This is American.
The age of consent in America is 18.
That girl is a girl; ie, a lot younger than 18.
And she’s wearing a T-Shirt with the words “Mike’s Girl” above a heart-framed picture of a guy (presumably ‘Mike’) with his arms around her.
And a pair of knickers with the word “Mike’s” on it.
WHAT. THE. FUCK????
She’s practically prepubescant!
And some dickhead has decided to use her in an advert to market “sexy clothing” that clearly implies that both she and her cunt (presumably for sexual purposes) are the property of “Mike”, whoever the fuck “Mike” is.
This is what feminism is about – protecting girls and women from the crap that flies their way every single day, just because their genitalia goes in instead of out.
The man who wrote a four hundred word column entitled My Girlfriend Didn’t Like Porn.
Sadly, I threw the paper away in a fit of extreme irritation, mixed with thoughts about porn that probably would’ve got me thrown off the bus for indecency had anybody else known about them. If only he could have heard them, however, he might never have had the foolishness to write that column.
Because lots of women don’t like porn. In fact, lots of men don’t like porn. It’s just that, like so many things, porn has long been classified as a kind of “boy’s toy”, something that every man should enjoy, yet unnatainable for us weak little hysterical women.
And there are many different reasons why many different people don’t like many different types of porn.
Personally, I harbour mixed feelings.
I don’t mind the idea of porn per se, but the way that porn is produced and packaged means that I don’t really want to go near it, although I have seen some.
It makes me very uncomfortable wondering just how much coersion was used, how much force, how much blackmail. I feel sick at the thought that I might be witnessing a rape – and worse, enjoying it. Especially since venturing onto literotica, which is a site dedicated to erotic literature, funnily enough. Some of the fantasies I read about there – stories of professional rapists, an entire section entitled “nonconsent/reluctance” (I’m impressed by the euphamisms, but really, if you don’t consent, then that is rape) – have shown me that it’s a frighteningly common thought. And I know that rape fantasties don’t always equal wanting to rape or be raped, but even so, it’s not something I like to find so frequently.
And there’s another problem.
It’s all designed to be watched by a certain type of man.
“I went into one shop,” one of my friends told me recently, “and there was a small stand in the corner for ‘gay sex’ – where all of the video covers featured men – and a whole wall full of covers showing blonde hair and big breasts.”
It’s so common. I hate it.
I hate it that the existance of real lesbians is completely denied, because of course they’re just doing it for the man’s enjoyment. As though his cock is the most important thing in the world.
I hate it that every woman is assumed to be bisexual, and that the man who wrote this stupid, stupid column pouted that his girlfriend didn’t want to watch two women, although he point-blank refused to watch two men.
I hate it that all ‘mainstream’ porn is about Teh Menz.
And I hate it that the most sought-after scenes in ‘mainstream’ porn seem to be:
a) a blowjob, which is, by nature, intended for the sole pleasure of the man
b) anal sex – the man penatrating the woman – which is unlikely to give the woman any pleasure, since our G-spot is nowhere near (and ok, I wouldn’t normally pander to stereotypes, but guys, have you ever thought to ask for directions?)
c) the ‘money shot’ – watching the man come, usually over the woman.
I for one don’t find it at all sexy thinking of having a guy shoving something into an orifice of mine that’s only designed to have waste food come out, or indeed getting his come all over my nose.
There. Done. Now if only I could reduce that down to 400 words, and convince the editors of The London Paper that they wanted to print my vitriol, sarcasm and general rage, I would be a woman triumphant. At least until the readers voted on whether they liked me….
And postpone your irritation with the written narration long enough to at least chuckle a little bit…
When I was learning how to make friends with girls, one of the things we did, fairly frequently, was watch films.
That this backfired slightly will come as no surprise to anybody that knows me personally; I simply don’t stay awake to do whatever bonding happens after we’ve finished the popcorn, and have managed to sleep through the last two thirds of The Italian Job three times so far, and all three Lord of the Rings films, waking only to watch the fight scenes, which were entertaining enough once I managed to ignore the fact that no sane general would conduct a battle like that….
The synopses of both the film and the play you can read for yourselves; I’m going to assume you have done.
To be honest, I’m not sure what to think. I can see some similarities between play and film, especially in the naming of some of the characters (Bianca Stratford and Patrick Verona being two fairly obvious ones, Shakespeare being known for his use of names either originally Italian or originally Italian words – think Malvolio and Benvolio, derived from words meaning ‘bad’ — ‘mal’ — and ‘good’ — ‘bene’ — and Chastity another).
And, of course, some of the basic plot structure does correspond; that Bianca (meaning ‘white’, often linked with purity and chastity – interesting!) desperately wants to date, but is prevented until her elder sister Kat, who is known for her bad temper, does too, and that a plot is hatched by various men to get Kat to date so that they can pursue Bianca.
I came to the film this time around, after an interval of at least three years, with a very different perspective. For one thing, I am loudly and openly feminist in a way that I wasn’t before. And suddenly, one of the reasons why I had so identified with the grumpy, antisocial Kat Stratford fell into place. Kat is loudly and openly feminist. She mentions ‘patriarchal values’ scathingly and, it would seem, repeatedly, in her English lesson – her class recite the last of her diatribe along with her, which still amuses me. When I last watched the film, I knew nothing about Femism, other than my gut feelings that Creepy Guys were bastards, and that I needed a good pair of garlic crushers. I didn’t get the references to Sylvia Plath, The Feminine Mystique, or indeed ‘patriarchal values’, though I did think she had a point when she stormed about her English class being all about male writers, when there were many good female authors out there.
On the other hand, I still enjoy her teacher, an outspoken black man, comiserating sarcastically with the ‘oppression of [her] middle-class, suburban life’, and asking her, when she next talked to the school governers, ‘to ask them why the hell they can’t put a black man on the reading list’.
‘And don’t even get me started on you’, he snaps at the white Rastafarian boys next to her.
Looking again at the play synopsis, I am very, very glad that the film ended the way that it did. Although Kat did eventually end up with a man (and, one could argue, was in that sense ‘tamed’), there was never any suggestion that he could control her in anywhere near the same way that his counterpart in the play was able to. In fact, she still seemed very much her own person. Of course, there is still a big issue surrounding the heteronormativity and suggestion implicit within the film that Kat could not be truly happy without a man, but I think I’ll leave that for another time; it’s an American teen film – I suppose sometimes you have to take what you can get, and a few references to feminism that weren’t entirely derogatory was pretty good going, really!
But. Why did she suddenly change her viewpoint? While at the Prom, which she had taken a lot of persuasion to attend in any case, she discovered that Patrick was going out with her because he was being paid by one of her sister’s would-be boyfriends (even worse, an ex of hers, and the first, and possibly only guy she had had sex with). Only a little while before, he had asked her to go to the Prom with him, and she had asked him suspiciously what was in it for him, something that he was very insulted about. And it is only after she apologises to him that she finds out that she was right. Such a humilliation, rather understandably, causes her to withdraw completely. And yet, only a few days later, it seems, she has repented of this decision, reading aloud a sonnet aimed at him upon which the film title sits, “10 things I hate about you”. The last line of her poem? “I hate the way I don’t really hate you, not even a little bit, not even at all.”
I just don’t understand. But I still like the film. It has some wonderful sarcastic humour, which is something I love, and it’s definitely a film to watch, if only so that you can share your opinion with me!
So. Why does she change her mind? Answers on a postcard to the usual address, and I prefer salted popcorn, thanks!
Kevin Doran, who seems to have become incapable of making a reasoned argument.
Or reading a comment policy.*
For the record, it is not big or clever to deliberately set up a situation whereby your comment is deleted, in order that you may point, laugh and say “ha ha you feminists are shit; you won’t let me say what I want to say”, as I believe he has done.
*It is, in fact, common politeness to abide by a blogger’s comment policy. And it is common sense to try to keep your comments on-topic. Off-topic comments are not interesting; that’s why you have your own blog.
I am feeling better, and therefore, you shall have your answers, Alan. As this is designed to inform not just Alan, but anybody who is interested, it may at times make statements that Alan and Kirsten are already well aware of.
Firstly, I’m going to take the ‘smaller picture’ – the comment that started this particular chain of events. For clarity, you may wish to reread can I run away to a feminist commune please?
This was Kirsten detailing events at her college that have made her angry as a feminist. The part that Alan focussed on was this:
“Apart from the guy at the charity performance who sang about how women couldn’t drive. It was an adaptation of the song from the ‘Sheila’s Wheels’ adverts which was meant to be funny. Based on the idea that women are rubbish drivers, which is neither new nor true, and is just blatant sexism.”
Nowhere in this paragraph, or indeed anywhere else in the post, did Kirsten express any approval for the Sheila’s Wheels adverts.
So Alan’s comment that “If Sheila’s wheels are allowed to sell and advertise themselves as a sexist insurance company I don’t really see why an equally sexist parody of them is such a big issue!” is missing the point for two reasons.
– Kirsten is not, and has never, condoned the Sheila’s Wheels adverts. While I don’t presume to speak for her on this, my own opinion has always been that the adverts are every bit as bad as the many, many adverts that only feature women as “wives and mothers” (almost any food advert) or “cock-hungry sluts” (the Lynx effect). Yes, the Sheila’s Wheels adverts are a parody of a stereotype. But they are still reinforcing this stereotype, keeping it part of popular culture, and I am uncomfortable with that. This is the wider issue at stake; namely, that Sheila’s Wheels, almost every food advert, and Lynx, can all advertise their products by trading off two-dimensional portraits of women.* I should think that most feminists would agree that this kind of advertising is both wrong and unhelpful, and should not be allowed to happen.
– It is a fallacy to suggest that simply because something is allowed to happen, that it should be allowed to happen. This is profoundly illogical. If I am “allowed” to walk out of a restaurant without paying – ie, nobody stops me – does this make it right? Does this mean that I should never be challenged, simply because of precedent?
And actually, sexism is wrong. It doesn’t matter that it happens. It doesn’t matter how much it happens, or where, or why, or when, or to whom. It is just wrong. Unless you can accept that statement as fact, there can be no agreement between us.
*Lest we forget Teh Menz, I will say that the innevitable two-dimensional portraits of men drinking beer and being slobbish are also wrong, and harmful, and should not be allowed to happen.
Now, it may seem harsh that Kirsten should not give you that reply herself. But there is a ‘bigger picture’ here, and the bigger picture is this:
The answer I gave above was the “short” answer. It is not particularly short. It required my time and energy, and I have done you, Alan, the courtesy of giving this up for you. I have done this once before (reread What Is So Wrong… and Oh, For Fuck’s Sake…) for you, and, like this, it was time-consuming and tiring. I am not telling you this to get a gold star, or a round of applause. I am telling you this because it appears that you do not realise it.
I know that Kirsten has done the same thing. However, this was a little while ago, and right now I would rather finish this post than hunt through Kirsten’s archives.
I also know that both myself and Kirsten have had problems with you behaving in a way that would often mark you out as a Troll (a reader, usually male, who attempts to change or derail a discussion, in a variety of ways).
For instance, to refer you to an exact post, I could use I should not have to say this, by Kirsten.
In this, I believe she was making a point about the way that society has come to think of breasts – and, from that, the possession of breasts, and thus being female in general – as “unprofessional”.
In your comments, you used illogical arguments – “you never saw Jack Straw or David Blunkett, or Charles Clark dressed in anything that could be described as “revealing”…. And all of the above were the subject of ridicule because of physical appearance in one way or another (e.g. “Trophy Ears”).” and also attempted to divert the discussion – “To be quite frank though I’d much rather be arguing right now over if she is more or less of a paranoid delusional than John Reid was.”
Although I have only given one example, there are others. This is Trollish behaviour and would not be tolerated if you did not happen to be a man that we know in person. To put it bluntly, your behaviour has been rude. Kirsten has been affected by it more than me, and it is therefore natural that Kirsten would have given up on you before I did.
As she said, “When you’ve disagreed before I’ve responded a great length, and never got a proper answer from you. I cannot be bothered to have that conversation again.”
Alan, you need to listen and you need to think. We are not here to educate you. Women are not here to educate you, especially about feminism. We are all aware that you are intelligent. It would be better for our discussions, however, if you were to use your intelligence to think about what we have written, think about the point you want to make and if it is a relevant or appropriate point to be making. If it isn’t, please say it elsewhere.
Please note that while I am happy to clarify, I will not be repeating this.
I have many half formed ideas for posts, but I’m suffering from a lassitude brought on by a cold, the start of my period, and a lack of food, so for now I’m merely saying that I haven’t disappeared, and will be back.
Oh, and that if Alan wants an explanation as to why he was told to Fuck Off by Kirsten, he should ask me, on this blog, and he will get one when I have finished feeling crap. However, this is on the condition that he actually reads my response thoroughly and carefully, and tries to put aside his own preconceptions of what I may or may not be saying.
Also, a thank you to everybody (including Alan) who has responded to my plea for Great Female Leaders. I shall be posting them up properly just as soon as I have done some research of my own.