Hello, blog! It’s been a while. I had a dissertation and roughly a thousand essays to write, and then a portfolio to do, and Kitten Cam to watch. I also fell into a pit called ‘obsession with The Avengers’ and quite honestly I’m not even close to clawing my way back out yet. I’m still waiting on any one of The Avengers no really any single one of them to respond to my internet marriage proposals. Those Avengers are slow.
I would like to talk about this phrase! I can understand why people were offended by it. Using any word that basically means vagina, archaic or not, as an insult is a shitty thing to do. There are obvious misogynistic undertones. I’ve been randomly clicking through the internet and reading reactions to this, though, and I just want to say a few things.
1) Quim is an OLD word. It obviously got past the censors because it’s not in common usage anymore. A bunch of people don’t know what it means. I don’t think I’d have known if I hadn’t ever studied Chaucer. It’s that kind of old. And yes, it’s an old word for vagina, but it’s so old and out of use that I really don’t think it’s offensive. And that’s just me. I’m not saying you’re overreacting if you are offended. Everyone has different lines and interpretations. But the thing I just want to say is that quim doesn’t carry the same connotations as cunt does. Cunt is pretty much as offensive as we can get. It’s a swear word. It’s really frequently used as a harsh, shocking insult. It’s one of the few words that still get properly censored, right? It’s got shock value most other swear words don’t. Quim got past the censors because it’s not used as a swear word or an insult anymore. It hasn’t been for god knows how long. Quim is basically, to most people, either a word they don’t know or a funny old word for vagina.
2) Loki is not a nice character. Loki is the villain. In the whole scene with Natasha we see that he thinks he can read her because she’s a woman: he assumes she loves Clint, he completely believes and falls for her show of emotions, it’s the way she manipulates him. This implies a fair bit of misogyny on Loki’s part to begin with. I don’t find it shocking that a misogynistic, villainous character throws the word quim at Natasha. We already get the whole “Shakespeare in the park” quip from Tony. I don’t think it would fit for Loki to call her a bitch or something more modern, he’s from Asgard, he’s archaic, and okay, he doesn’t have to use a misogynistic insult at all, but Natasha’s gender is pretty important in this scene because of the way she subverts all those expectations. I think it says a lot about Loki that that’s the way he chooses to go. But I think that’s pretty much all it says. It’s another way Loki is an offensive character. I don’t think it makes the movie itself offensive.
3) Do not tell me as a woman how I have to react to words like this. If you’re offended, you’re offended. If you’re not, you’re not. Don’t try to imply that anyone who didn’t interpret this the same way as you is absolutely 100% misogynistic and terrible.
and you’re drunk, you’re a target. When you’re you’re friendly, you’re flirting. When you smile, you’re encouraging a guy. When you dance, you’re sending out signals. When you wear a short skirt, the only reason is that you’re signalling your availability. When you let a guy buy…
This is quite untrue for quite a few guys. Just so you know, we’re not all assholes.
It’s not about whether it’s true for all guys or not though. I’m well aware that there are decent guys out there. The existence of some good guys doesn’t negate the fact that this is my experience, as a girl. It’s not an “all guys are like this” post. It’s a “this is how society works and makes me feel” post. I am actually not talking about guys here.
Okay, so I’m lucky enough that I’ve never really even had it implied to me that I should lose weight. I’ve had it the other way around - you’re too thin comments, which, by the way, are still body policing and still work to make women feel ashamed of the way they look. I still have this internal voice in my brain constantly telling me I should probably work to lose some weight though. So where does this come from? In my rational mind, I know full well I don’t need to lose any weight. If I think I need to eat more healthily, it’s for, you know, health reasons, not weight reasons (because chocolate and alcohol and noodles =/= a balanced diet even for a student).
Then I think about all the adverts aimed at women. I’m not just talking about thin models in a fashion spread. Yes, they promotes the idea of a norm that is really not average, but at least lot of fuss gets made over that sort of thing. I’m not saying it’s harmless - far from it - but at least we’re increasingly aware that it’s not a realistic thing to aspire to. Maybe we still internalise it, but I want to think more about weight loss adverts in particular.
Specifically, I’m thinking of the Special K adverts. Drop a dress size in two weeks! This is what I think it’s most dangerous to internalise and keep circling around in your head. These “buy my exercise video and lose weight!”, “try this diet and lose weight!”, “no, try this diet and lose weight!” adverts that are everywhere, constantly, always giving the same message: we know you want to lose weight. It’s taken as an assumption, as the norm: you are a woman and you cannot possibly be okay with your body the way it is. But that’s okay. We can pressure you into changing. Or if you are okay with your body the way it is: but no one else is, why are you, do you really think you look like these toned and/or photoshopped models right here?
AND THAT IS NOT OKAY. Chances are, your body is the way it is because that is your natural body type. Everyone is differently shaped in the same way everyone has different eyes or taste in music. And sure, for various reasons sometimes people might gain or lose a lot of weight in one go, and I can understand being unhappy with a big change in the body you’re used to. In fact, I don’t think it’s wrong to want to lose weight full stop if you’re not happy with yourself. I think it’s wrong to be made to feel you have to want to lose weight. That you’re not normal if you don’t want to lose weight. That if you don’t you’ll be the only one, and what else will you talk to your female friends about, if you’re not dieting or exercising? According to those adverts: nothing! I think the motivation is important. I have a little voice in my brain that says you should lose weight! and then I think about it, and it doesn’t follow that up with because that is one way you could be more active! or because you want to feel healthier! It follows it up with, basically, because… that is what you should do? Isn’t it? It seems like that is what you should do…
And it’s not. And sometimes it works in a what if people stop telling you you’re thin way, which I’m aware is exuding a whole lot of privilege, oh god what if I stop getting what are meant to be compliments! But it’s that whole thing of people seeing a woman’s body as an object and something to comment on. It’s still body policing, and it still adds pressure to make a woman feel like she should look a certain way because that is what’s expected of her. It might not be offensive this way around, but it’s still having an effect.
So really? NO I don’t want to drop a few dress sizes. NO I don’t want to make myself exhausted and miserable because I’m being made to feel guilty about indulging over the holidays. NO I don’t want your preprepared and prepackaged meals sent straight to my door, they look disgusting! NO I DON’T WANT YOU TO KEEP TELLING ME HOW I SHOULD TREAT MY BODY AND HOW I SHOULD LOOK AND THE BEHAVIOURS I SHOULD TAKE ON IF I WANT TO BE ACCEPTED. IN SHORT: GO AWAY.
(p.s. I really hope I’m not offensive at any point - I do understand that it’s possible to be active and so on without losing weight and I know being large doesn’t actually equate with being automatically unhealthy. It’s just a motivation I’ve heard and am throwing in as an example because in circumstances it might be an issue.)
Here’s what I’ve been thinking about today: the way guys talk about how they try to get with women. Really frequently recently, I’ve been seeing a whole lot of Facebook statuses from guys - or Facebook groups - that refer to “preying” on women. Usually this is said in reference to drunk women as well. Preferably, they will be the most drunk woman of a group, who the man will then be able to “pick off” from the group. None of this is exaggeration - and men chase girls, they single them out, they stalk from a distance and then make their move. They like things like Valentine’s Day because it can make girls feel insecure, and weaker, and easier to hunt out.
Because that’s the thing, isn’t it? In all of these metaphors, the man makes all of the choices, takes all of the actions, and does his thing. You don’t hear about predator/prey relationships where the prey is willing and consenting, do you? I’m not saying that every guy who talks like this is out there waiting to attack women and literally prey on them. But it’s a really problematic way of talking about women, and I think it really highlights the prevalence of rape culture in our society. All these phrases, so called jokes and real intentions alike, perpetuate that horrible idea that if the girl is drunk, she’s “fair game.” These metaphors paint the man as the one in control and the woman as a helpless, passive person who might be singled out or might not but doesn’t get a say in it either way. And the emphasis on finding particularly drunk girls makes it worse - how many of these guys who think that they’re just doing what men do, looking for a woman, just looking for sex, are going to take the time to evaluate whether this girl is drunk but lucid, or if she’s drunk and too drunk to make any kind of informed consent? Are they going to actually pause in their hunting out and taking home game to ask for consent? Or are they just going to press their advantage?
I accept that a lot of it is to do with the portrayal of masculinity and how boys think they have to talk and act to be MEN. It’s part of a bigger problem focused around stereotypes and gender roles and all sorts. But why does it always, always seem to come at the expense of women?
ugh, I definitely am! let us know how these books are! they look really interesting and I might check some out.
It’s all for my dissertation, so it’s a loooot of work, but at least I’m interested in it! I haven’t read much of the theory stuff yet, but I definitely recommend Judith Butler, lots of interesting stuff about gender as an act you perform and are socialised into and stuff! And I love some fairy tales and then the Bloody Chamber is full of Gothic, feminist rewritings of fairy tales which are really interesting to think about, and the Bell Jar is amazing (although kind of painful) and Lolita is CREEPY AS SHIT but sort of beautifully written as well which makes it a really, really odd read.
Trying to make this as non-spoilery as possible, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to skip! Trigger warning for talk of attempted rape.
WELL DONE, MISFITS, I REALLY LOVE YOU. When I get told that I’m overreacting and should “take it as a compliment” when guys are, to quote an actual line in the show, “just being friendly”, it drives me a little bit mad. I’ve ranted about it before and I could rant about it again: WOMEN ARE NOT HERE FOR THE SOLE ATTENTION OF MEN, WE ARE NOT HERE TO BE OBJECTIFIED AND OTHERWISE IGNORED. What I loved most about this episode is that it showed real life. It showed that when you are a woman, or when you appear as a woman, in our society, this is the way you are treated. Every man can be intimidating. You wind up seeing every man as a potential threat. You get unwanted come ons that turn into unwanted touching and gropes. You can’t take drinks from guys in clubs unless you watch them buy it and hand it to you. Talking to a friend, we said that we loved how this episode was so honest. It showed what girls go through every day of their lives, and it showed it through a guy’s eyes, the way he was witnessing something he’d never been able to truly understand before. I loved that it was almost every single guy he came into contact with that tried it on with Curtis when he was appearing as a female. Parts were really, really difficult to watch, especially the parts with the coach, but I felt it wasn’t done in an exploitative manner for once. Curtis got away because he could revert back to his male form, for no other reason (and yes guys can be raped too but the whole episode is centred about what it’s like as a female) and while normally I would get annoyed at a girl needing to be rescued by a guy the way Curtis rescues Emma, in those circumstances, drugged and about to be taken advantage of, it’s kind of true to life. It shows that when a girl is in a situation like that, she is entirely, completely the victim. She is not there because of what she was wearing, or because she may or may not have made the guy think there was a chance of something, or whatever victim-blaming nonsense gets spouted all over the place. She is there because a man chose to victimise her in this way, and there isn’t some easy solution for her to get away if she “really wanted to”, she is being attacked. Like I said, it was really difficult to watch, but it was reality, a reality we don’t actually see being portrayed very often considering it’s such a constant, pertinent issue for women in this society. I was impressed. This is what it’s like for girls; you can sympathise but you can’t fully, completely understand if you don’t go through it yourself; this is life and this is still how we’re treated, as objects, as conquests, as fair game. We’re not complaining about nothing or exaggerating. This is life.
Also, bisexuals! Are real! And exist as more than just gimmicks filtered through layers and layers of male gaze! And hot sex scenes! Misfits, I love your sex scenes a lot, A++ work.
Though honestly now I’m kind of sad that it’s such a rarity for these issues to be raised or dealt with well that I’m pleased in a surprised way. This should not be a surprise! This should be the norm!
I feel like this is sort of relevant right now with all the discussion going on. I don’t have a lot to say about the execution of Troy Davis that isn’t a redundant “I really can’t believe the death penalty still exists anywhere, especially if there’s even a single shred of doubt” which, let’s face it, helps no one.
I remember when I first heard of institutional racism, I was like, but I would never dislike someone because of the colour of their skin! There’s no way I could ever be racist in any way, shape or form! I’M A NICE PERSON I WOULD NEVER THINK SUCH HORRIBLE THINGS. For a long time, I thought that saying that I didn’t SEE colour was a good thing because THAT’S HOW LITTLE IT MATTERED TO ME, but then you kind of realise that by saying that you’re ignoring a whole lot of history and issues that you have the privilege to be unaffected by, and probably contributing to under representation and so on at the same time. But the truth is that we are still living in a society where race is inherently an issue, whether it’s explicit racism or that “I’m just being IRONIC” type or shit you internalise from the media and stereotypes that you then find yourself having to examine later. I think so many people get incredibly defensive if they’re told they’re being racist in some way because they don’t WANT to be racist, they don’t think they’re like that, they’re better than those people! But it’s so much better to just try and learn and educate yourself. I think it’s hard, at first, to recognise that you live with a certain amount of privilege in our society if you’re white, maybe just because you don’t experience racism and it’s easy for you to say it’s a thing of the past, or like, a thing only horrible people buy into.
Anyway, I just think it’s something to keep in mind with a lot of the discussion going on at the moment. Sometimes you have to remind yourself of these things so you don’t make an idiot of yourself no matter how good your intentions might be, I guess! (And if you don’t have good intentions and are aware you might be saying some super problematic things then you’re probably just a bit of a dick, let’s face it.)