Saturday, 20 October 2012

How to reject the language of misogyny

I'm one of those people that can't help but tap into other people's conversations. We've all done it. A lot of times we hear chatter on the bus or train, about work, sports and relationships. Oh my ears are burning, intruding into a private conversation that becomes a public platform of misogyny. How many times have I sat there and wanted to angrily respond before I make a defiant exit. Why must my thoughts be intruded by other people's hateful language? I was appalled to hear two teenagers discussing their girlfriends. They both referred to them as 'bitch'. Since when has this demeaning term become acceptable?  See the word for what it is, intolerable and doesn't contribute in any positive way. Where did it all start?

The origins of misogynist terms may stem from the ancient Greeks. With the exception of Socrates, who argued equal rights for women, Plato, Aristotle et al saw women as naturally inferior, their sole purpose in life to procreate. Judaic and Christian religions have adopted these ideas and appropriated misogynistic language through the bible.  Consequently, we have a plethora of offensive terms where women are deemed as 'whores', 'wicked temptresses' and 'unclean'. And as for the non-west religions, they do not fare any better. Confucius saw women as comparable to  'small people'. Oh these andocentric assumptions…  Women, who must bow down, comply and obey the Omnipotent Father. Because we are natural born sinners, hmm…

Undoubtedly, it's not just religion that perpetuates misogynist language.  Music and culture encourages/ perpetuates misogyny. In the UK, we have a history of derogatory female terms. Words such as 'bird', 'skirt' and 'slag' were used until the eighties. Undoubtedly, these terms have been superseded or 'upgraded' by 'bitch' and the Americanisation of the English language with 'ho'. What is equally abysmal is that I've heard young girls refer to each other as 'my bitch'. It's hardly a term of endearment. Refuse to accept it as a form of address.

And as for that rap music with its plethora of distasteful words that encourages violence and domination over woman… Why do these records sell? Are their listeners deep-rooted misogynists who can't think beyond their penis? Why support self-aggrandising, multimillionaire rappers such as Eminem, or Tyler, the Creator? Music should be a form of emancipation for men and women not subordinating women to violent conditions and abuses. Reject the words of these multimillionaires that make false claims of empowering you with a fist, verbal abuse or hate. They are a prescription to your demise. Think about it. They capitalise on your misery, your anxiety, as you contribute to their vast fortunes. They KEEP you in your place. Anger and hate is a huge commodity, it's a chain around your neck that imprisons you from exploring other relationships. Misogynistic language is a worldwide disease; it's time for a cure.
Tyler, The Creator's response to Tegan and Sara's criticism of his misogynistic lyrics.
Eminem's tattoo tribute to his ex-wife, Kim. source:
Men, you are more radical if you appreciate and respect women. Imagine the possibilities… Don't let misogynistic language define your actions or women's identities. Consider that we are not subordinates or appendages, here solely for procreation, your amusement, your physical or verbal abuse.  You do not own us. Cherish us instead. As an alternative, challenge the dimwit morons that have the idiocy to refer to women in such a deprecating way. You will grow as a person. Being hateful has its cost. It means there's no ROOM TO LOVE YOURSELVES. Don't address us as your subordinates, demean and devalue any shred of us because we are female. Don't think it's okay to refer to us as your bitch. We won't crawl but we can bark… 

Sunday, 7 October 2012



I attended the SlutWalk march in Trafalgar Square, London. Arriving early, there was a crowd gathering for the event; a mixture of curious tourists, protesters and the SWP watched as the march came to view. I was overwhelmed by the protesters' spirit. They sang in perfect unison as they gathered around the square, where several spoke of their experiences of rape. What appeared consistent were the failings of the police in handling their cases, their lack of sensitivity, and value-laden biases to the trauma experienced. What I admire is the will of the women who did not want to be seen as victims, but as survivors.

Once more, I felt that the system had failed these women, in terms of the chauvinistic attitudes/assumptions made by the police, the rapist and society. It would be simplistic to solely blame the police for the lack of support handed to these women. The attitude of the police is a reflection of a wider social sphere that is ridden with biases and assumptions when the victim reports a rape.

We live in a selfish culture that blames the victim for wearing certain clothes, for encouraging the rapist. No one encourages rape. Rape is rape. Woman should be free to wear what they want, when they want, without stigma and prejudice. When the moralising pseudo liberal tells women that they are judged by the way they present themselves, this is another form of victim blaming. These attitudes are embedded in religious ideology, which tries to suppress/control female sexuality.

Rape culture says, 'it's okay to dress in 'provocative' clothes as long as I, the voyeur, can view you as an object, demean you of any value and dehumanise, humiliate and degrade the female form'. 

But rapists don't discriminate in terms of clothes, age or gender. Tell a child or an OAP, women formally/informally dressed, or a Muslim woman in traditional dress that they were also asking for it… Clothes are a weak excuse, it's all about power and ideas of entitlement.

We may ask why do men commit such a violation on another human being? We blame culture, the victim, bad parenting but never the assailants. Why do rapists rape? What makes them think that they are entitled?  Let's explore the culture of entitlement. Where women's bodies are commodified and objectified, as the grinding capitalist machinery regurgitates the next banal product at the expense of exploitative sexualised and infantilised images of women. Both capitalism and the media reinforce these beliefs of male entitlement. Childlike images of submission and availability are disseminated through advertising. In the UK, the tabloid The Sun's page 3 exploits the breasts of young women for every dysfunctional wanker who sits next to a girl on a train and signifies her 'availability' to his Neanderthal urges. This confusion transpires with the deranged sexual urges of an uncontrollable penis that thinks it knows better than the voice that keeps telling it, 'NO, STOP.'

Imagine the reverse where men are seen as objects of the female gaze, wolf whistled, groped and harassed at work, the subjects of lewd suggestions on transport late at night. After all, they're gagging for it…. I ask what would men do? Fight matriarchy?  As a society, I strongly believe we need to shift from our British reserve and not look away in discomfort to challenge the morons who think that one biological difference entitles them to a passport of female harassment.

Both men and women need to continue to challenge the attitudes prevalent in any culture that encourages negative representations of women's bodies and supports violation of space, where women are reduced to objects and men are applauded for their negative attitudes towards women. Additionally, the police need to rethink their attitudes towards the women, men and children whose bodies are violated. However this can only change when society's attitudes change, they are only reinforcing what's already there. We need to get to the heart.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Silly Silly Girls: How to Satisfy Misogynists

Some new additions to the tidal wave of feminist-angering media are the advertisements for, a taster for the new HBO series 'Girls'. The first taster shows a guy having sex with a woman, when suddenly she says something to the effect of, 'by the way I'm a virgin', and he rolls off her and groans, 'uhh, this isn't going to happen'. Hah hah silly girls. The second advert shows the woman knocking on a guy's door; she supposedly has bushy eyebrows, though I don't see how there is anything wrong with them. Guy says, 'you look like a Mexican teenager'. Man wins again! Silly girl humiliated. Any man who'd be put off by virginity or eyebrows is a shallow dickhead. Yet apparently these are the mistakes girls make! Because we must be sure to live to please men.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Why men and women should embrace femininity

The failings of past feminism lay within the assumption that we must reject gender specific behaviour. What was intended as a form of emancipation set out constraints with the idea that, in a male dominated world, we must be more like men in order to get respect. Although this may have been appropriated as a metaphor, it denies women from embracing their femininity. Welcome to the culture of misogyny where patriarchy still rules. We do not need to reject our femininity. Both men and women need to embrace the aspects that reflect the sensitive side of our personalities. Femininity is not a weakness, but a real strength in a culture built on individualistic aggression. It is men's failure to embrace their femininity that has created a culture of misogyny. 

Femininity is truly the road to both women's and men's emancipation. Explore what it truly means to be a woman or man in the 21st century. Forget stereotypical restrictive roles. Reject the thoughts of the elite whose only interest is profit. Capitalism places unrealistic expectations on men and women. The assumption is that you are of no value unless you have a high-powered corporate job and hoard tons of materialistic acquisitions that define your identity, a sports car. Success is not measurable by your bank balance, your competitive grades at school and college or the width of your muscles. The more we resist notions of aggressive masculinity, the freer we become. Learn to rethink what your values really are in life. Freedom comes from feelings of personal and creative fulfillment. Look at the shallow and pathetic lives these supposedly successful males like Charlie Sheen have. No matter how much fame, 'acquisition' of pre-pubescent females he acquires, coke he snorts, he is still an aggressive miserable excuse of a human being, incapable of expressing tenderness to anyone.    

As women, we need to celebrate our gifts. Our ability to be tender is empowering: gentleness is not passivity but a real tool against the aggressors of this world.  Men need to talk, discover their true feelings, and learn to express their thoughts in a constructive way. Keeping their fears and anxieties to themselves creates a cycle of frustration in which some men lash out at their partners, and FEEL threatened by their emotions. This kind of aggression is deemed as socially acceptable. Of course it is never acceptable to be aggressive, but these are the frameworks in which some men learn to react. We live in a selfish society that teaches men that they can't hug another man, to raise a fist instead of talking. It's a prison sentence that men need to break out of…  but you need the tools to free you.

Listen, masculine aggression is not innate: it is the product of power, patriarchy, domination and culture. Forget the evolutionary psychologists who'll tell you otherwise in order to perpetuate myths on gender specific roles and keep the grinding wheels of capitalism in place. 

Although aggression may, at its most primal, be a kind of gut instinct to our survival, it does not determine or reflect the social conditions that we are thrown into. By accepting it as natural, innate and inevitable, it assumes that there is no other way. And there is. Cry, talk, express your feelings, and don't hide behind a veil of indifference. Fuck the shit that tells you boys don't cry. Real men do cry.