Tag Archives: misogyny

Spam for Entitled Heterosexual Men

[Content Note: Rape Culture, Misogyny, Male Entitlement, Sexually Explicit Language]

On a lark, I went through my email’s trash folder the other day. For Saturday (Valentine’s Day) alone, I found four pieces of spam with a common theme: Get the woman (or women) of your dreams. See them for yourself (separated by lines of asterisks):

This shocking video is going to blow your mind and let you discover:

-Magic innocent phrases to make her horny in seconds;

-Simple questions to make any pussy wet;

-Couple of gestures to instantly take her down!

And much more for a full makeover of your life.

No practice, no efforts, no hard work!

***********

Tired of being in a friend zone and constantly feeling unable to put her to your bed? Your life needs a makeover!

It’s the very lucky day when you may learn the genius way to make any girl want you without any efforts!

Tested on thousands of them! And they still want more…

***********

I hardly believe it myself but I’ve tried more than 20 sex positions last week with 5 different girls.

This technique is a huge sex cake that has changed my life the way I had never even dreamt of.

You may carry on being just a jerk for hot babes or watch this video and let the science do the best for you!

Good luck!

***********

You know I feel like a love boner king lately!
And it seems I almost forgot how I pleased myself with a night porn and relationship with a girl I didn’t like very much…

Today the situation is 100% different.
I can swear this technique is the most useful finding for an average man like me.

If you want to take the lead and be the one to choose, not be chosen by them, this great video is a must-see for you!

There’s a lot of wrong that I could cover in this. I doubt I’ll manage to spot everything, but I want to list some of the assumptions that these messages continue to support and encourage men to hold:

Women are there for their needs, especially their sexual needs.

The way to get any woman they want is simply to say or do the right things.

Women’s sexuality and sexuality exists solely to aid the men in getting the sex they want.

Getting the woman they want can and should be effortless.

There is nothing worse than having a woman decide a man is good enough to be a friend, but not good enough to be a sexual partner.*

What a woman wants and who she wants it with doesn’t matter.

These are just four examples of this kind of mentality that landed in my email on one day out of the year.  These same messages are pushed explicitly by books an websites every day. They are pushed implicitly in other forms of media. (Think of all the “hero gets the girl” themes in just about every genre of movie.)

It’s these kinds of messages that deny the humanity and agency of women. It’s these kinds of messages that encourage and enable men to think that they deserve the attentions and sexual favors of women — and not just any women, but the specific women they want — sometimes to the extreme point that they react like Elliot Rodger or Ben Moynihan (just to pick two examples).

These messages are toxic and they need to stop. They need to be challenged and discussed. They cannot be ignored. They cannot be shrugged off as something “no one really believes or listens too” because the evidence to the contrary is stark.

Further Reading: A Culture of Violent Entitlement, and the Culture of Silence Surrounding It via Shakesville

Note: I am indebted to Melissa McEwan at Shakesville, whose extensive blogging about men like Rodgers and Moynihan provided me with the links to news articles about them.

What the…?

I woke up in the middle of the night tonight and have been having trouble getting back to bed.  As a result, I ended up getting online for a bit.  (That makes no sense from the perspective of needing more sleep, but hey, I never claimed to make sense all the time.)  I ended up having some guy contact me on MeetMe.  He said hi, asked me how I was.  I told him I was fine but was trying to get back to sleep and would catch him some other time.

He messaged me back “ok,” then almost immediately followed up with this little gem:

I’m sick of all the women.

My first reaction was “wow.”

My second reaction was “all what women”?  Because seriously, I doubt he’s met every single one of the roughly 3.5 billion women on the planet.

My third reaction, related to the second, was “Really dude?  Who pissed in your Wheaties and why are you blaming it on all women?”

My fourth reaction, related to the third, was “You really sound like you might be one of those heterosexual men who feel entitled to get something (affection, sex, admiration, whatever) from women.  If so, I don’t blame any woman who might’ve taken issue with that or any behavior you exhibited that is rooted in such thinking.”

My fifth reaction was, “You know, I have a lot of female family members and friends who I absolutely adore.  I also have talked to and met several women who I don’t know well enough to adore, but think are pretty damn spiffy.  I’m offended that you would expect me to diss those women in my life by joining in your ‘women are such total pains’ bash-fest.”

Realizing that any of those statements, if expressed to the guy, would simply result in a protracted argument.  That’s definitely not something that’s going to help me get to sleep.  So I sent back a simple response:

Just so you know, that statement is pretty much a conversation stopper for me. I’m back to bed now. Good night.

Hopefully he gets the message.  But I was so gobsmacked by the whole thing that I had to share my full thoughts with someone.  Thank goodness for blogs.

As an aside, this experience reminds me of Melissa McEwan’s wonderful post on finding women likable and how society makes it difficult to do so.  I highly recommend it — along with just about everything else she writes.  Melissa is one of those women that I don’t feel I know enough to claim to adore her, but she’s gone well beyond “pretty spiffy” in my book, too.

Misogyny in action.

I apologize for not getting a blog post up yesterday.  Extra hours at work and the mental exhaustion caused by a major deadline and other factors prevailed, and I chose to spend much of the last forty-eight hours taking care of myself rather than blogging.  I hope to make time and conserve mental energy tonight to meet my blogging schedule for the rest of this week.

In the meantime, I wanted to bring attention to a week-old story from the Huffington Post. Kristen Wolfe relates a story in which two boys come in to the store she works so the older boy can buy the other one, his younger brother, a game and game controller.  The younger brother selects a game with a female character and a purple controller, specifically referring to purple as a “girl color.”  All is well and everyone is happy until the boys’ father gets involved.  Kristen describes his reaction:

He saw the game, and the controller, and started in on the youngest about how he needs to pick something different. Something more manly. Something with guns and fighting, and certainly not a purple controller. He tried to convince him to get the new Zombie game “Dead Island” and the little boy just stood there repeating, “Dad, this is what I want, OK?” Eventually it turned into a full-blown argument complete with Dad threatening to whoop his son if he didn’t choose different items.

Kristen goes on to tell how the older brother stood up for his sibling until his father backed won and then reassured the boy.  Kristen herself spoke to the younger brother, pointing out that he should go on liking whatever it is he likes, regardless of what other people think.  It’s a great story that challenges gender stereotypes and vindicates those who choose not to be limited by the narrowly defined gender roles.

I think it’s equally important to note, however, that this story is also about misogyny.  The father in the story’s whole problem with his younger son’s choices is that, in his mind at least, they’re not sufficiently “manly” choices.  That’s code word for “his son is being too much like a girl.”  This suggests that there’s something wrong with a boy being “too much like a girl,”[1] which suggests that there’s probably something wrong with being a girl.

This is my problem with ideas like “manning up” and “being a man.”  They are based in the idea that “being a man” really means “not being a girl/woman.”  It reinforces the idea that women are second-class humans, even if unintentionally.  And I’m not at all convinced it’s unintentional.

Note:
[1]
  Which means we’re almost certainly in transphobic territory too.

Raised Right Special Edition: Complementarianism

Note from Jarred:  When I began reading chapter eight of Raised Right:  How I Untangled my Faith from Politics, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much space Ms. Harris devoted to sharing her own experiences with sexism in the Church and how it affected the way she saw others who had a differing view on various subjects.  I felt it would be good to spend a bit of extra time looking at this topic.  I also felt that there was someone (several someones, actually) who was better suited to speak to the topic.  So I asked an old blogging buddy, Pam Hogeweide, if she’d be willing to write something on the topic.  After all, Pam has not only done a good deal of research on sexism in the church and women in theology, but as a woman, she has first-hand experience.  I was delighted when Pam accepted the invitation.

On an editorial note, beyond making a few visual formatting changes (such as fixing up the quotes for my blog) and bolding the word “complementarianism” where Pam gives a brief definition of the word, I have strived to duplicate Pam’s words exactly as she sent them to me.

Jarred and I are blog buddies and Twitter pals. Though we’ve never met, we have crossed paths many times in the digital world for several years. I am honored that he has invited me to share some thoughts for his series on the book, Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics, by Alisa Harris.

In chapter eight of the book, Alisa gives us glimpses of the sexism she experienced from her church  that has left her a bit scraped up. Female prejudice is an unfortunate reality in our culture, though Alisa sheds light on how the Christianized version of sexism tried to box her in. Like after her graduation from college. Alisa had travelled home only to find that the spiritual leaders from her childhood were there to stage an intervention:

“. . . I sat between my parents and listened while our pastor and a church elder explained how my own sin required them to stage an intervention. The pastor and elder, part of a loose affiliation of fundamentalist churches, had grave reservations about women attending college when God ordained marriage and babies instead. College had changed me, they said. I talked more about careers and academics than about being a wife and a mother. . . I was no longer the kind of person they wanted their daughters to emulate.”

These are harsh words hurled by men of the cloth who are attempting to keep Alisa on the straight and narrow of being a good Christian woman.  It is all too common for women from conservative Christian churches (as well as not-so-conservative) to experience this tearing at personhood for the heresy of being Her.

I am well acquainted with the complementarian position Alisa’s childhood pastors asserted. I used to live under it myself and also defend it. Complementarianism is a fancy theological term that shrouds the idea that women are equal, BUT separate. It’s the idea that God in his divine order of creation has uniquely created men to lead and women to assist. It’s why men are the the pastor and women the secretary.

This view is based on a handful of scripture verses that at first glance seem to support the complementarian position. For instance, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 says, “The women are to keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.”

Sounds pretty dire for women, doesn’t it? But the same author who is given credit for penning these words–the apostle Paul–also wrote in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  So which is it Paul? Are women free to be anything or is there a hierarchal constraint designed by God?

It was these kinds of inconsistent Bible verses that got me into debates with other Christians when I was younger. I saw the world in black and white evangelical hues. I was the girl who had the bumper sticker that read, God said it, I believe it that settles it.   But I have always been a blessed woman who has possessed strong minded female friends. And it was one of those friends who first wrangled with me that God does indeed esteem women as fully as men. Just look at how Jesus treated women. He was scandalous. Rabbis of his time were not to look let alone speak to women publicly or touch them. Yet Jesus related freely with women, breaking all social and cultural and religious protocol.

So the issue of female equality in the typical protestant church is reduced to the interpretation of a few Bible verses. The problem here is that rigid beliefism locks many people into an immovable perspective that leaves no room for a spirit of inquiry or respect for differing opinions.  Like this commenter who left this challenging remark at my blog in response to my post about women’s equality in the church:

You need to be reminded that this world isn’t about you and what goes on in your mind. This about God and what he wants, and if he were to demand that there be a separate, lower section of seats in the church for women to sit in, then as a believer in God you better sit there! Now obviously I’m using a more extreme case of “sexism” or whatever you would call it to illustrate my point, but at least you understand it.? If you disagree with that argument then you are disagreeing with God, because whatever God asks of you, you need to do.? It’s a simple fact that Eve took the fruit and ate it before giving it to Adam and convincing him to eat it as well. So you tell me, why do you think God doesn’t want women to lead the church?   (from How God Messed Up My Religion)

I wish I were making this up, but nope, sexism is alive and well in the 21st century and it’s dressed up in pretty church language in Christendom.

A woman’s identity is overrun with messages from her church that she is to be the sidekick to man’s leading role in the narrative of life. These forces shape and inform a woman’s perception of herself. Alisa reveals this when she writes,

“I sat through sermons where the pastor said we should train our children–but especially our sons–to be spiritual warriors, as if women’s warfare was battling a grimy kitchen instead of the forces of darkness. I sat heavy in my seat while the pastor invited the men and boys, but not the women, to pray for a teenager going on a mission trip. Women probably shouldn’t be missionaries, said the pastor’s kid.”

A thousand instances like this one will affect the image of God a woman will internalize.
I remember one women’s Bible study I attended years ago. One of the participants said out loud to us in a moment of vulnerability, “I wonder if God just thinks women are meant to be doormats.” She began crying with that admission, her feminine wound bleeding out  on the clean church carpet. The room sat quietly, and then, the moment passed, and we resumed our discussion of why biblical submission is a Christian woman’s duty.

I’ve blogged about these things many times. There is always pushback like from the commenter above. It is controversial, and this I find absurd, an absolute absurdity that the issue of women and equality in church is an issue at all.

Hear me on this: in the 19th century American church, slavery was a controversial issue!

I’m glad Alisa is telling it like it is. Women need to do this. We need to tell our stories, to say out loud what’s happened to us and to make sure we don’t minimize Christianized oppression as a mere theological hiccup that’s irritating but has to be accepted. No. I don’t think so, and it sounds like Alisa doesn’t think so either. The church might not have raised her right in helping empower her in all her womanly glory, but she’s managed to find her voice despite her conditioning to be a domesticated female. That makes her a warrior woman  in my mind, no matter her faith or politics.

Pam Hogeweide is a blogger and writer. Her first book, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church, confronts and dismantles Christianized sexism. It will be released by on Amazon January 23. Pam lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Jerry and their two teenagers.

Raised Right: False Equivalence

Trigger Warning:  Brief mentions of homophobia, transphobia, racism, misogyny, and rape culture.

There’s a lot of good material to discuss in chapter seven of “Raised Right:  How I Untangled my Faith from Politics” by Alisa Harris.  However, for today’s post, I want to focus on the following statement, made toward the end of the chapter:

Our gayness, blackness, whiteness, femaleness are not parts of a complete identity but our whole identity, elevated from an accident of birth to a political credo.  We become misshapen when all the spiritual and intellectual parts of our identity become merely political.

There have been a number of instances in the book so far where Ms. Harris has offered some wonderful and self-reflective insights into her experiences with conservative Christianity, only to incorrectly — in my opinion at least — projects those insights onto liberals, feminists, QUILTBAG people, and others.  As this particular instance is especially egregious in my mind, I want to take the time to draw attention to it.

There may be some truth, at least in some instances, to Ms. Harris’s suggestion that one’s race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or some other aspect of one’s life that tends to take central stage, possibly to the exclusion of others.  As a gay man, I am particularly fond of the following line spoken by John Mahoney’s character in “The Broken Hearts Club:”

Sometimes I wonder what you boys would do if you weren’t gay. You’d have no identity. It was easy when you couldn’t talk about it. Now it’s all you talk about. You talk about it so much that you forget about all the other things that you are.

However, I think it’s important to understand why this is often the case, which Timothy Olyphant’s character in the same movie explains so well.  To paraphrase[1], he suggests that a lot of gay guys tend to spend so much time hiding, denying, and even trying to change who they are that when they finally come to accept their orientation, they feel like they “have a lot of catching up to do.”

I think we can expand on that sentiment by considering the way in which people are marginalized, repressed, and dehumanized for being gay, female, trans* or a racial minority.  Whether we look at racism, transphobia, homophobia, or misogyny, the message that many in our society — and the system itself — sends to many such people is clear:  “You are not fully human because of who you are.”

When someone’s basic humanity is constantly[2] diminished, challenged, and denied because of some aspect of zirself then it is perfectly reasonable that defending zir humanity from those attacks, which means focusing on that aspect of zirself.  For women, racial minorities, and QUILTBAG people, defending their rights and devoting significant amounts of time is a matter of self-respect and even survival.  Comparing the amount of time that such marginalized people spend on those endeavors to the endeavors of the conservative political efforts — efforts that often translate to the continuing marginalization of other people, is dubious at best.

I am thankful that Ms. Harris has rethought many of her previously held positions and untangled her faith from her politics.  However, when it comes to considering the plight of marginalized people and how they choose to handle that plight, I think she needs to think things through a bit more.

Notes:
[1]  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an exact quote online.

[2]  And the constant presence of such othering of various groups is something that people who do not belong to those groups[3] often miss.

[3]  And this is true among the various marginalized groups, even.  For example, I’m constantly amazed at just how pervasive the rape culture and other forms of misogyny is as I read feminist blogs.  Being gay does not automatically sensitize me to the struggles others face.

Women in Harlequin’s “Destiny”

This weekend, I finished reading the first book in Harlequin’s “Rogue Angel” book series, “Destiny.”  Overall, I enjoyed it, as I love stories about strong women.  I’m looking forward to reading about more of Annja Creed’s adventures.

About halfway through the book, I also came across Ana Mardoll’s Slacktiverse contribution in which she discusses the Bechdel Test.  Out of curiosity, I decided to consider how “Destiny” would fare.[1]   Besides Annja, I can readily find only one other female character in the book: a server at the restaurant Annja and Roux eat at after their first adventure together.  As it turns out, the two women have a brief conversation in which Annja verifies that her dining companion — a man — has run out, leaving her to pay the bill.  That conversation fails the test at point three.  Fortunately, Maria, the head chef in a small Cuban restaurant in New York, shows up in Chapter 19 to have a conversation with Annja.  Even though the conversation eventually turns to the young male cop Annja is about to meet, I’m willing to accept the fact that they spend about half a page talking about Annja’s time out of the country first as a sign of passing the test.  I will note, however, that it took nineteen chapters (roughly 137 pages and half the book) to not only pass the test, but to introduce the third female character.

Now, I can certainly understand why many of the other main characters are men.  It makes sense that Roux and Garin would both be men, given their backstories.  I can also understand why the monks in the story are men.  I’ll even grant that having Lesauvage be a man makes sense, given his love for the myth The Wild Hunt.[2]

However, there were a number of characters — shopkeepers, restaurant staff, security guards, and police, that were either clearly marked as men or whose gender was never indicated.  It would have been quite easy to add more characters.  For that matter, it would have been easy to have Annja have the conversation that occurs upon her return to the bed and breakfast with Camille Lambert instead of her husband, Francois.  Camille is one of the women who are mentioned in the story, but never actually get to see in action and whose voice we never hear.

Another woman who was mentioned was Bart’s girlfriend, who is not even named.  Personally, I found the mention of this girlfriend somewhat troubling, as the main purpose for mentioning her seemed to in order for Annja to feel jealous, and a rather strange sort of jealousy at that:

Annja didn’t like the little ember of jealousy inside her.  She knew she didn’t want commitment at this point in her life, but she’d iced the idea of having Bart kind of waiting in the wings.  She didn’t like how casually that had just been taken off the table.  Or how she’d made the wrong assumptions about his feelings for her.  She felt foolish.

I’m a bit disturbed by this whole depiction of Annja as someone who doesn’t really want this guy, but wants him to want her.  I will be honest that I’m particularly disturbed as the book is written by a man.[3]  As such, I find myself wondering if this is some thinly veiled “look at the games women play” misogynistic nonsense.

Even more troubling than Bart’s unnamed girlfriend and Annja’s reaction to learning of her existence is the references to Kristie Chatham, who is introduced as another woman who does segments for the show, “Chasing History’s Monsters.”  We learn quickly that Kristie has a number of outtakes (which made it on air) where her bikini fell off.  The narrator lets us know quite clearly what Annja thinks of Kristie:

For her [Kristie], history never went past her last drink and her last lover.

There you have it.  Annja not-so-secretly thinks that the other woman is nothing more than an unintellectual slut and lush.  Those are pretty harsh thoughts.

Of course, it’s not just Annja who seems to feel that way.  Whenever the show comes up, the other characters — invariably[4] men — immediately mention the “woman with the wardrobe problem,” and reassure Annja that she’s much more intelligent and sensible than that.  It seems as though Annja’s impressive intelligence and strength cannot be appreciated unless it’s compared to some other woman’s alleged failings.  That strikes me as deeply troubling.

Like I said, I liked this book.  And overall, I like the fact that it features a strong woman who can fight like a great warrior and has great intelligence and no small education.  However, that does not mean that there are not troubling aspects about this book and its portrayal of women in general and even some of Annja’s own characteristics (like her attitudes towards some other women).  I find myself concerned about the messages the book might send or reinforce.  I’d be interested to hear what my female readers think of the book (if any of you have read it) and/or my thoughts on it.

Notes:
[1]  I understand that traditionally, the test is applied to movies and television shows, but I see no reason why it shouldn’t be applied to books as well.  After all, books have characters (in some cases, more of them than you’re average movie) and dialogue.  So I say it’s fair game until someone gives me a good reason why it shouldn’t be.

[2]  This does not, however, explain why all of his cult members were men.  Some of them could have been women, unless Lesauvage was being intentionally portrayed as misogynistic.  However, the author made no attempt to establish that trait for that character, and I”m not inclined to just to give the author the benefit of the doubt.

[3]  A little research told me that the name that appears on the books is a house name used for the series and that this particular book was written by a man named Victor Milan.

[4]  Take that with a grain of salt.   I admit that I’ve had to revise many statements I originally made about the book as I continued to thumb through my copy to find the details I planned on using in this post.  Originally, I couldn’t remember any female characters being in the book besides Annja, just other women being mentioned by male characters.