Before ten years are over, the Devil’s in it if I have not sucked out some of the life-blood from the mysteries of this universe, in a way that no purely mortal lips or brains could do

February 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Consider, for instance, the experience of Boulet, a male cartoonist who, at one point, posted his work online under a female pseudonym and was stunned by the number of insulting, sexualised and misogynistic comments “she” received, having never experienced the like while posting art under his own name. More recently, a man who pretended to be a woman on OK Cupid – with the aim, ironically enough, of proving to a female friend that online dating was easy for women – quit after only two hours, shocked and disgusted by the deluge of gratuitous, aggressively sexual messages he received. And just last week, a male friend mentioned to me that, since he’s started playing a female character in an online game, he’s been getting hit on by other players – not grossly, but enough that he’s noticed the difference. That exchange prompted me to go on Twitter and ask if any other guys who’d had similar experiences would be willing to share them; what came back, however, was an even more interesting anecdote, wherein a female gamer noted that several men of her acquaintance have preferred to play as – and pretended to be – women in MMORPG environments specifically in order to scam male players.

Which opened up a rather breathtaking possibility: what if the respective myths of the Fake Geek Girl and Fake Gamer Girl are actively being perpetuated, not through the whore-user predations of evil ladies, but because a cynical, sexist subset of male geeks are using stereotypical, strawman portrayals of women to manipulate their peers? If this is what’s happening even some of the time, then not only might it account for the massive dissonance between female experiences in male-dominated gaming spaces (as documented by sites like Fat, Ugly or Slutty and Not In The Kitchen Anymore) and male accounts of the same exchanges, but for the ongoing pervasiveness of the stereotype. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, I mused, to have some data on that!

So I went and did some research. And guess what? There is dataread more

PHOTOGRAPH: Taj Bourgeois

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Mr Francis Curle told me howe one Dr Bullein, the Queenes kinsman, had a dog which he doted on, soe much that the Queene vnderstanding of it requested he would graunt hir one desyre, and he should haue what soeuer he would aske. Shee demaunded his dogge; he gave it, and “Nowe Madame” quoth he, “you promised to give me my desyre.” “I will,” quoth she. “Then I pray you giue me my dog againe.”

January 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Bogost writes, “hyperemployment offers a subtly different way to characterize all the tiny effort we contribute to Facebook and Instagram and the like. It’s not just that we’ve been duped into contributing free value to technology companies (although that’s also true), but that we’ve tacitly agreed to work unpaid jobs for all these companies.” This tacit agreement, however, extends beyond social media and e-mail and is really a form of housework and maintenance for our daily lives. In that regard, I wonder if calling the cozy arrangement between digital technologies, data economies, and invisible labor “employment” runs the danger of side-stepping the deeper (gendered and racialized) antagonisms inherent in the distinction between what is considered labor and what is considered “care.”  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: [unattributed]

I know men are supposed to be visual creatures but it’s the music I can’t stand

December 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I’ve tried to bite my lip on the No More Page Three campaign…

I find Page 3, with its large picture of boobs taken with the woman’s consent, actually somewhat better than all of the other pages of longlensings and body-shaming and gleeful rubbing over celebrities and their mental health, and so forth. That’s not even including the frequent bouts of overt racism, homophobia, transphobia and ableism that pepper its foul pages. The whole publication is absolutely fucking vile, and participates actively daily in outright harassment of women who have the misfortune of being famous, or poor, or brown, or whatever other excuse they can conjure to invade their privacy and pretend this is somehow in the public interest…

Now, one could say this campaign is a transitional demand in ending the objectification of women. However, that’s ignoring the fact that objectification is itself a symptom; the problem of objectification did not magically spring from nowhere… that’s assuming that No More Page Three is actually about objectification, which many of its supporters argue it is. I’ve read the text of the No More Page Three petition. I read it before deciding–with all of these criticisms already in mind–not to sign it. And it is just about boobs.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: [unattributed]

Government-owned national infrastructure? This is a capitalist country! The UK state shouldn’t get in the way of the market Chinese state

October 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

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“I saw a really young girl pouting and posing in front of the camera. Her language was something that struck me. It was really teenage language; she was talking about how boys at school were picking on her but there was one guy who fancied her and she didn’t know why boys didn’t like her,” Orwin explains. The girl on camera then asked whether her audience thought she was pretty or ugly. “I was horrified by it,” said Orwin. “Then you look at the comments below; they were horrific.”

Orwin then spotted the many related videos alongside it. “The thing that struck me is that it seemed like a really brave thing to do. I couldn’t imagine myself posting a video like that because I would have thought that she was opening herself up to a huge amount of criticism.”

After trying to contact some of the girls who made the videos, Orwin decided to post some of her own. She came up with a number of teenage alter-egos: an emo girl called Becky, a nerdy girl called Amanda, and another character called Baby.

“I got torrents of abuse. People were telling me to fuck off and die,” Orwin explained. The emo girl Becky was targeted particularly aggressively. Three weeks after the video was posted, there was a spike of interest and Orwin received 200 comment notifications. One of the comments said: “Your so fucking dumb, yes you are ugly, just because you made this shitty video I think your the ugliest cunt out, take off that eye shadow no girl ever can pull off that much especially not you, and if you really think being ugly is such a surprise to you, life is going to fucking suck for you.”

“I woke up and read all of this abuse and I really felt it in my stomach. I had to remind myself that it’s not me, it’s the character.”

Orwin makes a point about the characters being 15-years-old in her videos (she’s actually 26), but that didn’t stop her from receiving hundreds of private messages, the vast majority from men, many of which were asking for her to send more videos. One man said “I think ur pretty. Don’t let anyone tell u any different OK. Can u do a dance vid so I can see more of sexy u?xx.”

When Orwin sat down to analyze the comments and messages she had received on her videos, she found that 70 percent of the feedback was from men, “and most of them were definitely over 18.” Most of the women who commented were under 18.

One commenter who stood out for Orwin was a user called RookhKshatriya, who wrote under Becky’s video, “You’re a 4 and without glasses you are a 5.” The commenter is actually a London-based academic who works in education and calls himself an “anti-feminist,” believing that the Anglo-American brand of feminism that emerged in the ’60s has an ulterior misandrist agenda.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Esther Friedman

The carnage continues every weekday

October 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Thirty-three-year-old Daryush Valizadeh, known to his predominantly heterosexual male fan base as Roosh, is a well-known pick-up artist within the worldwide “Seduction Community,” which relies on pop evolutionary psychology to teach the art of getting laid. Its origins date back to dubious neuro-linguistic programming “speed seduction” theories in the early 1990s, but the Community rose to prominence with investigative reporter Neil Strauss’s 2005 bestseller exposé The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, which spawned a VH1 reality show and drew aspiring “PUAs” to online forums and self-proclaimed gurus promising foolproof seduction strategies.

Pick-up artists believe that all women are the same: submissive, choosier than men when picking sexual partners, entranced by shiny objects. In the Community, players are self-made; most renowned pick-up artists claim they were socially awkward losers until they learned the tricks of the trade. If a pick-up artist hones his “inner game” (confidence) as well as his “outer game” (appearance), he can control his sexual future. When women come with cheat codes, rejection is not an option; if a play fails, the player tweaks his strategy instead of conceding defeat.

Roosh enjoys middling success as the author of the “Bang” series of travel guides, which trains readers to seduce women based on derogatory ethnic stereotypes. In Bang Brazil, Roosh warns his followers that “poor favela chicks are very easy, but quality is a serious problem.” He vows never to return to the Polish city of Katowice unless forced to “maintain the pussy flow.” Roosh’s predations haven’t gone without recognition. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, included Roosh’s personal blog in a March 2012 report on American hate groups; it quotes an Icelandic feminist group that described Bang Iceland as a “rape guide.”

But Roosh’s Denmark directory diverges from his usual frat-boy Casanova fantasies liberally seasoned with rape jokes. Don’t Bang Denmark—note the dramatic title change—is a cranky volume that (spoiler alert!) probably won’t help any Roosh acolytes score. Roosh calls it the “most angry book” he’s ever written. “This book is a warning of how bad things can get for a single man looking for beautiful, feminine, sexy women.”

What’s blocking the pussy flow in Denmark? The country’s excellent social welfare services. Really.  read more

ART: [unattributed]

The Bolshevists are behind the labour unrest – but this man is behind the Bolshevists

July 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

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Can you imagine ever reading a story about how guys have it so good while they are young men, only to discover too late the price they’ll likely pay for fucking around in college and holding off on relationships until they have had some experiences? No? Me either…

Throughout the piece, we are reminded that in spite of how strong/feminist these women are, that they didn’t want their names printed or their number of sexual partners…

ZOMG. WHO THE FUCK WANTS THEIR NUMBER OF SEXUAL PARTNERS EVER PRINTED ANYWHERE EVER FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER? Why would any woman be obligated to share her number of sexual partners with a reporter? To put her money where her vagina is? Also, there’s no mention of a slut-shaming culture to help contextualize their choice to remain anonymous, just that the women don’t want to give their names…

So there you have it. A super balanced look at the how young women at the top schools are continually reshaping our notions of feminism, choice, and equality and how it affects their lives, er, lack of husbands.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Julian Baker

I’d rather dance with the cows till you come home

June 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

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You know how it is, right, ladies? You know a guy for a while. You hang out with him. You do fun things with him—play video games, watch movies, go hiking, go to concerts. You invite him to your parties. You listen to his problems. You do all this because you think he wants to be your friend.

But then, then comes the fateful moment where you find out that all this time, he’s only seen you as a potential girlfriend. And then if you turn him down, he may never speak to you again. This has happened to me time after time: I hit it off with a guy, and, for all that I’ve been burned in the past, I start to think that this one might actually care about me as a person. And then he asks me on a date.

I tell him how much I enjoy his company, how much I value his friendship. I tell him that I really want to be his friend and to continue hanging out with him and talking about our favorite books or exploring new restaurants or making fun of avant-garde theatre productions. But he rejects me. He doesn’t answer my calls or e-mails; if we’d been making plans to do something before this fateful incident, these plans mysteriously fail to materialize. (This is why I never did get around to seeing the Hunger Games movie. Not to name any names, but thanks a lot, Tom.) Later, when I run into him at social events, our conversations are awkward and lukewarm. This is because the moment we met, he put me in the girlfriend-zone, and now he can’t see me as friend material.

I must say that I find this really unfair. I mean, I’m a nice girl. I have a lot to offer as a friend, like not being a douchebag and stuff. But males just don’t want to be friends with nice girls like me. They can’t help it, I guess; it’s just how they’re wired, biologically. Evolution conditioned our male hominid ancestors to seek nice girls as mates and form friendship bonds only with the other dudes that they hunted mammoths with. It’s true—I know this because I studied hominids in my fifth-grade science class.  read more

ART: Franz Kline

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