Archive for the tag 'sexism'

Women-only events: sexist or sensible?

NS September 22nd, 2010

News that a handful of men are entering (and often winning) races and marathons put on mainly for women has created a bit of a stir. Are these guys douchebags who enjoy exerting their superior physical capabilities over The Ladiez, ruining the spirit of the event, or is it unfair for these races to be exclusively aimed at  only one gender in the first place?

Some people like to trot out the familiar argument that if women want equality with men, it has to be enforced in all areas. No female-only gyms, no ladies’ night drink specials, no women-only events or groups. Some go a step further and say that women shouldn’t expect separate toilets, exclusion from the military draft or even be eligible for maternity leave. You need to pee or have a baby? Well boo frickin’ hoo, you wanted to be just like the big boys and you GOT it, ladies.

This, of course, is called being a giant JERK.

The thing about this argument is that it assumes that women who fight for their rights think that men and women are exactly the same, with no biological deviances or differing practical needs. It’s also more than a little patronising. Men (and some women) often use this argument to try to ‘trap’ feminists into reneging on their arguments for equality. Much like the groups of white people who cry ‘Reverse racism!’ when minority groups put together an event celebrating their heritage or form a group exclusively for those within that minority group, there seems to be a wilful ignorance and refusal to acknowledge historical power structures in these protestations.

Reverse racism against whites is impossible because minority groups lack  the political or societal power to enforce their alleged biases. In the same vein, women as a whole lack the amassed authority required to actively oppress men and deny them their basic rights based on gender. So when someone cries ‘Reverse racism! Female sexism against men!’ they mostly need to be told to stick a boot in it.

On the other hand, I can see how the ‘women only’ thing can seem a bit unfair at times, especially if it has nothing to do with physical strength or biological differences (unlike sporting events and having babies). I’m no fan of ladies’ nights, when women get into bars and nightclubs free of charge while men pay full cover. That’s very unfair and also pretty gross since the only reason establishments do this is so that there’s more tits and asses in the bar for the men to ogle. It degrades both men and women.

Even if female-only races are, at their core, unequal, I still think that entering a race full of women just so you can win is pretty tacky and mean-spirited. Not only does it prevent a woman from garnering that top glory (since she is very unlikely to win an event that includes both sexes), it can take the sheen off that ‘we’re in this doing it together, girls!’ camaraderie that events like these can help foster.

What do you think? Would you be upset if a man entered a women’s running event for the sole purpose of winning, or do you think it’s his prerogative?

Photo credit

Don’t come around here no more

NS March 10th, 2010

Hey, PR people! Yes, you over there, and there; the ones who email me every day, multiple times a day, with varying ‘offers’ or ‘opportunities’ for me to help you peddle your crap, for nothing in return but a warm, fuzzy, virtual hug from you — the middleman, the pusher, as it were — of said crap.

If you cannot be bothered to read through my blog (and by read, I mean past my last two posts) and discover that I, a raging feminist, socialist-verging-on-communist and mother who subscribes to the benign neglect mode of parenting, would probably NOT be interested in helping you sell ‘sexy’ lingerie, or formula made by a notorious WHO code violator, or what I believe to be [added so as to protect myself from libel] a ridiculous, unnecessary, wasteful and overpriced item like this one, aimed at pregnant women and with marketing designed to prey on new parents’ insecurities, I reserve my right to roll my eyes and delete your email, at best. If you catch me on a bad day, you may get a civil but curt reply instead of a deletion.

If you ask me to put a promotional link on my website and I send back my (tongue-in-cheek) fee schedule and an outline of my terms and conditions, I won’t expect to hear from you again, if previous experience is anything to go by. If you then forget you emailed me about it already and re- send the original ask again, with the same form letter, I reserve the right to not only reply a little rudely but also to request that you remove me from your list of potential suckers bloggers who will promote your item or company for little to nothing in return.

And if you send me something which, if you’d actually taken the time to have  a nose through my archives, even just from the past week, you’d know that there’s no way in HELL I would help you promote a blog for a site that has to ‘dumb it down’ for the ladies by making the new blog, like, all fabulous and pink and written only by women in the company (plus one dude, of course, because women can’t operate without at least ONE man in charge somewhere). Here is the press release they thought would win me over (bolding mine):

F-Secure, the leading Internet security company, is launching a new blog geared towards everyday computer users called ‘Safe and Savvy’. This blog is for anyone interested in staying safe online, practicing smarter social networking and protecting irreplaceable content. The bloggers are ladies who play crucial roles throughout the company.

Since its launch in the beginning of 2004, F-Secure’s first blog, ‘News from the Lab’ has garnered a loyal following of information security experts. It is now the go-to source for news and analysis from the world of cyber crime and security.

The new ‘Safe and Savvy’ blog aims to be less technical, more practical and conversational, offering computer users easy-to-digest information on how to stay safe while surfing the web. The posts will include useful tips and advice for social media, shopping or banking online, and protecting valuable content such as digital photos.

Therese Cedercreutz, director of direct business and marketing explains: “Cyber security is often discussed in very technical terms. At F-Secure we have a number of savvy ladies who are well versed in how to keep your content, yourself and your loved ones safe in the online world, and who can talk about it in an easy-to-understand, non-technical way. On Safe and Savvy we hope to give helpful tips and have discussions with our readers so they can steer clear of the pitfalls and enjoy their time on the web.”

The bloggers on Safe and Savvy are F-Secure employees from all parts of the company. Each blogger has a different skill set and expertise, ranging from detailed technical knowledge through to a solid understanding of security issues. However, all are passionate to share their knowledge on online safety, based on both personal and professional experience. And all of the bloggers are women (except for Jason).

K, Imma break it down for you, F-Secure. Let me tell you, since you obviously have no idea (or do you?), of how insultingly this reads, to this woman at least.

If this blog is for ‘anyone’ then why all the constant references to the “ladies?” Can you honestly tell me that with your approach to the mummy blogger market, your pretty pink website and constant references to the all-female staff making everything simpler for us that you were also targeting men (who are presumed to be less likely in need of ‘explaining’ and more able to keep up with the ‘other’ blog which is all techy)? If you can say yes with a straight face then more power to you, ’cause I couldn’t. In fact, I think both my eye and my lip twitched.

I find it incredibly telling that you chose an all-female staff to be responsible for writing this ‘easier to understand, simpler’ blog. If you truly wanted to create a more consumer-friendly site, for all of your users, why go to all the trouble of assembling “the ladies” from your company? If the other, techy blog is (presumably) written by all men, or a mixture of men and women, then why not just have the same people write the simpler blog too? Is it because they are too busy and important to waste time explaining things to the thick-o clients who don’t know all the latest online security lingo and technology? Or is it just that women are better ‘communicators’ and so you thought leaving them to soothe the idiots’ fears would be best? It’s an insult to not only your customers but your employees as well. Cherry-picking a bunch of vaginas (no pun intended — well, maybe a little) from around the office, regardless of their expertise, to run the There Is No Simpler Way To Explain This Shit To You blog is not really making me all warm and fuzzy inside. I don’t inherently trust or understand something more just because it was written by a woman and looks like a flamingo threw up on it.

This disparity was perfectly illustrated when I clicked through to Safe and Savvy (much to my chagrin) and saw this gem:

“Even though we work for some very serious security experts [with a link here to a picture of an office full of what appear to be men at computers], we promise not to get too techy on you.”

Um, excuse me but

Don’t even get me started on the need for ‘Jason’ to be trotted out as the lone male, the one reassurance for those doubtful that a collection of ovaries could talk about technology shit without getting it all wrong. And the thing is, I bet he’s chided and congratulated at the office for being ‘brave’ enough to work with all that oestrogen, oohed and aahed over for his authoritative presence on the boobie blog. Odds are 5-1 that he is a mansplainer of the highest degree, or at least his boss is.

So, PR agency for F-Secure, you wanted to know if I’d mention Safe and Savvy on my blog? I just did.

Photo credit

Doing nothing says everything

NS January 21st, 2010

Did you know that the Metropolitan Police sent a message to every woman in the UK yesterday?

What, you didn’t get yours? Well, it didn’t come on paper and through the letterbox, admittedly (that would contravene its environmental policy and administration budget, you see), but we can all understand —  loud and clear and in no uncertain terms — what that message was. It went something like this:

Dear Birds Women of the UK,

We are sorry we were caught regret the honest mistakes systemic failures and staggering inactions on our part which led to what seemed like a nice guy serial sexual predator John Worboys (aka the Black Cab Rapist) carrying out countless attacks over a period of years on drunk slappers numerous victims, none of whom we believed when they came forward.

While we take allegations of sexual assault not at all seriously, the investigations stemming from these female fairy tales allegations were completely inadequate not quite up to our usual piss-poor high standards. For this we are totally unrepentant sorry and have resolved to get the media off our backs make changes at no all levels of the department, including a new unit specialising in regret sex sexual offences committed against whiny feminist bitches women. At all times At this time, we do not feel that any further disciplinary action against the officers in charge of the utterly failed mismanaged investigations is deserved needed.

Fuck Thank you very much,

The Boys Met

I’ll just pause while you refocus your eyes after all that reading between the lines (ahem).

Obviously, that wasn’t the exact wording, but you get the drift. If you are of a more exacting nature and wish to read the nauseating excuses comments from deputy chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) Deborah Glass on why the body decided to only issue the officers with written warnings, see below.

“I think on the evidence available the written warnings outcome was right,” she said. “They are a serious sanction requiring officers to accept they have breached the police code of conduct and have failed in some way. People will say, if you cannot sack them what’s the point? But there is still a point, there are important points around learning here. It is not about slamming the Metropolitan police. This is their wake-up call.” She acknowledged that had the police officers at the centre of the inquiry not committed “serious errors of judgment” and “missed crucial investigative opportunities” when Worboys could have been stopped before he went on to assault more women. “There’s certainly a likelihood that if they had followed up lines of inquiry he would have been in custody much earlier,” she said.

Whew! And here I thought that written warnings were just a weak, one-digit tap on the wrist: not even akin to a slap! Thankfully we have Deborah to explain that, actually, writing the words ‘You were naughty…but carry on as you were” in an officer’s file (perhaps alongside a frowny-face doodled in the margins) is an adequate reprimand for “serious errors of judgment” and other perfectly understandable breaches of professional misconduct like laughing at the victims, failing to follow up crucial leads or interview any potential witnesses, failing to fully investigate Worboys or obtain a warrant to search his home and, most of all, failing to believe that anything could or even should be done about it.

For the Met and the IPCC to act like this was some kind of shocking revelation and that the individual officers in question conducted themselves (and the investigations) in an unusual, non-sanctioned manner is absolute and utter bullshit. For as long as they have been reporting sex crimes (a long time) and for as long as they have been police officers themselves (not such a long time), women have been belittledharassed, bullied and disbelieved by the boys in blue. Those meant to protect the people and uphold the law have often been accused of protecting one another from criticism and even from criminal charges, despite compelling evidence to the contrary. They have botched other serial rape cases. The rape conviction rate in this country is the lowest in Europe, a measly 6%.

This is not a recent phenomenon.

Why, just as recently as 2003, a Met rugby team put together a magazine for its players with sparkling sexist gems such as: “Why did God invent lesbians? So feminists wouldn’t breed,” and “Women: can’t live with them, can’t force them into slavery,” not to mention “How do you know when your wife may be dead? When the sex is the same but the washing starts to pile up in the sink.”

But hey, I need to lighten up, right? It’s all just a bit of harmless fun and in no way influences the way these men think, behave or do their jobs, yeah? Tell me it doesn’t contribute to rape culture or the belief that a woman who reports a sexual assault is to be shooed away, fobbed off or altogether discredited unless she has irrefutable proof, has been battered to within an inch of her life and/or is a ‘respectable’ white woman who hadn’t been drinking, wearing revealing clothing or flirting before she was violated.

If you believe that I’d also like to talk to you about tropical jungles in Siberia and ocean-view property in Nebraska. Call me.

Hell, even the Guardian reporter from whom this information comes in today’s paper (and who, on the surface, seems quite repulsed by it) subtitled his article, “Boys will be boys. But shouldn’t the boys in blue know better?” suggesting that men naturally feel and think these things about women (by the way, it’s called m-i-s-o-g-y-n-y) but that, as police officers, these guys should have hidden it better.

So thanks, Met police, for the fucking pathetic half-hearted attempt at making yourselves blameless accountable, but your words, I’m afraid, hold no value. Your actions speak louder and ring truer than any statement you could ever make.