Totally No Homophobe

In which I laugh at a bigot and then get all shirty about the new-new-new left.

Bigots make me laugh sometimes, they really do. I’ve lost count of the amount of conversations I have had over the years that have panned out almost exactly thus:

Bigot: *”Something racist/sexist/homophobic/twatty”*
Me: “Um, dude, that’s a bit kinda, you know, racist/sexist/homophobic/twatty”
Bigot: “How dare you call me racist/sexist/homophobic/twatty! I just believe *something racist/sexist/homophobic/twatty*”
Me: …

So the following quote from author John C Wright -an author who was part of the Sad Puppy slate for this year’s Hugo awards- made me guffaw no end. The Sad Puppy slate was an attempt by a bunch of right wing bigoted fuckboys to game the nominations for the awards. They did this on account of feeling that heterosexual white males are an oppressed group in our society who are under represented in the fields of Fantasy and Science Fiction… seriously. The comment was made by Wright on the discussion thread below the absurd apology to the racist/sexist/homophobic/twatty community for a comment made by one of their employees on her personal Facebook profile. You can read about the whole fracas here. Anyway, the comment.

Dear Peter D, and all of you who claim Irene Gallo’s statement was true–

You are saying things you know or should know to be untrue, and you should be deeply ashamed for letting your emotions out of control, tempt you to dishonesty, and for yielding to that temptation.

I am not unrepentantly homophobic. I am nothing of the kind. It is a lie.

I follow the Catholic teaching on same sex attraction and how one deals with it. In public, I have heaped scorn on those who use a children’s cartoon, one I loved, to insinuate their pro-perversion propaganda in a cowardly and craven way.

I have no hate, no fear, nothing but respect for homosexuals.

You and people like you who use the false cloak of compassion for homosexual to lure them into ruining their lives, you are the ones for whom I have no respect. You are the ones who hate them; you are the one who urge them down ever darker paths.

One of my family members committed suicide because he pursued the homosexual lifestyle you and yours continually urge him and poor souls like him to pursue.

You are the ones who offer a drunk a drink before he gets behind the wheel of a car, and when Christian urge sobriety, you claim our motive is fear and hatred for the drunk, not prudence and compassion.

He abandoned my stepsister when she was six years old, and my step brother when he was four.

Your evil, vile, repulsive philosophy of pure selfishness is what I hate, not the homosexuals you use as a shield for that philosophy.

As for the other lunatic assertions of Irene Gallo that you now leap to claim are true —  misogynist? neo-nazi? I wonder what St Mary and St Maximillian Kolbe would say if either thought me their enemy.

Racist?I wonder what my daughter, who was born in Chinese to parents who abandoned her, would say if I were racist.

Another one of my family members was wounded in World War Two, awarded a Purple Heart for his efforts in liberating a Nazi death camp.

You know nothing of me, nothing of my life, nothing of what I have known or suffered. Irene Gallo make statements beyond false: they were reckless with hatred, whereas I have ever spoken of her with gratitude and respect for the wonderful illustrations and compositions with which her department adorns the books she and I sell.

I am only the writer. The book is a team effort. Irene Gallo is a member of the team. She has apologized for her lies, and I accept her apology.

I would like you, sir, to do the same, and never dare to libel me again. When you do not know whereof you speak, close your mouth.

John C Wright

(LINK)

Now; have you ever seen such a perfect example of the complete lack of self awareness that near defines the racist/sexist/homophobic/twatty individual? Without missing a beat he skips merrily from “I’m not homophobic” to “Homosexuals are all perverts”. It’s a thing of beauty to see something like this and I think that we should all take a moment to appreciate quite how splendid Mr Wright’s comment truly is.

Have you done appreciating? Good. If you want to read a bit more about the most recent hoo-ha stirred up by  the racist/misogynist/homophobe Theodore Beale (the voice of the oppressed straight white male majority) then Jim Hines has a good wee overview here. If you want to read more about the whole Sad Puppy affair then I’m afraid that Google will have to be your friend as I really cba to trawl through the morass that is the SFF scene looking for you. Oh, what the hell, go on then. Click here for more info.

😉

Anyway, I don’t normally pay that much attention to the world of SFF or online fandom or the shit squalls that regularly erupt there as a) It’s bad for my blood pressure and b) I find it incredibly frustrating the amount of effort that people put into online ‘activism’.

The term “social justice warrior” should be a badge of honor, but it’s been defiled by the endless internet war raging between the insufferable fringes of tumblr and reddit. And no, I am NOT saying both sides are the same here; obviously the actual bigots are worse. But let’s not forget that we have to be GOOD, and not just better than them. (Comment by the artist)

The sentiment expressed here by Red’n’Black Salamander on Deviant Art illustrates quite well the frustration felt by many of those on the left who are actually engaged in political activities -or who used to be as is the case with myself. The posturing and showboating that has evolved in the online world, and has in recent years spilled over into the, for the most part, more liberal parts of political activism has had a really deleterious effect on the left. Where people on the left should be focussed on what unites us, us here referring to the working class rather than the left in general (lol, as if that’s going to happen), as workers -the foundations from which we can build the new society- we now see attempts to stratify through definition the working class under the guise of intersectional analysis. An intersectional analysis is a useful tool to have in one’s box if one is studying Sociology or writing academic papers but in the real world it doesn’t translate well, not well at all. In fact one of the reasons that I began my abstention from generalised political activity was the emergence of this approach -along with the increasing popularity of privilege politics- as I saw early on that the praxis that would develop from this approach would inevitably see a return to the embarrassing  ‘hierarchy of oppressions’ which permeated the radical politics of the 1970s/80s (before my time -I’m not that old!).

Now, I’m not saying that straight white dudes don’t have it slightly easier than everyone else -we live in a society where the ruling class have fostered racism, sexism, and homophobia for centuries to suit their own ends- but the portrayal of heterosexuality, whiteness, or maleness as privileges has the effect of turning our focus away from the things we should be fighting -oppression, injustice, capitalism and class society- onto those things that we can not, and should not, fight -ourselves. The privileges identified by those who take an intersectional approach are unlike the privilege that 99% of the population think of when they hear the term: economic privilege. Unlike economic privilege these privileges can be neither given up nor adopted –no matter how hard some may try– and so, in practical terms, all a focus on them can do is turn introspection into a form of faux activism. It also has the effect of making those with the privileges the centre of attention -which is probably why it is so popular with white middle class kids- rather than the people experiencing the various manifestations of oppression.

These privileges, as I said, can not be fought as they are things that are, by their nature, inherent. What can be fought is oppression. It is possible to fight racism, transphobia, sexism, homophobia and so on because they are social, not individual, issues. That fight is hard though (if it was easy they wouldn’t call it struggle would they?) and it involves actively participating in political work through which these oppressions need to be challenged as a matter of course. If you’re fighting lay-offs or attacks on working conditions, for example, then you want all in the workplace to stand together as that is what makes us, the working class, strong. You don’t want to only stand alongside straight white dudes on the picket line -you want everyone regardless of sex, race, gender, or sexuality standing alongside one another. It is actual political activity like this that breaks down the walls of bigotry that the ruling class rely upon to keep us divided. That requires actual real world work though, it’s far easier to call someone a *ist shitlord on the internet though and get your ego stroked by a bunch of Facebook likes and retweets.

This lot knew the score.

Now, to segue wildly back towards the topic of the Puppies and internet shit squalls, people like John C Wright and Theodore Beale serve a social purpose. They are there to be mocked and to have the piss taken out of them. That is their purpose and that is the full extent of that purpose. Engaging with them in any way beyond this is a distraction from engaging in actual political activity -something that suits them and their ilk down to the ground- and creating a society that has solidarity at its heart and which therefore would be a place unwelcoming of those who would seek to undermine that solidarity. If that’s what a person wants rather than merely wanting to have their ego stroked.

When people like the Puppies pipe up, as they inevitably will, just point, laugh, and carry on not buying their books.

 

___

Now Available as an ebook

Click to Buy for £1 (or more if you like)
Click to Buy for £1 (or more if you like)

Ms. X and the Reverse Sexism

Was chatting to X, the smallest of the family strange, last night and she mentioned this ‘annoying boy’ who had sent her a private message on Tumblr. He was pointing out that she posts a lot of stuff about equality yet she also posts a lot of stuff about Orange is the New Black. The exchange went something like this.

Annoying Boy

You post all this stuff about people all being equal but you also post a load of stuff about Orange is the New Black and all the male characters are bad guys.

Little Ms. X

Not all the men are bad guys, John Bennett is a nice guy.

Annoying Boy

Well how am I supposed to like a show where there’s only one decent representation of my entire gender?

Little Ms. X

I dunno. Must be hard!

snap

Proud? Oh yes we are. 😀

The Feminisms

I’ve never described myself as a feminist. There are a few reasons for this. Some a bit daft and others slightly less so. The main daft reason I would always give is “I’m not a feminist because I haven’t read enough of the theory”(yeah, I know!). I do think that’s the less daft one as there is a wealth of feminist theory out there and there are many distinct currents within the broad river labelled feminism and I only have an, at best, half baked understanding of most of them.

Second is the problems I have with some of those currents. Particularly the dogmatic separatist brand of feminism that emerged in the, correct me if I’m wrong, 1970s and that generally has the label Radical Feminism attached to it. I have problems with this current of feminism as I find it to be anti-woman in that it strips women of a lot of their agency and it also contains a lot of the most divisive rhetoric and theory that I’ve come across on matters of gender. The transphobia that is common in that current is also highly disturbing.

Thirdly, I considered the term feminist to be far too troublesome to use. I would rather put forward the ideas than have them instantly misunderstood due to most people’s association of the term with the reactionary form of feminism we see in Radical Feminism. I always figured that a lot of people get tripped up by words so easily it was better to just forward the ideas, which the majority of people have little problem with, than to give a person a mental barrier to their engagement with the nitty-gritty of the feminist perspective.

Recent events have changed my perspective on this somewhat.

Recent events being the obvious, the dick in California shooting a bunch of people to show he was an alpha male(tip, dude, if you’re an alpha male you probably shouldn’t end up giving a gun a blow job), the amount of attention the misogynists of the Men’s Rights Movement have received as they have come out of the woodwork to defend, or even praise, the actions of this reprehensible, entitled, rich twat, and, finally, some conversations of Facebook recently.

Now there have been some cracking posts discussing the tools in the MRM, here are two from a dude because I figure other guys telling these guys where to get off will likely have a better effect than a woman. (1, 2). SO I don’t really feel the need to go into that dark, turgid, cesspool of human existence.

Now, the Facebook discussions.

Last weekend a really good friend shared a video exposing the difference in public reaction between a man attacking a woman and a woman attacking a man in public.  The video was made by a charity that aims to try and get men talking about domestic abuse. From what I can see the charity doesn’t try and minimise the experience of women who suffer domestic violence it just honestly wants to get men talking about suffering it too. An admirable goal in my opinion.

Unfortunately the timing of my friend sharing it couldn’t have been worse as it was the day after the douchebag rampage in California. Obviously there was a rather heated discussion in the comments thread on my friends post. During this thread a number of people were talking about ‘feminism’ from the perspective that it was concerned with unbalancing equality between genders in favour of women. A view that is, no doubt, supported by a handful of the more reactionary sorts of the current I discussed earlier. This was rather frustrating as every time one of us pointed out that feminism is as much concerned with the rights of men as it is with women the standard response would be “But a feminist I know said X, Y and Z”. It was like banging your head off a brick wall trying to get people to appreciate the difference between the reactionary bigots who claim the name feminism and, well, everyone else who does.

Later there was another discussion over a post that was shared which highlights the male experience of being raped by a woman. During this discussion my pal said:

 I’ve been in situations many women would consider “rape” and many others would consider the other person being pushy. I’ve been told by a Feminist that it is technically impossible for a woman to rape a man. I have checked and in several dictionaries, rape is not confined to man on woman forced sex at all.

Thankfully my partner, C, jumped in with this rather elongated and eloquent reply. Elongated and eloquent for Facebook that is. 😉

This is potentially a really interesting discussion point. Also, it’s a big tangle of issues, so I apologise if people feel that I go on a bit, but I think it’s worth working through. Also, terminology is potentially problematic in discussions like this, because so much of it has been developed by feminist discussion, that the words can feel alienating to some people, and that’s something which needs to be addressed. So I’ll be doing an Andy(that’s me 😀 ) and trying to define stuff.

Firstly, my own position is that rape is (ideologically speaking) sexual contact in which one person does not consent. Consent to sex should be defined as *enthusiastic*: not coerced or manufactured by other means. So yes, women can *certainly* rape men and other women.

That said, the law doesn’t see it that way:

The offence is created by section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003:

“ 1-(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—
(a) he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis,
(b) B does not consent to the penetration, and
(c) A does not reasonably believe that B consents.

So, for the law in England and Wales, rape is an act defined by penetration *with a penis*. It’s worth noting that oral and anal penetration has only recently been added to the definition (2003), so for centuries, rape (in law) was only committed by men against women by penetration of the vagina with a penis and is still an offence (in law) which only men can commit, although it is recognised that they can commit it against men.

Is this wrong and unjust? Yes, of course it is. Should it be changed? Without a doubt. However, in order to understand how this has come about, we need to look to historical conceptions of rape. 

So, until well into the 20th century (I can’t remember the date, but I will look) rape is always a crime against a man. It is a property crime against the woman’s closest male relative and not the woman herself. This is because of a woman’s value on the marriage market being connected to her virginity and because of a wife’s value as sole property of the husband and her value for producing heirs which are indisputably the offspring of her husband. Hangovers persisted from this conception of rape as a property crime until *very* recently: this is why rape inside marriage isn’t recognised in law until the mid nineties, and there are UKIP members (and others) who have openly stated that they would like to abolish it.

Buggery between men, of course, is illegal for all this time–and maybe longer, I’m unsure–whether consenting or not, so there is *some* recourse in law for male victims, though I doubt men often felt able to take it due to the associated stigma, a stigma which is caused by the notion that it is *only* acceptable to have sex inside a marriage, and consent isn’t an issue, because marriage itself is consent to all future sex inside that marriage.

So, for centuries, the prosecution of rape has *nothing* to do with the harm caused to the victim of the rape. Indeed, the victim of the rape isn’t even the victim in law and ‘legitimate’ sex and female consent aren’t even connected ideas. The idea of women wanting or enjoying sex is utterly preposterous (a reason why there were never any laws against lesbianism) and the idea of them having any power to coerce or assault a man is just as preposterous.

Now, this is where language becomes an issue, so bear with me.

‘Feminism’ is now a largely insufficient word for defining an ideology: It doesn’t define an ideology, it defines an analytical perspective, the perspective of analysing society from a position which takes gender as its critical lens. Lots of academics that would traditionally be defined as feminist theorists are now described as ‘gender theorists’, because academic feminism is not necessarily gynocentric, it increasingly looks at the issues affecting men, which is, of course, good. So when I say ‘feminism’, this is what I mean. A perspective with gender as a critical lens which teaches us about women *and* men and the way power operates on both.

There are also people who use the word to try and define an ideology and not only does this not work, it it used to try to describe ideologies which are fucked up, reactionary and bigoted. Some of these people say things like A—-(my pal) has encountered, that it is impossible for a woman to commit rape. There is a famous reactionary bigot called Cathy Brennan who claims this, just as she claims that rape can only be committed with a penis: so assaults by men against women with objects other than penises are out and women on women assaults are out. Also, she likes the idea that all penis in vagina penetration is rape, so for her, rape is at once *all* heterosexual sex, but cannot really exist outside that. Yes, she calls herself a feminist, this is a real problem for feminists, since the ideology is actually anti-woman by implying women cannot actually consent to heterosexual sex and also minimising and outright denying that the very serious crime of rape cannot happen against a massive number of people. Feminism as a perspective–gender theory–obviously rejects this as bollocks, because it is. It is a serious problem for feminists–like me–that these ideas, the ideas of a TINY but very vocal minority, are seen as feminism and conflated with it in the public imagination, because they are very, very far from feminism. 

Phew! But hopefully now, when I use the word ‘feminism’, people will know that I mean feminism-the-critical-perspective and that I’m not trying to describe an ideology. Also, I would encourage anybody who might read this who feels alienated by the word ‘feminism’ to be critical of anybody claiming feminism as an ideology. For the vast majority of feminists, this is simply *not what it means*.

So the next word to work through is ‘patriarchy’. *Takes deep breath*

Feminism-the-critical-perspective uses the word ‘patriarchy’ to describe the societal, cultural and institutional operation of power in relation to gender. To men and women alike. Reactionaries–the feminism as an ideology types–have been responsible for this word becoming associated with the idea that all men oppress women and that men are privileged by patriarchy in all circumstances. This, again, is not true.

What is true is that the people who have all the power are *usually* men and have been throughout history. Therefore, laws have developed to the end of them maintaining that power and as a consequence, historically speaking, laws have generally developed in men’s favour. That is not to say that laws have developed in the favour of all men in all circumstances, but they have developed as a consequence of powerful men maintaining power and, as a consequence, they have privileged themselves with exclusion. Therefore, when laws have arisen which have gender implications, they have been written to place women *in general* at a disadvantage. Not because there is some ‘all men in it together’ conspiracy, but because the people preserving their own power were generally men and if you exclude people on the basis of gender, you only have to work out exclusionary laws for men of less power. Discriminating against women is just a way to exclude half the population of the world from becoming a threat to the dominant elite.

This does not mean that all men have equal power and that all men have greater power than all women. The queen of England, for example, has a great deal more power and privilege than most men in the world, because she is a woman ‘in the club’, so to speak. The club is, however, still overwhelmingly male and patriarchal laws and culture reflect that. It is reflected in the fact that women are still paid less, on average, than men for the same jobs, that women in professional jobs generally tend to have higher qualifications than their male counterparts, because they need to prove themselves as ‘exceptional’ in order to be considered, that women still do the vast majority of the world’s unpaid labour, and that historically, when they are raped, it is a crime against their male relative.

There are many consequences of patriarchal culture, and they by no means always work out in the favour of men in every circumstance. Take for example the idea that women are naturally better suited to caring for children and the elderly, for example. Culturally, for women, this can have many negative implications. Working mothers are often still frowned upon. Women are seen as a risk to employers, since they may need time off for maternity, ill children, sick relatives, etc. These are some if the reasons they are paid less, on average, and need to prove themselves as ‘exceptional’ to get good jobs.

This facet of patriarchy has consequences for men, too. In a divorce situation, for example, men can often struggle to get decent access to their children. Then, since the woman usually ends up with custody and the children need (and deserve) the parental home, it is usually the man who has to move. Since the woman is usually the custodian, and less likely to earn highly, (obviously, plenty of women do earn good money, I’m talking statistical likelihood) maintenance payments for the children are usually made by the man, who is culturally expected to be a provider. So, as much as feminism allows us to see patriarchy, it shows us that patriarchy does not always works in a man’s favour in every circumstance.

And this is where I was going. Nearly there 

Because of the *historical* patriarchal notion of women as property and as powerless without male custody, there are no laws protecting men from rape by women. Because of the cultural development of the idea of women as weak, there is massive stigma for male victims of domestic violence at the hands of women perpetrators and that’s where the notion of a woman as physically unable to rape a man also comes from. Because it is not culturally desirable for a woman to be promiscuous, or sexually aggressive, the law has been slow in recognising that they may be sexually aggressive and abusive. Because of the cultural conception of heterosexual masculinity, it has become a normalised idea that all men want sex all the time and therefore it’s impossible for them to be raped by women.

Patriarchy is corrosive to people. Not just women, but people. It hurts men, but it is patriarchy just the same. This is why female on male rape is definitely a feminist issue and why recognising patriarchal structures and working to abolish them is not just about liberating women, but men also.

Which sums it all up pretty well I think.

So yeah. I’m a feminist and fuck you if, after reading all that, you aren’t a feminist too. 🙂

Conan, an Exercise in Fail

So, I just watched the recent remake of the 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger film Conan the Barbarian. I always liked the original film for all it’s daft 13 year old boy swords and sorcery fantasy gubbins. It’s probably one of the best fantasy films of the last 30 odd years on account of it really playing up the campyness of the genre and not taking itself too seriously whilst not attempting to parody the genre.

Needless to say I was looking forward to the remake staring Jason Momoa that was released earlier this year. From seeing the adverts it looked like it wasn’t going to be as camp as the original but I was looking forward to a good dark and ‘grity’ fantasy action romp.

It started well with some scenes of awesome brutality from the moment of Conan’s birth and continues throughout scenes of his childhood. Conan is literally ‘born of battle’ as his mother slaughters the man who murders her as she is giving birth in the middle of a battle. Ron Perlman is great as Conan’s father teaching his son the secrets of steel and Leo Howard is fantastic as teenage Conan. In fact he was probably the best thing about this movie. 

Unfortunately from the point where we move to Conan’s adult incarnation things begin to go rapidly down hill. It is shot really well, the action sequences are, again, fantastic and the fight scenes are really well coordinated. Unfortunately the movie is completely ruined by the films utter contempt for all the female characters coupled with the character Conan’s rampant misogyny. The women in the film are either “whiney bitches”, “whores”* or just plain evil.

This being a Conan film I wasn’t expecting it to pass the Bechdel test but ffs! I would have no problem with the female characters being all of the things listed above, it kinda fits with the Conan theme, but to make a film that is as utterly devoid of female characters with… well, character is just beyond the pale. The original film featured Sandahl Bergman as the kick ass warrior-thief Valeria.

She is replaced, in the modern film, with Tamara Amalia Jorvi-Karashan played by Rachel Nichols. Where, in the original, Valeria plays the role of Conan’s equal in all ways. She fights, she steals and does exactly what she needs to do to survive in the world whilst having a good time whilst she’s at it.

Tamara on the other hand merely exists to be ordered around by men, despite occasional hints at resistance which amount to sticking her jaw out, she always complies with doing what she is told. That and to get kidnapped and scream a lot whist generally being completely unable to look after herself in the big bad world without Conan to help her/tell her what to do. At least the whores in the film are able to look out for themselves.

Add to this the character of Conan the Barbarian. In both films he is a sexist macho character, he is Conan the Barbarian after all. However in the original film his sexism is challenged by the character of Valeria who challenges all his preconceptions about women and kicks his arse in a fight. At no point in this film does Conan’s sexism, which amounts to misogyny in places, get challenged. In fact Conan seems to fall for Tamara because she is so useless.

Absolutely disgusting.

This film should be congratulated for one thing though. They have managed to do something that I would have thought impossible. They have remade an Arnold Schwarzenegger action film from the early 1980’s and have actually managed to give it worse gender politics. So well done lads…

Ach well, at least it gives me an excuse to repost this. 😀

*Not that I have anything against sex workers. I am merely using that word to reflect the depiction of the women in the film. So please take that as a criticism of the film makers rather than supporting of anti-sex worker attitudes.

Youtube

I really wish Youtube was an actual real, physical location. The way that it acts as a magnet for ignorant racist, misogynist, bigotted fuckwits would make it really easy to just

I should also learn to just never read the comments on videos I watch.  After the jump is a c+p of a recent exchange I had with a gentleman calling himself ‘disagreeablesob’ in the comments section of a video showing radical feminists disrupting a conference on abused men gaining access to support structures that are available to women who suffer domestic abuse.

Obviously I think that men should be able to access equal support and help when they suffer at the hands of partners and that these women were, for want of a better word, wankers. However I do take offence at the way some other wankers use this as an excuse to dismiss feminism in it’s entirity and to justify their own misogyny.

Actually, if Youtube were a real place then maybe we could send all the radical feminists there too…

Continue reading “Youtube”