Tagged: fight the power

We don’t know how lucky we are

On 8 March 2012, International Women’s Day, British novelist Linda Grant used her Twitter account to discuss the continuing necessity of feminism.

These are the responses she received.

So sayeth A Thousand Reasons, a damn good, illuminating, infuriating Tumblr compiling women’s stories from the dark old days of the 70s (I kid, I kid).  Stories like:

In 2010 job interview I was told explicitly that I’d be hired in spite of my degree, because I ‘looked right’.

1969 girls allowed to do metalwork, but teacher only let us polish. 1973, no contraceptive pill without husband’s consent

secondary school 1989 every physics lesson ended “the boys may leave will the girls tidy the labs” I dropped physics

I think there’s something about the Twitter format that makes these stories a lot bleaker.  And hopefully that will mean they have a lot more impact with the kind of people who want to pretend that we magically transitioned from a world where women needed their husbands’ signature to open a bank account to a [slightly] less [obviously] sexist one … and feminism somehow had nothing to do with it at all.

Proper mothers only vote for political parties the Establishment likes

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party reports some slightly worrying comments from Judge David Burns:

“If Ms X attends and supports the Legalise Cannabis Party the likely influence is that she supports consumption of that substance … That is in direct contradiction to her obligations as a parent because it affects her reliability as a mother,” David Burns said.

First up, no, dude.  The “likely influence” is that she supports legalising consumption of “that substance” (the clue is the big L in the name.)*

Secondly?  Go.  Fuck.  Yourself.  It is fucking ridiculous to act as though your own political views, and your own perception of what is and isn’t mainstream, allows you to make any fucking comment on a person’s ability to responsibly parent their child.

This is an issue whether you agree with legalising marijuana or not.  It would be an issue if a judge said “Parent X supports Act, which wants to fuck our tertiary education system so that’s in direct contradiction to hir obligations as a parent.”  It would be an issue if a judge sid “Parent X supports the Greens, who put the welfare of the planet before our god-mandated duty to procreate, so that’s in direct contradiction to hir obligations as a parent.”

When Ms X is openly dealing pot on the streets and advocating hotboxing your maternity ward during pregnancy,then maybe we can talk about parental obligations.

Supporting a political party which advocates changing our current law and therefore theoretically supports the future legal performance of a currently illegal action?  Kinda what political supporters do, Your Fuckface Honour.

~

*She may well smoke pot too, but that may have more to do with … being a New Zealander.  There’s a reason Tool albums sell really well here.

“No, dear, I’m just squicked by using lube for massage oil”

… uttered by moi this evening at the supermarket.  It might have been just another “QoT is vocally inappropriate while shopping” incident if my partner and I hadn’t apparently inspired two other couples to actually stand in front of the shelves containing lube and other Naughty Things as though there was nothing wrong with discussing basic sex-life considerations in public.

Because there isn’t.

But don’t let our momentary paradigm-challenging unashamed display of maturity fool you, for in the same aisle Partner then found a men’s deodorant fragrance called “Dry Impact” and couldn’t steer the trolley for giggling.

Signal boosting: rape culture hasn’t gone away and neither have we

Michael Moore apparently acquitted himself well on Rachel Maddow’s show, without anyone actually mentioning that whole Twitter “frenzy” thing which stopped his rape-apologism bullshit from vanishing into the murky depths of Too Much Patriarchal Fuckwittery.

But as Sady Doyle has kept saying, this isn’t just about Michael Moore repenting, or Keith Olbermann growing up and collecting his toys from the floor around his cot (don’t hold your breath, anyone) or even really about the specific details around the accusations against Julian Assange.

This is about rape culture.

And one media figure managing to finally get it right one time is not anywhere near the end of the story.

Harriet has an amazing Open Letter to Second and Third-Wave Feminists With Publicly Recognisable Names:

“No means no” took us a long way. To put it simply, but not inaccurately, it took us from a world where no meant yes. That is an incredible gain. But “no means no” has taken us as far as it can. Namely, it has taken us to “yes means yes.” It has taken us to a place where we can recognize, create theory, create terminology, and openly discuss the idea that sexual violence and sexual abuse can happen without a “no” as well as with one. We believe that requiring a “no” is not good enough, not a high enough standard. We require a “yes.”

Sady Doyle who’s been a fucking trooper on this is continues to be awesome in Keith Olbermann and the Eternal “If”:

But when I told Keith Olbermann I was being attacked, he asked for proof, and I gave it, and I said I had more proof I could give him, and he still refused to acknowledge it, he still talked about “if.”

THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT RAPE CULTURE CONSISTS OF. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE PROTESTING. … I proved the attack, and he said the attack would be bad “if.” “If” it was real. “If” I weren’t just being hysterical and making it up. WHEN KEITH OLBERMANN KNEW IT WAS REAL, Keith Olbermann said “if.”

Rape culture is a gigantic insidious fucking Shoggoth that threatens all women and even men.  It’s about discrediting, blaming and automatically disbelieving victims and privileging and excusings attackers and constantly moving the goalposts and always pretending that of course we take rape seriously but this time it obviously isn’t real rape-rape.

This is not over just because Michael Moore has managed to be a decent human being one time.  This is not over until we end rape culture.

#Mooreandme: make a difference offline too

Preach it, Sady:

No matter how much we can raise, it won’t be enough. But by donating, we demonstrate two things: First, that every rape survivor, every rape survivor, is exactly as important as this one WikiLeaks member (and keep in mind that the organization of WikiLeaks, no matter how you feel about it, could in fact keep going without Assange). Second, we communicate the same thing we’ve been saying all along, which is: If you are a rape survivor, we have your back. We care. We don’t care who comes at you, or how hostile the culture is to you, or who you are: We care about you, about your right to live in a world without rape culture or rape apologism, about dismantling rape culture and rape apologism, about providing you with the support and resources you need, about opposing those who would smear or endanger or hurt you, and just, basically, making sure that if you need a hand we will give it. We care about you.

We are going to keep pressuring Michael Moore (@MMFlint! #MooreandMe!) for an apology, an explanation, and a donation of $20,000. But we can help rape victims, too.

More background on #Mooreandme here and here.

I’m a privileged girl.  I have plenty of time to kill on the weekends watching hashtags and stirring up trolls online.

I can also make a difference in real life by contributing some of my disposable income – a byproduct of my unearned privilege as an educated, employed middle-class white person – to help support other victims of rape and sexual abuse.

I’m giving $40 to Wellington Rape Crisis.  And given the wonderful way that violence towards women and children tends to go up during the silly season, Women’s Refuge gets the same next payday.

I know many people cannot afford to contribute in this way – capitalism, ho! – but I can.  And if you can, let the world know that you too will stand up for rape victims and refuse to let them be shamed and silenced.

[Insert “ironic” use of offensive term to illustrate edgy-ness]

A tad behind the times on this, but there’s been so much idiocy going about these days one has had trouble keeping up – not to mention that The Christmas is fast approaching.

First things first:  Long story short, Paul Henry added to his incredibly long list of infractions against basic tact/class/decency/empathy by referring to Susan Boyle as “retarded”.

Second thing second:  The bloggers at The Hand Mirror have a post up with some ideas about how to actually do something more than ignore Paul Henry in the vain hope he’ll go away.

Third thing third:  I could go on (and on and on and on) about Paul Henry, but that gets a little dull after a while, and why bother when there’s a much higher calibre of stupidity on the menu?

I speak of an instalment of Moata’s Blog Idle on *shudder* Stuff.

Specifically, a post entitled (because she’s so clever!) Let’s get retarded.

I’m sure we’re all breathless with antici…pation to see where she’s going to go with this one, right?

Well, she’s straight into it with an innovative twist on the old “I’m not racist but …”:

Let me just start by stating quite clearly that I am no great fan, or any sized fan, of Paul Henry.

It’s not just that you can see the apologism bearing down on you from miles away, it’s that there’s also something of an attempt to invoke QoT’s Law Of Strange Bedfellows:  why, if adorable “thirtysomething”* quirky girl-blogger Moata is actually going to agree with crotchety wankstain Paul Henry, surely there must be something in it, right?

And after some meandering through the classic Stuff blogger’s “what I ate for breakfast today” opening paragraphs we’re into the meat of it, the delicious steak of oblivious privilege upon which all future paragraphs will be but an array of experience-enhancing sauces:

But let’s have a little discussion about the use of the word “retard”, shall we, since it seems to be very much a topic of conversation at the moment?  In the past I’ve been taken to task for my use of this word, and I’ve accepted that it’s not to everyone’s liking but I am relatively unapologetic about it.  I’m very much a fan of words and I’m not going to facetiously claim that a word is just a word and it can’t hurt you.  Certainly words do have power, but sometimes only as much power as you are willing to give them.

Talking to readers like they’re schoolchildren and having to type out this post is a chore? Check.

Martyr complex because ZOMG someone has previously expressed displeasure at your use of offensive words? Check.

Brash declaration of refusal to give in to The Soldiers of Political Correctness, buttressed with sanctimonious I LOVE LANGUAGE bullshit? Check.

Statement about not downplaying something’s offensiveness immediately succeeded by downplaying its offensiveness? Check.

Smug implication that it’s actually your fault for feeling offended, you hypersensitive snowflake? Check.

With AMAZING BONUS “oh but I said sometimes I didn’t mean you” weasel-clause? Ladies, gentlemen, small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri, we have a winner!

This is a princely piece of work, this.  The word “retarded”, you see, is simply not to everyone’s liking. It’s a matter of personal taste, an aesthetic choice, much like those stimulating “whence” vs. “from whence” debates one might have over a cup of wanker tea.  Nothing serious.

Nothing, for example, like a word with strong negative connotations used as a blanket term for both all mental illness and a lack of intellect, forethought, reason, or rational capabilities.

Nothing that could possibly give any kind of message, like “mentally ill people are all stupid”, certainly nothing that could be used to dehumanize an entire group of people, nothing that could be a part of common usage as a putdown because we view people with mental illness as being lesser beings,  because we [being of course the neurotypical majority who get to decide these things] consider it a bad, awful, horrible thing to be thought of as a retard.

If you’re having a hard time drawing the comparison, consider “throwing like a girl”, which I’ll come back to in a moment – because first, Moata has to let us know just how unwilling she is to acknowledge reality.

My take on the use of the word “retarded” is that it falls into two distinct categories.  You can use it derogatively or jocularly to refer to someone or something that is judged to be stupid or behave stupidly.  For instance, “trying to flirt with a woman by telling her you’re going to kidnap her (I overheard a guy yell this at an attractive female as she walked past a couple of weeks ago) is retarded”.  This is probably the way that the word is used by most people, most of the time (though not on television).

The second use of the term is to refer to someone who has some kind of deficiency of intellect that can accurately be described as a kind of mental retardation.  As best as I can tell this is the origin of the word “retard” which has since acquired a broader usage by being applied to things (or people) who are not, in fact, mentally deficient.

Like an episode of The Simpsons, we’re working on multiple levels here.  So, the first “distinct category” – retarded = stupid (oh but remember, it can be used jocularly!).

The second, retarded = mentally deficient.

First, the junior circuit stupid.  Moata apparently wants us to believe that when people call someone retarded, we just mean “stupid”.  Nothing more.  It’s just a synonym, with no implications or assumptions. No one, hearing a person say “That guy is retarded” (jocularly!), could possibly understand it to mean “that person is mentally deficient the way a generic person with mental illness (but let’s face it, probably someone with visible illness/condition/disability, and let’s face it further, almost certainly down’s syndrome) is mentally deficient”.

No no no, they hear “that guy is retarded” and it magically has no associations with the second “distinct category” at all. Fuck me, I think Moata’s a psychic and hasn’t figured out the rest of us aren’t.

Senior stupid:  if we look very closely in the thick undergrowth of the bloggy rainforest, we may be able to make out some fan-fucking-tastic normative language.

some kind of deficiency of intellect

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?  The way Moata, and a lot of her readers, and certainly all the other people who hit on this particular defence of the word, make nice big bold statements about how there’s obviously a normal level of intellect, and some people just don’t have it, and so they’re deficient.  Not like us normal people who have normal intellects.

And it’s obviously totes cool to refer to these deficient people as retards, because they’re backwards.  You know, like referring to indigenous peoples as primitive or barbaric because they haven’t discovered the joys of urban disease and nuclear warfare.  I mean, it’s a thoroughly objective thing to do, because we’re normal.  Right?  I mean, we must be, because everyone knows that not being normal would be a terrible thing.

But don’t let me get carried away.  Moata continues to impress by finding new and astounding ways to make my jaw drop:

So the irony with regards to the current Paul Henry debacle (there’ll be another one next week) is that he’s got himself into trouble for using the word, not in the derogatory way that it is often used by people like me, but by actually applying it to someone who apparently is a little retarded.

Now, the fact that “Paul smooth-as-a-gravy-sandwich Henry” took a gleeful delight in reading about Susan Boyle’s misfortune in life is an entirely different issue.  He could have used any word to describe her mental condition; what’s really upsetting is the silly, schoolboy laughter that accompanied it.

(emphasis hers)

I mean, shit on a brick.  The irony is that Paul Henry was actually calling a person retarded who IS retarded!  Isn’t life funny that way?  I mean, obviously he went too far with the laughing, the implication in his laughter that being retarded is a bad thing.  Because we all know that it can just be an accurate term for someone who’s mentally deficient.  Right?

And Susan Boyle obviously is retarded, I mean, Moata’s a physician psychic so she knows, it’s not like she, just like Paul Henry, is making assumptions about people based on their appearances or lives or attitudes or anything.

It’s certainly not like she, like Paul Henry, like many other people, feel quite comfortable saying “this woman looks a bit dim and is single and old and sings songs from Les Mis so she must have been brain damaged because no normal person could be dim/single/old/a Les Mis fan”.  It’s not like the continuing casual use of the word retard in any way supports these assumptions.  That would be wrong.

It’s par for the course that, naturally, Moata doesn’t really take these ideas any further.  That would involve her having ideas.  Instead, it’s back to the Stuff blogger’s grab-bag of tricks and making it all about her:

Personally, I’m going to continue to call myself or my nearest and dearest “retarded” when I or they do something stupid.  I’m going to continue to prefer the original version of the Black Eyed Peas song otherwise sanitised-for-our-safety as “Let’s get it started”.  I’m going to continue to think Paul Henry’s a dick, because he kind of is one. What I’m not going to do is taunt someone with an intellectual handicap with the word “retard” or laugh at their misfortune because the thing that I am most grateful for in life is my good mind.

LOOK OUT, WORLD!  We’re dealing with a FREE SPIRIT here who will NOT BE DENIED her right to be a fucking insensitive douchebag of the highest order.

Christ, Moata. Just tattoo “I don’t know anybody with visible disability and I lack the capacity for basic empathy unless something personally affects me” on your forehead while you’re at it.  They can take your original-edit Black Eyed Peas from your cold, dead hands, right?  Because the word “retarded” is just so essential to the subtext of that song, it loses its meaning without it.

And oh good Lords and Ladies, that last sentence.  Let’s see it again for the audience at home:

What I’m not going to do is taunt someone with an intellectual handicap with the word “retard” or laugh at their misfortune because the thing that I am most grateful for in life is my good mind.

So apparently, even though “retarded” is a totally appropriate word to use (jocularly!) to describe people who are “mentally deficient”, Moata … has reservations about using it to a person’s mentally-deficient face.  I guess that’s back to not to everyone’s liking, or maybe it’s just taunting people with it.  Context, tone, these things are all so important when you’re not just taking half a fucking neuron to not be an offensive wanker.

And remember, kiddies, Moata’s most important message: even though there are no bad connotations to a neurotypical person being called a “retard”, because it’s fucking jocular, we should still be mindful of the MISFORTUNES of people with intellectual disabilities.  THOSE POOR FUCKING SOULS, DON’T WE JUST WEEP FOR THEM, THEY’RE LIKE PINOCCHIO ONLY RETARDS INSTEAD OF PUPPETS.  Fucking misfortune, Moata?  You’re going to play the “words only have the power you give them” AND the “it’s technically accurate” cards and then you are going to fucking pity people who have mental disabilities or illness.

Good thing you’ve got a “good mind”, Moata.  That should make up for your complete lack of basic fucking soul.

*Personal gripe: OWN YOUR FUCKING AGE, WOMAN.

A loss to Parliament

As Idiot/Savant puts it, and a loss to the entire fucking country, too.  You’re going to be really sorely missed, Sue B.

Sue’s maiden speech from way back in the days of 1999 is here.

I am here on a mission. Unemployed people and beneficiaries have had enough of being treated like dirt, taking the blame for every problem in society. Previous Governments have institutionalised another form of apartheid in Departments like WINZ, where a culture of contempt underlines dealings with socalled customers as well as with hard pressed frontline staff.

I am here to do everything I can to turn this around. We need immediate relief of poverty in this country, including a radical overhaul of WINZ and the whole benefit system, and a commitment to progressive increases in the minimum wage. The compulsory work for dole scheme known as ‘Community Wage Community Work’ can and should end tomorrow. We should look at restoring the universal family benefit, acknowledging the needs and rights of those who have the courage to bring children into the world in an overwhelmingly child-hating society.

We should also start seriously researching the implications and possibilities of some form of Universal Basic Income which has the potential to replace the whole shattered and inadequate apparatus of the old welfare state.

It’s time that we put the blame for overdependency on the State directly where it lies – on those who use unemployment and inadequate income support systems as tools of deliberate economic strategies. And we should also examine why dependency is OK for some, and not for others.

In honour of this kickass woman,* get your posts in for the next Down Under Feminists’ Carnival!

Next time on Ideologically Impure:  how angry will QoT get over attempts to drag her country kicking and screaming back into the Dark Ages an FPP electoral system?  How many times will QoT headdesk over That Nice Mr Key being on Letterman? Will QoT explode with joy when Dexter season 3 finally premieres 4 October?  Will any of these questions actually get answered?  Tune in, same feminist time, same cussword-filled channel!

ETA: More on Sue Bradford at The Hand Mirror and Kiwipolitico.

*Seriously, lauredhel, tigtog, here’s a right contender for Hoyden of the Week.  Anyone who had to worry about getting her trespass notice from the grounds of Parliament revoked so she could start work as an MP is a hoyden worthy of recognition in my book.