While I’ve mentioned the term gaslighting in passing, it’s an issue that really struck me when I first encountered it and with the passing of time, its significance only grows. Whether I see it happening to women around me or I experience it in my own ways, gaslighting is a problem for men and women. The term “gaslighting” comes from the stage play, and eventually several screen adaptions, called “Gaslight.” In the film, a man attempts to steal a woman’s jewels by first marrying her, and then having her declared insane so that he can take possession of them. To do so, he makes subtle changes to her environment, like causing the gaslight to dim; when his wife comes to him, he convinces her that she is losing her mind, that she is just imagining it. In the clip below, her husband has removed a painting from the wall and hidden it. However, his wife has been so convinced of her madness, that she believes she has stolen it without realizing it. By forcing her to feel irrational and mad, he takes control over her.
I thought this post was worth sharing, as it makes an attempt to specifically address those men who are genuinely against rape and genuinely understand that it is a problem, but don’t see the harm in rape humor. The points the author brings up are some I had never heard before, but make something I was already worried about all the more dire. The effects of rape humor feel far more pressing if 1 in 20 men will admit to rape in an anonymous survey; the prospect of accidentally reaffirming the actions of a rapist just by laughing at, or not speaking out against, rape humor makes me uneasy, to put it lightly. Hopefully even those genuinely good guys can see the harm when confronted with this sort of concise evidence.
I wanted to take a break from criticizing (for the most part, but it’ll only be minor, I promise..) and focus, instead, on something rather positive I’ve seen happening. To be less vague, I enjoy playing a video game called Starcraft; it’s a competitive strategy game, but the details about it aren’t very important. What is important is that there is a lot of professional competition in tournaments that can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. While it is mostly dominated be geeky guys like myself, there has been a sudden surge in women competing at the professional level. Not just competing, but competing with men and being given contracts for the same teams as men. Not only do they receive a salary, but they basically have their cooking, cleaning, and other basic living needs taken care of in a team house where they live with their team mates. For any player, this sort of thing is a huge deal, and not an easy accomplishment.
While this isn’t necessarily a huge deal, I found it pretty cool to see an all female tournament, with women from all over the world traveling to China to compete. In the subsequent week or so, several female players were signed to professional teams, where they would live side by side with their male counterparts in “team houses.” Several of the players were also seen competing in several major tournaments as well. Despite my usual tendency to at least pretend I’m not an unbelievably huge nerd, I felt like all of this recent news was worth sharing.
In a recent move to get more female subscribers, The Economist attempted a new ad campaign which targets women. However, instead of making an appeal to their femininity, they went for the ‘edgy’ route, by denying that their magazine needs to change its overtly masculine base and tone. Instead, the magazine insists that it is for influential and accomplished people, denying the need to acknowledge the gender of readers. For some perspective, 87% of its readers are men, and 77% of the staff is men. The presence of women is further hidden because authors are left anonymous. While The Economist argues that the content is more important than the author, this is to deny readers the ability to place the author in terms of how they see a situation. But I’ll leave it up to you all. Is The Economist on the right track or just further cementing sexism?
During the week I met with another contributor to discuss ideas for an upcoming discussion on women’s issues; with such an open topic for discussion, we naturally began to speculate on what other people would want to discuss. One of the first things I expect when I imagine the average person discussing “women’s issues” is the abortion debate. However, I have to admit, I really don’t like having discussions about abortions. While I can’t stand the feeling that I’m repeating the same arguments over and over again, it isn’t that which makes me hesitant. I do feel strongly that women have a right to choose, but I feel like I don’t belong in the abortion debate.
While criticizing the reinforcement of gender roles in everyday life is important, as it calls attention to instances of denigration and belittlement that may go unnoticed by the average person, there should also be some arguments made for why the idea of gender roles should be thrown away. To make a satisfactory argument for such an act, I think it is essential to first address some key questions about the nature of what it is to be a human, and whether that experience is actually different for men and women. If there is a distinct nature for men and another for women, then gender roles would necessarily be valid, because there exists a prior determination of what it is to be a man or a woman. However, because there is no ‘human nature’ to determine the essence of who an individual is, there can be no valid assignment of gender roles.
I’m sure at least some other people have seen this commercial and been awestruck by the audacity of everyone’s favorite mystery flavor. I want to love you Dr. Pepper, but why must you make it so hard? I mean, I understand you need to reach some key demographics, and action sequences always seem to work well with men. I understand that you want to clear away any of the possible feminine connotations of drinking a diet soda, so that those men too manly for diet soda may be inclined to try your ‘new’ soda. But I don’t really understand how these two criteria, and any other similar criteria, require such a blatantly sexist advertising campaign. I can’t imagine Dr. Pepper would ever dream of running the same ad, but replacing the dichotomy of men and women with a similar racial dichotomy. Continue reading
I’m not sure what it is that makes men think that if you’re not a girl, you’re ok with them talking about girls like blow-up dolls. The most dramatic example of this occurred when I used to work at the local Pacsun. It was a job, leave me alone. There was a kid that would come in at least once every few days, and would always come up to where we all were working and bother us. There was one girl that worked there that he hit on every day, eventually coaxing her number out of her. Eventually he came in one night, and couldn’t stop complaining that my coworker hadn’t slept with him. He proceeded to call her a bitch, a cunt, and point out that he could just pick up another chick anyways. Instead of blowing up on him, I had to smile and nod, and try to ignore him until he left. This is just one of the countless experiences I’ve had with other men, often times complete strangers, who assume that I have to agree with them about how much of a bitch a girl is, just because I’m also a man.
More specifically, if you’re complaining about being forced to talk or act ‘politically correct,’ you’re probably just a bigot and don’t want to admit it. I think of the sort of people who rely solely on racial, sexuality, and gendered based terms and ‘humor’ as every day conversation. This sort of person thinks it’s acceptable to use racial slurs when talking about people, because they “don’t really mean it.” They cause a huge scene when they’re called out on their behavior. It’s a common defense to claim they have a right to freedom of speech for what they’re saying; however, having the right to say something does not make it acceptable to say it. This extends beyond racial terms though, and includes the sort of person that relies on belittling women, bashing homosexuals, or attacking any other part of a person’s identity.
This video discusses similar themes in advertising and the media.
A friend of mine posted the following article, and I felt it deserved sharing and commenting on. While the article focuses mostly on the consequences that the oppression of women in impoverished countries has on the economy, I think there are a few other issues that relate to the topic; in the United States, it raises questions about the continued disparity in pay between men and women, as well as our continued support of nations who oppress their women. Lastly, the stark differences in the well-being of women from the best to worst nations of the world demonstrates a failure on the international community.
The article points out that in the nations where women are treated the worst, they are unable to participate in the economy. The author argues that by protecting the legal rights of women and allowing them equal participation in the economy, impoverished nations can grow. She points out that while the oppression of women is a moral issue, it also a choice to remain in long term poverty. She says:
If you are not innumerate, you can start a business. If you are not living in mortal fear of rape and beatings at home, you can organise your community to dig a new well. If you are not subjecting your daughter to traumatic genital injury at three and marrying her off at ten, she can go to school. And, when she does marry and has children of her own, they will benefit from two educated, employed parents, which means twice as much literate conversation in the home, twice the contacts, and twice the encouragement to succeed.
No nation, she says, that has educated it’s women and given them legal rights is poor, and many are booming. China, South Korea, Brazil, and Turkey are all great examples of nations that match this profile. With both the moral and economic ramifications caused by the oppression of women the issue cannot be ignored. However, we also can’t ignore the problems that still exist in the United States. Continue reading