The Huffington Post’s Puff-Piece du Jour is the Top Ten Movies Kids Should See Before They’re 10. Some of them are pretty good movies but most are the usual misogynistic twaddle; 4 of which are by Disney. Now, Disney makes some great films but most of them are documentaries about animals made over 30 years ago and are not available on DVD.
10. Up: I haven’t seen this so can’t really comment but, let’s face it, the two main characters have penises. Like every other fucking movie ever made. It needs to be dumped. I’d replace this with Racing Stripes. Now, I need to go on record here and say I fucking hate this film. Every time I see it, I want to cry. However, it’s a great film for young girls because it really is about a girl defying all forms of patriarchal conformity and doing exactly what she knows she can do despite being told she can’t do it.
9. Matilda: I’d keep Matilda. Okay, it has some problematic portrayals of mother and headteacher but it’s a little girl who defends herself and her friends by being intelligent, resourceful and kind. These are characteristics that we need to be teaching ALL children.
8. The Never Ending Story: I love this movie so it’s staying in. Should have starred a girl but still a brilliant film.
7. Wizard of Oz: I have never understood the fascination with this film. It stars an adult woman trussed up like a child complete with bound breasts. There are some seriously creepy subtexts about sexuality and misogyny in the film. I can’t think of a musical that I would replace it with since the whole genre is riddled with misogyny. I’d replace it with Hoodwinked since it has two great female characters; one of whom is a snow-boarding, cookie baking grandmother.
6. Mary Poppins: I love this film and I don’t care how bad Dick Van Dyke’s accent really was. It’s a film about suffragettes, male stupidity and questions patriarchal conformity. What’s not to like?
5. The Jungle Book: The soundtrack to this film is utterly brilliant but the film itself should only be watched whilst questioning gender conformity and racism.
4. Labyrinth: A film starring a teenage girl where she doesn’t get naked, give blow jobs or is clinically stupid. That alone makes it a worthy feminist film. The fact that she’s also brave, intelligent, and kind is just an added bonus. It stars Jennifer Connelly who is a brilliant and criminally under-used actress. I’ve never entirely understood the fascination with Bowie but he’s a great creep.
3. Home Alone: This must have been nominated by people who hate their children because I can’t imagine why anyone would force their offspring to watch this. Kiki’s Delivery Service is an utterly brilliant film about a young girl coming of age, making friends, and learning to take responsibility for herself and not a whiny self-involved child surrounded by whiny self-involved adults who don’t listen to one another.
2. Lion King: The Lion King was a piece of misogynistic twaddle about a couple of whiny, self-involved men ruining everything for everyone else. That’s without the not-so-subtle subtext of racism. I’d dump it in favour of the Wild Thornberries which is another great film about a young girl coming of age and learning to take responsibility for others. It’s about relationships between sisters and parents and caring for one another without losing yourself.
1. Toy Story: Oh look, another movie by Pixar/ Disney where Only Those Who are Three Dimensional Characters Get To Have Adventures. Otherwise known as: Only Toys with Penises Count. None of the Pixar Films are feminist-friendly and I don’t want to hear about the freaking Incredibles. Mrs. Incredible covers up for her useless husband’s abusive, self-destructive behaviour whilst wandering about wondering if her ass is fat. Teenage Incredible’s special power is invisibility: which makes her exactly the same as every other teenage girl with low self-esteem. Hardly, what I aspire for my daughters.
Mulan is way better: a young woman defies gender constructions, the Patriarchy and kicks arse saving her “man”, the Emperor and the rest of China. She’s also brave, resourceful, intelligent and doesn’t take shit from anyone.
And, every child should be given a copy of Miss Representation.
I don’t buy the Daily Fail for the usual reasons of it being utter hypocritical, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, and disablist twaddle. Just seeing Liz Jones’ name makes me twitch. I consistently dislike what she writes as it is inevitably pro-patriarchal handmaideny nincompoopery. Problem is, I don’t think Jones is the quintessential handmaiden. I think she’s a very unhappy and angry woman who is [ab]used by the editors of the Daily Fail. She is a caricature of “woman” and, as such, is an object of mockery. We are supposed to hate Jones and everything she stands for, which, in Daily Fail terms, is pretty much anyone with a vagina. A responsible editor and friend wouldn’t allow someone they care about to make such a public spectacle of themselves but the Daily Fail sets Jones up weekly. And, we buy into this woman-blaming discourse by insulting and denigrating Jones at every opportunity.
Jones isn’t her own worst enemy; although she certainly seems to try very hard at doing this. The patriarchal arsehats who pay her to be publicly humiliated are her enemies. Like with Samantha Brick, it is those that give Jones the space to publicly humiliate herself who are the main problem. But, standing up to contribute to the vilification of Jones is also inherently unkind and perpetuates women-blaming culture. She is, at best, an unhappy woman whose self-loathing is played out daily in the press. We need to stop giving platform for anti-feminist diatribes written by women who are fundamentally unhappy with themselves. We need to stop reinforcing the women-blaming culture which gives a platform to women like Liz Jones who deserve our compassion and not our ridicule.
Yes, I get that Liz Jones writes a lot of stuff which is unbelievably unkind and hateful about other women. What she writes pisses me off [and I’ve not linked to any of her work because I don’t want to increase the Daily Fail’s advertising revenue]. However, Liz Jones is part of the 21st century version of the 19th century circus freak show. Like with all reality TV, from the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, Towie to X-Factor and the Voice, our society gets off on the public humiliation and denigration of those deemed “unworthy”. We are raising a generation of children who think they only have value for being a “celebrity” irrespective of how they become famous. How do we expect anyone to be happy in a culture that privileges humiliation over self-worth? Frankly, I think reality television meets the UN definition of a harmful cultural practise and all of it should be banned. We need to stop mocking those who are different and start celebrating those differences.
I first heard of the Ukrainian Feminist group Femen on a news report. Whilst the male journalists discussing Femen were all congratulatory on this group of Ukrainian women for getting press attention, there was no mention as to what exactly Femen were protesting. I had to look that up on Wikipedia. Femen protests against sex tourism, the legalisation of prostitution, and the selling of “brides” internationally. I support everyone of their protest policies but not how they choose to protest.
There is lots of media coverage of the women of Femen. This has more to do with how the women of Femen choose to protest than the male journalists being interested in Feminist protests. Femen protesters bare their breasts. That is the essence of their political engagement: baring their breasts to bring attention to the issue they are concerned about. Unfortunately, the media images uses of Femen are all of very young, tall, and extremely thin blond women with bare breasts.
Now, not all the protesters of Femen conform to the Patriarchal Fuckability Test. The problem is images like this aren’t the ones which garner media notice:
And, this is the very image that the media should be using because it is representative of *all* women’s bodies rather than that subsection of very young women who happen to be tall and slender. In using women’s bodies as a canvas of protest, Femen are conforming to the norms of Patriarchal objectification of women’s bodies. Their message is obscured by the medium of their protest because the medium conforms to the normalised construction of the Patriarchal Fuckability Test. What they are protesting is important and it deserves real media coverage and not what is effectively male journalists getting off on women’s bodies.
Somehow, a picture of a Femen protestor managed to win an award in the 2012 the World Press Photo competition. The photo forms part of the World Press Photograph Exhibition which is currently on display at the Scottish Parliament. It is of a young woman with bare breasts with flowers in her hair. The only difference between this photograph and ones of Woodstock is the large cement buildings behind her.
It’s a lovely photograph but it doesn’t match the political or social power of the other photos included in the exhibit. Walking through, it felt like this image was only included because it was of a half-naked beautiful woman rather than an image of political protest, particularly since the woman in this photo is neither carrying a placard nor covered in slogans.
There have been a number of high profile feminist groups across Europe using their bodies as canvases for political protest, notably UK Feminista Muff March protest last December and the French group La Barbe‘s protests. The UK Feminista protest was raising awareness about the increase in labiaplasty in Europe and its relationship to the banned practise of Female Genital Mutilation. This involved a protest in Harley street with the women wearing merkins over their clothes. The women of La Barbe protest the exclusion of women in politics and culture by wearing beards. Both are protest art using the female body but they are inverting the construction of women as objects. Femen’s political protest is obscured by the patriarchal objectification of their bodies.
I discovered Beth Jeans Houghton a couple of months ago when trying to find music by women that wasn’t misogynistic twaddle for an International Women’s Day playlist for my teenager. I love Houghton’s music but every time her CD cover shows up on the front of my iPod I cringe. It’s a naked woman, which I assume is Houghton but I don’t actually know for sure, with a lion’s head. Now, it’s a pretty powerful image but mostly because she seems to be missing a vulva. So, on top of the normal issues of objectification and the pornographication of the female body, they now don’t have vulvas. Because, obviously, naked breasts aren’t a problem, nor is a woman’s body with no hair but a vulva is just wrong. Or, something.
I find the increasing sexualisation and pornographication of young female artists depressing. We are all familiar with the Rolling Stones cover of Britney Spears making her change from “teen star” to music/porn star but this isn’t just confined to women performing within the “pop” industry. Gwen Stefani and Beyonce both wrote brilliant songs about being women, sexism and power relations whilst performing in groups but the music they have released as solo artists has just reinforced the same old misogynistic twaddle. It is at the point where a female artist can only be taken seriously if they are half-naked and gyrating on a pole. Just look at Shakira’s early music in Spanish and her transition to an English-language artist. It’s soul-destroying. Or, Katy Perry whose music is marketed at young teenagers but is only about servicing male sexual desires.
Houghton writes great music and her lyrics are brilliant and sublime. The use of her body as a sale tactic is just another facet of the misogyny inherent in the music industry. Now, I’m fairly sure Houghton was involved in developing the image used. I doubt very much the image was something required by her record company since Houghton doesn’t strike me as the kind of artist who would do as she was told in order to play her music. It’s just a shame that her body is the object discussed rather than her music which is brilliant [and everyone should buy it].
Plus, she should go on a proper tour so I can see her play live.
So, I’ve been contemplating my use of language, particularly those defined as ‘rude’, for a while now. I’ve been trying to stop using words whose origins are in disablist, homophobic, racist and misogynistic language. Words which are racist are, culturally and politically, more likely to be frowned upon; although the number of Scottish people I hear using “chink” and “paki” never fails to shock me. I also still visibly twitch when I hear British people say they are going out for a fag. For me, that word will always be homophobic. That is the context of the word where I grew up and I can not remove it from my personal-historical context. I also think its telling that the use of the word ‘gay’ as an insult is increasing exponentially in teenagers as it is rooted in both homophobia and misogyny. They are both part of the backlash to Feminism as well as the Gay Rights movement [notably I think the issue of gay marriage has kicked off the homophobic backlash]. The refusal to remove these words is an example of heteronormative privilege (and the I’m all right so you must just be whiny bullshit favoured by those who refuse to acknowledge that their behaviour is anything less than perfect).
It’s been much harder to remove words which are disablist and misogynist. There are obvious words like ‘retard’ and ‘spaz’ which most people, with an ounce of compassion, have already removed from their vocabulary. But, there are so many common words whose origins are rooted in disablism, particularly of people suffering with their mental health, that it’s very hard to stop using them. Words like idiot and moron are so culturally ingrained that calling people on it just provokes whinging about ‘political correctness’ (that term bandied about by rude people demanding the right to be rude regardless of the hurt it causes others). But, these are all obvious terms of insults. It’s the much more casual “are you insane” or “have you lost the plot” [which I’m ashamed to say I’ve used today] which are extremely harmful because they don’t seem to cause harm. It’s the very “innocence” of their usage which reinforces the very harmful cultural practices we should be challenging.
I know there is an argument for reclaiming words used to oppress from your oppressors but I am not sure how successful this is; after all even 5 years ago gay was being used positively. Now, it is steeped in the very homophobia it was reclaimed to contravene. It is now the insult par excellence to challenge someone’s masculinity. I struggle with reclaiming words like bitch, cunt and slut. Are we not implying there are women who are still “sluts” when we try to use slut in a positive manner? How can we challenge misogyny by continuing to use words which define women by their sexuality and behaviour? It is why I find “Slutwalk” so problematic as an anti-rape awareness campaign. The focus is on the word “slut” and not on the issue of rape. I think it reinforces the very rape myths it seeks to challenge [and that’s without getting into the issue of racism and the experience of Black and First Nations women who have always been defined by their sexuality].
I’ve tried to stop using any words that fall under this rubric and replaced them with words like nincompoop [my new favourite word] and buckethead (a la SGB). But, really, once you’ve removed insults which don’t originate in homophobic bullying, or demeaning mental illness or denigrating genitalia, you are pretty much reduced to poop-based insults like a 5 year old. I love the word nincompoop but even its origins are questionable. Yes, language evolves but, sometimes vocabulary should simply be erased rather than evolved or “reclaimed”; even nincompoop.
I am rather bored by all the men who claim that the only way to be feminists is to be allowed into every possible women-only space and mansplain’ where feminists went wrong. It’s an unbelievably obnoxious silencing technique and an amazing display of white, male privilege. [Yeah, I’m looking at that sub-section of whiny-arsed men on Mumsnet who insist on telling women that birth trauma doesn’t exist because they’ve seen their wives give birth and it was all fine.]
This is a partial list of organisations that men can be involved with to help defeat the patriarchy, either through activism or financial support:
The White Ribbon Campaign: run by men to end male violence against women.. They organise marches on December 6th to raise awareness of violence against women. I notice the whiners who demand the right to march on women-organised Reclaim the Night marches are never committed to helping organise men-only marches. Too much like hard work?
Object: runs campaigns against the sexual objectification of women. They fought to have lap dancing clubs rezoned under English law as sex establishments and not cafes. They are currently running campaigns to end Page 3 in the Sun and challenging the demand for prostitution which is, basically, rape.
Stop Porn Culture: Make Love, Not Porn
UK Feminista: A Movement of Ordinary Women and Men campaigning for Gender Equality
SCASE: Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation
Women’s Environmental NetworkOr, and this here is just a wee suggestion, men can stop raping women, physically assaulting women, raping prostitutes and using porn. Challenge any misogynistic, racist, disabilist and homophobic language. All of which will help to destroy the patriarchy.
Obviously, this is only a shocking piece of information if you follow Pat Robertson’s understanding of feminism and, as such, are mostly likely clinically stupid. Anyone in possession of basic critical thinking skills would find it perfectly obvious that some men are also victimised by the patriarchy. Hyper-masculinity, as a social construct, is damaging and destructive to men. The answer to the damage caused by hyper-masculinity is feminism. It is the destruction of the harmful sex/gender binaries of man/woman. It is an end to the racist, disabilist, homophobic and misogynistic capitalist-patriarchy which privileges white wealthy men at the expense of everyone else.
It also requires everyone acknowledging that the violence experienced by men in the patriarchy is caused by other men. Men are victims of rape. They are raped by other men. Men physically assaulted in the streets are assaulted by other men. Men are over-represented in the prison population because men commit more crimes than women.
If men want to stop being victims of the patriarchy, then they need to stop whinging about feminism and stand up and do something. Men are over-represented in politics and industry. It is men who vote against extended paternity leave and men who assume that childcare is the preserve of women. That is the reason women get main residency in cases of divorce: they do the vast majority of the childcare before. Men are also the main perpetrators of domestic violence against women and other men. Men are the perpetrators of rape in war. Men are the perpetrators of most wars and not just because they are over-represented as front-line soldiers. It is men in charge of governments and industrial-military complexes who make the decision to go to war. It is these same men who commit genocide and massive human rights abuses against civilian populations.
If men want to end the culture of hyper-masculinity, then men need to stop purchasing porn. They need to stop “buying” prostitutes, which really is just a euphemism for rape. Men need to stop raping. Men need to stop going to lap dancing and strip clubs. Men need to stop buying lad mags. Men need to start tackling homophobia and misogyny in sport. Men need to start taking responsibility for childcare and housework. Men need to start taking responsibility for rape culture. The reason there are more rape crisis centres for women is because women fought for them. If men are worried about male victims of rape, then men should get off their arses and start lobbying for them. Or, considering the vast majority of wealth in the world is in the hands of men, men can just pay for rape crisis centres for men and women. Women are the first to be physically hurt in economic crises. Women are held responsible for infertility, birth control, abortion and children.
As Suzanne Moore’s critique of David Benatar’s The Second Sexism makes clear: the problem is the competition victimhood created by middle class white men who are hysterical at the thought of losing all of their privileges in a sex/gender equitable society. The backlash against feminism isn’t because it’s gone too far. It’s because the men who are privileged by the Patriarchy are too selfish, arrogant and ignorant to give up their power. We need to stop trying to write hierarchies of victimhood and privilege and destroy, once and for all, the the capitalist-patriarchal structures which constrain and violate our humanity.