Tuesday, 28 October 2008

PG Porn: Nailing Your Wife

I wrote this post about a week and a half ago and then never got round to posting it so, pretty much, I'm way behind. But I still think it's worth mentioning.

There is a man called James Gunn. He is a writer and a director. He has previously been responsible for such gems as Slither and Tromeo and Juliet. His most recent project is PG Porn (the tagline of which is: "For people who love everything about Porn...except the sex. "), which he is undertaking with his brothers. They have recently released their first PG Porn offering on spike.com entitled "Nailing Your Wife". I watched it. I found it awful but I recognised that it was meant to be awful in terms of production and acting. I saw the ending and was shocked, amused and disquieted by it. I thought very little else about it because, get this, I went to see it because it had Nathan Fillion (aka Mal in Firefly) in it and I forgot to put my critical hat on. I do this sometimes, which is unfortunate because, when I have my clueless non-hat on I internalise the BS that surrounds me (or, more precisely, all of us as BS is everywhere). I also fail as a feminist.

Anyway, I watched it. I forgot about it for a couple of days and then I saw a mention of it on Whedonesque because, get this, a woman dared to highlight its misogyny. And James Gunn? He's not happy about it.

To sum up Darklady's point, she argues that making PG Porn- porn without sex- and having it climax with a woman nailed (literally) in the head with a nail gun is, well, problematic. It's problematic because it depicts a sexual woman as a woman willing to cheat on her sexually inadequate husband and as willing to initiate this extramarital sex as a person whose murder is funny. In other words that sexual women being punished (with death!) for being sexual is absolutely fucking fine.

The Gunn brothers apparently consider violence against women to be not just acceptable but sexy, so long as nobody actually gets laid or engages in any wet spot to erogenous zone contact.

And this, Darklady says, is misogynistic. I have to say that I agree with her although I'm not convinced that it was supposed to be "sexy". I'm not convinced it was meant to be seen in the same light as actual porn but rather to play on the tropes of the porn genre.

However, that said, James Gunn's response to this analysis is, for me, absolutely horrific. More horrific than anything in this PG Porn episode or his movie which, if I could bring myself to look at Slither again I could have a field day talking about what is wrong with it (although I don't remember it being particularly misogynistic but just gross and everybody hating) but, having seen it once, I have no desire to see it again, not even for my Nathan Fillion fix. He says that she is a stupid ("Ms. Reed may be mildly retarded."), that she is "fat" (and therefore, what, too unattractive to listen to?),

"And, fourthly, in your picture, tilting your head like that and cutting off the frame right below your chin doesn't trick anyone into thinking you're not fat."

and that she is an example of someone who just shouldn't be allowed to express an opinion.

" your article pisses me off because it's just another example of how every idiot thinks his or her voice is worth hearing on the internet."

Oh, and lets not forget that she's "humourless and just plain doesn't "get" the joke.

"I have no idea how Ms. Reed doesn't understand that PG PORN is, uh... a joke. But she doesn't."

Because, after all, if he thinks its funny then it's funny. And if he thinks his vid. is just a joke and not a cultural artefact or, even, a representation of what he and his brothers think, then, clearly that's all it is. And the woman who dared to criticise them? Well she's just a stupid fat bitch who shouldn't be allowed to speak. And, out of this whole debacle, that is the thing that I find most problematic.

EDIT: In typing up this post I went back to James Gunn's blog (to get the link) and I noticed that he has responded to some of the responses to his entry. I have to say that, while I question his logic in some places, the fact that he has responded and the tone that he took in it actually impresses me. I still disagree with him, but I am impressed that he has responded.
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Saturday, 25 October 2008

Glamour Body Image Survey

Via The 'F' Word (US)
Glamour magazine are doing a survey regarding body image.

I went and filled it out in the hope of, as Rachel says over on The 'F' Word, "if Glamor knew just how much women hate and loathe their bodies, perhaps they’d offer more body-positive kinds of articles". I found it a bit triggering as reminding me of all the reasons I feel shitty about myself does make me want to run off and eat something. But, still, if it ends up showing them how miserable body image issues make people it can only be a good thing... right?

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Sunday, 19 October 2008

The Asshole and The Repercussions.

When I was 12 I had a boyfriend who was 4 years older than me. When I was 12 said boyfriend decided he wanted to have sex and me, being young and curious and having not a fucking clue what that really involved (largely emotionally although I knew the theory but wasn't ready for the reality), agreed, only to try and pull back consent when it was dark and he was looming over me and I felt trapped and scared. Only for him to try anyway, holding me down, until I got too loud (what with the crying and yelling) and he got scared that someone would come in. It took me about ten years to be able to call this attempted rape (I took back consent and he didn't stop).

Over the next wee while he worked on me. I don't remember the details anymore. But I know that I ended up feeling like I was being a bad girlfriend, a bad girl, a cock tease, that he would go away and everyone would know I was frigid and weird and... you get the idea, so I gave in. It's taken me 16 years, and a support worker, to get close to accepting that this was child abuse. 12yos are too young to make those decisions.

I was with him for 4 years, we had sex though out, and to me it was a chore, occasionally fun but usually boring and occasionally traumatic. It was something I had to do it because I was his girlfriend and it was my job. I also thought (sometimes think) that I was WrongDirtyBad and I was going to Hell for sinning. Jesus and his Dad were big figures in my head when I was a teen, probably because I still sort of believed in them. I'm over that religious stuff now (but I still worry that I'm wrong and that I'm going to hell for having sex so young even though, intellectually, I think all of that stuff is guff). I also think that God sounds like a complete arsehole and I don't want to believe in a misogynist who is pro-genocide.

My mother found out within a week. She gave me a talk about using protection but told me she wouldn't stop it. It was my decision. I was, sometimes am, really angry at her for this. My father still reckons he knows nothing. I have told him many times and he claims obliviousness everytime. I don't buy that he was oblivious- my 6-10 year old brother knew (he walked in on us), my 9-13yo sister knew (because she felt it meant she needed to lose hers early to keep up). I didn't mean to screw up my sister. I'm really sorry if I did because I love her and I want her healthy and secure and whole. I'm not sure how to classify this aspect of the whole affair- my support worked seems to think Mum and Dad were complicit in child abuse and therefore being Not Good Parents. Also, possibly, criminal. I don't want to blame my parents however. It makes me feel WrongGuiltyBad.

Also, we never did use protection. The Asshole didn't like it and, even though I kept telling him we needed to use condoms, he just point blank refused and I didn't want to be a bad girl so... it just added to the WrongDirtyBad. It also meant that I spent four years paranoid I was pregnant and too scared to check when I missed periods. This also means that, despite the fact that I am certain I had at least one miscarriage (it felt different, it looked different) I don't have a confirmation of this. Because I never checked I was pregnant. And I never took the strange bloody lump to the doctors to be analysed because I was fourteen and I didn't want to get anyone into to trouble: not me, not Asshole, not my parents. I also didn't want everyone to know- I was already being bullied at school, I was already being violently attacked. Hell, by that point I was already used to fending off stones being thrown at my body and had gone through the fun incident where boys tried to set my hair on fire. Arseholes.

The net result of all this is hard to quantify, to justify. I haven't had sex in years because, when I tried, I always panicked. I always end up remembering that it was dark and he was looming and I was scared. I always ended up feeling like, if I stopped, I would be bad, I would be a tease, that I had a duty (there's that word again, where does this idea of duty come from?) to finish what I had started. BTW, the looming dark panicking thing still happened when I was on top and the lights were on. It's an image that flashed in my head and made me panic. A few times it even happened when I was all on my own. I don't like male body parts, the idea of sperm makes me feel ill and kind of creeped out, and yet I seem to persist on being straight. Because I am straight just like gay people just are gay. It's what you are, end of story. I want to have children, but I don't want to have a man or, even, sex. I kind of like the idea of harvesting eggs and having it all done in a lab with lots of screening for disease and asshattery of the sperm. I feel panicked when men appear to be interested in me. I self sabotage when this happens, I make myself ugly for a few days and I stop going out because, get this, I'm scared. I have a feeling this may also be the reason why I screw up my every healthy eating plan.

I'm afraid all the time. I'm lonely. I don't really want to be around other people. I don't want to be a burden. I don't want to assume that anyone wants to be around me because I don't have anything interesting to say. I spend most of my time online where I still don't make any real friends because, well, why would anyone want to be friends with me. I want to get better but I don't know how. My mother says I need to stop thinking so much. My support worker suggests that I just go out and do things and try anyway. Sometimes I just want to wake up and be better, but that's never going to happen.

I have three weeks left of my support worker. I'm a bit worried about that although I'm not convinced that it's done a damn thing other than give me outside confirmation that, yes, The Asshole was bad, and the sex was abuse, and the way he treated me was abusive. I suppose that's something, that confirmation, but still...

It's a process right? And I just need to keep on working on it. Then, one day, I'll be ok.
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Friday, 17 October 2008

Things That Piss Me Off, Part The First.

Quotation marks round words designed to undermine women's stories.

Like in this picture here:

The heading of note here is "Woman beheads 'attacker'".

Now, ok, beheading people is generally not a good thing. And parading the head around the marketplace, which, according to the full article, she did, is also probably not the wisest of choices. Other people may not take it very well and, indeed, didn't since they called the police. But, putting quotation marks around the word attacker automatically implies that the woman is lying.

For the record, in the article the woman says that the man came up behind her while she was cutting grass and attacked her and she cut his head off, presumably in self defense, although the article says it was to preserve her dignity. And in relation to being attacked she had bite marks on her neck and cheek. She also told police that the man had been harassing her for 3 months. The woman in question is in northern India and I know nothing about norther India or the culture of northern India. I presume the 'dignity' comment means that she thought she was going to be raped. So we have an attempted rape victim who fought back being labeled a liar by MSN. Par for the course right.

If she were a man and she beheaded another man because he attacked her- and there were actual physical marks that indicated that there had been some form of violence (bite marks)- would MSN have put quotations around the word attacker? Do victims of muggings who are out walking at night get blamed for being mugged the same way rape victims often are? No. This is the same thing.

On a related note, this is in "today's picks". It is along side the news that Beckham may be returning to football in England, Angelia wants to adopt again (why is this a shock?) and one of the pussycat dolls doesn't think that she is sexy because men don't hit on her. So a woman being attacked and retaliating is on par with not very news-worthy celebrity news?

The world sucks.
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Saturday, 11 October 2008

McDonald's M Burger.

You never forget your first time. Bah humbug.

This advert opens with all the usual wedding day prep of a young man off to the church. He has a smart suit on. He has a friend hanging around behind him, also smartly dressed, watching him get ready and smiling. They go downstairs and his parents are there, again dressed smartly. His mother tells him how proud they are of him. The walk out to the car and start to get in, his mother fussing at his tie, the neighbours watching. Then we cut to his parents watching him, his mother looks teary eyed, and then to him looking a bit sheepish and hesitant but happy. He looks up and we cut to the smiling face of a young woman looking expectantly at him, waiting, and then he... asks for an M burger. The camera pulls back to show that she's in a McDonald's outfit and she gets him his burger. At this point the VoiceOver tells us about the M burger. As the advert ends he is sitting at a table, his friend and his parents watching him proudly as he takes his first bite and the other customers clap.

Remember Your First M-Burger at McDonalds

The thing is, watching this, all I see is that McDonalds are equating meat/a burger with a bride and therefore Women are only Meat. Women are just something to use, to consume. And if you look at the only other females in this ad you have a fussing mother and a obedient server. None of which is a good message.
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Friday, 10 October 2008

Because, God Knows, We Can't Even Let Old Women Forget That Their Life Boils Down To Their Sexual History!

A woman in Cornwall turns 105- and the Guardian decides the most important part of her story is that she's a virgin. Assholes.

On the main page today(10/10/08) the story is advertised as:

"Woman celebrates 105 years of virginity"

The actual article itself isn't quite so clear cut. Miss Meadmore (the 105 year old in question) says that she thinks her longevity is to do with "plenty of walking, the odd glass of wine - and remaining a virgin." This a paraphrase by the writer of the article so we can't be sure that this is how she phrased it (then again media is suspect at the best of times anyway and even quotes can be misquotes). However the main focus of the article is on her sexual history.

What this makes me wonder is: how did this become the only important part of this woman's story? She was born in Glasgow in 1903. She's lived through the 2 world wars. She's lived through all women getting the vote. She's worked as a secretary. She's lived through women's lib. She will have seen so much and she'll have done so much, but here she is after 105 years and all the reporter covering the story is interested in is that she's a virgin and whether that's because she's gay. How does that even come up in a conversation without some prompting? Did the reporter (Sam Jones) sit and wonder what would make the article interesting and decided "Well sex sells" and therefore set out to focus only on this. Terrible.

It's nice to know that, should I live into my hundreds, all this society will be interested in will be when I last got laid. Way to turn women into sex objects only (because only our sex matters) rather than letting us be people.

Despite my irritation at this article, however, I hope Miss Meadmore had a very Happy Birthday. Hopefully if we talk about her on her next birthday we'll be able to know more about her than merely her sexual status.
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Tuesday, 7 October 2008

State of Britain.

It's been a great day today. I had my daily dose of racism and sexism all before 10.30am.

Firstly, I'm lying in bed contemplating getting up. I'm almost ashamed to say that, as a PhD student whose desk is at the bottom of her bed, this is a near daily occurrence. Chris Moyles and his lot are on the radio and it's the Monday Pub Quiz feature. As ever my ability to answer the questions were shocking. Unfortunately what was not shocking was that one of the men in Chris Moyles' team, annoyed at having a bad score, made a comment about the sole female player's score being "Good for a girl." Why not start the day with some harmless misogyny right? Anyway, the person controlling the quiz, Rachel, docked him a point for being sexist (Go Rachel)! Needless to say he wasn't very happy, but didn't get any sympathy within the team, so the Great British Public weighed on in and by the end of the next song he was reading out a swathe of text messages all saying things such as "That's what you get for giving women authority", and "Don't worry mate, must be her time of the month", etc. So, because Rachel stuck to her guns and made it clear that she did not find sexism acceptable she got a slew of texts basically saying that, as a girl, she should never have been allowed even that limited power and that protesting against sexism is irrational. I especially loved how the guy whose points were docked claimed that the nation had spoken and that the nation was behind him. I really hope that such thoughts weren't the opinions of the nation as a whole.

Incidentally, after those texts were read out, I sent in a message saying, and I quote, "Good to see sexism is still rampant acceptable in British society. By good, of course, I mean shameful and disgusting." I didn't wait around to see if it was read out, I was too annoyed so I got up and got on with things instead.

Then, at about 20 past 10, I was walking past the Buchanan Galleries and there was a drunk ranting and weaving his way across the road. I tend to try to not listen to them because, well, they're always so aggressive and talking such bullshit. Unfortunately I caught the "Look at all these fucking Pakis" line which shocked me to the point of turning and glaring at him before I realised I really didn't want to have to deal with an overly aggressive drunk man when I was actually trying to get to a specific place at a specific time. Also, I'm a wuss and I have no idea what I should do in those situations. I start walking away and following me up the road I hear him going on about "Darkies" and giving some disgusting, and biologically impossible reasons, for the colour of their skin.

Of course it did make me suddenly painfully aware, and ashamed, of my colour and my privilege and my nation, The fact that I look so typically like a Scot means that I will never have to worry about being told that I shouldn't be in Scotland, well unless they decide I sound too English. It also made me realise, again, how many different ethnicities are here in Glasgow, a fact that, even after having lived and worked here for a couple of years, I am every now and then surprised by. My little town in the middle of nowhere was nothing like Glasgow.

I don't know what I should have done. And I think this post is rather whiny. I hate being whiny. I don't like confronting people and I don't think random drunk guys are likely to listen to me or give a shit about my opinions. I'd much rather rant about it on a blog or send an inefficient text message.

Still, today, I am disappointed by my nation. And I wish I was more surprised.
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Monday, 6 October 2008

Boots "Here Come The Girls" Ad.

At the moment Boots is running an advertisement in which a man watches with bemusement as two girls do their make-up while traveling on a bus. The camera pans back and forth between his confused face and the two girls who have changed their whole look (make-up and hair) while they were off screen. I have seen this advert on numerous occasions and I've been largely dismissing it as just more sexist, girls are shallow and obsessed by make-up while men are too rational for such things and sit on the bus reading newspapers and watching the women around them (seriously, even if they were rapidly undergoing such transformations, what business is it of his that he has the right to blatantly stare at them?), bullshit. At least one of the women in the advert is given a chance to give him a glare for staring.

But then I noticed something, there is a third woman who is transforming between shots. Unlike the other two women she doesn't get to be clearly visible in the picture, no dominating the mise-en-scene for her, she is, instead, crammed into a corner. She also happens to not be white.

Do you think this is a coincidence? No, me neither.

Interestingly there is one other non-white face in this advert and this time it is a man. He is also at the edge of the screen and disappears rather rapidly from view.

This really doesn't help persuade me that this literal marginalisation wasn't on purpose.

For your consideration, you can see the advert here.
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Sunday, 5 October 2008


I have never been good at introductory posts. When I started to write the first draft of this post I realised that I always include certain details but, at the same time, there are things that I never include. I have never thought to include my race (white) or orientation (straight) or my political leanings (liberal), etc. I always include my age(28), my sex (female), and my rough geographical location (Scotland). I usually include some clause or word that are there to say "please don't hurt me" and "please don't take me too seriously". These last two have been included out of fear, out of the desire to avoid those words from my family that basically tell me that I Am Wrong when I say things they don't agree with. Things like: "Threatening to hit women for disagreeing with you makes you a misogynist asshole, oh yeah and ABUSIVE, not just a funny jokey bloke" or "Women will never be treated as equal to men while the media is full of messages that brainwash us (male and female) into thinking that women are less than people and that their physicality is more important than any other aspect of their being" or even asking "How come practically everyone on tv is straight, white and beautiful?"

I'm here because I'm sick of feeling like I can't speak my mind. I'm bored of trying to talk to the people in my life about the things I see and think only to be told I'm being hysterical, I'm taking things too seriously, or I'm just plain overreacting. I'm not fucking overreacting.

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