Archive | June, 2008

MTV: Sex, Drugs, and (almost no) Rock and Roll… FOR KIDS! (Part 3)

28 Jun

Date My Mom might be the most fucked up thing I’ve ever seen in my life. For those of you who have yet to see this preview of the end of the universe, it works like this: a dude (no women, because it’s humiliating for men to compete for women or something) is looking for love and MTV has chosen three potential matches. The dude won’t get to see them or meet them, but rather will go on dates with their moms and make a choice on that basis. That could be interesting, but not to worry, MTV wouldn’t allow that. They’ve found a way to debauch everyone on the show and their mothers.

In the first episode I watched, it was a gay dude who was wookin’ pa nub. Now, I’m not here to pretend there’s no such thing as a promiscuous gay dude with a lisp, but this guy was unbelievable. He was essentially a caricature of himself, a 12-year-old’s idea of what being a gay man is all about. Obviously, MTV purposely chose a guy that would fulfill everyone’s stupid expectations of gay men. But it wasn’t just him. The three contestants were such cliches that I thought they were all brilliant actors playing out roles from a script written by a lame homophobic early-90s stand-up comedian. (MTV cultural info bite #1: The gays all talk funny and have weird posture.)

The first contestant was a rather fat and pale blond guy who was clearly completely out of his mind and had an unhealthy interest in Great Britain (or at least shirts with the Union Jack on them). His mother was absolutely batshit nuts, and apparently extremely intoxicated throughout the taping of the show. She and the dude went on their date at a wrecking yard where they sledgehammered cars and discussed her son. She told the dude that her son had had so many boyfriends she had lost count, that he liked to party, and that she and her son used to sing a song about centipedes when he was small, which she demonstrated and which was completely insane. It was one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever seen on television.

Next, the dude went out with an Asian woman whose son called her a “hot bitch” when she left for the date. He did so because she had agreed to tell the dude that her son had a “monstrous penis.” (Good lookin’ out, mom!) Their date was at a fucking karate studio. I swear to god, MTV sent the dude and the Asian mom on a date to learn martial arts. And the mom wore mandarin-collared clothing throughout the episode, which I suspect she might have done at the network’s insistence. (MTV cultural info bite #2 – Asians love karate and Chinese-style clothing, no matter what their actual ethnicity or how long their families have lived in the US. Me Chinese, me play joke, me go peepee in your Coke.) I’m pretty sure she was on at least 40 milligrams of Valium and possibly some box wine, because she told the dude that her son’s ass was “pure perfection” and that his penis was gigantic. Ugh. (MTV cultural info bite #3: The gays like big penises, so if you’re Asian and want to get with a gay, you’d better let him know that the old Asian stereotype doesn’t apply to you.)

The last mom was the least insane of the three and would have avoided giving creepy descriptions of her son’s physical attributes, but the dude sort of forced her into it. He asked her how many times a week her son went to the gym, and she said none. They actually showed the dude wince when she said that (MTV cultural info bite #4: The gays are superficial!). This dude was starting to sound too… not gay. I almost thought MTV had lost their place at the avant garde of stupid stereotype reinforcement until the mom came out with the info that her son was involved in musical theater. Even the dude who was choosing between the three moms had something to say about how cliche that concept was.

Once the dates were all over, the dude met the three moms at the beach and told them who he had and had not chosen. First, he told the crazy centipede mom he wasn’t going to be dating her son because he didn’t want to date a guy who was too promiscuous (huh?). Her son got out of the back of a limo wearing yet another British-themed outfit and the dude winced again. Apparently he doesn’t like ‘em chubby (MTV cultural info bite #5: Being fat isn’t ever cool, but it’s especially uncool if you’re gay.) Then he told the musical theater guy’s mom that he wouldn’t be dating her son. When that guy got out of the limo the dude behaved a little more civilly, saying he thought he might have blown it because the musical theater guy was hot (ssss!). Then he told the Asian mom, who was naturally wearing a qipao for the occasion, that he’d chosen her son, and that the information she’d shared with him about her son’s penis was what had sealed the deal. No, I’m serious. I swear. So the penis dude gets out of the limo and the guy is pumped because he’s picked the hottest one (of course). He was so impressed, in fact, that he told the cameras, “I know I can’t make babies with him, but I’m going to die trying.” Ah, love.

Once MTV had gotten through insulting gay men and their mothers everywhere, they moved on to heterosexual women and their mothers. The dude this time was a lifeguard and the three women whose moms he would be dating were really something. The first one was a rather portly young woman who spent almost every second of her screen time bragging about how many strings of beads she’d earned by showing people her ample bosoms and bragging about how ample those bosoms were. Her mother was her bosoms’ biggest fan, it seems, because she talked about them almost as much. She and the lifeguard did a CPR lesson and the mother reported to the dude that her daughter was a party animal extraordinaire with a bead collection nonpareil and a “voluptuous” bod.

The next contestant really made me want to kick someone’s ass. Her mother made a point of mentioning the fact that the girl had an abnormally high IQ and was an academic genius, but the girl asked that her mother not mention that to the date. Instead, she wanted her mom to tell the guy about the time she made out with two other women at a party. Do I need to comment on what that means? Mom blew it. She told the guy about the make-out sesh, but she slipped up and told him that her daughter was smart and liked to read. Bummer.

The last woman was the hottest (as was her mom), and she was the brattiest, least interesting, and most superficial of the contestants, so I knew she would win from the start. I really can’t remember anything about her or her mother except that they looked like they liked day spas.

At the beach, the dude told the first mom he wouldn’t be dating her daughter, and when the daughter got out of the limo he winced (remember, MTV viewers, fat people are only good for laughing at, they aren’t human beings). She took it all in stride, though, and seemed to really believe that it was his loss, which I think I agree with (besides, there’s a world of bead necklaces out there, afterall). Then he told the mother of the smarty-pants he wouldn’t be dating her daughter because all that reading sounded a little too dorky. (MTV cultural info bite #6 – Being smart is lame. Get naked and make out with your friends if you want attention.) Finally, he told the pilates mom that he had chosen her daughter, and the meeting took place. He was visibly thrilled that he had chosen the hottest one, and they shared a big hug in which he lifted her off the ground, at which point her skirt came up and exposed her entire enthonged ass. No pixelation anywhere. A beautiful ending to a beautiful love story.

Cut to “Dance Dance” by Fall Out Boy.

So, what have I learned from watching 3 hours of MTV? I’ve learned that love, happiness, and success increase in direct proportion to how many chicks I make out with in public. I’ve learned that being smart sucks and that I should pretend to be as stupid as I can lest I freak dudes out and end up a lonely spinster. I’ve learned that if I ever get fat, I might as well kill myself. I’ve learned that the best way to find love is to have sex with as many strangers as possible and then choose the one who is most easily manipulated with sexual favors. I’ve learned that love = sex+power and that there’s no room for trust, intimacy, or even morality in romantic relationships. It’s all about fucking and getting fucked. And anyone who has a problem with any of that is a reactionary asshole, you hear?

That includes parents. I learned from watching MTV that today’s parent doesn’t try to direct her child’s behavior, but rather tries to emulate it, because the most important thing for a parent to be is cool. Parental guidance is fucking lame, dude.

I’ve also learned a lot about homosexuality. For instance, women who are gay are gay for men’s visual enjoyment, but gay men actually are gay and don’t care about any women except their hot bitch mothers, who they’re inappropriately attached to, even as adults. You know, because gay men are mama’s boys. I discovered that the Andrew Dice Clay-esque stereotypes of gay men that I’ve thought were untrue for so long are actually pretty spot on (how naively PC of me!). It turns out that they really are all missing tendons in their wrists, they really do only care about asses and wieners, and they really are all into musical theater and Britney Spears.

Oh, wait. I didn’t learn any of that. I just learned that the producers of Date My Mom, The X-Effect, and A Shot at Love are the worst people in the world and that they don’t mind if they turn an entire generation of American youth into sex-crazed, disease-ridden, materialistic, unreflective, asshole robots who are terrified of books and people who don’t adhere to stereotypes. All the better to market Skechers and text-messaging scams to.

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MTV: Sex, Drugs, and (almost no) Rock and Roll… FOR KIDS! (Part 2)

25 Jun

Sorry for the unexcused absence, everyone. I’m out of town. I’ve just been in Portland, where something in the tap water had me considering becoming a Suicide Girl and listening to Wilco, and now I’m in San Diego, where something in the tap water is making me think I should listen to Sublime and 311 and get a tattoo on my lower back. Good thing I’m going back to Atlanta on Monday, where the tap water just makes me want to drink microbrews with stupid names and pretend to like bluegrass (I can resist the tattoo for a few more days). That shouldn’t be too bad, at least until I go back to New York, where the tap water just makes me think I’m better than everyone else.

Back to MTV.

After Tila Tequila I watched a show called The X-Effect. The premise on this show is that two people who used to date and are now with other people hang out at a posh resort for a weekend to see if they still have unresolved feelings for each other. Or to see if MTV can manipulate them into getting naked. How this works out is that MTV brings both couples to the resort, tells the two exes that they are going to be spending the weekend together at the place, sends their significant others (SOs) away in a car, then turns the car around and brings the SOs back to another room at the same resort, where they will be sequestered for the duration of the weekend and from which they will be able to spy on their mates in various ways.

For example, the SOs will be given the option of sending the exes a bottle of champagne in a bucket with a hidden microphone that will allow them to hear the conversation that takes place over the bottle. Or the two SOs will be given the option to spy on their mates from their room, but are forced to choose between hearing the audio or seeing the video, not both. Their room is also outfitted with a lamp that lights up whenever their mates touch, which the lamp knows because the exes are wearing bracelets that detect such things, bracelets they’ve been told are really VIP wristbands that will allow them to charge everything to their room (dumbasses). The SOs will also often be offered the chance to choose the activities their mates will participate in, with one innocuous choice and one “sexy” one, say bocce ball or a couple’s spa day, respectively. The deal is, though, that the SOs won’t get to watch them if they play bocce ball, but will if they go for the couple’s massage or almost-nude photo shoot.

The exes are set up for two days in obscenely opulent surroundings, given every accoutrement they need to create the most romantic (at least in the mind of someone who is into Beyonce) environment possible, and pumped full of booze and bad ideas, then put into compromising positions in which they think they have privacy. In each episode, just to give one example, the couple is told on their second day that the hotel is having some kind of problem and that their previous room, the one with the separate beds, will no longer be available. The couple will, however, be offered the honeymoon suite (har har har), which has just one big, fancy bed and some couches (to be used in the unlikely event that the exes should choose not to behave like amoral assholes).The SOs are given constant updates on the exes via a computer screen with a diagram of the honeymoon suite that indicates the location of their mates.

The SOs are locked up in a room that they can’t leave, lest they interrupt their mates’ activities, and are also pumped full of booze and bad ideas. They are constantly sitting together, drunk, watching their mates succumb to one degree or another to ridiculously manufactured temptations, and are forced to decide whether to push their mates even further (by sending them champagne or choosing a couple’s bathing suit photo shoot or massage lessons as their mates’ activities) so that they can spy on them or to trust them and not spy on them (which none of them do, whether because human nature won’t allow it or because it would make for a boring show).

And  — surprise, surprise — the SOs often get pissed off and end up getting naked with each other out of spite and drunkenness.

When it’s all over, the SOs confront the exes. It’s usually at this point that the SOs tell their mates’ exes that they saw them or heard them behaving inappropriately but that it’s all good because “while you were with my girlfriend/boyfriend, I was with yours all weekend.” Mmmhmm! Then the couples meet and the borderline (or not-so-borderline) cheater makes the call whether to get back with their ex or stay with their current mate. You know, because the one who has been caught on video having acted a fool all weekend should be the one deciding the fate of the relationship, rather than allowing the person who has been betrayed to decide whether they want to stay with someone who has cheated on them and humiliated them on national television.

So basically, the goal of the show is to completely destroy as many relationships as possible by placing them under absurdly heavy strains that could never exist in real life.

In the first episode I watched the two exes didn’t get too crazy. I mean, the dude wrote his ex a poem about how he hoped they’d get back together one day and tried to manipulate her into sleeping in the same bed with him in the honeymoon suite by getting in it and giving her the couch, but nothing happened. Not so with the SOs, though. The dude, seeing that his girlfriend was resisting her ex’s advances, still decided to step up and… comfort the woman who had just heard her boyfriend recite a corny poem to his ex-girlfriend. She ended up getting into some lingerie and giving the SO dude a massage, which, of course, MTV showed us. At the confrontation, her poem-recitin’ boyfriend said he wanted to stay with her, but she told him to do one (good for her, but too bad she had to get used publicly by the other dude in the process). The other girl decided to stay with her current boyfriend, and he accepted, but he’d clearly cheated on her. The end result? Both women ended up looking like fools and the SO dude looks like a pimp (Gs up, hos down and shit). Shocking, I know.

The next episode was pretty heinous. I’m willing to bet thousands of dollars that the two exes were from New Jersey. The dude was losing his hair (despite an exceedingly low brow), had an obvious steroid problem, and was really into ribbed shirts. The woman was that special shade of orange that only Jersey tanning salons seem able to create, had hair that looked like it’d been bleached weekly with 90 volume peroxide for 7 or 8 years, and wore clothes that would make Christina Aguilera say, “She looks so trashy.” They should never have broken up. It’s all good, though, because they ended up having sex in a bathtub, which their SOs got to watch. After doing a couple’s bathing suit photo shoot, that is, which might have been the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. The dude basically grabbed the woman from behind by the hips like he was about to mount her, then bit her on the ass. Freeze frame!

The SOs spent the whole time being drunk and pissed off, but it all worked out at the confrontation. The dudes met on a pier, where I was really hoping one would throw the other into the water. (Close, but no cigar.) The SO told the ex that he’d seen him making out with his girlfriend on camera, but that it was cool because he’d spent the weekend making out with the ex’s girlfriend in a hot tub and, “you know, sleeping with her, everything.” The best part was that the ex, even after being told he’d been busted cheating on his new girlfriend, got all possessive and pissed when he heard that she’d been doing the same after seeing him do so.

When the couples met back up, the exes chose to dump their new mates and get back together. The SOs didn’t give a fuck, though, because they liked each other better than they had liked the other two. No sour grapes at all. True fucking love.

What an asshole party, right?

MTV is teaching us about love. I often wonder whether pop culture trends create, reflect, or reinforce social trends. I don’t hang out with enough gym enthusiasts to say for certain, but I think MTV’s version of love might mean that, if they haven’t already, human beings are losing the plot. If the kids being raised on MTV today pick up what the channel’s producers are laying down with regard to intimate relationships, we’re all going to die. People  are going to end up hosing around so much that they all get AIDS, and those who don’t are going to kill each other in jealous rages or kill themselves once they realize they’ve wasted their youth having sex with creatine and Botox abusers.

But even if that doesn’t happen, how responsible is it to put people in the positions MTV puts people in on these shows? I know that people sign up for these things knowing that there’s likely some drama in store, but it often seems like a pretty bad bargain for the participants. I wonder if, when these people sign up for the show, they’re aware of the fact that the producers consider the destruction of their relationships to be the ideal outcome for the episode. It seems clear that most of them just sign up just for the chance to be on television, but I doubt that all four participants in a given show expect that they’ll be trading in their relationships and dignity on that opportunity.

MTV does the same thing in this show that they do on A Shot at Love: they sequester the participants, don’t allow them to get enough sleep, keep them drunk, and play on their emotional vulnerabilities in order to create the most explosive outcomes possible, whatever personal hardships that may entail for the participants. Has anyone gone home from one of these shows and offed her/himself? Has anyone gone home and assaulted or nearly killed his/her partner? Has anyone gone home and found her/himself unable to deal with the emotional consequences of what happened on the show and the fact that it was broadcast nationwide?

Does MTV pay psychologists’ bills for the show participants who need professional help to deal with the aftermath? Of course not. They make the participants sign releases absolving MTV of any responsibility for what occurs after they get done orchestrating catastrophes in people’s lives for profit. MTV doesn’t give a fuck about the people they manipulate and use to make money, nor do they give a fuck about the impact of their product on their audience. I love the free market.

This shit is just so fucking mean-spirited. I don’t get excited by seeing people suffer. I admit that I like to watch Party Heat and Cops sometimes, but the situations drunken rednecks on those shows find themselves in are all of their own making. MTV — and the other networks responsible for reality TV — on the other hand, are intentionally manipulating circumstances to create emotionally abusive situations, situations that often exceed what the average person would be able to process and handle with any sort of equanimity. In the process, they’re feeding the public’s desire for ever more sensationalistic bullshit and simultaneously creating new standards of depravity and recklessness among the most impressionable of audiences: adolescents.

I’m not going to argue that the people who participate in these shows are innocent bystanders and that MTV is solely to blame for their suffering, but it is wildly irresponsible of MTV to willfully destroy intimate relationships and then present the depraved behavior they’ve managed to push people into to the teenage public as a matter of course, or even as some kind of ideal. Complete disregard for the feelings of others, extreme selfishness, and totally unreflective promiscuity don’t seem to be out of keeping with MTV’s version of “love.” I don’t know whether that’s any shittier than the unrealistic and shallow (and gender role-reinforcing) picture of love of fairy tales, but I do know that it sucks.

That we’re supposed to rejoice at the reunion of lovers after they’ve been dry humping people outside the relationship for a weekend is pretty fucking insulting. But not only that, it’s boring.  You always know what’s going to happen on an MTV show: the “hottest” (female) and least ethical (male) one wins, whatever the prize happens to be (no matter how ambiguous the value of the prize – can one really be said to have “won” when one gets the opportunity to continue a relationship with someone who has been making out with someone else all weekend?).

And that leads me to… Date My Mom.

To be continued…

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MTV: Sex, Drugs, and (almost no) Rock and Roll… FOR KIDS! (Part 1)

19 Jun

I’m staying in Atlanta for the summer. It’s often hot as fuck out, so I’m stuck inside once in awhile, where I have cable for the first time in about 3 years. I haven’t taken much advantage of it since I’ve been reading, writing blog posts, and doing a lot of schoolwork, but last night I did.

Let me start by saying that I know making fun of MTV is pretty easy. It’s obvious that MTV isn’t cool, that it ruins a lot of the coolest things about youth culture, and that it exists to the detriment of young people’s development. Although I agree with everything he said, I get terribly embarrassed whenever I hear recordings of Jello Biafra bloviating about how much MTV sucks. Listening to someone making fun of MTV is like reading old punk lyrics. It’s just so obvious, you know? But I have to.

Anyway, I don’t ever watch it, but last night I did and it was unfuckingbelievable. I watched three hours of it with another advanced scholar of 80s and 90s pop culture, and we were completely astonished at how insane things have become on that network, even in comparison with the asinine drivel we remember having seen on it as teenagers. Seriously, it blew my mind. I had to write about it.

As I sit here and listen to the greatest hits of Huey Lewis and the News (a fuckin’ hipster, I am), I am reminded of a simpler time. A time when parents didn’t want their kids to be promiscuous drunks, when hardly anyone got naked in front of strangers for no reason, when MTV just played questionable music videos instead of outright misogynistic borderline porn, when it was the men who were wearing attire that nearly exposed their genitalia and humping inanimate objects (Aerosmith, The Cult, etc.) in order to shock the audience rather than women doing so to avoid shocking the audience by not doing it. MTV was tame back then. As it is now, there isn’t a minute that goes by on MTV that doesn’t contain at least two of the following:

  1. People having sex. And I don’t mean the implication that people are humping, I mean video of people actually doing it, or video of people talking about having actually done it.
  2. Horrifically embarrassing stereotypes. These usually involve some woman or member of a minority group caricaturing himself/herself for the amusement of the audience.
  3. Emotional abuse. Nearly every program on MTV revolves around one member of a couple/love triangle/love octagon or a contestant for someone’s love being betrayed, humiliated, or emotionally abused.
  4. Alcohol abuse. The producers of MTV’s shows all know that booze = drama. Who will fall on the floor screaming, get naked in public, get in a fight, or fuck a stranger on camera when they aren’t drunk?
  5. Tons of T&A. Since most MTV shows are short on substance, they need footage that will kill time but also keep people watching. What works better for that than footage of the seemingly endless parade of women willing to hang out with hardly anything on? Footage of these women’s faces is purely optional as long as there are boobs in the shot.
  6. Total debasement of the parent-child relationship. Parents on MTV are their kids’ drinking buddies, slaves, cheerleaders, enablers, and bank accounts, not authority figures. They’re there to bankroll the party, not to bum it out with their concerns for their children’s well-being.

Now that the parameters have been laid down, I’ll get to the shows. In the course of my MTV viewing experiment, I sat through an episode of A Shot at Love 2 with Tila Tequila, two episodes of The X-Effect, and two episodes of Date My Mom. I’ve also seen a few episodes of this season’s Real World recently. I don’t know which of these shows wins the Most Fucked Up Show on TV Award (previously held by The Swan), but all four are clearly produced by the devil (and I’m not just saying that because I had to sit through clips of Death Cab for Cutie on either side of the commercial breaks).

I’ll start with Tila Tequila’s show. The story, for those of you lucky enough to have escaped hearing about it, is that Tila Tequila, who is famous for being the filthiest animal on MySpace, is looking for a life partner. Tila Tequila is, quite simply, a sexbot. She was designed and built by strip club patrons who like ‘em ambiguously beige-tan, petite, and dramatically reconfigured by plastic surgery, she was programmed by Joe Rogan and Doug Stanhope to be their freewheelin’, free lovin’, chick lickin’ dream girl, then she got her own show. Either that or she did all that shit to herself knowing what appeals to the average dude and the average brainwashed young “chick” in order to get her own show. In any case, she’s ridden uber-commercialized, hyper-sexualized vacuity from a simple page on a social networking site to her own show on MTV, from where she gets to project her warped idea of femininity, morality, sexuality, and “love” to the preteens of the nation.

Like I said earlier, Tila, the story goes, is looking for true love. No one older than 13 really believes that’s what’s going on, but that’s the producers’ and Ms. Tequila’s story and they’re sticking to it. OK, fine, but doesn’t The Bachelorette already exist? What sets this show apart from Rock of Love (other than Ms. Tequila having hair and boobs) or I Love New York (besides the fact that I Love New York had Chance, the funniest dude on TV since Murdoch from The A-Team)?

The twist is… get ready… Tila Tequila is bisexual! She likes to do it with men and women. So half of the contestants trying to win the heart of this evil robot, trying to make the most of their Shot at Love, are men, and the other half are women. The men are the same kinds of men you see on any show with a similar premise: vain ‘roid monkeys with egos to put Billy Zabka to shame who are there simply because they, just knowing that they deserve to be famous, are looking for some small-screen exposure to get them started in the business. The women are weird, though. Most of them are similar to the women on shows like The Bachelor, although they manage to project even less self-respect and class than those women do, but at least one or two of them are actual lesbians. They usually get kicked off first, though. Who wants real lesbians ruining the Maxim-esque fantasy?

That’s right, I said it. Most of the women on Shot at Love aren’t lesbians. They’re women who make out with other women to make men want to pork them. They’re women who want to get famous and are willing to make out with a chick on screen if it’ll get them closer to that goal. I know that almost everyone on reality TV is there because they want to get famous (sorry if I’m ruining the magic for anyone), but this is easily the most egregious example of it I’ve ever seen. I suppose pretending to be gay isn’t any worse than pretending to care about someone so you can be on TV, but the combination of the two is a bit much.

But that’s not all. On most of these reality TV love match shows, the producers hesitate to bluntly insinuate that the contestants are having sex with the prize, but not so in this case. (Which is funny, considering the fact that most of these shows are intended for adult audiences, while Tila Tequila is on a network with a very young audience.) The only way they could make it more obvious that Ms. Tequila is having sex with every single contestant would be if they had a ticker at the bottom of the screen that showed the number of them she’d bedded tick up every time she closed a door on a camera. Now, I don’t know if she and the contestants are actually all getting busy, but that’s most definitely what we’re meant to believe, and I honestly don’t doubt it. Everyone on the show is drunk constantly, they’re all the kinds of people who believe life revolves around fucking, and hardly anyone is ever fully clothed. MTV producers, in all of their reality programs, seem hell-bent on getting as many people to fuck as many different people as possible, and this show is no exception. That means the contestants are constantly ensconced in opulent surroundings, they’re pumped full of booze, they’re always expected to be dressed up in “sexy” (if your idea of sexy is a stripper’s outfit) clothes, and they’re routinely asked to participate in overtly sexualized activities (bathing suit photo shoots, massage lessons, etc.).

Tila makes her decisions on who to keep and who to bounce on one criterion: how in love with her she thinks the contestants are. Fuckin’ A. Narcissism deluxe. You see, the contestants on these shows are in a weird position. They get almost no sleep, they eat poorly, they’re drunk all the time, and they have absolutely no privacy. It’s no surprise that they end up a little emotionally vulnerable, which makes it easy for Ms. Tequila to use her sexuality (consciously or not) to manipulate them into thinking they’re in love. If she fails, they get the boot. The weird part is that these women who are pretending to be gay actually seem to develop feelings for Tila Tequila. I don’t know whether they’re actually in love with her or if their feelings are really just intense admiration for someone who has earned a black belt in sexual manipulation, but they seem pretty stricken, so it’s really kind of gross to watch them get emotionally abused on national television.

What bothers me about this show isn’t that people are being hosey, that people are engaging in thoughtless casual sex, and that people are buying into the idea that Tila Tequila is after true love. What bothers me is how manipulative the entire premise of the show is and how sanctimonious the message seems to be. Basically, MTV is telling us that if we don’t think fucking 30 strangers is the best way to find love, we’re closed-minded homophobes, real reactionaries. You know, because the fact that people are pretending to be gay or bisexual and giving the (young, impressionable) public disgusting, caricatured, one-dimensional representations of the members of those communities is no big deal. Because believing that there should be something to love other than liking to fuck someone is totally passe. Because the path to liberation for women is lined with random wieners and public same-sex make-out sessions. Because the way to determine whether someone is a worthy human being is to see whether you can use your sexuality to manipulate them into thinking they love you.

Yeah, that’s what we want to tell our impressionable young women and men. And we wonder where the Suicide Girls and sex-positivism come from.

To be continued…

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Watch this!

18 Jun

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Nine Deuce: A Flaming Cunt?

16 Jun

I’m sorry, everyone. I know that this blog is really descending into unexplored depths of self-referentialism (coining words is my new hobby), but I’ve had more free time than I’m used to lately, which has allowed me to have a look around at what people who read this blog and are too craven to comment here post about it elsewhere (hence this post). I know, I know, that’s ill-advised, but I can’t help it. Then, somehow, my recent post on rape laws ended up on Stumbleupon and 4Chan (gee, thanks for the info, Playermatt) and my post on MRAs was discovered by some cabal of MRAs who’ve linked to it and passed both it and the rape law post around to their buddies. The results have been… interesting.

I always hoped that this blog would reach a wide audience, that people who had yet to consider the things I write about would end up being exposed to them and thinking about them. That’s why I try to avoid jargon and try to write things out in simple language. That’s why I cuss a lot and make stupid jokes. I’m hoping doing so will engage the random thoughtful people who happen upon my page and get them to thinking about what I have to say.

But I forgot that, when we’re talking the general public, there is about one thoughtful person per 1000 unreflective jagoffs. There are an awful lot of people who will never, ever consider the fact that the way things are might not be the best we can do. There are also a lot of people who have convinced themselves that their sorrows in life are all the fault of some group of people whose existence and success they see as a threat to their own.

When I started this blog, I planned to patiently respond to every comment I got, to make an attempt to be as much like Jesus as possible without growing a beard. I thought that if I was calm and tolerant enough, I might plant some seeds of reason into the heads of commenters, that I might bring some people closer to, if not into complete agreement with, my point of view. And, I thought, if I couldn’t do that, at least I could use the commenters who displayed a complete lack of reason as entertainment for my other readers (BUTTKICKER 69, we love you).

That all worked pretty well for awhile, that is until a few of my posts ended up on Stumbleupon and started getting serious numbers of hits from the general public. Once that happened, I started getting a lot of comments from women who thought I was “just as bad as men” because they thought I was trying to tell them what to do (wrong). I got a lot of comments from pro-porn dudes who thought I was being unfair in my assessment that men who use porn are allowing their selfishness and sense of entitlement to override their humanity (also wrong). I got a lot of comments from people who thought my connecting Bratz with feminism didn’t make any sense (uber wrong). Most of these comments, although they were pretty stupid, were at least civil. I think they were civil because those posts, though they were pretty harsh in their criticisms of the beauty, porn, and girls’ toy industries, didn’t really propose any significant reductions in anyone’s privileges.

Not so with Deuce’s Law and my post on MRAs. I know that those two posts are inflammatory. I intended them to be. Women tolerate limits on our freedom, threats to our safety and security, and violations of our human rights as a matter of course. One of the determining factors in women’s inability to reach equality is the law, and so I decided, in these two posts, to point out the ways in which law serves men’s interests better than, and even to the detriment of, women’s interests and rights.

The point of the Deuce’s Law post was to illustrate by foil the injustices that women suffer under our current legal system, to point out that the presumption of a default state of consent is just as unfair as the presumption of guilt. I never made the claim that Deuce’s Law would be feasible or even the most desirable alternative (I pointed out in the introduction that cultural attitude changes that would eliminate rape would be ideal, which is my entire goal in writing this blog). It was SATIRE, though I do think that the logic of the entirety of the law is intellectually undeniable if taken as a counterpoint to the current system of laws. (I don’t know that I’d ever really advocate doing away with the presumption of innocence, but I would most certainly advocate the punishments I outlined in the post, especially for repeat offenders.) The point of both posts was to make people aware that the system we now operate under has faults, that it does not serve all citizens equally (as those who created and defend it would have us believe). It is taken for granted that our legal system is the most perfect incarnation of a system of laws that can be hoped for, and that to me seems a little silly. (But not as silly as the idea that our legal system privileges women over men, as the MRAs seem to think.)

Here’s where the point of this post comes in. I have had literally hundreds of people tell me, after reading Deuce’s Law, that I am crazy, stupid, uneducated, retarded, silly, foolish, horrible, a cunt, a bitch, a flaming cunt, a dyke, an ugly cunt, etc. People have told me they hope I get raped, they hope I die, they hope I get breast cancer, and they hope women lose the right to vote. I’ve been accused of intellectual dishonesty, hypocrisy, sexism, and a little bit o’ fascism.

Instead of thinking about what I’ve said, people have reacted instinctively to what they perceive as a threat to what they consider the natural, correct order of things. There is a reason that our central beliefs are called fundamental, foundational. The belief that our socio-political system is just, right, perfect, and natural is so deeply ingrained in the average psyche that my raising questions about it is met with extreme anger. The idea that someone could question the reasoning behind male supremacy and institutionalized sexism begets disbelief, fear, and rage in those who are unwilling or unable to look beyond their own assumptions. There are untold numbers of men AND WOMEN out there that will NEVER consider the idea that justice might better be served by something other than a patriarchal social structure, that our lives might be more fulfilling if they weren’t dominated by the quest for more stuff, more empty sex, more power, and more attention for climbing a ladder to nowhere that someone else designed.

I wouldn’t much care if these people just dismissed me as a lunatic and went on their merry way. What bothers me is the vitriol, the absolutely blistering hatred that comes through in their responses. The women usually just tell me I’m crazy, but some of the men really let loose. I’ve noticed that the uptick in comments with the word “cunt” in them has coincided with my MRA post being linked to from a few MRA sites and 4Chan.

MRAs make a lot of arguments about the law being unfair to men, about women victimizing men, about the fact that women supposedly commit the same kinds of wrongs they do. They claim that all they’re after is justice. Bullshit. I am here to say, right fucking now, that these guys have shown, through their comments on this blog, that the basis of their beliefs is an extreme hatred of women.

None of the MRAs or 4Chan geeks save one or two has wanted to discuss the law, none of them has wanted to talk about solutions, they’ve just come here to talk shit. Their arguments are nonexistent, their points are unrelated to the issues at hand, and their comments are absolutely saturated with insults and blanket attacks on feminism, feminists, me, etc. They make ludicrous claims about the prevalence of false rape claims, about the criminal activities of women, and about the levels of discrimination they face, and then accuse me of intellectual dishonesty or faulty logic (or of being a cunt).

Saith reader Aaron Boyden:

I theorize that part of the reason MRAs think that men are actually disadvantaged and discriminated against is that they are such incredibly obnoxious twits that even the overwhelming majority of their fellow men can’t stand them. Thus, they do not gain those benefits of male privilege which rely on the sympathy and support of their fellow men, and so don’t realize that those benefits exist.

That’s certainly not the whole story; the typical MRA’s idea of how well he would have to be treated for it to count as “fair” also generally seems to be quite inflated, but most of the men with excessive senses of entitlement are still not MRAs. I think my theory may explain what more is needed beyond an excessive sense of entitlement to produce an MRA.

I couldn’t agree more. These guys have come to think that the world owes them not just a fair shake, but untrammeled success, and they fucking HATE anyone who they see getting in their way. Any inconvenience, any obstacle, any difficulty is a complete travesty in their minds, an affront to their rights as men, and that includes any broad, faggot, or foreigner getting anything they expected to get by sheer dint of their male privilege.

My point in all this is that I’ve had to come to the realization that many bloggers with more experience than me arrived at long ago: there’s no arguing with someone who thinks I’m less of a human being than he is about my right to be treated fairly and with respect. There’s no asking someone who considers women to all be potentially lying whores to concede to me the right to live without the fear of being raped. There’s no hoping someone who makes such free use of the word “cunt” will discuss something with me as an equal.

I might think these dudes are assholes, but I don’t wish them a horrible and painful death. That these guys think telling me they want me to die of breast cancer or that they hope that I get raped is anything but barbaric and obscene says a lot about who they are. They might say it’s barbaric that I would suggest castrating rapists, but I’m not a rapist. I’ve never victimized anyone. All I’m doing is voicing my opinion and putting a few ideas on the table for consideration and discussion. Why do I deserve to be raped and to die of a horrible disease?

That what I have to say upsets these guys enough to provoke such animus tells me that they can’t take what they dish out. They don’t like being treated and spoken about the way they treat and speak about women. They don’t like the thought of having their rights limited the way women’s rights are limited. But most of all it tells me that they have nothing to counter me with, which I suppose means I’ve won in some sense. What a cunt.

I promise, my next post will be on something that has nothing to do with my blog and people’s responses to it. Maybe I’ll write about Howard Stern or something.

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To the MRAs who would comment on my blog

15 Jun

I know I’ve written two posts that are getting your jockstraps in a bunch. I know you want to have your say. I don’t give a fuck. This blog is officially closed to MRA commenters unless one of you comes up with something better than the bullshit you’ve been sending me. Your arguments are too simple-minded for me to take seriously, and you can’t seem to carry on logical discussions. READ MY COMMENT POLICY (and read this and this). If any of you can see past your anger for long enough to conduct a reasonable discussion, I’ll post your comments, but my blog isn’t your blog. You don’t get to come here and use my readership as an audience for your poorly thought-out, misogynistic nonsense.

Let me tell you who this blog is for. It’s for feminists, it’s for women’s liberationists, it’s for men who support feminists, and it’s for thoughtful and open-minded people who are interested in learning about women’s perspectives. It is not here for people who mistakenly believe that women have nothing to object to in today’s world and that feminism is useless and wrong.

I am more than willing to discuss men’s issues. I don’t deny that there are men who have suffered misfortunes and been discriminated against in one way or another. What I do deny is that our entire social/legal/political/cultural structure is geared in such a way that men always get the short end of the stick.

If you want to talk about programs that would allow men to work less and thus play a larger role in their children’s lives (which would free women to pursue their interests as well), I’m on board. If you want to talk about possible solutions to our rather blunt and failing family laws, then we can do that. If you want to talk about how to deal with cases of sex abuse and domestic violence effectively, we can also do that. But if you just want to come here and say that feminists are wrong because “men suffer too,” I’m not posting your comments. That is a logically flawed argument. I don’t disagree that there are men who are raped, there are men who are abused, there are men who don’t get treated fairly at times. But that does not mean that feminism doesn’t matter, it does not mean that, because one man suffered a rape, the statistically thousands of women who are raped for every man who is raped have nothing to complain about. That one woman abuses her husband does not mean that the thousands of women who are abused by their partners have no right to complain. Get it?

Let me make this 1000% clear: I’m not going to consider the idea that feminism is “nothing but whining.” I’ve spent about 15 years thinking about these issues, and many years studying them and their related phenomena, and that some half-assed Google researcher “disagrees” with feminism equals dick in my book.

I don’t give a shit if you can provide an example of a time a woman did something shitty. I don’t claim men are all bad and women are all angels, which you’d know if you read my blog without letting your anger overpower your reason. I am here to discuss issues, not whether men or women are better. So if all you have to say is that women suck just as much as men for some reason or other, piss off. That kind of thing is beneath me and beneath my readers.

Anti-Americans, that goes for you, too.

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OK, kids, here’s what I want you to read this summer.

13 Jun

I know I’m a few years late on this, but whatever. To all my readers who haven’t read it, especially the young ones, I’d like to recommend Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Rauch Culture. It’s not breaking new theoretical ground or anything, and I already knew a lot of the history in it, but it’s a great book for budding feminsts and anyone who feels like something might not be quite right when they hear about mom-and-daughter pole dancing classes. It’s a fun, easy read, and if I had a daughter I’d make her read it today. Buy it for a teenager.

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Philip Roth: A Real American Asshole

13 Jun

I’m an artist, man. I don’t really know what kind of art I do, but I know I’m totally an artist. That means I’m qualified to decide whether something is or isn’t art, and whether something that is art is good or bad art. In fact, I’m more qualified than the average art or literature critic to make such a call because I claim to be an artist, whereas most of them would not. At a minimum, I can make weighty pronouncements on literature, because I read a lot of it, I often consider quitting school to become a bartender and start writing it, and I think about it a lot.

When I first went to college I was already 24, and I felt distinctly uneducated when I got there. It seemed like everyone there had gone to some highfalutin high school where they’d been required to read every book ever written, and that they had all been doing nothing but reading the classics and discussing deep philosophical issues I’d never even thought about since the second they’d set foot on campus (holy shit, was I wrong). I, on the other hand, had gone to continuation school, where they send the kids who can’t seem to stop getting in fights, getting pregnant, and getting wasted (I had to hide the fact that I’d been sent to continuation school for merely ditching class too much, which was totally not bad-ass). Every book I had read in high school and in the seven years before I went to college had been something I chose myself and, while I had read a lot of books, the things I’d read were a bit more… eclectic than the books they assign in the average AP English class. On top of that, when I finally did go back to school, I went to community college before I transferred to a university as a junior, so I was basically obsessed with the inadequacies of my preparatory education when I was an undergraduate.

So I set about the ridiculous task of trying to read everything I thought I should have read earlier, and in the process avoided reading a lot of things I would probably have enjoyed a lot more and suffered through some pretty loathsome bullshit. I thought for awhile that the old coots in New York and Boston who decided what was and wasn’t literature were worthy guides to my intellectual development, and I set about reading a lot of really awful American novels that, though I’m not sorry to have read them, I can honestly say took up a lot of time that would have been better spent learning to breakdance or something.

It so happened that I was living in Shanghai and that I had run out of books to read and was sick of watching Chinese historical soap operas, so I went to the Foreign Language Bookstore on Fuzhou Lu to load up. I’m pretty sure, now that I think back on it, that some old-school party cadre with a rudimentary understanding of English owns and operates that store, because every book they had in English was either written by a Russian author or centered on how unfulfilling and corrupt life in western capitalist democracies is/was. I mean, I got cheap copies of The Brothers Karamazov and Das Kapital, which was cool, but the rest of the books were pretty depressing (not that I don’t like them): The Age of Innocence, Babbit, The Jungle, The Great Gatsby, The Mayor of Casterbridge, and any number of books by Charles Dickens. I should have known not to buy anything in the contemporary fiction section, but I did it anyway and went home with a copy of Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, remembering that, if I was going to be a pretentious urban liberal intellectual, I had to get down with that guy’s work. I mean, where is there a list of 100 Books You Must Read if You Want to Be A Pretentious Urban Liberal Intellectual that doesn’t include at least one by Philip Roth?

I don’t think I know anyone who’s read The Human Stain, and now I know why. If you plan to read this rubbish, skip to the next paragraph, because I’m going to give the plot away right now. The story is that some old Classics professor named something-or-other Silk who teaches at a liberal arts college is having a rough time of it because, although no one can tell, he’s black. He’s been pretending all his life that he’s Jewish (“passing”), and the novel tells the story of how he “comes out” as a black man to his children and the world, which he is prompted to do once he is accused of racism by two black students. In the meantime, this dude carries on an affair with the much younger Fawn, a female janitor who just “likes to fuck” and otherwise wants to “live a simple existence” who Roth presents as the pinnacle of desirable (to men) stupidity. She’s developed these defining personality characteristics, apparently, because she’s been the victim of abuse at the hands of her previous lovers. This would be a great deal for Silk but for the fact that some uppity broad who is also a professor at the school passes a communique around the university positing that his cavorting with Fawn amounts to abuse. This woman, of course, turns out to have been in love with Silk all along, despite her public contention that he’s a chauvinistic asshole. I’ll have something to say about all this shortly, not to worry.

The book completely sucked, but I decided to give Roth a second chance. I have a generalization that I hold dear that says that most authors’ second book is their best one. The first one is usually kind of a mess, but the second one is where talent really shows itself after the author has had a chance to work out the kinks involved in writing a long piece. Most of the time succeeding books are either tired variations on the second one, or they make it obvious that the writer spent up all of her/his ideas on that second book. Either that or the author tends to get experimental and usually fails at whatever she/he intended to do. I know that there are exceptions, but I think I’m usually right. So, I figured I’d give it another go. I mean, maybe Roth was intentionally portraying Silk as a complete dick and is really just a terribly talented illustrator of character.

So, when I was thinking about what to read last winter break, I decided to add his most acclaimed (though not his second) book, Portnoy’s Complaint, to the list. In this one, the title character, Alexander Portnoy, relays his experiences as a child, an adolescent, and a young dude to his psychiatrist, and does so in excruciating (-ly awful) detail. He discusses his weird sexual thoughts about his mother, his perceptions of his father’s penis, his obsession with wanking, his propensity for sexually assaulting women (in one part, he jacks off on a bus and considers ejaculating onto the arm of a sleeping girl next to him), and his unabashed and unexamined lack of concern for his sex partners’ humanity. He spends a good portion of the book explaining his relationship with a woman he calls The Monkey (because she once ate a banana while watching people fuck or some such nonsense) and relating sundry details of the sex acts he has pressured her into performing, including a threesome with a prostitute. The entire book could have been written in one sentence: “Doctor, I, Alexander Portnoy, consider women to be an alien species and to be intellectually and morally inferior to me, but I want to fuck them and I expect them to rescue me from my extreme narcissism and self-loathing, so I sexually abuse them and then make them responsible for my lack of emotional maturity.”

Alright. Where do I start?  Roth has been given countless awards by all of the pipe smokers who decide what literature is and should be, he’s been praised like Jenna Jameson at a UFC match for giving us some kind of glimpse into the mind of the old northeastern Jewish male, and he is supposed to be some type of literary genius who has the ability to illustrate for us the foolishness of our ways and offer us insights into our national and cultural character. Portnoy’s Complaint is on every top-100-books-of-all-time list in the world. It’s really, according to the tweed hat posse, a work of fucking art.

I don’t quite see it the same way they do. Like I said, after reading The Human Stain, I though Roth might just be a really insightful motherfucker who was capable of lucidly illustrating the character of a really despicable person, but Portnoy’s Complaint proved me wrong. Roth isn’t actually able to portray anyone’s character except his own, and his lack of ability in this arena ought to shove him right off those top 100 lists (if the aim of the vainglorious tossers who write them is really to compile a list of 100 books written by people with real insight into the human condition). This guy is quite simply the most arrogant and narcissistic writer of the century, and he is utterly incapable of even the most rudimentary forms of empathy and understanding that give a good writer the ability to capture human experience and emotion. I’ll explain.

The Human Stain is nothing but a hysterical, angsty screed disguised as fiction written by an arrogant and self-absorbed old man fearful of the prospect of women and non-whites usurping the position in society that he (mistakenly) feels entitled to. Reviewers have said that he wrote it to voice his opinion on the state of identity politics in the 90s. I can agree with the fact that things got a little silly on that front at times, but I don’t buy that this book was some genius illustration of the follies of the age. I mean, Silk gets accused of racism and turns out to actually be a black guy passing? Come on. What’s the message there? That people who accuse other people of racism are stupid because the people they are accusing might also not be white? That someone who manages to escape the one-drop rule is incapable of being racist? OK, dude. As for the female professor, how likely is it that a college professor would send notes around a school complaining about the private life of another professor? In painting this character as a busy-body, Roth is sinking into really lame and patently false stereotypes about feminists. And the fact that she is supposedly secretly in love with him? Jesus Christ. Even the purportedly sympathetic female character, Fawn, is a caricature rather than a rounded character with complicated human motives. She’s an old asshole’s fantasy, a stupid, cowed younger woman who likes to fuck and doesn’t expect anything beyond that. Not affection, not respect, not love, nothing. Disgusting. The fact is, Silk is Roth: an aging, ego-centric academic who is much more impressed with his own intellect than he has any right to be, and who assumes that women are simple creatures who just can’t resist his old, wrinkly wiener.

Portnoy’s Complaint, like The Human Stain, is nothing but a memoir thinly disguised as a novel. Had I not read The Human Stain I might not have picked that up, but it’s obvious that Portnoy’s Complaint is just the opening volume to the story that (hopefully) nears completion in The Human Stain. There is no mistaking the fact that Silk is Portnoy all “grown up” (but not at all). Portnoy’s narcissism and his view of women carry neatly into Silk’s world, and Fawn is nothing but a new and improved version of The Monkey, one who will allow him to act out his sexual neuroses on her without expecting anything in return, which was The Monkey’s one fault. Good thing there are asshole ex-spouses to abuse women and break their spirits to get them ready for guys like Silk.

Did I mention the copious and exuberant use of the word “cunt” in both books? OK, Henry Miller.

My point in all this is that it takes a lot of talent to write penetrating analyses of other people, to create complex and human characters from scratch, to create a story from nothing, but it takes very little to write an insightful story about oneself. Who doesn’t have insight into themselves? Roth can’t see into the hearts and minds of others because he’s too busy studying his own reflection. There is not a single character in any of his books that is anything other than a caricature or an extension of one of Roth’s own psychological flaws. I’d be ready, if the world weren’t already inundated with the ramblings of narcissistic American Jewish men, to give him credit as a memoirist, but he even sinks in that shallow pool.

But who am I? Just some blogger. Roth taught at Princeton, you know. He’s got a lot of scarves and shit.

We all know how hard it is for women to break into the old boys’ clubs of the American literati, and the fact that this is the kind of thing that’s topping our lists of cultural achievement proves it. Until the East Coast magazines and book publishers — as well as the awards committees — cease to be dominated by old, misogynistic white men who think that they’re progressive because they let women do their proofreading and event planning, this is what we can expect. I don’t even make the argument that we should stop praising overtly (or subtly) gynophobic literature, or that we should require of our authors that they display any serious understanding of women. I love John Cheever and Saul Bellow as much as the next pretentious asshole. But if we’re going to make a big deal out of male-centric and misogynistic literature as offering some kind of valuable insight into our cultural character, it ought to at least be able to do so.

I think I know what kind of artist I want to be now that I’ve thought about Portnoy’s Complaint and Humboldt’s Gift in the same sitting; I’m going to write a satirical East Coast intellectual novel under a pen name entitled Irving’s Discontent. It’s gonna win awards, man.

The Fifteenth Carnival of Radical Feminists!

12 Jun

Hello, my fine-feathered friends, and welcome to the Fifteenth Carnival of Radical Feminists. I’m Nine Deuce, and I’ll be your guide through this round-up of some of the best current radical feminist writing on the internet. I am, quite simply, stoked to be hosting this installment of the Carnival, and I’d like to thank all of the women who submitted these excellent posts, as well as Heart at Women’s Space for putting the whole thing together. I won’t bore you too much with corny platitudes, but I do want to say that I am thrilled that this Carnival exists to provide women around the world with a means to share their experiences, thoughts, and feelings in a free and supportive environment, and to allow us the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with each other in our efforts to make the world a safer and better place to be a woman. That’ll be enough from me. On to the posts…

L at Editorializing the Editors has written a series of posts on apologizing in which she discusses the gendered aspects of apology-making and of holding grudges. The first of the series (I recommend the other two as well), On apologizing and holdging grudges, explains the ways in which apologies and the act of forgiveness reduplicate social hierarchies, and the ways in which holding a grudge can be a feminist act:

Holding a grudge requires remembering what happened to you. Holding a grudge recognizes that apologies are often empty, fake, political, or disingenuous. Holding a grudge acknowledges reality, the reality of a harm done and the reality of what that harm means about the person who did it. Holding a grudge recognizes that sometimes — if not often — an apology just isn’t enough. Holding a grudge is a slap in the face to patriarchal asshats who would say that women’s memories of the harms done against them are wrong, lies, impossible, or not a big deal.

However, holding a grudge does not necessarily require that the wronged person seek revenge against the wrongdoer, nor that the grudge-bearer act or think in terms of violence, as these would be yet more incantations of the annoying, overdone Campbellian monomyth. Holding a grudge is another way of saying “I remember what you did, and it’s not okay, no matter how much you regret doing it.”

Holding a grudge is a way for the disempowered, the marginalized, the fringe-sitters, to draw a boundary and maintain it. And women are generally disempowered and marginalized.

Allecto at Gorgon Poisons, in her post Women’s Liberation, explains why she is no longer a feminist but rather a Women’s Libber:

My name is feminist no longer. I walk as a woman, just a woman, hand in hand with the Dark Mother. We walk together, as women, towards liberation.

I do not seek equality with those who wouldst rape. I do not seek equality to those who would plunder for the sake of pleasure, laugh at destruction. I do not seek equality with those that would murder, buy women as sex, wank to women’s dis-memberment, take pleasure from the destruction of Our Dark Mother.

I do not seek equality with killers, with those who hate my kind, my grandmother’s skin, my mother’s rage. If I name myself, if I am named, feminist, I am not whole. I must deny. That Dark part of me. I must deny/hide/pretendpretend… She does not exist. I do not exist.

On a related note, Debs at The Burning Times, in Walking to Liberation, asks us whether equality with men, rather than liberation from them, really ought to be our goal:

Women’s liberation must not be measured in relation to men at all.  One of the problems with the concept of equality with men is that, once again, men and male-centric ways of going about things are being used as the benchmark against which women’s rights or equality are measured, the idea being that once we measure up, have equal pay, no discrimination and all the rest, our battles are over and we can rest.  And of course, this is ideal for patriarchal society.  They would just love it if women won equality, and could be happy with that and stop whining.  But when or if we ever achieve equality (and it won’t be any time soon, if at all), we will still not be free.  Behind the concept of “equality”, in a feminist context, there seems to be the underlying idea that “man” is the ultimate a human can be, and we should all be aiming to be like “man,” or at least have the same rights as “man.”  It just can’t work like that.  Women do not want or need everything that “man” has.  In a world of truly liberated women, why would there be any need for the nuclear capability to obliterate the whole of Europe several times over, as the UK currently has, for example?  Everything “man” has is neither admirable or desirable, and women should not be working to get their hands on it.  They should be working to get “man” to give it up, as many women are and have been in the past.  The goal has to be literally “women’s liberation,” meaning liberation from the rule of men, the laws of men, the religions of men; liberation into a world where everything is not measured against “man” as though “man” is the goal.  Women need to recreate the world in their own image.

Also from Debs, A choice between suicide and submission draws parallels between the growing number of Afghan women self-immolating in order to escape abuse at the hands of men, modern-day witch hunts taking place in India in which women are being burned to death, and the witch hunts of Medieval Europe:

The fire once used by men to dispatch the ‘wayward’ woman, the ‘other’, is now a viable option of the ‘other’ in dispatching herself.  It is most notable that men do very little to prevent this.  It is horrible to think it, but it is in my head anyway, that men are pleased at this outcome as the women, if driven far enough, and treated appallingly enough, will do it to themselves, thus preserving ‘man’ from the responsibility of the act.  I have yet to hear it said, but surely it is only a matter of time before some learned male says the women are suffering some kind of “mania” or are all “hysterical” thus divorcing himself even further from any responsibility for the situation.  Of course, if it were not for man’s law, religions, and hatred of women, this would not be happening at all.

In Women in the Workplace: Ask a Woman, Holly at Menstrual Poetry has posted a link to the Ask a Working Woman survey being carried out by AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees and Working America. Despite MRA attempts at skewing the data, we all know from experience that the working world is still a tough place to be a woman. Head over there and fill out the survey and make your concerns as a working woman known. The deadline is June 20.

Holly also wants you to know that The Emma Goldman Clinic Wants to Hear About Your Experience. The clinic is collecting stories form women who have faced financial obstacles to abortion services in the state of Iowa. If that includes you, check out Holly’s post for info on how to contribute your story to the project.

Renee at Womanist Musings, in Men Troubles, rebuts the interconnected claims that the route to happiness for black women is through landing a man and that the way to find a man is through learning to be submissive and “soft”:

Since black women were brought on this continent in chains we have never been given the luxury of being “soft”.  We have been the ultimate un-woman. We lead because that is how we have been able to survive in a world that has proven to be predatory.  The whole idea that gender can be split into one dominant and one submissive belies the fact that these are social constructions, and are not “natural” characteristics of either gender.  We experience gender in a state of flux therefore each sex takes on characteristics of dominance, and submission.  To request that black women submit in order to empower the black male patriarchy eschews the vitality of female agency. Yeah lets all stand and clap our hands, and celebrate that men will agree to lower themselves to marry. Of course they don’t benefit from marriage in anyway.  They are only entering the institution (note: the fact that marriage is an institution should scare any sane person) out of a true desire to be magnanimous.  They don’t live longer when they are married right?  They don’t get a live in housekeeper, nanny, cook, and built in sexual release? How many damn buttons, and hems do we have to fix before we acknowledge that men benefit far more than women do from marriage?

Rebecca Mott of rmott62, in her post entitled Something That Makes Me Uncomfortable, discusses the Myra Hindley case and argues that feminists ought to hold women accountable for abusing others. It raises the issue of women’s agency in a patriarchy with regard to violent crimes:

I do believe the vast majority of women who use violence are pushed into it. I believe it understandable to kill a man who has battered you for long period. I understand girls joining gangs for identity and protection…

I would never make an excuse for any man who kidnapped and took part in the torture of children. I would not care if he claimed he was manipulated.

I would not take his word as the truth.

But I am told to believe the word of a women who kidnapped and take part in the torture of children.

I am told I should sorry for her.

But every day women and girls are mentally, physically and sexually tortured by men. The vast majority of those women and girls do not torture children.

Also from Rebecca is a post entitled It is Not the Same discussing the difference, from the standpoint of a survivor of both kinds of rape, between the experience of rape at the hands of a family member and the experience of a prostituted woman/girl who has been raped for pay:

One thing that I have from being raped by my stepdad and the men who pretended to my friends, is that I know them.

I can remember their faces. I can still hear their many words to convince me that they care about me. I see them in a clear light.

I have no image left with the men that rape in prostitution.

There was too many of them, they became a mass.

There is a difference.

The men I thought I knew I choose to look them in the eye before they had raped me. So, after the raping I could hold in my heart my hate at their betrayal.

I knew it was a crime. I knew I had not wanted it.

This was held in my heart, not expressed outwardly.

But with prostitution there was never that clarity.

I survived by refusing to see the men who paid to rape me. I refused to see their eyes.

But I could not think it was rape when I took the money. When I perform sometimes with a smile what they demanded.

I could not name that rape.

The men who rape me and rape prostituted women and girls do not think of it as rape.

I do believe that violent men will and do rape any woman or girl who is easy reach.

Prostituted women and girls are like a candy store for these men. They are so convenient.

Pisaquari over at Buried Alive, in her post entitled No More (Sexual Stigma p.2), delves into our cultural norms and stigmas with regard to sex and how these play into the idea of consent on the part of women:

At the intersection of power, stigma, and sexual socialization there has been made an incredibly thriving market to the tune of billions of dollars and, what’s more willing worldwide participants, in the celebration-the orgasmic celebration if you will-of no “No.”

And what I am talking about is not limited to rape and sexual assault though they, of course, are some of the darkest manifestations of this. No–I am talking about the ubiquitous, ever-existential, concept of sexuality and how much of our sexuality has been formed on the erasure and undermining of “no.”

In sexual stigma p.1 there were two main points that I wanted to make clear:

1. Consent and sexual readiness has been presented to us, through marketing and media, to be a look-a set of features-embodied by women/girls. Thus creating a situation wherein, if the “look” is present, the sexual meaning is implied. When sexual meaning is implied the first layer of consideration for the women’s interest in being considered sexual by another, as well as her legal ability to even be so, is removed. A layer of “no” is gone.

2. We are being conditioned to find people sexually attractive and ready in way that is supposed to be against our will. From early ages we are presented a set of sexual norms that we are supposed to want yet what we are supposed to *not* want is most sexualized. Thus our capitulation and lack of control is sexualized. Thus we perceive our own responsibility and agency as a bit of a continuum–vulnerable to change given how desirable we find the subject. As the stigmas normalize and mainstream our ability to achieve this same arousing effect diminishes. We are now searching out new sexual ways to breach our own will.

Exactly how many ways can one say Rape Culture?

Next we have two posts from Heart at Women’s Space. The first, Smackdown Time for Max Hardcore: Jury Finds Paul Little Guilty on 10 Counts of Criminal Obscenity, made my day when I read it.

In the second, Heart asks, Democrats, Why Should We Support You? She poses a very important question:

Can we count on your support for — or even acknowledgement of the importance of –- any of the following issues?

Punishing Women and Children Because Men Have Raped and Abused Them (Fundamentalist LDS)

New Jersey Four
Dunbar Village
Anti-Pornography Education
Vigorous Pursuit of Sex Traffickers
Prostitution Legislation (Swedish Model/De-Criminalize Prostitution,Criminalize the Buying of Sex)
Cyberterrorism of Woman Bloggers
Sexism and Misogyny in the Media, as Exemplified in the Presidential Campaign
Rape of Women Employed by Defense Contractors Abroad, No Right to Pursue Criminal or Civil Charges Against Their Rapists
Recourse to Persons Harmed by Pornography and Pornographers
Rape and Pimping of Women in the U.S. Military

Also on the subject of politics, Violet over at Reclusive Leftist explains, in Why I will not vote for Obama even if he’s the nominee – and why you shouldn’t either, why feminists ought to consider not voting for the newly-nominated Democratic candidate, offering a bit of a switcheroo to highlight the misogyny in the media coverage of Clinton’s campaign:

Imagine this scenario:

The shoe is on the other foot, and Obama, not Hillary, is the punching bag of the media — a media that is blatantly and unapologetically racist. And I do mean blatant. Jokes every night on the cable news shows about Obama’s hair and his fondness for fried chicken. Pundits laughing about what a problem uppity Negroes are.

Across the country, racists openly ridicule Obama and his candidacy. In mainstream stores there are gag gifts playing on racist themes: maybe a (water)Melon Baller with Obama’s head on the handle, maybe a Barack Obama Shoeshine Set — you get the picture. 501c groups invoke the most grotesque racist slurs with their advertising; T-shirts say “Quit Running for President and Shine My Shoes!” Anybody who protests is branded a fool and a spoilsport

Maggie over at Meta Watershed might not agree that we should boycott Obama (she says she’d vote for Spongebob Squarepants, should he turn out to be the nominee, rather than a Republican, which I thought was a good one), but in her post What She Said, Maggie argues that we ought to remember who engaged in misogynistic bombast during the primary:

And I’ve been sick inside as I’ve watched the testosterone-fueled fist-pumping victory dance. Because for some of these guys, too many of them, it was not just Hillary who was going down in flames. It was all the uppity bitches who ever denied their male superiority. We really can tell the difference, you know. You asswipes fool NOBODY but each other. And your exalted candidate did not lift one fucking finger to interrupt it. Which means when it’s time to let YOUR values get assaulted, he’ll choose silence if it serves him in the long run there, too…

Also from Maggie, Women at the Start of Human Time discusses the work of Judy Grahn on the role of menstruation in the development of human consciousness:

The unanswered question is how did we cross the divide from primate consciousness into human consciousness: Who first made hatchmarks, and why?

Modern studies of how the brain works have revealed that all human learning involves metaphor. On a rudimentary level, when we encounter something new which needs interpretation, we do the equivalent of the Sesame Street singing game which goes “Which of these things is not like the other?” We compare and contrast, using metaphor. This occurs in at least three of the main languages used by humans — verbal, mathematical, and musical. When we find a similarity, we link the new thing to the old, a synapse is formed, and we have the basis for retaining memory of the new thing so we may continue learning about it.

We actually cannot take in information and render it as a retained abstract in any other way.

Thus, to understand how the first humans took such a strikingly different path from all other life on earth, we need to imagine what they were experiencing, seeing, contending with to make that first leap — and it needs to be common to every culture, every region, because this did not happen on one place only. Many different groups of humans were counting in prehistory.

One counting object does reliably appear in numerous early human cultures: Sticks, bones and stones marked with lines which add up to 29.5 days.

In another post from Maggie, The White Night Riot, 21 May 1979 and Lesbians Against Police Violence, we get a glimpse into the riot and into the Lesbians Against Police Violence, of which Maggie was a member:

At the LAPV meeting the following evening, we talked for hours about what we had seen and what it all meant. We agreed we were the inevitable target of any investigation–no one would believe we had tried to stop the riot, and by this time it wasn’t even a claim we wanted to make. We knew the first attack would come in the form of a grand jury. Enough of us had read Grand Jury Comix and followed the Susan Saxe case to know our greatest threat came if we refused to testify. But there was no way we were going to testify. If you refuse to testify to a grand jury, you do not have the right to claim the fifth amendment. Instead, you are granted immunity (meaning your testimony cannot be used to directly incriminate you) and if you still refuse to testify, you are declared in contempt of the court and thrown into jail. You can be kept in jail without recourse for the length of the grand jury, and if the grand jury reconvenes, you can be sent back to jail over and over again–no trial, no due process of law. It’s an excellent tool of reprisal used in this country against political dissidents.

There were around 30 of us involved in LAPV at that time. We sat in a big living room, most of us on the floor, and someone kept detailed minutes. One by one, we each talked about what we stood to lose personally by going to jail, and what we’d like to have done for us by the rest to keep our lives intact until the boys gave up and let us out of jail. Two of us were parents; after a long discussion, it was agreed that if, at all possible, we two would avoid grand jury summons, leaving town if necessary. Women talked about their jobs, their pets, their leases, their houseplants, and their bills. At every turn, one or more of us volunteered to cover for her if she was jailed, with no time limit. By the end of the night, we had a solid contingency plan, a sworn commitment to never break silence, and enough resources to cover the jailing of several (though not all) of us. I don’t know what would have happened to us if we had been sorely tried, but I remember believing every woman in the group with all my heart, and feeling ready to go down fighting for any one of us.

Sarojini Sahoo at Sense & Sensuality, in her post Is It Risky for a Woman to Deal with Female Sexuality in India, analyzes the cultural biases and restrictions that female fiction writers in India (and elsewhere) face:

In India most of the female writers either quit writing or make them more adjustable to male dominated values, after their marriage. You find shyness in their voice while relating the truth and exposing their innerself. Even their weaknesses or love relations are also not expressed clearly in fear of social scandal of their character. A typical womanish shyness prevents them to write their actual feelings towards sex and love. This is not only due to any restriction imposed by their family, but many times we find that an idea of being a good girl pursues them to hide their own feelings and experience.

Also from Sarojini Sahoo, Pleasure at Par argues against the prevailing idea that women in India’s classical period enjoyed more sexual freedoms than they currently do. She discusses the long-standing patriarchy-defined role of women within romantic relationships:

… this patriarchal society always tries to reject women’s sensibility towards love. The patriarchal concept of love between a man and woman actually means, how it is politicized, how it is socially and culturally manipulated with masculine view which is constructed by the idea how to love a man, and how to care for him not only by our instinct, but by the socially expected gender roles. A woman may totally love a man, and refuse to cook for him, but it would not be acceptable behaviour for a ‘woman in love’ according to our cultural codes. Social needs to sustain families on specifically prescribed gender roles also instruct us on how to love a man. There is a hidden code to exploit women in the whole cultural and social scheme of romantic love, mostly because the concept of romantic love has been authored by men, and is based on men’s fractured understanding of women as primarily sexual objects. The patriarchal concept always denies the individuality of a woman as a human being.

At abyss2hope, Marcella Chester offers us her analysis of the American Life League’s claim that birth control pills amount to attempted murder in Protest The Pill To Protect Life Or To Mock It?:

If giving information about the killing of babies (meaning fertilized eggs) is so important and these people want to ensure that potential parents know that their actions will lead to killing babies, why isn’t this group working to inform men that having sex with a fertile woman who are on birth control is a murder attempt?

If women on birth control can be considered killers the moment a sperm reaches an egg then those who inject the needed foreign ingredient for these deaths are actively and deliberately sending their children to their deaths. Except for cases where a girl or woman rapes a boy or man, the boy or man is making a deliberate decision prior to any egg being fertilized and therefore has made the decision to send his child to certain death unless he knows that the girl or woman isn’t using birth control and will not use birth control.

So what is the American Life League doing to prevent men from killing their own children?

Thanks again to everyone for these kick-ass submissions and for the opportunity to host the Carnival. I thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every one of these posts and I hope everyone else will, too! The next edition of the Carnival will be at Allecto’s place, Gorgon Poisons, and you can submit posts by clicking here.


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How to End Rape: Deuce’s Law

11 Jun

Boy, was I conciliatory when I was younger. Either that or I was a realist. Or maybe I just wrote what I had to write to get an A. Whatever. I’m not conciliatory, realistic, or seeking a grade anymore, so I can now feel free to lay out a theoretical and hypothetical solution to the rape epidemic. If I had my choice, we’d do away with rape by changing our cultural attitudes toward gender, toward sex, toward power, toward everything, thereby creating a world in which rape could not possibly occur. That would most certainly be ideal, and I believe it’s possible, but I think it might take an awfully long time, and I’m ready for rape to stop right now. Rape and other forms of sexual violence are hate crimes and are among the most heinous manifestations of the misogyny that characterizes our culture. As such, eradicating rape, in my opinion, is one of the most pressing feminist issues. Our current laws are woefully ill-equipped to deal with rape, and I’ve devised a little thought experiment to illustrate that point and get people to thinking about possible solutions:

Deuce’s Law of 2008

  • Section 1: The presumption of innocence, as it is not specifically iterated anywhere in the Constitution, will not attach to sex crimes. Instead, all individuals will be presumed to exist in a state of non-consent, as per Twisty Faster v. Patriarchy, which will replace Coffin v. United States as precedent in determining burden of proof for sex crime cases. As such, defendants accused of sex crimes will bear the burden of proof, and will have to prove their innocence. There is a danger inherent in such a system that a few innocent men will be punished, and this is quite unfortunate. It is not, however, more unfortunate than men raping with impunity in epidemic proportions simply because their victims are unable to prove to a room full of misogynists that, despite the ridiculous presumption of a default state of consent, they did not consent to a sex act. Victims will decide whether a crime has occurred, and defendants will not. This might frighten men, some of whom will claim that women will use the law to punish men out of vengeance. That might happen once in awhile, but our job is to protect the largest number of people possible, and false rape accusations are about a hundredth as common as rapes that go unpunished.
  • Section 2: Rape will be broadly defined as intentionally taking advantage of a person’s physical or emotional vulnerabilities for sexual purposes, including creating fear in order to coerce a victim into performing or submitting to a sex act against her/his will. That includes fear of any kind, not just of violence. That’s right. Men will have to learn to have sex only with women who want to have sex with them, and will have to eschew high-pressure tactics, emotional and financial manipulation, as well as physical force if they want to avoid rape charges.
  • Section 3: Any defendant convicted of rape will be assumed to have proven he is incapable of responsibly exercising his sexuality in society. As such, the penalty for rape will be immediate and irreversible castration. If a weapon is used in the commission of the crime, or if the victim at any time during the crime feels that her/his life was in danger, the added penalty of life in prison without parole will attach. Prison sentences are to be served at specially-constructed facilities at which offenders will perform uncompensated labor in service of women and children. What such labor will consist of will be decided by the administrators of individual facilities, but the result of the offenders’ labor must meet two criteria: 1) it must provide tangible benefits for women and/or children, but 2) offenders shall not come into direct contact with any women or children at any time.
  • Section 4: Offenders may appeal their sentences one time only. Appeals must be made on grounds other than “women are emotional and unreasonable and so we shouldn’t let them define rape and decide who’s guilty.” Women, who have much less incentive to use sex as a weapon than men do, are much less likely to violate men’s rights through rape accusations than men are to violate women’s and children’s rights through rape. This is not up for debate, and is thus not sufficient grounds for appeal.

I’m pretty sure Deuce’s Law would bring us a dramatic reduction in rape, and most likely destroy the pornography industry and drastically curb sexual harassment (more on this later). Too bad men, even those with women and children under their care, will never submit to any sort of limits being placed on their sexuality (or, rather, their prerogative to use their sexuality as a weapon for controlling women), because this law would really work. It’s a shame they’re allowed to vote. They’re so hysterical and irrational about this sort of thing. Snarf snarf.

* Note: False rape charges are MUCH less common than rapes that go unpunished. Let’s say 1 in 100 rape charges is false (which is a VERY high estimate). Well, as it stands now, only 6% of rape cases ends in conviction. That means that of 100 rapes, 1 is false, 6 of the rapists are (often lightly) punished, and 93 go free. On balance, it seems that 1 innocent dude suffering is less of a problem than 93 rapists getting away with sexually abusing innocent women and children. Remember, I’m not talking about the death penalty here. Also, don’t you think, in the case of a false accusation, that almost anyone would recant before allowing an innocent person to be castrated? As it stands now, the legal system is asking us to trust men not to rape us, and they’re doing it anyway. If the legal system asked men to trust women not to have them castrated, I think it’d be more reasonable. Women are simply not as violent as men are. I know there are exceptions, but it’s a fact.

** Another note: credit is due to Davetavius for being one of the few dudes reasonable enough to think section 3 is a good idea, and for the conversations from which this post derived (though he would strenuously disagree with Section 1).

*** A final note: I’m not surprised or anything, but I’m getting some seriously gnarly comments about this. I suppose men don’t like to hear someone discuss treating them the way they’ve treated women throughout history. I wonder why? Anyway, if you’re thinking about commenting on this, have something to say or fuck off. I’m not posting bullshit insults, so if that’s what you’re planning to write, do one. Also, please read this before commenting as I’d rather not have to explain it.

**** And an even finaler note: Go look up the definition of satire. This post is meant to serve as a foil to our current legal system. I admit that it doesn’t provide men with safeguards against castration, but nor does our current system provide women with any against rape. Neither one is a satisfactory system. Stop bitching about this hypothetical and start coming up with a solution or go ahead and admit to being a rape apologist.

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