The Bush Myth, The Woman Who Bought It And The One Who Didn’t

The Bush

I hope I’m not offending and/or triggering anyone with this. It’s my response to Helen Mirren’s shameful comment. (I never thought I’d say this, but I now prefer the real Queen; at least she keeps her misogyny to herself).

Now, to counter the misogyny bomb dropped by Ms Mirren, I share with you the link to a radio interview with Sheila Jeffreys. A truly radical feminist feast! Amongst other things, she explains her views on transgenderism, and I have to say it cleared up many things for me. (This could be a real gift to Polly. That is, in case she hasn’t already find out about it).

Note: Two posts in one day! Way to go, Mary!
Note 2: My doodles are way too cute for this. Why do some people still need to hear the truth about rape?

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12 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    marytracy9 said,

    Wow, Mary! What a great comic! It clearly shows that the reality of rape has changed and that people’s attitudes haven’t cought up, leaving women and girls vulnerable and powerless when seeking support from the justice system.

    And that radio interview with Sheila Jeffreys is awesome! How great of you to spread the word about things like this!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. 2

    rmott62 said,

    It is a brilliant cartoon. Sorry I have not written before, but I have been very ill.
    I was saddened and angry about Helen Mirren’s comments, especially as she is so media savvy. It amazes me that she can say being locked in a room and made to have sex is not rape.
    So your cartoon is great, coz rape by a stranger seem to be the only “real” rape, if you have that view.
    Thanks so much for your hard work and passion.

  3. 3

    marytracy9 said,

    Thank you, rmott62. You are awesome! And I hope you get better. I’m sending healing waves your way 😉

  4. 4

    Like you, I was deeply saddened and disturbed by Helen Mirren’s comments. Unfortunately, it seems like she never got over her trauma. I could be projecting here, but it seems that people who are not able to deal with such trauma will go on to essentially say “oh, it’s not rape, it’s no big deal” – and stand in judgment of other victims.

    It’s just awful.

  5. 5

    Not to harp on a subject that tends to make me unpopular with the sex “positive” crowd, but I see enormous amounts of similarity between rape apologists and pro-porn/prostitution arguments. This, of course, makes a lot more sense when you acknowledge that the two viewpoints are actually the same thing. I could compare and contrast all day, but for the sake of clarity I’ll stick to Mirren’s comments.

    1. Violence and coercion doesn’t exist unless someone is severely physically harmed.

    Mirren takes the rape-apologist route by using this non-fact as the basis for her assertion that rape isn’t really rape unless someone gets their teeth knocked in. Sex “positive” arguments for porn and prostitution use it as part of the assertion that exploitation isn’t exploitative unless conclusive evidence of brutal and immediate physical battery can be provided. (And it’s still possible that the victim “wanted it” or “didn’t mind” even if this is done. See #2.)

    2. Violence and coercion doesn’t exist unless the victim says it does.

    Mirren again voices the rape-apologist interpretation by downplaying her own experience and implying that since she wasn’t horribly bothered by her rape on a conscious level or saw it as some sort of interpersonal conflict, it was somehow not a big deal. Mirren believes that not believing you have been violated can make it go away. Porn and prostitution advocates try to tell us the same thing when they supply the testimonies of pornstars and prostitutes swearing up and down that they “love their jobs” and assume that this negates the actual nature of the work that these people are doing.

    3. Trauma and coping mechanisms don’t exist. Neither does the culture in which the victim has been raised.

    Both Mirren the rape-apologist and sex “positives” who want us to believe that porn and prostitution are good things completely ignore the possibility that a woman who says she was not raped/coerced into having sex on camera can be doing so for any reason other than that she loves her rapist and her job. This despite the fact that porn actresses/prostitutes, as well as rape victims who claim not to have been raped, have been repeatedly and conclusively shown to be severely traumatized and unstable. Oh, and despite the fact that many if not most change their minds at some point to acknowledge their rape as such.

  6. 6

    rmott62 said,

    Thanks Anarcha-Feminist Superstar, those are excellent points.
    I meant to say in my earlier comment, why should a rapist do stranger-rape, when he can rape a prostitute and get off scot free. Even boost about it if he wants.
    For he will be told the myth that if she is paid it is not rape.
    That is where it can be compare with acquaintence rape. Many rapists think they have nothing wrong if they buy a drink, if they have flirted.
    Then her no means nothing.
    I have raped both by “friends” and as a prostituted woman, and I believe the men that rape me convinced themselves they nothing wrong.
    What sickened me is too many other people, including women, make excuses so the rapists can get away with their crimes.

  7. 7

    I should clarify that I do not think every single porn actress or prostitute is so unstable that they can’t tell whether they’ve been raped. I do, however, believe that there is a well-established link between claiming that one was not hurt by a traumatic experience and simply being too fucked in the head as a result of not having properly processed it to really acknowledge that it happened and was bad.

  8. 8

    marytracy9 said,

    It is a very difficult area, isn’t it? We obviously want the best for all women, but sometimes what we think it’s best for them (ie: run away like Hell from the sex industry) is not what they think it’s best for them. So what to we do?
    And what do we do with those women who cannot face what happened to them? If they don’t call it rape, they may not suffer as much, but things will definitely not change for women.
    Something is clear for me. One thing is to not recognize your own rape because of the pain it may cause you, with the consequent collateral effect it has on society (ie: another rapist roaming free), and yet another is pseudo condone rape. All rape.
    Which is ultimately what bothers me most about Mirren’s comment. She didn’t just stop at “I wasn’t raped”. She went on to re-define rape for everyone and even more, to present it as just another (normal) aspect of men/women relationships.

  9. 9

    Hmm, you know I really feel like my life has been changed by radical feminists. Without them I’d still be buying into a bunch of ridiculous porn-apologist arguments while still feeling all alone in my experiences as a former prostitute who felt cheated and victimized by sex “positivism.” Without the philosophy they espuse I’d still think that what happened to me was all my fault.

    That said, Sheila Jeffereys scares me a little. Don’t get me wrong- I’m secretly pretty sure that S&M wouldn’t exist or would rarely exist in a much tamer form if people had the chance to develop a healthy sexuality. I don’t really get why someone would react to not fitting into the mold that society has cast upon them based on their genitalia by deciding that what they need is more gender norms, just applied to a different gender.

    But, you know, I could be wrong about all that shit, I don’t know everything, and I’m hardly about to take away someone’s right to self-identify. It just seems that not only are trans people, many of whom are my friends, often really really nice whose feelings I don’t want to hurt- I’m really not sure it’s productive to do so.

    What I’m trying to say here is that refusing to use the pronoun someone has asked for is rude, refusing to let somebody else identify themselves and questioning their chosen gender identity is mean. Applying your ideas about gender to everybody else is authoritarian. Giving interviews where you harp on transmen, tell everybody that they’re guided by sexism, refer to the surgery as mutilation… it’s all really divisive and provocative, like you’re just picking on them in order to pick on them, and it hurts radical feminism.

    I’m serious. I can’t think of a thing this woman has accomplished in laying out her views publicly that makes up for the fact that radical feminist messages about everything else under the sun will now be dismissed by people who only know that radical feminists don’t think that trans people have the right to pick their own identity, even if we disagree with where these people are coming from.

  10. 10

    marytracy9 said,

    I personally appreciate Sheila Jeffreys’ work because it helps me further my thinking. Even if she is wrong and even if I disagree with her, I find it is helpful to go where no other feminist has gone before.

    Now, with respect to the right to self identify, I don’t agree that this is what trans people are fighting for. If anything, the opposite is true. They are not coming out saying “It’s my goddamn right to identify as whatever the heck I want”. What they are saying is “I want to identify as one of the two categories that society has set up”. And this is ultimately what pisses off feminists, isn’t it? I mean, one can’t easily go about self identifying as a Marxist and expect to find a job.

    Also, I think the use of the word “mutilation” to refer to sex reassignment surgery is appropiate. Because all surgery is mutilation. I once heard a doctor refer to surgery as a “cotrolled attack to the body”. And this is the reason why one shouldn’t have surgery for the fun of it (not saying here that this is the case of sex reassignment). One might not come out alive. It’s serious stuff. And she makes a point that what once was unacceptable (surgically enhanced breasts, for example) now is common practice. By referring to it as “mutilation” the true nature of what surgery actually is comes to the surface.

    Now I don’t know how useful or “right” Jeffreys’ approach is. One may be able to say the same things in a less confrontational way. Or one may think differently when one considers other people’s ideas and feelings. I don’t know. But as I said, I still appreciate her view point, even if I end up disagreeing with it.

  11. 11

    On the subject of rape, women are told by society that certain situations are not rape. So while I was angry about Helen Mirren’s comments, since she’s a public figure and should have known better, I can sort of see why she made them as well. Particularly when the rapes occured – about 40 years ago since she’s now 60, social attitudes would have been that “acquaintance rape” is not rape at all. It was legal to rape your wife in England until 1993.

    Also when women disclose incidents like this to other people they will be told that it’s their fault, more often than not. So it’s hardly surprising that many of them will start to believe the version of the truth they’re told rather than what really happened.

  12. 12

    On the subject of Sheila Jeffreys – I’ve stated this view on my own blog, but it’s worth repeating here.

    I’m not opposed to people having sex reassignment surgery per se. It’s their body and it’s not really my business to tell them what to do with it. And I’m not in their head, so I can’t tell what’s going on it.

    What I am concerned about is the promotion of the idea of ‘gender’ being a natural quality with an independent objective existence rather than a social construct. Now FWIW, unlike SJ, I don’t necessarily believe that if we eliminated gender altogether, people would stop wanting to have their bodies changed. We simply don’t know. They might, they might not.

    I’ve met quite a few intelligent, insightful people who have had sex reassignment surgery and they seem to be no more wedded to the concept of traditional gender roles than a lot of other people who aren’t trans. Which is why I think maybe it’s not all down to gender. The medical profession has focussed on ‘gender dysphoria’ so the view presented in the media of transwomen is distorted to fit this I think.

    And what concerns me HUGELY is the wholesale outside pressure, which is very different from the transpeople I’ve met personally, on butch/boyish lesbians to identify themselves as ‘male’ and transition. This is not a matter of denying them agency. It’s an exterior, imposed fashion basically. And it’s deeply homophobic, and anti woman. That IS 100% down to gender. I’m not saying this is the experience every single transman, I AM saying this is a very real outside pressure on lesbians.

    Interestingly every single transwoman I know personally was previously a heterosexual male, so I don’t buy the ‘internalised homophobia’ theory there either. But there is also undoubtedly pressure on men who want to be ‘feminine’ to the extent of ‘cross dressing’ to identify as ‘trans’. Even though, again I’ve met plenty of men who ‘cross dress’ who don’t see themselves as anything but male.

    Sheila Jeffreys has some valid critiques of the medical establishment and their views on gender – here’s a particularly horrific link to NHS Direct which proves that…apparently it’s all about what toys you play with as a child!

    http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/articles/article.aspx?articleid=435

    Which is what I’d like to see reformed. I think if the ‘gender agenda’ was dropped by the medical establishment, and the government, the situation would be vastly improved.


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