Quite a striking difference, wouldn’t you say? A black woman dies for a minor traffic infraction, while a white punk not only survives his arrest, but is taken for a fast-food meal along the way.
Yeah, tell me that misogynoir isn’t a thing.
Quite a striking difference, wouldn’t you say? A black woman dies for a minor traffic infraction, while a white punk not only survives his arrest, but is taken for a fast-food meal along the way.
Yeah, tell me that misogynoir isn’t a thing.
I couldn’t NOT post Carlos Puebla’s tribute to the storming of the Moncada Barracks today. ¡Hasta la victoria SIEMPRE!
Every time there’s a gun massacre somewhere in the United States, every time there’s an occasion for them to finally start addressing the gun-crime connection, this happens: Right on cue, the NRA rolls out its paid-off bottom-feeder of the moment — invariably, some Republican politician or other — to announce that it’s “too soon” to talk about guns. And boom! Just like that, debate is shut down. Effectively censored until the next time there’s a massacre, only to be censored again.
When nine black people were murdered in their church in Charleston, South Carolina, that was a great occasion to debate how the hell someone like Dylann Roof — white, racist, with expressed ties to other racists and fascists — could get his hands on a gun. It was absolutely striking how easy it was for someone like him to enter a black church, armed and loaded for bear, and gun down black people, seemingly at random (but not really, because he most certainly selected his targets by race).
But right after it happened, it was Too Soon to talk about that. Too Soon to talk about racism. Too Soon to talk about guns. And for damn sure it was Too Soon to address the fact that this young guy was a terrorist with fascist sympathies and some downright arcane racist ties. No, better to just portray him as “mentally ill” and a “lone wolf”. That way, no one would have to question the many social structures that supported Dylann Roof in his homicidal plotting. And no one would have to address them, either.
And now the bodies from that month-ago massacre are all buried, the immediate shock of mass grief has somewhat abated — and STILL it’s Too Soon to talk about that. Or so we’re told.
And now, just a few days ago, another shooter entered another peaceful space down south, killed a bunch of people who were just in that theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana, to watch a movie, not shoot it out barrel to barrel with a gunman. For inevitably, it was a gunman — again white, again racist, again with fascist ties. This one, on top of all else, was a raving misogynist. And all his victims were women.
Oh sure, they were randomly chosen — he didn’t have his sights on anyone in particular — but they were all, just the same, selected in a non-random manner: namely, by gender. Because they were female, and had come to take in a movie starring a famous female comedian whose main schtick is sexual promiscuity, they were scum in the eyes of John Russell “Rusty” Houser. And so they had to die.
But of course, it’s Too Soon to talk about THAT, too.
In the United States of Amnesia, there have been as many mass shootings this year as there have been days in this year. No wonder it’s always Too Soon to talk about gun massacres. Not a day goes by that there isn’t one happening somewhere in that country.
And because it’s always Too Soon, the common denominators of all those seemingly unrelated “isolated incidents” (was there ever such a callously fraudulent phrase?) will never be addressed. Bigotry in all its various guises: that’s one. Lust for power: that’s another. The ultimate one is, of course, the too-easy availability of guns, the culture built around “freedom” as conveyed by guns, the way every problem looks like a target at the firing range when the only thing you’re allowed to do about anything is, you guessed it, to carry a gun.
That’s why no one’s talking about the shocking gun-crime statistics in the United States. They’d rather blame Mexicans (who apparently all belong to drug cartels, don’tcha know) for their high gun crime rates, their high gun murder rates, and even their high gun suicide rates. Anything but point the finger at the real crime cartel: the NRA, an industry lobby group whose sole reason for existence is to gin up panic and hysteria over all manner of Others — women, non-whites, LGBT+ people, foreigners — so that the dominant social class, namely native-born white cis-het Amurrican men, will have all the reasons they need to stock up on lotsa guns ‘n’ ammo.
Oh sure, there are also armed women (most of whom are white, cis-het, blah-blah). And armed minority members (not all of whom are necessarily in gangs). But let’s face it: The NRA’s target market (pun fully intended) is that very specific band of white men, the same that commits the bulk of massacres. And the reason for that is not hard to guess, either: They are the very group whose monopoly on power is eroding under the efforts of women, minorities, LGBT+ folk, and foreign immigrants of all kinds. They are taught to fear what will happen if All Those Other People get too uppity. They are being pushed to “defend themselves” against All Those Other People. It stands to reason that they will do all in their power to maintain the old monopoly, or die trying.
And their power IS eroding, but it’s not for the reasons they’ve been led to believe. It’s because they’re all working harder, and getting less and less to show for it. In that sense, white cis-het Amurrican males are just like everyone they have been carefully taught to hate. But since they can’t fight capitalism (and won’t, because it’s the dominant ideology which they were carefully indoctrinated to believe in as surely as if it were God), about all they can do when confronted with the futility of their lives is get a gun and start popping off a pitiful few “random” targets which may reflect their own cluster of bigotries, but who have nothing to do with their real problems. Which is why, as far as the gun lobby is concerned, they are sitting ducks. When a gun’s the only power you can still reliably get your hands on, by God, you just go get your hands on a gun, son.
So people are dying in droves for an illusion of power that their killers will do anything to maintain. An illusion of white supremacy, male supremacy, cis-het “Christian” (note the quotes) supremacy. Whatever your delusion, the gun lobby is more than happy to sell you an illusion — and a quick-fix false solution. It doesn’t matter to the NRA how many blacks, women, LGBT+ folk, etc., are dropping dead. All that matters is that gun sales keep going up, up, UP. Capitalism is king, y’all! King and God and government all rolled into one.
That’s why we keep hearing so many inane bullshit “solutions” being pushed by the NRA and their lackeys. The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun — remember that? Since criminals carry guns, the best thing to do is push guns into the hands of law-abiders and enable them to carry those guns wherever and however they like. Concealed carry! Open carry! Carrying in a bar, a church, a store, a movie theatre. Any place where a bad guy could be packing, there must the good guys pack also.
The only problem with the “good guy with a gun” trope is that there’s no proof at all that it works, but ample proof that it fails. There has has been a massacre for every day in 2015. Good guys with guns have been conspicuously MIA from the scene every time. Turns out, the only guys packing and pulling and shooting in all those instances…were the bad guys.
And the worst part is, those bad guys thought they were the good guys. Dylann Roof thought he was cleaning up the scourge of those danged uppity blacks. Rusty Houser no doubt thought he was cleaning up a scourge, too, namely women. And the fact that both littered the Internet with their intentions before carrying them out should not be overlooked, either. Both men were operating under the presumption that they were “taking out the trash” — the “trash” being innocent people, complete strangers, those who hadn’t transgressed against them in any way, except to accidentally embody something that the bad guys were dead set against.
And their legal right to carry, no doubt, was all the justification either one needed. Might makes right, and guns make might — so runs the myth. In a South dominated by the Castle Doctrine, these guys no doubt felt they were just “standing their ground” against the respective phantom menaces that posed such a danger to the unearned power and privilege — however limited, however illusory — that they felt was their birthright.
But of course, it’s always Too Soon to say that, isn’t it?
No. It is never too soon. In fact, by the time the massacre has happened — yet another massacre, yet another day — it is already far too late. This is a debate that should have been settled long ago, in favor of the right to life of those who don’t have powers and privileges, however paltry, to defend at the point of a gun. Because in the final analysis, a society is only as good as how it treats its least powerful, least privileged, and least defended members. Where guns and gun ownership are privileged over people, gun massacres are not only more likely, they are inevitable. And those with an eye to seizing power, via terrorist coups, will not stop trying to do so as long as they can get their hands on a gun.
“Five words: You. Can. Go. Fuck. Yourself.” PERFECT.
And if you think that’s harsh, you might want to read this.
Yup, a promised thunderstorm missed us. Instead, this is what we’re faced with right now:
Where do I sign up?
Yes, the Anti-Flirt Club was a real thing…back in the 1920s, when cars were beginning to take over the roads from horses and buggies, and motorized mashers were routinely pushing their luck with young women to whom they “chivalrously” offered lifts. Alice Reighly and her anti-flirt gang set out to protect their younger sisters from stranger (and not-so-stranger) danger by warning them against any behavior that might encourage unwanted attentions.
But while this club (and the antiquated, victim-blamey social code it perpetuated, albeit with good intentions) is now a thing of the largely forgotten past, some “flirting” tips which must be from at least as long ago are still au courant, at least according to one German girls’ magazine, ridiculed by EMMA:
Yesterday, about 4 p.m., EMMA conference. On the table, a printed list of 100 flirting tips for women, from Bravo.de. Title: “How to make boys notice you: 100 tips for a knockout aura”.
For women over 30, it was an unexpected trip back in time. Take Flirting Tip #20, for example: “Stumble into your crush. Apologize profusely. He’ll find you totally cute, because you’re such a little klutz.”
Such, pardon me, bullshit has been in Bravo (and Bravo Girl) since forever. Even the tip about dreamily twirling a strand of one’s hair (“It’s girly and sweet!”) seems somehow familiar.
“I’ll write ten points on how Bravo has screwed up youth, in hindsight, for women like me”, proposes Colleague #1, born in 1980.
“Why all the fuss? Nobody reads Bravo anymore,” says Colleague #2, who still remembers the magazine from the 1970s.
Even our intern, who at 18 is closer in age to Bravo’s target group than any EMMA editor, shrugs her shoulders indifferently and says, “We used to read it” — in her case, an eternity of some four years ago. “Mostly it was boys buying Bravo, so they could look at the pictures of naked girls.”
Aha. Even there, it seems, nothing’s changed.
Briefly, for people under 25, who grew up with the Internet and smartphones: Way back, before the invention of the World Wide Web, and looooong before there was Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat, even before MySpace and StudiVZ, young people read a leaflet of crumply paper, in which many a, shall we say, imaginative article about stars and starlets appeared, which were popular among teenagers (along with autograph cards and life-sized posters). As well as pages and pages of kitchen-psychological life advice (“Psycho-test: How self-confident do you appear?”). And extensively illustrated sex tips. Voilà, Bravo.
Today, the magazine is fighting against a dwindling readership. Colleague #2 is right: Nobody really reads it anymore. The 100 flirting tips are actually yesterday’s news: They’ve been online since the beginning of July, unnoticed. Why, is clear: Young people today would rather run their own YouTube channel, and some are so successful at it that they can even interview the Chancellor herself, as a guy who calls himself LeFloid recently did.
But just a few hours after the conference, the Internet buzzed. The hashtag #flirtennachbravo (#FlirtingAccordingToBravo) trended on Twitter. Outrage over the 100 tips even made it to the homepage of the freemail service Gmx.de — in other words, even reaching people who don’t read news, but who will read e-mails. Above all, women made fun of the list: “Rules 1-99: Bend yourself out of shape to get boys to like you. Only then are you worth anything. Rule 100: Be yourself. YOLO”, tweeted one. “Essence of #flirtennachbravo tips: Submissiveness and conformity. The ’70s want their magazine back,” writes another. Or: “Steal your parents’ car and run it into that sweet boy. Then you can visit him the next day in the hospital.”
Bravo hasn’t gotten this much attention in years. Why all the fuss?
Two answers come to mind. First: Sooner or later, women realize, with a mixture of shame and rage, the amount of manipulation that lurks in such articles. But that won’t stop them from reading more of these articles. We can see that in the broad market for women’s magazines, online and print, that all do nothing but what Bravo has done with this list: train women to be creatures who want to please men, and must.
Of course, this message comes with the advice: Be natural and be yourself. Which is why even 12-year-olds start to optimize their bodies. Because, as the logic holds: A woman is only herself when she is as flexible and beautiful as the current beauty ideal — and she’ll get there with the lipstick from Page 12, the dress from Page 30, and the diet from Page 56. Or, as Bravo would say: “Wear an orange or peach-colored scarf around your neck. That makes your complexion glow and makes you look more attractive” (Flirting Tip #43).
Secondly: In the meantime, women are using the Internet very successfully to defend themselves against such sex-role clichés. And above all, to present counter-examples.
The current shitstorm also arises from a third cause: For days, the Net has been buzzing, not about the lovely Bravo list, but about hot, hot hotpants. Under the hashtag #hotpantsverbot, all of Germany is debating whether it’s prudish or appropriate for the director of a vocational school in Horb-Altheim to bring in a dress code for her school. The Bravo list is just a sideshow.
The main show is, no doubt about it, the female body in itself, which is being discussed over and over again, whether it’s about hotpants or flirting tips. And as is so often the case, here again there are only two poles in the discussion: Women should be modest and pleasing. Or: Women should be (but now reallytrulyfinallysupervoluntarily) sexy. Madonna and whore. What women are never allowed to do: Simply be.
Meanwhile, Bravo has taken down the 100 tips. The magazine writes: “Last week, we published an article on the subject ‘100 tips for a knockout aura’, which has been the cause for discussion by some of you, but in particular the media public. We were criticized for painting a backward picture of women. In fact, some of the tips are absolutely unfortunate, and on the whole, the report doesn’t meet the quality standards that we ourselves have set. For this, we would like to expressly apologize.”
It’s a small victory.
Translation mine. Links as in original.
A victory, indeed. And one that could only have happened with today’s communication technology and networks. How I wish the Internet had existed when I was a confused young thing. Oh, what fun I’d have had hashtagging all the idiocy that came my way. Here’s a small sampling:
I think I saw “tips” just like those on The Brady Bunch, once. Or was it The Partridge Family? It’s hard to remember. I was just a kid. It was like 40 years ago, and I’m an Old. But the show did demonstrate how silly such tips were, because they always backfired spectacularly on the poor girl who tried to implement them. The take-home message: This “advice” is outdated and dumb. And if you try to use it, you’ll look outdated and dumb, too.
And then, just when you’d think some progress had been made, I saw the exact same crap in the teen magazines I read in the 1980s…all the while shaking my little messy head (no doubt ratty from all that ditzy hair-twirling, which is a disgusting nervous habit, not “girly and sweet”), and wondering how on Earth this “advice” (which smelled of 1950s-vintage mothballs) was supposed to be practical. Because it was all so blatantly contradictory: Be yourself, guys like natural women! Here, go on this crash diet to fit into this hot outfit! No, wait: Boys like ’em curvy, so eat those two scoops of ice cream and don’t worry about it! But don’t overdo the burgers and fries. You are what you eat! You wouldn’t want to turn into a cow or a greasy potato, would you?
I swear, I read reams of that. Wish I still had those rags, if only so I could scan a few representative pages and show ’em to you. It was a mind-fuck, kiddies.
Also, I think I’ve actually tried Bravo Tip #20. Inadvertently, mind you, since I really AM a little klutz, and I used to get discombobulated (and still sometimes do) at the mere sight of L’Amour Du Jour. Unfortunately, I don’t recall him finding it cute at all. Most likely, he thought I was an idiot. As did I. (That may have been the only real thing he and I ever had in common. Damn!)
And while I really do look good in peach, and must confess I do own quite a few scarves that color, I’ve never worn it just to flirt. Mostly, I wore it because I liked it, and liked how I looked in it, and how it made me feel: warm, cozy, quietly confident, and for once, MYSELF. Yes, that’s right: I WORE IT FOR MYSELF, AND NOT SOME DAMN DUMB DUDE. (Sorry for the ALL FUCKING CAPS SHOUTING, but it had to be said out loud.)
Oh yeah: Speaking of damn dumb dudes, here’s something else from the ol’ Eighties memory bank: Thirteen-year-old me had the (cough) privilege of having one boy I had a minor crush on at the time tell me that he didn’t know why I bothered with makeup, because he didn’t like it. As though I was doing it for HIM. No, Jim, it wasn’t for YOU. It was for ME. Dabbing different colors on one’s face is a surprisingly introspective, meditative art for some of us. It’s our own private theatre, and we do it for the fun of seeing what new persona emerges in the mirror, not to rouse (or kill) your stupid boner.
(And, in case you’re wondering: No, I didn’t like Jim anymore after he gave me that little unsolicited bit of “advice”. Not even hardly. I felt nothing for him after that but a sickly mixture of pity and contempt. Sucks to be you, Jim.)
And this was just the first time. There were others. I kept running afoul of “Jim”, in one form or another, all through high school, university, journalism school, and so on. Maybe it’s just as well I had no tweeter back then; there were way too many guys to put on blast, and who has the time for that? I was too busy trying to unfuck my head every time they’d messed with it. I’ve given up all hope of finding out at what precise age they outgrow it. I suspect they never do, because no one ever tells them to. I certainly never could, because I could never rehinge my jaw in time; the sheer force of the gobsmack is too great. Always, always it amazes me how dim a technically very bright, adult guy can be when confronted with a female person who doesn’t live up to his petty expectations.
It’s like they all revert to the mental age of 13; probably because by that age, they’ve already been programmed by propaganda to think of us as Lesser Beings. It’s not their hormones talking; it’s their training. Little boys get taught early and often to think of females as lesser, if they think of them at all. And they get shitty advice on how to deal with us, too. Fathers pass it on to sons, men’s mags pass it on to readers (who are usually boys hitting puberty and looking for something to wank to), and on and on it goes in an endless vicious loop. And just at the age where they’re starting to think of girls as something other than cootie-ridden pink things, BLAMMO! — out comes all that ingrained sexism in one rude, cutting “opinion” that no one asked for. GIGO has never held more true.
Pity no one ever teaches boys that opening their big yaps and letting ‘er rip can instantly kill any liking or respect a girl might have for them. Maybe boys’ and men’s mags should carry articles on that sometime, instead of all the vapid fap-fodder they print that’s not fit to wipe one’s ass with.
And yeah, how about just letting women and girls simply BE? Not to do, be, wear things, etc. AT some male or other, but to do, be and wear things to please no one but our own fine selves?
Clearly, that all is too much to ask. Only boys are allowed to simply be (and boys will be boys, don’tcha know). Girls have to be…well, whatever boys want them to be. Which has no clear definition but, it seems, is anything but themselves. And has been since time out of mind…
Maybe it’s time to resurrect the old Anti-Flirt Club. This time with a new purpose: not to slut-shame or morally panic young women into acting more modestly in the vain hope that all those bounders and cads would stop getting the wrong idea (because they get those wrong ideas from other men, not women), but to teach the guys that the gals don’t exist just for their use and pleasure. That girls and women are people, and no matter what they look like, or do, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. And that when you treat them right, good things happen. Things like true friendships, honest communication, and the sense that love and life are collaborative adventures, not a messy brawl in which there can only be one victor.
Think it would catch on?
Isn’t this old Bloom County ‘toon prescient? Because yes, there is finally a black man in the White House, and sure ‘nough, he’s a conservative — and fuck all those racist idiot ratbastards who claim he’s a socialist from Kenya. They know nothing about Kenya. Or socialism. (BTW, Bloom County is FINALLY coming back to the newspapers this year, presumably to make hay off Donald Trump’s toupée. Yay!)
Anyhow. Black conservatism, a.k.a. Respectability Politics, is what I came here to rant about this fine morning. And yes, Bill Cosby figures prominently in all that.
About ten years ago, you see, Bill Cosby said something about black kids needing to dress better and act more respectable, so all the totally-not-racist white people would finally start treating them as human beings, instead of the filthy animals they’ve long been made out to be — first under slavery, then Jim Crow, and most recently, drug policing. That latter, by the way, is what spawned the sloppy-pants trend in the first place.
It’s called “sagging” now, but originally it was called jailing, and it all began when black kids started being rounded up en masse and sent to jail for extended periods — often for the kind of simple, small-scale marijuana possession that would get a richer — ahem, more respectable — white kid let off with a warning. In the jails, you’re stripped of anything you might want to hang yourself with, be it belts, shoelaces, or what have you. So you have no choice but to slop around in baggy pants hanging off your skinny hips, and unlaced sneakers too big for your feet. The fashion became an ironic commentary on the futility and stupidity of trying to be “respectable” when nobody respected you, just on the basis of your color alone.
And then Bill Cosby came out with that whole “pull up your pants” shit. Like he hadn’t even been paying attention to what was going on while black kids were being decimated by crack cocaine (which the CIA, by the way, actively allowed to come in, because those cuddly Nicaraguan “Contras” who trafficked the stuff just needed some love!)
It was a stupid thing to say, and it was precisely the sort of thing one would expect of someone who couldn’t bring himself to say the R-word, because those same oh-so-conservative white folks who made the bad drug laws (and let the bad drugs into the ghettoes) had, after all, bankrolled him. And how could Bill denounce something that had basically made him who he is? Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima are fictional figures, based on the old plantation stereotypes of happy, respectable “house negroes”, but Bill Cosby was the real, present-day thing, and he made a lot of boodle pushing Jell-O Pudding Pops. Chocolate AND vanilla!
And now we know that the entire time he was preaching Respectability and shit, Bill Cosby was, in fact, pushing illegal drugs himself. Onto women. Black women, white women, didn’t make no nevermind to ol’ Bill. He liked both chocolate AND vanilla, and he preferred them all to be unconscious when he did…well, whatever it was he did to them that none of them can remember a thing of after he fed them alcohol laced with knockout drops.
When you get dozens of women all describing remarkably similar patterns of behavior, you know something is hinky in Huxtable Manor. You’d think that the word of at least 50 different women would be enough to send him up Shit Creek, but no. Nothing less than an admission of guilt — to buying Quaaludes under seven prescriptions! — was enough to finally convince respectable (cough) folks that yes, Bill Cosby DID rape all those women whom nobody believed.
What’s really shameful was how he got away with such blatant abuse for decades. Even now, Bill Cosby is still not in jail. Because, as Cee Lo Green said, it ain’t rape if you can’t remember shit. Right?
It IS rape when the victim can’t remember what happened between that funky-tasting drink he kept urging her to have (and which she didn’t actually want), and waking up sore between her legs the next morning while he hung around her naked self in his bathrobe, looking all weirdly smug. It is, by definition, rape — because she did not consent to being penetrated. The very fact that her assailant had to administer drugs to make her pliable ought to be a huge red flag.
But the proponents of Respectability are especially hard on women, be they chocolate or vanilla. You can’t prove anything! they say. She took that drink willingly! That means she consented to sex! Women don’t accept drinks from men unless they want to — and if they do, that makes them filthy sluts whom you should never believe!
Wrong again. Wrong, wrong, wrongity-wrong WRONG.
Taking a drink of alcohol — especially one that’s been drugged and urged upon you by a man with ulterior motives — is NOT consent. Only the word “yes”, freely and consciously given, is consent. Only if a man asks if you want to have sex, and you say you do, is it consent. There is nothing difficult or complicated or “grey” about this, people. Anything outside of that simple, clear band is coercion, and that makes these creepy encounters rape. By definition.
But even now, the proponents of Respectability are still trying to spin this to make their misogyny (and their misogynoir) look normal. You see some mighty strange things at the corner of Racist and Sexist, including old married ladies who, even knowing that their husbands have done wrong, still defend him as though their own lives depended on his innocence. Yes, Camille Cosby, I’m talking about YOU here. Being his business manager, as well as his wife, no doubt gives you a stake in his “respectable” image…and also makes you complicit in his crimes, when all’s said. After all, covering up a crime is a crime in itself.
Bill Cosby is no Trayvon Martin. He’s no Emmett Till, either. There is no need to defend him in the name of black kids who couldn’t defend themselves. He is perfectly capable of sticking up for himself if he so pleases. Nobody’s lynching him for crimes he did not commit. He’s still walking free, and still making money off his public appearances, where he routinely tells unfunny “jokes” about how to get women to “have sex with” you by drugging them. And it seems that he will go right on doing so until a warrant goes out for his arrest — or someone flings rotten tomatoes and makes them stick, whichever comes first. Money, and the appearance of respectability it confers, goes a long way toward excusing just about anything, you see. And he’s still making it by the bucketful. In his sleep, even.
Yes, I do believe it is finally okay to loathe Bill Cosby and his fucking pudding pops. And all the racism and sexism that he’s perpetuated in the name of Respectability, too.
A short overview of the current turmoil (yup, another epic fail of a coup attempt underway!) and its background. Sorry I’ve been out of the loop on this lately; been dealing with some annoying health issues, among other things.
And in light of today’s events, what better than a Greek tune (in English) to celebrate the victory of NO?
Oh, I know: How about this one, too, in honor of another legendary Greek named Alexis?