February 4, 2016 § 2 Comments
Yesterday, one of my alma maters, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, sent out a video from Facilities about #NationalSweaterDay, which is a Canadian initiative to turn down the heat in the winter, to remind consumers about environmental responsibility (and the cost of heating). The video itself is several years old, but it was circulated again.
To my eyes, this is horrible. A female professor is named “Pinkums” and is addressed as “Miss.” I know from conversation with my female colleagues that they have a real struggle to be addressed as Doctor, or Professor. Oddly I, as a white man, do not. And, frankly, this video is degrading.
News of the video became widely known through the blog of Elise Chenier, a professor at SFU. I was appalled when I came across this and tweeted my shock and dismay at SFU. No university should engage in this. Ever. To the credit of the university, it apologized almost immediately. And the video had long been pulled from circulation. According to the CBC:
SFU vice-president for external relations Joanne Curry later released a statement addressing some of Chenier’s concerns. In the statement, Curry agrees the videos were “inappropriate, sexist, and not in keeping with our equity commitments.”
“As the video was produced by an external vendor, I had not seen it. When I did watch it, I immediately agreed with the feedback we had received,” the statement read.
“We took steps to remove the video as quickly as possible and have followed up with the group who produced and distributed the video to ensure it will no longer be used.”
Note, however, that Curry immediately passes by buck, noting that it was made by an external vendor. But, the university did the right thing, as Chenier notes.
Today, I awoke to find my Twitter feed aflame with trolls. Interestingly, all but two were men. The two women both noted they were “anti-feminist” in their bios. Getting trolled on Twitter is nothing new. It has happened before, it will happen again. I have received all kinds of hate on Twitter, including death threats. But today’s trolling was interesting in the sense that the men, all of whom were white, who attacked me descended into homophobia from the get go. Some hoped I got raped, others told me to perform sexual acts on other men. One threatened to rape me. And then there was the garden variety name-calling.
I spent a good amount of time blocking and reporting people today, thinking that this happens everyday to feminists on Twitter. I can only imagine the abuse Chenier is getting right now. There was #Gamergate. Or what about when women suggested that a woman’s face be put on paper money in the UK? This happens every, single, fucking day to women who are threatened with rape and death for calling out patriarchy and male privilege. And we let that happen. Every single one of us. Right-thinking men, in particular. We need to find a way to fix this, we need to figure out a way to marginalize these kinds of men, or the likes of Roosh V. This is not ok.
MLK noted that the problem African Americans in his time faced wasn’t actually an African American problem. It was a white problem. Hence, he worked to raise white consciousness. To convince white people they were the problem and had it in their power to fix racism. By no means have we succeeded, but we have made a lot of progress.
Misogyny and sexism, similarly, is a male problem. But, it seems that sexism and misogyny is considered acceptable for some men. When people are offended by things like the SFU video, they respond with banal statements like “Can’t you take a joke?” Yes, I can. But this isn’t funny. This is the basic laddish response. But then there’s the anger, the violent, misogynist, threatening anger.
Male anger needs to be curbed.
But as much as I want this kind of thing stopped, I still struggle with the basic question of why some men act like this? Is it simply about power? Is it because they feel marginalized? Why do some men feel the need to respond to feminism with vile, disgusting language? And in some of these men, I think it goes beyond words and there is a danger in their threats and fits.
Sadly, I fully expect more trolling in response to this post. The trolling will continue on Twitter. And there will be some nasty comments left on this blog.
June 23, 2014 § 5 Comments
I am blessed with three insanely wonderful, talented, beautiful nieces, they are really amazing, and I don’t get to spend enough time with them. The oldest of the three, Haley, is in a rock band in Norway, Slutface. The band just released a new single, “Angst,” which, aside from being catchy as all get out, struck me for its lyrical content. Haley sings about female objectification, dumb boys, and misogyny. It kind of took me by surprise, because you don’t really hear lyrical content of this sort in pop music today. Listening to the song, I thought back to a recent exchange I had on Twitter. I posted something hashtagged #yesallwomen, and a troll responded that it was campaigns and hashtags like this that led to women being sexually assaulted and raped. Yes, seriously. In his delusional little world, rape and sexual assault didn’t happen until social media appeared on the scene. He was, as you would imagine, hyper-aggressive about making his point, too.
When this current trend of feminist hashtags and campaigns on Twitter and social media exploded last year, I was kind of surprised. I came across the account @everydaysexism and was gobsmacked. Women were documenting their experiences of being catcalled and harassed walking down the street. I was shocked. I though this kind of shit ended thirty years ago. I asked the women in my life, and they confirmed that this was indeed their daily experience. It angered me.
Back in the day, every woman I knew had been raped or sexually assaulted, so perhaps I should not have been surprised. “The day” was the early 1990s. But I seriously thought things had got better since then. I’m not sure why I thought this. I am a professor, everyday in the hallways, across campus, and even in my classroom, I see examples of sexism and outright misogyny. Almost all advertising is based on the objectification of women to sell everything from cars to beer to razor blades to men. In the post-Britney Spears, “post-feminist” world, this kind of objectification has become part of the day-to-day. And for many of my female students, the very word “feminism” is a bad one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a student say, “I’m not a feminist, but…” and then go on to make a very basic feminist point.
Sexism and misogyny isn’t funny. Women don’t need to learn how to “take a joke” when men say stupid shit to them. Men need to stop being pigs. It’s that simple.