Category Archives: feminism

#MeToo on Atwood

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I’ve been watching Margaret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace.’ It’s a bit of a slow burn, but after some time, it’s turning out to be a compelling horror story. Horror. It’s a horror being a woman in the not-so-distant past, even in a country like Canada. The story is about a white, Irish immigrant accused of murder and the events that led to her supposed crime. A white woman… granted, she’s an Irish immigrant back in the day when the Irish were suffering from discrimination, but imagine how much more horror there would be should the story be about a woman of color, say an Aboriginal woman in Canada.

This reminds me of the Louis CK joke; that time travel is only suited for white males. Women and minorities do not have the luxury of going back through time and not being in danger of being persecuted. History is too often a horror story for us. It can be very risky if not suicidal to revisit the past.

That’s not to say things have changed much in some cases. Minorities still feel the bitter sting of racism, and women are still constantly victimized by powerful (and even not powerful) men. This #MeToo hashtag has prompted public confessions and accusations regarding sexual harassment. Almost every other day, I see another prominent person being accused of being inappropriate. And that’s just the ones making the headlines. There are of course confessions from ordinary people about what happened to them as well. It would seem that the world is still occasionally a horror story for them as well.

The movement started with women speaking out, but it would appear that it’s not so much as women being victims, but about men taking advantage of their power because there have been confessions and accusations regarding men sexually abusing other men. It would seem that people being in power, who are most often men, is the problem. It’s the power. I guess that’s why it’s often said that rape is not really about sex, it’s about exerting power over another person.

This brings me to what happened to me back when I was fifteen. I was working part-time in an office, taking phone calls. After working in an A&W restaurant, I was glad to work in an office environment, even though I was just taking calls for most of the day. Things were going smoothly, and I was starting to really get used to the routine after school when my supervisor, a woman who was roughly twenty years older than me, leaned close and asked if she could sit on my lap while I worked. I just smiled at the suggestion and acted as if it was all a joke. But I never did return to that place. I wouldn’t want to know where that would lead. I was a child, I was fifteen.

I taught fifteen-year-olds before. I taught sixteen, seventeen, eighteen-year-olds before. I would never make such a comment or say anything that would be confused as such.

So, I guess that’s my #MeToo. Nothing really serious happened, so it didn’t bother me much. I remember I was more in disbelief at what actually happened. In any case, I count myself lucky that that’s the “worst” that happened to me at my most vulnerable in the workplace. I’m guessing most women would have a worse story to tell. In some ways, some people still live in Margaret Atwood’s dark imagination.

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The Bechdel Test

Elephant

Take the Bechdel test and apply it to women in real life. You’ll find some women simply do not pass the Bechdel test despite being free from the skewed gender norms in fiction.

Take the test and change men to the person’s significant other, or perhaps their children. Now you have a nice little game waiting for the other person to say, “my wife” or “my kid.”

Keep nodding your head to show you’re paying attention.

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Canadian Feminist

Emily_Murphy

Emily Murphy inspired by Lautrec on a day when I have not much energy to write anything.

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Dumping the Girl

Vagina

And these “men’s lifestyle magazines” don’t even have pornography, they have less raunchier pictures of models and celebrities. Which is fine, but most of those pictures eventually find their way on the Internet. Do they have interesting articles? Not really. Most of these magazines have tips of pleasing the other sex that are as out of touch and redundant as Cosmopolitan’s. Their reviews on technology and whatever products they’re hawking or “amazing workout tips” are all available online from alternative dedicated sources. At least Playboy, Hustler, and Penthouse would sometimes have great interviews and articles. Also, all three publications have a history which has value, something I’m not sure Maxim has.

Before I go on a full rant, let me go back to Maxim Korea. They recently published probably the most offensive cover I’ve seen in a long while. I’m feminist in many issues, but I wouldn’t call myself a feminist (especially with the seemingly acidic tenor of the current generation of feminists). I admittedly objectify women at times, but it comes from a place of desire, even love of women. It comes from a primordial curiosity. I do not hate women. Women should be seen for all that they are, but there are also moments when women are there to be objectified. That’s just how the world works, and I’m sure the same thing is true about men to some extent as well.

But the cover of the September issue is nothing but pure misogyny.

Maxim

I find this a hundred times worse than Hustler and Penthouse at their raunchiest. How could a magazine editor be so out of touch? How come no one in the company thought this was a bad idea? Unless that is exactly the whole point of the cover: a stunt, a way to gain publicity regardless of the negative public outcry. Hustler caused quite a stir back in 1978 when it published a cover of a woman being fed to a grinder with the bottom reading “We will no longer hang women up like pieces of meat.” But Larry Flynt intended the cover to be a jab at criticisms of pornography.

hustler_cover

What is the Maxim cover about? It’s rather devoid of meaning. The woman in the cover serves much like an accessory and not much else. I don’t mind having people as accessories. People do it with men, women, and children, but as a “men’s lifestyle magazine,” the cover seems to depict nothing but violence against women. There’s no irony or social statement. If there was, I’m missing it entirely. I read it more as a complete domination of the opposite sex. It’s not enough that women serve as pretty clotheshorses and lust fodders inside the magazine, they get to be tied up and dumped in a trunk as well. If that’s not the message, then please, someone explain it to me because I don’t get it.

But let’s be honest, there is no message. The cover is creatively empty. The editor just wanted a bad boy image using the stereotypical Korean gangster fantasy (Korean gangsters DO NOT look like this) and put a woman in the trunk simply because that’s what you do in a men’s magazine, you put women in the magazine somehow. It’s just lame, dumb, and offensive. I don’t really have so much ill will against Maxim Korea and other “men’s lifestyle magazines,” but creatively empty, lazy, out of touch, and offensive covers makes the impending demise of some publications a tad pleasant for me.

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