Things I read this fortnight that I found interesting

Hi everyone. Forgot to do the post round-up last week, didn’t I? Anyway, it’s here now. Enjoy. Lots and lots and lots of links.

How to Respectfully Love a Trans Woman: Navigating Transmisogyny in Your Romantic Relationship (Kaylee Jakubowski)- Very sweet, touching and also helpful article.

Why there’s no point telling me to lose weight (Emma Lewis)- Excellent explanation of how doctors don’t need to tell fat people to lose weight, published in the BMJ where they might actually see it.

No, you’re the racist (Sam Ambreen)- This sort of thing really oughtn’t need saying, but Sam says it very well indeed and you should read.

There’s no pride in domestic abuse- Broken Rainbow’s helpline for LGBT domestic violence victims faces closure. Please give what you can to keep it alive.

In the Name of Love (Miya Tokumitsu)- Blisteringly good piece on the capitalist mantra of “do what you love”.

Undox.Me- Signal boosting this very helpful resource for taking down information shared about you.

Are You Using Your Boobs Correctly? (That Pesky Feminist)- You probably aren’t, you know.

Adam Curtis in the emperor’s new clothes (Dan Hancox)- Neat takedown of how Curtis has gone to shit.

Next On “Black Mirror” (Mallory Ortberg)- It just felt fitting to put this link under the one above.

Using hidden smartphone apps to spy on your partner has to be wrong, even if they say they don’t mind (Abi Wilkinson)- File under Shit That Shouldn’t Need Saying, Said Well.

Party Funding- A searchable database of party donors. It’s very handy–this was where I got the info about bigot Green Party PPC Rupert Read having donated large sums of money to the Green Party.

7 heinous lies “American Sniper” is telling America (Ziad Jilani)- I have no intention of seeing that film and here’s why.

A few thoughts on the demise of page 3 (desiredxthings)- Really good analysis of last week’s issues with the Sun and p3.

The question isn’t if female ejaculation is real. It’s why you don’t trust women to tell you (Lux Alptraum)- This is a good article, although it’s a shame it keeps using ciscentric language.

Ethical Production in Portraiture: A Comparison (Dolores On The Dot)- Very cool analysis of art.

16 creepy ads from people on Craigslist who are offering “free” rooms (Us vs Th3m)- This is the sort of thing that I knew was a problem, but seeing it all together like this is just horrid.

One Week of Harassment on Twitter (Feminist Frequency)- Anita Sarkeesian collated all the harassment and abuse she received over a week and, again, put together it’s quite shocking.

It isn’t asking the question, it’s hearing the answer. (sometimes, it’s just a cigar)- Reflections on consent.

I write letters (Melissa McEwan)- Great letter to plonk in front of any man who gets all entitled.

Sex, Consent, and Game Mechanics (Gaming As Other)- Half-hour video discussion of games and issues of sex and consent.

And finally, it turns out if you put dril’s name on Richard Dawkins tweets, everything makes a lot more sense.


The Green Party need to drop Rupert Read by, like, yesterday: An open letter to the Green Party

Content note: This post discusses transmisogyny

Dear Green Party,

Look, I’m an anarchist, and voting isn’t something I do any more. But sometimes, I look at the Green Party and think “they look like they might stand a chance and they’d probably be the least terrible. Maybe I’ll vote for them.” It was growing inside me, the knowledge that you, at least, might make things tolerable rather than terrible. All that’s gone now, because you’ve made yourselves look no different to the others.

I’m talking, of course, about your Cambridge candidate, Rupert Read. It turns out he’s a really, really nasty piece of work. The clues came when he tweeted the sort of dogwhistle comment which alerts the wise to transmisogyny: he went for the old “don’t call me cis” type bollocks. Digging deeper it turns out that yes, he’s a transmisogynist, and wrote a dreadful, pompous diatribe defending Julie Burchill and transmisogyny within feminism. It’s strange, because while he self-identifies as a “male feminist” (a phrase which makes my skin crawl and sets off numerous red flags at the best of times), he opposed representation quotas for women in the party, claiming, in a popular misogynistic refrain that women already lead the party. Oh, and he’s also enormously UKIPpy about immigration. Oh, and the whole thing started because he used a disablist slur.

So, he’s generally, up and down, pretty godawful and doesn’t embody Green Party ideals–as I understood the Party’s ideals, anyway. He did the old politicians’ apology and made the whole thing significantly worse. As I understand, an apology ought to include some distance from the unpleasant beliefs for which one is apologising, but Rupert Read’s… well, it really, really didn’t. Indeed, he restated a bunch of transmisogynistic ideology, adding that he wasn’t sure if trans women should be allowed to use women’s toilets. More broadly, he showed a devastating lack of understanding of how the world works these days, like a fucking dinosaur. He framed himself as a victim because of one or two four-letter words on Twitter. He moaned that it’s so hard to represent oneself on Twitter (which hardly fills one with confidence about his ability to represent his views in Parliament!). He made it clear–achingly clear–that he prefers debates to happen in the academy. The man is quite patently out of touch with the year 2015. I’d be a little embarrassed for him if he wasn’t such a thoroughly dreadful human.

I wondered why the Greens would select a candidate who is so at odds with the Party’s beliefs, and reeks of the kind of public school privilege of any other politician when a big part of your image is you’re different from the rest. He was the only candidate who put himself forward for the Cambridge seat, it’s true, but I know how political parties work, and I know if you didn’t want him, you would have dragged someone else up to stand against him. It’s pretty clear why you didn’t do that. He’s quite a big donor to the Green Party. He’s in the top 10 biggest donors to the party of all time. Last summer, he was the fourth biggest donor.

It might all be a coincidence, Green Party, but you can’t deny this looks very bad indeed. You’re running a candidate who not only holds absolutely terrible beliefs, but also gave you a lot of money. It looks a lot like he bought his selection. It looks a lot like the Green Party is no different from all of the others.

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I like you, Green Party. Despite most of my instincts, I don’t want you to be destroyed by this. Rupert Read claims that most of the criticism is coming from people who want to see the Green Party burn, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of us who are angry are exactly the kind of people who would vote for you.

This is why I’m giving you some friendly advice: drop Rupert Read. Drop him like a burning turd. It’s Rupert Read himself who will harm you. He has to go. You need to take a strong stand against bigotry, and distance yourselves from him. I want you to do all right, and you can’t with a pompous transmisogynistic, sexist, racist conservative shitweasel like Rupert Read dragging you down.

So please drop him. Pretty please.

Love Zoe xoxo

Further reading:

On “Male TERFs” (Sarah Brown)
My view of Green Party candidate Rupert Read’s “apology”. (UnCommon Sense)
Green MP candidate for Cambridge makes transphobic statements (Get Real Cambridge)
An open letter to Rupert Read (Loz Webb, Action for Trans Health)

Update 24/1/15: A second apology has now been issued. This one is significantly better, though only addresses the transmisogyny. Furthermore, Read and the Cambridge Green Party have refused to take donations from violent transmisogynistic hate group Gender Identity Watch and have condemned them [1] [2].

However, in light of the donations and the other awful stuff still left unaddressed, I still do not believe that it is appropriate for Rupert Read to stand.


Let’s talk about how the front page of The Sun is fucking terrible

Content note: this post discusses sexual violence

Rumours of Page 3’s demise have been premature. This is very good news for The Sun, because it means that everyone is furious about a photo of boobs on the third page, rather than what’s on the front cover. Indeed, most of the outrage over the front cover seems to be about poorly-constructed breast pun rather than the truly terrible thing. Allow me to draw your attention to the headline story–that’s the bit underneath the boob pun and to the right of the other boob pun.

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It might not look it, but that is a report about a woman who was kept as a slave and trafficked to rich and famous friends of her abuser between the ages of 15 and 18. New legal documents have been filed, with more detail, and this is how The Sun have chosen to report it: as a fun little royal romp.

What does this front page teach those who will see it about sexual violence, about abuse, about women? First and foremost, that it’s cheeky and fun. The way it’s presented, it seems as though these traumatic events occurred with a Benny Hill sax parping away merrily in the background. It seems almost glamorous, as well as sexy: orgies and a real live prince!

The word “rape” is unsurprisingly absence from what happened here, as is “coercion” or “trafficking”. A survivor’s search for justice has been turned into lurid, titillating revelations, and given exactly the same editorial treatment as the testimonials of the “kiss and tell girls”. It is calculated to arouse rather than to anger, to excite rather than outrage.

Alongside the frankly horrible article is a picture of the survivor. It’s hardly just The Sun that have violated her privacy, indeed, I commend them ever so slightly for not using her name right there on the front page like many of the headlines about this story have. Nonetheless, each instance that this happens contributes further to a culture wherein we are perfectly happy to parade women who speak out about sexual violence around, to suck away their anonymity.

I’ve spent more time than I ever cared to receiving vile tweets from fans of rapist footballer Ched Evans. They believe it’s perfectly fine to provide private details of rape survivors. They all, also, seem to be labouring under the false impression that sexual violence is sexy and glamorous. With the front page of a national newspaper sending out messages like this, of course they believe these things. It’s all part of the background radiation of rape culture. Headlines like this are not a meaningless bit of fun, they’re teaching people that rape isn’t so bad, and they’re showing the world how survivors should be treated.

It is not enough to remove nipples from the tabloids. The misogyny problem, the rot, goes far beyond that, to far worse places. Over the last week, The Sun has shown clearly its attitude towards consent, and it’s an attitude which matches the logic of many rapists. Sadly, I think they know they can get away with this, that Page 3 will draw the fire of the people who should really be destroying them for a front page like this.

Every single page of The Sun is nasty. The pitiful excuse for a newspaper reflects and magnifies every ugly bigoted thought. The whole rag needs to die; it becomes clear again and again that this is the only solution. Dismantling that foul rag piece by piece would be but a start, but a tiny step along the way, because all news sources contribute to the problem in the same way. So let us see The Sun in flames, and as we dance upon the ashes, let us turn to the other hacks and let it be clear to them that they’re next.


And they’ve replaced Page 3 with something far worse.

VICTORY FOR FEMINISM. The Sun appears to have dropped the topless model on Page 3. The No More Page 3 campaign is dizzy with joy, retweeting every ounce of praise for them winning this campaign.

The problem the NMP3 campaign had all along was with the presence of nipples, which is one of the very many reasons I had misgivings about it. By their own campaign goals, if it’s true and the Sun has indeed dropped the topless model on Page 3, then they’ve won. No more bare boobs over breakfast.

Personally, I’m a little more sceptical. I have a tendency to flick though the Sun if there’s a copy nearby, for the same morbid reasons as I sometimes subject myself to Question Time or click on New Statesman links. What I’ve noticed in my perusal of things that make me annoyed is that when they don’t have a posed picture of a model on the third page, they tend to have a candid photo of a celebrity. I’d been hoping–being a perpetual optimist who is repeatedly bitterly disappointed–that the Sun would switch to posed photos of models who have covered their breasts, if they’re getting rid of the topless shots. Indeed, last night, it looked like that was the way the wind was blowing, and I felt genuinely relieved that it wasn’t going to be more candid shots.

Of course, that wasn’t to last. Today’s page 3 of the Sun is… candid shots. Of some women who were in a soap opera. Enjoying a beach holiday. Being photographed without their consent.

This is the major problem with candid shots. They’re infinitely worse than posed photos. What does a photograph snapped without a woman’s knowledge or blessing say about our attitude towards consent? Paparazzi shots are invasive and, crucially, completely non-consensual. Fame, according to the paparazzi model, gives men the right to stalk women, to watch them through telescopic lenses while they think they are alone, to watch and wait for a moment deemed suitably titillating or humiliating. If a woman is famous, she loses every right to privacy, and must live her life in a state of perpetual camera-readiness, because she knows that one bad shot where she’s bending and her stomach looks ever so slightly off a completely flat plane will be splashed across the media with gleeful laughter, trying to shame the witch with her rounded witch abdomen. I can only imagine how hellish it must be to be stalked with your harassment encouraged by the national media organisations. In contrast, the topless model, during a shoot, knows exactly what is happening, when the shots are coming. She can portray herself as she wants, and then go home to her privacy.

Another key difference between candid shots and posed photos is who gets paid. Models, of course, get paid for their work. They might not get paid much, but they’re paid for the labour of maintaining their bodies, of being able to work with a camera. With the candids, the subject is not reimbursed for her troubles. Photographers grow rich, they are incentivised to continue their misogynist stalking. Meanwhile, their victims must go through all sorts of affective labour to avoid the cameras, or to at least try to look “attractive” every time they go outside in case there’s a paparazzo hiding in the bushes.

The notion of women getting paid for what we do is, unfortunately, quite alien under patriarchy. It’s a big part of the reason why the paparazzi model flourishes. Women are expected to look good all the time, with no thought given to the sheer amount of effort this labour takes. It’s broadly similar to how demands such as wages for housework remain a niche interest rather than a major feminist campaign. Our work is not considered work. Also related, here, is the general sneering at women who do glamour modelling (as well, of course, as other forms of sex work). It’s not seen as a “real” job, despite the phenomenal amount of devalued labour that goes into it. The No More Page 3 campaign have been just as guilt of this as the misogynists they claim to be fighting. I note that Page 3 is continuing online, behind a paywall, and I hope the models continue to be fairly reimbursed for their work: I’d hate to see a feminist campaign that threw women into poverty!

What was on Page 3 has been replaced by a far nastier flavour of misogyny, born out of a sense of entitlement and a complete disregard for women’s consent. Paparazzi intrusion has ruined lives, even killed women. That anybody could think that replacing a photo which was taken with a woman’s knowledge (and she was paid for) with candid photos is baffling.

I’d honestly rather see a pair of nipples as I eat my beans on toast than this horrifying form of misogyny any day.


Things I read this week that I found interesting

Greetings, dear readers. Is it time for another round-up? Why yes, it’s time for another round-up.

There is no such thing as prison reform: an interview with CeCe McDonald- CeCe McDonald explains what prison abolition means.

[untitled] (Red Blood, Black Ink)- A very beautiful piece about names.

Why Britain Doesn’t Need a ‘UKIP of the Left’ (James Butler)- Just about the best analysis of all the bollocks surrounding UKIP I’ve read.

What David Cameron just proposed would endanger every Briton and destroy the IT industry (Cory Doctorow)- If you haven’t heard about David Cameron’s terrible new plans, read about why they’re awful.

“Charlie Hebdo”, not racist? If you say so… (Olivier Cyran)- A former staffer talks about working conditions.

Third exit from the left. (sometimes it’s just a cigar)- Jem reflects on leaving sex work and the popular construction of exiting.

The Bexleyheath teacher, the judge’s comments, and our construction of victims and villains (LucyBottomface)- Very good analysis of the underlying sentiments behind some outrageous rape apologism.

Mass surveillance not effective for finding terrorists (Ray Corrigan)- Basic explanation of statistics, making the case well.

And finally, a somewhat serious one this week. Broken Rainbow, who support LGBT domestic violence survivors, may lose their helpline due to government cuts. Please donate to this vital resource if you can.

 


Channel 4’s diversity policy won’t work

Channel 4 have produced new diversity guidelines, and get your martini glasses ready because they’ll likely make the rich cis straight white abled men media class start sobbing. Women, PoC, LGBT and disabled people must now be given leading roles in new shows, and characters must also reflect this diversity.

It sounds good on paper, but it won’t fucking change much. The big problem here is that Channel 4 haven’t hit the issue where it matters: the showrunners. The thing about rich cis straight white abled men is they’re not very good at writing diverse characters. They write tokens rather than rounded characters. They write fucking rubbish, because they can’t step outside of their own very limited life experience. Without a change to who is running shows, we’re not likely to see much interesting new content, just a rehash of the same old tired tropes that happen when characters are viewed through the eyes of the rich cis straight white abled man. Channel 4 could have attacked this problem at the very root, and drastically cut the quantity of shows commissioned that are run by this demographic so it reflects population level.

Saying that, even if they did that, I expect what we’d see was a sudden rise in shows run by rich cis gay white abled men.

There’s also a lot of bullshit which falls into compliance with Channel 4’s self-imposed guidelines which won’t help anything. Take, for example, Dr Christian’s pharmacopoeia of nastiness: he’s a gay man (TICK!) and he’s making shows which feature disabled people (TICK!). The fact that these shows generally take the tone of “HEY LOOK AT THIS FREAK WANNA FIND OUT HOW SHE FUCKS?” doesn’t factor into these diversity guidelines. Representation is representation is representation. It doesn’t matter how people are represented, just that they are there.

On the character side of things, I anticipate a little bit of change, maybe. I expect to see less queer-coding villains and more overtly queer, deviant villains. I foresee an enormous rise in racist tropes, with magical negroes leading the white heroes on their quests while at least getting to be in the opening credits for once. And oh! So much naughty, after hours shows with physical comedy about rimming because everybody knows gays can’t go on before the watershed. But worst of all, I predict a rise of the freak show formula. It’s done Channel 4 well so far, and it’ll only serve it better.

Channel 4 has taken a step, but it’s a pretty useless step. I only hope the amount of discomfort it causes the rich cis straight white abled men media class outweighs the negatives.


Things I read this week that I found interesting

Greetings, everyone. I read things, and find them interesting. Here are some things I read this week that I found interesting. I’ve split it this week, because there’s been a fair amount of comment on the situation in Paris at the moment. Note that just because I’m linking content that criticised racism doesn’t mean I think they deserved to die. I cannot believe that needs saying. Scroll down if you’re sick to the back teeth of it for other links.

Charlie Hebdo and reaction

In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism (Jacob Canfield)

Unpopular Opinion: Satire Should Punch Up. Charlie Hebdo Did Not. (Kitty Stryker)

I hate that every time something awful happens… (Alex Shams)

Why I am not Charlie (A Paper Bird)

Unmournable Bodies (Teju Cole)

General

The authenticity gap: Are trans people really ‘real’? (CN Lester)- Questions cis people should ask themselves.

The resilience of neoliberal urbanism (Tom Slater)- What does the buzzword “resilience” mean? This piece deconstructs the term.

Woman Brilliantly Shuts Down Man Who Accuses Her Of Lying On OkCupid- This is superb.

5 things you should read before saying the IMF is blameless in the 2014 Ebola outbreak (Adia Benton & Kim Yi Dionne)- Well worth looking through this summary.

Gamephobias- Signal boosting this fantastic initiative for crowdsourcing a list of triggers in video games.

recent leftist male Google searches- Your new favourite Tumblr.

Five Destructive Myths Perpetuated by Roleplaying Games (Oren Ashkenazi)- Examining potentially harmful tropes in RPGs and what they teach us. Also recommends games that get round the problems.

Behold, the Pillars of Creation (Bad Astronomy)- Examination of a very important “before-and-after” shot, with some stunning pictures.

FRIENDS: Where Are They Now (The Belle Jar)- A very funny, astute piece of writing with very gratifying Ross-hate.

And finally, just look at this ad for Windows 95. Just look at it.


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