All those famous paintings …

guest post by Jass Richards

So when I was in the Louvre, a long time ago, looking at all those famous paintings, I was struck by how few of the women were able to keep their clothes on.  From peasants to goddesses, every one of them was sporting not just an off-the-shoulder look, but a pulled-down-to-the-waist look.  Breast after breast after breast was bared — in the most inappropriate contexts.  For example, in “The Sacrifice of Iphigenia” by … somebody … there are lots of them … apparently it’s a common theme, women getting sacrificed for others … Iphigenia is “sacrificed” in order to make the wind go in the right direction so her father can get to his precious little war and — why the hell is she topless at the moment of her death? 

And at some famous theatre, in Vienna I think, I noticed, at first with delight, that the walls were covered with women — but again, every one of them had that negligee-half-off look.  Then I noticed they were always in pairs, always two women together, and I thought for a second, “Hey!”  But then I realized that every second panel featured the sculpted head of some distinguished person, some male person.  So you have distinguished male head, two pairs of breasts, distinguished male head, two pairs of breasts …

It finally dawned on me when I was in Amsterdam.  One day I was in the red light district looking at all the men gawking at the famous window displays and the next day I was in the Rijksmuseum looking at a painting called “The Drawing Room” — in which a bunch of men are gawking at a nude model.  Being an artist was just an excuse to see women’s naked bodies.  The drawing room legitimized voyeurism.  So the masters are just peeping toms, art is little more than thinly veiled porn, and the history of art, like everything else, boils down to the history of men seeing women as sex objects.

On Advertising

Advertising has gained such phenomenal power, it’s now allowed pretty much everywhere.  And because it’s allowed pretty much everywhere, it has gained phenomenal power.

In fact, it has almost single-handedly destroyed the concept of public space because of its invasion of said public space with constant and loudly-proclaimed messages intended for private gain (not for the public good). 

This power has increased tremendously with the Internet.  No need to go into detail: everyone who uses the Internet is familiar with the intrusive pervasiveness of advertising.  More than that, given the addictiveness of online games and social media, advertising in those contexts is especially pernicious.

And who is it who creates all these ads?  Who is it who decides which words and which images the rest of us will be forcibly exposed to day and night for most of our lives?  Predominantly, male business students.  Male business B students.  (They’re the ones who major in Marketing.)  That is to say, largely uneducated young men.  Who probably didn’t take any courses in the sciences or the humanities after high school (and they probably didn’t do very well in those courses then).   Who probably took just one psychology course during university, the one focusing on manipulating human behaviour.  And who probably haven’t read a book, not one, since they graduated (and they probably read as little as possible of the books they were supposed to read before they graduated).  All of which is to say that they probably have very little comprehension of sexism, racism, environmental responsibility, …   In fact, I remember reading the words of one young man who’d said “I was studying political science at the time, so I had never thought about social processes like misogyny and sexism.”  (What?  What?!)  And I suspect business students are even less aware, less informed, than poli-sci students. 

So they have no clue as to the consequences, for both men and women, of seeing images of subordinated and/or sexualized women every day all day.  They are similarly clueless about the consequences of showing pick-up trucks and ATVs driving through pristine forests.  They know that attention is grabbed by flashing lights, and they surely know that driving a car requires one’s full attention, but apparently they can’t put two and two together and so continue to put huge billboards with flashing lights along roads.

And here’s the thing: people should understand the consequences of their actions before they’re granted unsupervised freedom to act.  Certainly before they’re granted the power to bombard people with words and images (which are, yes, HARMFUL).  With power should come responsibility.

So how is it that our government grants them such power?  How is it that it allows such HARM?  On such a large and relentless scale?  Legislation is for idiots, for those who cannot govern themselves, and clearly …

(What’s that you say?  Freedom of expression?  But freedom of expression is not, should not be, unlimited.  It is justifiably constrained when it violates others’ rights … to privacy (to be free from intrusion), to safety (to be free from harm), to autonomy (to be free of manipulation) …)

What I learned about men by posting a ‘For Sale’ ad on Kijiji

The ad said $100.  Men offered $70, $80, $90.  Every woman who replied to the ad accepted the stated price.

The ad indicated my location, implying pick-up.  Men asked whether I’d deliver it (all or part of the way) or simply said my location was too far away.  The closest a woman got to that kind of response was ‘Are you ever in North Bay?’  (And the woman who bought it drove the distance deemed by several men to be ‘too far’.)

The ad said nothing about disassembling the item.  Men asked whether I would do that (so they could more easily fit it in their vehicle).  No woman asked for that.

So.  Does this mean that …

Men are more assertive than women?

Men are more demanding that women?

Men feel more entitled (to whatever it is they want) (and maybe even to things they don’t want) (just because) than women?

Men themselves use language loosely (they seldom mean what they say or say what they mean) and so assume others do as well?

So if $100 could mean $70, then $30,000/year could mean $35,000 and ‘no benefits’ could mean ‘Okay, a dental plan’. 

And ‘No’ could mean ‘Yes.’

One way to deal with it (sexism) (in science this time)

“When I go to a venture-capital group of only men,” Nacy said, “I do most of the speaking, and my chief business officer and I watch faces. If they’re incredulous about something I’ve said, he’ll repeat the same thing—and then it’ll be just fine.”

Read the whole article here.

Trying to figure out people’s actions or thinking — banned on Reddit? WTF.

So in addition to all the radfem censorship on reddit …

I posted the following on the AskMen subreddit:

Why do men rape?

That’s my question. Seriously. Why do men rape? I just wrote a novel answering that question, Impact, but I’d like to hear from men. (And perhaps should’ve posted here BEFORE I wrote the novel. Didn’t occur to me.)

I immediately received the message:

Sorry, this post has been removed by the moderators of r/AskMen.

Moderators remove posts from feeds for a variety of reasons, including keeping communities safe, civil, and true to their purpose.

I assumed it was an automatic removal, and I assumed that it was the word ‘rape’ that triggered the removal (which in itself would be telling—they anticipate getting, or do get, a lot of ‘Which way do you like to rape cunts the best?’ queries … ?).  So I sent a note to the moderators, asking them to please read my post and reconsider.

Then I see received another response:

Your post has been flagged as trying to figure out a specific person’s or group of people’s actions or thinking. 

Seriously?  It’s taboo to try to understand people’s actions or thinking?  WTF.

I decided to experiment and posted the same question on the AskWomen subreddit. 

It was also removed.  Reasons:

Graceless generalizations are not permitted

– People are not a hive mind.

– Speak only for yourself.

Do not

– generalize across all people of a gender, race, or ethnicity

– ask for mind reading

– ask for us to defend/justify other people’s behaviors

– assume that all people in a gender, race, or ethnicity do/think something

– ask for ‘male equivalent’/’female equivalent’ as these would not exist for most things due to different cultural processes

– exceptions: discussion of cultural norms; quotations

Woh.  First, notice the difference.  The women’s response is SO much better.  More detailed, more explanatory …   It is, in a nutshell, indicative of superior thinking. 

And yes, I agree.  The way I’d phrased the question was assuming a hive mind and generalizing across a sex.  I could rephrase it: Why has rape become normalized in our culture?  That would clearly fall into the exception of ‘discussion of cultural norms’ …

Even so, I wonder at the ‘Speak only for yourself’ rule.  Limiting oneself to anecdote is no way to acquire knowledge.  Are we to assume no one knows anything but their own subjective experience?  Could no one have referred me to, say, Smithyman’s 1976 research, recently mentioned in The New York Times?  Or the NFB film, Why Men Rape?  Not to mention Neil Malamuth’s work … And why is it a problem, as it was for the men, to ask for mind reading?  Do people not know their own minds?  Have we become so incapable of introspection?  Or is it, in the second case, that I was asking women to read men’s minds?  Even so, can’t we speculate?  With good reason and evidence? 

Hunting – only men

It’s hunting season again — moose for a week, then deer for two weeks — and I have yet to hear an acceptable justification.

The animals are having enough trouble surviving because of what we’ve done, and what we’re still doing, to the forests.  And now you want to just go out and kill them.

Oh, but we kill only the old and the sick.  We cull the herd and keep it healthy.  First, liar.  One of you shot a moose calf just the other day.  Second, herd?  Seriously?  When’s the last time you saw a herd of moose or deer?  Third, if you were really killing them out of compassion, you’d tranquilize then euthanize them — not shoot them (I doubt one shot from your gun kills them instantly and painlessly).

And my favourite: we like the meat.  Only men would think that their liking, their wanting, something justifies the use of lethal force to get that something.

WLRN podcast: A Feminist Analysis of Christianity

Out with the literary canon?

I used to think that ‘Out with the literary canon altogether’ was going too far, but now …  Name one work conventionally considered part of the traditional literary canon that does not subordinate women—their existence, their presence, their importance, what they say, what they do …

And so by continuing to grant the work such esteemed status, such legitimacy, we continue to grant women’s subordination legitimacy.

And so the traditional literary canon should be studied—only in a course dedicated to exposing their misogyny.

The Montreal Massacre (and Donna Decker’s Dancing in Red Shoes Can Kill You)

People who are/were shocked by the Montreal Massacre don’t know women’s history.  Men have been killing us for centuries.  Simply because we’re women.  They kill each other too, but in that case, it’s mostly because of their target’s sexual orientation, tribal affiliation, or skin color.  They kill us because of our sex.

Is it more horrible because of that?  Perhaps not.  Yes, 51% of the world’s people are female, whereas only 10% are homosexual, but the target group based on tribal affiliations might be larger than 51% (especially when nations go after each other), and target groups based on skin color are most certainly larger than that (assuming it’s ‘white’ people killing non-‘white’ people). 

Perhaps the horror is that we have been, willingly for the most part, sleeping with the enemy.  For centuries.

Donna Decker’s Dancing in Red Shoes Can Kill You is a must-read.  Especially for those too young to have been aware of the Montreal Massacre in 1989.

“There were men … who hated the idea of women’s equality so much, they were willing to kill in cold blood.  In Canada.”  (p213)

To be clear, whether we’re engineers or prostitutes, whether we’re under ten or over sixty, whether we’re heterosexual or lesbian, whether we’re white or black, whether we’re feminist or not—none of that matters.  All that matters is that we’re female.  (Which in itself should make us all feminist.)  If ever there was a call to arms— 

(And yet, before you pick up that gun—yes, even the one that’s fallen onto the floor out of the man’s hand—know that at least when ‘partners’ are involved, women who kill men spend an average of fifteen years in prison, whereas men who kill women spend about four years in prison.)

“She had [simply] written down [in her column] everything the guy in the coffee shop had said that morning … how he was furious with his feminist girlfriend and all feminists.  She had embellished nothing.  But they had refused to publish it.” (p321) They had called it anti-male.  Note that.  Pay attention to that.  Simply exposing male hatred of women is anti-male.  How do you figure that?  Speaking the truth about men is anti-male?  That means that reality is anti-male.  Hm.  What are you going to do with that?

And men?  If this book doesn’t make you sick, and then determined to fix your brothers, you should, like Marc Lepine, put a bullet in your own head.  (Thank you.)

On being wanted.

Also while reading James Morrow’s The Wine of Violence…

” … a world finally wanted his ideas.” (p119)

That stopped me.  Because even academia, not just the world at large, had never wanted my ideas.  Simply because they come from a female-embodied person.

Maybe that’s why ‘love’ is so much more important to women than to men.  And so too marriage and kids.  It’s the only way they get wanted. (I bet when you read the title of this post, you were thinking about being wanted emotionally, sexually … see?)

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