Post Tagged with: "feminism"

It’s Time To Take Back The Net Misogynist Trolls

It’s Time To Take Back The Net Misogynist Trolls

Laurie Penny writes:

The attacks on Mary Beard, however, have focused public attention on just how viciously misogynist the internet is getting right now – particularly British-based sites, and particularly to women who are in any way active in public life. It doesn’t matter if we’re right-wing or left-wing, explicitly political or cheerily academic, like Beard. It doesn’t matter if we’re young or old, classically attractive or proudly ungroomed, writers or politicians or comedians or bloggers or simply women daring to voice our opinions on Twitter. Any woman active online runs the risk of attracting these kinds of frantic hate-jerkers, or worse. I’m not the only person who has had stalkers hunting for her address, and last week I needed a security detail after several anonymous trolls threatened to turn up to a public lecture I was giving. I could go on.

It’d be nice to think that the rot of rank misogyny was confined to fringe sites populated by lunatics. Unfortunately, not only are men like White clearly at least minimally sane enough to hold down desk-jobs, their school of misogyny has become an everyday feature of political conversation online, particularly in the UK.

Full Story: The New Statesmen: Take Back The Net: it’s time to end the culture of online misogyny

I think if anything Penny understates the issue — and certainly it’s not just the UK. Misogynist trolls are the reason I turned on comment moderation here at Technoccult. Every post that mentions women’s issues or focuses on a woman gets drive-by hate-spam. This thing sort of thing has been happening for a long time — remember what happened to Kathy Sierra — but it seems to have gotten much worse in the past year or so. There are apparently people out there who monitor the web for mentions of feminism so they can swoop in and post this sort of bile. I’m guessing the rise corresponds to the harassment of Anita Sarkeesian.

Another point from Penny:

These people talk unironically of their right to free expression whilst doing everything in their power to hurt, humiliate and silence any woman with a voice or a platform, screeching abuse at us until we back down or shut up. They speak of censorship but say nothing of the silencing in which they are engaged. I have even been told, with apparent sincerity, that using the ‘block’ button on Twitter to prevent anybody who has posted threats of violence against me is actually an attack on the troll’s freedom of speech – no apparent distinction being made between the right to express your views and the right to have your ugliest half-thoughts paid attention to.

That opens up a whole ‘nother can of worms of about the nature of free speech that I won’t go into here, other than to say that in the U.S., and to a lesser extent the UK, state censorship of media isn’t much of a problem. Here what we see more of is marginalization of dissenting views, and increasingly harassment and shouting down of people.

See also: Being An Atheist Is A Hassle, But Being A Lady Atheist Can Be The Pits

February 2, 2013 2 comments
What Do You Know, Feminism Really DOES Work

What Do You Know, Feminism Really DOES Work

Pamela Haag writes about a paper published last fall in the American Political Science Review about ending or reducing domestic violence against women globally:

Out of this herculean research effort, Weldon and Htun conclude that the “mobilization of feminist movements is more important for change than the wealth of nations, left-wing political parties, or the number of women politicians” in a country, according to the APSR press release.

The authors found that these vibrant and autonomous feminist movements were the first to articulate the issue of violence against women, mobilize political will against it, and catalyze government action. Other organizations, even those with progressive leanings, tended to sideline issues perceived as being only relevant to women. [...]

This is heartening news. There’s a tendency to feel hopeless in the face of the Big Trends and the analyses of the violence and degradation against women as collateral damage of what feel like almost insurmountable “larger problems” and social pathology. For example we sometimes think of violence against women as mostly a by-product of economic development and educational opportunities, or lack thereof.

Conversely, there’s a consoling tendency to think that once these economic conditions improve, violence against women will diminish naturally, as a happy consequence of other social changes.

This research concludes that the work of individuals in civil society not only makes a difference, but makes the difference in comparison to other potential but more indirect levers of social change, such as having left-leaning parties or more national wealth. Write Weldon and Htun, the “effects of autonomous organizing are more important in our analysis than women’s…representation inside the legislature or the impact of political parties. Nor do economic factors such as national wealth trump the societal causes of policy making. Although these intra-legislative and economic factors have received a great deal of attention…they are inadequate to explain the significant changes in policies on violence against women. Civil society holds the key here.”

Full Story: Big Think: What Do You Know, Feminism Really DOES Work

January 30, 2013 0 comments
Women Speak Out More During Consensus Driven Decision Making

Women Speak Out More During Consensus Driven Decision Making

Science Daily reports:

Scholars at Brigham Young University and Princeton examined whether women speak less than men when a group collaborates to solve a problem. In most groups that they studied, the time that women spoke was significantly less than their proportional representation — amounting to less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke. [...]

There is an exception to this rule of gender participation, however. The time inequality disappeared when researchers instructed participants to decide by a unanimous vote instead of majority rule.

Results showed that the consensus-building approach was particularly empowering for women who were outnumbered by men in their group. Study co-author Tali Mendelberg of Princeton says these findings apply to many different settings.

Full Story: Science Daily: Women Speak Less When They’re Outnumbered

January 28, 2013 1 comment
In Science, Men Are Assumed Competent Until Proven Otherwise. Women Are Assumed Incompetent Until Proven Otherwise

In Science, Men Are Assumed Competent Until Proven Otherwise. Women Are Assumed Incompetent Until Proven Otherwise

The Wall Street Journal on how men and women are treated differently in science. To sum it up: men are assumed to be competent until proven otherwise. Women are assumed to be incompetent until proven otherwise. Sharon Begley writes:

Ben Barres had just finished giving a seminar at the prestigious Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research 10 years ago, describing to scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and other top institutions his discoveries about nerve cells called glia. As the applause died down, a friend later told him, one scientist turned to another and remarked what a great seminar it had been, adding, “Ben Barres’s work is much better than his sister’s.”

There was only one problem. Prof. Barres, then as now a professor of neurobiology at Stanford University, doesn’t have a sister in science. The Barbara Barres the man remembered was Ben.

Prof. Barres is transgendered, having completed the treatments that made him fully male 10 years ago. The Whitehead talk was his first as a man, so the research he was presenting was done as Barbara.

Full Story: Wall Street Journal He, Once a She, Offers Own View On Science Spat

January 23, 2013 1 comment
Cult Of The Caveman: Paleofantasies

Cult Of The Caveman: Paleofantasies

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian on Paleofantasy by Marlene Zuk and the assumptions of the paleo lifestyle set, noting that it has become a popular diet amongst libertarians:

Charges of hypocrisy, however amusing, are facile. Paleo is an improvement on a diet of processed, sugary junk. It’s not the first diet to banish starches, and it certainly won’t be the last. In fact, by any other name, the Paleo diet would be just that — a diet.

But more substantial problems lurk in the reasoning behind Paleo principles. By assuming that all that was once natural is now good, militant Paleo leans on biological determinism to back up its theories. While it may not advocate for a complete reversion to cave-dwelling, it accepts that we evolved in a certain way to do certain things and not others, and that advances in technology, civilization, and culture can do little to change that. This logic, however seductive, is incomplete. You can’t get an ought from a was. [...]

Incomplete or flawed interpretations of our biology have long been used to marginalize women, racial groups, even entire civilizations, and nutrition may well become the next variant in this pattern of discrimination. If rice isn’t “natural,” does that make those entire continents with highly developed cultures who eat it “un-natural”? Doesn’t agriculture, however flawed it may be in certain societies, support billions of people? Let’s not forget that for centuries women were considered ineligible to participate in most professions, sports, and diversions on the basis of their supposed female “nature.” Are modern bread-eaters somehow less human than those carrying out “primal” urges by sprinting, lifting, and eating meat?

These troubling questions are probably not the point of an apparently well-meaning lifestyle program. Many adopters of the Paleo diet do so for no reason other than weight loss, or vanity, or ailments caused by certain foods; others are simply curious about how so-called “ancestral” nutrition will affect them, or how certain types of foods affect their bodies. If their giddy testimonials are to be believed, the Paleo diet can cure everything from diabetes to anxiety attacks, which sounds wonderful. Still, the social and political implications of Paleo reasoning ought to be more closely examined, especially as the lifestyle gains adherents.

Full Story: The New Inquiry: Natural’s Not In It

Previously: Hardwired to Nurture: What the New Testosterone Study Really Says About Men

January 2, 2013 0 comments
On Misogyny in Industrial Music

On Misogyny in Industrial Music

And speaking of deflecting criticism through irony, Nadya Lev has written a long, thoughtful piece on misogyny in industrial music:

The “cinematic reference” argument seems to be a common tactic in deflecting criticism. Thomas Rainer has used the filmic term “sexploitation” to describe Nachtmahr, and Throat Full of Glass music video director, Chad Michael Ward, wrote to Coilhouse stating that “the video, conceived by both the band and myself, is a send-up of 1970s grindhouse/exploitation films, where men were thugs and women were whores; in other words caricatures, not entirely unlike the noir films of the 1930s that I also love dearly.” In reality, the “it’s an homage to grindhouse” defense is so common that it’s becoming a cliche. Here’s the thing: when Tarantino revived the grindhouse genre, it was with clever, self-aware, satirical, intelligent scripts that actually told new stories that were relevant to our time. The Bride is one of the most celebrated bad-ass film icons out there. Similarly, today’s burlesque movement revives the noir glamour of the 30s with a DIY, feminist sensibility. Contrasted to that, what collective story does the combination of these industrial music videos tell?

Full Story: On Misogyny in Industrial Music

Here’s the comment I left:

“If satire isn’t interpreted as satire, but as a sincere expression of belief, doesn’t mean that the artist has to condescend to explain it and hold the listener’s hand.”

The question of the artist’s responsibility for people not getting a piece of work is a sticky one. People completely missing the point of satire has been a thing for a long, long time. The movie Joe [1] comes to mind, but it was hardly the first.

Similarly, to what degree can an artist be criticized for utterly failing at satire? If Combachrist has been at this for as long as he has, and no one gets the joke, is that a failure as an artist on his part? (joblowcritic’s point about Laichach is particularly relevant here).

There has been a rash of movies over the past few years that claim to be satire or criticism of media violence, violence against women, etc. but simply devolve into being an embodiment of what they intended to satirize — to such a degree that it’s questionable whether the film makers ever really intended to do satire or whether that was all just a cover (Sucker Punch for example).

Combachrist and Nachtmahr have fallen into the same realm. Is this stuff *really* earnest parody, or cover for the opportunity to do whatever they want without criticism? Did it start out as parody, but at some point start feeling a bit too comfortable?

One big difference between these guys and Laibach is that, to the best of my knowledge, Laibach never used their aesthetics of fascism schtick as an excuse to, say, make a video about torturing Jews or beating women or whatever. That’s the problem I have with films like Sucker Punch, Crank and that whole family of neo-grindhouse films as well. There just isn’t a big enough difference between the real thing and the satire.

[1] http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3013/

November 21, 2012 2 comments
How An Anti-Feminist Screed Ended Up In a Physics Journal

How An Anti-Feminist Screed Ended Up In a Physics Journal

Zen Faulkes explains how an issue of the Canadian Journal of Physics dedicated to chaos theory ended up running an anti-feminist screed that reportedly claimed that “half the children of working mothers suffered ‘serious psychological damage.’”

The article was penned by Gordon Freeman (pictured), who was the guest editor of this one issue of the journal. It was pretty obvious what had happened, in broad strokes: he abused his editorial power to get his poisonous opinion piece into the pages of the journal.

The details of exactly how this happened were a little more complicated. Freeman organized a conference on chaos theory, and was assembling papers that had been presented at a conference for publication in the Canadian Journal of Physics. Apparently, the deal was that the journal would publish all the papers Freeman compiled, provided that they were presented at the conference, and that they were peer-reviewed.

Full Story: Neurodojo: Retraction classic: Physics and feminism

October 17, 2012 0 comments
Critical Interview With Feminist Writer Hugo Schwyzer

Critical Interview With Feminist Writer Hugo Schwyzer

Zahra Tahirah wrote a critique of feminist professor and writer Hugo Schwyzer, including an interview to clear a few things up. I’ve linked to Schwyzer’s work before, but I didn’t know anything about his abusive background (including his attempted murder of an ex-girlfriend):

I don’t think I’m a prominent voice for feminism, frankly. I’m much less well-known than women writers like Jessica Valenti, for example. Most of my articles deal with some aspect of masculinity, informed by my feminism. It’s not my job to explain women’s experience to them — that’s unacceptable. I’m trying to explain men to women and, perhaps just as vitally, to themselves.

I think it is dangerous to have men in positions of overtly feminist leadership. But writing about gender isn’t always explicitly feminist. I write mostly about men from a perspective informed by my feminism. That’s far from being a feminist leader.

Persephone Magazine: Deconstructing Hugo

October 15, 2012 0 comments
This Week In Anonymity And Sexualization Of Strangers

This Week In Anonymity And Sexualization Of Strangers

A 15 year old girl committed suicide after months of harassment following topless photos of her circulating on the internet

A Tumblr was created to publish the identities of men who post “creepshots” to Reddit

Reddit finally shut the Creepshots subreddit down

Gawker unmasked Violentacrez, a Creepshots moderator who also started or moderated various other, shall we say “distasteful” subreddits.

October 14, 2012 0 comments
Count

Count

Quinn Norton writes:

For many years when I walked into a room I instantly counted the women. It told me a lot about what to expect from that room. One day, having lost my best friend over racial politics out of my control, I began to count people of color. That too was for safety, for understanding how my views would be taken. That too told me a lot I needed to know about the room. But it also hinted to me about a whole realm of experience I wasn’t having. [...]

Full Story: Quinn Says: Count

September 10, 2012 Comments are Disabled