Tag Archives: language

Misplaced male; a seasonal liability

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Misplaced male; a seasonal liability

This reblog from Girls Globe makes many pertinent points. Its original title ‘Take Action against Gender-Based Violence this Season’ along with the language and tone of its content also illustrates perfectly why the ‘inclusive’ language favoured by Western-model Liberalism actually excludes and annuls meaningful debate and any remote possibility of change. So-called ‘Gender-based violence’ describes violence commited mostly by males against, well, everybody and everything. Male Violence, or better yet, male-pattern violence is a more descriptive term, since it acknowleges that said violence is the responsibility of males and mostly perpetrated by same, whilst admitting the possibility and the reality that our system of hierarchy (patriarchy) is so pervasive, that often females can be brainwashed into adopting it, in microcosm at least. Witness that FGM is performed by women in the interests of male culture; that child-abuse by mothers and women in loco parentis is, if not endemic then certainly widespread; that corporations seemingly bend over backwards to promote their courting of female talent and that much of the focus of third-wave feminism rests on a nominal ‘equality’ in place of the previous generation’s vision of ‘liberation’.

If naming their agent(s) of oppression is the first step on the road to liberation, then today’s females, by constrast to their ‘gay’, ‘…of colour’ and ‘transgender’ (would be) compadres in activism seem reluctant. If that’s surprising to some, it shouldn’t be: the fight here is not to aquire the privileges accrued by deception and/or outright force by class male over millennia: rather, it is to disabuse said class of the notion that its privileges are righteous. ‘Gay’ men are men; Men ‘of colour’ are men; and whether ‘Transwomen’ are men is in most respects a moot point, since they anticipate retaining the same male-defined ‘human rights’ upon transition and any loss of same is incomprehensible to one raised with male biology in a male-governed (ruled) society.

If the point of liberation was to free all; then the object of equality is to subject all; from or to the same oppressive, impossible standard. Male nature provides a convenient spirit level: we may not all wish to fight; but we sure as hell all want to fuck (or as near all as makes no odds) which to those who don’t is as good a weapon as can be.

A remarkable thing happened to men during the AIDS years: sex (by which I mean PIV or, on the same pattern, PIA) became, for the first time since the advent of antibiotics, actually dangerous: a matter of life and death for men. We changed our sexual habits (on the whole) not a jot. We could read this as evidence of the inflexibility of male nature; or as proof of our own privilege; or as somewhere in between. Either way, men are the agent of gay oppression as much as they are the agent of female oppression. Transgender is a cunning wheeze to avoid either; one which only works half the time.

Somewhere along the way, the precision of second wave feminist writing  – which, to exemplify Germaine Greer confronted male hatred of the female and correctly identified transgender women as ‘pantomime dames’ – has been lost. There is a rush to accomodate any deviation from the male norm as if it is transgressive when in fact we are anything but. Would ‘Gay’ even be a thing were it not for the centuries-old (and long-in-the-tooth) male idea of heteronormativity: proponents in that bygone age could scarcely be expected to have forseen today’s overpopulation and consequent climate change…

Talking about violence being ‘gender-based’ glosses over these and much else, particularly for today’s reader whose notion of what ‘gender’ is is as wooly as the language itself.

Just remembered I’m only writing a comment, not my own post so I’ll now stop waffling 😉

 

Girls' Globe

Signs read: "Don't Bury Me." Photo Credit: MelinĂ© Bilbulyan Signs read: “Don’t Bury Me.”
Photo Credit: Meliné Bilbulyan

Many of us look forward to the holydays – to lighting candles, traditional food and spending time with friends and family. But the higher economic burden following the mandatory spending on food, gifts and decorations and the pressure of living up to the perfect-holyday-expectations put strains on the household. The risk of domestic violence is higher during the holyday season and for women already experiencing violence at home, the holydays bring with them a promise of increased plague.

Numbers presented by UN women reveal that one out of three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. In some countries the numbers are as high as 70 percent. Violence against women is an urgent global problem.

Whether or not domestic violence occurs in your home or in any other home you know about, gender based violence


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Butthurt and blinded

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Bit late to the table with this one – intervention of life and relationships, yada yada – but here goes…

Suzanne Moore is castigatated for being funny and clever with it…

I didn’t manage to trawl thru all 21 pages of the pompous, middle-class male, faux-outrage dominating the comments, but I got the gist that around 50% of the replies warranted ‘This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.’ – I wonder why?

Misogyny and misandry are not equivalent; operative action and reaction. To present sexism as a two-way street is to willfully ignore the fact that the traffic on one side is denser, faster-moving and driven by psychopaths. This is a fundamental flaw in the liberal agenda, exemplified by a plethora of comments along the lines of

‘If someone had written an article about things not to do with your vagina would this also be acceptable? Grauniad (sic) I expect better’ (from poster Steve Bagley).

A ‘sexist joke’ directed at a man/men is just that: we (as men) can safely assume that it’s not the thin end of a wedge with real-life discrimination, violence and death on the thick end (Rape banter anyone? yep, that’s a real thing) Which is not to say that men don’t routinely face the threat and actuality of violence; rather to admit that such threats and violences are most often offered and perpetrated by other males, just as violence against women most often is.

‘If only more men would remember not to rape. It’s a great shame how many seem to forget.’ (TristanJakobHoff)

The likelihood of Suzanne Moore or her journalism hurting anyone is surely as remote as, well, the likelihood of Julie Burchill or her journalism hurting anyone.

(Clearly, their Twitter spat with Trans*activists/supporters is fresh in the minds of certain  Guardian posters:

’11) Do not assume everyone with a penis is a man, or vice versa. (Hyosho).)

Perhaps a better-grounded assumption might be that anyone with a penis – and particularly in situations where penis-exposure is unexpected and unwarranted – might present as a threat? A girlfriend recently related to me a couple incidents of indecent exposure, prior to which she’d assured herself she could have responded to such an encounter with an eye-roll and a witty riposte. In the event, she was plain scared and, as such, rendered voiceless; impotent, if you will… As it happens, said exposed organs were attached to self-identified males. though – and I digress momentarily to inform readers that my girlfriend isn’t psychic – had the perpetrators identified as trans*women it’s debatable whether the concomitant and immediate sense of threat would have been significantly reduced, if at all.

If Moore‘s satire on this occasion, isn’t terribly sophisticated it surely has the undeniable ring of truth? As such, how much mileage in dancing around the truth with measured nicety?

‘Yep. It’s hilarious how many (presumably male) posters take issue with a woman telling men what to do, when articles from men telling women – albeit generally more subtly – what to do are a daily occurrence. It’s generally not remarked upon when a man writes a non-factual article on, say, abortion – you certainly don’t get five pages of enraged comments from women about how dare a man tell them what to do with their bodies…

…they’re all true and reasonable requests. So the angry commentators are basically just saying how dare a woman have an opinion on the matter. (Pavanne)

Like Jamie Kilstein, Moore plays switcheroo with familiar tropes of male sexism in order to point up how ludicrous (and harmful) they actually are. As was the case with Kilstein, men dominate the backlash. And they are no more responsible for fomenting misandry thru their satirical musings than Janice Raymond and her ilk are responsible for generating Trans*misogyny by way of their intellectual analysis. And intellectual is a key word here. Writers of all stripes are right to presume a level of intelligence in their readership and argue accordingly, comedically or otherwise. In their over-egged responses, said readership only expose theirs – and their parent-societies’ – prejudices (and weaknesses),

Privilege: a quitter’s guide.

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I’ve been reading feminist writing for some time now, but it’s only since I’ve been trying to articulate the ways it’s inspired and enlightened me thru this blog that I’ve come to appreciate the adage that ‘the more you know, the more you realize how much you have to learn’ (or words to that effect). In a recent post, Haters, whores and hypocrites…, I waxed on the subject of, amongst other things, male privilege and hypocrisy. I think it’s a pretty good post, as far as it goes; but it got me thinking about my own privilege and how much that was unconsciously affecting the perspective I bring to my writing and my life. Best intentions aside, it would be arrogant of me to assume that 40 years of living in a male body and seeing thru male eyes hasn’t impacted on my view of the world. To point up the hypocrisy of others and not subject myself to equally ruthless scrutiny is, well, hypocritical.

It’s one thing to recognize the existence of privilege and the fact of your own, but how good are you at policing your own speech and behaviour? ‘Check[ing] your privilege’, to use the current vernacular. For every time you’ve caught yourself in the act of thinking or saying something sexist or making a privilege-based assumption/judgement, there are probably a dozen times you didn’t; at least, that’s my experience.

So for the benefit of myself and other guys, I’m posting a link today (see below) by a blogger called Synecdochic, who kindly took the trouble to produce a checklist aimed at those of us seeking to meet women (and the world) on more gender-neutral terms; not freak women out, and recognize when you’re on a hiding to nothing and back off, dignity – yours and hers – relatively intact (along with a couple reflections of my own).

DON’T BE ‘THAT GUY’

In Entitlement (part one) she begins with the fundamental assertion that ‘Women don’t owe you anything … not even their attention’. Ever posted a comment on a feminist blog, mentally congratualting yourself on how clued-up and sensitive you are on the subject in hand, to complete… apathy. Chances are they’ve heard it all before, so don’t waste a moment getting all butthurt about it. And whilst I don’t feel entitled to get a response to anything I post – I ignore/spam some comments others leave on my blog, too – I really appreciate it when I DO get one, even a ‘negative’ one, and it’s clear that the respondant is telling me something I need to know. I replied to a thread on a blog recently and the mod left a short, polite note informing men that that topic was a women-only discussion and that our comments would be spammed. Her blog, her prerogative, and there was no reasonable way I could take it personally. You don’t have to travel far on the www – or in the world, to which much of Synecdochic‘s advice also applies – to observe that men’s responses (to women) when the shoe is on the other foot are frequently MUCH less reasonable or respectful, and often sexist, spiteful and threatening, to boot.

And a point Synecdochic makes in Entitlement (part two): ‘It is a very sad fact that nine times out of ten, people with privilege, who are exercising that privilege in a way that makes other people feel uncomfortable, will not hear the fact that they are making other people uncomfortable until it’s pointed out to them by someone with the same privilege … that guy is way more likely to listen to you.’   This is something that’s always been in the back of my mind since I started mbg. If I’ve had any kind of agenda in putting my thoughts into words – widening my knowlege and honing my writing skills aside – then reaching out to other guys has certainly been a big part of it: this hypothetical audience might include guys who have read and been influenced by feminism; heard of/read it and dismissed it out of hand, or never encountered it at all. By and large I’ve found myself conversing more with women, simply because guys on the whole haven’t been as interested; or at least, less inclined to get into discussions. Sad to say, I think the misconception that feminism is ‘anti men’ still prevails in many quarters. This has not been my experience. By way of example, Andrea Dworkin – an intellectual and activist frequently reviled as often by other feminists as by liberals and conservatives – has written movingly of the men who have touched her life, and frequently exercised great generosity in discerning positive qualities even in those she came to dislike and despise. If you can read her heartfelt tributes to her father and brother in this autobiographical piece, without a) reaching for a handkerchief and b) feeling a little lighter and more optimistic about the potential of your fellow man, then you’re harder-hearted and more cynical than I. Hers was – and remains – an original voice, challenging both politically and linguistically; reason enough for any aspiring writer, feminist or not, to open up at least one book of hers. I’d recommend Life and Death, for what it’s worth; and if a recommendation from a man rather than a woman is more palatable to you, then I can live with that just fine, for now.

To continue, and conclude on the subject of writing, if you’ve made your way thru to the end of this post, then thanks – I do write in the hope of being read, amongst other motives – but did you click on the link? I hope so. In a mere 3000 (ish) words, Synecdochic demonstrates kindness and insight and you might begin to gain a whole new perspective on the world. To paraphrase (the aforementioned) Dworkin:

‘Am I saying I know more than men about [social interaction*]? Yes, I am. Not just different: more and better, deeper and wider, the way anyone used knows the user.’
* fucking [orig.]

Bad form

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So I was shopping for cookware online the other day and Sainsbury’s had exactly what I wanted (ceramic roasting dishes if you’re interested).  I’d never bought online from  there before and like most stores today I had to sign up for an account, even though I probably won’t be shopping from there again anytime soon. No problem, the price was right and they deliver so I start filling in the form and notice something remarkable: in the box marked ‘title’ the default is ‘Mrs’.

The other potential titles available are Mr, Miss, Ms, Capt, Countess, Dame, Dr, Earl, Lady, Lord, Revd, Sir and Sis, so one can scarcely fault Sainsbury’s of not trying to be inclusive but in my experience most forms have no default. Why would they?

It rankles to think that in the second decade of the 21st century, a company can safely assume that it’s women who do all the grocery shopping. Sadly however, they’re probably right; and a notable proportion of the Mrss reverting to Miss or Ms this year will be doing so because hubby hasn’t been pulling his weight on the domestic front.

…From the mouth of Gervais

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God bless Ricky Gervais. No, really.

Derogatory language targeting  disability and the disabled is the last bastion of true invective.

It’s part of an entrenched stigma attatched to low ‘ability’, both physical and mental. Witness that ‘thinking’ jobs are ever held in higher esteem and better paid than ‘doing’ ones. Those requiring support from society, whether ‘slower-developing’ children, single mothers claiming childcare allowance or an elderly person needing medical care are oft- regarded as a burden by many who are able to ‘stand on their own two feet’; and those supplying said support – teachers, medical staff, benefits agencies – are equally derided, and poorly paid to boot. The stigma of being dependent or ‘unintelligent’ and the sting of the words attached to such conditions will only lessen when we are able to confront and overcome our dysfunctional attitudes and where we start is in the words we use and how we use them.

Detractors of Hip-Hop, R’n’B and sub genres thereof  will no doubt miss the point that n****r (or more properly, n***a) has become an infinitely richer and more nuanced word since being freed from the shackles of separatist oppression. Listen to much black music with an open mind and ears and you’ll hear it used affectionately, aggressively and various shades in between. Love it or hate it – and the jury’s out on that one both within black circles and without – it’s become, or at least is on its way to becoming, a full and legitimate word.

Likewise, it’s remarkable that terms like ‘poof’ and ‘fag-hag’ can now be routinely heard without hint of malice. Racism and homophobia haven’t gone away, of course but they’re no longer our supposedly civilised society’s dirty little secret and language is evolving along with attitutes. Some people’s attitudes, anyway. That’s down to hard work and commitment on the part of Gay Rights lobbyists like Peter Tatchell, shouting terms like ‘gay’ and ‘poof’ with pride;  not whispering them with ill-disguised contempt.

There are those still bemoaning the fact that ‘you can’t say “gay” anymore’ (even though you clearly can). It would anyway require a once extraordinary degree of idiocy to infer homosexuality in most contexts where one was referring to happiness. Come to think of it, ‘Idiot’ used to be recognised medical terminology (for a mental retardation or low intelligence) as recently as the early twentieth century. Likewise Gervais wasn’t being derogatory by referring to his fans as ‘Mongs’ any more than Dr Dre was by referring to DJ Muggs as ‘my n***a’ (and if you can remember that song and the album it was on then you maybe remember the bad old days when racism was barely talked about in public at all). It must be equally clear to most that Mel Gibson is, incontrovertibly bigoted. Hopefully, we’ll reach a point where n***a will become common currency among all, regardless of ethnicity (or not, simply based on it’s value and popularity as a word) because either way, we’ll know that race has ceased to be the big divide it used to, and too often still is.

The point is that words and their meanings are not set in stone; they only become that way when we clasp them to our breast in fear. We need to share them; fight over them; play with them; pull them apart and stick them back together in new and imaginative ways.  What is wonderful about our age is that the debate about what means what and to who is happening live before our very eyes (and ears).

We’re clearly not comfortable with disability. Let’s talk about that.

That’s why people like Gervais are important: they confront our expectations; they make us squirm with discomfort, and then what can you do? You just have to laugh.