Long Due Corral

Get your ropes and hats, cowgirls and cowboys. It’s time for a round-up. Many of these are ancient in the Land of Blogdom, but bear with me as I dump my desktop.

The Countess takes on a particularly nasty Father’s Rights manual that details how better to break the law to get back at your ex-bitch and manipulate the courts to sway in your favor. Chances are these methods won’t work, but hell, all’s fair in love and war.

The Happy Feminist details her family’s articles of educational faith, a long story of immigration, mobility, and class consciousness. Good stuff here.

DJW of Lawyers, Guns, and Money, writes why he, too, is a feminist, a thoughtful reflection on how his grandfather was bound by gender expectations that stunted his life’s dreams. An unexpected take on how feminism benefits men with comment-worthy implications.

The good folks at Something Awful take apart a few open misogynists, and I have to say I laughed out loud.

The blogger at A Magpie’s Book of Hours offers an interesting essay written by “Fatima Mernissi, a Moroccan feminist and professor at Mohammed V University, who grew up in an enclosed harem, unable to leave except once a week when she could walk, escorted and veiled, to the Hammam, or Turkish baths,” titled Size 6: The Western Women’s Harem. There is much in this essay ripe for discussion and I’d like to see what others have to say on it.

Chad at Physician, Heal Thyself writes an awesome reflection on growing up in an age of hip hop and race consciousness and the incident that inspired his essay, the kneejerk disgust he sees in white boys criticizing the genre without much knowledge before Tupac and Biggie on an airplane. I have a few people I’d like to read this essay, see also: music dorks who like to be “in the know” and think Old School begins and ends with Tupac.

The Language Guy looks at sexist language.

I like my women like I like my chicken: battered. An exercise in “context.”

About a month ago, a woman emailed me this essay she’d written for the Margins Discussion Forum, challenging my feminism because I am not explicitly anti-porn. Although I wrote her back I didn’t get anything in return, thus I figured I’d offer it here for discussion. Please note that in her essay she feels great distress over the topic, so I’d like to honor her with any discussion by not criticizing her emotion and denigrating her for her beliefs. I’d like to address her essay at a later date, and intend to do so.

At Alternet, Deanna Zandt discusses the beginnings of a completely digital world of pornography. Some of the things mentioned in Zandt’s post and the accompanying Wired article (NSFW) have interesting implications in regards to common feminist arguments against the porn industry.

Aspazia writes in response to a former student who hates feminists and feminism. This is a strong reconsideration of the personal side of anti-feminism, and a strong defense of why feminism and other social activist groups are needed. See also: HF’s Has feminism been so successful that it is now superfluous?

Ramsin Canon of Gaper’s Block comes out swinging against the pharmacists and pharmacies that refuse to dispense emergency contraception in Phase One of Operation Barefoot and Pregnant. See also: I should stop watching informative television.

Edited to Add:
At ZNet, keeping with the porn theme I’ve got going here, Gail Dines and Robert Jensen make the case that being anti-pornography is a matter of consistency in our analyses of oppression, i.e. “pornography is to patriarchy what commercial television is to capitalism.” via The Uncommon Man

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20 comments for “Long Due Corral

  1. January 3, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks for the link, Lauren. That crap was especially nasty, wasn’t it? I’m not surprised some guys actually use that advice. And they wonder why they don’t get their way in court? Feh.

  2. nerdlet
    January 3, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    If you haven’t explored the rest of elfdata.com before, I’d like to invite ya’ll to do so. This guy believes that women forced men to evolve hairy bodies because they wanted men to be grotesque ape-like creatures, that women magically drain energy from men, and that has created a theory of human nature that can summarize all life in one sentence.

    And really, when SomethingAwful is mocking you for misogyny, you’ve got it *bad.*

  3. January 3, 2006 at 4:12 pm

    I found Fatima Mernissi’s essay to be dead on. Western culture spends a lot of time patting itself on the back for being ever so much more enlightened than Islamic culture. Mernissi’s comment that western methods of marginalizing women may be more sophisticated but are incredibly effective struck a chord with me having heard so very many women obsess about their weight.

  4. Thomas
    January 3, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    Ampersand blogged about the Dines and Jensen article last month, and the resulting comment thread ran over 100 comments, remained civil … and didn’t make much headway. I liked what I wrote there, and I was going to paste it over and edit for here, but then I realized that it was really voluminous.

    I’m neither pro-porn enough for pro-porn feminists nor anti-porn enough for anti-porn feminists, and though I realize we can’t “all just get along,” I do really cringe when I see feminist women ripping into each other over this issue.

    The anti-porn arguments address separately two sets of issues: the effects of porn on the women who participate in making it, and the effects of the material on the culture. CGI (and for that matter, text) takes one of those entire sets of arguments out of play, but does not address the other set at all.

    I find that, when we’re talking about the product of the mainstream porn industry, I’m generally in agreement with the anti-porn feminists. But there are significant areas where I get off that bus.

    First, I do not oppose the mere existence of sexualized images of women in a patriarchal culture. I understand how one would get to that conclusion, but I disagree. Some erotic images, even those made in large part for masturbation, are perfectly acceptable in my view. My favorite example is a photoset of a close friend, given to my wife and I. The pictures were erotic, explicit and BDSM-themed. They were the product of a woman, making images of herself for no money and at nobody’s behest, as a gift to friends. She shared with the viewers a common understanding of who she was and what part of her sexual self she was representing. She maintained an important degree of control over the use of the images: she stipulated that only the intended audience of two should ever see them, and only we two have. One has to really stretch to find a problem with that, as it has more in common with either a sexual encounter or a love letter than it does with commercial exploitation of women.

    Because I think there are kinds of erotic material that are okay, I really want a definition. Anti-porn folks are short on definitions, and the ones they provide I generally find unsatisfying (see the Amp thread around #55).

    Second, I’m not willing to accept remedies that are not going to be used against the misogynist mainstream porn and will instead be used selectively against sex radicals and sexual minorities. Most of the legislation, including the Dworkin/MacKinnon ordinances and the Porn Victims’ Compensation Act explicitly target BDSM — so Vivid Video survives, but the lesbians play-piercing each other get arrested or sued? Count me out. I want something that is targetted at what I don’t like. If we cannot get that by handing more power to a government in the hands of men who like porn, then we’ll have to do it by persuading men and women both to demand better erotic material.

  5. January 3, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    Aw shucks. Thanks!

  6. Lisa
    January 3, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    “That distressing experience made me realize how the image of beauty in the West can hurt and humiliate a woman as much as the veil does when enforced by the state police in extremist nations such as Iran, Afghanistan, or Saudi Arabia.”

    “These Western attitudes, I thought, are even more dangerous and cunning than the Muslim ones because the weapon used against women is time.”

    “This Western time-defined veil is even crazier than the space-defined one enforced by the Ayatollahs.”

    I call bullshit. Sure I occasionally have misgivings about body image. I also have a challenging, rewarding well-paying job in a male-dominated field, my own apt, my own car, and I answer to nobody but myself in what I wear, who I date, where I go and when I come home. I could never do that in a place where the ‘space-defined’ veil was enforced by state police in an extremist nation.

    There’s plenty of perfectly valid ways to criticize Western society. And there were some good points made in the essay. But comparing our beauty-myth-issues to ‘state police’ forcibly violating women’s most basic rights in ‘extremist nations,’ and saying that those ‘space-defined’ violations are less (or just as) dangerous and hurtful and humiliating is absurd. I’ll take my time-defined veil any day.

  7. January 3, 2006 at 11:57 pm

    I certainly won’t defend the disgusting hatefulness of the Father’s Rights manual Countess quotes from, but in my experience with my boyfriend’s divorce, a father has absolutely no rights, in any practical sense. His child’s mother ordered the child to say what she wanted said to the law guardian, who couldn’t give a rat’s ass, and my bf hasn’t seen or heard from his son since April.

  8. anashi
    January 4, 2006 at 2:15 am

    No rights…hmmm… in your completely unbiased position as his girlfriend.

  9. January 4, 2006 at 2:59 am

    ^No rights. Yes. For any practical purpose. Whatever his mother says, goes, and the court couldn’t care less.

  10. January 4, 2006 at 9:43 am

    I tried to comment this yesterday, and couldn’t get through. The author of the Wired piece, Bonnie Ruberg, has written a lot of great feminist gaming stuff. Her website’s at heroine-sheik.com.

  11. Ealasaid
    January 4, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    As a feminist who likes some porn, I found the anti-porn essay interesting. I was surprised at her descriptions – I suppose some must be like that, but not the stuff I watch. ‘course, I use the reviews at Good Vibrations to pick most porn I rent, which might help.

    I think it’s a difficult and thorny issue, and certainly one worth discussing.

  12. anashi
    January 4, 2006 at 12:33 pm

    Something Awful was hilarious and the anti-porn arguments particularly Sophia’s were really great. I learned a lot from what Sophia said about it not being constructive to call any woman who argues with you about any given subject a non-feminist. It’s something I’ve really tried to take to heart, because I have been judgemental in that way in the past. I’m anti-porn, because we do live in an unequal society and women are harmed by porn, but I’m not for all out banning. I think it needs to be regulated like any other industry but trying to critique the porn industry is hard because its supporters will be at your throat in seconds with their cries of censorship and anti-sex. The knee-jerk reactions effectively stop debate about how we still need to reform parts of society like porn to be more friendly toward women.

  13. Thomas
    January 4, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    Anashi, I agree that

    The knee-jerk reactions effectively stop debate

    It’s tough to find common ground about porn, partly because so many folks may make arguments that allow for nuanced approaches, but what they really want it either outright absence or total freedom. There are a few of us, however, that think that some sexually explicit material is okay and some isn’t, and that we ought to be able to do something about the bad stuff.

    I don’t like that some folks call feminists who oppose porn anti-sex. Sure, some folks really are anti-sex, but that conclusion does not follow from even the most sweeping opposition to porn. It’s just a dismissive accusation.

  14. January 4, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    As a feminist who likes some porn, I found the anti-porn essay interesting. I was surprised at her descriptions – I suppose some must be like that, but not the stuff I watch. ‘course, I use the reviews at Good Vibrations to pick most porn I rent, which might help.

    I think it’s a difficult and thorny issue, and certainly one worth discussing.

    They didn’t have an argument. They had a bunch of assertions, none of it supported by an explication of the evidence. The waved their hands at evidence, but they didn’t illustrate anything with specific references.

    Personally, I couldn’t care less about watching porn. I’ve seen enough of it, though, to know that their description of what’s out there and what is typically viewed by het men? Well, it was dubious at best.

    What annoys me is precisely what Tim at The Wrong Side of Capitalism said about this kind of analysis.Which is what I say about Levy: it’s a reappropriation of the very madonna/whore complex that vexes us interminably. It’s always about finding some “women” over their who are social dopes, blinded by patriarchy, women who know not what they do, women who perform for men, always the endless search for the bright line separating dressing “for us” and dressig “for men.”

    It’s quite annoying.

  15. anashi
    January 4, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    Yes, I agree it’s always one or the other. Total acceptance or total rejection. There has to be a middle ground or nothing is going to change. No one I believe on the pro-porn side wants to see women hurt by porn, so I think that’s where anti-porn feminists efforts should lie, in reform. We could effect real change that would mean something for these women in porn, instead of pulling the rug right out from under their feet.

  16. January 5, 2006 at 3:01 pm

    Here in the UK, unmarried fathers have very few rights indeed. I say this from the unbiased position of an unmarried mother trying to get the father to exercise what few rights he has instead of whining about how he shouldn’t have to pay child support and not get to control how I spend it.

  17. Thomas
    January 5, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    B/L, you said this about anti-porn arguments:

    It’s always about finding some “women” over their who are social dopes, blinded by patriarchy, women who know not what they do, women who perform for men, always the endless search for the bright line separating dressing “for us” and dressig “for men.”

    I’m often frustrated by anti-porn arguments for several reasons, but not this one. This, I think, is mostly just throwing rocks at the anti-porn feminists. I’m sure there are some who are trying to fashion a reconstituted feminist “good girl” space for themselves, but it is unfair to paint broadly with that brush. Sure, it’s ugly to accuse women of having false consciousness, whether by that name or not, but most feminists also agree that not everything every women does is good for women. And few of us doubt that there are women doing porn who hate it and lack good options. Even Jenna Jameson concedes that she got into stripping and then porn after she was sexualized young and found herself in a bad spot without good options. See, e.g. Traci Lords.

    As I said, I do get frustrated with some anti-porn arguments. For example, the rhetorical tactic of conflating prostitution with porn annoys me, Of course both are sex work and both in many instances involve penetration of a woman by a man for pay, so that the latter is a subset in a sense of the former. But the conditions they encompass are different enough that I think the conflation is merely a strategic attempt to tar porn with the far worse conditions present in other kinds of sex work. the argument goes, if modeling for a porn magazine is the same as filming a porn movie, and filming a porn movie is the same as working for an escort service, and working for an escort service is the same as being lured to a foreign country and held as a slave, then transitively sitting for a pornographic magazine shoot is the same as being kidnapped and forced into prostitution. While I think reasonable people may (and I do) think women are exploited some, most or even all of the time in each of those four circumstances, saying that they don’t differ in significant respects in in my view untenable.

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