Professional pounder of the patriarchy.

Archive for February, 2016

“Are “bitch” and “hoe” AAVE?” – Kat Blaque

Quick note: AAVE, for those who don’t know, is an acronym for “African American Vernacular English”, the dialect unique to Black communities in the United States. You can read the Wiki article about it here.

Really interesting vid from trans vlogger Kat Blaque:

The video really goes into depth about this complicated issue. As Kat rightly said, it’s such a “grey area” issue. I’ve had similar issues – although not with AAVE, as I’m from the UK – and it’s difficult as a white woman to critique it responsibly and fairly. My knee-jerk reaction is that it shouldn’t be used, but, then again, it’s not my culture and it would be patently wrong to police the language of cultures and communities that I’m decidedly ignorant of.

Un mensaje multilingüe

Este es mi primer mensaje de blog totalmente en español. En el futuro, quisiera escribir más en mi lengua segunda, porque sería práctica buena y me ayudaría en mis estudios (lo estudio en el colegio y quiero continuar a la universidad).

El feminismo tiene una historia larga en España. Las activistas más famosas incluyen las Mujeres Libres. Fue una organización feminista, que empoderaba las mujeres laborales. Las fundadoras se llamaron Lucía Sánchez Saornil, Amparo Poch y Gascón, y Mercedes Comaposada. Eran activistas socialistas, y no creían que los hombres del movimiento político trataran las mujeres como iguales. Enseñaron a las mujeres que no podían acceder a la educación y las habilidades necesarias.

Además, la alcalda de Madrid actual, Manuela Carmena Castrillo, siempre ha sido muy activa en la política. Fue una activista de los derechos humanos y ahora todavía es muy apasionada sobre el poder de la gente normal. Puedes ver una entrevista interesante con ella aquí (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s90CRP0k3Kw) – ¡hay subtitulados para habladores de inglés!

Estoy interesada en la cultura y la historia del país, sobre todo la historia feminista, y me gustaría compartir lo que aprendo con un público más amplio.

Me encantaría leer algunos comentos de habladores de español. Si veas un error de gramática – ¡o un acento en el lugar incorrecto! – por favor, me digas.

Puedes seguir a mi blog usando el botón gris (o, si tienes un blog de WordPress también, puedes usar el botón azul) a la derecha. ¡Gracias!

——

Hiya! If you’re a non-Spanish speaker, then the above is probably utterly unintelligible. Fear not – not all my blog posts from now on will be in Spanish! However, I need to practise and I think the best way to do so is to get used to using Spanish in everyday life. And what do I do nearly every day? Log onto Dolly Dastardly, of course!

If you are bilingual/multilingual and would like to share this among your friends, it would be brilliant! Likewise, if you happen to be a teacher, you are welcome to use this as a teaching/translation resource for lessons if it’s relevant, as long as proper credit is given and you let me know. (Also, feel free to use this as an example for Spanish students to show them how not to write if the grammar is horrific!)

Britain First: Islamic Studies Experts

Saw my most favourite people in all the world on my Facebook newsfeed today. This video is incredibly hilarious for many reasons, and incredibly horrific for many more:

For my readers outside the UK, you may not know who Britain First are. Well, you’re in for a treat, let me tell you. Britain First are a “political party” who split from the British National Party (another pack of delightful people) circa 2011. They were founded by an anti-abortion campaigner and they are so fascist that it hurts. They are mostly known for their Islamophobic and anti-immigration opinions. They are obsessed with preventing what they perceive to be the Islamisation of Britain – which is interesting, given that only 5% of the British population identify as Muslim (BSA survey, 2015). In fact, more than half of Britons are non-religious. If Britain First are so adamant that being Christian is a fundamental part of being British, you’d think they’d be out trying to convert atheists.

Are they?

No.

Funny, isn’t it?

In this video, you’ll see a smashing little troupe of campaigners harassing members of the congregation outside a mosque in Canterbury. There’s a charming – charming – lady by the name of Jada leading them. They proceed to ignore questions from the police, whilst condemning the Muslims who refuse to rise to their invasive interrogation. This is hypocritical in and of itself, but the best bit is at around 5:45. Jada reckons Muslims are “inciting hatred and violence against the likes of you and I”. So your wildly offensive Facebook page isn’t inciting hatred and Islamophobia, BF? Are you honestly suggesting that the fascist marches and English Defence League protests in my locality are loving and peaceful? What a joke.

BDR - head turn, smiles gone

Repeatedly, you’ll hear the unseen interviewer – another BF crony – question Muslim bystanders about the alleged 72 virgins they’ll get in the afterlife if they kill non-Muslims. This is brilliant. My favourite thing about Britain First and their ilk is their ability to turn into professors of Islamic Studies at the drop of a hat. They’ve all got fucking PhDs in a combined honours course of Comparative Islamophobia with Bigotry Studies.

He asks: “Can you tell us if you kill non-Muslims in the service of Jihad, you get 72 virgins in Paradise?” This is an annoyingly common myth about Islam. Just like the Bible, the Quran should be interpreted as an allegorical text. As with Heaven, Jannah is seen as a place of goodness and purity, a source of eternal reward for leading a good life. You get a bunch of things for having strong faith – Muslims don’t believe they will receive literally everything listed in the Quran. Furthermore, the Quran is such an old book and it has been translated so many times that it’s likely “virgins” was a mistranslation. It could be “angels” – standard for the afterlife, I suppose – or even just nice food and drink. Seriously. We don’t know. Nowhere are the eternal rewards in Jannah linked to terrorism. He also uses the term “jihad” without really knowing what it means. “Jihad” is the act of maintaining Islam and making sure the religion survives. It’s a terrible thing that it has been misinterpreted by some followers of Islam, but we can’t pretend that terrorism is a purely Islamic phenomenon.

The fact that he mentions Muhammad’s child bride Ayesha/Aisha without naming her indicates, again, that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. It’s just another superficial stereotype of Islam. She was only six or seven when she was betrothed, and she married Muhammad aged 10 (according to most accounts). This was horrible, but it was unfortunately very common at the time. The marrying of young girls to adult men was a pervasive custom of the ancient world, because there was a greater chance of producing an heir if the fertile window was open wide. There are numerous examples of similar behaviour in the Bible and in ancient Jewish scriptures (though not necessarily in the Torah) – notably Numbers 31:18 and several examples of legal child marriage in Jewish law. None of the three Abrahamic religions are innocent of this, but nobody attacks Christians outside their church, demanding to know their thoughts on the condoning of slavery in both the Old and New Testament.

I call flaming bullshit.

The worst thing is that this video popped up on my newsfeed because a close relative shared it. Four of my friends have liked the BF Facebook page. Despite the blatant racism perpetuated by BF, people I care about are still invested in what these bigots have got to say. I think the lad at the end laughing and saying: “Am I gonna be on the fucking page?” is a testament to the douchebaggery that goes down on Facebook.

BF appear to be successful for the same reasons UKIP and the BNP are – because they’re good at scaremongering. They’re good at – to quote my new friend Jada – inciting hatred and violence.

So, moral of the story, DON’T LISTEN TO BRITAIN FIRST. And, if there are any BF supporters reading, I’m one of those dreaded white liberals you were warned about.

laganja - okaaay

Fandom Fatale

If you’ve spent more than five minutes on the internet, you’ve probably stumbled across the fandom community – and promptly retreated, hands raised in submission. A fandom is, according to Urban Dictionary, “The community that surrounds a tv show/movie/book etc. Fanfiction writers, artists, poets, and cosplayers are all members of that fandom. Fandoms often consist of message boards, livejournal communities, and people.” It’s essentially a microcosm of people who are all fans of the same piece of media.

The rough concept of fandom is far older than the internet. You could argue that the first organised fan following was that of Sherlock Holmes. When Arthur Conan Doyle killed him off in the short story The Final Problem, he received enormous pressure from avid readers who were – shall we say – less than content at the loss of their favourite fictional detective. When I say “enormous pressure”, I mean “so much pressure that he brought Holmes back to life just so he could get some peace”. Sweet, isn’t it?

Engaging in the fandom community can be a very valuable experience. It feels immensely validating, and it certainly enhanced my love of certain TV programmes. It also enabled me to become more critical of the media I was consuming, but also of fandom itself. This article is about that.

Being in a fandom is a very personal thing. It’s totally reasonable to see it as part of your identity and it can help people to find likeminded friends. However, there’s a tendency for fans to perceive non-fans in a sort of “us and them” light. Their participation in fandom is seen by some people as a mark of their “otherness” and, whilst that’s fine, it sometimes culminates in something much more problematic. I’ve often come across people who compare being in a fandom to having a mental illness, which is A) ridiculous and B) incredibly ableist. Take this image, for example, from a Facebook fanpage for a well-known sci-fi series (I won’t name and shame them):

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I get the sentiment – fans support other fans. But there are ways to go about it without invoking the demonic rites of casual ableism. Images and statements like this perpetuate the idea that people with mental health problems are violent/aggressive/dangerous and that they deserve to be locked up. They’re not and they don’t. Mentally ill people are more likely to be the victims of violence than to be the perpetrators. Plenty of people find fandom life a source of great comfort if they’re dealing with depression or other mental health problems, and it saddens me to think that there are large parts of the community appropriating their struggles.

Another concern of mine is how fetishized same-sex relationships are in fandom. You may have heard of “slash” – the act of producing art and fiction featuring characters from various forms of media in gay relationships – or its female equivalent “femslash”. You do find male-female pairings, or “ships”, but the majority of “shipping” is directed at same-sex male relationships. It may not be indicated that the characters involved are interested in the same gender.

I firmly believe that fans should be able to interpret characters as they wish. I also believe that there is NOWHERE NEAR enough representation of LGBTQ+ people in mainstream media. However, if you’re choosing to interpret a character a certain way for your own sexual satisfaction and then you claim it’s “representation”, you can piss right off. You’re no better than heterosexual blokes who “love lesbians, because girl-on-girl is totally hot” or radical conservatives who want to involve themselves in the lives and futures of LGBTQ+ people. The worst kind of shippers are the pseudo-intellectuals who think man-on-man sex is “symbolic” and “meaningful”. It’s not. You sound like a straight actor trying to rationalise his gay sex scene in a talk show interview. Chill out.

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My final problem – and this is the one that really effin’ bugs me – is the erasure of female characters. Now, this links to my previous point. If there’s a canon heterosexual relationship that interferes with a gay ship, you can bet your boots that the fandom at large will loathe the lady in question. The example that springs to mind for me is Mary Watson, John’s wife in Sherlock. It’s truly horrendous how many people hate her for “getting in the way of Johnlock”.

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This had better be a joke.

Sherlock in general does its female characters a great disservice. I’ve resolved to adore and value every single one of them in retaliation. Molly Hooper is reduced to a doormat, despite being an INCREDIBLY INTELLIGENT AND TALENTED young woman. Irene Adler has her identity as a gay woman erased and fetishised, because she’s a woman and the only reason women like watching Sherlock is because they fancy Benedict Cumberbatch, riiiiiiight ladies??? Kitty Riley is verbally abused by Holmes. Mrs Hudson is an absolute legend and deserves far more than an occasional background appearance. Sally Donovan is a woman of colour in a demanding job who has her affair with Anderson outed and is humiliated in front of her colleagues by Holmes. And we’re supposed to root for Sherlock, who is – let’s be real – a right arsehole.

Yet the fandom lap this shit up.

Sorry, folks, but I think we can do ten times better than this. Sort it out.

Ron Weasley wave

You Should Watch This: Call the Midwife

Great article from Lady Geek Girl. You should totally watch Call The Midwife – the most recent series (I live in the UK) has touched upon the thalidomide crisis, lesbian relationships in the 60s and the struggle for working class people at the time to reconcile their background with their ambitions. It’s beautiful.

Lady Geek Girl and Friends

You know that mythical unicorn of a show, the one that has a mainly female cast, with diverse characters, women who aren’t defined by their relationships with men, and a high quality of production? Call the Midwife is that show. 

Call the Midwife might not be the typical geek show, but it’s one that all geeks (especially girl geeks) should pay attention to. It’s another period drama from the Brits, a BBC creation in the same family as ITV’s Downton Abbey, but for some reason it hasn’t caught the same popularity wave in the US. Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the show follows newly-minted midwife Jenny Lee as she dives head-first into serving the residents of the East End of London during the 1950s. Jenny lives and works with a group of Anglican Sisters (of the nun variety), whose primary work is nursing and delivering the…

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“Is Bob’s Burgers A Feminist Masterpiece?”

Laci Green chatting about the Belcher family and why they’re great:

Embrace your inner Tina Belcher!

Claudia Boleyn on “Man Caves”

From the fantastic Claudia Boleyn:

So I’ve been thinking about the idea of the ‘man cave’. Weird, I know, but hear me out.

A tv show I’m watching has a man cave as a prize for winning a quiz. A couple, a man and a woman, are on this show together, and this is the prize offered to the man. It’s basically a converted garage with a bar, a football table, a pin-ball machine, and some cool tables and chairs to sit at.

There’s nothing wrong with this as a prize, but the fact it’s been presented as inherently male bothered me. It should be very non gender specific. It’s a room with games to play and alcohol to drink. It’s a swanky place to sit. Why the gendering???

Right, to my next irritation. The way this ‘man cave’ is being presented as a concept.

The entire vibe is that the man needs a place to escape his wife and three children sometimes. That the house is too stressful and hectic. That he needs a break.

Which is fine, because I imagine most parents need a break every so often.

But why do you never hear of the alternative for women? Why is it not assumed that they might need an escape from their husband and kids? In fact, if a wife kept on acting like her husband was someone she struggled to be around and needed to constantly escape from, I am pretty sure that would not be met with positively by most people. Certainly a lot of male egos would be bruised by that. (Not all, I hasten to add, but let’s be honest, a lot of husbands would be quite offended if wives spoke about their husbands and children as though they were shackles of some kind. And with good reason, actually.)

The idea of the nagging wife has been touched on, although this man seems very clearly to be the more dominant of the couple. It is also clear from their conversations with the host that the woman is or at least feels more responsible for bringing up the kids.

Maybe I’m thinking too far into this, but this idea of the nagging wife, the woman having to care for the children, and the man being somehow tied down or trapped and needing an escape, although fairly commonplace in our society, is actually quite horrifically devious and sexist a landscape to exist within.

It’s toxic. Men shouldn’t need an escape from marriage. We shouldn’t be acting like women are ‘supposed’ to appreciate marriage and household chores and childcare and like men are ‘supposed’ to act like this is some huge sacrifice they’ve made that makes them fairly unhappy.

Even men and women who don’t feel this way are often forced into acting these parts. I see it all the time.

The men must act like they put up with marriage. The women must play the parts of the ‘nagging’ wives and drag their husbands back. When really that’s not nagging. That’s just saying: ‘please darling, can you pull your weight?’

Basically I hate gender roles. I hate how sexism is so ingrained in our society that this is taking place on a Saturday night game show and everyone is smiling and laughing like this is normal. Which sadly, I think maybe it is.

I thought this was really interesting and a very valid critique. The idea that men are “sacrificing” something when they marry has always bothered me. Seriously, if it’s that much trouble, don’t bother, mate.

Claudia writes some brilliant posts, so you should definitely check out her blog.