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Big time trigger warnings

Ok, ages ago I posted on the bruhaha over the Bill Henson images, and promised to post on the notion of the sexual ‘innocence’ of children and why I think it’s a dangerous concept.

Briefly, I think it’s dangerous to make *that* the harm – if the harm lies solely in the ‘corruption’ of ‘innocence’ then a it would seem that a range of things flow from this:

a/ the focus lies on the victim and not the perpetrator in assessing the magnitude of the wrong and the insinuation is that the *wrong* is the ‘loss of innocence’ rather than the fact that an adult is having sex with a child.

The adult, the person of full capacity is doing something they know is not okay, and they’re doing it for their own gratification. (Yes, we can get into chats about pathologies etc later, but I don’t believe that every person who has sex with a child is *diseased* and therefore *helpless* and I think to say that’s always true makes sex crimes the acts of monsters, and takes focus away from the overwhelming instances where abuse happens within the home, and covers over a real discussion of the issues at play when people molest children)

b/ this worship of innocence plays out in an unspoken suggestion that a ‘less innocent’ child is less wronged, or maybe even brought it on by their own behaviour. See above. Don’t have sex with kids.

In the context of a society that puts preteen girls on the runway, that fetishizes the teen body incessantly, that fantasizes about ‘naughty schoolgirls’, that pornifies women’s bodies in ways which erase markers of maturity and womanhood, that airbrushes even the Crowned Most Beautiful in order to make their bodies more like that of a young teenager, this innocence/not innocence trope is profoundly sinister.

We worship bodies that look fifteen, though to assuage our guilt we’ll tolerate bodies that look, say twenty. We sexualise girls the minute their breast show the slightest HINTS of budding, we accept grown men leering over young girls as A-ok. We’ve set society up for the pitfalls of finding sex with kids a tempting idea…and then the innocence thing…

We buy into archetypes of sexuality that rely on the corruption of innocence for their ‘hawtness’, teen and preteen porn is everywhere, men leer and backslap over teen girls (through the years, Anna Kournicova, the Olsen Twins, the Veronicas etc), we debate whether Lolita was asking for it, whether she seduced him or not…the trope of the hapless unhappily married man seduced by a sexy teenager is rife in movies and tv. The ‘naughty schoolgirl’ look has an enduring appeal for men’s mags/strip shows/porn sites, and the whole basis seems to be the idea that when men are honest, they must admit that they want to corrupt innocence, to defile youth, they want to make that ‘innocent young thing’ admit she’s not so innocent at all. That seems at the heart of it all – no matter what we say, no matter how much she doth protest…she’s still a chick and we all know chicks *want it baby*, yeah.

We’ve set up the notion that it’s desirable to have sex with very young bodies, and we buy into the innocence thing in order to get off, we utilise this innocence in order to pervert it for cheap sexual gratification and now as a society we have the hide to pick up this notion of ‘innocence’ as though we’ve not utterly perverted it anyway, and suggest that *this* is what makes sex with kids wrong? Does this not suggest immediately that if the child in question is less innocent, say she dressed all sexy-like, say she made moves, say she seemed like she knew what she was doing, oh, say she had some boobs…well, you know…that means it’s not as bad as when the child is ‘innocent’ right??

Does it not also rely on biblical notions of purity and corruption? Does it not make knowledge of sex or sexual desire in and of itself *bad* and *dirty*? Are not bad and dirty girls to be punished? Does it not locate the sin in the body that ‘tempts’? Does it not make a child’s body bared into the site of temptaion and sin? Does it not take the focus *off* the wrong, off the perpetrator, of the desire, off the society that says that desire is fine/normal and ok? Is it not just an easy fucking answer to absolve us of having real discussions of where we’re going wrong?

So, in case you missed it, I hate the notion that the wrong in adults having sex with kids is in the ‘corruption of innocence’ as it plays into the notion that some rape is worse than others, not due to how fucked up the rapist is, not to the barbarity involved, not to how much humiliation was intended, not to the fact that an adult thought they could use their influence to get off at the expense of letting a child come into their own sexuality in their own time and with persons of their own age?

I also think that this notion of innocence in relation to sex crimes is not confined to childhood – the old argument “It’s worse to rape a nun than a prostitute” still finds plenty of support. NO…it’s wrong to rape. Period. To suggest otherwise is to say that some women ask for it which is to say that rape is about women tempting men and not men using their dicks as weapons of humiliation, degradation and pain.

What’s raised all this again for me is the notion of ‘availability’. It seems (and I’ve covered this before) that women are *for* sex, that’s what they’re for, no matter what they’re doing/saying, underneath it all, she’s really just a body (a pussy), a site for men’s pleasure. I mean take a look at what we’re doing to Sarah Palin. Feminists ought to vote for her cos she has a vagina – Vaginas Unite! But also we can’t quite take her seriously can we? VPILF was up within days, and in my last post I discussed the Sarah Palin dolls. Cool. Let’s fetishise her as a dominatrix and a schoolgirl. Cos while she’s the Republican candidate for VP, she’s also a chick – see above for what we know about chicks.

Anyway, with all this, and with our notions about women’s bodies as penetrable is another linked idea – that women are always and ever ‘available’ to men. I mean you can see that in the way women are ranked and assessed and leered at and harrassed in walking down the street, in our commodification in magazines etc. But some more examples came up for me this week and made me really fucking angry.

Hoyden About Town has a discussion of a Jim Beam ad which relies for it’s humour on the fact that two really hot chicks are lesbians – it’s entitled The Tragedy. It’s part of an ongoing campaign which trivialises stalking and makes stalking ‘fun and funny’, and which suggests that women all really ought to be compliant, brainless, opinionless, human sex robots- the perfect girlfried is an automaton that thinks her piggish muntheaded man can do no wrong…ahaha! Oh women, they’re so ANNOYING, and stupid, and they EXPECT things, and they hate it when I’m a prick! God, wouldn’t a sex slave who thought I was the shit be great. Yeah, that’s what ALL women should be…and yeah of course…it’s a tragedy for men that two hot chicks would dig each other and not them.

Unsurprisingly the ad was complained about and the response of the Advertising Standards Bureau was that:

“The Tragedy”, was not intended to mean that it was a tragedy generally for women to be lesbians, but that such an attractive woman was not available to heterosexual men.

Well, phew. Lesbianism itself is not a problem to men, so long as it’s *ugly* chicks, and the lesbians aren’t going to begin stealing mens possessions – hot chicks. And EXCUSE ME??? The tragedy is that the hottie is not *available* to heterosexual men…men, not even man. Are you getting this everyone? All women everywhere are the property of Teh Menz. Teh Menz reserve the right to put their dicks in any such woman as they find appropriate -whenever and whereever and no furhter correspondence is to be entered into.

Hot on the heels of pondering this I hear this following story in which an 18 year old hid in the boot of a car waiting for the topless waitress to leave her job at the bucks party so he could rape her repeatedly calling her a ‘bitch’ and a ‘slut’, saying ‘You asked for this slut, you’re just a stripper’, telling her if she did what she was told, ie to let him rape her repeatedly while telling her it was all her fault, she wouldn’t get ‘hurt’. Curious definition of what counts as ‘hurt’. But fuck – any more chrystal clear examples of the attitude that women are ‘available’ to men? He saw, he hid, he raped, he took what he thought was his. He humiliated and punished, he hurt, he raped, he did his best to destroy her. Why? Well, really, she had ‘ no innocence’, therefore she ‘asked for it’. No innocence=sexually available=ought to be punished. The thing is it’s not confined to examples, it’s not confined to one fucked up dude, it’s about society’s fucked up attitudes to women and girls, to sex and bodies, to consent, to innocence/corruption, availability, sex and rape. It permeates everything, it’s there when we don’t acknowledge it, and it means that a child who is molested who is seen as less ‘innocent’ somehow *caused* the actions, or the topless waitress somehow *caused* this piece of shit to hide and rape her repeatedly. It means that the focus of sex crimes is taken *off* the perpetrator, and put onto the victim – is s/he sufficiently chaste enough to be deserving of our sympathies? No? Well, nasty ‘slut’  probably *wanted it* then – I mean for real??? Can we not put the fucking emphasis where it ought to be – rape and child molestation: DON’T DO IT – EVER.

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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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Ok – ENOUGH!

The other day I went to a doctors surgery and I read through a copy of a “womens” magazine. You know the ones? The ones with the “raunchy” sex section? With suggestions like “When you’re going down on him [cos it’s always assumed it’s a him] try pouting and moaning like a porn star. HOT!”

So anyway, having waited forty minutes already I thought I’d check it out. Fuck me.

Under the banner of something like “Are you GOOD in bed? Do you wanna be GREAT in bed?” it had about eight suggestions. Two stuck in my mind as particularly outstanding – one for being so galling, the other just made me laugh out loud.

 So girls, when you are going to have sex and you are ashamed of your body because it doesn’t look like a taut skinned pre-pubescent boy’s body, what you should do to make the sex “hotter”, to be “great” in bed is to lie on your side facing away. Get him to lie behind you, lift your leg and let him enter you from behind. That way you don’t have to be worried about all the ‘bits’ of your body that you are ashamed of. That way he can get off without ever having to look at your hideous disgusting women’s body.

I am NOT making this up!

The second??? This being the one that made me laugh, cos the one above is so NOT funny…”Don’t be afraid to initiate sex”. ???…….????????????

Wow. Now I know that I am a feminist and I am over thirty so perhaps it is alzheimer’s kicking in, but was I ever afraid to initiate sex? Is it something women are afraid of? Or should be afraid of?? See the article said “I know this one sounds scary girls” then it went on to say you didn’t need to be so bold as to say it, to ask for it, or just to get on with setting it in motion…”anything you do that makes him think of sex” (like not killing him dead) is good to initiate sex while protecting your gigglish girlish innocent persona.

They are talking (as they always do) about sex in the context of a relationship…what sort of a relationship do you have where if you wanna have sex with your partner you have to wait til they initiate it??? What exactly is your boyfriend (cos only hetero relationships get a look-in in these mags) gonna do, what is he gonna think if you grab him, kiss him and push him up against a wall? Is he gonna freak that he’s dating Sharron Stone and your gonna go get the icepick? Are we still after all this time being forced to choose between playing damned whores and gods police? Sluts or timid little ladies who blush and only have sex because they are doing someone a favour?

So…given the above I thought maybe I should start up a regular column for women so we can know what our men want (stay away from other women girls, unless you’re pashing your female friend in the pub for ten bucks and the guy’s amusement) and can plan ahead to ensure that we are great in bed.

PART ONE OF HOW TO BE A SEXY, HOT HETERO GIRL:

 First I suggest taking a good look at your body. If you are female, chances are you have some flesh. That is wrong, out of place and disgustingly unsexy. You could of course choose to kind of grab it in chunks, tie it back with rubber bands and enter the room sideways like a crab so he is amazed by the tautness of your skin and can’t see all the wierd rubber bands.

This then requires that you choose certain positions in order that he doesn’t see your back. Also do NOT let him touch you. While the feel of hands running over your skin might be sexy, this is not about you. You are here to do a job and to fit in with current stereotypes of beauty. Straddle him carefully, facing him. Tie him up so his hands can’t wander. Then proceed to move carefully so as not to begin pinging rubber bands across the room.

The added advantage of tying his hands up is that he then can’t touch you “down there” – cos we all know how gross it is down there. That’s why labial cosmetic surgery is so popular. But that’s a topic for another day. 

 For today, consider the rubber bands. If this is too high maintenance, you could always try starving yourself til ‘acceptably’ thin, saving a fortune from your low paying, non-threatening job, and investing in surgery to cut away all that disgusting womanly flesh. This is the only true method to ensure that he can have sex with you from in front and behind so he will not get so bored with you. It’s a worthwhile investment in becoming a hot hetero girl.

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