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Sunday, 25 August 2013

Babe, Is This Sexist? - Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines.

Survey says... HELL YES IT IS.

The fucking title of the song is "grey rape is fun!" for fuck's sake.

Nevermind the song itself, Thicke's 'defence' of the song and the video speak for themselves.

I mean, ladies, seriously - it's okay. Robin and Pharrell are married, so it's fine.

Furthermore, degrading women is a pleasure. Also, a feminist movement, dontcha know!

And, if that doesn't convince you... well, his Mom thinks it's totes okay.

Just, seriously. This is one of those "if I have to explain how it's sexist, you've already failed at life" sort of things. Unfortunately, it looks like we have a TONNE more explaining to do.

These teenagers NAIL the issue - here are your blurred lines right here. Time to stop teaching the next generation that this kind of shit isn't confusing anyone.

We agree, Teens React - "Ah ha. Feminist movement, THAT? OKAY. OKAY.

God dammit people."

And please leave suggestions for topics for future posts in the Babe, is this Sexist? Series.  
You can do so by leaving messages here or in the masterpost.
By tweeting us @FemArmRegime #babeisthissexist?
By messaging us on Tumblr or Facebook

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Babe, is this Sexist? - Blurred Lines

Hello, dear readers!
Babe is this Sexist? returns! And we want to hear from you!

Robin Thicke's single "Blurred Lines" is currently in its 14th straight week at number 1 on the Billboard charts. So, we ask: Babe, is it Sexist?

Let us know what you think with this handy dandy survey, or leave your comments.
The video can be viewed here, or you can get the lyrics from this 3rd party site (though the video is definitely part of the story, we'll understand if you don't want to watch it).
We'll post the results on Sunday.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Speaking Feminism: The Whom Rule

by Eudaimonatrix)

(and an accidental linguistic easter egg)

[trigger warning: domestic violence, sexual harassment]
[trigger warning: stark and explicit references to domestic violence] Awhile ago I saw a great TED Talk by Jackson Katz called: Violence against women—it's a men's issue. Go watch it now. I’ll wait.
[waits for 18 minutes, or, if you want to see where I’m going here, for a couple minutes while you watch starting at about the 2:28 mark]
In the video, the speaker uses grammar to elegantly illustrate how objectification and victim blaming work, and are desperately inter-related. His illustration centers on simple sentence construction: how the way we use the subject and the object in a sentence send radical signals about how we’re thinking about accountability, agency, and domestic and sexual violence.
Today’s comic from The Oatmeal is also grammatical: How and why to use “who” and “whom” in a sentence.  I usually get a kick out of The Oatmeal’s grammar humour, and this comic is no exception (I don’t know why unwashed koalas are funny, but man, the lols…). The grammar tip basically boils down to
Whom = enquiries about the object (him in a properly constructed sentence)
Who = enquiries about the subject (he_ in a properly constructed sentence)

Handy tip. Now I know how to keep who and whom straight. AND….[drum roll] how to tell if you’re objectifying or victim-blaming someone using grammar!

The ‘subject’ in a sentence is the ‘doer.’ They have the agency (and are ostensibly accountable for the action taking place).
For example:
DudeBro shouted “nice tits!” at the Stranger.
Who shouted? DudeBro, the subject. Whom was sexually harassed? The Stranger, the object of the sexual harassment, whom you  (depending on who you are) feel sympathetic towards, angry on behalf of, or entitled to bother.
Passerby intervenes, by telling Dudebro “yo, Dudebro, not cool.  Not a consent-based interaction, man.”
Who intervened? Passerby, the subject doing the talking. Whom got told? Dudebro, the object.  Notice how in this case the Passerby is brave, and the one in control?
“Whatever, [insert homophobic expletive]. She’s got great tits, and she should cover up if they’re not for me to compliment,” sayeth DudeBro.
Now, here’s an interesting one. The DudeBro is a subject in that he said the thing. However, let’s look at what he said. It’s not easy to pick out from the sentence construction (simple sentences are usually subject-verb-object, as in the first 2 here). So let’s use the who=he (and I) and whom=him (and me) rule.
She is the subject. She is the one who has something and should do something.
Me (in this case, Dudebro me) is the object.  Her doing something (or not doing something) has an effect on him.
Who is in the wrong? She is (yep, the Stranger is a she – go figure).
According to whom? Dudebro, who implies through his sentence structure that her appearance in a public space affects him.
Presto. See what happened there? The Stranger is objectified. Then Dudebro (who objectified her in the first instance) is challenged to be accountable for his behavior, and turns the Stranger into the subject so that he can blame her for the action being challenged. Hopefully the scene continues with Dudebro getting an eloquent can of rhetorical whoop-ass getting poured all over him, but we'll leave that up to your imagination, dear readers.
Easter egg time!  The thing that got me thinking about this originally was that the whom-him mnemonic doesn't work for 'her.' As a matter of fact, that shortcut would be whor-her. Telling, no?
(Note:  Mat Inman & The Oatmeal  have been the source of some really sexist “humour” and rape “jokes” in the past, and the comic I link to above actually has a tangential joke about sexual harassment in it that relies on the old “dudes who harass women are just socially awkward, you guyz” standby). I’m still a fan – albeit a critical one. My complicated relationship with sexist media will be something to get into another day).  

Friday, 2 August 2013

The UK Porn Filter: The Plaster Over the Wound?

By: Suk Maklitt

The UK porn filter is a topic causing a lot of debate. It’s one I’m hesitant to comment on not because I have nothing to say on it but because I probably have too much. Where do I start? Well, maybe I’ll start with what I won’t discuss and that’s the censorship/ free speech/ technical issue. I think that’s been covered by enough people.

So, I want to ask is, will this UK porn filter achieve anything beneficial? Abusive porn will be blocked? Sounds good to many (me included) but what will doing so achieve? Will people stop creating abusive porn and images? Will rape culture dissolve overnight? Will paedophilia? Will sexual objectification? Will sexism? Will our relationships magically improve? Will everyone suddenly become respectful of one another’s bodily autonomy and sexuality? No, that would be ridiculous. So what I’ve been thinking about is how a UK porn filter is like sticking a plaster over a gaping, infected, oozing, maggot-riddled wound.

Abusive porn and images do not exist in a vacuum but, rather, sit on the extreme end of a spectrum. A spectrum we are all familiar with although we may not recognise all its elements’ true toxic nature, like certain romantic comedies or Page 3 or MTV or, even, Disney. Abusive porn exists because people move up and up and up that spectrum, from the seemingly innocuous to the mild to the obviously harmful, until they reach those pornographic extremes. It’s an insidious spectrum we’re exposed to daily and it saturates our entire culture. Simply hiding the abusive porn will never remove that spectrum just like hiding symptoms of radiation poisoning won’t remove the risk of others becoming exposed to the same radioactive source.

Additionally, there are the claims that such filters will block out feminist porn, LGBTQ-friendly porn, sex advice, relationship advice, educational materials, forums for sexual assault survivors, etc. It will, inadvertently, censor education and social progression. This fact becomes more terrifying when you realise the internet - despite its many dark, shadowy corners - is currently the greatest source of sex and relationship advice for children and teenagers (and, actually, even adults) we have. To describe school sex education as ‘lacking’ would be exceedingly generous. Sex education in the UK barely covers the basics. I don’t know about you but I distinctly remember a teacher telling us during sex ed class that only “silly girls” got themselves pregnant whilst still attending school. That’s practically state-sanctioned slut-shaming.

Despite these failings, when given the chance to improve the situation in June this year by implementing mandatory and comprehensive sex and relationship education in state schools, the majority of the ConDems voted against. Why? Presumably under another misguided attempt to protect children. There is contradiction in our society where unhealthy sexual imagery such as objectification is constantly thrust in people’s faces but healthy, body-positive sex and discussions of can be taboo; the former is so prolific we’re accustomed to viewing it whilst the latter’s liberal inclusivity and often anti-oppressive nature threatens the status quo and thus appears dangerously revolutionary. One of the biggest issues here, as I see it, is this erroneous conflation of healthy sex and unhealthy sex as one big, bad, dangerous package which should be kept out of the reach of children, at all costs, lest it corrupt their sparkling innocence. Well, too late. Look around. Unhealthy sexual images are everywhere and they are not just relegated to those dark, shadowy corners of the internet that the government think they can block off. Adults and children alike are absorbing these unhealthy messages every day through television, cinema, newspapers, peers, parents, fashion, music, advertisements… like I said, everywhere! This is the reason why abuse is prolific. This is the reason why abusive porn exists. This is what’s enabling abusers. An internet filter will benefit no one because refusing to address problems will never make them go away.

Isn't it about time the government realised there is no greater filter than education?