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


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

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

December 30, 2013 § Leave a comment


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]

Strictly extrapolative works of science fiction generally arrive about where the Club of Rome arrives: somewhere between the gradual extinction of human liberty and the total extinction of terrestrial life

June 11, 2013 § Leave a comment


Kerry Segrave, in “Shoplifting: A Social History”—a study frequently cited by Shteir, and which provides a more coherent and statistically richer overview subject than her own often scattered account—quotes Dr. David Reuben, writing in McCall ’s in 1970, to the effect that most amateur store thieves were married women between the ages of thirty-five and fifty-five. What they had in common, he said, was:

unhappy marriages, obesity, depression. Their sexual relationships with their husbands range from unsatisfactory to nonexistent. In effect, their lives have been drained of all emotional satisfaction… An afternoon roaming through a department store is a substitute for social relationships with other human beings.

In 1878, the Times quoted the superintendent of a department store saying, “Stealing seems to come natural to a great many women.”

These two views of women as thieves could be combined, with the assistance of time-honed free-floating misogyny, into a persistent faux-organic explanation for what was taken to be a quintessentially female crime. When Ella Castle, a wealthy American, was arrested in London on shoplifting charges, in 1896, she was examined by various physicians, with a view to a plea of kleptomania. She was released on their assessment of her condition. A Dr. Grigg testified:

She is intensely neurotic. The condition of things—a disease of the upper portion of the uterus—is a very common accompaniment of various forms of mania in women, such as melancholia, religious mania, nymphomania, and I have seen it in several cases of kleptomania. It is invariably coupled with much mental disturbance. The condition I discovered is quite sufficient to account for any form of mental vagaries which are as well known to affect a certain class of women (neurotic) with disordered menstruation.

When she got home, doctors at the Philadelphia Polyclinic agreed with the diagnosis.

The ancient belief that the womb wandered about the body causing mental distraction (thus “hysteria”) has transformed here into a mysterious “upper portion of the womb” disease. The main thing is that the wayward and inherently diseased female reproductive system is at the root of irrational and pathological behavior, which is only to be expected from women. Unstable female innards not only determine dangerous sexuality but also threaten to disrupt properly regulated commerce…

I come from the generation for whom, in the early nineteen-seventies, shoplifting became a positive virtue within the disaffected counterculture. Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal This Book” contained handy shoplifting hints and was chained down in bookstores. Jerry Rubin, channelling Proudhon’s dictum “Property is theft,” declared in his book “Do It,” “All money represents theft… Shoplifting gets you high. Don’t buy. Steal. If you act like it’s yours no one will ask you to pay for it.” I found this to be true. Running an alternative school with almost no money in the early seventies, I made trips to a large bookstore in London, and piled up reference books and textbooks until the tower nestled under my raised chin. Then I confidently walked out of the shop. Several times. No one ever stopped me. I had no qualms.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Sasha Mademuaselle

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