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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Today in Rape Culture

Content Warning: Rape references, rape culture

Every now and again we like to check out the Traffic for our site, specifically the searches that lead people to us.  Today's was especially disturbing.  Image after the cut

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Glass Doors

By: Liberate Zealot
Content Warning: Discussions of sexism

So a lot of people in my life have a lot of privilege (as do I) and so think "overcoming obstacles" (read systematic oppression) is about perception and individual choice. They're not quite at the bootstraps level, but they don't understand how racism or sexism or the Kyriarchy effects the people it oppresses.  They want to be allies, but they're too privileged to see the Kyriarchy or understand its systemic nature.  So I find myself trying to describe the experience of oppression.

Recently my boyfriend and I were talking about feminism and sexism and how there is no "getting over" oppression, and that specific individual incidents of sexism aren't isolated. There is no "getting over" something that is still on going.  

Now, as I've said before, I am very privileged.  The oppression I personally experience is not a never ending barrage.  I go through most of my life not being a target for misogyny; sexism is not a daily presence (outside of my continued education of myself or internet activism, which I do try to make daily).  The occasional street harassment, "Pro-life" or anti-sex billboard, the yearly gathering with my conservative/religious family members, the single fathers of my students who get occasionally flirtatious or subtly inappropriate.  These are the incidents I can't avoid, and they aren't too extreme or common (except for how any instance of these is too common).  But they are upsetting and startling.

Experiencing sexism (for me) is a bit like walking into a glass door.  You just go along minding you own business, walking towards a place you want to get, where other people are, and BAM glass door in your face.  And along with being halted you feel pain, embarrassment, and some asshole is trying to convince you it was funny, and maybe that the glass door wasn't there in the first place. 

Which is where the analogy falls down. You can be careful and avoid running face first into glass doors, but that's not possible with sexism.  The world brings it to you, and no evasive maneuvers will stop oppressors from oppressing. (Not fully, not in the short term).  And the fact is the oppression I experience is just the occasional glass door, as opposed to a brick wall society denies while constantly throwing me at and blaming me for being trapped behind.

So maybe this isn't the right way to explain sexism to people who don't experience it.  Maybe there is no accurate way to fully describe the experience. All I know is that I'm surprised every time, and pained, and humiliated, and my progress is stopped or delayed by the oppressions I experience.  Normally it's something I can recover from in just five or ten minutes, or at least hide my stinging face.  But the glass doors keep coming, and no matter how careful, how evasive, I can't avoid them.  The sharp shocks build up.  I start to watch for the glass doors everywhere, because if I can't evade them at least I can prepare myself for the impact. Personally I'll take the banner of "paranoid" or "humorless" feminist.  It's annoying, but not as upsetting as being blindsided by sexism, which even when "paranoid" I don't always see coming. 

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Action Against Tosh

Here is a list of various actions people can take if they are looking for something to do in light of Daniel Tosh's many incidents of enforcing rape culture


There is a change.org petition making the rounds.  It's to the CEO of Comedy Central and asks for them to take Tosh.0 off the air. 


If you're interested in something a little more direct and time intensive (but still not very difficult) you can contact Comedy Central and their parent company Viacom to complain and/or ask them to take Tosh.0 off the air. 
Comedy Central -  
1775 Broadway, 10th Fl.
New York , NY 10019
Phone: (212) 767-8600
Fax: (212) 767-8592
Web: www.comedycentral.com
Email: mail@comedycentral.com
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/ComedyCentral
Link to their contact page.


Viacom - 
Link to their contact page 


Here's the letter I sent, feel free to use it.
I'm writing in wake of the increasing scandal around Daniel Tosh, Tosh.0 and his use of rape "jokes" and disregard for people's body autonomy and safety. Along with the well publicized incident where Tosh said "Wouldn't it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…".  The alternative accounts of that event are little better as they still involve Daniel Tosh using a "rape joke" as a means to silence a woman, other stories have come to light. 
  • Daniel Tosh has encouraged his audience to tape themselves sneaking up on women and touching them without their consent.  In this 
  • segment he makes repeated jokes that are a regular part of rape culture. 
  • There is also a story circulating the web that on 6/14/11 Daniel Tosh showed the sexual assault of a teen boy as a Video Breakdown.  Furthermore, during this segment Tosh made many racist jokes and rape jokes.
  • Lastly there is also the news that when Daniel Tosh decided to remove the rape jokes from his new animated series the producers and editors were "freaking out, because most of the pilot is about rape."
These incidents, and Daniel Tosh's lackluster apology, are completely unacceptable.  Rape is a serious, endemic crime in our culture and Tosh's jokes only increase the problem. His jokes are likely to trigger survivors of sexual violence (of which 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men report being survivors of sexual assault). Some of his actions encourage people, often teen boys, to ignore and violate the body autonomy of women. He has laughed and made jokes while watching and broadcasting an actual rape. (The last two are actions all of Comedy Central are responsible for). 
I have reported the 6/14/11 to the FCC.  I encourage you to take Tosh.0 off the air and sever all ties with Daniel Tosh. I will boycott Comedy Central, and encourage everyone I know to do the same, until this has happened. 

If you want to really make life hard for Daniel Tosh and Comedy Central, report this to the FCC. To do so:
  1. Go to the FCC website for filing complaints here. Select “Broadcast (TV and Radio), Cable, and Satellite Issues” then hit “Next.”
  2. On the next screen, choose “Broadcast programs showing obscene, profane, and/or indecent material.” Hit next.
  3. On the next screen, choose “Complete the form” under “Online form-recommended method.”
  4. Complete the form and hit “Submit.”
The episode where Tosh showed the rape of the teen boy aired on 6/14/11.

Rape Apology, Racism and Tosh Fans

By: Liberate Zealot
Content Warning: Rape, Rape Culture, Rape Apology

Unsurprisingly, a lot of people have read my post/seen the video (content warning - rape) where Tosh.0 shows the rape of a teen boy and decided to make excuses for how it isn't "real" rape. Here's my response to the various forms of rape apology that have shown up on tumblr or this blog. 

First lets get this one thing out of the way, because I see a lot of people trying to excuse what happened because it was a “prank”.  Bad things can happen in pranks, pranks can be part of bullying, pranks can be planned with bad intent.  Even if the boys meant this as a friendly prank, it does not change the results of what happened.  And what happened was a serious sexual assault. Non-consensual sexual acts were done to the boy in the white shirt. He had a large dildo jammed at and quite possibly into his asshole, certainly that was the intent since one boy told the rapist to “put it in”.  Even if this started at a prank, it quickly turned into sexual violence and a serious crime.  In fact, the majority of rapes that are done to men/boys by men/boys are "caused" hazing, "discipline", jokes, and "retaliatory justice".  Many of these are gang rapes (while the assault in question is not technically a gang rape, it did involve a group of boys watching and encouraging the rapist). 

Also this is not the first time rapes have happened and bystanders did not intervene.  Maybe some were in shock when their friend took it that far.  Maybe some have been too indoctrinated by the rape myths that men can’t be raped (something the FBI agreed with until earlier this year) too recognize this for what it is.  It certainly seems that a couple of them are just rapists and thus enjoyed victimizing their “friend”.  Which is another thing that is not uncommon for rapists, they target people they know. 
Another rape myth, that apparently those teens, and many people commenting on this have internalized is that all victims act in a certain way that involves screaming and fighting off the rapist.  However,  many victims/survivors go into a state of shock.  They can’t believe someone they trust is doing such a horrible thing to them.  They freeze in panic. And this boy did try to stop/block the assault.  As for him “laughing” afterwards.  I saw his shoulders and ribs moving rapidly, I heard a shake in his voice when he spoke.  Signs of laughter, yes, but also signs of crying, fighting off tears, or a panic attack.  Also laughing can be a nervous/panic response.
 
Many people are also discussing how this isn't "real rape" because there "wasn't real penetration" or penetration couldn't happen under these circumstances and that to call this rape takes away from "real victims".  Now everyone doing this makes me sick and want to scream profanities, but I'm going to try to address these claims with a level of care and maturity that the people commenting thus really don't deserve.   The FBI's updated definition of rape includes “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” See that "no matter how slight"?  That means even the smallest amount of penetration changes a sexual assault/attempted rape into a rape. And yes, the video is of a lower quality and from a distance/angle that does leave a certain amount of interpretation from the viewer. But from everything I've seen, based on my and the legal understanding of rape, this is very likely to qualify.  And even if I'm wrong, even if this was an attempted rape that wasn't fully completed, well so what.  Is calling this boy a survivor of rape going to take away from the experiences of rape victims?  I certainly don't feel so, and I am a survivor.  In fact, I'm a survivor of a rape that many would not call a "real rape".  But guess what does hurt survivors of rape? Closely examining the details of each and every rape and having outsiders rule on whether it's "real" enough. Certainly that aspect of rape culture made it take me over a year to fully name what had been done to me.  Hell, in some people's minds the drugging and raping of a 14 year old by a grown man isn't "real" rape
Also to the people saying anal is only possible with liberal amount of lube and prep, just no.  From first hand experience, while lube and prep are necessary for pleasurable anal, they are not necessary for anal full stop.

As for the media response, that’s rape culture. The victim/survivor was a boy, and rape culture tells us men and boys can’t be victims of sexual violence.  The assault started as a prank, so rape culture tells us it was just “boys being boys”.  The victim/survivor didn’t scream or act the way a victim/survivor is “supposed to”, so rape culture says they aren’t a victim.  These are all exceedingly common rape apology tactics. 

And of course, the majority of the people making all these claims are the ones claiming that rape culture doesn't exist. 

Now, less prevalent, but equally problematic are all the claims about how Tosh's commentary isn't racist, because "it's a proven fact that black men have larger penises", it was a joke, and if it is a stereotype it's a "complimentary one".  Guess what though, racist stereotypes are racist.  Racist jokes are racist. And there is no such thing as a complimentary/good stereotype.  One doesn't have to be a member of the KKK to be a racist.  One doesn't have to use the n-word.  All on has to do is treat/see people of color as other.  And if you've grown up in North America, Europe, Australia, or plenty of other countries, and are white, than it's a pretty safe bet that you're at least a little bit racist sometimes. 

Friday, 13 July 2012

Babe, Is this Sexist

Now, this was supposed to go up on Wednesday, but than shit happened (trigger warning for link). So now, finally, we're having the winner for the relationship memes/tropes installment of Babe, Is this Sexist? (Also yes, Daniel Tosh does win this award in perpetuity from here on out).

"Ze does it because ze loves me"*

Now yes this is sexist, and the reason is it's a major part of abusive relationships while also being sold, by the media, as the proper response from women when their partner does something inappropriate/abusive.  See Twilight for examples. 

Love (and often in cases of abuse love is more to obsession or a sense of ownership than, you know, actual facts love) does not excuse bad actions on the part of a sexual/romantic partner, or a parent, or a friend, or anyone. 
This exact concept is often part of the controlling that an abuser does before the serious emotional/physical/sexual abuse starts. 

Submit suggestions for the next installment of Babe, is this Sexist? Which is looking to be more of a once or twice a month installment, rather than the weekly thing it once was.  If interest in this picks up and the suggestions pour in than this might change again. 
Check our Facebook page for the next poll. 
* Ze is a gender neutral pro-noun.

Go to the "Babe, is this Sexist?" Masterpost

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, or you worry you/they might be, please feel free to contact us for information and resources. 
You can e-mail us at feminist.armchair.regime@gmail.com

See here for possible actions you can take against Tosh and Comedy Central.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Tosh.0 Shows Rape of Teen

By: Liberate Zealot
Content Warning - Rape

So some members of F.A.R (and possibly others) reported the video on youtube.com and its been deleted.  But I went in search of proof that it had been shown on Tosh.0  So below the cut is a screen grab of the video being shown, with Daniel Tosh commenting on it, on his webpage. The video was originally aired on 6/14/11.  The screen grab does not show the actual rape, though it does show the sexual assault that lead up to it, and is from moments before the rape started. So severe trigger warning.

See here fore detailed description of the video.


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Daniel Tosh and Rape

By Liberate Zealot
Content Warning - Rape
Lovely, and not too surprising considering an episode of his TV show I saw last summer. It was one of the few times I’ve watched and in it Tosh showed a video of a “dildo fight” that turned into a rape.
He made jokes about the video. This man showed a video of a teen boy being rape by his friend with a dildo for entertainment purposes.  He made jokes about it. 
A description of the video is bellow the cut.  I removed the embedding because they're teens and it might be child porn and illegal.  It's up on Youtube. Again, it’s likely triggering.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

-Blindess and Naming

By: Liberate Zealot

In certain activist groups and movement there's this idea that we must all "pull together" and not mention the differences that exist within group.  Differences "don't matter" and discussing them is "divisive". Now, the idea that we should all be color-blind and talking about racism and race fuels racism exists in many areas, but it, and similar ideas of gender-blind and sexuality-blind is especially problematic in activist/social justice areas as it invariably leads to the more privileged members being the focus while the concerns and experiences of the intersectionality oppressed are silenced.  

I was at Occupy Wall St for the October, 17th marches and meet up in Times Square.  Friday Night the GA had a discussion about how often Occupy Wall St was represented almost solely by white men when they interacted with outside media and that the working groups should endeavor to make sure they were equally represented by women and people of color.  This was purposed by a black woman.  The next two hours were filled with white guys saying this would equal silencing them, or attempting to go off on unrelated tangents about Israel and Palestine. One white guy went off about how there is "no black or white, we're all people of color." Many seemed to feel that acknowledging and representing the differences among the members wouldn't help the cause, and in fact, that doing so would hurt Occupy and silence the male members. 
Similar attitudes can be found in a variety of social movements, or with people who interact with such movements with calls for humanitarianism and all joining together instead of focusing on one group or oppression.  Some feel that even naming or identifying the differences is "segregationist" and hurts the cause. And I can only wonder at their understanding of history and oppressions. 

Part of the actions of an oppressive group is erasing the identities and existence of the oppressed.  It Others people who are differently abled, of color, women, queer.  And it does so by ignoring their existance, or by treating them (us) as some different entity, less normal/human than the Kyriarchal ideal. It ignores and silecnes us. It's incredibly shortsighted for activist groups to further this oppression by branding discussion of differences within group as "divisive".  To say that differences like race, gender, ability, and sexuality shouldn't be addressed or named because it detracts from the central focus. When the "central focus" isn't informed by the differences (and different avis of oppression that people experience) than it only addresses the concerns of the most privileged members of the group.  All while demanding the effort and support of the people that they ignore and thus further oppress.  
History has proved this time and again within various groups. 
Feminists only address the concerns of white/middle class/ cis women. Gay rights activists only address the concerns of white gay cis men. Black rights activists only address the concerns of straight men. As said, Occupy has an issue with sexism and racism.

To be fully revolutionary, to be fully about social justice an activist and/or group must be aware of intersectionality and the differences of people.  Because those differences change the experience of oppression, and oppression cannot be dealt with unless it's manifestations and the various causes for it are understood.  Differences and how those affect the oppression people experience can only be addressed if they are named. We cannot speak about what we cannot name. And we can't address or attack an oppression if the people it oppresses cannot even identity themselves.
And if people are treated differently (and they are) than those differences must be addressed as they are. Not under some banner that erases such differences.

Furthermore, these "divisive" elements are people, their identities, their experiences, their lives.  To treat this as "divisive" and distracting/less important is to treat them (us) as "divisive" and distracting and less important.  And there's nothing revolutionary or just about that, it's simply a continuation of the Kyriarchy.  And a social justice advocate/group cannot be Kyriarchal and just.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Freedom is an Absolute, and We Absolutely Aren't Free

By: Liberate Zealot

Today, July 4th, is the day my country, the US, celebrates its existence, it's independence.  July 4th is Independence Day, but for all, as my name implies, I love freedom and independence, I cannot celebrate this day. 

This country, supposedly founded on freedom, has never been free for the majority of people.  The founders didn't include women, the poor, the differently abled, queer, or people of color as deserving freedom.  And to this day these groups of people (some of them my groups) are not free.  Now one could say that things have gotten better or that since there are no slaves and "everyone can vote".  But such people must be ignorant of the voter suppression initiatives or the rules about convicts and ex-cons, which relate to thousands upon thousands of people (primarily people of color) being unable to vote.  And they must be willfully unaware of all queer people who often don't have to right to civilly marry who they love, where they can't adopt, where they aren't protected from discrimination in schools or jobs.  Likewise they must not see the increase in the laws that take away women's body autonomy.  Because these things are my reality, and the reality of millions of Americans, and we are not free.

To say that we are more free than we were 236 years ago is laughable. One cannot be more free, or less free.  Either I am free, or I am not.  Either we are free, or we are not.  Freedom is an absolute.  And the majority of people in the U.S. are absolutely not free. 

So freedom, real and pervasive freedom does not exist in this country.  And the United States was not founded on freedom.  It was founded on genocide.  Biological warfare (small pox blankets), stealing land, and forced "relocation" make this land "available" for European settlers. And these same settlers, and thus the country, flourished off the kidnapping of people.  The United States grew in power because of slavery, off the ownership and dehumanizing off millions of people.  After the end of legal slavery the US continued to profit off of the underpaid work of people of color, of immigrants, who they continued to treat as less than human.

This oppression is what out country was founded on.  This oppression is what the country grew on.  And it continues to this day.
Often I am glad to live in this country.  Sometimes I am even proud, though generally I am angry, ashamed, disgusted, scared, and betrayed.

I don't expect perfection, but I expect improvement.  And I expect awareness of the failings of the past, and the work that still needs doing.  And until I see this recognition on the part of the US, and it truly is an Independence Day for all of the people of the US, I cannot join in on the celebrations of the Fourth.