Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I'm reading Dworkin's Pornography at the moment and a quotation she uses jumped out at me.

If we think talking it all out has brought us [men and women] closer together in the last few years, we have only to broach the subject of rape. Men seem incapable of understanding what rape means to a woman - the sense of total violation, or the mere threat of rape as a lifelong shadow over her freedom of movement....
The central division is between the sense of rape as an act of hostility and aggression, as women see and know and experience it, and rape as an erotic act, as fantasized by men.
(Film critic Molly Haskell, at the end of a decade of vigorous feminism in the US.)

The reason this statement jumped out at me is because in every conversation I've had with a man about rape, sexual harrassment and molestion, he will always say SOMETHING that confirms it.

Brick wall, meet head.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

From inferiority to superiority and what it means to be male

Boys are given the impression very early on that they are supposed to be superior to girls. Comments like "you're crying/throwing/acting like a girl" which are used to insult are commonplace. All around them they see more men than women in positions of power. They associate these things with their own maleness and what it means to be male.

When it comes to interaction with girls, the vast majority of boys realise they are not remotely superior to them. This must be confusing. But instead of thinking that there must be something wrong with society, that women are being held back or oppressed in some way, they think there must be something wrong with them. They start to feel inferior. An unconscious thought process might go something like, "I'm a boy so I'm supposed to be superior to girls, but I'm obviously not. Therefore I must be like a girl and that is bad."

In order then to feel properly male and unlike a girl, the boy needs to find ways to feel superior. This often translates as "getting one over" on the girl, and carries on into adult life. An example of this is the way teenage boys boast about how many girls they've managed to shag. They will then show off about how they got the girls into bed, sharing tactics with each other. Magazines aimed at them, such as Nuts and Zoo exploit this insecure behaviour with articles such as the one explaining how to "trick" your girlfriend into having anal sex. The key word in the article is "trick". It is getting one over on her and feeling superior to her that holds the appeal.

In adult life, many men continue to believe they have to keep getting one over on women to feel that they are a real man. Pornography is so popular precisely because it shows male dominance over women. There's an added bonus if he lies to his partner about his use of pornography; he is getting one over on her. A married man who tells his girlfriend he's about to leave his wife in order to keep her around is getting one over on TWO women, and is therefore very superior and manly.

Often men need to lie about something, however small, in their relationships with women. Perhaps they put a bet on a horse (which puts me in mind of Fawlty Towers! I digress) when they know their partner doesn't like it, just to have a secret from her. Or they go to the pub and tell her they are somewhere else, seemlingly for the sake of it. The deceit is all that's needed to feel superior.

When a man's identity is so tied up in proving his superiority over women (this applies to gay men also, but it manifests in different ways) there will never be complete trust between the sexes. It is also one of the factors that reinforces the subordination of women. We're trapped in a loop and the only way of changing it is through educating children about the real reasons for womens' inferior status in society. Educate them about that thing called patricarchy.

Parents have a particular responsiblity. A friend of mine recently overheard a man say to his son "you're crying like a girl".

Stop it. Just stop it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Pro-feminist man = gay?

I was talking to a female friend of mine recently who is single and looking. She may well be coming to the Reclaim The Night march and I said, "Well, it's unlikely you're going to randomly meet a decent guy in the pub or in the street, but there might be some at the RTN rally." She said something like, "but won't a lot of them be gay?"

During a conversation with a feminist friend of mine and Man With A Bald Head, I was joking about organising his social life around feminist events and he came out with, "I'm a gay icon!" Feminist friend and I were like, "whaddy'a mean gay?"

MWABH has since stated that his proclamation had nothing to do with the conversation, he just likes the term "gay icon". Ok :) Nonetheless, it is a common assumption that pro-feminist men must be homosexual. Take the following extract from Jackson Katz's "The Macho Paradox" (highly recommended by the way), where he is demonstrating against a misogynist comedian outside the (packed) venue:

"As we carried our homemade picket signs outside the arena, some of the young men on their way into the show shouted and taunted us. Some were clearly drunk. "Fucking fags!" "Fucking homos!" are among the more articulate epithets I can recall. AFter I heard that screamed for the umpteenth time, I finally realized its significance. Those guys were saying, in essence, that because we care about women, we must want to have sex with men. At one point I was holding a sign that read, "Love women, don't hate them." It was a rather prosaic slogan. A man walking into the concert saw my sign and stopped about ten steps away. He made a contemptuous face at me and shouted, "I hate women, you faggot!" It was an unintentionally revealing pronouncement. What does it mean that large numbers of people - men and women - question a man's heterosexuality if he is overly concerned about men's violence against women? Most importantly, what does it say about their expectations of heterosexual men? If a man has to be gay to care about women, then heterosexual men must not care about women."

As Katz points out, this is an effective way to silence men who are concerned about women but don't want to be thought of as gay. But what is the implication for heterosexual women?

If heterosexual men must not care about women, how then must they view their relationships with women? How must they view heterosexual sex?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Women take to the streets in India

Thanks to Finn from London Feminist Network for calling attention to this. I have added them (Blank Noise Project) to my blogroll. Check it out.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Jack veils the issue

Jack Straw's column which prompted debate about the veil has been published in TheGuardian today. Now, I am not going to argue whether or not he has a right to ask women what to wear in his presence (who is he anyway - the Queen?), or whether his concern that wearing the full veil "makes relations between the two communites more difficult" is valid. No, I am going to say that he has his head so far up his arse that he has overlooked the most important point.

In the middle of his article he says he had a "really interesting debate" about veil wearing with a "lady". He was surprised, he said, to discover that she wore the veil of her own accord and it had nothing to do with her husband. He says, "She explained she had read some books and thought about the issue. She felt more comfortable wearing the veil when out. People bothered her less."

People bothered her less. Interesting use of language Jack. Not trying to be controversial or anything but, knowing what some of us know, I think we could safely substitute "people" for men, and "bothered" with harrassed. If she feels "more comfortable" (safer?) wearing the veil, and is harrassed (and blamed for the harrassment) without it, how can we say the choice to wear the veil is a free one? It isn't. It's just a better alternative.

Jack Straw, stop telling women to remove the veil in order that you feel more comfortable. Stop telling them they're responsible for creating conflict in the community. Next time you have an "interesting debate" with a woman, how about listening to what she says? Open your eyes and target the "people" who are responsible for "bothering" unveiled women.

At the end of the article he says, "My concerns could be misplaced. But I think there is an issue here."

Yes they are Jack. And yes there is.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Reclaim The Night

I think that instead of, or as well as, blogger badges, it would be best to arrange a meeting place for bloggers before the march starts. Obviously can't do this until the main meeting place has been confirmed but hopefully it won't be long now.

By the way, a feminist singer/songwriter I am very intimately acquainted with is doing a number or two at the rally ;)


The lid has been taken off the jar of pickle. It is time for the pickle to rot.

And rot it will. Woo-hoo!

Monday, October 02, 2006

I am... a pickle. I don't want to expand, I just wanted to say it. I AM IN A PICKLE! I may even be in a jar of pickle.
adopt your own virtual pet!