Why Misogyny Should Not Be a Crime

I feel divided about the news that Nottinghamshire, UK, police will start treating misogynist acts as hate crimes. I’ve noticed that glaring absence of the inclusion of misogyny in our current US hate crime legislation. I know the omission is deliberate, because misogyny is such a daily indulgence for men that they would never support classifying misogynistic acts as hate crimes.
 
BUT I also do not support any measure that extends the reach of the state into our personal lives, and that creates any new crimes. The effect is just that more people will end up in the prison-industrial complex, and I guarantee you, men will NOT learn how to treat women like humans in prison.
 
Also, who do you honestly think will suffer consequences under such a law? We all know it will be the poor, the mentally ill, and people of color who will be targeted.
 
We also know that in the US, unlike the UK, hate crimes laws go both ways. There have actually been Black people charged with hate crimes against whites, and queer people charged with hate crimes against straights. The law is used to protect the status quo, not disrupt it, and so all the groups who traditionally could count on the justice system to side with them will continue to experience that privilege. That would look like men accusing women of a gender-based hate crime if they speak the truth of their experiences under patriarchy.
 
So yeah, I wish misogyny, sexual harassment, and sexual assault were taken more seriously. But I don’t want or expect state violence to be the appropriate means to that end.

Science Is Polluted By Sexism

“What priceless treasures of human potential are being lost to science because men in positions of power are unzippering their libidinal urges?” asks the excellent article, The Sexism Problem, by female scientist Margaret Wertheim.
how_it_works

From website xkcd.com https://xkcd.com/385/

As a college freshman, I, myself, was interested in STEM fields. I took calculus, physics, logic design, chemistry. I had excelled in these areas in high school and taken extra STEM electives. I learned too late that an academic advisor had signed me up for remedial physics instead of the physics classes needed to advance further in the sciences. All of my college courses were taught by men. My classes ranged from majority male students to almost 100% male students. I definitely…. stood out.
 
Since my environment and the people who surround me are important to me, and I was unable to feel comfortable in the STEM classrooms, I looked for fields with more women and less obvious discrimination. I drifted to languages and helping professions.
 
I am so happy to have an education in languages and social work, but I always will wonder what would have happened if my initial interests had met with a welcoming environment.

Disco and the White Man

I DJ disco music.
 
I receive criticism for this choice because most people associate disco with “frivolous” femininity and “silly” gayness. Of course, those are the exact reasons I enjoy it, because I enjoy feminine and queer things.
 
When I DJed with other collaborators, those who were white men were uncomfortable labeling our events as “disco” and preferred “soul”. You won’t walk into many record stores and find a Disco section. What you *will* find is a Soul section, where the disco and funk will be hidden.
 
The white male DJs were, to a man, unable to stop talking about Northern Soul and Blue-Eyed Soul. I.e. soul/R&B music filtered through whiteness.
 
A photo of gender non-conforming disco artist Sylvester.

Sylvester

My setlists included lots of Black artists, especially those who are women, femme, trans and queer. I was told by these white men that my music wasn’t “serious” enough, and that advertisement that referenced these artists would give potential attendees “the wrong idea”.
 
What idea might that be?
 
Blue-eyed soul was serious enough for them.
 
Fast-forward 5-8 years. Cultural tastes have inevitably shifted. The warm, glittery synthetic beats of gay disco are again en vogue. One of these white men has the audacity to invite me to a dance night he is hosting. Prominently displayed in his online advertisement is a Black woman who is popular among enthusiasts of gay disco. He is writing about his sudden love for this music with the confident authority of someone who grew up listening to it. An authority I now know is “the confidence of a mediocre white man”. I remember the time he confided that he would never be able to truly believe that women were anything other than “other”. I remember the casual racist jokes that peppered his conversation. I remember his disdain for this same music when *I* played it.
 
I unfriended.
 
I now focus my DJ collaborations on mentoring and building up talent among women, POC, trans people, and queers.
 
I still DJ disco music.

Women as DJs??!!

I posted in a public forum today, asking what the going rate for DJs is in the town I recently moved to.

Several men mistook my post to be a *request for them to DJ* and sent me unsolicited private messages.

Then came Roman.

Roman was just a regular guy who was *very concerned* that I couldn’t possibly be an experienced DJ, as I claimed, and not be Right On Top of current DJ rates in medium-sized midwestern towns.

He assured me he meant no disrespect. He was just VERY CONCERNED that I might be lying about the whole “experienced DJ” thing. And it was very important that he air this concern in a very public manner, being sure to tag me into his comment.

I am COMPLETELY CONVINCED that he had NO INTENTION of publicly humiliating me in front of potential clients. (sarcasm)

Before I could respond, the forum moderators deleted my post and all comments. They did not inform me why.

This is what I needed to say to Roman.

I have been a DJ for 15 years. I have DJed friends’ weddings, parties, cultural events, fundraisers, on the radio, clubs, you name it. I have DJed across the country, but not in a celebrity kind of way… just having fun with friends and the communities I lived in.

Since I started as a teenager, there have always been men who told me I couldn’t do it. I can’t possibly be a DJ. That’s a man’s job.

And men worked to keep it a man’s job. Men have laughed in my face for wanting to be a DJ. Men have insulted me to my face. And behind my back. And online. They have sexually harassed me, groped me, and stalked me. They have posted threats and insults about me online because I was a woman and I was in public and I was getting attention.

Men have collaborated together to push me out and keep me out of certain spaces where they thought I didn’t belong. They have kicked me off of line-ups for being “too gay” and “not serious” (wtf?). They have used their influence at venues to make sure their inexperienced male friends got gigs, while locking myself and other female performers out. They have talked down to me, explaining basic information about equipment to me like I was some kind of child, when I have a top-notch set up at home that I paid for myself, with money made from DJing. They have come up to me while I am DJing, and attempted to physically push me aside while grabbing my records because they assumed it is totally cool to do that…. to a woman.

And yet, I never let any of these men stop me. I kept on doing it. Now I live in Lawrence. And I will keep on doing it.

Here I am, in my mid-30s. What has changed? I can still be publicly humiliated by a strange man named Roman who believes I cannot possibly be a DJ. Because I am a woman, and I spoke up in a public forum. And that forum chose to erase my voice and presence instead of let me be a woman, and a DJ, in public.

“Feminism Is for Men Too!”

male feministI’m going to express an unpopular opinion. This is a reaction to social media memes that aim to make feminism feel safe and non-threatening to men by saying some variation of “feminism helps men too!”

To be honest, my feminism has nothing to do with men. If men want to begin a movement to dismantle toxic masculinity, I’d support that. But I am not doing this work and living this life for men. I’m doing it for me, for my liberation from this painful patriarchy, and for other women.

I am not trying to make feminism “safe” for men. My feminism is supposed to make them uncomfortable. It is about liberation from men’s oppression, so it had better make them uncomfortable! I am not down with this safe neo-liberal brand of feminism that focuses on centering men and making sure men are comfortable with what the little feminist women are up to.

I’m not trying to collect male allies.  Men can decide based on their own consciousness whether or not they would like to stop behaving in sexist, oppressive ways. But self-declared “male allies” are usually the ones who hurt me the most because they use that label to distract from their *actual behavior*, which is just as shitty. However, I can spot a man who is truly acting in solidarity with women from a mile away. It’s his actions, not his words, that make it obvious.

4 waysLike do we make the Black Lives Matter people say “Oh we’re fighting for white victims of police brutality too?” in order to legitimize them in white eyes? Do we make BDS activists explain how actually, their movement is equally pro-Israeli government as it is pro-Palestine? So that Israelis aren’t offended? No we do not.

The “we’re just like you!” and “our cause will also benefit [fill in privileged group of oppressors who is the reason the cause exists]” tactics in social justice movements are conservative trends that neutralize the radical message of equality and liberation and turn it into a superficial popularity contest that is no longer a threat to the status quo.

Cooptation.  That’s what it’s called.

My feminism isn’t simply “to be equal to men”.  I don’t like the society, the government, or the world that male supremacy has created. I’d rather men start their own movement “to be equal to women”.

Queer Masculinity and Misogyny

I am so happy the insightful and brilliant writer Katie Barnes took on this topic in her article On Queered Masculinity and Misogyny for Feministing. In a lot of queer spaces you can’t talk about this because masculine women and other masc-presenting people assigned female at birth are more visibly queer than femme women. So they get more shit from straights, but they get more recognition and celebration amongst queers for that visibility. Double-edged and confusing sword there.

Because of that visible queerness, for which they are oppressed, it feels like we can’t talk about the way some queer masculinity uses misogyny to prop itself up. This Is How To Be Masculine. This Is What You Do. You need to denigrate, sexualize, objectify, condescend to, trivialize and mock femininity. The outside world may oppress you, but in your queer world, you can now oppress femmes and get your power back.

Here is what Barnes experienced:

It became more important for me to be read as masculine, and so I performed masculinity in the ways that I had been taught through media, my friends, and my family. I would often open doors for women, offer to carry items for them, and openly objectify women with my father and brother, because I was one of the bros after all and this was what bros did.

She goes on to own up to other excellent examples from her own experiences, which she takes apart and examines with excellent self-reflection.

I guess this kind of critique could sound like tired old critiques of the butch-femme dynamic. I don’t want to do that. I am not critiquing anyone’s gender identity or presentation or roles, because FREEDOM & Taste The Rainbow. So no, I am not trying to rehash old bashes of butch-femme identity. Also there is no need for #NotAllMascQueers. No need.

I am just saying queer masc misogyny is still misogyny, it is still patriarchal and male-supremacist, and it still hurts women and femmes. End transmission.

A Terrible Calculus of Toxic Masculinity

When men in my life get pumped over pro football, systemic shit like what is outlined here is all I can think of. Short version: if a violent man is good enough at a sport, thereby bringing in the big $$$, his gendered violence can, with the help of professional PR types, be glossed over.

Propagating toxic masculinity for the $$$ is inexcusable. And literally deadly. But when men I care about continue to support it, I wonder if there is something I could do to help them experience empathy, since my words alone are clearly not enough. In an effort to help men understand what it feels like, I’ve tried to think of a popular cultural tradition where women’s aggressiveness is publicly celebrated while often accompanied by violent acts towards men and children that are then excused because $$$.

Still can’t think of one, but taking suggestions. Also possibly looking to join??

Pedophile Entitlement

I fucking hate the entitlement that so many pedophiles express. “But I loooooovvvvveee her” or some such shit. As though their sexual feelings for a CHILD entitle them to do whatever the fuck they want with that CHILD.

I don’t give a fuck if you think you are in love with a child! What are you suggesting, that because you have feeeeeeliiinnnngs now the CHILD owes you sex?

And there is always a Greek chorus of men ready to back them up, especially if their target is 12 or older.  Evolutionary psychology often shows up in their defense of (fellow?) pedophiles to justify that it’s “only natural” for grown-ass middle-aged men to pursue teens and tweens.  No.  Because if we’re going to pretend this is ingrained in men because CAVEMEN, then let us also remember men the Stone Age did not live much into their 40s and later, and if they did they would be banged up, crippled old men, so…

White Men Say The Darndest Things

White male capitalists are going to have an uphill battle convincing me that the actions of impoverished third world women are what’s ruining the planet. A little side-by-side comparison of resource consumption would plow right through empty rhetoric about backwards nations needing white saviors to implement “gender equity”, which we’ve done so very well in our own countries.

Rant inspired by: Population: Four Out of Five Scientists Agree…

“Easily Offended”

It seems rather flippant and vacuous for white men, when asked to treat people who are *not* white men as fully human, to dismiss it as “censorship” or being “too easily offended”.

To dismiss our calls for respect and security as “whining” is the height of the haughty ignorance of entitlement. Sure, you have the freedom to offend people with your racist, sexist, whatever-ist bullshit. But do not fool yourself into thinking that kicking underdogs makes you a noble defender of ART and FREEDOM and AMERICA. It just makes you offensive and bigoted.

MISANDRY: my definition

Misandry is like “reverse racism”… an intellectual concept for an imaginary society where men (in this case) are actually oppressed by a centuries-old birth-privilege gained and used only by women to dominate government, industry, and society. Since this is an imaginary society with no real world application, I have only encountered this word on frothing MRA websites or jokingly among women who have been victims of men’s rape or other gender-based violence.

Wikipedia has a good article on the word.

Misandry

Conversations

Whipping Girl by Julia Serano

Whipping Girl by Julia SeranoWhipping Girl is an outstanding book on transsexual women, feminism and trans-misogyny. Serano draws well thought-out lines from general societal misogyny to the hatred and fear of gay men, feminine men, and trans women. She blows up a lot of tired paradigms of sex, gender, gender presentation, gender identity and all that stuff. M

y main complaint is that she confuses two different definitions of class, one that refers to social/economic differentiation (as in “working class”, “upper class”, etc) and one that refers to a category or group of something (like in “class action lawsuit”). Through this confusion she mostly avoids conversation about the intersections of trans identity and class status, shielding and invisibilizing her own class privilege. The same thing happens with race- Serano is almost completely silent on how race intersects with trans identities. Once again she covers up her own privilege when in fact nearly every facet of life in the racialized US is affected by racial identity, including trans identity.

Critiques aside, there is still much to be gained from the book. I found the following quotes quite illuminating:

“[M]ost of the anti-trans sentiment that I have had to deal with as a transsexual woman is probably better described as misogyny.” pg.3

“From my own experience in having transitioned from one sex to the other, I have found that women and men are not separated by an insurmountable chasm, as many people seem to believe. Actually, most of us are only a hormone prescription away from being perceived as the “opposite” sex. Personally, I welcome this idea as a testament to just how little difference there really is between women and men. To believe that a woman is a woman because of her sex chromosomes, reproductive organs, or socialization denies the reality that every single day, we classify each person we see as either female or male based on a small number of visual cues and a ton of assumption.” pgs.51-52

“The fact that we perceive two major categories of gender enables us to view women and men as “opposites”—a premise that is founded on a series of egregiously incorrect assumptions. [I]n order for the two sexes to be “opposites,” they must first be mutually exclusive. Therefore, on a societal level, we purposefully ignore that variation that exists in sex characteristics and create the illusion that there is absolutely no overlap between the sexes.” pgs.102-103

“Cissexuals may want to believe that their genders are more authentic than mine, but that belief is dishonest and ignorant… [T]he major difference between my life history as a woman and theirs is that I have had to fight for my right to be recognized as female, while they have had the privilege of simply taking it for granted.” pg.169-170

“Not surprisingly, no aspect of my social transition has been more difficult for me to adjust to than the way I am treated by some (but certainly not all) men… On an intellectual level, I knew that I would sometimes be dismissed or harassed once I started living as female, but I underestimated just how frustrating and hurtful each one of those instances would be. Words cannot express how condescending and infuriating it feels to have men speak down to me, talk over me, and sometimes even practically put on baby-talk voices when addressing me. Or how intimidating it feels to have strangers make lewd comments about having their way with me as I’m walking alone at night… [W]hile I had numerous run-ins and arguments with strange men back when I was male-bodied, I’d never before experienced the enraged venom in their voices and fury in their faces that I somtimes do now—an extreme wrath that some men seem to reserve specifically for women who they believe threaten their fragile male egos.” pg.223

“[T]hose who patrol the gates of women-only spaces are often dead set on discriminating against me, driven by the ridiculous belief that my girly little estrogenized penis is somehow still pulsating with hypermasculine energy.” pg.229

Feminist Theory from margin to center

Feminist Theory from margin to center by bell hooksI finally read this 1984 classic by bell hooks. A fundamental text on intersectional feminism, stating clearly why race and gender cannot be divided into separate spheres of concern.

I was struck by some particular passages:

“White women and black men have it both ways. They can act as oppressor or be oppressed. Black men may be victimized by racism, but sexism allows them to act as exploiters and oppressors of women. White women may be victimized by sexism, but racism enables them to act as exploiters and oppressors of black people. Both groups have led liberation movements that favor their interests and support the continued oppression of other groups. Black male sexism has undermined struggles to eradicate racism just as white female racism undermines feminist struggle. As long as these two groups or any group defines liberation as gaining social equality with ruling class white men, they have a vested interest in the continued exploitation and oppression of others.” pg.15

“Women must begin the work of feminist reorganization with the understanding that we have all (irrespective of our race, sex, or class) acted in complicity with the existing oppressive system. We all need to make a conscious break with the system. The compassion we extend to ourselves, the recognition that our change in consciousness and action has been a process, must characterize our approach to those individuals who are politically unconscious.” pgs.161-162

Why Might a Man Be a Feminist?

Here’s part of a great answer:

I am a feminist because I do not want that right, because I never want to stand on the same side as my abusers;

I am a feminist because, if I am honest with myself, I cannot deny that I am, as a man, always and already on that side, because to be honest with myself is to recognize the changes that my side needs to make…

Word of the Day: Grunch

A page on the Geek Feminism Wiki defines a grunch as one of those little moments that just causes all of your illusions of being seen as an equal to fall apart.

From an outstanding article by Tim Chevalier about programming, women and sexism, entitled How To Exclude Women Without Really Trying. Read it!

Here is just a taste:

Countering sexism requires courage and (in Samuel Delany’s words) moral stamina. It is work that largely needs to be done by men, since men who tacitly believe that women aren’t quite human are hardly going to listen to women’s opinions on the subject.

Montana Man Gets 90 Days for Raping Two Children

There’s actually not a lot more to say about this story. Shawn Lowe, who hopes that “I and everyone else can just move on,” was recently convicted of raping two 14 year old girls when he was 21. This wasn’t simply statutory rape- these girls both said “no” and he proceeded to coerce them. He fed one half of a 40 first.

Missoula County District Court Judge John Larson sentenced Shawn Lowe, 23, on Thursday to 20 years in prison, but suspended all of that but 90 days, which he said Lowe could spent in the Missoula County Detention Facility. He also designated Lowe a tier 1 sex offender, meaning that his risk of repeating the offense is low.

As a commenter on the story says, that’s only 45 days per rape, an experience that will haunt the girls for a lifetime. So much of the “justice” system has to be messed up for a sentence like this to be handed down, that I honestly don’t know where to start and I don’t even want to try. I’m depressed enough.

“Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships & the Crisis of Connection”

Deep Secrets by Niobe WayI just finished reading Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships & the Crisis of Connection by Niobe Way. Way is a Psychology professor and performed her own research to create this book- a study of boys and their friendships, and how the pressures of “being a man” create loss as the boys grow up and feel they can no longer be emotionally intimate with other males. Recommended!

Some quotes:

“The gender divide — where girls don’t think and boys don’t feel — the virtual “DNA of the patriarchy” does not capture how boys actually experience their worlds.” Pg.263

“The very social and emotional capacities, needs, and desires that are associated with being female and gay are not only the very same skills that are at the foundation of our survival as individuals and as a species; they are also capacities, needs, and desires that boys themselves have and are explicit about if one is willing to listen.” Pg.265

“Friendships as well as our emotional and social intelligence are central to our emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being. Yet we continue to ignore the evidence and blame female teachers, mothers, fathers, and the “feminized” school curriculum for boys’ problems. We fail to see that they stem from our idealization of a stereotypic version of manhood…” Pg.268

“Just as our masculine stereotypes rest on constructs of autonomy and stoicism, so does our definition of maturity — revealing, of course, the patriarchy at work, with manhood meaning the same thing as adulthood.” Pg.268

“The opposite of patriarchy is not a fictional matriarchy where emotions rule and thinking is passé. It is a thick democracy where thinking, feeling, learning, and having a range of different types of relationships are possible and encouraged for every “citizen.” ” Pg. 276-277