Female Journalist Found Dead, Man Likely Responsible

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In a story featured in Feminist Current’s Wednesday edition of What’s Current, journalist Kim Wall was found floating in the water near Denmark’s capital, having been stabbed 15 times and dismembered. Ten days earlier, she had boarded Peter Madsen’s submarine for an interview. Madsen is being held on murder charges.

In the linked piece from The GuardianMadsen claims Wall was hit in the head by a hatch cover in a “terrible accident.” I’m sure that what Madsen meant to say was that it was a terrible accident he got caught.

Madsen also claims to have felt “suicidal” when he tied a weight to Wall’s body and chucked her overboard. Allegedly, he planned to take his own life by sinking his submarine after disposing of her body. Personally, I think it’s a shame he didn’t succeed.

One of the most damning pieces of information in the article was that Madsen’s computer was swimming with porn of women being tortured and killed. This piece of information was added to The Guardian article almost as an afterthought.  The article does feature a comment from Madsen which amounts to “it wasn’t mine.” He says he wasn’t the only person with access to the computer (there were multiple sadistic misogynists on board?) and the content did not belong to him. 

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What an interesting choice of words. He wasn’t the only one with access. So…he and his submarine crew of violent misogynists watched snuff films together? He had help with the murder/dismemberment/disposal of this woman?

The content did not belong to him. This is a type of wording psychopaths love to use. It can technically be true (he didn’t own the rights to the material) AND misleading at the same time! Bravo, you sick f***!

I can hear the arguments from the boys’ club right now:

Porn had nothing to do with the murder. Plenty of guys watch porn and don’t murder or abuse or rape women.

Sure! And plenty of pedophiles don’t “actually” abuse children, they just like to look at pictures of children for sexual gratification. Oh wait–that’s a punishable offense! But we don’t sanction the viewing of material that is violent or degrading towards women. We prefer to roll the dice and hope that these women are of age, “consenting”, lucid and not drugged or addicted, and “happy” to be doing what they’re doing in a culture that’s completely devoid of pressure for women to be subservient, sexualized, compliant, cum repositories.

Sure, plenty of guys watch porn and don’t murder women. Let’s just keep rolling the dice with women’s lives and when they DO get murdered by sadistic, porn-watching men, we can say “Oops! I had no idea this would happen as porn has NOTHING to do with violence towards women.”

This is the madhouse of a world that we live in–a world in which the daily sexualization/degradation/oppression of women inflicted on them from birth is twisted with words like “agency” “choice” and “fun.” Girls like looking sexy–it’s fun! They haven’t been told from birth that their only value lies in how open they are to being sexualized/poked/prodded/scrutinized/degraded/fucked by men. It’s not like girls are reminded every day that the only point to their existence is being objectifed and that if they aren’t being of service/servicing some man, they might as well be dead.

We live in a world where porn that, both directly and indirectly, harms women is protected under the banner of “free speech” and liberty. But liberty for whom? For all? Or for MEN. Because whether women are being silenced by having cocks shoved down their throats or being silenced by the men who abuse and kill them, porn is not raising up women’s voices. Porn silences women. Men who reenact porn silence women. The men who watch porn and defend porn SILENCE WOMEN. Men who murder women SILENCE WOMEN.

Kim Wall and millions of other women and girls are silenced by men permanently every day.

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Porn and Sexual “Liberation”–The Opiates of the Masses

Porn, the “free love” movement of the 60’s and the more recent “sex-positive” movement are all the kind of “activism” that liberals and leftists of any degree can get behind. Seen as a rebellion against religious conservatism and the stuffy morals of the Victorian era, looser sexual mores offer an excellent opportunity for liberals to show off just how enlightened they truly are. But sexual liberals are mistaken if they think these viewpoints or their acceptance of porn is a sign of some higher understanding; if anything, it is the opposite.

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What if the barriers around sexual behavior were imagined? For instance, some believe that women can demonstrate how sexually liberated they are by being constantly sexually available, allowing and even engaging in raunchy humor with men, and accepting/desiring anal sex. By being this way, women are transgressing the outdated, puritanical, “oppressive” sexual mores of the past. But what exactly is being transgressed?

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Even sexually conservative ideals of women still have them remain sexually available; the only change is that these women must not appear to be so. Instead of being required to accept/engage in raunchy humor, women are expected to be disgusted by it and to play coy. The “rule against” anal sex is the ultimate sign of sexual repression and thus, the ultimate sign of women’s sexual liberation. The fact that women have no pleasure centers in their rectums or that anal sex can be painful, degrading, and lead to injury is not considered.

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What we have here are essentially equal views of women’s sexuality. Women are expected to embody whatever the predominant male fantasy is at the time. Furthermore, male fantasies have not changed in that women are most desirable when they are sexually available to men, whether that be in the guise of the coy, “good girl” or the sexually “liberated” woman who enjoys raunchy humor and anal sex.

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If we accept that these two ideals are actually essentially the same, what is it that’s being transgressed? Where is the liberation and from what? Men are still dictating the expectations and women are expected to comply, defend, and assume these expectations as their own. If the requirements have gone from explicit to implicit, women are still “doing what they’re told” but under the guise of “agency” and “freedom.”

It was Catherine MacKinnon who said:

If we knew the boundaries were phony, existed only to eroticize the targeted transgressable, would penetrating them feel less sexy?

Perhaps. But dominance and submission itself have been eroticized to the point where female submission to male fantasy is not only acceptable but desirable. This is one of the reasons consent becomes a sticky topic. Women and girls are being exposed to porn that teaches them it is a natural part of a woman’s sexuality to be submissive and accommodating to male whims in the bedroom. Furthermore, men on both sides end up working together to oppress women sexually–conservatives setting up “the rules”, and liberals “breaking them.” Women who value membership in either group will follow the dictates prescribed by the men of that group.

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Sex itself is also a very powerful intoxicant. The chemicals released in our brains during sexually pleasurable experiences act as analgesics to pain and play a role in bonding as well. Anyone who is familiar with the dynamics of sexual abuse knows that it is normal for victims to feel pleasure and bonding during the abuse and that this is often used to the perpetrator’s advantage.

Ultimately, what we end up with, is a society in which people are “blind” to the power dynamics of sex and the oppression and abuse inherent in many sexual practices/relationships. The woman who wants to be “liberated” from the sexually repressed ideals of the puritanical past, is kept blind to her own oppression and the oppression and abuse of women and children through the integration and acceptance of abusive sex practices into mainstream culture. When articles encouraging young girls to engage in anal sex are printed in teen magazines, it’s seen as “sex-positive” and healthy instead of what it really is which is grooming for later sexual abuse.

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Because you’re empty otherwise….

With the proliferation of porn in popular culture, the sexual objectification and abuse of women and children can take place on a massive scale with the aid of addictive chemicals released during sexual acts. Porn culture is also propped up by a growing compendium of “scientific studies” supporting the idea that being penetrated by men in not only normal but healthy and if you don’t like it there might be something wrong with you.

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In order to wake up from our chemically and culturally -induced stupor, we have to be willing to acknowledge that the real taboo when it comes to sex is naming it as a conduit for oppression and abuse. If you’re thinking that seems scary or undesirable because sex and porn are a pleasurable part of your life, this is exactly part of the problem. We become complicit in the abuse when we are not willing to even question it.

 

“Professor Marston” Story of Female Empowerment?

As an ardent film fan and passionate feminist, I watch the movie world like a hawk for a glimpse of women telling their stories through film. I subscribe to Women and Hollywood for updates and was severely dismayed when I read this article about the upcoming biopic about Wonder Woman creator, William Moulton Marston. Overall, I’m not a fan of superheroes but have taken special care to avoid the Wonder Woman movie. Even before I knew about her creator, I took issue with her overtly sexual portrayal in comics and on film.

Following the success of the Wonder Woman movie, Professor Marston & the Wonder Women will explore the relationships between Marston, his wife, and his (their?) girlfriend(s). With a commitment to realism, filmmakers cast Luke Evans in the role of Mr. Marston. luke-evans-shirtless-768x780william-marston-435

 

 

 

 

While the real Marston has been hailed as a feminist, I don’t think he deserves that title. Marston has been quoted as saying that “women enjoy submission” and “Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.” It didn’t surprise me to learn that he hired a male artist to capture his heroine. She is supposedly a combination of the suffragists and the Varga girls of the 1940’s.

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The trailer makes it look as though Marston’s wife, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, wanted to bring another woman into the marriage just as much as Marston did but according to an NPR interview with historian Jill Lepore, Marston threatened to leave Holloway if she did not acquiesce to his wishes. There is also, at some point, a third woman who enters the picture and lives in the attic. There’s mention of what sounds like a sex cult that the four of them are a part of in which women

“in their relation to males expose their bodies and use various legitimate methods of the love sphere to create in males submission to them, the women mistresses, or love leaders, in order that they, the mistresses, might submit in passion to the males.”

Lepore giggles a lot during the NPR interview but seems sincere about telling Marston’s story as truthfully as possible. However, I do not find Marston’s story very compelling. The only part of the story that was compelling was that Holloway and the younger mistress, Olive Byrne stayed together decades after Marston’s death. What was it that made their relationship endure?

To me, Marston doesn’t sound any better than any of the other misogynists who need a harem of women surrounding them at all times. I think a lot of people who preach sexual empowerment for women through a sort of cavalier attitude towards sex have a lot more in common with the religious fundamentalists they claim to defy.

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There’s nothing “progressive” or feminist about Marston’s set-up. Religious fundamentalists from Osama Bin Laden to Mormon leader Warren Jeffs were polygamous/polyamorous as were cult leaders Charles Manson and David Koresh. While the comparison might seem outlandish, we need to think about the people who shaped our views on sex and sexuality. These views are heavily influenced by the patriarchal culture we live in, one in which the interests of men are paramount. Alfred Kinsey, the father of the sexual revolution and lead promoter of the “anything goes” attitude towards sex, did not publish data he didn’t find useful and he also wrote about children’s sexuality with information gathered from pedophiles.

I do not believe Professor Marston & The Wonder Women should be touted as feminist or in any way benefitting women. I think it needs to be examined the way all popular media should be: as patriarchal propaganda. Women and Hollywood, while some of its articles are illuminating, tends to publish stories about ANY movie that’s even remotely related women without regard for whether or not the movies actually help women as a whole. I am not content to subsist off of crumbs when it comes to seeing women’s stories represented in film. And with as much influence as movies and celebrities exert in our society, we need to hold filmmakers and actors to a much higher standard.

 

 

 

Gender Stereotypes are Oppressive

Introduction

Many people fail to see the way in which gender stereotypes harm women, girls, and ultimately, everyone. We tend to take them for granted, never questioning where they came from or what purpose they might serve. In this essay, I intend to examine some of the more prominent gender stereotypes and hopefully answer and raise a few questions for the reader.

Dolls

One staple of “girlhood” in our society is playing with dolls. Dolls have been reinforcing gender norms and shaping the lives of girls for centuries. In an article for Smithsonian magazine, Linda Rodrigues McRobbie notes that:

 

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Your life is over before it starts, little lady!

“Through the 18th and 19th century, dressing up dolls gave little girls the opportunity to learn to sew or knit..”

 

While some may argue that dolls can reflect more choices and liberation for women and girls, they’ve certainly done their part to narrow the lives of girls in our society.

“In the early 20th century, right around the time that women were increasingly leaving the home and entering the workplace, infant dolls became more popular, inducting young girls into a cult of maternal domesticity.”
Even though the focus of the article is not the history of dolls or their effect on girls in our society, the author points out that:

“The recent glut of boy-crazy, bizarrely proportioned, hyper-consumerist girl dolls (think BratzMonster High) says something about both how society sees girls and how girls see themselves, although what is for another discussion.”

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Eyes that big better imbue them with x-ray vision or something…

Incidentally, there is a Tasmanian artist who has endeavored to make-under the over-sexualized Bratz dolls. Make some with short hair, Sonia!

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Long Hair

While hair trends have undergone many changes over time, long hair has been a staple of femininity and thus, a symbol of womanhood, since before the ancient Greeks. In a Time magazine article, archaeologist Elizabeth Bartman said that men “risked scorn for appearing effeminate” if they wore their hair too long.

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In the same article, sociologist Anthony Synnott notes a Bible passage reflecting society’s attitudes toward gender and length of hair from the book of St. Paul:

“Doth not nature itself teach you that if a man have long hair it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her.”

No, Paul, it doth not. Women do not “naturally” have longer hair than men. However, our culture does dictate that we should see it that way. While it may be socially acceptable (read accepted by men) for women to have short hair, author Jo-Ellan Dimitrius states that:

“men prefer long hair on women as they believe it’s ‘sexy,’ Short hair is perceived as only being attractive on a woman who is slender and/or physically fit.”

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Thus, even while this may be an area where women can express themselves a little more freely, there are still cultural restraints (patriarchy) around socially acceptable hairstyles for women and girls to wear.

High Heels 

868d5b391dd57fe3faabcd9e71ae4669-vintage-shoes-vintage-glamourIn Western culture, high heels gained popularity among the women and men of the aristocracy. It wasn’t until the late 18th century that they became unpopular because of their association with Marie Antoinette. After that, flats and slippers became popular for awhile and it wasn’t until women began working for pay outside of the home that heels made a resurgence. In a 2015 CBS interview on the history of heels, curator Lisa Small says,

“I think a lot of it had to do even with wartime technologies. The use of steel and extruded metals allowed fashion designers and fabricators to think about a way to use metal in the heel.” 

…and to reinforce women’s primary identity: sex objects.

“It causes your rear to move, it causes your hips to have to compensate and do the little wiggle, [and] the chest goes out,” said Small. “So these are all biologically determined markers of mating attraction.”

 

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She’s probably trying to reach something she can’t walk over to get…

Even if heels cause your body to contort in a way that appeals to biological urges, associating them with femininity and thus, womanhood is extremely socially constraining and demeaning. Small acknowledges that:

 

“Women can feel powerful when they wear high-heeled shoes, they can feel more confident, and that’s all to the better. But it’s a very interesting construction of power. Until men in powerful positions also wear high-heeled shoes, it’s always going to be the question of what kind of power a high-heeled shoe really conveys.”

An interesting question indeed.

Makeup

The use of makeup is strongly associated with women and femininity. Women and girls are expected to use makeup and are highly reinforced in doing so. When we are little, we play with dolls that are obviously wearing makeup, we see our mothers and older female family members using makeup, and we rarely get to see images of women without makeup on. Indeed, it is so rare to see women without makeup that to take a picture of yourself make-up free is deemed an act of bravery!

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GASP!

An article for The Telegraph states:

anythingspossibleOverall  90 per cent of women and almost 80 per cent of men agreed that women are still under greater pressure than men to look “well groomed”.

Senior director of Ipsos Marketing, Pippa Bailey says:

“It’s still widely accepted that women are held to higher standards than men and are spending more of their time on personal grooming.”

An article called The Female Economy analyzed women’s buying habits and found that four of the main areas marketers should target when selling to female customers were: food, beauty, fitness, and apparel. I would argue that all of those industries use extremely sexist marketing strategies, not the least of which is beauty.

Women and girls are indoctrinated from the time they are born to believe that they are not good enough as they are. We are told we need to lighten, tighten, firm, enlarge, slim down, pump up–all with the aid of beauty products. Marketers create a self-fulfilling prophecy when they bombard us with images of ideal beauty and promise that the only way for us to feel whole and confident is through use of their product.

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“Beauty products and services promote a sense of emotional well-being in women. Those we talked with who spent a higher portion of their income on cosmetics felt more satisfied, successful, and powerful; they also reported lower levels of stress even if they worked longer hours.”

The article’s author admits that the industry is male-dominated with the most powerful positions occupied primarily by men. If wearing makeup were so central to being a woman, shouldn’t those positions be held by them? Some people truly believe that it is in a woman’s nature to want to primp and preen but the aforementioned fact seems to suggest otherwise. There’s nothing in our make-up that makes us want to wear make-up…if you will. 

Conclusion

While gender stereotypes might seem harmless or humorous to some, their function in our society is oppressive. They serve to limit and objectify women, relegating them to second-class citizens. Men and boys are limited by gender stereotypes as well but due to their dominant status are not oppressed by them. It is because of misogyny that men who do things that are seen as feminine are often targets for harassment.

We need to abolish the idea that these things over here are for boys and these things over here are for girls–it’s regressive. We need to stop being slaves to consumerism and build an economy that reflects the value of all people regardless of sex. This will mean building media literacy and thinking critically about how we influence the world we live in and how it influences us.

 

Watch “I Am Jane Doe”

“I Am Jane Doe” is a film by Mary Mazzio about child sex trafficking in the U.S. I had so much come up for me when I watched this: horror, disgust, heartbreak. I thought I had some idea about the extent of child sex trafficking in the U.S. but I was mistaken. This film follows the cases of two girls in particular who were trafficked through the backpage.com website. Please watch and recommend this important film to others. This film is streaming on Netflix now.

Time Article on Wartime Rape by Aryn Baker

I cried when I read this article. Some of the things it describes are so horrendous but it reflects the reality for women all over the globe. Please read it and share it. It is so important that people are exposed to and moved by women’s stories–their realities. It’s so important that women and girls are not ignored or swept aside. Allow yourself to be moved by the stories in this article and allow others to be moved by it as well.

The Secret War Crime

“Crazy” Cassandra

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A 2014 article by Rebecca Solnit recently sparked my interest in the myth of Cassandra, a woman blessed by Apollo with the gift of prophecy then cursed to never be believed, all because she would not sleep with him. In the article, Solnit uses the myth to illustrate the curse of all women to be questioned, gaslighted, and otherwise discredited when trying to speak the truth.

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As is typical for me, I wanted to read more about Cassandra and see if anyone else had come to the same conclusion as Solnit. What I came across was a 1984 article by Mary Lefkowitz discrediting the work of Christina Wolf, Cassandra: A Novel and Four Essays. It seems Wolf came to a similar conclusion as Solnit: the myth of Cassandra reflects the reality of all women living under patriarchy.

Lefkowitz describes Wolf’s conclusion as “ambitious” and containing a “series of imaginative leaps.” I don’t know about you, but my imagination did not have to stretch far at all to see the metaphor in the myth of Cassandra. Lefkowitz goes on to say that

 If Mrs. Wolf had looked more closely at Aeschylus instead of relying on a 19th-century handbook’s recasting of the myth, she would have seen that in the original story Cassandra chose her own fate. Apollo offered her, the most beautiful of Priam’s daughters, whatever she wanted if she would have intercourse with him. She asked for the gift of prophecy but then refused to keep her part of the bargain, so the god punished her by keeping her from being believed. If she had slept with him, she would have been able to prophesy and to bear a son who would have become a famous hero – not a bad deal considering what the gods were capable of doing to men and women if they felt like it. The ancient Greeks, whatever their limitations, believed in freedom of choice; their women were no more victimized by the world around them than their men;

they recorded not only the oppression of individuals and groups but of humanity. (bold emphasis mine)

I just about fell over when I read this. I’d like to think that this type of opinion is outdated, but it’s not. Women and men still believe that a woman’s decision to submit is as free and fair a choice as any that a man would make. In fact, this is the view popularized by the “sex-positive” movement. Women who “choose” to acquiesce, relent, and give in to the desires of men are somehow empowered. But the real myth here is that women are just as free to choose not to submit.

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Women who choose to say “no” still face the threat of violence, loss of financial security, and social or physical death. Confronted with this reality, many women feel they have no choice. Or, like Lefkowitz seems to suggest, they decide that unlimited access to their bodies is a small price to pay for safety and security.

It is the devaluation of women in patriarchal society that makes constant violation seem like a viable choice. Indeed, in regards to unwanted sex, women and girls are often told “it’s not so bad” or “it’s supposed to hurt.” They’re made to believe that rape is a fantasy desired by some women and are subjected to a relentless onslaught of media sexualizing violence and dominance/submission.

It’s with this amount of denial, gaslighting, and outright lying that the myth of Cassandra retains its poignancy. Women have and do exist in a world where they are routinely discredited and slandered for speaking the truth. It angers and saddens me to no end that one of the best weapons the patriarchy has found to use against us is other women. It is for this reason that I believe, as is stated in the book description for Cassandra,  that stories like this are “an urgent call to examine the past in order to ensure a future.”

No, “The Beguiled” Is NOT a Feminist Movie

IndieWire author Jude Dry just posted a review of the movie The Beguiled that was so off-base, I needed to address it. If you aren’t familiar with the story, it’s about an injured Union soldier who is taken into an all-girls’ school in Virginia during the Civil War. It’s supposed to be a different take on the 1970’s version starring Client Eastwood. I haven’t seen the 1970’s version but supposedly, Coppola’s version centers the women in the story. Hardly.

Dry goes as far as to call the movie (or at least elements of the movie) feminist:

“A house full of women thrown into a tizzy by the presence of a man isn’t the most radically feminist story; that Coppola tells it by objectifying, emasculating, and symbolically castrating her central male character certainly is.”

Objectifying (if that’s even possible), emasculating, and castrating men are not feminist actions. One cannot use the tools of the patriarchy to bring it down. Objectification and violence are tools of the patriarchy used to dehumanize, silence, and exterminate women. Feminists propose to liberate all women, not become violent oppressors themselves. When women do commit violence against men, it is usually in self-defense and to imagine that it is somehow empowering is frankly, insulting.

Dry goes on to talk about the “female gaze,” describing a supposedly titillating scene in which Kidman’s character bathes Farrell as he lies unconscious. Kidman is annoyingly flustered as she inches closer and closer to Farrell’s penis. In this way, Coppola succeeds in making the scene all about Farrell. That Farrell is somehow “objectified” in the film is absolutely absurd. The male gaze is all about a dominant group (heterosexual men) objectifying a non-dominant group (women) in film. With this understanding, the female gaze is impossible to discern because we have never had power over or even been equal to men. Even if the female gaze were possible to discern, I put forth that it would have little to do with men or their penises.

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“He is completely at the mercy of his female caretakers, who can turn him in as a deserter at any time, which would mean imprisonment or possibly death. They are his keepers, and the mistresses of his fate. As he heals, the women use his body for labor. “

They can’t turn him in at any time–they must wait for Confederate soldiers to pass by. And even though the wounded soldier is supposedly helpless, he remains a threat to everyone in the home. Furthermore, he insists on working despite his injury. Dry makes it sound as though they’re standing over him with a whip or something. Even AFTER they saw off his leg, he somehow musters the courage (despite his helplessness) to threaten them all with a gun.

 

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Dry attempts to frame the amputation of his leg as some sort of revenge for leading on Dunst’s character (he tells her he loves her and offers to run away with her) before creeping into the bed of Fanning:

“Such behavior won’t fly in a woman’s world. Their plaything has broken the rules of the game, and he must be punished.”

The way the author words this makes it sound like an attempt at sadomasochistic erotica. It’s clear in the movie that after a hilarious topple down the stairs, the soldier’s leg is amputated because it’s shattered beyond repair. The goal was to save his life. Farrell’s character is convinced that the women have hacked his leg off because they’re jealous he chose Fanning out of the three eldest females in the home. Farrell is old enough to be Fanning’s father by the way.

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After he threatens all of them with a gun and Dunst’s character throws herself at him sexually (I have no idea why), they decide to poison him. This is not a punishment but an act of desperation. Kidman’s character and the younger girls have all decided it’s their only option and when they don’t look sad as he chokes to death at the table, it’s probably because he threatened to kill them all!

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There’s nothing feminist about this movie and I find the suggestion that it has some feminist elements or even gets close to what might be termed a “female gaze” to be a gross over exaggeration.

Don’t waste your money on this movie. If you want to see a Civil War-era movie that centers women, watch The Keeping Room. It actually has a somewhat similar premise in that it’s about southern women defending their home against Union soldiers but it’s far more interesting. One caveat is that it’s fairly violent so skip it if you prefer not to see that sort of thing.

 

 

 

‘Men, shut up for your rights!’

This post is from one of my favorite blogs, “language: a feminist guide.” It highlights the pervasive and insidious nature of sexism today. The fact that men can still be so clueless about the impact of their speech and the manner in which they use it speaks to the invisibility of their truly massive privilege.

Women encounter this type of sexism on a daily basis and it can be truly soul-crushing. To be talked over, ignored, and belittled in private and public conversation drives home the point that we are less-than; not even worthy of acknowledgment. I believe it should also prompt us to look at the ways that we elevate the voices of other women. Whether it be through reblogging another woman’s post, repeating what another woman says in a group situation, or asking silent women their opinions, working to elevate the voices of women is a worthwhile endeavor.

An example of this type of elevation in action:
https://amysmartgirls.com/this-woman-stood-up-when-she-saw-another-woman-being-talked-over-472eb312ff7a

language: a feminist guide

If you haven’t spent the last decade living on another planet, I’m sure you will recognise the following sequence of events:

  1. A powerful man says something egregiously sexist, either in a public forum or in a private conversation which is subsequently leaked.
  2. There is an outpouring of indignation on social media.
  3. The mainstream media take up the story and the criticism gets amplified.
  4. The powerful man announces that he is stepping down.
  5. His critics claim this as a victory and the media move on—until another powerful man says another egregiously sexist thing, at which point the cycle begins again.

The most recent high-profile target for this ritual shaming was David Bonderman, a billionaire venture capitalist and member of Uber’s board of directors. It’s no secret that Uber has a serious sexism problem. Following a number of discrimination and harassment claims from former employees, the company commissioned what turned out to…

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The Porn Industry Needs You!

It’s easy for porn’s proponents to dismiss those who speak out against it as prudish, parental or even free speech-hating fascists. There might even be those who wouldn’t consider themselves pro-porn but they figure if they’re not part of the conservative, Christian camp, they need to speak out against them. I, like so many other thinking feminists, do not belong to either camp. I see porn and puritanical beliefs about sex and women as two sides of the same coin and reject both forms of female oppression.

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How does porn oppress women? 

Like puritanical religious beliefs, porn dictates a desirable image of woman based on her status as a sex-object. In porn, she must always be sexually willing and spread-eagle while the puritanical woman must always keep her knees together and remain chaste. The pornified woman increases her value with the amount of skin she shows while the virginal woman increases her value with the amount of skin she covers. The porn star is sexually adventurous and fun while the conservative woman is demure, modest and even withholding. Both women are objects to be conquered and possessed and both dictate how they’re treated with their behavior and dress (or lack thereof).

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But if women are objectified by porn, so are men. 

Hardly. To buy into this belief is to disregard centuries of female oppression at the hands of misogynists and complicit men as well as the current pressure upon females to look and act a certain way. Women are disproportionately affected by pornographic images and non-pornographic yet highly sexualized pictures of women. It takes nothing more than a glance at a group of men and women or a stroll through the local drugstore magazine or beauty aisle to realize that women have harsher beauty standards than men. Misogynists and complicitous others try to dismiss this fact by saying that:

Women choose to be this way/they like being this way. GLCVCVN07Y60

This is yet another fallacy that requires dismissal of the multibillion-dollar marketing industry. Both the porn and beauty industries must create demand in order to sell their products. They bombard consumers with highly sexualized, unrealistic images of women which the average man desires and average woman must aspire to be. These industries bank on convincing women that they are not good enough as they are. The insidious message being communicated is that women will never be good enough thus, they must keep chasing this unrealistic ideal. When we are girls–we must be princesses, when we are teenagers–we must be sexually mature women, when we are mature women–we must be youthful and on and on. Women who fail to do so suffer ostracism, invisibility, and social death.

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If you still don’t believe me, ask yourself “Who stands to profit from my beliefs?” Women who reject porn and its offshoots as degrading and oppressive are reviled in our society. They are bad consumers and even threaten these industries by criticizing them. Pornographer, Larry Flint has even featured various feminists he finds threatening in his magazine in order to defame and discredit them. Why would pornographers need to portray these women as prudes and fascists unless they were a real threat to sales and the patriarchy? On the other side of things, anti-porn activists gain nothing from convincing people that porn is degrading and oppressive. If anything, they suffer greatly, receiving harassment, death threats, and becoming social pariahs for their beliefs.

“Gloria Steinem is an ancient, worn-out old relic whose only claim to fame is urging some ugly women to march,” drawls the man in the 14-karat-gold-plated wheelchair (Flynt).

In closing, the next time you or someone you know decides to defend porn by discrediting its opponents as puritanical fascists, remember that the madonna and the whore are the same woman.