Archive for May, 2011

SlutWalk and Its Critics (Media Is Important, but Don’t Let It Play You)

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Okay, I’ve seen and read enough criticism of SlutWalk. I agree with other defenders of SlutWalk that a lot of the criticism seems to focus on either the word ‘Slut’ or that SlutWalk isn’t ‘feminist’ enough. Now flying about is a very invalid criticism that SlutWalk is “A Stroll Through White Supremacy”.

From my perspective, these criticisms serve only to detract from SlutWalk’s main issues. With these criticisms flying about, some people who originally support SlutWalk are starting to feel that they are wrong in their support. Some men have felt like they don’t have a say anymore because the impression they are getting from some of the ‘radical feminists’ is that they don’t have any say in women’s issues (I really disagree with that; men can and do have a say – they just can’t force women to do or not do something). One white male on Facebook said he felt that if he supports SlutWalk he’s somehow a ‘white supremacist’. Another woman who grew up with a mixed cultural background like me (her Tumblr blog says she isn’t white, but she grew up decently well off in the U.S.) is frustrated by the ‘white supremacy’ criticism because she feels “like I’ve been deemed irrelevant to this conversation. I’m not light enough to reap the benefits of liberal white woman entitlement, and not oppressed enough to recognize it or feel offended by it. Apparently, I’m not invited to either party.” (Yes, I completely understand what she is feeling.)

I don’t blame these people for being frustrated and confused. It’s not their fault, it’s media play. Sometimes people can get inundated by all the media sources out there. They can feel the ‘media pressure’ to change their opinion because it seems like the majority opinion is the correct one, even if they know it isn’t (and yes, I am back to ‘tyranny of the majority’ and how the majority opinion can very well be the incorrect one).

Frankly, what I have to say is “fuck the media”. Seriously. (I say this knowing that ‘yes, my blog is part of independent media as well’, but I don’t expect people to adopt my opinions without thinking for themselves first. I just like to write whether or not I have an audience. It serves a personal purpose for me, and if someone likes my writing, then that’s just a bonus.) While it’s good to get other perspectives on social issues, it’s also important to realize that some people aren’t interested in intelligently, seriously, and maturely discussing these social issues. Some articles on the internet are written simply to inflame, to provoke anger, to instigate, to basically disrupt any sort of serious discussion of social issues. Some people write comments in the same manner on message boards, forums, and also on Facebook pages like SlutWalkTo’s. It’s called ‘trolling’. Articles and comments like these can and should be dismissed. No, it’s not being ignorant to dismiss them, it’s being sane. Constructive criticism is important, but trolling is a nuisance.

With regards to SlutWalk, I think it’s important for people to get past all the media play. Read what the co-founders have to say on their site, SlutWalk Toronto. Email them if you need to get clarification, have concerns, or want more discusssion (just realize they do have other things to do in their lives as well as being in charge of SlutWalk, so they may not necessarily have time to get back to you, and please don’t send them hate mail; for that matter, don’t send anyone hate mail). If you agree with SlutWalk and what the co-founders and organizers have to say, then it should not matter what anyone else has to say about it because everyone else isn’t running the show.

In my previous blog, I said “As long as SlutWalk maintains focus on the core issues of abuse, assault, and rape as a social issue for both men and women, I will continue to support SlutWalk.” It doesn’t matter what media says; what matters to me is what SlutWalk, its co-founders, and its organizers have to say. What they’ve said so far has been good enough for me.

~~~C
Your local SlutWalker and human rights activist

SlutWalk Loses One Feminist while Rabble.ca Loses a Reader

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

I’ve been following Rabble.ca’s newsfeed for almost a year now in my Google reader. I stumbled across that news site last summer when I was looking at some human rights issues. Aside from the G20 articles last summer and the random human rights articles, I haven’t found many articles on Rabble to be of any particular interest. In fact, I’ve been finding some of them to be a little less rational than I prefer. For a while now, I’ve been thinking of removing Rabble.ca from my newsfeed. Now, I think I have a good reason – We’re sluts, not feminists. Wherein my relationship with Slutwalk gets rocky, written by a ‘radical feminist’, Meghan Murphy. (Original article on Murphy’s blog.) Although Rabble.ca is nominally a liberal/left-wing news site, Murphy’s opinions are quite conservative, notably when it comes to the idea of other women making their own choices.

Murphy has the same complaint about SlutWalk as some others – the use of the word ‘slut’ in the name of the movement. She states a fallacy that I would like to point out: “[T]he word, “slut,” is gendered. Can we also agree on this?” Uh, no actually. I do know of ‘slut’ being used to insult men, though it’s less common than it being used on women, just as a man being raped by a woman is less common than women being raped by men. Funny enough, the first instance I heard of ‘slut’ being re-appropriated was by a man – his use of it was the same as SlutWalk’s. He liked sex, so why should he be ashamed that he liked sex so long as he participated in consensual sex?

Murphy tells us of another article:  “Another F Word, in the U.K., wrote a piece addressing, specifically, the term ‘slut.‘ The author wrote that, while they supported the original sentiment to ‘reclaim the streets’ regardless of the time of day (in reference to ‘Take Back the Night’), they did not feel comfortable with the idea that they should ‘reclaim’ the word ‘slut’.” This is the same argument SlutWalk organizers have been hearing from everyone who won’t actually participate in SlutWalks. Some people just aren’t getting over the the word itself.

What about the word ‘bitch’? Here’s another word that has been used to insult women. I know of young women who have re-appropriated that word without realizing that’s what they are doing. To these women, the word’s meaning is simply that they are strong women who aren’t easily pushed over. I have seen young women who are close friends laughingly call each other ‘bitch’; when they do so, they are re-appropriating the word each time and taking away the negative connotation behind it, taking the hurt out of a word that could have been used against them. When you think of how ‘bitch’ has been used to insult women and what sort of men have used ‘bitch’ to insult woman, the re-appropriated word and its subsequent definition as referring to a strong woman makes sense. ‘Bitch’ has been used to insult women who have shown some sort of strength that the man using it found ‘offensive’; that is, the woman behaved in such a way that he did not think was ‘ladylike’. The word ‘slut’ is no different, unless you get hung up on the fact that the word ‘slut’ deals with the topic of sex. I guess that really is the problem for some people. I find it very surprising that some feminists (I guess it’s the radical feminists) are seemingly against any notion of women admitting they like sex in the same way that a man can admit to liking sex. This just puts us right back to the whole notion that women are ‘ladylike, good girls’, and that any woman who likes sex (that is, a slut) is automatically a ‘wild, bad girl’. If that is what Murphy’s ‘radical feminism’ is, well, I’m not impressed. I thought we were past all the sexual taboos and hangups. (Guess not everyone has read Nancy Friday’s books.) So why can’t some women get past a word that has to do with sex? Why are some women letting this word hold them back?

A few people have commented on Another F Word’s article essentially saying the same thing – let’s move past the word, and there’s no better time than now. Waiting until the word has gradually changed definitions to reclaim it defeats the idea of reclaiming. Reclaiming has to do with an active conscious effort to redefine a word. Here are some comments to Another F Word’s article:

I am surprised that the Slutwalk has divided women into the “I hate the word ‘slut’ and don’t want to have anything to do with it” and the rest who have many others reasons for joining the protest, because there is a far more important and powerful issue at the heart of the walk that goes beyond personal dislike of the word. Joining the protest is a show of solidarity against the control of women’s sexuality. I think there’s so much focus and anxiety around the word ‘slut’ that many quickly see past the main issue why Slutwalk began in the first place, and it happens to be about rape and victim blaming. The word ‘slut’ has been used against women and girls to shame and control our behaviour even when it’s got *nothing* to do with the way we dress or how we choose to love. Neutralising the term may free us from yet another gendered insult. That said, I happen to be marching this June.

I didnt interpret the point of Slutwalk to reclaim the word slut or only to represent women who wear short skirts and heels. Women have been implicated in the blame for their own rapes when they’ve been wearing jeans, tracksuits and a myriad other outfits and the event doesn’t actually demand that you wear something ‘slutty’. Whilst theres a feminist discussion to be had around why women wear certain uncomfortable items of clothing im the first place, this doesnt invalidate the argument that a revealingly dressed woman has done nothing to bring about her own rape. I wear pretty comfortable clothing myself but for this event I think I’ll step out of character and wear something stereotypically “slutty” – because I’d like to drive home the point that even if I dressed solely to attract male attention, even if I were naked, even if I went home with a giy and got into his bed, it still isn’t an excuse to rape me.

I thought this was really interesting. I participated in the Toronto walk, but wore jogging attire because when I jog and people whistle or honk is one of the times I feel the most uncomfortable, even thought the clothing I wear is designed for comfort and performance and not meant to be sexual.

For me the march was more about separating sexuality from appearance, and recognizing that there is no such thing as dressing ‘slutty” the word will be used perjoratively against anyone, regardless of attire.

That said, I don’t believe over sexualization (or the denial of sexuality!) is the pathway to female liberation.

Exactly! 😀

I class myself as a feminist but I wear feminine clothes, heels, make up etc, I also wear slouchy jeans and trainers depending on my mood. Why should I or any other woman have to give an account or offer an explanation for why they (or I) have chosen an outfit on any given day? The older I have become the more feminine I have become because I have shunned the stereotypical “dyke” look that many Lesbians tried to force upon me when I first came out as Lesbian.For me my heels are symbolic – a rejection of a stereotypical homosexual image.

I doubt many women on the slutwalk will be a perfect size 6, obsessed with their weight and looking like they have just stepped off a catwalk….. I am sure there will be more fuller figured women attending not to mention those who are walking in their jeans, jogging pants etc. I know some men have stated they will be walking in a skirt to reinforce the notion that rape is about the Perpetrators actions… not about clothing.

I agree there is a great deal of pressure on women and girls to be a certain size, wear certain clothes and be “perfect” but do things have to be so polarized to the point that a woman cannot be or dress provocatively, feel sexy without taking this huge responsibility on her shoulders? That she must ALWAYS dress in a feminist approved fashion in order to set a good example? She must ALWAYS dress politically?”

This last comment points out exactly why Murphy’s article and her form of feminism bothers me. Do all feminists have to dress politically correctly? Seriously, is Murphy really going to insist on telling other women how they should dress? Who gets to dictate what is ‘feminist approved fashion’ (to quote the above commenter)? And, no, I don’t agree with the idea of anyone dictating what I do in my own personal life. Murphy would have all women believe that her ‘radical feminism’ is the only one that’s effective, that it’s the only one that they should follow.

I rather find her ‘radical feminism’ a little offensive. Especially when she’s ready to do what other men have done to women – take away women’s choices. So, to be a feminist, I can’t ever wear a pretty dress and high heels? Yet, her Facebook profile picture shows her in a skin-tight pink dress and high heels (I assume it’s her), and her Twitter shows her wearing something low-cut showing off cleavage. Now, I find this a tad hypocritical. Even better, a woman can’t decide for herself if she wants to be a burlesque dancer? (See Murphy’s opinion on burlesque.) Sure, there’s some issues with strip clubs, but there are women who make the choice to be a stripper (whether for money or because they want to get into dancing professionally). There are women who love to dance and burlesque is another dance art. Like everything, you can’t just view it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Some burlesque places may be badly run and some may be run respectfully. I did know a girl who was a dancer and yes, she did burlesque. She liked it, was proud of it. Her friends saw her show and thought she was talented. I also know of a male friend who went to a strip club and then said that he couldn’t see how some men treat these women so badly. He saw a beautiful performance, he saw talented women who danced well. He did not see a sex object. For Murphy to blatantly make these women feel bad about their choices is no better than a man who coerces a woman to do something; it is no better than victim-blaming. Just because Murphy is a woman, it does not give her any more right than a man to tell another woman what to do or what to think or what to wear. From Murphy’s comments on the SlutWalkTo Facebook wall, I can’t help feeling that if she represents all radical feminists, then radical feminism is nothing more than conservatism in a new guise. For example:

[When] this debate [recently] aired on The Agenda I couldn’t help but cringe, once again, when Jarvis brought up the “personal empowerment” argument as defense of the use and attempted reclaimation of the word, “slut,” saying that: “For me to call myself whatever language I want, if I find it empowering, for somebody else to say that that’s not a right choice, when this is my choice. I find that problematic.” I believe that, in this short quip, Jarvis sums up much of that what has made me uncomfortable with Slutwalk from the get-go. “If I feel personally empowered by my personal choice, then no one else should have anything to say on the matter. It affects only me,” is not a strong argument for feminism.

Clearly, Murphy isn’t quite on the program with respecting other women’s freedom to choose.

Furthermore, she stereotypes the kind of feminism she thinks some of the SlutWalkers are aligned with by linking to this video. Murphy says, “Many men seem to love the event. The Facebook page is full of men who revel in the “no we’re not feminists we’re humanists” slant, who use the page as a platform to promote their I’m-a good guy persona. Who are cool with feministish activism so long as they aren’t made to feel uncomfortable, the kind who prefer this version of feminism: i.e. The kind that is very pleasant and doesn’t say much. The kind that reassures the public that feminists are just attractive, heterosexual, women who love penises and shaving their legs. Women who don’t threaten the status quo.”

Really now? I went to SlutWalk Toronto (dressed in a track jacket, jeans, a T-shirt, running shoes, with no makeup). Let’s see… although, I am generally a small woman (5’3″ and right now about 110 lbs/50 kg), I am not your typical woman. Okay, maybe I’m attractive (I guess most guys would describe me as ‘cute’, but in no way do I fit the ‘T and A’ that some guys seem to like, I’m naturally slender and small), heterosexual (do all feminists have to be lesbians? and Murphy is complaining about stereotyping feminists?), I like strong men (but I also like strong women too!), and I like shaving my legs (actually, it’s more that I don’t like hair on my legs, sometimes it itches me and makes me scratch). Sure, I like pretty dresses sometimes, and as I mentioned in my previous post, I love dancing (for me, dancing is just body language and it’s an art form. I can express myself through dancing and I have had some really fun nights at a club by myself just dancing the night away), but I am not typically wearing high heels and dresses these days. Yes, the high heels hurt and are uncomfortable now since I trashed my knee years ago doing… wait, what?! Martial arts, which is still something that mostly men do, although there has been a rise in female participation in taekwondo, the martial art I train in. While training heavily one week years ago, I completely tore out my ACL, partially tore my MCL, and ripped a part of the meniscus. What did I do after I hurt myself? I decided to get knee surgery. Surgery was not necessary for me to have a ‘normal life’, but it was necessary for me to continue training in taekwondo. I had the surgery when most women would have just given it up (some just never start martial arts because they don’t want to get hurt). I have also performed a role in a public organization of ‘head of security’ (not the actual title of the role). This was a role and volunteer job that was traditionally only given to men in that community. It was a position of huge authority and responsibility where I had to direct a large group of people every Sunday night and also stand guard to protect the community. I was the first woman in the Toronto branch to break that tradition.

I don’t like to fuss with my hair or makeup, though I prefer long hair on me because my hair is too thick for short styles. I prefer the natural look, and I normally just use lip gloss/balm to keep my lips from dying out in the winter. (If I go dancing, I use lipstick if I feel like it, and likely a neutral colour, although I have been known to use red in the past because red happens to look best on me since I’m Oriental.) I don’t particularly like shopping like your typical Sex and the City woman (and I have never watched a single episode of that show; I read about it, and the supposedly ‘strongest’ woman on there was a lawyer who was presented as being messed up and her happy ending involved her having a baby because having a baby solves all of a woman’s problems… riiight – I prefer Buffy the Vampire SlayerThe Wheel of Time series and A Song of Ice and Fire series. (Indeed, my favourite character is Arya Stark who would “rather act like a beast than a lady”. She likes swords as much as I do! As for marriage, she says, “No, it’s not me.”) I like comics as well. I have a very hard time finding stories with strong women depicted in them, although Laurell K. Hamilton does an excellent job with her Anita Blake character as far as I have read (on book three in the series). Anita Blake is strong and feminine, and no, that does not mean she is a lesbian. On top of martial arts, I like weight training because I like how my muscles feel when I work out. 😀

Oh, and the ultimate non-female thing, years ago I decided I did not want to have my own children. Huh? What?! Don’t get me wrong, I like children, but to me children are just little people. I’m just not crazy about babies. They all look the same to me. Toddlers and up, though, are little people. Little people are interesting; they have distinct personalities or are starting to form distinct personalities. Some are quite intelligent for their age. Some are funny, some are grumpy, some are moody, some have anger issues. Oh wait, little people are like big people! So, yes, I like children well enough, but I don’t want to have my own. First of all, if I decided to be a parent, I would want to do it right. No juggling too many projects. I would want to dedicate my time to being a good parent, to raising a kid right. I would not want to neglect my child in any way, but honestly, I do not have the time, and I have too many interests. So while I may want to be a good parent, I don’t think I could. Second, there’s this thing called money. Third, there are lots of children in the world and some don’t even have homes. If I really wanted to be a parent, I would rather adopt a child (but then there’s the money issue again.) There’s a few other reasons why I don’t want my own children, but I won’t go into them here.

So, according to Murphy, because I’m a cute woman who happens to like men, I don’t threaten the status quo? Riiight. The very fact that I am intelligent and have strong opinions has proven otherwise. There are a lot of men who are afraid of a woman who is intelligent who is also not afraid to speak her mind. In the past, I have had conversations with some men who just looked at me like “Whaat? I don’t get…” I apparently hurt their brains. Luckily, the boyfriend I have now is as intelligent as I am. He is in every way my equal because he challenges me too.

Funny enough, Murphy has unconsciously pointed out why I don’t like to call myself a feminist. It’s not the stereotyping of feminists by men, it’s the stereotyping I’ve come across from women who identify as ‘feminist’. Some ‘feminists’ mistakenly presume I hate men because I am a strong women who wants equality for the genders when it’s all about wanting equality for all humans – the gender equality is a side issue in the quest for equality for all persons. Yes, it’s women’s rights – but women’s rights are a part of human rights, and the basis of human rights is trying to see every person as a person and to not discriminate based on gender (or various other ways as outlined in human rights law). I find when people focus on gender a lot, they forget the issues are simply human issues – such as the issue of abuse which SlutWalk is tackling. Sure there are gender issues, but what Murphy fails at is accepting that men face gender issues too. Or maybe she just fails to accept men as people? Or maybe she also just fails to understand ‘being human’?

Murphy’s take is that abuse is gendered. “Say anything about the gendered nature of domestic abuse or sexual assault and you will be sure to get a reminder that ‘women rape men too’ and that it is correct to view everyone as ‘human,’ rather than gendered, thereby removing patriarchy as a guiding force when it comes to rape and abuse.” I do not agree with a blanket statement as that. While abuse can seem to be gendered, at the heart of it, it isn’t. In my first blog article about SlutWalk, SlutWalk Starts in Toronto and Keeps Running, I wrote:

Assault, abuse, rape – they are all about power and control. It’s about power of the abuser over the victim whom the abuser likes to control. Abusers choose their victims based on a perceived weakness (or weaknesses) in their victims. In the case of rape, just because an abuser “gets off” on the power and control they have over their victim(s) does not mean rape is about sex – at the core, the issue is about power and control. Some years ago, I wrote a blog article, “Angry, Controlling Behaviour, and Abuse”, after reading Lundy Bancroft’s book, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. As I said previously in that blog, “At least read Bancroft’s book and be aware of the issue. He exposes many myths about abuse and abusers and clarifies what really needs to be done.” Now, I would add that I think this book is crucial for everyone to read. Victim-blaming can only stop when everyone stops believing the myths about abuse and starts to understand the mind of the abuser. In that blog article, I point out that Bancroft is also aware of abuse on men and that women can be as abusive as men. Fundamentally, no one deserves to be assaulted, abused, or raped.

Murphy’s opinion on abuse being gendered was made clear when she commented on this video about women abusing men, which was posted on the SlutWalkTo Facebook page by SlutWalk Toronto organizers.

Murphy says, “Yeah, because gender is completely irrelevant when it comes to abuse? *sarcasm*” when someone’s point was simply “If a woman is being assaulted, it is a crime. If a man is being assaulted, it is a crime.”

Following are my comments on the video:

Abuse is abuse, no matter the gender. Kudos to the group of women who stepped in. I do note that it was a group of women who stepped in. I think generally it’s easier for anyone to step into and try to stop a violent situation if there’s a group.

As for the whole perception “it doesn’t look like she could hurt him”, well there’s emotional and psychological abuse generally leading up to the physical abuse. So, just because she _looks_ incapable of hurting him is no excuse to ignore what was happening. Additionally, some people are stronger than they look.

Although I note that it’s easier to step in if someone is in a group, I think people should step in regardless. If they really think they can’t stop what is happening or are simply worried about their own safety, get someone else to step in or just call the police.

I think it’s sad that some of those women just assumed the guy had cheated on the girl, and therefore “deserved it”.”

One woman responded to the video with (yes, it was all in caps), “CAN WE NOT HAVE A SPACE JUST DEALING WITH WOMEN’S OPPRESSION???? WHY DO YOU FEEL THE NEED TO TAKE UP THE CAUSE FOR MEN ON HERE???”

Some more comments of mine:

A few things…

Suzy is correct that when the police are called into a situation involving a man and a woman, the police are told to ‘arrest’ the man. However, I think they also take the woman into custody if the man decides to lay charges against her. Roxanne you are correct that women are arrested as well, but like I said, I think it depends on if charges are laid against the woman.

Overall, I think the police are still trained in some old ways of thinking – that women are the ‘weaker sex’. I train in martial arts, been doing it for almost 12 years, and I can attest that even though I’m fairly small for a woman, there are definitely some men that I could probably hurt (without having a weapon in hand). Now if a woman is holding any kind of weapon (lots of things can be used as a weapon, the image of the rolling pin comes to mind, or even an umbrella), she is more likely to hurt the man. It DOES NOT take much effort to seriously hurt someone with a blunt object. One solid hit to the temple of the head could kill someone regardless of size. I would be even more worried about a woman who is untrained swinging a weapon at a man because she is less likely to be controlled about it. Martial artists who are trained _well_ (emphasis on ‘well’) know how to control themselves and are aware of the amount of force that could seriously hurt someone (and do their best to avoid physical engagements and try to find peaceful solutions to conflict). Point is that an untrained person wielding a weapon is not aware of how easy it can be to seriously injure or kill someone else.

Fact remains is that some men are small, some women are big, and size isn’t the only factor when it comes to whether or not someone is capable of hurting another person.

As I said earlier, the bottom line is ‘abuse is abuse, no matter the gender’ and it should be stopped.

And, I guess, what made feminists like Murphy a little upset (obviously, I’m understating when you consider how upset she is in the article she wrote about SlutWalk), I wrote:

For the record, I do not consider myself a feminist. I am someone who believes in equality. I choose to see every person as another human who deserves a base amount of dignity and ‘rights’ (human rights). Misandry is no better than misogyny. Overall, I am somewhat philanthropic (someone who cares about and loves humanity).

Returning to the issue of how size has no bearing on how much pain people can inflict (and just to inject a little humour), I said:

Oh, and even though kids are pretty small – they kick pretty damn hard sometimes. “Ouch, my shins!” ^_^

(Ten well-trained kids around the ages of 8 to 12 could probably do enough harm to one adult.)

After my comment that included the word ‘misandry’, a male supporter of SlutWalk politely clarified:

Feminism is not the same as misandry. Feminism is the aim to relieve all oppression, for men included. And naming the majority of sexual violence as male violence against women isn’t misandristic; it’s naming the phenonmenon in our culture for what it is. This doesn’t mean we need to be antagonistic with men; it’s just being truthful about its roots so that we can all (men and women) properly address it.

To which I agreed with, and then thought to clarify what I said in the my previous comment:

…my remark about misandry was referring to that one person’s complaint about taking up the cause for men. For me, feminism is not the same as misandry but there are a lot of women who take it to that extreme. I’ve had a lot of experience with other women (and men) who think just because I champion women’s rights that I am somehow a man-hater – I’m not. I generally don’t like labels, so I don’t call myself feminist or anything due to misunderstandings associated with labels. It’s sad, but there are women who call themselves ‘feminist’ when their views fall closer to misandry.

(Please note: I did not call anyone misandric. I said ‘their views fall closer to misandry’ and I do think it is easy to cross the line. As for labels, I don’t like labels because they only serve for others to put you into some neatly categorized stereotype which sadly never ever describes me or what I think at all. See Gamer – the Stereotype, which talks about labels and stereotyping. And no I don’t fit the stereotype of the lazy gamer either. In defense of video games – they are becoming like interactive movies and that is actually more active and less passive that simply watching a movie or a show, although I still like to watch movies and shows because I can appreciate different art forms; yes, story-based games are a different art form for telling stories.)

I also clarified:

…I’m a human rights activist. Human rights is about equality. SlutWalk is about fighting a society of abuse. Abuse is a human rights issue. It happens all over the world. I’ve read about men being abused as well as women. But more importantly, there is violence all over the world that needs to be stopped. There is oppression and people dying in other countries trying to fight oppression. Abuse is tied to oppression; and one could argue that an abusive society can lead to oppression.

What was ‎SlutWalk Toronto’s take on this whole discussion:

…To clarify a bit… Some of the organizers behind SW strongly identify as feminist and describe this cause as a feminist cause, and some may not. Just as we encourage people to make the choice that is best for them around identifying as a slut (or any other number of identifies) we allow space for people who choose to label themselves with the word feminist or not. It is not our place to tell people who or how they should identify if that is not their choice….As many on this thread have said, we need all genders to work together to fight violence against women, patriarchy, blaming and shaming, and systems of oppression.

My response to SlutWalk above was simply that I agreed with them:

Which is why I don’t think there is any place for misandry, just as there is no place for misogyny. Further, while I don’t like patriarchy, I don’t endorse matriarchy either – balance and equality is what we need. I, for one, am glad SWTO posted this video about women abusing men because it _does_ happen, even if it’s rarer than men abusing women.

And thus, we have a bit of the background to Murphy’s article about how SlutWalk is not feminist enough for her tastes. But isn’t the original feminism about equality? I thought so. So why change to radical feminism, the sort that, in my opinion, comes very close to misandry, that is, hating men or possibly not even thinking of men as people? As you see in that one comment above, “”CAN WE NOT HAVE A SPACE JUST DEALING WITH WOMEN’S OPPRESSION???? WHY DO YOU FEEL THE NEED TO TAKE UP THE CAUSE FOR MEN ON HERE???” To me, this says that this person feels that “Oh, the men should stay over there and the women should stay on this side of the line, and we can’t mix it up.” That sort of mentality feels like kindergarten to me, and frankly doesn’t really seem progressive and radical to me. Progressive and radical to me is getting above the “women have been so oppressed, only our issues matter, men don’t have issues”. Progressive and radical to me is “people are people so why should it be that you and I get along so awfully?” (to quote Depeche Mode). Progressive and radical to me is getting at the core of the issues and that is that abuse, assault, and rape need to stop.

Any gender issues involved in abuse and assault (for both women and men) are as a result of a patriarchal society. Abuse doesn’t happen because of gender, it happens because some people are abusive. But who a person chooses to abuse is based on perceptions of power and weakness. The abuser sees him/herself as powerful over their ‘weak’ prey. Gender issues come into play because patriarchy has taught people that women should be thought of as the ‘weaker sex’ and men the ‘aggressive sex’; men are brought up thinking they have to be strong, aggressive, and in control while women are brought up thinking they have to be passive, submissive, and ladylike (that is, let the man tell her what to do or let the man lead her). A male abuser brought up with these gender stereotypes will naturally think of all women as ‘easy prey’ – unless the woman does something that indicates otherwise. I never said that patriarchy didn’t influence our society. It is why abuse happens to women more than men, but this does not necessarily mean abuse is fundamentally about gender – at the core, it’s still about power and control. Flip things around, make our society matriarchal, and you may well see the same amount of abuse – only the gender issues will go the other way and men will be abused more than women. Abuse should properly be viewed as someone in power and control using that against someone perceived by the abuser as ‘weaker’. This is why in my comments above to the ‘women abusing men’ video I’ve stated that “Misandry is no better than misogyny” and that “while I don’t like patriarchy, I don’t endorse matriarchy either – balance and equality is what we need.” As long as SlutWalk maintains focus on the core issues of abuse, assault, and rape as a social issue for both men and women, I will continue to support SlutWalk. The minute SlutWalk loses that focus and becomes only a feminist movement is when it will fail to help educate others about abuse and violence. It will lose any momentum it has gained and fall into the pages of feminist history books like the “Take Back the Night” movement, and we will have gotten nowhere in terms of addressing abuse and changing an abusive society to a free and equal society.

A few final things. Of course, Murphy complains about anything having to do with being ‘sexy’. “Check out the image used for Slutwalk DC’s ‘sexy new website’.” Okay, so radical feminism says I can’t be sexy even if I want to and that’s how I feel? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling or being sexy. Men can be sexy too. So why is ‘sexy’ such a bad thing for feminism and for women? In fact, I think radical feminism misses the mark on this too. I’ll explain. Some men have a strange psychology where they are attracted to sexy women, but will only take home the ‘good girl’ to Mom. When radical feminists tell me that ‘sexy is bad’, it says basically the same thing as some men who won’t take the ‘sexy girl’ home to Mom, but the ‘good girl’ instead. By espousing this opposition to anything sexy, radical feminists like Murphy are inadvertently molding women into something else that is ‘palatable for men’ (Murphy’s words), the ‘submissive wife’ that Mom will love.

Then, she presents the typical argument of objectification:

“And where it is acceptable to objectify women because we’ve decided that objectification is actually empowering.”

Okay, there is a difference between sexual harassment and a man wanting to express an appreciation for beauty. (And that goes for women too.) Frankly, I strongly dislike this objectification argument by radical feminists where any compliment by a man to a woman on her physical attributes is automatically a bad thing. Everyone likes to be attractive, and more to the point, who doesn’t like a compliment? I suppose Murphy might argue that, and therein lies one of her issues because as she’s pointed out from her own experience, being attractive is bad because it’s been used against her, but if that is her argument against being attractive, is this not in some way the victim blaming herself…? That does happen. “A man found me attractive, and it caused problems… did I do something wrong?” No, there’s nothing wrong with being attractive, there is nothing wrong with being sexy. I do not feel objectified if I receive a compliment about my physical attributes unless it’s clear to me that it is the only thing the person likes about me and that the person does not respect me for my intelligence or other non-physical qualities.

Margaret Wente is a conservative who espoused some of the same issues with SlutWalk as Murphy. While Wente is a patriarchal conservative, Murphy is a matriarchal conservative. Who are they to tell another woman, or anyone else for that matter, what to do with their lives? To each his/her own, I say. I am perfectly fine with leaving Wente to her patriarchal conservatism and Murphy to her matriarchal conservatism. The problem is, will they leave me (and other SlutWalkers like me) alone to make my own choices? Will they ever learn to accept that every person is different?

As for reclaiming the word “feminist”, I think I’ve made it clear that Murphy’s brand of feminism (her ‘radical feminism’) is not to my liking. I also feel that if ‘feminism’ is about equality, then it’s just another word for ‘human rights activism’. I’m with Sonya JF Barnett when she wrote that she would label herself a ‘slut’ before embracing the term ‘feminist’. My support of re-appropriating the word ‘slut’ over ‘feminist’ has little to do with ‘sluts’ being more ‘palatable for men’ (as I’ve already discussed how some men don’t necessarily want to take the ‘slut’ home to Mom), but everything to do with the fact that I disagree with matriarchal ideas just as much as I disagree with patriarchal ideas. Whether man or woman, I choose to judge the quality of the person. I may be heterosexual and prefer men for my sexual relationships, but how much I like someone in terms of friendship has little to do with their gender.

And yes, Rabble.ca has just lost a reader.

~~~C
Your local SlutWalker

I am recalling that the first time I heard the word ‘slut’, it was being used by a girl in grade 8 against another girl in grade 8. It isn’t just men who use it against women.

How SlutWalk Can Help Future Interpersonal Relationships

Friday, May 13th, 2011

From “SlutWalk Revisited”:

It is a fact of my life, as a 25-year-old female who dresses like it (meaning: I perform my gender traditionally, with the odd twist), that I cannot go outside in fine weather without having my appearance, or attire, commented on by males. You might not believe me if I told you how many times I’ve ignored a guy, or replied “leave me alone,” or—if he persists—said “fuck off,” and been consequently called “cunt,” “bitch” and “whore.” I can’t tell you anyway, cause I’ve lost count. I can tell you I didn’t once deserve it.

10 p.m. Friday/Saturday night. A young woman in her 20s wants to go out dancing – by herself. Nothing should stop any young woman from going out dressed nicely because she just wants to go dancing and have fun. I think it’s sad that many young women do not feel like they can experience this amount of independence and freedom – I did.

Yes, it was amazingly ridiculous the amount of comments and attention I’d sometimes get from guys driving by in their cars just because I was wearing a skirt (even a fairly long one). ‘No, I don’t want a drive home from some stranger. It’s rather a warm summer night and I’m enjoying my walk home.’ Granted, some guys were nicer about it by doling out compliments like “Hey, gorgeous” or “Nice legs” and they didn’t get mad when I didn’t respond. Honking horns and whistling at me wasn’t particularly offensive either if they didn’t get mad when I ignored them. But, I did not like the “Hey, how much?” just because I was waiting at a bus stop for 5 minutes. I think a few times, I had to give some guys a lady-like finger because they were particularly rude. And yes, a few actually called me ‘bitch’ because I was ignoring them – not cool.

Point is, a woman should be able to get dressed up nicely, go out at night, and have fun without being overly worried about her safety (obviously, worrying about muggers and robbers is a thing both men and women would be concerned about). A man can go out to a bar by himself and not be suitably harassed and unsure about his safety around the opposite sex. Sure, I could wear jeans and a T-shirt and go dancing, but part of the fun of dancing is how clothes move when dancing. Having fun was indeed the point of me going dancing. Get it? As for walking home during the summer nights, that was fun for me too. I rather enjoy night-time during the summer. Not once have I ever regretted going out dancing by myself and walking home by myself. It gave me some great times to be myself, to get to know myself. Walking home gave me time for contemplation and also a chance to think over stuff, especially if I had a tough week at work. It was my way of keeping sane when working felt so confining and restrictive. I am basically not the kind of person that can sit at home for long without doing anything. If I feel like moving, that’s what I need to do.

I support SlutWalk for more reasons that just what I mentioned above, but I do hope that the young women these days will be able to experience the sense of independence and freedom like I did on those weekly jaunts out to the dance clubs (they don’t necessarily have to go dancing, it was just my example). Honestly, I think that if more women had experienced independence and freedom in their young adult years, it would probably have prevented a lot of the dependence that some women feel in their current relationships. This to me is key to a successful relationship – that both partners have a good sense of independence and freedom, that even if they are a couple, they are both still very much separate people. A relationship does not mean you lose your identity as a single person, it means that you gain another aspect to yourself as being part of a couple.

If SlutWalk can indirectly help future interpersonal relationships, then it is most definitely a very good thing.

~~~C
Your local SlutWalker

Addendum: I can understand guys if they want to express an appreciation for beauty, but sexual harassment is a different story. And yes, that goes both ways… some guys have been sexually harassed before.

UFC Hits Toronto Last Night and This Martial Artist is Not Impressed

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Anyone else annoyed by UFC? Apparently, it was in Toronto last night.

This is what turns me off UFC *eye roll*

“@feyMorgaina Prepare like #GSP #UFC http://bit.ly/UFCTrain?=mtmz”
(Some gimmicky ad about how you can train with less effort than you are now – I studied marketing in university so trust me, it’s gimmicky.)

This makes me laugh. How many UFC fans can run 10k then do at least an hour of martial arts? (My second black belt test consisted of a 10k run, followed by 1000 skips, then the martial arts part of the test, which includes patterns, technique drills, and of course, sparring and board breaking.)

The past few years have been… “Oh, you do martial arts? Do you do MMA?” (right after someone realizes I have a black belt in taekwondo; martial arts is a big part of my life, so it inevitably comes up in conversations).

Uh, no. I like all kinds of martial arts, but I don’t do MMA. I am just not impressed by UFC, it’s jumped-up marketing, and the hype over it. If current UFC fans would get off their high horse about how great UFC is, I’d be less annoyed by it all. (Granted not all UFC fans come off as so arrogant and conceited, but there’s just enough to annoy me.) I respect that the fighters in UFC train hard, but honestly I think UFC is pointless. It’s predominantly about the marketing company making money off of good martial artists who can get seriously hurt – and in two cases, killed. See the Wikipedia article on Mixed Martial Arts – Safety. “MMA is dangerous, and its fighters are put at a serious risk of injury each time they enter the cage.”

In regards to taekwondo, the martial art I am predominantly trained in (I’ve done a bit of hapkido and weapons training as well), I have found two competition-related deaths – one in 1999 and one in 2009. Note that these are ten years apart. The one in 1999 is “believed to be the first fatality in an official U.S. taekwondo tournament”. See “Musician Dies After Kick to Head in Martial Arts Tournament”. In 2009, a teenager died after participating in a tournament run by an organization no longer affiliated with the Singapore Taekwondo Federation. See Student Brain-dead After Taekwondo Sparring Match. I note that this fatality occurred in a unsanctioned tournament, and the tournament was not run according to the regulations of the Singapore Taekwondo Federation. I have not found any other taekwondo tournament-related deaths. Indeed, one could teach taekwondo for years and not witness a death related to a taekwondo competition, particularly in the WTF style of taekwondo. See a comment by a Taekwondo Master on “How many competition-related deaths have there been in tae kwon do?”. Äbout taekwondo sparring, “In all cases, contact must be controlled, and not thown wild or blindly. Even a solid hit in Taekwondo competition, which could be deadly in the street, is relatively safe because of the control in the fighers ability to stop at the point of impact. A Taekwondo fighter is trained to control their power so as to apply it lightly, or firmly as needed in competiton, or deadly as needed in self defense.” I have been kicked in the stomach during training before by heavy men (say 190 pounds and up). While they were using controlled kicks, believe me, I can extrapolate from that what it would feel like if they kicked me full force. I have also been kicked really hard in the groin (not sure what the guy was thinking at the time – he was quite apologetic after – but really I was fine, more shocked that he did hit me that hard when it was friendly sparring in class). I mention this because I do not agree with the mentality that you need to be in a ‘real fight’ to understand how much it can hurt. With regards to safety in taekwondo competitions, Wikipedia’s article says “A 2009 meta-analysis reported that an average of about 8% of competitors are injured, per exposure to competition; age, gender, and level of play did not significantly affect the injury rate.[47] The legs are the most common location for injuries, and bruising is the most common injury type.” Compare that to bloody noses being common in MMA.

Some fans of MMA and UFC promote it because of this illusive idea that there is one martial art that’s the best or that there is some blend of martial arts that must be the best. MMA takes that faulty premise and pits two people against each other in a cage. UFC in particular would have everyone believe this mimics the real world and a ‘real fight’. It doesn’t. In real life, one person has an advantage before the ‘fight’ ever begins. There is no such thing as a ‘fair fight’. I have seen a ‘fight’ where one person gets knocked down by another, then the person knocked down is swarmed by the other person’s buddies. This is what your common ‘street fight’ entails. That’s real, and it’s not fair. It’s called ‘bullying’. (My boyfriend and I, and a few others, ran over to break up that fight – it was some teenagers in a public park.)

In real life, when one person is attacked, it’s done by surprise – again, it’s real and it’s not fair. I do martial arts because I can stave off the chance of being surprised (by learning to be aware of my environment and surroundings) and also because I in turn become the surprise element. I’ll explain. An attacker on the street who picks on one person does so because he thinks that person is ‘easy prey’. He/she does not expect that person to fight back. If, by chance, that person does fight back, that person becomes the surprise element – more so if that person knows some form of self-defense, whether an actual martial art or something from a self-defense course. Thus, if someone were to attack me on the street, because I know some kind of self-defense, I have a good chance to surprise my attacker. I also know secondhand of a woman who was attacked on public transit (subway). Someone grabbed her from behind while she was walking up the stairs. They put a knife to her throat. At first, she thought a friend was pulling a practical joke, but then she noticed her shoe at the top of the stairs and she was back down the stairs. She turned into the surprise element when her ‘fight or flight response’ kicked in and she grabbed the knife, twisted it away from her throat, pushed the attacker away, and ran for help. Not everyone is lucky to get away. She was lucky her response wasn’t to freeze up. Some people do, and with martial arts training people can learn not to freeze up when attacked.

There is a difference between fighting and self-defense. When someone attacks you or tries to goad you into a fight, it becomes a fight the minute you turn around and put your fists up. It’s not self-defense anymore. Self-defense involves reacting to an actual attack. If someone is trying to instigate a fight with you and you are walking away, but then they grab you, and you turn around to push that person away or whatever you have to do to get them to let go so you can leave – that’s self-defense.

In the real world (that is, outside the ring), it’s not about the type of martial art a person does or how many, but how well that person responds to each situation. To survive in a real ‘fight’ (more correctly, to survive an attack), it takes more than just physical prowess. One must also have the ability to quickly analyze a situation and reason something out. If you are attacked, you can defend yourself. Martial arts have always been about self-defense, and it should remain that way.

~~~C