My first post on the Jezebel Rule stated thus:
I made a decision a wee while ago to just unfollow anyone on Twitter who retweeted anything from Jezebel (in a non-criticising way)
Then, the supporting evidence was Jezebel’s appropriation of the term “hipster racism”, coined at Racialicious in 2006. Jezebel, being the awesome right-on feminist online magazine that it is, saw no problem in publishing the work of a white woman (Lindy West) casually borrowing the work of a woman of colour, Carmen Van Kerckhove, without so much as a “props to Carmen for the great neologism!”
Prior to that of course there was that whole “let’s publish an article by some guy the editors know about how cool French chicks are about being constantly sexually harassed, unlike you uptight American bitches” thing.
The latest? Oh, just a little bit of attacking a site for posting women’s pictures without their consent … while reproducing the same pictures without the women’s consent.
Exploitation is different if you’re doing it for great
pageviews justice, obviously.
The arguments when people attack Jezebel or xojane are usually of the “but not all the stuff they publish is horrific, exploitative/oppressive linkbait!” variety. And I do get that a lot of good writers – especially a lot of the good fat acceptance writers since Shapely Prose shut down – are writing on those sites.
But I, personally, just do not have the time or patience or tolerance for that shit to support even the good pieces. It’s all tainted by continual, massive fuckups which can only be remedied with firing people, buying a new domain name and starting over.
Forever and ever, until the ozone layer disappears and the oceans evaporate and the mountains crumble into dust, the following shall be recorded in the history of New Zealand’s Parliament:
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON (Minister for Building and Construction) : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have been fortunate in the last hour to have been in my office with the Miss Universe New Zealand contestants. They are in the gallery, and I think this House would like to acknowledge them being here today
Oh ho ho, how droll. But it gets puke-inciting when you see how the Speaker of the House, the dude charged with keeping order and seriousness and dignity among our elected representatives, responds:
I am not sure how that is a point of order, but either way it seems a very pleasant visitation for the House to have. I think I recognise the Wellington representative among them—a good surf lifesaver.
Naughty Maurice, says Lockwood. Stop playing up in class! Still, totes jealous, amirite?
Green MP Jan Logie, a frontrunner for an eternal place in my heart as a bolshy badass, decided that what was good for the sexist gander must be good for the goose:
I have been fortunate in the last hour to be in my office with the feminists of the year contestants. They are in the gallery, and I think this House would like the opportunity today to acknowledge them.
Lockwood was clearly in less of a good mood for this one:
Could I perhaps suggest to the House that, rather than see this practice continue indefinitely, where members do wish to acknowledge visitors in the gallery, perhaps the appropriate way to do it would be to seek the leave of the House. All members know they are not meant to refer to visitors in the gallery. …
Right, let’s break that one down: it was OK, nay funny, for one person to do it [when hot chicks were involved], but when two people have done it [and the hot chicks have left] suddenly it’s “going on indefinitely”.
And all members know that they shouldn’t do this, but Jan Logie, first-term MP who might be a little shaky on the procedural side of things, gets the scolding – and Maurice Williamson, in Parliament since
Adam and Eve 1987* gets no such reminder – instead the Speaker just expresses “confusion” as to “whether” Williamson’s blatant “look at me, I’m the manly man” showboating counts as a point of order (I’m guessing not, but I’m not the one in fancy robes here).
I want to be sympathetic to Lockwood, here. Obviously you don’t want this kind of thing getting out of hand. Maybe he’s even embarrassed that he acted like such a pathetic, desperate juvenile, making a sly little comment about “pleasant visitations”, and now someone – damn us stroppy feminists – has dared to call him on that shit.
It’s like being the teacher who doesn’t want to be constantly telling the kids off all the time. You let a little thing through – and in this case, it’s one of your own cohort doing the pranking and all the social narratives are lining up to say it’s cool – and then suddenly the classroom is rioting, and you know it’s kind of your fault, and you end up sending the smart kid who was rightfully pointing out your mistake to detention. While the original kid just gets to keep going through life saying “Yeah, I hung out with hot chicks and even Mr Smith totally said I was cool.”
But Lockwood isn’t a spring chicken either. He’s the Speaker of the House. He brought it into disrepute and he opened the door to Jan Logie’s counteraction by being a sexist wanker. Sad, man.
A sidenote: this isn’t about the inherent sexism of Miss Universe and it isn’t an attack on the contestants. The fact is, treating those contestants like pieces of meat to bolster Williamson’s ego, and Smith going along with it to prove he’s One Of The Blokes, is shitty, cheapening to our Parliament, and misogynist.
*People born nine years after he was first elected can vote next election. Just saying.
I made a decision a wee while ago to just unfollow anyone on Twitter who retweeted anything from Jezebel (in a non-criticising way). This article at Racialicious, “A Historic Guide to Hipster Racism“, has provided some bolstering of that decision:
Last week at Racialicious HQ, we were delighted to see the term “hipster racism”–coined by our very own Carmen Van Kerckhove in 2006*–suddenly enter mainstream parlance, thanks to Jezebel’s publication of Lindy West’s “A Guide to Hipster Racism.”…
There was only one glitch. While West linked to one Racialicious post (a short piece Carmen wrote in 2007 about white girls and gang signs) she never once name-checks Racialicious or Carmen…or any of our amazing pals and allies who have been writing about this stuff since the main target was Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls (i.e. a long time ago).
Of course, prior to that nice example of a white author getting kudos off the backs of concepts elaborated by writers of colour, there was the whole ridiculous, contemptible “let’s let one of our friends blog pseudonymously about how consent is so passe” thing, and countless incidents of the commentariat establishing itself as firm defenders of white middle-class ciswomen’s rights to ignore the existence of all oppression beyond their own.
Sorry, Jezebel. I’m just not that into you.
One thing I wanted to clarify from my two previous posts, but which is kind of a whole other ramble in of itself, and which I felt sure would come up in comments sooner or later.
When I say we need to stop hating on individual women for their choices, which are made in a shitty context of patriarchy and are part of our survival …
There are the choices a person makes within a wider issue – beauty standards, abortion, marriage – which are largely passive. Yes, you can argue that the bulk of hetero couples in NZ choosing marriage over civil union makes a difference because it reinforces marriage, or when it’s still routine for a woman to change her name after marriage, all the individual women’s choices added together mean it continues to be perceived as the normal thing to do.
Then there’s saying, as an authoritative voice, in mainstream media, that women shouldn’t feel okay saying no to sex when they don’t want it. There’s turning your personal rags-to-Cabinet story into a weapon against other solo mothers. There’s using previously-established feminist cred to say Julian Assange is a nice guy, really.
These things aren’t part of the same choice framework we’re all saddled with. A pedantic person could say “well, isn’t choosing to gain financial security through high-profile misogyny part of surviving in patriarchy” and yes, absolutely, but … come on. There’s a conscious choice being made to propagate kyriarchal bullshit in a way specifically designed to reach thousands/millions of people. It’s not mascara and miniskirts.
So take that strawman out to dinner and go fuck yourself with him.
Well, she finally got back to us, and the only charitable conclusion I can come to is that Naomi Madelin is a seriously bad writer.
The less-charitable conclusion is that she churned out a shallow, nasty piece of “writing” perfectly suited to the Sunday Star-Times (hey, times must be tough for freelance writers), doesn’t understand how the internet works, and thinks she can backpedal out of this.
See, now she’s deigned to reply to anyone on Twitter (though not many of us), the story is that she was just offering a suggestion about how as a society we need to embrace compassion and empathy more.
It’s a lovely message, except for the fact it bears no correlation whatsoever to the piece of shit appearing under her name in print and online.
The most egregious line, about how women need to “give men a chance” by embracing our femininity – a line fairly read by many as saying that women acting unwomanly makes me violent – has blessedly been removed by Stuff, who for once have acted with a modicum of responsibility (though it didn’t stop them republishing the piece in the first place).
But let’s boil down the remainder of the piece for any message about how “women & men” should be more compassionate etc.
- Wikipedia says Kwii women aren’t feminine
- Women rate themselves as less feminine than men do, and this has absolutely nothing to do with a culture which tells women to judge themselves much more harshly than others
- A person selling feminine farmwear thinks women want to wear more feminine farmwear but are nervous of the reaction, and this has absolutely nothing to do with women in traditional male roles having to prove themselves twice as hard to get taken seriously
- A professional makeup artist thinks there’s more to femininity – like tolerance and sensitivity. Madelin thinks these attributes, which she seems to accept as naturally feminine, give women “strength” – oops, no buying into the masculine-as-superior language there!
- ForbesWomen’s list includes women who are feminine, but Madelin doesn’t explain how she’s using the term there, they just are and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the pressure on celebrity women to look conventionally attractive as much as possible
- Women need to stop “giving the message’ that being male is better. Yep, that one’s totally all on women.
- A guy once saw a woman logger who was very feminine. This again has nothing to do with the demands on women in men’s roles, and Madelin again does not explain what she means by “femininity”.
- People feel uncomfortable with the notion of femininity, but shut up, suffragettes wore long dresses!!! They didn’t drink beer like you filthy modern ladettes!
Sorry, Ms Madelin. I’m just seeing a whole lot o’ judging-women-for-Doing-It-Wrong and very fucking little analysis of the causes of violence in our society, much less any kind of critique of masculinity which equally calls on men and women to put aside gender stereotypes and build society anew on a basis of equality and acceptance.
Because, you know, that would’ve been a good article to read.
Eighty-four per cent of people arrested for family violence are men. Half of all violent crime in New Zealand is family violence. The statistics go on. Perhaps the way to give men a chance is for women to appreciate their own femininity more.
The rationale being, apparently, that women trying to be more masculine are the ones “sending the message” that being manly is better … because violence is an inherent part of manliness (and remember, it’s us nasty unshaven feminists who hate men, right) and what the fuck am I even reading.
Oh, right. I’m reading an SST article by a freelance writer who starts off acting outraged about something Wikipedia says (unfortunately, said quote cannot be verified by Google), then insists femininity isn’t just about wearing frocks, it’s about how we carry ourselves, and seriously seems to think that women choose to deny their inner need for frills in a complete absence of dominant culture which might, you know, treat men as the default, the norm, the aspirational.
I don’t know where to start, but I know where Naomi Madelin could’ve fucking started: a basic Google search for some feminism 101 blogging on masculinity and the construction of gender, looking up the notion of high femme or the active and long-standing debate about traditional femininity and feminism, picking up the OED, or, I know, having a fucking clue about something before she churned out an erratic, incoherent attack-piece yet again laying the fault for all the world’s ills on stupid, silly women.
Following my initial “oh gods this is going to be hilarious” vibe on seeing the cover of the most recent North and South, I got a whole three columns in and I’m just bored.
Virigina Larson is a woman, you see. And as a woman, because she cannot allow you to forget she’s a woman, right, a womanly, womanish woman, she has virtuously thrown herself into the line of fire between nasty evil feminists and our eternal foes, Poor Innocent Men.
Virginia Larson, being a woman, you see, thinks as a woman that we don’t say awesome shit about guys enough. Or possibly that we don’t acknowledge men’s innate superiority enough, or possibly that we don’t own up to how we as a society socialise men into being superior self-sacrificers. It’s not actually that clear what her point is, but I think it can be summed up as:
Virginia Larson is a cool chick, guys. She’s not like other women, she loves men.
As a bit of a sidenote, part of my boredom possibly stems from the fact that I’m a geek. I’m a gamer. And I’m a woman. And Virginia Larson is by no means the first woman I have seen try to gain credit on the male-dominated, male-controlled social status ladder by bagging other women and trying to fluff men’s egos.
The main difference is that Virginia Larson is getting a cover story on a national magazine to proclaim her own man-loving awesomeness, and that since she’s the editor clearly no one’s had the spine to say “um, Virginia, your article is unfocused, incoherent and really just a bit shit, love.”
Tell you what, I’m willing to take that bullet, just like Saint Virginia has taken our evil feminist bullets for Brave Selfless Men.
You’re not a misogynist collaborator in the oppression of women because you *dared* to write an article praising men. You’re a misogynist collaborator in the oppression of women because you promote aren’t-women-silly stereotypes and act as though all women are Julia Roberts in a movie, and not Erin Kickass Brockovich, in the first fucking paragraph of your “article”:
No matter that all of [my women friends] are married to good men who trudge off to work every day, love their kids, clear the gutters and seem unlikely to suddenly declare they need a year of “to find themselves.”
You aren’t antifeminist because you challenged some Evil Feminist Conspiracy by putting a tender picture of a firefighter holding a baby on the cover. You’re antifeminist because your publication even *underlined* the subtitle, “A woman’s view” as though that actually means anything, as though you get to speak for all women, as though one woman saying “hey men are kind of cool” will absolutely shake your mythical Feminist Monolith to its core.
You aren’t wilfully fucking clueless and a bad journalist to boot because Feminists Can’t Handle The Truth and there’s some evil Women’s Committee which will censure you at their next caucus for Challenging The Party Line. You’re wilfully fucking clueless and a bad journalist to boot because you write crap like this:
“So, at the risk of digging myself into the sisterhood’s hole of no return – could this explain why men earn more than women? Because they work longer hours at more dangerous and unpleasant jobs? Because they’re more likely to accept the night shifts, hard shifts and postings to Afghanistan or Antarctica? Because men get sought-after degrees … while women get degrees in art history or media studies?”
… and apparently it doesn’t cross your mind at all to wonder if women have been restricted from higher-paying/dangerous/manual jobs, if women who do take up those jobs have faced horrific harassment, if women might be the ones expected to do the bulk of childcaring which kinda precludes nightshift work (and many women have to do it anyway and then get shit for Abandoning Their Motherly Duties), if women are told, bluntly, plainly, constantly, that they aren’t smart enough to do Real Science or if Real Science and getting posted to Afghanistan might also conflict with the fact that a shit-tonne of men, despite, how did you put it, “lov[ing] their kids”, still expect their wives to do the school pickups and grocery shopping and think of spending a weekend together with the kids as “babysitting”?
You aren’t a shit writer because you like men, Virgina. You’re a shit writer because you demand having your cake and eating it too. Remind me, are boys just “naturally” “full of fizz”, or are men “socialised” to “be disposable”? Because you don’t actually get to argue that (a) societies force men to be An Selfless Hero AND (b) men are just naturally more heroic than those dumb bitches who think they need to “find themselves”.
But I can’t really get angry at you, Virginia. This is just garden-variety misogyny peddled to increase your own value to the patriarchy. It’s a survival tactic many women have employed. Please, don’t mistake my contempt as “offence” or “oversensitivity”: for all the promise of your wanky little cover, your desperate pandering to the privileged wankers who read North & South is just another dying scream from a gradually fading system of oppression.
Really, you’ve just given me hope. Because when mainstream magazines have to publish crap like this to try to reinforce the status quo, we must be doing something right.