seeming righteous deviancy gone awry. Or, I don’t know, is that too flaccid a euphemism?

These usually posture themselves against some straw man indicting all men as raping lunatics; generally speaking they then set about proving whence comes that indictment, which in turn is themselves. Those familiar with #NotAllMen and #WhatAboutTheMen know the phenomenon; it is spectacularly stupid, yet somehow finds traction―to wit, one might argue that rape culture is a politically-correct invention of liberals and feminists to something something demonize all men which is why this video of a chimp raping a frog to death makes the point that there is no rape culture because it explains rape better as something we all have in common.

And if you followed that, well, right, you’ve probably already had practice. If, to the other, you’re stumbling through that as if I have just repeated some incoherent nonsense, and thus wonder why you should take it seriously, that would make you just about normal.

(more…)

The Way of the Internet

Detail of frames from 'People react to being called beautiful', a 2015 short film by Shea Glover.  Source image via Danisius at BoredPanda.com.

‘Tis a crying shame I didn’t see Danisius’ post at Bored Panda about Shea Glover’s “beautiful” video; it’s an interesting idea.

Unfortunately, the video was first shown to me by an associate in defense of street harassment.

Too bad about that; I’m pretty sure advocating for sexual harrassment was not what the filmmaker intended.

Then again, I could be wrong.

____________________

Bored Panda. “Student Captures What Happens When People Are Told They Are Beautiful”. BoredPanda.com. 4 December 2015.

Glover, Shea. “People react to being called beautiful”. YouTube. 27 May 2015.

A Disappointing Discussion

Detail of 'Ampersand' by Barry Deutsch, 1 September 2010.

This is not none of my business:

And even though I wanted to reply, to put each of those scared little baby men in their place, I held my tongue, I privated my account, and I waited in my car outside Ralph’s daycare until my hands stopped shaking and my heart slowed down.

I did this because unlike these men, with online pseudonyms, it’s me online. My face, my name. And because I am afraid of retaliation, I had to hide on the Internet the same way I’d have to run and lock my front door if this man had said that to my face.

That. Is. Rape. Culture.

It’s a group of men who are so threatened by the existence of female opinion that it’s nothing to them to toss off a tweet like that. Because, can’t I take a joke? Because, why am I such a bitch when a man just wants me to smile? Because, what business do I have posting a *gasp* selfie and telling men how to treat me?

This exchange, in the big scheme of things, is nothing. Really, these people are nothing to me and I could just keep ignoring it and pretend it never happened and hope that they let me slide out of their part of the Internet and stay on the sunny side. I’ve watched my husband die in my arms so on the scale of Shit That Matters, a few tweets… don’t.

Even in the big picture of the cesspool that is Twitter (Jack, dude, get it under control), this is nothing. Women experience worse. Every day.

That’s why this matters.

And this is stupid.

No, not what Nora McInerny Purmort has to say. No, no … that’s not what’s stupid. That she or anyone else still needs to say it is what’s stupid.

And, yes, I get to be disappointed that we must have this discussion.

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The Ben Carson Show (Pervert’s Pride Memo)

Ben Carson speaks at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention on Jan. 18, 2015, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. A variety of conservative presidential hopefuls spoke at the gathering on the second day of the three-day event. (Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

MEMORANDUM

To: Dr. Ben Carson

re: Pervert’s pride

On Thursday, 5 November, Dr. Carson, you advocated segregation in American society.

GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson suggested creating separate public bathrooms for transgender people in an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos Thursday.

When Ramos asked Carson if transgender men and women should be able to use any public bathroom they choose, Carson responded, “How about we have a transgender bathroom?”

“It is not fair for them to make everybody else uncomfortable,” Carson added. “It’s one of the things that I don’t particularly like about the movement.”

(Mellen)

Actually, Dr. Carson, would you like to know what really makes everybody else uncomfortable, whether in restrooms or anywhere else? Bigots. Hateful people such as yourself.

Still, though, Ruby Mellen, in her Huffington Post report, includes mention of the supremacist campaign against the transgender in Texas―

One particularly sinister TV ad showed a man following a young girl into a public restroom while a woman’s voice said, “Any man at any time could enter a woman’s bathroom simply by claiming to be a woman that day.” (It’s already illegal to sexually harass women, with or without HERO.)

―that provides us a constructive avenue, since it’s already quite apparent that truth, reality, honesty, and dignity have no place in your allegedly Christian heart.

This is very simple, Dr. Carson: Prove your point.

Put on a dress and show us how easy it is.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)Put on a dress, use a women’s restroom, and prove your point. Because here’s the thing: All you or, say, Mr. Huckabee accomplish broadcasting these deviant erotic fantasies is telling us all about the eye of the beholder.

That is to say, Dr. Carson, sure, so now we know what you would do in a women’s restroom. We know what Mr. Huckabee would do in a women’s restroom.

And it really is grotesque that you should assign your own exploitative sexual deviance to other people just in order to complain about them. Still, though, it is possible to demonstrate your point; the only question is whether you’re actually willing to.

And if not, Dr. Carson, then shut your filthy mouth.

____________________

Image notes: Top ― Ben Carson speaks at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention on Jan. 18, 2015, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Richard Ellis/Getty Images) Right ― Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Levine, Sam. “Mike Huckabee Belittled Transgender People In February Speech”. The Huffington Post. 2 June 2015.

Mellen, Ruby. “Ben Carson: Transgender People ‘Make Everybody Else Uncomfortable’ In Restrooms”. The Huffington Post. 5 November 2015.

Overdue

Detail of frame from Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 02, 'Girls'.

One note about the passing of time is that the ravages of age compel me to recall―

It’s one thing to have swallowed “the red pill” in a small town in which your pick-up artist (PUA) exploits are likely to become general knowledge, but it’s another thing entirely to be an “alpha” on the prowl who also writes a blog and does a podcast about his conquests — especially after they become general knowledge.

Protesters gather outside Waking Life Espresso in Asheville, North Carolina, in September 2015, denouncing misogyny and the sexually harassing, predatory assertion of the pickup artist after the coffee shop's owners, Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, were revealed by a local blogger as PUAs who advocate and blog their ideas and behavior.  (Uncredited photo via Salon.com)That is precisely the situation that two PUAs — Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens — find themselves in after Ashevilleblog published an article (based on information gleaned from an anonymous blog) about the owners of Waking Life Espresso and the online accounts of their exploits at Holistic Game and a Twitter account by the same name.

It’s not surprising that the West Asheville community is protesting and boycotting the coffee shop — especially the female members of it, who learned on Twitter that they’re not human beings so much as “an endless supply of hot young pussy,” or that “there are no ‘special’ girls,” merely “cool ones and lame ones.” The lames ones, according to the Holistic Game blog, “could help themselves immensely by reading a few classic novels and working out a little [but] they get attention regardless, so the motivation to better themselves isn’t present.”

(Kaufman)

―that not so long ago the idea of a pickup artist was regarded somewhere between being hapless, charming, and forgivable to the one, and admirable to the other.

This is, in its turn, worth mentioning because in the twenty-first century American society seems especially prone to forgetfulness about matters historical. It is one thing to point out the obvious but esoteric Schwarzkopf cycleα, for instance; but quite another to see a decade like the eighties so forgotten―fashion is one thing, but it’s not just Republicans who forget Ronald Reagan’s presidency, or the fights over abortion or condoms or even marital rape.

The idea of the pickup artist is particularly reviled right now, and for reasons we might consider exceptionally obvious. But it seems strange, in the age of #NotAllMen and #JustNotMe, how many of my peers seem a bit cloudy on the issue of how important it was for guys to get laid―by a girl!―when we were younger. And it’s one thing to invoke ego defense, but, really, what drives such suppression? Can self-indictment really be so powerful? Because, I swear, they’re not all running from memories of evils committed. And just how many self-inflicted wounds, such as it is, could they possibly visit upon themselves? Deutsch-20141009-detailOr is it possible that we really have been wandering so catastrophically astray for so long without even knowing it? The proposition seems unrealistic for both magnitude and necessary complexity. Yet one point at least remains occulted: How can we possibly forget?

Still, though, the question of the pickup artist has to do with refinement and ritualization of so much masculine privilege and subordinate expectation breathing life into one of the darkest and most persistent corrosions of our human clay. And as purity cult roars its disdainful lament, we ought not wonder why this most superficial art of charlatanry also finds itself bearing the sort of scrutiny it simply cannot withstand. The pickup artist is a distillation of what hashtags of wounded masculine pride would hope to ward off.

This is an unfortunate truth: The days of the pickup artist will never be over. But this is a time in which the mythopoeic station of this lonely, notorious art can be uprooted and redefined according to what it actually is and does.

And, you know, it really is about time.

____________________

Image notes: Top ― Detail of frame from Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 02, “Girls”. Middle ― Protesters gather outside Waking Life Espresso in Asheville, North Carolina, in September 2015, denouncing misogyny and the sexually harassing, predatory assertion of the pickup artist after the coffee shop’s owners, Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, were revealed by a local blogger as PUAs who advocate and promote their ideas and behavior via social media. (Photo via Salon.com) Bottom ― Detail of cartoon by Barry Deutsch, 9 October 2014.

α The Schwarzkopf cycle is a superficial frame for viewing history, starting with the period between 1953-91. At the front end is Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., who helped overthrow Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq; the latter is when his son, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., led American forces in Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, whose influence and respectability depended in large part on the American response to the Iranian reaction to Shah Reza Palavi. Explicitly: From father to son, it was still the same mission. And we are, of course, still working to clean up that mess, today.

Kaufman, Scott Eric. “North Carolina coffee shop on the rocks after misogynistic owners outed as podcasting, blogging red-pill enthusiasts”. Salon. 22 September 2015.

South Dakota Family Values (Roger Not Mike Mix)

South Dakota state Rep. Roger Hunt (R-25), in 2008.  Detail of photo by Joe Kafka/Associated Press.

So, do we go with the joke about how creepy the family values crowd can get, or the one about intrusive government?

A strikingly backward proposal could force high school athletes in South Dakota―particularly those who are transgender―to submit to a visual inspection of their genitals before they participate in a sport.

State Rep. Roger Hunt (R) plans to introduce a measure that would effectively deny trans high school students the right to determine their own gender identity, according to an Aug. 23 report from the Rapid City Journal. Instead, for schools’ purposes, a student’s gender would be determined by whatever it said on their birth certificate, and by the results of a “visual inspection,” the RCJ reports.

“This is South Dakota. We haven’t adopted the East Coast culture. We haven’t adopted the West Coast culture. We maintain our own culture,” Hunt reportedly said. He also asserted his belief that gender is determined at conception.

It’s not clear whether Hunt’s measure would apply only to public high schools in the state, or to grade schools, middle schools and/or public colleges as well. Hunt did not respond to The Huffington Post’s request for comment.

(Visser)

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Image note: South Dakota state Rep. Roger Hunt(R-25), in 2008. Detail of photo by Joe Kafka/Associated Press.

Visser, Nick. “South Dakota Legislator Proposes Genital Inspection For Transgender Athletes”. The Huffington Post. 31 August 2015.

Tomorrow, Today

Detail of frame from Sekirei.

I should be embarrassed. Or, you know, maybe not.

Really, I thought the right wing would have taken the hint and moved on to the next front. That is to say, my prognostication somehow failed to account for just how stubborn is this conservative desperation:

There have been predictions for several years that gay-bashing by GOP presidential candidates would be dead by 2016, some of it wishful thinking by gay advocates. Back in 2012, Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, for example, commenting on the lack of discussion of gay issues in the three debates between President Obama and Mitt Romney, said, “What we’re seeing is proof positive that gay issues aren’t the wedge they used to be.” The public, he said, has “moved on.”

Fast forward to 2015: Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and Rick Perry have expressed blatant anti-gay positions, from banning gay scout leaders to supporting yet another marriage amendment. Some pundits believe this to be politically dangerous, certainly in a general election, and they’re right when it comes to the more overt bigotry. As I noted last week, Scott Walker clearly crossed a line — and walked back — when he said the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adults “protected children.”

But new polling underscores that covert messaging — the dog whistle — could do the trick for the GOP, just as it has worked for the party on race and gender for decades now. Jeb Bush has defended “religious liberty” — the new code words for anti-gay positions — even while saying gay couples deserved “respect” for their relationships. And just last week, Bush said he supported the idea of anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people, though he thought they should be handled “state-by-state” (contrary to a comprehensive federal bill introduced by Democrats in Congress today that would protect LGBT people nationally).

But in comments that directly followed, Bush said that he believes there should be an exception for people with religious objections to allowing gays and lesbians to marry, such as a florist who refused to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding. In other words, those who would discriminate in the first place should be exempt from laws banning discrimination. This will in fact be the more subtle — but no less vile and discriminatory — gay-bashing of the 2016 election.

The one and only Michelangelo Signorile recalls predictions “for several years that gay-bashing by GOP presidential candidates would be dead by 2016”, and appropriately notes at least some of it was wishful thinking. And perhaps we might simply be considering a different perspective on the question of gay-bashing, but it seems unclear just how any of that wishful thinking would have worked. We would not fault Mr. Signorile for his recollection; he isn’t wrong. But it has never been clear quite how that relief should work.

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One of Those Questions I Probably Shouldn’t Ask

It is true, I know a bad idea when it occurs to me. But …

Via Facebook, 30 May 2015: "Every guy thinks that every girl's dream is to find the perfect guy ... Please.  Every girl's dream is to eat without getting fat." ("Just a reminder, gents, it's not always about you ;)")

… I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. That is to say, sure, right, yes, I get the first part. However … well, you know: Really?

Body image? Really? That’s the smug fallback?

So, yes, I will go ahead and ask: Is this really the best way to go about it?

What am I missing?

____________________

Image Note: Via Facebook, 30 May 2015. Transcript of image: “Every guy thinks that every girl’s dream is to find the perfect guy … Please. Every girl’s dream is to eat without getting fat.” With Facebook user note: “Just a reminder, gents, it’s not always about you ;)”

Properly Crazy

Joe Morrissey (right) and former receptionist Myrna Pride pose in antebellum dress to celebrate and announce the birth of a son; Mr. Morrissey, a former Virginia state representative, previously denied any sexual involvement with Ms. Pride, and even pled to reduced charges after being accused of molesting her as a minor.  Uncredited photo circa May, 2015, via Joe St. George, Twitter, 14 May 2015.

This is one of those things for which I have exactly nothing:

Let’s dissect this, shall we?

To the right stands former Virginia delegate Joe Morrissey, 57, a Democrat running for a Virginia state Senate seat as an Independent after Democratic Party officials rejected his attempt to seek office. Joining Morrissey are his 19-year-old receptionist, Myrna Pride, and their 9-week-old son Chase, a child Morrissey publicly acknowledged as his son for the first time Wednesday.

The image shows Morrissey, who is white, and Pride, who is black, in what some reporters have described as “period” dress — without mention of the fact that said period would appear to be the antebellum South or that said photo was taken in Virginia Beach, a city that sits about two hours from Richmond, the onetime capital of the Confederacy.

(Ross)

Would you believe me if I told you things only go downhill from there? As Janell Ross explained for the Washington Post: (more…)