Tag Archives: Male Gaze

Nope, My Short Hair Cut Still Isn’t the Same as Rape Thought Catalog

18 Jun

So Thought Catalog published a post by resident asshat and all around terrible person Gavin McInnes back in March that I thankfully missed because my Facebook feed knows better than to recommend posts entitled “Hey, Ladies! Short Hair Is Rape”, “When Is It OK To Hit A Woman?”, and “Having Kids Turns You Into A Complete Fag”. McInnes relies on radically hateful language to bring in audiences. There is no nuance or thought to what he writes. He writes what he does for pure shock value, which I find funny for someone writing for a blog entitled “Thought Catalog”. He insults and rejects his critics by calling them uneducated plebes. It upsets me because I have seen some really interesting and funny content come from this site, but this has me wanting to leave them forever.

So the post, “Hey, Ladies! Short Hair Is Rape”, was offensive enough. The fact that Thought Catalog kept it up and allowed him to post a follow-up “No, Short Hair Is Not Literally Rape, You F#cking Idiots!” was just depressing. I don’t want to link the posts here because I don’t want this man getting any more attention than he has already received. It really doesn’t surprise me that he is a frequent guest on Fox News. Ugh.

Ok so back to the original post. It is the same type of patriarchal, woman hating, rape culture writing that has been blowing up the web and putting me in an all around bad mood over the past few months. Everyone remember the recent slough of bad posts on rape over at the Washington Post? Here’s a reminder. And here.

The title of the post alone suggests that McInnes has no idea what rape means.

So here, Mr. McInnes, is what I have to say to you.

As a survivor of rape who also has friends and loved ones that are survivors of rape let me just say McInnes, you have no idea what you are talking about. So please shut up. Your post was offensive to those of us who are still dealing with the trauma that we overcame. It undercuts and devalues our experience. And that alone should have been enough to warrant a withdrawal of the post, or at least an apology.

You state that when a woman gets her hair cut short that she is “Saying yes to yourself and no to us(men)” which is fine, according to you, if  “You want to check out of society for a year”. I really don’t even know where to begin with this one. As if saying yes to ourselves is a bad thing? Something that warrants hiding away from society? I myself have my hair shaved down at the moment, but that is neither here nor there. The point is women (and men) cut their hair for various reasons that may or may not have anything to do with what you Mr. McInnes, in your very limited world view find attractive. We are autonomous beings that exist outside of what you find attractive. I personally cut my hair because it’s hot as Hades in New Orleans right now and I am training for my second marathon. Short hair is cool hair.1382801_10152309050728957_652875986_n

Also, I feel sexy as hell.

But I don’t need to explain myself to you. That’s not the point. No one harasses you when you choose to cut your hair, grow it out, decide on a beard, opt in for a goatee. Whereas women and women’s bodies are constantly policed. If I decide not to shave my legs for a month I am making a statement. If I then decide to shave my legs I am making an equally powerful statement. I wear a skirt that is too short? I am a slut, I wear a one-piece bikini, I am a prude. I decide to cut off all of my hair and my upstairs neighbors assume my roommate and I are life-partners (true story). A woman cannot make a decision about her body without someone somewhere having something to say about it. Everything we do is valued only as much as men appreciate it. And that is the problem with a patriarchal culture. Well one of the problems. And only one of the problems with your piece McInnes.

You say that my short hair is “More than unattractive. Its rape” And then you follow up by saying “No, Short Hair Is Not Literally Rape, You F#cking Idiots!”. Well let me begin by saying if you really think your audience is that stupid maybe you should be more clear in your language. But also, yes I understood that you were trying to use rape as hyperbole, as a metaphor here. For what, I am not entirely sure. (By the way, when I said New Orleans is hot as Hades right now that was a simile. And a hyperbole. Just to be clear.)

In a culture where women’s bodies are constantly objectified, where men such as yourself seem to think that they have some kind of claim over them, a post such as this only serves to further the idea that consent is some silly slogan those “crazy feminists” throw around, rather than something that is essential for safe and healthy sexual encounters.

You say the definition of rape is being diluted. Rape is and always will be a lack of consent. Don’t forget that. Sometimes rape is coming home to a husband/boyfriend who believes that because you are his wife/girlfriend he is entitled to sex. Sometimes rape is waking up the next morning naked, bruised, and alone with only the haziest of memories of your assault. Sometimes rape is having a family member tell you that it’s your little secret. Sometimes rape is having your employer tell you no one will believe you. Sometimes rape is a group of men on a crowded train with no one intervening. Sometimes rape is an acquaintance, or friend taking advantage of you on a night out. Sometimes rape is the man your family hired to get you across the border assaulting you night after night because he knows that you can’t do anything. And yes sometimes rape is a stranger in a dark alley with a knife. Not to mention countless other scenarios.

So no Mr. McInnes, we are not diluting the definition of rape, we are trying to help survivors understand that what happened to them is not and never will be ok. We are trying to help them receive the support and help that they deserve without being ostracized or blamed by the very institutions put in place to keep them safe.

Rape is not having sex with a girl with short hair. Don’t disparage this very real issue for the sake of getting hits on your half-wit post. It’s not responsible and it’s not funny. I’m not even going to touch on your horific use of the word tranny or your statement that “(men) aren’t intimidated by anything that has a vagina”. I mean, not right now anyway.

Here are some rape jokes, rape satire that work in case you are interested. Maybe you can learn to be funny? I doubt it.

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Bar Curious: Who REALLY Benefits From Girl-on-Girl Action?

16 Jan

I’ve flipped flopped around this trend again and again over the past few years. The more I read, the more often I change my mind. The trend I’m discussing is straight girls kissing other straight girls.

I used to defend these antics wholeheartedly, freedom of sexual expression and all that. To some degree I still do. There are some very positive repercussions that result from the sexual freedom women feel nowadays. Out are the days of prim and proper behavior expected of young women in Western society (well, for the most part), and in are a new set of standards that allow us to explore our sexuality more openly.

This does two things. One, it allows us to develop our sexuality, to become more comfortable and confident with it. And two, it allows us to explore our sexuality in ways we might not have before. For most women who go to bars or parties and kiss or make out with each other it may be harmless fun, but for others they could be exploring a same-sex interest that they might have been too nervous to sample otherwise. The lighthearted way in which girl-on-girl kissing is treated now allows women to explore this facet of their sexuality in a safe environment that doesn’t necessarily mean a commitment to any kind of label.

Girls KissingIn a study conducted by Verta Taylor and Leila J. Rupp of the University of California, Santa Barbara, the two colleagues discussed what they believed to be the three main reasons girls kiss one another in this fashion. According to Taylor and Rupp, girls kiss one another for attention, out of experimentation, or out of legitimate same-sex desires. This idea is supported by data collected from the National Health and Social Life Survey, which found that less than two percent of women identified as being lesbian or bisexual, but more than eight percent had experienced same-sex desire or participated in a same-sex act.

These results are important, especially when you consider that results for men were almost entirely the opposite. The results suggest a phenomenon that has been coined as “heteroflexibility” among women. The idea is that women are more flexible in their sexuality than men are, and a self-identified straight woman can have a girlfriend for a few years and then go back to dating men — Anne Heche being a perfect example — or vice versa. Sexuality for women is beginning to be understood as more of a situational construct than a rigid one.

So the fact that girls kissing other girls is now accepted so casually is good, at least in this sense. It allows women to explore this “heteroflexibility” in a safe place. Yes, women may be subjecting themselves to the male gaze in order to achieve this expression, but the fact that their kissing is so sexualized by men is what makes it so acceptable. Two straight men kissing one another is never done for “the female gaze.” In fact, it isn’t really done at all. So women are allowed more leeway when it comes to their sexuality, the trade being that they become eroticized images for male viewing pleasure. It’s s a tough patriarchal world in which we live.

Being able to kiss other women without fear of stigmatization can be great and have some wonderful results. Writer Stephanie Gilbert of UCLA’s OutWrite wrote about her own experience kissing straight girls before she chose to come out, “And when she pulled me into the bathroom and closed the door, the realization that our public straight-girl kissing was now private lesbian sex made every drop of degradation worth it.” Experiences like these can be very powerful. Discovering a part of your sexuality that you were unaware of or afraid of in this way can be liberating.

Men At BarHowever, as great as all of that is for exploration and self-discovery, I will say that for the most part I feel like making out between two straight women is generally done for the benefit of the men within viewing distance. I myself am guilty of this. I have kissed or made out with most of my female friends at bars and parties, and I can say that all of these instances have exactly two things in common: The first is that we were always drinking, and the second was that it was always in front of an audience of men. Most of the time we did this to garner free drinks for ourselves. I’m not proud of this, but I was a poor undergrad, and it was a cheap way to get served.

It’s only recently that I have begun to fully understand the concept of the male gaze. I’ve realized that as much I tried to defend my behavior, really all I was doing was demoting myself to a subject for male viewing. I objectified myself in this process, stripping myself of my own autonomy and transforming into a subject solely present for the pleasure of men. Yes, I got some free drinks, but at what other cost?

Also, there is the question of what effect this behavior has on legitimate lesbian couples. Rather than existing as two individuals showing affection toward one another, lesbian couples kissing at bars also become the subjects for male viewing pleasure. And by participating in this behavior, straight women kissing for the male gaze essentially serves to perpetuate this “erotication” and strip lesbian couples of their legitimacy.

In fact, in Taylor and Rupp’s study they found that girls kissing girls was acceptable — up to a point. The women they interviewed seemed to think it was okay for two straight girls to kiss, to even have fun with it, but if the two began to enjoy it in any real way or seem to show any kind of emotional connection beyond the simple physical aspect of the kiss, then the kiss crossed the line from innocent fun to real same-sex tendencies. At this point the kissing left the safe space established for heterosexual participants and ventured into new territory.

One bisexual woman interviewed for the study had this to say about her experience of kissing her girlfriend at a party: “Some guy came up and poured a beer on us and said something like ‘stop kissing her you bitch.’” When the kissing is done for a woman’s own pleasure, it somehow leaves the space of safe experimentation and moves to a place where it represents a threat to male heterosexuality, and that is dangerous. The same woman spoke of how sick she and her girlfriend grew of having men stare at them in bars as they kissed, either cheering them on or wanting to join in. “It gets pretty old.”

Every couple should have the same freedom to express their affection without being denigrated to the level of a lame male fantasy, and I feel like by making out with my friends just to get some free drinks, I am aiding in stripping this right from same-sex couples.

I understand that this behavior is often done simply for fun, but I also think its important for us to understand the repercussions it might have for other women and for ourselves. I am all for exploring one’s sexuality and being okay with it, but I feel that the fact that we have to objectify ourselves in order to establish this safe space is not the way to go about it. If we want to experience real empowerment, we need to be able to explore our sexuality on our own terms without men. It’s a tough issue, one that I think has no clear solution. But at least for me, I feel like I have no business swapping spit with my friends just to get some free drinks or some extra attention.

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