||[18 Jan 2008|08:09pm]
_allecto_ is relocating to wordpress. My new home is here Gorgon Poisons. It is not fully furnished and inhabitable quite yet but I am getting there. I hope you will join me for my blog warming party on an indeterminate date in the near future. I'm am sorry to my sister ljers that I reluctantly leave behind. I will continue to read my lj friend's page but my blogging here will be sparse.
|Michigan Womyn's Festival
||[14 Jan 2008|09:38pm]
Ok so I've decided that someway, somehow, I am going to get myself to Michfest this year. I am going to do it. I am determined. So, I'm going to the US for the fest. I think. Is there anything worth exploring in the US that should make me want to hang around after the fest? I could probably finance an extra week. But I have no idea what I could/would/should do with that week. So, dear US based readers, should I bother staying for an extra week after the fest? What should I, could I do with that extra week? Keep in mind a fairly limited budget.
|OPEN LETTER ASKING FOR SOLIDARITY
||[14 Jan 2008|09:08pm]
Dear colleagues from feminist and women’s organizations from different regions of the world:
We regret to inform you that in Nicaragua, a new action of the increased presence of fundamentalists attacking feminist for defending the human rights of women is taking place.
The so called National Association for Human Rights (ANPDH), which has legal registration (even though their activities and headquarters are unknown), an organization sponsored by the Catholic right wing and the Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of the country, have filed a case on the crime of coverage and omission on the case of rape and others (as parallel action to the trial against the father of Rosita – the 9 years old little girl that was raped and got pregnant as a result of it), who has been sentenced to 30 years of imprisonment), against the following colleagues:
1.- Ana Maria Pizarro, member of the Regional Coordination of the Campaign September 28 for the Decriminalization of Abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean
2.- Juanita Jiménez, person responsible for Advocacy of the Network of Women against Violence (until recently)
3.- Lorna Norori, Psychologist
4.- Luisa Molina Arguello, spokesperson of the Federation of NGOs working with Children and Adolescents
5.- Martha Maria Blandón, from the Sexuality, Maternity and Rights Forum and IPAS Central America
6.- Martha Munguia, director of the Center Mujeres Acción Ya
7.- Mayra Sirias, current spokesperson of the Network of Women against Violence and member of its Coordinating Body
8.- Violeta Delgado, former Executive Coordinator of the Network of Women against Violence
9.- Yamileth Mejia, person responsible of Political Training of the Network of Women against Violence (until recently)
Given the seriousness of the case, the Women’s Autonomous Movement of Nicaragua has disseminated the following letter:
The General Attorney’s Office of the Republic, the National Association for Human Rights filed a case against 9 well-known leaders of the women’s movement of Nicaragua, accused as responsible of committing some criminal acts.
These compañeras are members of different civil society spaces and organizations, they have a long history of struggle in favor of women’s rights, freedom and justice, democracy and socioeconomic development of the country, and most of them are members of the National Network of Women against Violence. These social activists had an important participation in support of the denounce presented by Zoilamérica Narváez of sexual abused by her step-father, the current President of the Republic.
Through information we received today, the afternoon of November 22nd, we know that the General’s Attorneys Office has instructions to proceed immediately in prosecuting the case, preparing the accusation and doing a fast trial guaranteeing a sentence against the nine accused, to take them to jail.
With this decision, backed by the presidential couple, (Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo) an action of political vengeance and repression is being implemented for those who supported Zoilamérica’s quest for justice. Also, they are trying to negatively affect the credibility of women’s spaces and organizations that with courage have always denounced crimes of violence and sexual abuse of all the victims that have approach them for assistance.
We call all women’s and other civil society organizations to mobilize against this repressive action of political terrorism and to defend the rights and freedom of our compañeras, and to reject through different means the actions of the presidential couple and the Attorney’s office.
Meanwhile, the Network of Women against Violence has call on all its members to coordinate a joint response, that several other organizations from all over the country are supporting, as well as organizations with which the women’s movements has alliances and joint work, as well as diverse groups promoting sexual diversity.
It does not go without saying that we expect all sorts of expressions of solidarity by the international women’s and feminist movements, which has historically and permanently denounced the arbitrary actions that are faced by women who are struggling to advance rights for all.
Your solidarity messages can be sent to the email address of the Campaign 28 of September: <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com
Thanking you all in advance for your support,
Patricia Orozco A.
Regional Coordinator of the Campaign 28 of September
Ana María Pizarro Jiménez
Tel: 505-2680038 (Oficina)
Apartado Postal 2109. Correo Central.
Facultad de Psicologia, UNAM
|Clemetine's courageous article and my rather cheeky response
||[14 Jan 2008|08:42pm]
SUNDAY MAIL columnist CLEMENTINE FORD reveals she had not one but two abortions - and that it was a really, really easy decision without guilt or shame.
Clementine, you are an incredible, brave and amazing woman to stand up and put yourself out there for the rights of women and children everywhere. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your courage, strength and commitment to women's social, emotional and political integrity. If only more women had your courage. "I am very much pro-life. I'm pro the life of women who have lived for years as opposed to cells that have lived for weeks. I am in favour of women having babies when and if they choose them." I am 100% with you there, sister. Incidentally, I am a lesbian separatist, who chooses to have nothing to do with men and their supremacy. I have found that refusing intercourse with men is an even better way than condoms, of ensuring that one does not get pregnant. Instead of 'birth contol' which is usually risky to women's health and never 100% effective, I believe that the pro-lifers would be better served by promoting lesbianism. Just my two cents.
Love and sisterhood to you Clementine. Stay strong.
|Hugh Hefner, Stan Lee and Joss Whedon: male bonding over the bodies of women
||[12 Jan 2008|06:13pm]
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is to star as a cartoon superhero fighting evil alongside a bevy of buxom Bunnygirls... He has teamed up with Spider Man creator and Marvel Comics guru Stan Lee to develop the TV cartoon. Septuagenarian Hefner will lead an elite crime-fighting team made up of various Playmates of the month, in the show Hef's Superbunnies, according to Variety magazine. The adult cartoon will take viewers inside the Playboy Mansion, the heart of his operation to fight injustice... Link
Lee said: 'As a fan who bought and cherished the very first copy of Playboy in 1953, it is an enormous thrill for me to be partnering with a man who has done so much to shape the culture of the times we live in.
'Hugh Hefner has long been one of the great communicators in our society, and I can't think of anyone I'd rather work with'.
Stan Lee is the creator of the comic book X-Men. In 2004, Joss Whedon took over writing the X-Men comic title Astonishing X-men, which, like all of Joss' work, is pretty bloody misogynist. So, what does the great feminist Joss have to say about Stan Lee?
"Stan Lee is the father of us all," Joss Whedon told CBR News. ... "Which is why he's not running that fertility clinic any more - he's lucky he's not in jail. Honestly, he (and a few others, notably the King) created the template from which every one of us works. ... It's a real pleasure to be able to thank Stan for all we have, and to finally hit him up for those child support payments." Link
Men as fathers, with no mothers in sight. The only females allowed to exist in this homoerotic celebration of male-bonding are 'bunnies'. Not human but objects for consumption. Yay, go liberation!
So, if Joss Whedon is a feminist and Stan Lee is his father and Stan Lee and Hugh Hefner are in bed together, that means they must all be feminists. Woohoo. Lets break out the bubbly and have a party. FREEDOM!!!!
Sorry, I'm in rather a silly frame of mind. But fuck I used to collect X-Men comics. Religiously (and I'm not one to use that word lightly). I was obssessed with the X-Men. They kept me alive through some pretty fucked experiences. I used to be fangirlish about Stan Lee and every other dick associated with the comics. I used to go on to message boards and fan sites and think and live and breathe the X-Men. Just shows how much I've changed. Now all of these men make me sick. Fuckers.
||[12 Jan 2008|12:09am]
Reading Sisterhood is Forever and being halfway through Not For Sale I just had to find out more about this woman Vednita Carter whose contributions to both volumes just reached out and grabbed me, shaking me right down to my bones.
This is how she describes her initial research on the depiction of black women in pornography and subsequent theorising. This piece of writing was included in Not For Sale under the title "Prostitution and the new slavery".
As I began to look for information on pornography, I was not really too amazed to find that there was nothing at all specifically about black women to be found at the public libraries. It is my everyday experience to be made invisible in a white dominated society. The only place that I knew to go for information about my sisters was the porn stores, where they were not invisible, but rather prominently featured. Link.
Going into the porn stores was not something that I looked forward to doing. As my coworker and I went into the store, she quickly reminded me not to react to what I would see because the clerks might ask us to leave. In fact a big sign at the entrance stated that they had the right to ask “certain customers” to leave.
When we entered, a sense of panic immediately came over me. The place was like a cement bunker. It was one big, dark, dirty room. A musty odor permeated the space. The stale smell of sweat and semen hung in the air. Dusty shelves stretched from corner to corner, ceiling to floor. As I looked around, all I could see was wall to wall women.
On one side of the room I saw nothing but bondage magazines. The covers displayed pictures of women tied up, chained up, hung upside down. Some had ball gags stuffed in their mouths. In some, the women’s eyes and mouth were taped shut. Some were handcuffed, some shackled to chairs, others locked in cages. All of them had their legs spread – or more often roped - wide open.
Looking in another direction, I see my sisters, beautiful Black women, nameless often faceless, were plastered on the covers of magazines with titles such as “Chocolate Pleasure, Black on Black, Black Sugar, and Bound Black Beauties”. Many were restrained and all of them were made to appear as if they were “asking for it” – screaming and moaning with desire.
My heart fell to my feet. All these women exposing their most intimate, private, sacred parts. All of these Black women for sale. As I continued to look, I thought about slavery. I thought about the stories my Grandmother told me about her mother’s life under slavery. Even though I never experienced the physical pain of being auctioned off, seeing these Black women shackled, spread-eagle, or hog-tied, made it seem as though this part of history – the history of my family’s enslavement – was repeating itself all over again.
Looking at the women’s faces, I could see they felt shame, embarrassment, hopelessness, and a deep down sorrow. They looked like they were there but yet they weren’t there. Many appeared high off of whatever drug they needed to take in order to cope with the brutal exploitation of their bodies.As I stood in the porn store, my thoughts flashed between the women in the pictures and the pictures that were burned in my memory. As I looked past the contorted mask of sexual desire painted on the women’s faces, I could see my own reflection in their deadened eyes. Struggling with feeling of hurt and rage, I thought to myself, “What gives anyone the right to exploit another human being to this extent? How can anyone get turned on by dehumanizing another human being?” We are living, breathing, feeling people just like the rest of the human race (men). If you stab us, we bleed. If you stick unnatural objects in us, we hurt. If you hang us from a tree or a pole, we will die.
Pornographic videos and magazines perpetuate the myth that all Black women are whores. A caption under a picture of a Black woman in one porn magazine reads, “for men who seek hot sex on a regular basis with high performance fuck machines I suggest they try sleeping Black”. Titles like “Big Black Bazoons, Big Black Bitch, Big Tit Black Milk, Black and Kinky, Black Whore, Black Fantasy, and Bitchin Black Ass. These titles portray Black women as ready and willing for anything with anybody. These are just a few titles the list goes on and on.
Everything about African American women is sexualized in pornography, even our efforts to win Civil Rights for our people. Another porn magazine “quotes” a Black women saying, “Black power comes in many forms, this is my favorite one: a big juicy chocolate jism stick totally filling my mouth.”
Racist stereotypes in the mainstream media and in porn portray Black women as wild animals who are ready for any kind of sex, anytime, with anybody. Additionally, strip joints and massage parlors are typically zoned in Black neighborhoods which gives the message to white men that it is okay to solicit Black women and girls for sex; that we are all prostitutes. On almost any night, you can see them slowly cruising around our neighborhoods, rolling down their windows, and calling out to women and girls. We got the message growing up, just like our daughters are getting the message today; this is
how it is, this is who you are, this is what you are good for.
Racist/sexist stereo-types of Black women always appeared in rock music. Twenty-five years ago the Rolling Stones reduced us to tasty little mouthfuls call “Brown Sugar”. Today, a generation raised on pornography is recording music that reflects its womenthing ideology. “Let a Ho Be a Ho”, “Pimp the Ho”, “Bitches ain’t shit but Ho’s and Tricks”. These are just a few examples. How does this effect the way young Black women view themselves? Young Black women who are constantly bombarded with these messages begin to internalize them and accept them as a true definition of who they are.
The sexual exploitation of Black women was one of the greatest harms done to the Black race during slavery. African women were brought to this country against their will. Every time they were raped by the master or overseer, ever time they were used as breeders, every time their daughters were raped and assaulted or sold to brothels, they were told what their self worth was.
After the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 many slaves fled from the south to the north in search of true freedom. I can imagine what their thought might have been: no more worries about mothers and daughters being raped and assaulted or sold off. But, little did they know, the white man wasn’t going to relinquish their bodies that easily. It was going to take more then the Emancipation Proclamation for this to happen. During this period white men perpetuated the myth that all Black women are wild sex animals in an attempt to excuse and hide their continued sexual exploitation. Up until the 1960’s white men were still invading the homes of Black families in the south – raping mothers and daughters. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights movement that this practice appeared to stop – or at least we didn’t hear about it any more. As a result of the systemic abuses Black women have suffered in this country, the lesson sadly passed on from grandmother, to mother to daughter in our communities is that sexual exploitation by white men is inevitable. Pornography is just another way that these men can own and control Black women.
Although feminist analyses of pornography address the ways in which it sexualizes racism, no one body of work presents an in-depth analysis of Black women’s vulnerability to commercial sexual exploitation or how images of Black women in porn not only perpetuate racist stereotypes but shape the ways in which young Black women view themselves. Feminist analysis must begin to take into consideration the impact of the slavery experience on African American women. This is the root cause of contemporary sexual slavery in the Black community. The feminist movement must acknowledge that this society has systematically raped Black women over and over again. It must acknowledge how this would cripple Black women as a group – emotionally, psychologically and politically.
The Black community needs to recognize the shackles of slavery that we still have bound to us. The African American church needs to recognize that women used in prostitution, porn, and stripping are victims. Black men need to unlearn the lessons of slavery; we are not their bitches, we are not their ho’s, anymore then we are the bitches and ho’s of white men; on the plantation or in the hood. We need to educate ourselves about our history
and how it effects who we are now. We need to understand the trickery that has been played on us since the first African was thrown on American shores only to be forced into bondage and sexual slavery. We need to understand how that experience, and the years of racism which followed abolition, shape our lives and the way we see each other. Only when we are able to understand and begin to deprogram ourselves, will African American people begin to understand the true meaning of self-worth. Only then, will we be able and willing to invite our white allies to join us in the fight to end the dual oppression of racism and sexism.
Vednita Carter is the founder and Executive Director ofBreaking Free which has as its motto, "Sisters helping sisters break free". Before this she worked for six years in WHISPER (Women Hurt in Systems of Prostitution Engaged in Revolt). No wonder her writing is so passionate and direct.
More of Vednita Carter's writing can be found here:
PROVIDING SERVICES TO AFRICAN AMERICAN PROSTITUTED WOMEN
Defining Prostitution/Slave Mentality
|Lesbian Code by Alix Dobkin
||[11 Jan 2008|09:03pm]
Very funny. I actually met an older lesbian feminist recently who pulled me aside while at a information lunch on the NT intervention. She said, "Do you see any FDA's in the room?"
"FDA's?" I said, confused.
"Future Dykes Australia. Alix Dobkin. Only for her it was Future Dykes America."
Now I understand what she was going on about! I want to see Alix Dobkin perform.
|Sexual Slavery of Female Children in India
||[09 Jan 2008|05:12pm]
The video below is an extract of a documentary called The Land of Missing Children. This is just beyond despicable.
I found the video here.
Another worthwhile documentary on the sexual slavery of women in India is Born Into Brothels.
The trafficking of female peoples, children and women, into sexual slavery is worldwide and increasing. Australia is no exception. The following is taken from Childwise which is "an Australian charity dedicated to protecting children everywhere. It is the only Australian based organisation working exclusively to prevent the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in Australia, Asia and the Pacific."
Over the last year, unprecedented numbers of Australians have been arrested for child-sex tourism. Bernadette McMenamin, CEO of Australias leading international child protection agency, believes that Australia is exporting more sex offenders than ever before. These recent arrests and prosecutions are only the tip of the iceberg and thousands of Australians are abusing children overseas.
In the last year the following Australians have been investigated, arrested or prosecuted for child-sex offences committed overseas:
1.Don Hancock (Teacher) Committed suicide in Surabaya, Indonesia. Believed to be part of a paedophile network.
2.Peter Smith (Teacher) Arrested on multiple counts of child sexual abuse in Jakarta. Believed to be part of a paedophile network.
3.Donald Storen (Bar owner) Arrested for alleged child-sex offences in Lombok, Indonesia.
4.Paul Thompson (Junior cricket development officer) Convicted sex offender arrested in Thailand and previously deported from Bali earlier in 2006.
5.Simon Vizard (Photographer) Convicted and jailed for multiple child-sex offences in Mexico.
6.Jason Mizner (Teacher) Arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a two-year-old child in Thailand.
7.Damien Walker (Teacher/Development worker) Convicted for child-sex abuse in Cambodia
8.Charles White (Volunteer for street children) Wanted for alleged child-sex offences in Vietnam.
9.Barry Glenn Illes (Tourist) Arrested in Australia for alleged child-sex tourism offences in South East Asia. Currently being prosecuted.
10.Gregory Cook (Tourist) Arrested and deported back to Australia after being convicted for child-sex offences in Vietnam
11.Ronald King (Tourist) Convicted in Australia for importing child pornography.
12.John Mountford (Teacher/chaplain) Extradited from Thailand to face alleged child-sex offence charges in South Australia.
13.Leon Wicks (SES worker) Pleaded guilty in Australia to having sex with boys in Thailand.
14.Peter Sage (Pensioner) Convicted and jailed in Australia for child-sex offences committed in the Philippines.
15.Clyde Shoebridge (Pensioner) Charged with child pornography in the Philippines.
16.Unnamed 73 year old Currently being prosecuted in Australia for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old housemaid in the Philippines.
17.Werner Wulf Extradited from Australia to India to face alleged child-sex tourism charges as part of a paedophile network.
18.Robert Scoble (Ex-diplomat) Convicted for distributing child pornography in Thailand.
Well, this has got me crying again. And I just cannot help but wonder why men hate us so very much. I really, really don't understand. How can they hate us so much? Why? Why?
||[08 Jan 2008|07:48pm]
My friend, B, has finally finished the Australian Radical Feminism website. It is a really great resource with many links to resources that I didn't even know existed. Check out the little flying witch at the bottom of each page!
Go visit: The Fury: Australian Radical Feminism.
||[07 Jan 2008|07:40pm]
I posted a second story of Rebecca's over at Spinning Spinsters. It is called Always Remember. It is a very powerful recount of what men did to her when she was trapped in prostitution and sexual violence.
Please read Always Remember.
||[02 Jan 2008|08:20am]
First of all, this journal is for women who have a genuine interest in women's rights and commitment to sisterhood. Discussion has always been a vital part of the development of the women's movement. If you disagree with something published here, please don't hesitate to say so unless your opinions fall under the banned comments section. If you do want to engage me in a discussion about something I have posted on my journal, please treat me with respect. You have every right to disagree, you have every right to tell me how and why, but you do not have the right to insult your own intelligence by attempting to insult mine. I am not easily offended and I will merely have a good laugh at your inanity before deleting your comment. So, don't be stupid if you actually want your comment to be published.
In the future all comments that are:
...or otherwise woman-hating
will not be tolerated on this journal and will be automatically deleted.
I love to have good discussions with other women who do not always agree with me. But I will not allow comments that are insulting, woman-hating or potentially silencing of women.
|Judy Horacek's Feminist Cartoons
||[31 Dec 2007|10:27pm]
Judy Horacek is an Australian feminist cartoonist. I love many of her cartoons. Her most recognisable being "Woman with Altitude". Anyway, last month and this month her topic on her website is Feminism and it is definitely worth checking out: Judy Horacek's feminist cartoons.
|Aid restrictions are killing the women of East Timor
||[31 Dec 2007|09:20pm]
Australia's near neighbour East Timor has a birth rate of 8.5 per woman and a maternal death rate 20 times that of Australia. It is hardly an unusual case: around the world one woman dies in childbirth every minute. Another 68,000 women die every year as a result of unsafe abortion, which also leaves about 5 million women permanently injured or diseased.
These are horrifying statistics. The fact that Australia is partly responsible for them should shame and anger us all.
The AusAID family planning guidelines, instituted in 1996 by a Coalition government desperate for the support of the ultra-conservative Senator Brian Harradine, forbade any organisation that accepts Australian aid dollars from providing, recommending or even supplying information on abortion - even when to do so may save the woman's life.
Funded organisations are also restricted as to the types and methods of contraceptives they can suggest. Harradine retired in 2005 and had not held the balance of power for some years before that - but the AusAid restrictions remain.
In May the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population and Development published a paper demanding that the family planning guidelines be abolished. The report argued that worldwide access to contraception and safe pregnancy terminations would reduce maternal deaths by up to 35 per cent and child deaths by 20 per cent.
Read the whole article...
By the way ALL of the money Australia 'gives' the East Timorese in 'aid' is actually Timorese money. When we 'saved' the East Timorese from the Indonesian military we also 'saved' (read: stole) an off shore oil rig which represented about AU$2 billion to the East Timorese people. We give a lot less than that back to the East Timorese people in 'aid' which is dictated by the fucked Australian government. So, women are dying in East Timor from our 'aid' restrictions which we pay out of money that is rightfully East Timorese money in the first place. It just warms my heart knowing that I am an Australian and that I am a part of all this generousity.
||[28 Dec 2007|08:33am]
I'm going to post your comment, Rebecca, and my reply. I hope you do not mind. I find your comments to be very insightful and I feel that more women should read your words.
Rebecca's comment in response to A Rapist's View of the World:
Thanks for saying that readers of your journal should read "Lie Dead". I really hope it can be a small nail into the myth of the "Happy Hooker".
I have seen small bits of "Firefly", and am amazed at a vision of a future where women are still sexually serving men. It makes sad that there is such a narrow view of a future. But, I found much of the programme to be dumb, and pretty boring to watch.
As someone who has been involved in the sex trade, I find the media promotes the myth of the "happy hooker". In "Firefly", the "whore" is protayed as a courtisan. This makes her intelligent, can "choose" which men she has sex with and is protrayed as strong. This is a male wet-dream of prostitution. And for the majority of prostituted women and girls is an unrealistic fiction.
Yes, I know "Firefly" is just fiction, but this type of popular TV can put out stereotype views of prostitution. This can encourage the belief that prostitution is not such a bad choice for young women to do. That is safe, and can empower you. If it was one programme saying that, I would not mind. But, all around there is an insistence that prostitution will empower women. That prostitution is a free choice of a woman. That once a prostituted woman, you have control which punter you see. That there some violence, but that is just part of the job.
I don't know where to start with the "happy hooker" myth. First, the vast majority of prostituted women and girls do not choose "freely" what they do. To choose freely, it is important to know the woman's life story. If she was not in poverty; if she had not experienced sexual, physical or mental abuse before entering prostitution; if a "boyfriend" who had said - "Do this to prove you love me"; if she has high self-esteem and more. There are many amd complicated reasons to enter the sex trade, but few are free choices.
Women in prostitution have little or no control of their working condition. They will have to go with any man, no matter how violent. Safety is a low priority, the battering, rapes and murders is not part of the job - but, it is bloody common.
I know most of your reader know the reality of prostituted women's lives - and see through the "Firefly" nonsense.
Thanks for promoting my piece, Rebecca.
I too found the show to be really very boring. Being a committed Buffy fan when I was younger, dis_senter and I decided to hire out Firefly as a bit of light entertainment a few years back. We didn't watch more than half an hour of the show before becoming bored and disgusted. It was only recently that I decided to force myself to watch it all the way through. You sent me your pieces of writing, Rebecca, and I stayed up reading them. Your words left me raw.
The next day I started to watch Firefly. I think one of the reasons that Firefly affected me so badly was because I had just been exposed to the harsh reality of what you had lived through. It bore no resemblance to the 'wet-dream' of Joss Whedon's 'happy hooker' world. And so 'feminist' men can wank to their 'empowered' versions of us as whores and feel no guilt. Because men value orgasm and power and power and orgasm far and away above valuing women as human, let alone respecting our Selves and our integrity.
I don't think that 'free choice' can exist for women when our Selves are so often patriarchally conditioned into accepting our roles as sexualised objects of consumption. It is only in a world where no one can see women as human that a TV show like this can be made. Where the reality of what you and many other women in the sex industry have lived through can be coated over in patriarchally poisoned sugar. Dressed up in poison-laced silk and taken to town as empowerment.
We live in a very sick world. You have so much courage and integrity, Rebecca. You are amazing, to have lived through what you suffered and still be alive to stand up and protest what was done to you. Yes, everyone should read Lie Dead not just those who read my journal.
|A Rapist's View of the World: Joss Whedon and Firefly
||[15 Dec 2007|11:15pm]
This is a really long rant about Joss Whedon's Firefly. Why? Because I'm angry and I think it is really important that feminists don't leave popular culture out of the equation. Especially considering that popular culture is increasingly being influenced by pornography.
I have become increasingly interested in examining Joss Whedon’s work from a feminist perspective since I had a conversation with another lesbian feminist sister at the International Feminist Summit about whether Joss was a feminist. I am really quite shocked by how readily Joss is accepted as a feminist, and that his works are widely considered to be feminist. I decided to start re-watching Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and also to watch Firefly and the movie Serenity.
I have to say that now that I have subjected myself to the horror that is Firefly, I really am beyond worried about how much men hate us, given that this was written by a man who calls himself a feminist.
I find much of Joss Whedon’s work to be heavily influenced by pornography, and pornographic humour. While I would argue that there are some aspects of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer that are feminist and progressive, there is much that isn’t and I find it highly problematic that there are many very woman-hating messages contained within a show that purports itself as feminism. But Firefly takes misogyny to a new level of terrifying. I am really, really worried that women can call the man who made this show a feminist.
For myself, I’m not sure that I will recover from the shock of watching the malicious way in which Joss stripped his female characters of their integrity, the pleasure he seemed to take from showing potentially powerful women bashed, the way he gleefully demonized female power and selfhood and smashed women into little bits, male fists in women’s faces, male voices drowning out our words.
There is so much hatred towards women contained within the scripts and action of the series that I doubt very much that this post will even begin to cover it. I am going to try to focus on the episodes that were written by Joss Whedon but I will also refer to the series as a whole. As Joss Whedon was responsible for the concept development and was a producer, ultimately I hold him accountable for the depiction of women in the entire season. Only one episode was written by a woman. It was no better or worse in its depiction of women than the ones written by men.
The pilot episode, Serenity, was written and directed by Joss Whedon. The basic plot of the series is Malcolm Reynolds and his second in command Zoe, have made a new life for themselves after fighting a war against the Alliance, which they lost. They bought a Firefly, an old space ship, and Mal calls it Serenity, after the last battle they fought for the Independence. The pilot of the ship, Wash, is Zoe’s husband. Kaylee is the ship’s mechanic and Jayne, the final member of the crew, is the brainless brawn. This bunch of criminals go around stealing things and generally doing lots of violence.
They also take on board passengers. There is Inara, a Companion (Joss Whedon’s euphemism for women in prostitution). She rents one of the ship’s shuttles. Simon, a doctor and his sister River. And a Shepherd (which means preacher), a black male character.
The first scene opens in a war with Mal and Zoe. Zoe runs around calling Mal ‘sir’ and taking orders off him. I roll my eyes. Not a good start.
The next scene is set in the present. Mal, Jayne, and Zoe are floating about in space. They come into some danger. Mal gets all panicky.
Zoe says, “This ship's been derelict for months. Why would they –”
Mal replies, (in Chinese) “Shut up.”
So in the very second scene of the very first episode, an episode written and directed by the great feminist Joss, a white man tells a black woman to ‘shut up’ for no apparent reason. And she does shut up. And she continues to call him sir. And takes his orders, even when they are dumb orders, for the rest of the series.
The next scene we meet Kaylee, the ship’s mechanic. <- Lookee, lookee, feminist empowerment. In this scene Mal and Jayne are stowing away the cargo they just stole. Kaylee is chatting to them, happily. Jayne asks Mal to get Kaylee to stop being so cheerful. Mal replies, “Sometimes you just wanna duct tape her mouth and dump her in the hold for a month.” Yes, that is an exact quote, “Sometimes you just wanna DUCT TAPE HER MOUTH and DUMP HER IN THE HOLD FOR A MONTH.” Kaylee responds by grinning and giving Mal a kiss on the cheek and saying, “I love my Captain.”
What the fuck is this feminist man trying to say about women here? A black woman calling a white man ‘sir’. A white male captain who abuses and silences his female crew, with no consequences. The women are HAPPY to be abused. They enjoy it. What does this say about women, Joss? What does this say about you? Do you tell your wife to shut up? Do you threaten to duct tape her mouth? Lock her in the bedroom? Is this funny to you, Joss? Because it sure as fuck ain’t funny to me.
Our first introduction to Inara the ‘Companion’, Joss Whedon’s euphemism for prostituted women, is when she is being raped/fucked/used by a prostitutor. I find it really interesting to read the scripted directions for this particular scene:
We are close on INARA's face. She is being made love to by an eager, inexperienced but quite pleasingly shaped young man. She is beneath him, drawing him to his climax with languorous intensity. His face buried in her neck.
He tightens, relaxes, becomes still. She runs her hand through is hair and he pulls from her neck, looks at her with sweaty insecurity. She smiles, a worldly, almost motherly sweetness in her expression. He rests his head on her breast, still breathing hard.
So, Joss Whedon refers to rapist/fuckers who buy women as sex, as ‘eager, inexperienced but pleasingly shaped’ who ‘make love’ to women in prostitution. Obviously, ‘love’ to men like Joss Whedon, requires female powerlessness, force and coercion. Women in prostitution enjoy the experience of being bought for sex. They feel ‘motherly’ towards the men who have just treated them as property and bought them as sex.
In Joss Whedon’s future world prostituted women are powerful and respectable. They go to an Academy, to train in the arts of being a ‘Companion’. They belong to a Guild which regulates prostitution, forces women to endure yearly health tests and comes up with rules to make prostitution sound empowering for women. For example, one Guild rule is that the ‘Companion’ chooses her rapist, not the other way around.
But there is one really big question that does not get answered. The women who ‘choose’ to be ‘Companions’ are shown as being intelligent, accomplished, educated, well-respected and presumably from good families. If a woman had all of these qualities and opportunities then why the fuck would she ‘choose’ to be a man’s fuck toy? Would being a fuck toy for hundreds of men give a woman like Inara personal fulfillment? Job satisfaction? A sense of purpose? Fulfill her dreams? Ambitions?
Money doesn’t seem to be the motivation behind Inara’s ‘choice’ to be a ‘Companion’, presumably she just ‘enjoys’ swanning around in ridiculous outfits. And being used as a fuck toy by men is seemingly a small price to pay for the pleasure.
At any rate, Inara’s apparent ‘power’ is merely a figment of Joss Whedon’s very sick imagination. In a later episode, Inara is shown to have set down three very specific rules in relation to her arrangement to hiring one of Mal’s shuttles as her base of operations. 1) No crew member, including the Captain would be allowed entrance to the shuttle without Inara’s express invitation. 2) Inara refuses to service the Captain nor anyone under his employ. And 3) the Captain cannot refer to Inara as a whore.
Mal agrees to all of these rules but he breaks every single one of them. Blatantly and deliberately. The third thing that Mal says in the first interaction between Inara and Mal is, “She’s a whore…” Does Inara stop him from calling her a whore? Nope. She just goes on smiling and being gracious. So he calls her a whore again. Lovely man this Mal is, dontcha think?
And in regards to her first rule, Mal takes every opportunity he can to break it. In the first episode Mal barges into Inara’s shuttle. The interchange goes like this:
Inara: What are you doing on my shuttle?
Mal: It's my shuttle. You rent it.
Inara: Then when I'm behind on the rent, you can enter unasked.
Scenes like this continue to occur for the rest of the series. Mal never apologises for breaking the terms of his agreement with Inara. And although Inara gets a little annoyed, she does not get really angry at the Captain for consistently undermining her power and invading her space. She tells the Captain to get out but he rarely complies. The point is that a man should never invade a woman’s personal space to begin with. Especially when he has been told expressly that he is not invited. But Mal delights in pointing out Inara’s powerlessness, it makes him feel all manly.
In regards to her servicing the crew, she begins to service the Captain and the male passengers of the ship from day one. The following is an excerpt from the script of Serenity. Book is a black male character. He is a Preacher and disapproves of Inara’s ‘profession’.
BOOK Is this what life is, out here?
BOOK I've been out of the abbey two days, I've beaten a Lawman senseless, I've fallen in with criminals... I watched the captain shoot a man I swore to protect. And I'm not even sure if I think he was wrong.
He is shaking a bit, tearing up.
BOOK I believe I just... (a pained smile) I think I'm on the wrong ship.
INARA Maybe. Or maybe you're exactly where you ought to be.
He lowers his head. She puts her hand on it, a kind of benediction. We hold on them a second.
It is clear from the outset that a large part of Inara’s service involves addressing issues of male inadequacy and fulfilling many other emotional needs of her clients. The ability to do this IS a resource and it is therefore a service that Inara must perform. BUT Inara services all of the male passengers and the Captain in this way. She also services Kaylee but the relationship between them is a little more reciprocal. In any case, Mal makes it pretty obvious that he expects his emotional needs to be serviced by Inara and she willingly obliges. Mal also allows the male passengers to demand her emotional services and does not tell them to stop, despite the terms of his agreement with Inara. Inara is not paid by any of these men for her time, energy and emotional support.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Joss uses his own wife in this way. Expects her to clean up his emotional messes. Expects her to be there, eternally supportive, eternally subservient and grateful to him in all his manly glory. I hope the money is worth it, Mrs. Whedon. But somehow I doubt that it is. No amount of money can buy back wasted emotional resources.
Aside from women being fuck toys, property and punching bags for the men, the women have very little importance in the series. I counted the amount of times women talk in the episode Serenity compared to the amount of times men talk. The result was unsurprising. Men: 458 Women: 175. So throughout the first episode men talk more than two and a half times as much as women do. And women talk mainly in questions whereas men talk in statements. Basically, this means that men direct the action and are active participants whereas women are merely observers and facilitators.
Given the fact that women are largely absent from the action and the dialogue of the majority of scenes it is unsurprising that the action onscreen is highly homoerotic. Men jostle with each other for power. Pushing each others buttons, and getting into scuffles. This intense homoeroticism is present from the outset as Mal asserts his rights as alpha male on the ship.
Completely unnecessary and unprovoked violence is a spontaneous result of this hypermasculinised male character. In Serenity, Mal enjoys using a character called Simon as his personal punching bag. In one scene he walks up to him and smashes him in the face, without any provocation or logical reason. In another scene Simon asks Mal a question and Mal smashes him the face again. No reason, no explanation, just violence. Violence is a part of the landscape throughout the whole series and Mal is often the instigator. He is constantly rubbing himself up against other men, and punishing wayward women, proving and solidifying his manliness through bashing the shit out of anyone and everyone.
Zoe, the token black woman, acts as a legitimiser. Her role is to support Mal’s manly obsession with himself by encouraging him, calling him ‘sir’, and even starting the fights for him. Zoe is treated as a piece of meat by both her husband (Wash, another white male) and the Captain. Wash and Mal fight each other for Zoe’s attention and admiration, both relying on her submission to them to get them hard and manly. In fact there is a whole episode, War Stories, devoted to Wash and Mal’s ‘rivalry’. By the word rivalry, I mean violent, homoerotic male/male courtship conducted over the body of a woman.
Zoe is not shown to have a personality of her own. She has no outside interests, no ideas or beliefs, no conversation with anyone other than Wash or Mal. She has no female friends, in fact she tends to dislike women. For example, she is the first one to insult Saffron in the episode Our Mrs. Reynolds, calling her ‘trouble’.
Zoe, of course, is meant to be our empowered, ass-kicking sidechick. Like all sidechicks she is objectified from the get go. Her husband, Wash, talking about how he likes to watch her bathe. Let me just say now that I have never personally known of a healthy relationship between a white man and a woman of colour. I have known a black woman whose white husband would strangle and bash her while her young children watched. My white grandfather liked black women because they were ‘exotic’, and he did not, could not treat women, especially women of colour, like human beings. I grew up watching my great aunts, my aunty and my mother all treated like shit by their white husbands, the men they loved. So you will forgive me for believing that the character, Wash, is a rapist and an abuser, particularly considering that he treats Zoe like an object and possession.
Joss Whedon does not share my view, of course, and he paints the relationship between Zoe and Wash as a perfectly happy, healthy union. If anyone is interested in portrayals of relationships between white men and black women written from black women’s point of view, I would suggest watching Radiance, Rabbit-Proof Fence and Serenades, skip Joss Whedon’s shit.
Also if you are interested in the reality of women in prostitution/prostituted women rather than the candy floss version that Joss Whedon has produced, I highly recommend Rebecca’s story Lie Dead. Skip Joss Whedon’s women-hating bile.
I can assure you that this is just the beginning of my rant on Firefly. There is so much more disturbing stuff later in the series. In particular, an episode called Our Mrs. Reynolds, another episode written by Joss, which completely demonises women as well as pornifying male violence against us.
More ranting about Firefly here
Objects in Space: Black Masculinity through the paradigm of whitemale lust
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