Tagged: gender issues

Oh, aren’t you clever?

Recently, in two different spheres, I’ve seen the delightful little appropriation of social justice comments best summed up as:

But you keep saying gender and race shouldn’t matter, so you’re a hypocrite for promoting diversity!!!

How convenient.

The two spheres are the Labour Party reshuffle and sci fi/fantasy awards, just to cover the whole spectrum of my interests.  And the people making these comments – who, honestly, I do try not to assume are white hetero cis-men – seem to think they’re very clever to point out this gaping hole in progressive/identity-politics arguments.

It’s bunkum, of course.

Yes, in the progressive utopia completely divorced from historical context, gender and race (and orientation and disability etc) wouldn’t necessarily be meaningful.  They might not even be relevant.  People simply may not care about the shade of your skin and simply not understand the concept of certain behaviours being categorised as “male” or “female”.

The two tiny problems with that are:

1.  We don’t live in a progressive utopia

2.  Even if we did, it would still have a historical context of racism, patriarchy, and general kyriarchal shittiness.

Now, I am kind of tempted to go on this big rant about that whole pesky historical context thing and how oppressed groups have actually been systematically denied the right to excel in many, many fields because of sexism and racism and so on and so on.

But there’s really no need.

Because the people whinging that “you SAID race and gender don’t matter!!!” only ever seem to bring this up under two circumstances:  (a) when a line-up of [X] is entirely white hetero cis-dudes and someone points out that this isn’t representative; (b) when a line-up of [X] contains “too many” non-white non-hetero non-cis non-dudes, and people approve of it being more representative.

You’re arguing that race and gender (in these specific instances) shouldn’t matter … but you’re the ones fixated on race and gender when it threatens your privilege.

You insist that everything be (or IS) a meritocracy … when it supports your privilege.  When you’re not the person at risk of being kicked out or ignored or unrewarded for your work because of your gender and/or race.

For some totally inexplicable reason, you don’t think gender and race matter when it means people like you dominate everything, but it does when you, for once in your entire existence, don’t get to be surrounded by faces and stories which reflect your life.

Shorter QoT?  Your privilege is showing.  And it’s kind of sad how suddenly you give a fuck about sexism and racism when it serves your personal interests and keeps women and people of colour down.

Monday warm fuzzies: cosplay edition

And with the simple utterance of “cosplay”, I lose half my readership, but probably gain aaaaaaaaaaall the bumps to my Googleability.

One day, Chaka Cumberbatch started the first big cosplay race war by having the gall to cosplay as Sailor Venus.  While being a woman of colour.  A badass, damn hot woman of colour (personally, I think the shit would have hit less of the fan if she wasn’t damn hot: much less threatening to the racist geek psyche.)

Read all about it at Racialicious.

In referencing that post, I initially wanted to make an addendum to the previous cosplay-related “new rule” about not complaining about the lack of [mandatorily fuckable] women in fandom.  But here’s the problem:  the dominant geek paradigm is really, really white.  And you don’t hear the voices of that paradigm lamenting the lack of people of colour.

It’s dehumanizing both ways:  geeks whinge about no [hot] chicks coming to their clubs because they only want to fuck them, but they don’t whinge about no people of colour coming to their clubs because they don’t even want to fuck them.

~

And one day, Ryan from Mad Art Lab decided it wasn’t enough just to casually gender-bend the traditional Princess Leia/metal bikini costume.  He had to gender-fuck its shit right up.

~

Cosplayers: subverting subversions of the dominant paradigm’s dominant paradigm since awesome o’clock.

Marriage equality and the “protecting existing religious freedoms” derail

Louisa Wall’s Private Member’s Bill on marriage equality is now out – huzzah!  Check out the link to NRT for the pdf.

However, before it came out, I was a little concerned about this statement, also reported at NRT, from David Cunliffe:

… Louisa Wall is arranging a Marriage Equality member’s bill which progresses human rights while protecting existing religious freedoms.

Emphasis my own.  NRT provided some legal smackdown of this [happily uneventuated] idea – whatever form it may have taken – but even though we now know we’re in the clear for the time being, I wanted to address this whole embarrassing derail on its own.

First up:  it’s a seriously embarrassing derailLike I’ve covered, marriage-as-recognised-by-the-state has sweet fuck all to do with religion, except in its origins.  Marriages don’t have to take place in a religious site.  Marriages don’t have to have the authorised representative of any particular sky-father or earth-mother present.  Marriage does not have to involve any acknowledgement of any supernatural, spiritual or non-legal ritual concepts whatsoever.

Marriage, as far as our Department of Internal Affairs is concerned, involves two people of different sexes, plus state-recognised celebrant, plus witnesses, plus paperwork, saying:

“I AB take you, CD, to be my legal wife/husband” or words to similar effect.

That’s basically it.

So when two angry internet atheists who devote half their free time to creating hilarious Flying Spaghetti Monster macros and filing injunctions against the teaching of creationism decide to get state recognition of their rutting, guess whose religious freedoms are imposed upon?  Oh right, no one’s.  Because no one is forced to officiate anyone’s marriage.  No church or temple is forced to let them make a booking.  No synagogue kitchen is forced to let their caterers prepare pig on a spit.

So what fucking difference is it going to make if those two atheists are both men, or both women, or both genderqueer?

Oh right, it’s not.

It’s the second thing:  giving bigots legislative excuses for their bigotry.

As Idiot/Savant has stated, you know what?  Marriage celebrants who hate The Gays will probably make it abundantly clear and thus not be put in any position where they are compelled to perform the marriage.  Just like how racist fuckheads who are currently marriage celebrants can currently turn away interracial couples – and even though said action might be entirely illegal because of that pesky Bill of Rights we have, I think we all know how easily that gets circumvented.  Maybe the celebrant is just “too busy”, or “they’re taking a break” or they happen to innocuously have a White Pride flag on the roof of their car.

The point is, we don’t have marriage legislation saying “You are allowed to turn away interracial couples if being a racist asshat is so important to you.”

And we shouldn’t have it when we grant marriage equality to people in non-binary-conforming relationships.

Because it has only two purposes:

1)  Make religious people – predominantly the vocal fundy Christian minority who like to put themselves centre-stage on every issue – feel like they’re super-important, the foundation of our society, far more influential than they have any right to be;

2)  Protect them from the consequences of their bigotry.  It’d be like appending “and also no one can call out your bullshit if you’re Paul Henry” to the right to freedom of speech.

If you want to be a kyriarchal douchebag, and that just isn’t so acceptable in our culture any more, and someone says “Wow, you won’t marry a same-sex couples?  What a douche” then you can take it like a fucking adult.  I mean, you’re the one with all the certainty, the one who knows that what you’re doing is good and correct and God’s work, right?  So what does it matter to you if people think you’re a dick?

Why, basically, do you need a bit of paper from the state – the state which clearly doesn’t give a toss about your views on what constitutes marriage and hasn’t for years – so you can wave it in people’s faces and say “SHUT UP, MY BIGOTRY IS OKAY, THE LAW SAYS SO!”

I mean, you’ve already got freedom of religion.  And some of us quite like how that gives us freedom from religion.  Which is why the state doesn’t limit marriage to only the people the Pope or whoever says are proper married.

Oh look, we’ve come full circle.

Now, we were discussing this on Twitter and the point was made by Lew that hey, if the Bill is 99% good we can probably handle the 1% bad, and would this kind of provision protecting religious bigots really have much effect on non-het marriages?  Like I said above, it’s not like non-het couples will have difficulty identifying the bigoted celebrants.

And I can kind of get behind that.  But my immediate concern – and maybe I’ve just been watching too much West Wing recently – is that religious fundies are not a group known for their ability to compromise.  I’m sure they’ll happily take a little favour, a little cushion to cover their asses while spreading the hate love of Jesus around the world, but please, David C, anyone else out there, let’s not pretend for a fucking second that these people are going to offer you any other kind of support, votes or otherwise, until the next time they want to wrangle another concession out of you.

It’s not actually anything to do with the social good of promoting freedom of religion, and it’s not actually anything to do with making our sloooooooow transformation into a truly openminded, progressive country any easier on the resistant throwbacks.  It’s about undermining progress at every step, leaving loopholes and back doors for them to slip more regressive, life-destroying crap into our cultural consciousness any chance they get.

Don’t give into their crap now – and like I’ve just explained above, it is crap – in the hopes they’ll give up anything they didn’t already know they were going to.

~

NB:  I am in full agreement with the ever-so-clever Amanda on using the phrase “marriage equality” instead of “gay marriage” and will be using such in future.

More on cigarette packaging

NRT continues to support the “plain packaging” of tobacco products, a subject on which he and I disagree.

To [the tobacco industry], packaging is simply a means of circumventing advertising restrictions and of marketing to people they shouldn’t be marketing to. And the only way to stop it is to require plain packaging.

As much as I hate to keep having those evil capitalist asshats’ backs on this, I’m just not seeing a lot of real, it’s-an-evil-conspiracy basis to some of these arguments.

“But the packaging is appealing to children!”

Unless you raise your child in a media-free vacuum, (and remove all brand labels from all products, tech, food, and clothing in the house, and homeschool them) they are going to be influenced by modern capitalist marketing techniques.  They are going to be trained, as all of us have been trained, towards desiring certain products, finding certain tropes or messages (“this is what cool people do, this is what rich people wear, if you can’t check your Twitter every five minutes you’ll never know anything”) compelling, and basically being another cog in the machine.

If we’re seriously going to start saying “OH MY GOD!  MARLBORO USES RED PACKAGING BECAUSE FERRARI DOES!!!” like there’s not some big cultural shit going on about red being a sexy, powerful, masculine colour, or “OH MY GOD!  IT’S PINK TO APPEAL TO LITTLE GIRLS!” like pink isn’t used to symbolize harmless feminine playfulness to adult women … well, I’m just going to continue being sceptical about the anti-smoking lobby being anything more than a modern-day DEMON DRINK!!!-screaming Temperance movement.

“We banned their advertising, so now they just use the packet as advertising!”

Welcome to the 21st century, where brand is a slightly-powerful concept.  Where packaging, especially when your product is going to end up in giant wall displays next to a hundred other identically-sized packets, where people do get really attached to their brand or type (talk to a menthol smoker about their ability to pick green packs out of a crowd), is kinda a key marketing strategy for every product.

One cheapish brand of bread has recently repackaged itself to look basically identical to Molenberg, a more expensive, fancy-pants brand.  I personally cannot wait for the carbs police to try cracking down on that on the basis that “Quality Bakers is just using its packaging for marketing purposes!  Kiwi mums won’t realise that the product inside is CHEAPER and LESS ELITIST-LY WHOLEGRAIN-Y!!!”

And frankly, welcome to the world of legal consumer goods, where when you take away a company’s ability to advertise their legal product through conventional means, they find something else to do.

Like I said in my previous post:  if you really want to stop people smoking (or at least stop being half-assed with your rhetoric, because we all know Prohibition makes things sexier, including Steve Buscemi) just ban it.

“This study shows that the tobacco companies are deliberately targeting children!”

Nope.

Nope, it doesn’t.

At least, not from anything in the linked article.

It says kids find the packaging attractive (gosh, what was that first point I made again?).  That tobacco companies have acknowledged the, um, fairly obvious fact that their packaging is one of the few ways they can market.  It shows that enforced gender binaries are getting ’em good and early, with girls liking the “girly” smokes and boys liking the “manly” smokes (oh my gods, I bet you could even find a similar breakdown in adults legally permitted to purchase those products!)

But a shiny smoking gun of a memo saying “let’s get 10-year-olds hooked via the colour pink and cool flip-top heads!”?  No.  One has to at least hope the tobacco industry aren’t that stupid/arrogant these days.

Conclusion

Cigarettes are bad.

Marketing strategies which play on ingrained gender stereotypes and culturally-indoctrinated desires are also bad.

Philip Morris and BAT probably aren’t really crying themselves to sleep over kids getting hooked on their products.

But.

Cigarettes are legal.  Packaging “being attractive to kids” could just as easily be a fun bonus (it’s not like they’re slapping Dora the Explorer on there, it might alienate the current adult market.)  And requiring plain packaging is not going to magically stop any kid ever from starting smoking, given:

  • They’ll just start giving the cigarettes names that sound cool or work with the plain packaging, like “Marlboro Whites” or “BORN TO KILL”
  • They’ll just start printing the brand on the damn cigarette papers
  • Sales in branded tins and cigarette cases will rise
  • Oh, and smoking will still be that thing your parents can’t stand, that thing all the other guys at the restaurant do on break, that thing which gets you out of the office for ten minutes.

And it’ll still just scream loud and clear that, to paraphrase a recently-viewed episode of The West Wing, “you just don’t like people who do smoke.”  And you want to feel all warm and smug about making their addictions more difficult to cope with.

Good for you.

Maybe he was PMSing

Alasdair Thompson, creepy bullying sexist pig extraordinaire, has lost in his (and his wife’s!) complaint against the Broadcasting Standards Authority.  A complaint which basically reads “how dare you quote my exact sexist words, you’re making me look sexist!”

The lack-of-self-awareness factor is heightened with a touch of “you breached my staff’s privacy!  Of course I probably breached it first by talking about them on camera to a journalist to prove some point I had about how you bitches just need to choose between babies and A Real Job, but how dare you do your job by broadcasting that!”

Take it away, BSA majority:

“It is our firm view that if the item caused any harm to Mr Thompson’s reputation and dignity, this was not a product of unfair editing on the part of the broadcaster, but was the result of how Mr Thompson chose to conduct himself in the interview and was largely self-imposed.”

Hey now.  Maybe his hormones were just running wild and he wasn’t rational enough to make a serious career decision, right?  He would never normally loom over women and threateningly insist he’s not a bully, of course, so maybe it was just that time of the … oh, you know where I’m going.

And this goes for you geeks, too

blue milk and tigtog have beaten me to it – so if a third recommendation is required, consider this mine for this post at Skepchick and this addendum by Kate Harding.

… it’s the consequence of a sexist culture, in which any time a woman shows her face or opens her mouth in public, whatever point she wanted to make stands to be delayed by a referendum on her fuckability.

And if I never again hear the lament, “Where are all the women in [X]?” it will be too soon.

Women react predictably to mainstream social cues: must mean we evolved to be bitches

Yeeeeeeeeah.

The results were depressingly predictable.

“Participants displayed a strong negative reaction to the attractive female when she was dressed provocatively,” said study author Dr Aanchal Sharma.

This research provides support for the innate roots of female conflict.

How?  Same as all evolutionary psychology bullshit: take a bunch of people from the same environment and look at their behaviour then wave your hands like an Underpants Gnome and declare this proves said behaviour is innate, ingrained, evolutionary, so shut up and suck on your inequality because we’ve just provided the perfect excuse not to address it.

I mean, it couldn’t have anything to do with socialisation or dominant memes about That Bitch Who Steals Your Girlfriend or Men Can’t Control Themselves So Blame Other Women For Their Cheating (yes, in dominant-social-paradigm land we’re all hetero, too).  And if “mate-guarding” exists it has to go back to our monkey phase and can’t at all be linked to messages about how being single is the worst thing ever, much less financial dependence necessitating finding a male partner or the concept of compulsory heterosexuality or anything.

Wait, wait, there I go again, just ascribing natural phenomena to insidious magical messages created by some vast conspiracy against women.  I’m going to go relax with some nice popular music

Election 2011 recommended reading

LudditeJourno has done the hard yards reading (or trying in vain to locate) the different parties’ women’s policies.

Mr Wainscotting has a public service announcement about some of the breathtakingly shitty things current, and probably continuing, National MPs have said about The Gays.

Guest post: Phil Goff’s balls

Now up at The Standard and reproduced below for those who choose not to tread there.

Guts. Backbone. Chutzpah. Grit. Will. Vision. Courage.

The one thing all of these words have in common is that Phil Goff could quite easily have used them instead of “balls” when he said:

“It’s time to make a decision that will build a stronger future for New Zealand. We’ve got the balls to do that. John Key doesn’t.”

And I know that Phil knows that, because he’s quoted using at least two of them elsewhere in that story.

Normally you’d cue up a big ol’ Queen of Thorns rant complete with naughty cusswords and all-caps. But seriously? Phil, save us the trouble of firing up a whole two brain cells to figure out your subliminal messaging. We get it. You’re a Man’s Man and you speak like Common People and The Days Of That Nasty Bitch Helen Are Behind Us.

You’ve been listening to Chris Trotter and you wanted to make it very clear, to talkback land and those nasty white-anting progressives at the same time, that you’re A Safe Pair Of Manly Man Hands and Not A Pussy.

You’ve chosen to put yourself firmly, obviously, in the camp (ha) of Damien “gaggle of gays” O’Connor.

Or alternatively you’re a bit shit at figuring out the implications of your own words.

In either case, those of us clinging to a phantom hope of a Labour/Green/Mana-or-Maori coalition actually delivering good outcomes for women, non-whites, queers et al can surely, at this point, take it as read that your party gives not a shit for us if we’re in the way of taking power. (And somehow expects us to vote for you anyway.)

I mean, when Jordan Carter’s pre-emptively parroting the line on Twitter I think we can safely file this crap under “Labour election key message”.

Or I’m just vindictively destroying the Left from within. Again.