Fall Movie Preview: Insidious misogyny in ‘Gone Girl’

I haven’t seen the movie “Gone Girl,” and neither have you as it’s hitting theaters on October 3, though I did read the book this summer. I was horrified by the misogyny woven through the narrative. Perhaps I was so surprised by the sexism because the only controversy I’d heard of before I read the book was that people didn’t like the ending. I did like the ending. I’ll tell you why, and also go into the plot points of “Gone Girl” but before I do, consider yourself warned: spoilers will be in this post. If you’re going to read Gone Girl– and it is, like so many sexist books I critique, well written and well plotted, I’m talking about technique here– you may not want to proceed much further, except, perhaps, to take a look at this cover of Entertainment Weekly. There you see Amy, the protagonist of “Gone Girl,” shown as a “beautiful” female corpse, a trope Anita Sarkeesian dissects in her latest video: Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games. This image of the dead, sexualized female body is, quite literally, everywhere in popular culture. After you check out this cover, I want you to know just one more thing.

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My final comment to those who don’t want spoilers: I have absolutely no problem with women not being “likeable” characters. I want that. I was so excited when I read the comment by the excellent writer Claire Messud who, when asked about her protagonist by Publisher’s Weekly (I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim”) responded:

For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscar Wao? Antigone? Raskolnikov? Any of the characters in The Corrections? Any of the characters in Infinite Jest? Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written? Or Martin Amis? Or Orhan Pamuk? Or Alice Munro, for that matter? If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t “is this a potential friend for me?” but “is this character alive?”

 

Get that, people? Is this character alive?

OK, moving on to spoilers, if you don’t want them, it’s time to leave.

It turns out that the protagonist of Gone Girl, Amy Dunne (played in the movie by Rosemund Pike) fakes her own rape, pregnancy, stalking, beatings, and murder. That’s right, Amy goes through a veritable list of practically every act/ crime that a wicked and conniving (are men ever conniving?) woman can manipulate. While Amy fakes her victimhood, her husband, Nick, played in the movie by Ben Affleck, is falsely accused of killing his pregnant wife. Why, you ask, is Amy motivated to be so awful? She’s a woman scorned, of course, who discovered her husband’s affair with his student.

Here’s one passage describing Amy’s fakery:

I took a wine bottle, and I abused myself with it every day, so the inside of my vagina looked…right. Right for a rape victim. Then today I let him have sex with me so I had his semen…

That particular scene, by the way, refers to another man Amy is setting up, not her husband.

Here’s the problem, and once again, it’s not that Amy is a villain or unlikeable.

In the USA 20 percent of women, 1 in 5, report experiencing rape or attempted rape. The Department of Justice estimates that 60 percent of rapes go unreported. As for false accusations of rape, the FBI estimates that 1-2 percent of claims are fake. Here’s another important fact about false accusation: A 2002 survey of male and female college students shows that they believe a woman lies in 50 percent of reported rape cases. “Gone Girl” perpetuates the popular narrative that rape isn’t real and isn’t happening, that women lie, and falsely accused men are the real victims.

But Gone Girl is fiction not fact, you say. Why am I listing stats here? Am I trying, once again, to censor artists with my PC beliefs? Surely Amy’s story can fall into the 1- 2% of women who falsely accuse men of rape. This is a free country.

This is also a country where Washington Post columnist George Will, a man known as the “most powerful journalist in America” recently wrote that being a rape survivor is “a coveted status.” When others challenged Will that rape is not, in fact, something women want, the conservative group, Women’s Independent Forum called a conference “Rape Culture and Sexual Assault,” putting out this press release:

The White House has embraced the statistic that 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted while in college…The White House has released its “first ever report” on the issue and are using it to push their policy agenda…But many question the validity of the White House’s one-in-five statistic, even as those who challenge this figure are silenced as being uncaring about women…The IWF takes any accusation of sexual assault very seriously. But we are concerned that there is a potentially harmful hysteria developing about this issue. Where does this come from? Where is it going? And who will be harmed?

Lucky for us, Gone Girl answers every single one of the IWF’s (hysterical) questions: Where does it come from? In Gone Girl, overachieving Harvard grad, Amy Dunne, was used but never truly loved by her egotistical writer parents. They penned a best-selling YA series based on their daughter. Where is it going? Female anger and, yes, hysteria, not to mention jealousy, vindictiveness, and aging, leads to violence. Who will be harmed? Nick, of course, innocent men in America who are falsely accused, lied to, manipulated, and victimized by the scorned, bitter women in their lives.

Yes, Of course Gillian Flynn can write about whatever she pleases, but I find it sadly ironic that when I argue for more diverse stories to permeate our popular culture, a culture where people believe that 50% of rape accusations are false, a culture where stories of rape remain secret to the point that the media hides names and identities of survivors, a media dominated by the same old trope ridden narrative, that I am the one who’s accused of stifling creativity. Gone Girl is a best-selling book about to be blockbuster movie that will help to perpetuate  the myth/ story that rape and violence against women is not epidemic but mostly exists in our imagination.

By the way, the end of the book, you know why people don’t like it? Because Amy ends up OK. She and Nick get back together, they’re going to have a baby. (Pregnant for real this time, she stole his sperm.) Apparently, the no punishment-for-Amy-finale is so unpopular that the director changed the ending to make it more of crowdpleaser.

I’ll leave you with some facts about domestic violence in the USA from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence):

One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.

 

85% of domestic violence victims are women.

 

Nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.

 

Domestic violence is one of the most chronically under reported crimes.

 

Only approximately one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalkings perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police.

 

 

On average, more than three women are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.

 

 Reel Girl rates Gone Girl ***SSS*** for gender stereotyping

After I read Gone Girl, I searched the internet about the book’s misogyny, here are some interesting posts

 

The Misogynistic Portrayal of Villainy in Gone Girl

Is GONE GIRL a Misogynist Novel?

Why do men in America feel entitled to women? A gallery of reasons

On the Santa Barbara massacre, the Atlantic reports:

Suffice it to say that the killer was a misogynist, and that lots of women have reacted to his rampage by reflecting on how women are denied full personhood.

 

PolyMic reports:

Rather than seeing Elliot Rodger as a product of society, the media has depicted him as a bloodthirsty madman, a mere glitch in the system.

 

New Statesman reports:

The ideology behind these attacks – and there is ideology – is simple. Women owe men. Women, as a class, as a sex, owe men sex, love, attention, “adoration”

I’m reposting a blog I wrote after seeing Jimmy Fallon’s Vanity Fair cover. Look at these images. When will women in America be recognized as human beings equal to men?

Vanity Fair’s sexist Jimmy Fallon profile erases his wife, highlights Victoria Secret models

I’m a huge Jimmy Fallon fan. This is why I bought the new Vanity Fair where he’s on the cover even though it annoyed me that Fallon is shown in a suit while he’s flanked by two nameless women in bathing suits.

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There are more pics of Fallon and naked women inside the magazine. Reading the caption, I learned that the women are Victoria Secret models.

There is a third picture of Fallon and the women at what looks like New York’s Natural History museum. Once again, the women are in skimpy bikinis and we get a full view of ass. Fallon is once again pictured in a suit.

Showing important, powerful men fully clothed while women appear as naked accessories underscores the idea that men valued for what they do and think, while women are valued for how they appear. Vanity Fair repetitively resorts to this sexism. There’s a famous photo featuring naked Scarlett Johanssen, Keira Knightly, and Tom Ford. When Rachel McAdams refused to undress, she was asked to leave.

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Of course, Vanity Fair is hardly alone in promoting this sexist imagery. Here are five GQ covers that came out simultaneously: four men are shown in suits, one woman is shown naked.

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What about Rolling Stone?

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There’s Justin Timberlake’s “Tunnel Vision” video where he is clothed and the women are naked.

Many claimed Timberlake was copying Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video where he is clothed and the women are naked, a pairing repeated in the infamous Miley Cyrus performance (where Miley was blamed for being a slut.)

“Alternative” musicians resort to the same cliche. Did you see Nick Cave’s latest album cover?

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The truth is, we’ve been dealing with the clothed man-naked woman pairing for a long time. Here’s a famous painting by Edouard Manet in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris that would make a perfect Vanity Fair cover.

manet

But here’s what really pissed me off about the Jimmy Fallon article. As I wrote, I’m a fan of the comedian, but part of the reason I bought the magazine is because I wanted to know more about his wife, Nancy Juvonen. She’s a film producer and a business partner of Drew Barrymore. Both Barrymore and Juvonen are interested in making movies where cool women get to have adventures. I wanted to hear the whole story about how Juvonen and Fallon met and fell in love, just the kind of thing you’d expect to find in a Vanity Fair profile right? They recently had a daughter, Winnie, so I assumed Fallon would be asked about being a new father. I’m an avid reader of Us Weekly and People and I often see pictures of their family. Fallon is always cuddling his baby, playing with her, smiling at her, and I was curious about his thoughts on raising a girl in the world. Another thing I wanted to hear about: Fallon is 39 while Juvonen is 46, a rare gap in Hollywood where a woman’s age is measured closer to dog years than man years. Do you see my point here? Fallon married a successful career woman who is 7 years older than him, and this, besides his talent, is part of the reason I admire the guy. But here’s the weird thing: Nancy Juvonen is missing from Fallon’s profile.

Juvonen isn’t mentioned at all until 5 pages into the piece. After writing that Fallon always watched “SNL” alone, the text reads:

His one concession to adulthood is that he now watches the program with his wife, the film producer Nancy Juvonen, and if she is awake his baby daughter, Winnie, born last July.

Can you imagine Vanity Fair doing a profile on a famous woman and not mentioning her big time producer husband or her new baby until page 5? The piece goes on for two more pages and there are just two more brief references to Juvonen. Here’s all the magazine has to say on how they met and why they married.

Though the Fever Pitch experience had a saving grace–it was through the film that he met Juvonen, one of its producers who he would marry in 2007– he considers his LA years kind of a lost period.

Here’s the final reference to Juvonen, about persuading Fallon to become the “Tonight Show” host.

It was Fallon’s wife who persuaded him to go with Michael’s instinct. “Nancy was like, ‘You’ve got to try it. You’ll be one of three human beings who have done it– Letterman, Conan, and you. You have to do it. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work,’” Fallon said.

That’s it. WTF? All Fallon’s wife gets in a profile is a few sentences in passing coupled with a cover and three photos where he’s shown with naked women? That’s not the Jimmy Fallon I love or wanted to read about.

Sexualizing toys hits new low: Barbie makes cover of SI’s swimsuit issue

Sports Illustrated announced Barbie will be on the cover of the magazine’s 50th anniversary swimsuit issue.

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Sports Illustrated, do you realize every time my 4 year old or 7 year old daughter sees the cover of your magazine, she will think that it’s made for her? About her?

I guess you do, because Target will be selling a limited edition of the SI Barbie to coincide with this issue of the magazine.

So grown-ups, once again, are teaching kids that females are valued for how their bodies look while males are valued for what their bodies can do. I am so fucking disgusted. I cannot believe the sexualization of girls is this mainstream, accepted, normal, and OK.

The Atlantic reports:

In the 57 years since Sports Illustrated‘s founding, a woman has appeared on a (non-swimsuit issue) cover 66 times—on average, just over once a year.

 

Your tagline for the campaign is #unapologetic. So you’re not sorry– proud rather– that you are contributing to a culture where we are all so used to girls being sexualized? Do you get the damage you are helping to create?

The American Psychological Association reports:

There are several components to sexualization, and these set it apart from healthy sexuality. Sexualization occurs when

  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  • a person is sexually objectified — that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

All four conditions need not be present; any one is an indication of sexualization. The fourth condition (the inappropriate imposition of sexuality) is especially relevant to children. Anyone (girls, boys, men, women) can be sexualized. But when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them. Self-motivated sexual exploration, on the other hand, is not sexualization by our definition, nor is age-appropriate exposure to information about sexuality.

 

Statistics on sexual abuse show 1 in 5 girls is sexually abused.

Sports Illustrated, how can you be #unapologetic?

Update: Love this comment on Reel Girl’s Facebook page from RG fan Sarah Schiebel:

To me this just proves Barbies are NOT really children’s toys at all! Maybe that’s what they are “unapologetic” about? As in “Haha, suckers! You’ve been buying your daughters miniature sex dolls for 50+ years!”

 

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.)

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?

Want to see a celebrity in an inappropriate costume? Fergie’s ‘pageant girl’ tops my list

Want to see a celebrity wearing an inappropriate costume? Fergie’s ‘Pageant Girl’ from Halloween 2012 makes me ill.

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If you care at all about the sexualization of  little girls, why would a grown woman dress up as a little girl dressed up as a woman? (Assuming that is, little girls with heavy make-up and curled hair aspire to imitate older beauty queens and not Martians.) Talk about blurring boundaries between sexualizing little girls and adults. This costume makes my head spin, besides making me want to vomit. But here’s what Heidi Klum thinks of it, as quoted in Us Magazine:

Accessories can put a costume over the top! Fergie couldn’t have looked any better as a pageant girl.

 

While we in America celebrate rock stars for sexualizing kids, France outlawed child beauty pageants earlier this year. The New York Times reported:

Pageants are popular in smaller towns across France, though far less frequent and less intense than in the United States. And France has no equivalent of American reality shows like “Toddlers & Tiaras” and its spinoff, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” that feature very young contestants.

Still, the intense focus on beauty here, combined with a surge of images of sexualized, prepubescent girls, has raised fears that the pageants could take on the over-the-top quality of American contests…

Ms. Jouanno, a former junior minister for environment and a senator representing Paris from the center-right party U.D.I., wrote a report on the “hypersexualization” of children in 2011.

Apparently, the USA has a long, long way to go to protect, honor, and value American girls. Bad move, Fergie.

When Hasbro sexes up My Little Pony, parents need to say ‘ENOUGH’

Coming to your daughters this August from Hasbro, Equestria Girl. First the Tooth Fairy, now this. Can our kids choices possibly get any more homogenized?

Huffington Post reports on the evolution of My Little Pony:

Equestria Girls,” dolls that are pony-girl hybrids (think “goth” Barbies with blue or green skin and a colorful ponytail) along with a special DVD to be released in August. Per a press release, the humanized figures are supposed to represent My Little Pony characters as teenage girls in high school.

The image on the left is an original My Little Pony from 1983, on the right, is 2013′s Equestria Girl.
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The release goes on to describe these characters with words like “glamour,” “stylish,” “ultra-chic,” and it is noted that each doll features her own signature “cutie splash,” an individual design that is similar to the “cutie mark” on her pony alter ego.

 

According to the New York Times, there’s much more involved with the Equestria Girls roll out than a DVD:

The new property will get the red-carpet treatment when it premieres as a full-length animated feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. The movie, created by Hasbro Studios, the company’s production division, will then be released in more than 200 theaters nationwide; its trailer will start appearing in theaters on Wednesday.

There will also be a television debut on the Hub network. Do you see how narratives on movies and TV sell products? Are, in fact, created to sell products? Do you see how important it is for girls and boys to see narratives featuring strong, female protagonists?

What really sucks about Equestria Girl is that the “My Little Pony” TV show, while relegated to the Pink Ghetto, features 6 female protags who often get adventurous and exciting storylines. The ultra-skinny, micro-mini clad Equestria Girl above is based on Rainbow Dash. She looks like this.

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On the current show, Rainbow Dash is a jock/ athlete and the fastest flyer in Equestria. My Little Pony fan Kya writes on Reel Girl’s Facebook page, “I feel like if the show’s characters were real they’d be just as horrified to see what they’ve been made into as we are!”

Peggy Orenstein’s reaction, emailed to the HuffPo:

It’s up to parents and those who give a hang about girls actual development and well-being to say absolutely neigh. You want a sexualized, self-objectifying girl? Give her sexualized, objectified dolls. You don’t? Have some conversations with the other parents in your community about the potential impact of self-sexualization and self-objectification on girls’ development — including negative body image, eating disorders, depression, low self-esteem, poor sexual choices, etc. — and choose from the many other toy options that are rising up in response to this inappropriate trend.

Seriously, come on parents! Stop buying into this shit. Speak out against the sexualization of kids. It’s dangerous.

Reel Girl rates Equestria Girl toys ***SSS*** for major gender stereotyping.

Watch this former Disney exec try to hijack your kid’s imagination

This video is so sick and creepy. Holy shit.

Sign this petition to keep these super-skinny, Barbie-princess clone “Real Tooth Fairies” far away from your child’s developing brain.

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Update: Real Tooth Fairies removed the video from YouTube. Guess they really didn’t want you to see it. Here’s the transcript.

Facebook helps debunk myth of America’s ‘post-feminism’

YAY! Facebook FINALLY recognizes: misogyny exists. It’s real, FB says, and that’s a giant social media step in the right direction. In 2013, gender-based hate and violence is epidemic and still, for the most part, accepted as normal.

I’m  44 years old, a member of the notoriously apathetic Generation X. Since I started speaking out about feminist issues, back in my twenties (not lazy or apolitical, by the way, didn’t really know anyone who was) I’ve been told sexism doesn’t exist. We live in a post-feminist world. What could American women, not to mention white, educated, privileged ones, possibly be whining about? We weren’t under Taliban rule for goodness sake. Not that college kids, all of us so well versed in South Africa’s racist history, had any clue about the gender apartheid of the Taliban. And if we had known of it? Gender bias, while kind of a shame, was just a cultural difference, not a political issue. “Relative ethics” was the term my sociology professor taught us for female genital mutilation: Who were we, in all our privilege to judge?

So for years, Facebook has been receiving reports on posts depicting gender based violence. While the company actively bans religious or racist hate speech, here’s just one example of its past response to misogyny.

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(via Amazing Women Rock . If you go to the link, and you have a strong stomach, you can see many more.)

So why did Facebook change its tune, pledging to take misogyny seriously? Obviously, in no small part, because of a well-run, well organized campaign by Women, Action, and Media. THANK YOU WAM and thank you to all of you who responded. In days, 5,000 emails and 60,000 Tweets went to Facebook’s advertisers who started to take their ads off the site. Facebook, if anyone could, saw where all this viral action was headed. Women have been using social media to change the world for some time now.

In the Nation, Jessica Valenti writes :

Jaclyn Friedman, executive director of WAM… points to the outrage over the social media-documented rape in Steubenville, gang rapes in India and the suicides of several young rape victims as indications that Americans may have had enough of the consequences of rape culture. While she’s still unsure that the country is ready for widespread change, she believes “there’s a critical mass right now; it could be a tipping point moment”…

But this glaring, in-your-face misogyny may be the spark that pushes culture forward—there’s no arguing with these images, these court cases, these stories. Maybe it needed to get a lot worse—or more visible—for it to get better. For years, the most common anti-feminist talking point has been that American women don’t have it all that bad. That we should stop complaining and focus on women in other countries who are “really” oppressed.

But today, telling women that sexism doesn’t exist anymore is a really hard sell. Thanks to the Internet and the speed at which stories move—not to mention the vile sexism in most online spaces—any American woman who spends more than five minutes onlines hears about or experiences misogyny every day.

 

I started this blog, Reel Girl, because I have 3 daughters, and I was so horrified by the gender stereotyping marketed to kids like it’s okay, like it’s normal, and then how everyone participates in it. It’s so sad that sexism, packaged and sold to kids, is so ubiquitous that, paradoxically, it’s become invisible. I feel like 90% of my work is just pointing out that sexism exists. I’ve posted this a couple times, but here it is again:

Violence against women is epidemic. A first step to abuse is always dehumanizing the victim. Propaganda, in the form of images and narratives, effectively dehumanizes on a mass scale. Here’s some propaganda marketed to kids:

 

Images/ narratives of Jews circa 1938

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Africans circa 1931

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Females circa 2013

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It’s easy to look back on history and wonder: How did people ever put up with that? I’d never buy into it. But what are you participating in right now that is completely accepted, not to mention celebrated, by our culture?

 

Since my post, I’ve gotten comments asking how dare I compare sexism to racism and antisemitism. I’ve been rebuked for taking sexism seriously for a long time. When I was a senior in high school, I was talking to a good friend of mine about sexism, and he said to me, indignantly, “A woman has never been lynched for being a woman!” Maybe, maybe not, but women have been murdered throughout history for being women. Does getting raped or sexually assaulted qualify as pretty bad treatment?

Here’s a classic comment from Chinwe:

What I find embarrassing, shameful, and flat out appalling is you comparing the current state of girls in 2013 to the days that Blacks and Jews were stereotyped, discriminated, and killed in the early 20th century. Girls and women have gained so many rights in the last 40+ years and you compared its ”oppression” to Blacks and Jews in the 1930s.

Really?

That’s absolutely and utterly lazy comparison and analysis.

Years ago, the Wall Street Journal used to have a Bad Writing Contest where readers can submit writing that’s truly awful. Too bad they don’t have this contest because I would personally submit this post–and your blog–to judges of the Bad Writing Contest and you would win hands down.

Honestly, you need a new hobby because you come across really immature, out-of-touch and bitter towards the world. Once again, do yourself a favor and enroll in an English 101 class at your local community college and learn how to write. Everytime I see a new post, 1) you are embarrassing yourself and 2) you put yourself further down the cultural rabbit hole by making piss poor arguments.

*waiting for your condescending reply*

You are pretty predictable, ya know

Huh, think Chinwe heard about the three women sexually assaulted for 10 years in Cleveland? How their captor, Ariel Castro, got out of domestic abuse charges years earlier because his ex-wife’s lawyer didn’t even show up to prosecute? Or perhaps Chinwe knows that in America, 3 women are murdered by a domestic partner every day? And still, our congress fought over passing the Violence Against Women Act?

I guess that’s my sarcastic, predictable, and, of course, poorly written reply.

We don’t live in a post-feminist world. We never have. According to the Geena Davis Institute, at the rate we’re going, will might in about 700 years. Don’t you think that’s too long for your children to wait?

 

 

 

 

Calling it out: Backwards, sexist propaganda of 2013

Let Toys Be Toys for Girls and Boys posted this image on its Facebook page:

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This product was seen at the John Lewis store in High Wycombe. Not familiar with this UK institution, I looked it up to find it has almost 650,00 likes.

I imagine the day this product is on display in a museum, an artifact. People will look at it, baffled, not even understanding. Students will study how backwards the world was in 2013, wondering how and why our culture allowed and accepted sexism as if it were okay or funny or normal. Can you imagine a game showing a Caucasian brain battling an African brain along with a bunch of stereotyped categories?

Today, Salon posts: On Facebook, hating a religious or ethnic minority gets you banned, but hating half of humanity gets you Likes.” Women, Action, and Media wrote an open letter to Facebook detailing how pics of breastfeeding women get banned when images of rape don’t.

The latest global estimate from the United Nations Say No to Violence Campaign is that the percentage of women and girls who have experienced violence in their lifetimes is now up to an unbearable 70%. In a world in which this many girls and women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, allowing content about raping and beating women to be shared, boasted and joked about contributes to the normalisation of domestic and sexual violence, creates an atmosphere in which perpetrators are more likely to believe they will go unpunished, and communicates to victims that they will not be taken seriously if they report.

Here’s an ex-girlfriend shooting target seen at an NRA convention this Spring.

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Violence against women is epidemic. A first step to abuse is always dehumanizing the victim. Propaganda, in the form of images and narratives, effectively dehumanizes on a mass scale. Here’s some propaganda marketed to kids:

Images/ narratives of Jews circa 1938

nazibook

 

Africans circa 1931

tin_tin_in_congo11

 

Females circa 2013

 

bratzwallpaper-source_4cj

 

It’s easy to look back on history and wonder: How did people ever put up with that? I’d never buy into it. But what are you participating in right now that is completely accepted, not to mention celebrated, by our culture?

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Propaganda works in steps and stages. The product marketed may not be as extreme as a bloody, scantily clad woman, but it’s likely to be a sexualized female, one that is, remarkably, often advertised to kids.

So tell John Lewis to stop selling sexism or join Women, Action, and Media’s campaign and to get Facebook sponsors to stop promoting violence against women or post on Target’s site that you’re not buying its new doll. Please do something for your kids. Take action to end everyday sexism because it numbs all of us to the mass objectification of women.