So some dudes were complaining lately, “Women are telling guys to stop telling them how to dress, but not all guys are total misogynists! Women do it to each other too!”
So. People. Let me tell you a thing.
This is a picture of a panopticon. It’s a kind of prison. See, it’s a giant circle, with all the cells around the rim. The tower in the middle is where the guards are. The guards can see into all the prisoners’ cells, but the prisoners cannot see each other, and they have difficulty seeing the guards. Each prisoner knows that at any time, they are being watched, and if the guards see them behaving incorrectly, they will come with truncheons and beat the prisoner up. They learn to feel that gaze on them, all the time; every movement makes them think, “What if this breaks the rules, and they see, and they come and punish me?” Soon, prisoners don’t need guards standing over them all the time to follow the rules; they do it themselves, because that gaze is omnipresent. Even when the guard house is empty, they still think, “What if someone is watching me?” (This is all from Michel Foucault. You want more on this, go read Discipline and Punish, enjoy the descriptions of medieval torture.)
The panopticon is a metaphor. In our society, we are constantly watched, tracked, disciplined, and punished, from childhood. The school says you skipped class today. The babysitter says you wouldn’t follow the rules. The police saw you at the park with your friends. We are held to valid rules, and to bullshit rules; some of them are necessary to make our society safe, and some of them just make us easier to exploit.
You are held to rules. I am held to rules. They vary. As a woman, I am held to rules that say be small be pretty defer to someone else and I’m punished in different ways if I don’t obey. My brother is held to different rules, that say be strong don’t feel dominate the situation. We end up policing each other; we meet and he says, “Looking good,” and I remember: people are watching how I dress and how I look. If I disobey, they will notice, and I could be punished. I meet him after his job and ask, “Do you think you’ll be promoted soon?” and he remembers: people pay attention to whether or not I’m in charge, and if I’m not dominant, I could be punished.
Sometimes the guardhouse is empty. Sometimes nobody is paying close attention to what I’m wearing. Sometimes the guards don’t come to punish me, so whether or not I am pretty or attractive does not affect whether I get to own property. (It used to: whether or not my ancestresses were married affected their legal and economic statuses hugely)
Feminism is about the work of dismantling the prison when it comes to bullshit rules. It’s about saying that we shouldn’t be held to stupid rules based on gender. So it’s about the work of getting rid of the cells and the watchtower, and getting rid of the guards with truncheons. We can stop telling each other these stories about all the rules we’re held to, and we can stop punishing each other for breaking them. My brother stops telling me, “You’ll never get a date if you dress like that.” I stop telling him, “You need to be strong and work hard so you come out on top.”
So no, feminists don’t believe that all men everywhere are 100% misogynistic. It’s just that a lot of women are conditioned to think that 100% of the time, there is a risk that someone is watching us, and we will be punished if the break the rules. It is really hard work to break the social structures and the internal attitudes that imprison us.
And yes, women can enforce the panopticon. Hell, I’ll even tell you a womanly secret: I cannot count the number of times I’ve received cruelty at the hands of fellow girls for the way I looked or dressed. My entire middle school experience was basically that and algebra. We’re working on fixing that! Please, do not doubt that we’ve been working on that among ourselves as a gender. Women have spent a lot of blood, sweat, and tears trying to change how we treat each other. Now we’re asking you to pitch in.
Fueled by outdated ideals of gender roles and the sense that female sexuality is somehow shameful, there are certain pernicious myths about girls and sex that just won’t die. That sex education in America has gaping holes doesn’t help much, either; in a recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report, just 6 out of 10 girls said that their schools’ sex ed curriculum included information on how to say no to sex. This lack of personal agency was reflected in a forthcoming study by sociologist Heather Hlavka at Marquette University as well, which found that many young girls think of sex simply as something that is “done to them.”
new video up babes! WHY I’M A….FEMINIST *gasp!!* *shock!!!1* *horror!!!!*
i know, i know. gender equality is a terrifying thing here on the interwebs. here are just a few (err…60) of the reasons i’m a feminist.
The comments on this video scare me a lot, I can’t believe that people can say that stuff after watching this, and that is why I am a feminist.
Me too. Lewis’ law: the comments on feminist writings justify the writing.
im so pro-selfie like there are so many bigger problems in the world than girls who think theyre pretty
one of those problems is girls who dont think theyre pretty
During WWII, Irena got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.
Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.
Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.
During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants. Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi’s broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.
Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out, In a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.
In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize.
She was not selected.
Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming.
You want to say Hi to the cute girl on the subway. How will she react? Fortunately, I can tell you with some certainty, because she’s already sending messages to you. Looking out the window, reading a book, working on a computer, arms folded across chest, body away from you = do not disturb. So, y’know, don’t disturb her. Really. Even to say that you like her hair, shoes, or book. A compliment is not always a reason for women to smile and say thank you. You are a threat, remember? You are Schrödinger’s Rapist. Don’t assume that whatever you have to say will win her over with charm or flattery. Believe what she’s signaling, and back off.
If you speak, and she responds in a monosyllabic way without looking at you, she’s saying, “I don’t want to be rude, but please leave me alone.” You don’t know why. It could be “Please leave me alone because I am trying to memorize Beowulf.” It could be “Please leave me alone because you are a scary, scary man with breath like a water buffalo.” It could be “Please leave me alone because I am planning my assassination of a major geopolitical figure and I will have to kill you if you are able to recognize me and blow my cover.”
On the other hand, if she is turned towards you, making eye contact, and she responds in a friendly and talkative manner when you speak to her, you are getting a green light. You can continue the conversation until you start getting signals to back off.
The fourth point: If you fail to respect what women say, you label yourself a problem.
There’s a man with whom I went out on a single date—afternoon coffee, for one hour by the clock—on July 25th. In the two days after the date, he sent me about fifteen e-mails, scolding me for non-responsiveness. I e-mailed him back, saying, “Look, this is a disproportionate response to a single date. You are making me uncomfortable. Do not contact me again.” It is now October 7th. Does he still e-mail?
Yeah. He does. About every two weeks.
This man scores higher on the threat level scale than Man with the Cockroach Tattoos. (Who, after all, is guilty of nothing more than terrifying bad taste.) You see, Mr. E-mail has made it clear that he ignores what I say when he wants something from me. Now, I don’t know if he is an actual rapist, and I sincerely hope he’s not. But he is certainly Schrödinger’s Rapist, and this particular Schrödinger’s Rapist has a probability ratio greater than one in sixty. Because a man who ignores a woman’s NO in a non-sexual setting is more likely to ignore NO in a sexual setting, as well.
So if you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone. If you pursue a conversation when she’s tried to cut it off, you send a message. It is that your desire to speak trumps her right to be left alone. And each of those messages indicates that you believe your desires are a legitimate reason to override her rights.
For women, who are watching you very closely to determine how much of a threat you are, this is an important piece of data.
an excerpt from Phaedra Starling’s “Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced” (via lostgrrrls)
HOLY FUCK THE TRUTH.
Can every one of my male followers read this? And please, before you get defensive (“I would never rape anyone!”) keep in mind, women being afraid of Shrodinger’s Rapists (oh my god i still can’t get over the encompassing brilliance of this phrase) is a conditioned, learned response from being immersed in rape culture and the evolution of sexism and sexual violence in our society from the day we’re born. And unfortunately, it’s very difficult to unlearn without the efforts of all genders to dismantle it. Which is where you come in.
It’s also just rude and disrespectful to patently ignore what someone has told you regarding their personal space, body, and time. Get a clue.
I will always reblog this. Always.
So if you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone.
Oh my lord, everything in this.