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Fuck Politeness

This is a revolution, not a public relations movement

So, pretty soon I’m going to need to take a break from the blogging about all the shit surrounding gender and sexuality that pisses me off (and I’ve not even covered the tip of the iceberg so far). I’m coming in to a pretty full-on year, and for the last little while I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed – with apprehension about the pressures of the next few years of study while working and raising my son, with thinking through all kinds of future options, and with processing lots of stuff from the last couple of months. And in the middle of this, the frustration and anger I feel over the fact that gender issues get dismissed by so many people, and so aggressively at that, is beginning to seep into my personal life and affect my overall happiness.

I was going to take a break starting immediately, until I was in the waiting room of the doctors surgery. ABC radio had a story about a car festival thingy down south (didn’t catch the exact name) where there’s been an escalation over the last few years of groups of men getting aggressive and demanding that female attendees expose themselves for the fun of the men. This stuff is being blogged about in the U.S, and it’s all a bit scary really. There are some women saying they don’t mind, and others saying “Great. How lovely for you. Only that reinforces to the guys that they can shout at ME and expect me to do it””.

In this particular radio interview they were discussing an example involving a thirteen year old girl. In the midst of this they discussed the phenomena in general, with the interviewer saying, nonplussed “Makes you wonder why these guys even take their girlfriends”…hold the phone! This makes them sound like pets on leashes. Perhaps the woman was taking her boyfriend/girlfriend/kids, perhaps she was there on her own. Many women love cars (and power to them, I’d rather shoot myself in the foot, even without the shouting arseholes) – so let’s not jump to conclusions that the only times women are present at these types of events or *should* be present is when they are feigning interest for the sake of their menfolk.

But, if we leave even that aside, the next caller was a woman, who sounded a little older (somewhere around fifty-ish if I had to guess), anyway, there was some background chatter in the surgery at this point, all I could hear was her anger. Imagine my surprise (or, rather more sadly, not surprise at all, just the familiar disappointment) when I realised that she was not angry with the men for their vile behaviour, but at the women who took offence or complained! She was LIVID! (Same old bullshit of “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”, and don’t dress to look sexy if you don’t want harassment, which roughly contextualised amounts to “If you don’t like being sexually harrassed and frightened, stick to a Tupperware party, you great big asking-for-it hussies!”)

The interviewer stepped in to remind her that in fact we were talking about a thirteen year old girl (and let’s for the sake of time and not driving ourselves COMPLETELY mental, leave aside the fact that this implies that older women have less to complain about). The caller then said (and you must imagine for yourself the palpable indignation and contempt flowing across the airwaves as I can’t provide audio for you) “Phh, yeah, right…thirteen going on twenty FIVE! I mean, the way these girls dress sometimes…then they’re surprised at the attention they attract”

That’s right dear, feed the girls you know Barbies, Bratz, Hi Five and music videos, encourage them to dress like *proper* girls, and then BLAME them for being harrassed at a young age. You know what? It doesn’t MATTER what you wear – at thirteen I got around in big baggy overalls – I had like six pairs of the fucking things, I was timid and shy and in no way thought of myself or sought to present myself as in any way sexual, and was constantly getting the attention of middle aged perverts saying “Show us yer jugs” and “OOOOOhhhh, LEGS up to HERE”. What the fucking FUCK? And PLEASE…I dressed like this just cos I was a big ole nerdy Christian and I wore the overalls cos I was fashion clueless and thought they were kinda “neat” –but if I’d fitted in more with society’s pressures, if I’d dressed more “sexy-like”, like the cool girls does that for a SECOND mean that I *deserve* sexual harrasment?? What about the eight year olds you see whose parents dress them in mini skirts and micro shorts? Do they deserve harrasment?

So away from me and back to the scenario at hand. This woman was more than comfortable to brand some thirteen year old she didn’t know, had never met, had never fucking seen, a total gagging-for-it slut in the making in order to defend the behaviour of jeering, leering, beer-sodden arseholes screaming for pussy and tits as above reproach. Nice one lady. And the thing is, your hear this sort of shit ALL the fucking TIME. And it’s THIS, this in particular that makes my blood BOIL. That we don’t leave the responsibility for revolting behaviour at the feet of those who dish it out, but we find ways to blame those affected.

So, before I go on my break, before I take some time away to just *be*, to try to remember that not everyone is as much an arsehole as this, though so many are, let me set out a little bio if you will, a little timeline of the stories of people I know who have been affected in the more clearcut and violent ways, by the upshot of constructions of masculinity and femininity, so that I might give people a clearer understanding of why I’m a feminist, why this shit matters so goddamned much to me, why it might occasionally become something I dare to feel personally furious  over, and why I won’t just put it down, walk away and play *nice*.

Hm. Locked in a cubby house at the age of I think five and told I’m not allowed out til I give my cousin a “root”. Got away. Lucky me.

Another cousin sexually abused for years by his male cricket coach.

Best friend raped and stabbed at eleven because the guy next door pretended to be disabled so she’d help him.

Watched my uncle kick the ever living shit out of my cousin while I screamed at him to stop and no one stepped in cos they didn’t want to “make it worse”.

Cousin’s grandmother got raped as she got out of her car in the driveway.

Girls in highschool who “drank too much” at the local beach parties ended up branded as *sluts* after the guys they had classes with “took turns on them”, but it was never ever called rape.

Had a boyfriend punch me in the face and kick me in the back because he didn’t like what I was saying.

Got stalked by my ex to the point where I dropped down to a size eight, my size eight pants fell down and my hair came out in chunks. Had the cops insist I *go outside and sort it out* with him even though I’d run in there to hide because I didn’t feel safe. Had the cops then refuse to help me fill out an AVO application.

Cousin’s friend’s dad drives her into a cliff face on the highway because he’s angry at his ex because they are getting a divorce. Both die, while the mum is on the phone listening to her daughter scream about how frightened she is.

Throw in a handful of friends with abusive fathers, friends who have been gay bashed, an aunt who was raped repeatedly by groups of her relatives from the age of three, a great friend facing discrimination and harassment for being gender queer, a few cases of sexual harassment in the office, a guy who decided to continually call and get in my face ad menace me because I chose not to go on a date with him (because he creeped me out – good call).

And this is in my life, my privileged little life as an Anglo white girl in a “good suburb” in a safe country.

I could go on and on and on. The one thing I’d like to point out is that those who mock the correlation between the types of violence mentioned and gender are those who would seek to refute the power of constructions of gender by recourse to biology – you know, the old “men act this way cos of our gonads” chestnut.

Have a think people – it’s THIS view that leads to the view that all men are arseholes, all men are rapists – if violence and aggression are caused by possession of a pair of testicles, and men, statistically speaking are far more frequently the perpetrators of violence, violence against men, women and children, then lookout people – ALL MEN ARE BASTARDS. Funnily enough, feminism, always accused of such a view says nothing of the sort.It says that constructions of masculinity and femininity are the problem, and it kinda expects people to be smart enough to notice the totally fucking OBVIOUS difference between “Gender constructions are fucking us all up in many, varied and violent ways” and “All men are bastards, we hate them”.

So when I get back, rather than railing over the fucked-up-ness that is so many people’s attitude to feminism and gender, which is totally warranted, but leaves me sad and exhausted, I think I might take some time to write on gender construction and gender performativity, as I think writing on the theoretical aspects which actually concieve of ways out of this mess, might help to write about this stuff without making me despair of humanity. I mean really, to look at all the stats of men hurting each other, men hurting women, men hurting themselves, then say “It’s all down to the testicles” gives no way out, no solution, no conclusion to be drawn other than that men are biologically destined to be aggressive, violent, self harming arseholes. This, thanks all the same, is the stuff that comes from MRAs and anti-feminists, not from feminists. Having a look at the MRA websites of late, it’s their arguments which degrade men, and reduce them to animals bound by their biology, not mine, and not feminism’s. What a bleak fucking view of humanity. What a sad, disgusting, pathetic picture of what our lives can be. Feminists fully expect that men are utterly capable of behaving like decent human beings. Feminists acknowledge that gender constructions damage us all, and are looking to question and re-evaluate these constructions for the benefit of men and women.  

What the hell is so wrong with that??

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