Bitches Iz Crazy?

So, remember how I was blogging about NRL scandal ‘Clare’? And how I had initial misgivings about sympathy for her seeing as I don’t see why I don’t see there should be get-out-of-jail-free passes for people who drink first and regret what happens after? Well, if this West Australian study (thanks Captain Nick) is to be believed, my initial hunches about human behaviour weren’t totally misplaced.

The report suggests that drink spiking doesn’t exist; that most people who claim their drinks have been tampered with are actually merely victims of their own lack of judgment and are ill as a result of substances voluntarily consumed.

Obviously, I had a few questions about this study. For starters, sample size and type — are the stats here good enough to draw conclusions from?

“The study took in 101 people who were taken to two Perth hospitals as suspected victims of drink spiking over 19 months.”

Almost all of the participants were women under 25, out on the town during the weekend. Now all this seems fairly reasonable, and as the scientist in the story suggests, our society probably has bigger safety concerns than date rape narcotics.

Having answered that, the question then remains: why did 101 people admit themselves to hospital for having their drinks spiked? Is this another example of science and the media supporting what I refer to as the ‘bitches is crazy’ theorem?

Maybe, but probably not. 101 people over 19 months in a whole city isn’t that many, and it’s not hard to imagine how many yoofs doing dumb shit need an excuse for their actions when they also need to be hospitalised at a certain point on a Friday.

All that said, let’s imaging giving them the benefit of the doubt. Let’s imagine that at least some of them thought their drinks had been spiked. Why? It’s hard to say, but a lot of things can happen to a person in a night that leaves them feeling violated and not many of those things are easy to articulate. The stats might say that date rape’s a myth, but they can’t prove feeling unsafe is.

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Just to get warmed up again

As a throwback to the debate about strong female characters in this post, I thought it was worth putting up this comic (thanks Isaac). I’ll be doing a more significant post soon.

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The Role of Women in Sex Scandals: Definitely Misogynist

I hate to be seen as supporting the University’s propaganda machine, but reader, tweeter and  friend “hankie” forwarded me this video by a UniMelb lecturer. It’s about why the identities and stories of women are ignored in sex scandals, especially the most recent NRL one. The lecturer, Dr. Rosewarne, suggests that like in advertising, film and television, the narrative of this sex scandal has seen the woman as a) a faceless, personality-less sexual body and b) an attachment to group bonding exercises so they don’t seem too gay. I think this person might mixing up ‘the story’ according to Matt Johns and co with ‘the story’ according to the media, but nonetheless, a worthwhile watch.

The issue was thrown into light for me recently when invited to join this group on facebook, a collection of people who saw it fit to respond to the “pro-Matt Johns” groups that were emerging at the time. I have to admit, I experienced a glimmer of hesitation when I first saw the group. “Supporters of Clare”? I thought? “But, what if all Clare did was do something silly when drunk (we all do), be upset about it (we all do) and then sell her story to the press?” And then I remembered who she was up against. The machine. An epic media managing, million dollar industry harnessing the anger of potentially every NRL supporter in the land.

Ultimately, to me, that is why Clare deserves support. The behaviour of musculuar, wealthy jocks isn’t questioned enough in our society (a loss felt not only by adults, but to be felt boys and girls who idolise these players) and kudos to anyone with the guts to say something.

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OCD fo’ life

OK, I might be just seeing things here, but to me this ad screams OCD HUMAN WOMAN BITCH WITH NO SENSE OF HUMOUR:

woman insurance

while this one, says “I’m just, some dude, doing dude stuff, I’m just chilled out and shit”

man insurance

Pink paper pad, pacer pen, super neat handwriting, no sense of humour v. blue background, less neat hand writing, relaxed tone and that ultimate symbol of modern masculinity: an Xbox. Am I projecting?

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Neoliberal Capitalism: maybe misogynist, maybe just lame

I‘ve recently been totally seduced by the idea of a MA in Media Studies at the New School, New York. I could ride a bike around Greenwich Village and make friends with Santogold and sit in the same cafes Allen Ginsberg did and go to Portland for the summer… that’s realistic, right? Anyway, I got onto the New School by researching Professor Nancy Fraser, whose latest piece in the New Left Review, Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History, has captured my little brian for some time now!

I know, I know, even the title is scary– after all, Fraser is an academic. Accessibility isn’t a priority for them. Nonetheless, her ideas are stimulating, and having spent a decent portion of last week decoding them, I think I’m ready to try and break it down. Wikiwiki.

The thrust of Fraser’s argument is that second-wave feminism (that’s the 1970s) may have implicitly contributed to her reading of the rise of “the new spirit of capitalism” ie. the romanticised unencumbered masculinity of team work and flexible networks as part of neoliberal labour management theories, as crystallized by Google. She finds proof for this by pointing to feminist campaigns (sex trafficking, unequal pay) which are widely recognised culturally, but are yet to to be realised through institutional change.

The article gives clues to Fraser’s overarching vision, which is essential to understanding her arguments — a place were participatory democracy is paramount, and where citzens are politically engaged both individually more importantly, collectively. Thus in looking at the second wave, which relied on a notion of “the personal being political”, Fraser’s essential problem appears to be that the fight against collective class based struggles played second fiddle — justice isn’t just about recognising issues, it’s about acting within a political economy to create equality.

Fraser takes issue with the spread of “depoliticized expertise” (throughout both profit and non-profit sectors) and technocratic managerial ethos which she says denies collective political justice. Where second wave feminists saw the welfare state as paternalistic, Fraser idealises the welfare state as a place where states are responsible for ensuring equality and practical justice can be achieved.

To illustrate her point, Fraser uses the example of microcredit. She argues that while NGOs have been busy doling out hundy dollar bills, state actors have been abandoning macro infrastructure projects like housing, “efforts that small scale lending cannot replace”.

Fraser argues, it is the state, not the market (certainly not a free one) which can provide a site for justice. In explaining the practical effects of the “new capitalism” on women, Fraser cites decreased job security, declining living standards, steep rise of hours worked (rise of the double, triple and quadruple shift) and a rise in female headed households as signifying this expanded neoliberal capitalism or disorganised capitalism; “disorganised capitalism turns a sow’s ear into a silk purse by elaborating a new romance of female advancement and gender justice.”

While stopping short of antagonising the work of second-wave feminists (she does not identify as one?), Fraser adopts a classic “I told you so” tone. Fortunately for those looking for more than just griping with the past, choices and necessary awarenesses for the future are also presented. Fraser asks that in rejecting neo-liberalism (here she points to Obama) feminism be re-positioned “squarely on the Left”.

Is she right? I dunno, part of me feels like she might be clinging to ideals so irrelevant not worth discussing, and part of me is really encouraged by collective direct action as seen in the G20 riots (do we want big government?). All of me is feeling like I know a bit more about feminism. Also what sane and reasonable people think about Obama —

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Taxidriver

Yesterday evening, decorated like a cupcake and teetering on offensively high heels, I was forced to choose between a half hour wait for the tram or a cab ride towards the city. Sharing this fascinating choice with me was  a friend who, while not attending the same fancy party as me, lived on the way into town.

Having spotted and hailed down the distant glow of an available cab, we slid in and were greeted by an oil-slicked Indian yoof clutching a really fucking big computer-and-mobile-in-one thingo and a phone card. No news there. Having let friend out after five minutes, this person proceeded to make an overseas call in Urdu, realise he’d been hung up on, swear really loudly in English, make another call to complaing about the first call and all the while, drive really slowly.

Meanwhile, the passenger seat covering was shifting uncomfortably as I tugged down at my hem and tried to make my thoughts of “talking on the phone is illegal” and “drive faster please!” well-heard, but also remain silent, because I’ve been raised not to interrupt phone conversations. Foremost in my mind was trying to repair the perception held by this tired-faced worker that I was not a stupid westernised slut; that I was worth listening to and indeed was paying not to be ignored.

Anyway, we came to the part of Bourke St that’s closed off the traffic and yet another fascinating desicion had to be made: get out now, or get Mr. Fucking Large Phone to drive back around so that I could get to my destination on the other side of the road blockage. A particularly judicious fiscal desicion saw me ask this person to please stop the meter then. After some to-ing and fro-ing, he turned off the meter but proceeded to drive in the direction of said fancy party.  Waving down my protests, he justified this act of kindess with those wonderful words: “I was going in that direction anyway”.

Now I’ve seen kindness from taxidrivers before, especially from older subcontinental ones who can only see their daughter in my face. This one was different. Having made it about halfway around the blockage, he was hailed down by another woman, whom he obliged, but asked me if it was OK first. On the last leg of this very brief journey, Mr. Fucking Large Phone rapidly but emphatically explained to this other woman, whose meter had already hit three dollars, that he wanted to drop off this “beautiful lady here”, but she’s “on the way, so that’s OK yes?”. It’s hard to overstate how quickly all this happened. Here was a man who I had assumed thought nothing of me, but turned out to find my beauty worth compromising his vocational integrity for (though these may be the same thing). The whole thing was bewildering, but also raised some pretty interesting questions. What did this guy want? What had I given up? Would he have done the same for that other woman, who wasn’t brown like me?

The key question, though, is this:  do I give up my rights to be valued for more than appearance, if I use my appearance for personal gain?

PS. Speaking of Indian student/taxi drivers, here’s a pretty golden video that some guys I know made.

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Tight Tights

OK, so despite what I had promised to a certain somebody, this post won’t be about the patriarchal architecture that surrounds us in Western society. That one is in the works. This post, rather, is going to be about hosiery. True. Hear me out here people.

The post was born of a facebook wall-to-wall war I had with an old friend of mine regarding a facebook group he’d just set up, declaring “tights are not pants”.

Having been invited to the group, I declined and posted this on his wall:

“Dear Sir,

The image of your group depicts not tights, but stockings [the original picture was of a fat woman wearing stockings and a singlet top] — an entirely different piece of hosiery. Further, I take issue with the SUBSTANCE of your group. Of course tights are not pants. Neither are skirts, or shorts. Only pants are pants.

Also, I might point out that sentiments like yours are essentially anti-woman. Let people be! Sheesh.

Sincerely, Bhak”

I later went to to elaborate on the way groups like this, and indeed sentiments like these affect women.

Don’t you think there is enough pressure on women’s images already? Be skinny, but not too skinny, eat well, go to the gym, have tanned skin, don’t go to the solarium though, that’s for idiots who want to die, wear skirts, act like a lady, but not too short, you’ll look like a skank.

Founder of the group and said friend, Crook, hit back arguing roughly two things:

1) Calling it ‘anti-woman’ was an exxageration as the group was merely concerned with the classification of tights in a “functional sense”, and was also willing to look at inappropriate tights on men.

2) Placing this conversation in a gendered context was an abstraction as the group existed as part of an in-joke to try and establish support for different sides of this debate.

Here again (like Jermaine and Germaine), comedy can give us some clues into our own prejudices and assumptions. To me these strongly held stances against tights (and boy are they strongly held, even in blogs which I read daily), are essentially about economies of taste, about superiority, about retaining control over acceptability and ultimately about telling women what they can and can’t wear. Not cool.

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These Boyz Kill It

SPOILER WARNING

God I love Flight of the Conchords. Not to the extent the rest of New Zealand’s entertainment industry probably hates them, but I digress. If you’re yet to discover this delightful duo of dunces, let me recommend this clip.

I’ll mention at this stage that Season 2 of this series hasn’t been released in Australia yet, so the episode I’ve seen was essentially stolen. Though I didn’t download it myself, does that make it any better? Anyway, the rest of the episode goes to find Jemaine fall in love with the forbidden (and hilariously ocker) Australian girl he goes home with that night, Keitha. Keitha feigns reciprocity, tricks Jemaine into thinking they are eloping and then uses Jemaine’s absence as an opportunity to ransack the apartment he shares with Brett.

For as long as I can remember, being incompetent has been funny. Noone sympathises wih a winner, and that’s what this show brilliantly capitalises on; the whole first season has viewers edge of seats, phlanges crossed, hoping and praying the band will get a gig. Leaving aside the fact that a deal with HBO is a pretty sweet gig, Brett and Jemaine are giant losers and we love them for it. They’re also very straight, which in itself is of course unproblematic. My issue with this “dopey useless boy” caricature is not that it’s not an astute satire of masculinity, because it is. Rather, the issue is that it robs women in this program of the room for that kind of likability — they’re all relegated to either pathetic (sycophantic super-groupie Meg) or conniving (sex hungry, hostage-taking Keitha).

Where are the strong female characters in this show?

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This blog is a safe space for women and puns.

It seems everyday I am noticing things that, while seemingly innocuous, upon closer inspecting are distressingly woman-hatey (misogynist). Later that day, I will realise I am wrong, or perhaps overstating the case. In any case, these discoveries and the debates surrounding them tend to be inflicted on co-workers, so much so that one in particular has suggested these thoughts be bloggified. It is yet unclear whether this will make the issue better or worse.

More pertinently, I’ve recently had the realisation that I probably fall in the militant variety of feminists (I reckon if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem). It was a somewhat concerning realisation, as for a long time, I’ve taken pride in evenhanded, non-preachy and well-humoured opinions about most things. This is where the puns come in. I think it’s really easy when debating feminism (religion, poetry, science or the local elections) to lose perspective and distance. In the interests of this, I’ll be doing my best to look out for seemingly anti-feminist fings (books, video clips, news presenters, lamps) that might be read differently.

The final reason I’ve finally gotten a blog is, perhaps pathetically, school. Taking a Net Communications subject at UniMelb requires regular blogging within a closed network of subject-based blogs, so now I’ve got all these super-fast skillz ready to roll. It’s also forced me to look at blog theory (as well as other wanky intertubes theories), and got me real fascinated with a life 2.0 outside Facebook and YouTube.

Here goes!

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