innocent_lex: (Hmmmm)
The founder of wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been accused of raping two women. He is currently in the UK and fighting extradition to Sweden. He has also pissed off a lot of extremely powerful people with his website.

The thing is, the instant response to these events from a lot of people who I had previously had respect for is this: the rape allegations must be false and have been fabricated by the powerful people in order to discredit Assange.

My response to that? It's entirely possible that the rape allegations are true. It's entirely possible for Assange to be an influential and ground-breaking leader of change for openness and against secrecy. Those two realities can co-exist; they are not mutually exclusive. Many people in history have achieved great things while still behaving unacceptably or even reprehensibly in one way or another - keeping slaves, assaulting women, killing people, and other horrendous activities. Let's not cheer on people who want to stomp all over the experiences of yet more rape victims just because those doing the stomping happen to like the person accused of those crimes. Let's not assume the crimes didn't happen - let's instead assume they did (because the police have enough evidence to make a charge), and let the trial (like trials for other crimes) be about assessing the evidence and understanding whether the accused was the person who committed said crimes. Let's not assume the rape victims are liars. Rape victims have to put up with a hell of a lot of abuse, distrust, violent reprisals and sometimes death for coming forward and saying what happened to them. Let's treat them like human beings.

I don't know if Assange committed these crimes, and it's not up to me to make a judgement. A trial where the evidence the police have gathered is put forward, where the victims can have their say, and where the defendant can state his case is the natural next step, however. If only that were the situation with all the rapes that were committed every year in every country around the world.
innocent_lex: (Default)
An excellent cartoon by ampersand re the street harassment of women: http://www.leftycartoons.com/street-harassment/ . And socimages has started discussing the cartoon and the harassment here: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/09/02/women-and-street-harassment/

Usually I only read serious conversation about this stuff on feminist sites, so it's nice to see it out there in a little more of mixed location such as socimages. Well, perhaps nice isn't the word. Reassuring? Good to see it taken seriously by both men and women who haven't already put up a flag of "I believe women are people"? Dunno. It's hard to explain this phenomenon to people who don't experience it or don't notice it happening to others, but this is the key reason I have a panic if I realise I've forgotten my ipod having set off for work. A lot harder to ignore this stuff when you can't avoid hearing it. Of course, the ipod doesn't help with the visuals, but I read too (and sometimes even when I'm walking down the street).
innocent_lex: (Default)
I'm watching University Challenge, which for non-UKers is a quiz show with difficult questions with teams from various universities. One of the questions today included a word for "a woman who seduces men" and between the two teams they came up with "whore" and "tramp". Charming. The real answer of "vamp" wasn't exactly delightful, either, but good grief - what the hell kind of upbringing have all these people had that they can't see a woman who's after a date or (heaven forfend) sex as someone merely deserving the title of "woman"?
innocent_lex: (happy)
Excellent post at kateharding.net explaining to men why it is women often simply don't want to talk to them in public places.

Favourite quote:

" If you speak, and she responds in a monosyllabic way without looking at you, she’s saying, “I don’t want to be rude, but please leave me alone.” You don’t know why. It could be “Please leave me alone because I am trying to memorize Beowulf.” It could be “Please leave me alone because you are a scary, scary man with breath like a water buffalo.” It could be “Please leave me alone because I am planning my assassination of a major geopolitical figure and I will have to kill you if you are able to recognize me and blow my cover.” "
innocent_lex: (grumpy)
Regarding this story about a German magazine banning models and only using 'real women' from now on...

Thin women are real women. Fat women are real women. Short women are real women. Women with disabilities are real women. Trans women are real women. Women who work as engineers are real women. Women who work as models are real women. Women who are mothers are real women. Women who are single are real women. Women who are out of work are real women. Women who care for others are real women. Women who are poor or rich or anything in between are real women.

All women are real women. How hard is that to understand?
innocent_lex: (serious)
Completely by accident I saw a report about women in Chechnya last night. I think most people should be able to listen to it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p003lrfr. It turns out that women in Chechnya are subject to kidnapping, forced marriage, violence, and being 'disappeared'. Women are treated like things for men to own or discard as they see fit. Women are being murdered if they don't comply with men's wishes. The interviews in the programme, with both men and women, were downright chilling in their matter-of-factness (from the men and even some women) and despair (from the women).

Today I read about an article in Psychology Today written by a complete arse who thinks that women don't need power or agency of their own because any 'reasonably attractive woman' can control men. There's no detail to let a particular women know if she falls under this man's definition of 'reasonably attractive', and there are no guidelines on how those lucky women can exert their control (is it by smiling? pheromones? taking photos of herself and sticking them everywhere? mind control? weapons training only given to the 'reasonably attractive'?). And an awful lot of people, men and women alike, will see nothing wrong with either that article or what's happening in Chechnya.

People talk about something they call 'post-feminism', as if women have everything they could possibly want, now. As if rape isn't used as anything from a method of control, to 'punishment', to terror, to a weapon of war. As if violence against women isn't shrugged off over and over because it doesn't matter, women aren't important. As if girls aren't given the same educational opportunities as boys in vast swathes of the world. But we don't need women, we don't need to talk as if we think women aren't being treated as people, because in some western countries women are even paid 80% of what men are paid. What are women whining about? Why can't they just shut up and be content looking pretty enough to influence men?

I was asked a while ago by a man I worked with (and with no trace of irony) if I would really be okay with it if women were treated preferentially when it came to getting jobs or promotions or pay rises. I laughed. It's moments like that which make me realise attitudes are just not going to change significantly in my lifetime. But, because I'm a contrary female who can say the f-word* without blinking, that won't stop me trying to make a difference in my own ways.

*the f-word is feminism. I swear like a bloody trooper, but for some reason so many people have a bigger problem with me when I call myself a feminist than when I tell them to fuck off. Go figure.
innocent_lex: (grumpy)
The way to stop male violence against women is not to teach women different self-esteem strategies, it's to teach men to not be violent arseholes. The way to stop rape of women by men is not to teach women to stop walking down dark alleys at night, it's to teach men to not be rapists.

Seriously. Get a clue.

No love at all,

Me
innocent_lex: (grumpy)
I'm seeing and hearing a lot more bigotry these days than I used to. Is that because I'm more aware of it or because there's more of it around in day-to-day conversation? In terms of people I know, I've heard casual racism (as in, words used without any care that they are racist and no thought that the person hearing the words might be offended), homophobia (no, the f-word is not a good one, and being gay is *not* synonymous with being a paedophile, good grief!), and of course the eternal ongoing sexism that pervades everything (which may or may not be getting worse, but it pisses me off).

I'm concerned about the big things like the BNP being voted in as MPs, but also about the everyday speech from everyday people. Is it just me?
innocent_lex: (grumpy)
For those who don't know, the Bechdel test is about how women are treated in film. Actually, it could easily apply to television and books and any other media, but it was created to apply to film. The requirement a film must meet to pass the test are:

1) It has to have at least two women in it
2) Who talk to each other
3) About something besides a man

It should be shocking how many films don't pass this test. Turns out, though, that it's usually only a shock to men I mention the test to - women are already well aware how underrepresented we are.

A quote from a discussion thread on Shakesville about the latest Star Trek film: "Here's a question I've been mulling in my mind: Which is the weaker passing of the Bechdel test - Star Trek Insurrection, which passes due to a conversation between Troi and Crusher about how their boobs are firming up, or this new movie in which Uhura and Gaila discuss a distress signal from Klingon space, but do it in their underwear?"

It's damn depressing, that's what it is.
innocent_lex: (grumpy)
Amazon has decided to 'de-rank' a whole pile of books on its site. What that means, it seems, is that those books are no longer given a ranking so you don't know how popular they are, and significantly also do not appear in search results if you're searching from the main Amazon page. I thought this was a bit bizarre, but have just tested it and it's absolutely right. Amazon have decided that some books are too 'adult' to come back in a search. Sadly, their criteria for 'adult' seem to come down heavily on the side of GLBT-bigotry. Bugger me. I've looked at both Amazon.com and UK and the nonsense looks to be the same on both sides of the channel.

News via #amazonfail on twitter and posts on LJ's meta writer. Thanks to amireal for flagging this.

ETA: #amazonfail is trending now, with tweets coming thick and fast. PR disaster being born in front of our eyes.

ETA2: Googlebombing about to commence in response to Amazon. They really really, really didn't think their actions through. Also, feminist books are being de-ranked too.
innocent_lex: (why is this my life)
At least, here in the UK they do. So on Sunday it'll get dark here by about 5pm and it'll get earlier for several months. What difference does this make to me? I'll always come home from work in the dark. Actually, it's been that way for a few weeks now, but that situation will carry on for months and months. Walk home in the dark, make sure to switch off the ipod as I get off the (crowded) train, watch the stream of people around me thin and vanish as I leave the station, walk down a road alone while looking around to see if anyone's nearby, if there's anywhere to hide, careful of the cars stopped at the lights in case the occupants do anything unexpected, and make it to a car park where I'll be alone (though checking for people), check the back seat of my car before unlocking it, getting in and locking it again before I drive home.

And in case anyone's wondering, once I leave the station the 'people' I'm looking out for are men. This is entirely normal behaviour on my part, making sure I can hear and see as much of my surroundings as possible when it's dark because women are taught (for good reason) to fear being alone after dark. Here's a proposition: how about men are kept in after dark so women don't have to be afraid? That would make a change.
innocent_lex: (Default)
1) There appear to be quite a lot of people out there saying that women are being feminist if they're voting for Palin. There is no sense of irony included in the statements I've seen.

2) There are still plenty of people calling the US president the 'the leader of the free world'. There is no sense of irony coming from the people saying this.

Out of these two points, I'm not sure which baffles me more. I wonder if simple definitions of 'feminism', 'country', 'world', and 'free' will help these people, but I suspect not.
innocent_lex: (bored)
Yes, this is about gender stereotyping. Sorry, no, my mistake, it's about there being a spectrum within gender (apparently), but all of the questions are blatant gender stereotyping.

Questions: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/men-women/questionnaire-are-you-gender-typical-937454.html
detailed questions here )
Scoring: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/men-women/scoring-937469.html

I answer 'no thanks' to every question except 7, 11, 13 and 18, which get a 'yes'. Oh and 20, which gets a 'since when did the cat actually leave remains?'. In case you're wondering, the questions are multiple choice and were written by a man time travelling between the fifties and the seventies.
innocent_lex: (sleepy)
I read a blog called Shakesville, which is feminist, and which has some really interesting conversations and thoughts posted. I like it muchly. Yesterday I discovered what happens when a blog like that just leaves its doors open to anyone at all and doesn't police the moderation queue. They did that on purpose just to have a bit of fun with the trolls, and the reaction is here. The post is about a new game from Sony for their game console thingy called 'Fat Princess'. And yes, whatever vile thoughts that title put into your head are probably accurate.

So, the post now has 1886 comments and counting. Now you know, kids, the stories of internet trolls are all true. All of them. Thank the FSM for moderators.
innocent_lex: (Default)
I've been reading some of the response to the UK government's proposed legislation around discrimination - the 'Equalities Bill'. )
So, if, after all that blather from me, anyone has anything to say, feel free. I won't be offended if there are no comments; I needed to get some thinking down on paper.
innocent_lex: (Don't piss me off)
Short story: there was a sci fi con; there was a bloke who thought it would a great idea to ask all kinds of women at the con if he (and his friends) could grope their breasts; he posted about how wonderful, non-sexual, and delightful it all was for him; he thinks it's empowering to women.

Yeah.

So, if anyone's not read about it yet and wants to see some of the rapidly spreading response, try here for the fandom / con-going perspective, or here or here for the feminist perspective.

My thoughts are a mixed bunch, none of them charitable. This kind of ingrained sexism brings up issue after issue and makes my brain bounce around from random life experiences to general problems faced to the pain caused to me and others (women and men alike). What it all boils down to, though, is this worry that in fact women will never be seen as people. Being male is seen as the default state in this world. Women are seen as inferior, as victims (or victims-to-be), as only there for male entertainment or gratification, as bitches, as stupid, as weak, as owned by men, as servants, as slaves, as punch-bags, as decoration, as followers not leaders, as 'diverse', as other. We've moved on, particularly in the West, from how things used to be. I know we have. I do. But, bloody hell, why is it still so hard?

Why do I still hear the news talking about 'female' police officers? Why is it essentially unsafe for women to walk the streets alone? Why, after my night out, did my friends feel they needed to insist on walking me to the station? Why is it unwise for a woman to leave her drink unsupervised in a pub? Why do firms have 'diversity targets' for women? Why, when a woman is raped, is the first question on so many people's lips "what was she wearing?" or "did she lead him on"? Why is it so hard to find a film or television programme which meets the three basic tests of female viewing: is there more than one woman in it?; who talk to each other?; about something other than men? Why are people (men and women) afraid to call themselves feminist when all feminism means is a desire for men and women to be equal? Why are Amnesty fighting to end the 'war on women'? Why isn't everyone?

My male friends are lovely. My male family members are fantastic. They don't think like this twat and so many other men out there. I must hold on to that.

EDIT: An interesting update to the situation, with the suggestion of the Open Source Women Back Each Other Up Programme. I'm sitting between being saddened that this seems to be a new idea to to so many, and pleased that something positive is coming out of the nonsense.
innocent_lex: (thinky face)
To follow the feminist theme, this article was published in the Telegraph in November: Flexible working could backfire on women. To read the corrected version of the article (and no, I'm not being tongue in cheek, I'm shining a light), please see behind the cut )

There, fixed it.
innocent_lex: (writing)
Courtesy of Alas! A blog, here is the male privilege checklist. I'm reposting with permission, but here is the source if anyone wants to check it out.

The Male Privilege Checklist )

And more from me.... a reminder of various women-focussed / women-run sites that might be of interest, and some new things I've seen on my travels:
Shiny shiny - women-run tech blog
Feministing - US-focussed feminist blog
The F-word - UK feminist blog
Amnesty's Stop Violence Against Women campaign
Women and the vote - an entry on the Electoral Reform's website showing how many men and how many women have been British MPs since women got the vote in 1918. More enlightening stuff.
innocent_lex: (Don't piss me off)
Yeah, so, when a bloke says "I'm not being sexist, it's just that most women think / do / want this...", they actually look more a prat than they would if they'd just said the sexist thing. Because by saying "I'm not being sexist" they actually mean:
a) I'm being sexist and I'm too bloody stupid to realise it
b) I'm being sexist, but if I say this then you'll not complain
c) I'm a complete moron, and am trying to persuade you that what I'm saying isn't sexist, it's just 'reality'
d) I think you're an idiot

Why is this the world? And why is this world the one that comes with violence, ignorance, vicious assholes and random nastiness?

This post is brought to you by the group dinner I was at last week, and this Pandagon post.

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