Tag Archives: Misogyny

Heavy metal is gay…

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…is a statement guaranteed to trigger apoplexy in not a few rockers of the old school, not to say bafflement amongst some only passingly familiar with the genre. But bear with Tom Dare, writing over at Terrorizer.com about homophobia in the rock and metal world:

‘…metal is totally gay. It’s a predominantly male audience watching predominantly male bands act as butch and masculine as possible. It’s leather, denim, tight trousers … and a bunch of other shit that has more to do with 1970s San Francisco gay clubs than anything vaguely hetero. It’s all phallic metaphors, homoerotic imagery and sweaty (frequently topless) men grappling each other in a dark room.’

He’s got a point: consider the ‘classic metal’ look, as exemplified by Rob Halford of Black Country metal stalwarts, Judas Priest, amongst others from that New Wave Of British Heavy Metal era. That leather and stud look is still popular within certain of gay clubbing circles: and whilst Halford IS gay – now openly so – he’s very much the exception. German industrial metallers, Rammstein, took that camp/macho, homoerotic look to its natural conclusion more so than many latterday exponents of the genre, as seen here on Bück Dich (Bend Down):

Clearly a band comfortable enough with their sexuality to play around with it as camp, vulgar exhibitionism (mind you, this was their first album cover 😉 )

As Dare writes, though; such is not the norm. Homophobia in metal circles, as elsewhere, is undoubtedly an issue. Back in 1984, Queen lost a lot of fans Statesside with their cross-dressing video clip for I Want To Break Free. (OK, Queen aren’t a metal band per se, but they’ve flirted with the genre on many occasions and count not a few metal aficionados amongst their fan base). It would be heartening to think we’d moved on from there.

Homophobia, at its root isn’t a fear of male-on-male sex as such; so much as a fear of men not being seen to perform their proper gender rôle (i.e. fucking – and putatively impregnating – a bunch of women). As such, it’s rooted in misogyny – a fact that can be inferred in the colloquial use of gay to mean worthless or inferior. The best critical analysis of homophobia I’ve read is by American feminist writer and activist Andrea Dworkin in the ‘Law’ chapter of her classic Intercourse text.

What homophobia within subcultures such as metal tells us is that men still yearn for ‘safe spaces’ to indulge their homophobic – and thus, misogynistic – feelings without admitting it to themselves.

So I beg to differ with Dare when he writes

‘(When) Oli Sykes …screams about the girls he’s read about on the back of toilet doors (which paints a rather grim view of Sheffield, if that kind of misogyny is commonplace …) that’s a separate issue…’

But agree wholeheartedly with the following

 ‘…it brings love and shagging into metal. And that makes some people – particularly young people less likely to realise that phrases like “fuck this gay shit” or “faggot metal queers” cause real harm to real people – uncomfortable, and lash out.’

Metallers often adopt a posture of aloofness and superiority with regard to the ‘mainstream’ pop industry: I know I sure did back in the day – and that’s bullshit for any number of reasons, not least because much metal, as much punk, is really cranked-up, distorted pop – most often in the claim that for them it’s ‘all about the music; divorced from popular, consumerist trends; glossy, sexually-explicit marketing. It should be all about the music; and would be in a world less prejudiced.

Dare‘s call for metal fans to confront homophobia is, at heart, a call for them to know themselves better.

 

 

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Haters, whores and hypocrites: now trending…

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‘[Darwin] emphasized that, though in almost all species the female was the choice-maker, in human societies the privilege of choice making had passed to the male, with deleterious effects.’ Gillian Beer, Introduction to the Origin of Species, 1859, Oxford University Press, 1988, (regarding Darwin’s, The Descent of Man, 1872)

As a man – and an educated man from a middle-class background; thrice-privileged – I can take freedom of choice, in speech as elsewhere, largely for granted, which is a very different proposition from saying I ought to be able to, or believing that the content of said speech is intrinsically valuable. One problematic aspect of privilege is that the privileged position renders it scarcely-visible; the distorting effect on one’s worldview tricky to apprehend. Admitting this perspective, it’s at least understandable that a challenge to one’s privilege might be mis-construed as an infringement of rights. I’m being magnanimous, here: plenty men intuit only too well the social head start that the accidental inheritance of a ‘y’ chromosome provides them with and miss no opportunity to revel in it, generally at the expense of those less-privileged than they.

Put another way; men are prone to a) talking bollocks, and b) lashing out like wounded animals when their ‘bollocks’ is subject to scrutiny. So it’s no wonder feminists come in for a lot of flak; scrutiny of men’s ‘bollocks’ being somewhat of a specialty of theirs. I came across a fine example of this a couple days ago via Madeline Rachael‘s fine wp blog The Feminist Agenda (below)

Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner: ‘There are “two forms of feminism…”

Swanson and Buehners‘ dismissal of feminists as ‘whores’ – and in a discussion diatribe defending ‘the family’ and ‘society’ – is as typical as it is telling. Christian conservatives of their stripe would have one believe that they love ‘good’ women and that their beef is with only certain types of ‘bad’ woman. I’m minded of a press statement issued by West Yorkshire detective Jim Hobson during the investigation into ‘Yorkshire RipperPeter Sutcliffe here in the UK during the early ’80s which (British feminist) Joan Smith quoted in her essay ‘There’s only one Yorkshire Ripper‘ (Misogynies, Faber and Faber, 1989):

‘He (The Ripper – at that point yet to be apprehended) has made it clear that he hates prostitutes. Many people do. We, as a police force, will continue to arrest prostitutes. But the Ripper is now killing innocent girls. That indicates your (sic) mental state and that you (sic) are in urgent need of medical attention…’

(My emphasis)

The implications of this statement are clear and frightening – only violence against ‘good’ women is remarkable, never mind legitimately criminal; prostitutes fall outside outside of the ‘good’ category; are thus legitimate targets for men’s and society’s disapprobation, and that the distinction between the legitimacy of arresting and murdering women is a mere matter of degrees. To emphasize differing degrees of misogyny, however, or to give credence to the notion that some women are deserving of it, would be to miss the point that criminalizing ‘bad’ women and murdering ‘good’ ones both attack women as a class.

Three decades on, Swanson and Buehner, whilst they’re clearly not advocating violence against women per-se, are nonetheless arguing their ‘case’ (further magnanimity) against feminism from the same mindset; namely that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women and that feminists fall squarely into the latter camp, along with ‘whores’. The glaring contradiction is that both the women who confront their assigned status in the gender hierarchy (feminists) and those who submit perfectly to it (‘whores’)** are subject to the same negative judgement: ergo, in their eyes all women are ‘bad’, whatever they might say to the contrary.

This is significant when one considers the conflict between Radical Feminism and the Liberal Left/Trans* lobby which, though decades-old, exploded so dramatically into public consciousness via the publication of ‘Transphobic’ articles by Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill and the subsequent Twitter storm. Notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ women loom large in the vocabulary of Trans* activists. As in Dt Hobson‘s assessment of Sutcliffe‘s murder victims (above) the wrong kind of woman is, in their opinion deserving of ‘extreme predjudice’ and the wrong kind of woman – the ‘bad’ woman – is any woman who questions the bipolar gender model on which their ‘identity’ depends. Scrutiny of their ‘bollocks’ is not encouraged, to say the least; presumably because it bears more than a passing resemblance to that spouted by Swanson and Buehner: sexist, anti-feminist and rigid in its adherence to gender bi-polarity. Accusations of ‘Trans-misogyny’ (an unhelpful term to my mind) are rendered risible by prolific resort to the common-or-garden variety by Trans* activists and their supporters.

So whilst bollocks of their kind continues to proliferate both on and under the radar of the MSM: on blogs run by Men’s Rights Activists; on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and in the comments sections of all manner of online publications; feminists, who discern profound ideological issues and serious health and safety concerns for ALL women, are being subjected to inquisition , hounded , jailed, ridiculed, and silenced by those who fear the prospect of a life shorn of privileged position. Some women themselves argue against the need for feminisn, including this Huffington post writer, who is somewhat hoist by her own petard by her declaration that ‘feminism is misunderstood … by many of those calling themselves feminists’, and her sexist dismissal of the anticipated feminist backlash to her article.

For the Trans* activist who has spent the majority of their life occupying a position of privilege, discerning the difference between loss of said privilege and a genuine infringement on human rights might conceivably be difficult; but let’s not make the mistake of being magnanimous again and again in the face of evidence to the contrary.  That anti-woman propaganda such as the Generations Radio feature and the Huffington Post piece are allowed to stand whilst the likes of Burchill and Gallusmag are censured tells us something. That these and other women – feminist or not, wives or the prostituted, straight or queer, butch or femme, workers or home-makers, black or white, young or old, trans* or ‘cis’ – so frequently take the brunt of societal problems that are manifestly not of their making tells us much the same thing: somebody needs to check their privilege, and they’ll be carrying a ‘y’ chromosome, I betcha!

**Couple points to note: a) I didn’t want to get sidelined into any kind of ‘blame game’ at that point, sufficed to say that the choice to be a feminist or a ‘whore’ are clearly not equal and opposite – specifically that the latter can be considered as ‘free’ a choice as the former – nor mutually exclusive. Andrea Dworkin is a case in point whose radical politics were deeply-informed by her personal experience of prostitution. b) The original use of the word whore was Buehner’s, and having quoted him thus I ran with it for the duration of the piece, mainly a creative decision since it made for a more memorable title. It implies no disrespect towards prostituted women on my part, hence the quotes ‘—‘.

A.M.

Aside

So remind me, who are the haters? Who are the ‘phobes’?

This kind of cyber-bullying – particularly of women – is becoming increasingly common: it illuminates a dark side of the internet and social media which, terrifying as it is, should not be allowed to discourage us from utilizing these tools to our advantage and betterment.

The words of intelligent, perceptive and loving chroniclers of the human condition such as Moore are worth a million of these nasty little messages – but isn’t amazing how much of a person’s true character they betray so succinctly.

 

GenderTrender

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Men get it… some of us, anyway

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Was gonna post something light, fluffy and music-related by way of respite after my last theory-heavy post; but then Upworthy – God bless ’em – slam-dunked this into my inbox and it was too good to ignore. I nearly just ,went ahead and Tweeted it then realized that sharing it via my blog might just garner a few extra views by way of folks who subscribe to musicbugsandgender but aren’t Twitter subscribers of FB friends (they’ll get this anyway – the wonders of t’internet).

I’m not gonna blather on at length – the clip says it all better than I could have articulated with a camera in my face – sufficed to say:

  • TRIGGER WARNING – the clip expounds on Rape Culture and includes violent and potentially upsetting images and speech, and
  • It’s great to hear the voice of guys – like the commentator, and unlike the Steubenville Football coach – who do recognize sexism and Rape Culture when they see it and aren’t afraid to speak out against it (again, the great boon of the web as a platform for dissent)

Shocked but not awed

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Today I was planning on posting an update of my thoughts on the Jacintha Saldanha controversy in light of the confirmation of her suicide and the involvement of Keith Vaz. But this video clip (below) was waiting for me in my inbox when I got in from work – I subscribe to Upworthy, from whence it came – and it hit me like a sucker-punch. I’m resisting succumbing to my oftentimes tendency to waffle on at length, well too much length anyway, because honestly the clip says it all:

The clip discusses threats of violence against women, including rape and harrassment threats, so a TRIGGER WARNING is appropriate:

I’d actually caught wind of this story before, via a link in Jason Hirschhorn’s Media ReDEFined newsletter; and via other linked pages had had a taste of the extent of the problem – sexist cyber-bullying of women, especially those offering feminist critiques of media – but watching Sarkeesian‘s TED presentation really condensed its import and its impact.

Pause the clip at 2.45 and actually read the comments; and then bear in mind that, as Sarkeesian says, this is just ‘…a small selection…’ from the thousands she received:

‘Fuck you and your family with a pipe’ ‘I hope you get cancer’ ‘I’ll rape you and put your head on a stick…’

If you’re not saddened, angry and disgusted then you’re not human. Hell, I was crying, and didn’t really stop until around 10.20 when she revealed just how spectacularly she trounced the haters; how both women and men, within the gaming community and without, rejected the mob’s shock and awe tactics and got behind her campaign. At that point I broke into a daft grin and punched the air with a feeling of triumph on her behalf.

And hers is only one story. What’s even more shocking is that this kind of reaction isn’t confined to women on the internet in 2012: this is a version of the same kind of response that any oppressed person or group receives when they confront, or even dare to question the status quo; when they fight for the right for mainstream acceptance and recognition; to be valued and believed in. It happened to the Suffragettes; to the Black Civil Rights activists and their supporters; it happened to students in Tiannamen Square and rapees in courtrooms prosecuting their attackers; and it’s happening now to gay rights activists in Uganda. Raw, naked hatred is an ugly, unsettling thing; and the deeper, even uglier tragedy is that the energy thus channelled could be put to so much more productive use; would make both the antagonists and their undeserving objects of scorn so much happier and the world a safer place.

Maybe you think this is nothing to do with you; that as sad as it is it’s a problem for other people elsewhere and that you can’t possibly identify with it: you’re a man; you don’t play video-games; Feminism is an intellectual thing above your station and comprehension, or that despite the implications highlighted by Sarkeesian, this is an isolated incident and really not the big deal she’s making it out to be. Or maybe you’re just too shocked, and denial seems like the safest, least painful option? Well here’s an idea to consider: we’ve all had a taste, howsoever small, of the kind of violent, rejecting behaviour that greeted Sarkeesian when she launched her project: maybe you were bullied by your classmates at school; perhaps a spiteful ex posted those intimate snaps from a weekend away on Facebook in the throes of his/her rejection; how did it feel when your mother pulled down your underwear and thrashed your backside in a crowded shopping precinct for demonstrating typical childish exuberance and defiance; or turned their back on you after twenty years when you came out as gay? How did you feel? Shocked? humiliated? Powerless? Unloved? Can you bear to remember? If you can and you’re willing, then it behoves you to sympathize with Sarkeesian; not only with her pain, fear and anger, but also with her sense of achievement and victory when she prevailed. We humans are resilient beings, and what doesn’t kill us may well make us stronger if we can learn from the experience; but to learn implies we stare the experience in the face, with a feeling heart and a critical eye

If you possess the latter two qualities then you really had no need of reading this far: you were one step ahead all the way and I’ve told you nothing you didn’t already know. Make that knowledge count: spread the word. Make it known that this kind of behaviour is not okay; is not acceptable.

The internet and social media are full of potential and unlock the way to myriad new possibilities for human interaction and solidarity: they offer the opportunity to re-imagine a world where true democracy can triumph over the divisive forces of misogyny, classism and cultural divisions that demean us all and perpetuate a climate of fear and violence. Sarkeesian‘s success is proof of that potential, and she deserves our admiration and respect for it; and all the more for her preparedness to speak out with such bravery and forthrightness.

update from rosiessays

And it’s not getting any better

The real ‘State of Fear’

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As regular readers of musicbugsandgender will know, I’ve been keeping one eye on developments following the outing of the late Jimmy Savile as a serial sex offender. Most of the opinion and comment via the MSM, alternative press and public comment alike – that I’ve read, anyway – has been broadly speaking, responsible and sympathetic to victims, which only served to show in sharp relief this ill-considered, ignorant  and revolting diatribe from The Huffinton Post’s Brendan O’Neill

‘The reason the Savile scandal continues to gather pace, despite its obviously destructive effects, is because there are two industries that do benefit from it – the media industry and the therapeutic industry.

In the media, right from the salacious tabloids that like nothing better than to panic about paedophiles to feministic commentators on the broadsheets who muse at length about “cultures of abuse”, the existence of an alleged 300 Savile victims is like manna from heaven.

They can wring both titillatingly horrifying stories of woe from these victims (in the case of the tabloids), or hold them up as evidence of a deep-rooted climate of sexism (in the case of the broadsheets), and thus the more victims there are, and the more they are willing to relive their pasts publicly and frequently, the better.’

O’Neill does a disservice to his peers in both the tabloids and quality dailies, here. Of course there’s a degree of sensationalism within journalism; arising inevitably from the inherent tension between the desire to tell a ‘truthful’ story, and competing within an ever-expanding marketplace to engage readers on an emotional level in order to make a sale. The best journalism utilises dramatic devices to do both, and whilst I’d argue that the broadsheets achieve a better balance I’m loath to dismiss the Red Tops en-bloc – as reactionary and inflammatory as they can often be; to discern a lack of caring would be mistaken. If O’Neill’s grasp on the motives of his peers is shaky – not to say cynical – then his apprehension of Feminism’s is more so: mind you, this is a man with form for misogyny and blustering arrogance, as evidenced by the paranoid, wrong-headed invective he directs towards feminists and lawmakers in response to George Galloway‘s infamous ‘every insertion’ defence of Julian Assange.

And he’s not the only one who would like to see the fallout from Savile nipped in the bud. In the comment section below the article, a reader by the name Henry Galt, wrote:

‘Meanwhile, 28gate goes completely unreported, well, everywhere except The Scotsman so far.

Sordid will do nicely. Real manipulation of the masses? Nah, we’ll just leave that one off the table. Too grubby.’

Nobody would suggest that 28Gate is un-newsworthy – indeed, to Beeb-bashing right-wingers it might appear to be, to appropriate Galt‘s expression ‘Manna from Heaven – but to suggest it is of more fundamental significance than Savile (amazed the opportunity to append a ‘gate’ was missed here) is misunderstood to say the least. What’s revealing about Galt‘s comment is his use of the word ‘real’; specifically do dismiss – as O’Neill does, albeit by different means of reasoning – Savile‘s, and by extension, humanity’s victims of sex abuse.
One might imagine that Galt and his merry band of climate sceptics swimming against the tide of prevailing scientific concensus (for all of, what, 30 years?) might feel some empathy for exponents of Feminism, who, in their efforts to expose and combat male violence have played David to the hierarchy’s Goliath for centuries. 30 years? That’s less time than some of Savile‘s victims have had to live with their fear, shame, lack of trust and sense of betrayal; and most pertinently here, with NOT BEING BELIEVED. The insularity of such single-interest obsessives tends to render such parallels invisible, however: if these guys think of themselves as real mavericks, they might want to raise their heads above the water once in a while.
Mention of climate-change scepticism and  manipulation of the masses in the same – virtual – breath however, called to mind the late American author, Michael Crichton and specifically his novel, State of Fear. For the unfamiliar and link-phobic, Crichton‘s novel is premised on a sceptical view of CC akin to Galt’s, but positing CC itself as the political establishment’s red herring – a Lysenkoist fad which he compares to Eugenics in the novel’s afterword. (For my part, I consider myself a CC sceptic – sceptical that is, about the political motives of the ‘pro-‘ lobby and their apprehension of CC thru history. I certainly don’t doubt the reality of the phenomenon).

Contrastingly, there’s nothing ‘faddish’ about the matter of child sex crime, or about crimes of violence in general, come to that: the problems they present are perennial and devastating. Another writer of intelligent Sci-Fi, Steampunk author China Miéville, touches upon sexual violence in his novel Perdido Street Station: thru the device of the Garuda, a non-human race with laws and customs in contrast to the human city state of New Crobuzon. he introduces a definition of rape as a crime under an umbrella determined ‘choice theft’. His is a definition quite different to the problematic, historical definition of ‘rape-as-theft’, rooted in property law, which, unlike the latter correctly identifies it as a psychological weapon of mass destruction. This definition has especial resonance in reference to the systematic sex abuse of kids, where domination thru violence – sexual or otherwise – during formative years so often complicates their positive self-determinative abilities in later life, impacting on self-esteem and an ability to make positive choices and form successful relationships.

Which brings me back around – and if you’re still with me, my thanks for your patience – to the Huffington Post article. Far from ‘The Savile scandal … further dent[ing] social solidarity’, as O’Neill would have it, his (Savile‘s) 40-year reign of terror is both a consequence of, and compelling evidence for, a lack of healthy social solidarity. That men of high social and professional standing; men who have achieved most, if not all of what supposedly constitutes success in our societies and yet, in order to consummate that success are driven to manipulate, terrorize, rape and – if forensic evidence uncovered at Haute de la Gaurenne shows what it appears to show – kill our most vulnerable, most precious citizens, our children is deeply unsettling. It is not hyperbole to suggest that what their behaviour illuminates is a psychic vacuum in the collective consciousness which men – and women too on occasion – are prepared to kill our future in order to fill. In this respect at least, there is a valid parallel with CC, insofar as it’s the selfish actions of the most privileged of world citizens that threaten to impact the future of the human race the most. The shame is that too many of said privileged few seem more intent on mining the climate of fear and uncertainty for political and financial capital, rather than presenting meaningful solutions. Treating our women and children better would be a good place to start, the better to promote social solidarity and responsibility.
The big story about 28Gate, unlike Savile, is that (and you might want to whisper this, for fear of bringing down a tornado of wrath from climate scientists of every stripe) there’s no story. So the BBC has adopted a ‘pro’ editorial policy on the reporting of climate change – BIG DEAL! In case you’ve been watching/reading with your critical faculties disengaged for all of your adult life you’ll surely have detected that every news channel and publication has its own characteristic political stance and editorial policy to match. If you only read publications/watch programmes that cater to and reinforce your extant predjudices (which far too many people do, sadly – and if you’re one of them, more fool you) then your propensity to comment likely exceeds your qualification to do so. Personally, I feel confident that, with a reasonably objective estimation of their respective biases, I could peruse the details of the same story in either The Daily Mail or The Guardian, say, and arrive somewhere within the ballpark of the truth. The near-universal anti-female/anti-children bias consistently adopted by society and its institutions rarely gets the level of mainstream coverage it deserves and in spite of the publicity afforded in the aftermath of Savile; O’Neill, Galt and too many others still argue for denial. I, on the contrary argue for open debate – which must start with the premise that we have a problem
To give a rough and ready estimate of the scale of what we’re up against in the UK alone:
Population = 63,000,000; female population = 31,500,000; no. of victims of sexual assault = 10,500,000. That’s just females and just in the UK. As we’ve heard in testimonies by victims from Haute de la Gaurenne and Bryn Estyn, there are a significant number of male abuse victims too; and if the numbers here are shocking enough, the toll of casualties from war-torn areas such as Bosnia and The Sudan is, by any estimates far higher…
Not surprising then, that Susan Brownmiller was moved to describe rape as: ‘… a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.’ The implication is less that all men are rapists, than the notion that – even those of us who aren’t – by refusing to acknowledge and challenge the violence in our culture are perpetuating it; are thus perpetrators by proxy who continue to enjoy the dubious benefits of the gender inequality that is both cause and effect. Paraphrasing Brownmiller to acknkowlege the existence of male victims and female perpetrators would make for, if anything, an even bleaker picture; a picture that the O’Neills, Galts and Galloways of this world would rather we didn’t pay much attention to.
This is a climate in desperate need of change.