Archive for Society

Something Stinks In Austria

By now you have probably heard of a story you would have rather never have to hear in your whole life, not even in fictional form. If you have, it probably means you have kept an eye and an ear open to whatever the mainstream media considers worthy of inspecting instead of relying blindly on the blogosphere, particularly the feminist blogosphere, to fill you up on every day human miseries. As of this moment, Feministing, Feministe and Pandagon haven’t reported on it yet. But in case you haven’t, here’s some bloggy coverage of the case from feminist bloggers who have been paying some attention: Echidne of the Snakes and Louise Livesey, from The F Word.

There are simply no words to describe the emotional horror of this story, so I’m not even gonna try. There’s already enough people out there giving it a go only to be faced with the limitations of the human language with regards to emotions. Instead, I’m gonna do what I do best and what I (hope) is (sorta) the hallmark of this blog: I’m going to look at it from a different angle and point at the big, pink elephant in the room. Though in this case we could say we have a whole group of big, pink elephants.

There’s the “what about the menz” elephant which feminists are well known for bringing up. Funny how it’s always MEN doing the abuse and it’s always WOMEN (and children) enduring it.

There’s the tiny “he must have done something before” elephant, usually coming from the police headquarters. They all seem to agree that an abuse so horrific doesn’t spring from the ground. A few girls being molested here, a couple of women being raped there and before you know it, you are raping and abusing your own daughter and your own children/grandchildren for 24 years. Funny how this logical interpretation of climbing up the crime ladder into more and more horrific forms of torture is NEVER associated with either prostitution of pornography. As Louise says:

Whilst this is at one extreme of abusive and violent behaviour it’s just an example at one end of the continuum of violences women suffer daily.

(She makes the case that by excusing men’s violent behaviour “as far as I am concerned the public lose all moral ground on which to be outraged by this – you cannot defend other behaviours which express the same sentiments and then claim moral outrage at this”. It’s a fascinating idea I would like to expand on, but I will leave it for another post.)

And then there’s the WHITE WOMEN elephant. Funny how we only care about cases of abuse when it’s perpetrated upon white women in rich countries and we manage to ignore the sistematic abuse endured by millions of women the world over who have had the bad fortune to be born in poor countries and with the wrong skin colour. Congo and Darfur come to mind where, I insist, we are talking about thousands of women.
I’m gonna turn this elephant upside down and make it work in my favour. Kinda. The question I’m gonna ask is WHY AUSTRIA. It would be a pointless question, considering what I’ve already said, were it not because of the similarities of this case with another one that also occurred in Austria 2 years ago.
See, when you live in a “third world”, “undeveloped” country, you are always looking at the “first world”, “developed” countries for role model policies and guidance. So, how can something like this happen in Austria?
And what do I know of Austria, apart from the fact that it’s the setting of one of my all time favourite movies? Austria, a rich country in the middle of Europe filled with history and culture. A country always eager to remind us that one of the best musicians of all times, Amadeus Mozart, was born on its soil. A country which year after year hosts the strongly gender biased New Year Concert, the only concert the world, or the media, seem to care about. Such a model country! And yet… And yet they must be doing something very, very wrong.
Do I know what they are doing wrong? Hell no! I cannot know everything. And it’s not my place to know everything either. As I said, I don’t know much about Austria, aside from what we are supposed to know about Austria, meaning “holiday brochure” style information. But I do know that the it’s the media’s place to ASK QUESTIONS. Something they are NOT DOING. They have been trained to inform us, they are getting PAID to inform us, and they are not doing it right. This are the warning sings that something is wrong. This are the symptoms of a sick society. A very pretty snowy mountain tops painted society, but a sick society at the core. It is simply not good enough to throw our arms at the heavens and cry “well, human nature”. (Did you notice how, all of the sudden, it’s not a man’s world but a human’s world? How when men do something bad it’s always “humans” and when they do something good it’s always “men”? There’s another elephant right there).

As I said, something stinks in Austria. And they better start asking why. And the countries of the world that take Austria as a reliable role model also better start asking why. Something is very wrong with the world and not even the prettiest and richest of countires can escape it. And I think it’s about fricking time we stopped looking at this stories as “oddities” and started looking at them for what they really are: symptoms.

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“It’s Not You, It’s My Snobism”

Everyone in the blogosphere seems to be up and down nodding vigorously at some article in the Sunday Times about literary deal-breakers in relationships. When I say “everyone” I mean Hugo and references therein. And when I say “literary deal-breakers” I mean something along the lines of:

“Some years ago, I was awakened early one morning by a phone call from a friend. She had just broken up with a boyfriend she still loved and was desperate to justify her decision. “Can you believe it!” she shouted into the phone. “He hadn’t even heard of Pushkin!””

I’ll never understand how can people justify to themselves their snobism without calling upon it. They kinda defend themselves by claiming that judging on the basis of literary taste is no different from judging on the basis of any other hobby or interest. But guess what, it is. When you change “literature” for, let’s say, to keep the comparison valid, any other high school subject, it all breaks down. Can someone in the Biology field get away with saying something like “Can you believe it? He doesn’t know what the pancreas is for!”. Or someone in the Physics department coming up with “How can I have a future with someone who doesn’t know what Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is? *snif*”. No, and no. Funny how it only seems to work with “literature”.

What would happen if we instead change “literature” for another hobby? Hugo has attempted to do it with music. I’ll try to apply it to one of my all time favourite interests: Disney movies. Oh, yes. I can see myself saying with a straight face “I cannot believe he doesn’t know who Mrs Potts and Sebastian are! *sob*”. I am sure that kind of judgement will be deemed very reasonable.

So it doesn’t work with “any” hobby or interest. Only those with a “posh” sounding ring will do.

Let’s be honest here. For a long, long time, the only people who had access to literature were the privileged aristocrats. The elites. The crème de la crème of society. The whole literature = “(high) class” equation got stuck and it haunts us til today.

So remember, folks. Judging people for their tastes on snob pastimes like “literature” is OK. You are not trying to get away with a valid justification for feeling superior to everyone else on this world a.k.a. “the masses”. Nope, not at all.

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Get Real!

Oh my! Will Laura Woodhouse and I ever agree on something?

“While many women in the sex industry are not there out of choice, some of them are and, while some of us may not support or like these women’s choices, it does not mean we can go around disregarding their feelings, attacking their right to a voice and accusing them of encouraging rape.”

Except that they do encourage rape. Or rather, THE SEX INDUSTRY ENCOURAGES RAPE. And the women working in it are accomplices. That’s the way it is.
Jebus, haven’t we been over all this already? If Andrea Dworkin were alive today, she’d be killing herself. “Porn is the theory, rape is the practice”. “Porn influences men’s attitudes towards sex”. It’s been proven over and over. But you know what? Don’t take my word for it. Just go and ask the women who have been raped by a man who wanted to “act out” porn in real life. Better still. Go to those women who have had the “luck” to have a camera record their rape only discover that, when presenting said video in court, they have their screams for help and cries to stop dismissed as a sign of her own enjoyment in the act.

I’m gonna say it once again. I don’t care if one, two, a thousand or ALL women in the sex and porn industries are “happy” to do their “freely chosen” job. Because what these women do AFFECTS MEN’S ATTITUDES TOWARDS ALL WOMEN. That’s ALL OF US. That includes ME. Get it? It affects ME. Personally.
This is HALF of the argument against the sex and porn industries. The other half tells us that they are damaging to the women who work in them. But even if THE WOMEN THEMSELVES weren’t damaged, WE, that’s the rest of us real women on this planet, ARE. Because we all have to deal with the men who engage in prostitution and porn. Because we all have to deal with the impact that the very existence of porn and prostitution have on this society.
This is all quite straightforward. It gets muddier when we consider what is actually going on in the minds of the women who “happily” embrace such “work choices”. And I have absolutely no problem in pointing out that they are brain washed. Why? BECAUSE WE ALL ARE. I repeat. EVERY PERSON IS BRAINWASHED. Including ME. By the mere fact of LIVING in a society, you will be brainwashed into thinking whatever that society teaches you. And unless you actively challenge that brainwashing, you are condemned to carry it in your brain. Hell, even when you DO challenge it, it’s still bloody hard work! The examples of this range from active feminists who still wear high heels and cannot tolerate the sight of their hairy legs to Muslim women who stand against the most extreme misogyny in the Islam while retaining the rest. And this is what makes feminism and all other political movements so difficult. That everyone is brainwashed into ascribing to the status quo. And this is precisely why the number of people thinking one way or another doesn’t guarantee one bit that they are right. Democracy might work that way, but science and morality don’t.

Note: I’m only focusing on porn because that’s what’s seen as the most “harmless” and because it’s the only topic I know anything about. I am not familiar with the way prostitution affects a society’s attitude towards women, probably because proving any theory on it would be very difficult, considering how ALL societies purport prostitution. But Rebecca, who has escaped prostitution, can tell anyone who is remotely interested why we should all be against it, based on her real world experiences.

Note 2: Why do we value so highly the opinion of those people inside the sex and porn industries who are so peachy about it all? As I said above, they might not suffer any damage, but the real women out in the world do. What can these women say about how their “work” affects us? It’s like asking the tobacco companies if they think their product is bad for non-smokers!

Note 3: And this assumption that whatever a woman does is “her choice only” just SCREAMS of Rightwing mentality of the “There’s no such thing as society” kind.

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