Bill Cosby is a serial rapist

I’ve been posting stories about Bill Cosby’s record of rape on Reel Girl’s Facebook page for years. The stories from different women, spanning years back, have always been strikingly similar. Cosby invites them to a private place to help them on their career. He offers them a drink, and the next thing they know, they are half conscious and naked. Why did it take “real” journalists so long to take these allegations seriously? Here is the best and most honest story I’ve read from journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic. Please read it.

Uber exec threatens journalist with smear campaign for calling out company’s misogyny

When Uber executive Emil Michael proposed that his company dedicate a million dollar budget to hire a team of researchers to dig up dirt on the personal life of journalists critical of the company, specifically journalist Sarah Lacy, he thought he was off record. Unfortunately for Michael, a BuzzFeed editor invited to the event reported his comments.

BuzzFeed reports:

Over dinner, he outlined the notion of spending “a million dollars” to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press — they’d look into “your personal lives, your families,” and give the media a taste of its own medicine.

Michael was particularly focused on one journalist, Sarah Lacy, the editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily, a sometimes combative voice inside the industry. Lacy recently accused Uber of “sexism and misogyny.” She wrote that she was deleting her Uber app after BuzzFeed News reported that Uber appeared to be working with a French escort service. “I don’t know how many more signals we need that the company simply doesn’t respect us or prioritize our safety,” she wrote.

The BuzzFeed post that incited Lacy’s report is titled: Sexist French Uber Promotion Pairs Riders With “Hot Chick” Drivers:

Who said women don’t know how to drive?” the Uber blog post asks…

Yesterday, Uber’s Lyon office unveiled a new promotion with an app called “Avions de Chasse.” The deal pairs Uber riders with “hot chick” drivers as they make their way across the city.

“It’s going to be the most beautiful thing on Earth,” the post suggests of the free ride promotion.

Using the promotion, a user can enter his (presumably) code “UBERAVIONS” in his Uber app and “become the luckiest co-pilot of Lyon,” which basically means that a model will pick you up and drive you around…

Avions de chasse” is the French term for “fighter jets”, but also the colloquial term to designate an incredibly hot chick. Lucky you! the world’s most beautiful “Avions” are waiting for you on this app. Seat back, relax and let them take you on cloud 9!

While the Uber blog post is somewhat tame, Avions de Chasse’s website offers far less to the reader/user’s imagination.

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There’s also a video, in which a business casual bro/man/dude uses the service. It’s only 1:50 long but it’s full of shots like this:

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And THIS:

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Aaaaaaand This:

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Michael’s threat has frightened Lacy, not only for herself, but for Uber’s female clients and the other women journalists who cover Uber. Lacy tells Recode reporter Nellie Bowles:

“I’ve never heard a very high-ranking executive at a $20 billion company talking about a million-dollar budget to destroy my life,” she said. “I’ve never heard of a case where someone was bragging about it at a dinner, where it was considered totally socially acceptable…It’s really scary that there’s a company culture where objectification and violence against women is condoned,” she said. “And you run a service where women get into strangers’ cars alone at night….

Many of the reporters who cover Uber critically — Valleywag’s Nitasha Tiku, Forbes’ Ellen Huet and San Francisco Magazine’s Ellen Cushing — are women. Lacy said she was worried about all of them.

“It’s going to keep escalating, and I don’t know what the line is, but there will be a line. Sadly, I don’t think it’s this, I think it’s something scarier,” she said. “It starts to get into the realm of physical harm and physical threats.”

She said she thinks Uber’s campaign to silence reporters will only grow because — despite the current outcry — reporters will now think twice before crossing the company, which knows their credit card information, home addresses, phone numbers and travel patterns.

 

What is Uber’s reaction? Michael issued a statement saying his remarks don’t reflect how he really feels. He called Lacy to apologize. Uber Co-Founder Travis Kalanick has not made any comment all. Why isn’t Michael fired? Why are investors divesting? Why aren’t more people talking about this story?

Recode reports:

 

It’s not new that Kalanick and his company are being called out for aggressive bro-ness. But much of it seems to roll off his shoulders, even as he continues at the helm of Silicon Valley’s largest private company and garners ever-higher valuations from investors.

This is not acceptable, said Lacy.

“Paula Deen made racially insensitive comments and lost a show, lost very real money. Donald Sterling was forced to sell an NBA team,” she said. “And yet we believe that frighteningly misogynist comments like this, anti-First Amendments comments like this, are ‘boys being boys’ and that ‘they’re geniuses and this is what it takes to build a company.’”

Beyond Uber firing Michael, Lacy wants investors to stop funding Uber.

“The only investors who’ve answered it so far have said, ‘Well, this is bad, but we totally back Travis,’” she said. “How bad is the intimidation around this company? How bad is Silicon Valley when there are very real threats made to a woman and her family?”…

I won’t ride Uber nor will I let my kids use this company. I hope you make the same choice.

 Update: Travis Kalanick has begun Tweeting. USA Today reports:

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick called Michael’s comments “terrible,” noting they do not represent the company. “His remarks showed a lack of leadership, a lack of humanity, and a departure from our values and ideals,” he wrote as part of a series of tweets addressing the remarks. However, Kalanick does not mention in any of his 13 tweets whether Michael will continue to work at Uber.

 

Business Insider reports:

He thought he was off the record, but BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith wrote up the comments, saying that at no point was BuzzFeed told the comments were off the record.

However, in Smith’s story, there was something that was more than just theoretical, and it’s a good reminder of the scary power Uber has over its users.

Here’s what Smith reported: “The general manager of Uber NYC accessed the profile of a BuzzFeed News reporter, Johana Bhuiyan, to make points in the course of a discussion of Uber policies. At no point in the email exchanges did she give him permission to do so.”

Fuck you, Time Magazine

Today, Time Magazine apologized for including “feminist” in a list of words to ban.

Time apologizes for the execution of this poll; the word ‘feminist’ should not have been included in a list of words to ban. While we meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year, that nuance was lost, and we regret that its inclusion has become a distraction from the important debate over equality and justice.
– Nancy Gibbs

 

In honor of this insight from a top publication in the U.S. news media, I’m reposting a a couple blogs on the spectacular show of feminism on past covers of Time:

In another sexist cover, Time uses porn cliche for Hillary Clinton story

In the new Time, to illustrate the cover article “Can Anyone Stop Hillary?” the magazine uses cliche porn imagery, showing a man trapped beneath a woman’s shoe.

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Seriously, Time?

What did you use for inspiration, this YouTube video? (One of thousands just like it.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEjBm5vBxGM

Or perhaps, this shot from a porn site? (One of millions just like it)

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With so many options, I picked this image because its caption “Ending the sexual dark age,” listed in the category “dominatrix in heels standing on male slave’s chest” seems to echo the point Time’s cover attempts to make.

The Hillary Clinton cover isn’t the first time a “news weekly” has borrowed from porn. There was this cover of Newsweek. The subject of the story: great food.

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Time also did a story featuring the “best” chefs. No porn, but the magazine opted for this pic. Hmmm…what’s missing here?

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That’s right, Time’s “Gods of Food” story featured ZERO women.

Wouldn’t it be nice if “news” magazines weren’t sexist? What would our news look like then? Does anyone even know?

Time Magazine tells us everything is great for women

Hours ago, I posted about the pathetic stats for women in power positions.

I wrote about this because I received yet another comment on my blog about how females have achieved parity and males are the ones in trouble. The stats behind this argument is that girls are half or soon to be half of students in law, medical school, art school, engineering, business etc.

One more time: women’s education is not translating to equal pay and equal professional status.

OK, here’s the new Time Magazine cover:

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So why is this cover claiming women are “The Richer Sex” coming out right when America seems to be finally catching on that women’s rights are under attack?

Hmmmm…

People will see this cover, without even reading the story, as I haven’t yet, and conclude everything is fabulous for women. It’s not. Stats at the top have not changed for women. People in power across the board– business, politics, media, doctors, law, art– are men.

The spin on this article is pretty brilliant. From the cover, you can tell it’s not going to be that “women are achieving so much, so fast that males are the ones who need support.” No, it’s going to be that “women are achieving so much so fast, getting so very rich, becoming richer than men, and that’s good for men!” That way, feminists are supposed to be grateful for Time’s piece and somehow not notice that a national news magazine’s cover is actually referring to women as the richer sex. WTF?

I will read this article and see why the cover reads: “Women are overtaking men as America’s breadwinners” because right now I say BULLSHIT! There you have it in writing.

I’ll report back.

 

This Ally McBeal cover came out before I started blogging, I was in my twenties, but the image is burned in my memory, so I’ll include it here.Is_Feminism_Dead_-_Time_cover

Fuck you, Time Magazine.

 

 

I’m a fan FCKH8’s ‘F-Bomb Princess’ viral video

From the first time I saw FCKH8’s video, I really liked it. Perhaps, I’m a fan because of bias. When I started my blog, Reel Girl, I wrote on my “About” page:

One more reason I started Reel Girl– our movie rating system, and the values associated with that rating system, is totally messed up. So many G movies perpetuate the absolute worst kinds of gender stereotypes, yet they are supposedly “for kids.” In my opinion, this kind of repetitive imagery is way more dangerous for children than hearing the word “shit.”

 

“Cinderella” and all of its endless, infinite adaptations and reincarnations, in my opinion is bad for kids. “Whale Rider” in spite of swearing and drug use is good for kids. Simple concept, yet so hard to convince people of it, that I write and write and write. When I watched the FCKH8 video, I felt like: YES, this is the point I’ve been trying to make: Pay inequity is way more offensive than the word fuck. The video shows what I’ve been trying to tell. It is art. And unlike many writers out there, I am THRILLED when I see my idea coming from someone else as well because it makes me feel like I’m not crazy, like people ‘get it.’ Furthermore, I realize that in order for the world to change, people other than me have to ‘get it.’ If it’s just me with my ‘original’ idea that I’m going for, all I have is my ego, and that is a lonely, static, boring place to be plus nothing much changes at all.

So perhaps, I thought, when I read comments against the FCKH8 video by my brilliant colleagues including founder of Pigtail Pals Melissa Wardy, author of The Princess Problem Rebecca Hains, and author of Her Next Chapter Lori Day, I’m just being selfish here. I’m not thinking about the kids having no idea what they’re saying (and I do believe these girls are too young to understand what they’re talking about.) Perhaps I’m so happy not be so isolated with my vision, I’m blind to the exploitation, hypocritically exploitation I’m trying to prevent.

But after thinking this through, I still like the video. As I wrote, I agree the kids don’t understand what they are saying, this is a job for them. I never thought the kids in the ad were not acting or not reciting lines, and I don’t think the video’s intention is to make viewers assume that. So the question is: Does the ignorance of the kids make the video exploitative? My answer is still no, unless all child actors from the ones in sitcoms who speak in language far beyond their years to any commercial, all who often don’t understand what they are saying, are exploited.

The next question I asked myself: Is the FCKH8 ad exploiting girls because it’s using them to sell a product?

During the World Series last night and the night before, my family and I saw teen baseball star Mo’ne Davis in a Chevy ad. I thought the ad was beautiful. In the ad, Mo’ne says, “I throw 70 miles an hour. That’s throwing like a girl.” Millions of families saw her throw in a mini-movie and heard that line while watching the World Series. We also saw a Mazda ad with Mia Hamm, and my 11 year old, who is a fan of Hamm, said, “Why is she selling cars?” To which I responded, “It’s either her or a male athlete. I’d rather see Mia.” I want to see the images of powerful girls used to sell things, from toys to movies to clothing. These kids are not being exploited because they are being used to sell a product.

Rebecca Hains makes powerful points in her blog about the history of FCKH8:

The slogans found on the FCKH8 t-shirts were appropriated from other feminist nonprofits. For example, the Feminist Majority Foundation has been selling “This is what a feminist looks like” tees since at least the mid-1990s. So despite their promises to support charities with their t-shirt sales, FCKH8 is actually siphoning money away from feminist charities by stealing their ideas.

Furthermore, quality charities have refused to take FCKH8’s money in the past, because FCKH8 is incredibly problematic. They’ve been accused widely of being transphobic (as a quick google search will show), and their anti-racist work is of dubious merit. For example, their response to Ferguson raised so much ire in the anti-racist community that Race Forward—one of the charities originally listed on FCKH8’s page—announced publicly that they were refusing donations from the company.

So to those who are saying that FCKH8 is a company that’s doing it’s best to promote social justice, and we should cut them some slack? No FCKHing way.

I agree stealing a slogan from non-profits is not ethical. I also didn’t know about using the Ferguson tragedy to sell T shirts. FCKH8 sounds like a company with a bad history. But learning this history doesn’t change how I feel about the video. I still like the video. I still like that the video is going viral and, just like the Mo’ne ad, spreading important slogans out into the world:

* Pay inequality. Women are paid 23% less than men for the exact same fucking work.

*Women who graduate university with straight A’s get paid only as much as men who graduated with C’s.

* 1 out of every 5 women will be sexually assaulted or raped by a man

* Stop telling girls how to dress and start teaching boys not to fucking rape

*We’re glad a women’s right to vote is here, but equality is messed up. It’s walking to the car without fear.

* Pretty is a compliment but here’s how the focus works to girls detriment. Society teaching girls that our body, boobs, and butt are more important than our brains leads us to thinking our worth comes from our waistline. My aspirations in life should not be worrying about the shape of my ass so fuck focusing on how I look and give me a book.

*Instead of cleaning these girls mouths out with soap, maybe society should clean up its act.

*Near the end of the ad, there is a boy in a dress. “When you tell a boy it’s bad to act like a girl it’s because you think its bad to be a girl.”

These are messages I work hard every day to promote, and I believe the ideas are presented in this video in a simple, convincing way, easy for adults– yes, adults– to understand.

Rebecca posts comments on her blog from people who are offended that these young girls spoke of rape and assault. I agree that part is disconcerting, and it is for this reason, I chose not to show the video to my 11 year old daughter who I have yet to tell about rape. That said,  I’ve blogged about books for kids that deal with rape, incest, and assault wondering what age is appropriate for these stories. The answer I always get is that it depends on the kid. I want to be the first one to tell my kid about rape, sexual assault, pornography, incest, drugs etc. I don’t want her learning about these issues for the first time from books or movies or other kids. When I’ve written about these kinds of books on my blog, kids and parents have written back that their young kid does know about porn or rape based on experiences that they’ve had– talking to other kids, what they’ve seen, or instances in their own life. Now that they do know, it is important and beneficial for the kid to be able to read literature about it. Here’s one comment that I got when I wrote about Graceling:

Based on the brief snippets of content she saw, I had to not only have “the talk”, but also explain a LOT of things I never thought I’d have to address at that age. Because of this, conversely, she is now very educated on both sex, misogyny, and rape/assault/child abuse.  Therefore, I think these books that are written about very serious issues — but in the comprehension style of a young person who can find the characters identifiable — is a great source of information…I have not read these books to endorse them, but now I am interested and will be checking them out at the library. Thank you.

My point is that I don’t think it’s fair to make a blanket statement that little kids should not refer to rape or assault in a video when in the real world, kids see and experience these things every day.

One more thing: As far as the video not having a trigger warning, I don’t post trigger warnings on my blog ever. My whole blog is a trigger. Everyone is unique, and I think it’s impossible to make some kind of assumption about what will trigger readers.

If for some reason you haven’t come across the video, you can watch it here.

 

My name is Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky continues to tell her story, and I am happy she is speaking. From the first time I saw Lewinsky’s face on my TV screen, what upset me most was the repetition of the same old narrative, worldwide, through images and text: a powerful man was being brought down by the sexuality of a young woman. A man I voted for as a woman in my twenties because I thought that he would do good things for women.

It is this narrative and text that Lewinsky is speaking about right now. Finally, she’s taking control of her story.

So many say Lewinsky is just being used, she’s talking now because she’s trying to destroy Hillary’s run for president. Once again, this is Lewinsky’s story, not the Clintons’ narrative. Why don’t you listen to, and talk about, what she is saying instead of why you think she’s speaking?

Here is one of my favorite lines from Lewinsky’s speech: “Let me tell you about being publicly separated from your truth…Being publicly separated from your truth is one of the classic triggers of anxiety, depression, and self loathing. And the greater the distance between the way people want you to be and the you you actually are, the greater will be your anxiety, depression, sense of failure and shame.”

She also says this: “The problem is that I believe in the power of story, in the power of stories to inspire, comfort, educate, and change things for the better, fictional stories, stories from history, and yes, news stories.”

I do too. That’s the reason I started this blog, because I’m tired of the same old story. I want something better for my kids. From what I can tell, Lewinsky does too. Please watch this video.

If you don’t see the sexism in this ad, imagine a boy in it

Walking in San Francisco today, I saw an ad on the side of a bus that made me cringe.

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“Dancey-pants”? Granted, I’m not one for baby talk, but If you don’t have your cringe-face on, just imagine a boy in this ad. What is disturbing to me is that this is an ad for pediatrics, for children’s health for goodness sake. Don’t these organizations know better than to promote gender stereotypes? Stanford, CPMC, and Sutter Health, please don’t out kids in stupid, sexist boxes. It’s not healthy.

Death, sex crime threats going viral are never a ‘hoax’

The internet is full of news ‘breaking’ today that the threats to Emma Watson were a ‘hoax.’ What is the news here? The Mary Sue, one of the first sites to write about the threats to Watson reported at the time:

EmmaYouAreNext is undoubtedly a hoax, but regardless, the b board members behind the site say they aren’t planning to release pictures taken consensually—4chan wants to share upskirt photos they claim were taken of Watson without her permission. Again, that’s probably all a lie created by a lonely lizard-brain asshat taking advantage of the Internet’s anonymity to run his mouth, but b board’s professed desire to allegedly spread illegally taken pictures is a perfect example of harassment begetting harassment; a trend that, as HeForShe reminds us, all genders must unite against.

So “the new news” today is that those inflicting the hoax wanted to draw as many eyeballs as possible to the site, having the ultimate intention of shutting down 4Chan for publishing stolen nude photos in the first place. At the end of the countdown, instead of nude Watson photos, a message came up. The Verge reports:

“None of these women deserve this,” the page states. “Join us as we shutdown 4chan and prevent more pictures from being leaked.” Alongside its call to keep private pictures private, the site boasts about its social success. The organizer says emmayouarenext.com reached 48 million visitors, 7 million Facebook shares and likes, and 3 million Twitter mentions. It’s a striking set of numbers that puts a solid figure on how many people are desperate to disrobe young women for their own gratification.

What is the revelation here supposed to be? That people will flock to see nude photos of celebrities? Did we not know that already? All these ‘hoaxers’ did was steal attention from Watson’s speech by making death/ sex crimes threats against her to get eyeballs to their site. Death/ sex crime threats going viral are never ‘a hoax’ unless the barrage of misogynist harassment women get on the internet is ‘a hoax.’ The fact that these hoaxers had the intention of taking down 4Chan by getting their threats to as many eyeballs as possible doesn’t make them any better. 4Chan is exactly where they belong.

Once again, I ask men and boys to stand with Emma Watson. Join HeForShe here.

 

 

Hey guys, time to man up and speak out for Emma Watson

After Emma Watson AKA Hermione introduced the HeForShe campaign, making a brilliant and impassioned speech to the U.N. about feminism and asking men to join the movement, she received death and sex crime threats publicly posted on 4Chan. As punishment for being a feminist, Watson was publicly warned, The Mary Sue reports:

In addition to threatening to commit a sex crime against the actress and activist, users also spread a #RIPEmma hashtag on Twitter along with pictures of a fake report on the actress’ “death.”

 

I’m only  including one comment from 4 chan’s b board here; if you can stomach it, Death and Taxes has several classically vitriolic threats in their coverage on the harassment. But here’s a statement that perfectly demonstrates the boo-hoo babyman knee-jerk rhetoric behind the abuse:

 

she makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

It is amazing to me that this website is up and ticking while Tumblr took less than 24 hours to remove a list of rapists put up by University of Chicago students who were frustrated by the systemic lack of protection for students at the school. On the internet, threatening to rape is allowed but protecting students from rapists is banned.

The victim of 4Chan’s harassment isn’t only Watson, of course, but all women and girls. We are all being warned that if we dare to speak out, to tell the truth, to demand equality, or call ourselves feminists, we will be ridiculed, targeted, shamed and humiliated if not raped and murdered. This is happening legally in the USA.

In response to the threats, Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals writes a blog titled “Speak All the Louder”

The reaction of these men who use fear to promote their power is a measure meant to terrorize us to ‘stay in our place’.  To shame empathetic men and to overpower outspoken women. To stunt our thinking and growth as a society. To silence our voices.

 

I think this kind of man is an excellent reminder of why we must speak all the louder.

 

Peggy Orenstein, best-selling author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter makes another point, urging men to speak up for Watson and against violence towards women. On her Facebook page, Orenstein writes:

Women can (and should) express outrage about the death threats against our beloved Emma W, but I think that given her message about the value of feminism to both men and women, and how increasingly important we know it is that boys, especially, learn to stand up and speak out around violence against women this would be a good time for guys to step up!!

 

I could not agree more. All males including fathers, teachers, doctors, athletes, musicians, writers, artists, students, boys everywhere, now is the time to speak publicly for Watson, for feminism, and to take action to stop violence against women. If you are silent, you are part of the problem.

Neil Gaiman, author of Coraline, posted his picture on Tumblr with #HeForShe written on his palm, and captioned: “Supporting it as a feminist and as a human being…” If males worldwide publicly say yes to feminism, violence against women will stop.

Sign up for #HeForShe here. Speak out for feminism whenever and wherever you can. Join the movement. Change the world. The time is now.

Criminal cyber-stalkers upload stolen photos as profile pics, send mass Tweets

Last night, like many of you, I Tweeted that to look at stolen pictures of Jennifer Lawrence is to participate in her assault. Today, I woke up to multiple Tweets on my account where the sender used a naked picture of Jennifer Lawrence as a profile pic. I’m assuming the picture is one of the stolen ones, though I’m not doing the research to find out. I Tweeted  that I would be forwarding these Tweets to the FBI, to which I got this response: “Stop harassing me you fucking cunt.”

Last night, I posted on Facebook and Twitter that, contrary to reports on the internet from People Magazine and CNN, the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities is not a “scandal” but a sex crime.

I was relieved I didn’t have to argue language when I saw the LA Times report:

The FBI is aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter,” an FBI spokesperson told the LA Times.

 

In spite of getting called a cunt (yet again) it is good to be able to forward info to the FBI’s ongoing investigation. It’s crucial that the U.S. Government take crimes against women seriously, and it’s a relief to see a fast and public step in that direction by the FBI. It would be nice if the media followed suit, not only using the word “crime” instead of “scandal” but by allotting crimes against women the news status they deserve.

Last week, the writer, filmmaker, and activist Anita Sarkeesian was forced to leave her house because of threats of violence against her. Sarkeesian’s work is about violence against women in video games. Those who attack Sarkeesian claim that violence against women does not exist. I suppose the irony here is lost on them. Why isn’t more mainstream media covering the Sarkeesian story? Sarkeesian is a hero-freedom-fighter-cyber-warrior whose actions are dedicated helping a new generation of children to grow up in a safer world. So why don’t parents know her name? When are we all going to start taking crimes against women seriously and stop ignoring or trivializing the safety and privacy of half of our population in the USA?