Thoughts on a Ruined Afternoon

July 13, 2010 § 2 Comments

Cross-posted at Female Impersonator.

Memory: It is a delicious Sunday afternoon. Sun glitters through the trees, splashes over benches and stains the ground. It is the fourth of July, and I have spent several hours on my own, reading the intoxicating prose of one of my favorite writers, Zadie Smith, in one of my favorite places in all of New York City: Fort Tryon Park. Shoes off, feet in the grass. Sometimes the world is so beautiful it makes me ache. It’s time for the ideal reading break: an ice cream cone. I walk to the truck, pay for my chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles. Perfect refreshing cool, perfect crunch. I stroll back into the park under a canopy of lush leaves. Sometimes the world is so beautiful it makes me ache.

There are people in the background of my vision. One of them emerges slowly; I understand that he is moving toward me. He is an older man, probably in his early seventies, walking along. He stops in front of me, and I pause slightly.

He is going to say, “It is so gorgeous on this lawn.”

He is going to say, “It is so relaxing here!”

He is going to say, “It is so hot today, don’t you think?”

No, he is not. He is not going to say any of these things. His face is two feet from mine and he is saying, “It is so sexy watching you lick that cone.”

There is a voice in my head saying: You should have known this was coming. I am still walking and I say crisply, loudly, “THAT’S DISGUSTING” and he smiles and he turns and I walk and my mouth is dry. Sometimes the world is so awful it makes me ache.

Vision: I don’t walk on. I don’t say anything. I laugh shrilly and he looks startled and I mash my cold ice cream into his face, his beard, it covers him and I am calm. I’ve won.

Vision: I don’t walk on. I scream, “Leave me the fuck alone.” I shriek, “You’re a piece of shit.” I shout, “Fuck you, prick.” I’ve won.

Reality: I can’t win. Street harassment is so mind-bogglingly fucked up. It’s a cruel game that I’m playing against my will and I can’t fucking win it. That’s all I want: I want to win. I want to feel better than these jerks because I am. Even more than I hate harassment itself, I abhor the way I feel afterwards. At first I feel ashamed, embarassed even though I’ve done literally nothing wrong. Then I feel regretful, angry at myself for not reacting more harshly. I feel like a bad feminist, like I haven’t spoken up properly or stood up for myself in the “right” way. Next I feel guilty. I feel mean. I make excuses for the dipshit who’s put me in this situation — I tell myself maybe he’s a nice guy, maybe he didn’t mean it that way. And finally, always, I feel sick, physically nauseous.

All of this shit, all of this fills my mind. It takes up so much space, so much brainpower and it’s absolutely useless. Instead of being consumed by these victim-blaming thoughts, I want to feel safe and strong and sexy, sexy on my own terms.

Street harassment isn’t a compliment. It’s not “no big deal,” and it’s not isolated. It lies on the continuum of violence against women; it’s meant to keep women quiet, keep us inside, keep us from coming and going as we please. It can ruin your afternoon, your emotional safety, your confidence. It needs to be stopped.

~~~~~

HollaBack! is an awesome organization that works to fight street harassment on a global level. Check out their new website, and their PSA (transcript below the fold). I’m the one wearing the plaid jacket.

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Rape Apologists, Celebrity Edition

May 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

You may be a great filmmaker Woody Allen, but you are also a rape apologist.

Bummer.

Douches…

April 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Have you been craving a deep, hearty LOL? Well, you’re in luck. Join me as I laugh forever:

Via Feministe, where you can check out commenters’ hilarious suggestions for a photo caption.

So… this is disgusting

February 10, 2010 § 3 Comments

It has come to my attention that there is a Facebook fan page entitled, “Killing your hooker so you don’t have to pay her.” The page boasts such updates as, “Ever stab your hooker with a blunt object to add insult to injury?” The page was created about a month ago.

And, as of today, it has 22,127 fans.

This is a deeply offensive, misogynistic, and outright violent page. Hypothetical violence is not funny, but real violence is even less amusing — and this violence is real. The murder of sex workers is frighteningly commonplace, and all too often is excused under some bullshit pretense that sex workers are expendable, are unhuman.

What happens online matters. George Sodini showed us that much. Wrote Bob Herbert in the aftermath of Sodini’s shooting:

We’ve seen this tragic ritual so often that it has the feel of a formula. A guy is filled with a seething rage toward women and has easy access to guns. The result: mass slaughter.

…We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected.

We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment.

Facebook pages like this one are surely a form of entertainment, of shits and giggles, for those involved. For the sex workers who are killed for no other reason than hatred, the amusement fades.

This “entertainment” is what happens when people hate women, hate sex workers, and see violence as a viable solution to their rage.

Please, please visit the “Killing your hooker so you don’t have to pay her” Facebook fan page and report it for its offensive content. (Scroll down and look in the lower left corner of your screen to find the link to report it.)

UPDATE: It looks like the page has been taken down… when you click my original link, it takes you to Facebook’s home page instead of the offensive fan page. Good work, crew.

David Letterman, Comedian/Bigot

January 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

You may have heard the news that Amanda Simpson, a trans woman, was recently appointed by President Obama as a senior technical adviser to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. The National Center for Transgender Equality points out:

“What is noteworthy about this appointment is not that a transgender person is serving this administration—many transgender people work for the federal government—the real story is that Amanda Simpson was selected based on her exemplary credentials and not because she is transgender,” commented Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Countless transgender people are overlooked every day for jobs they can do very well. When an employer does not discriminate based on gender identity, they have access to more highly qualified people. That’s what happened here.”

So Simpson’s apppointment is certainly a milestone.

Now for the requisite media transphobia and transmisogyny hate cocktail in response, courtesy of David Letterman.

Letterman: Well here’s something interesting. President Obama has appointed a transgender person, a transgender person, her name is Amanda Simpson and he has appointed her to be part of the Commerce Department. We have a photo, here she is right there. Yeah, that’s Amanda Simpson, and she’s a transgender…

Alan Kalter: WHAT? AMANDA? Amanda used to be a dude? OH MY GOD! (Runs away)

(Audience laughs)

Letterman: (Laughing. To someone offscreen) Will you talk to him later for me?

LOLZ! Because trans women love to trick cis guys into sleeping with them!! (Also — why are you calling attention to the photo, Dave? Want to have proof for the audience that she looks “like a woman”?)

Sign this petition demanding that Letterman apologize.

Via Feministing.

US Evangelicals’ Role in Uganda’s Homophobic Bill

January 4, 2010 § 1 Comment

The Times has an important article on the involvement of three US evangelicals in Uganda’s latest homophobic legislation.

The men — “Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including ’7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child’; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads ‘healing seminars’; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is ‘mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality’” — spoke at a conference in Uganda last March. Now some suggest that their involvement encouraged supporters of one of the most homophobic pieces legislation that has ever been proposed.

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.

One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.

The bill has received attention in the blogosphere for its horrifically homophobic human rights violations.

The article is informative, but the photos that accompany it are of trans Ugandans, and their captions discuss plans for transitioning. Obviously trans people — all people — suffer in a homophobic environment, but nowhere else does the article mention the bill’s ramifications for trans people. Do we need another reminder that trans and gay should not be conflated?

This is what justice looks like?

November 30, 2009 § 1 Comment

Yeah, so. This is the Swiss chalet where Roman Polanski — an admitted, convicted, and escaped rapist — will be confined to house arrest after being released on bail.

From the LA Times:

A Swiss justice officials was quoted by AFP and Swiss news media as saying Polanski would be allowed to make unlimited phone calls and have full access to e-mail and the Internet. Although he cannot leave his house, he can invite friends over and throw parties at the tony chalet in the ski resort of Gstaad.

Hey Polanski, hope you can bear to stay inside your gorgeous, expensive house — while rape survivors and allies the world over gag at the apalling lack of justice your case has produced.

Via Shakesville.

You Serious, Walgreens?

October 19, 2009 § 4 Comments

walgreens

Here’s that “illegal alien” costume you’ve been searching for, just in time for Halloween.

Atrocious. Contact them here.

Via Citizen Obie.

UPDATE: They’ve pulled it from the shelves! Good work, team.

WTF: Kellogg Edition

October 11, 2009 § 6 Comments

Did you know that the makers of Kellogg cereals (we’re talking about the original makers here), were super anti-masturbation and actively campaigned against it? The first Kellogg cereals were actually designed specifically to be super bland because J. H. Kellogg thought that a bland breakfast would decrease sexual arousal throughout the day (huh?). Kellogg and his buddy Graham (of Graham crackers, yes) wrote lots of books on the evils of masturbation, even suggesting that carbolic acid be placed on the clitoris to keep girls from touching themselves.

WTF?!

I never liked those Kellogg cereals anyway….

Source: Abnormal Psychology, Hansell and Damour.

“Having Sex,” Part Two

October 10, 2009 § 2 Comments

Let’s talk about this New York Times article: In Polanski Case, ’70s Culture Collides With Today.

Roman Polanski’s arrest on Sept. 26 to face a decades-old charge of having sex with a 13-year-old girl stirred global furor over both Mr. Polanski’s original misdeed and the way the authorities have handled it — along with some sharp reminders that, when it comes to adult sex with the under age, things have changed. Manners, mores and law enforcement have become far less forgiving of sex crimes involving minors in the 31 years since Mr. Polanski was charged with both rape and sodomy involving drugs. He fled rather than face what was to have been a 48-day sentence after he pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor.

But if he is extradited from Switzerland, Mr. Polanski could face a more severe punishment than he did in the 1970s, as a vigorous victims’ rights movement, a family-values revival and revelations of child abuse by clergy members have all helped change the moral and legal framework regarding sex with the young. [emphasis mine]

Hey, you know what Roman Polanski didn’t do with Samantha Geimer? Have sex with her. He raped her, REMEMBER?!

I acknowledge that current consent laws are a little messy — an eighteen-year-old having consensual sex with her seventeen-year-old boyfriend constitutes statutory rape, a criminal offense. But Polanski’s case is crystal clear. He drugged and raped a thirteen-year-old despite her repeated protests. Why the fuck is more analysis necessary?

Mr. Polanski was treated by the authorities, including Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, not so much as a sexual assailant but as someone in the mold of Isaac Davis, Mr. Allen’s character from the movie “Manhattan”: that is, as a normally responsible person who had shown terrible judgment by having sex with a very young, but sophisticated, girl.

Uh, actually, that judgment would not have been nearly as terrible as what Polanski actually did — which was RAPE HER. And you know what has zero effect on the atrocity of his crime? Her fucking supposed “sophistication.”

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