On Sexism

First, this article from the Guardian: Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry: ‘I will not accept online misogyny’

The female member of a popular internet-based band I’ve never heard of talks about the sexist hate mail she gets, and her response to it.

I read that article, and then skimmed through quite a number of the 150 (at the time) comments on it. Then I commented at length on both the article, and the comments. I am posting it here so you don’t have to scroll through all the comments to find mine (and because my comment is the only one I really care about, if I’m being honest. :P)

First, awesome article! Thank you for standing up and saying, “This is not cool.” Because it’s not. Not at all, and more people need to say it.

I’ve read through (skimmed, really) a lot of the comments on this article, and there are several main responses:

1. This sucks and should not happen.

This is appropriate and totally true, however it falls short in that it does not propose a solution.

2. This sucks, should not happen, and I think the best way to deal with it is some kind of massive government re-education program, or the NSA (since they’re reading this anyway) should track down misogynists and smack them on the back of the head real hard.

True, and headed more in the right direction, but these solutions are impractical and rely on some kind of authority figure to fix it.

3. This sucks, but as a woman on a public stage, you just have to put up with it.

Obviously stupid and wrong. Yes, you are going to get bullshit harassment. No, you do not have to put up with it. You can call them out, like you’re doing here. And what’s more, your friends can call them out, your fans can call them out, people who have never heard of you (like me) but who think this shit is intolerable can call them out.

4. This sucks and you shouldn’t have to put up with it, but every time someone brings attention to this kind of thing, it happens more and gets worse, so maybe you should just keep it under wraps and hire a bodyguard.

Well, hire a bodyguard if you think it’s a good idea, sure. But I think this reaction may be the MOST insidious one, other than just straight vitriol. And here’s why: predators like to work in the dark. They like to be anonymous. They will feel like their intimidation is working if you keep it under wraps. It makes it seem like you’re ashamed of what is coming out of THEIR mouths and fingers. And, to their twisted minds, makes it seem like maybe some of it is true, like they’ve somehow scored a point.

No. No, no, no, no. If you look at history, you will see that as soon as an oppressed people starts to stand up for itself, there is immediate opposition. The oppression they were already experiencing gets worse, and worse, because the oppressors WANT TO KEEP THEM DOWN AND QUIET.

If you oppose this kind of thing publicly, it will get worse, yes. It will get worse because the people who do it want to shame you into submission. Because they believe that if they can make you shut up about it, then they have won. The way to get them to stop is to KEEP opposing them at every opportunity. To call them out every time. To say, “Not cool bro.” EVERY TIME.

If everyone who gives a shit about women and their rights stood up to sexist remarks and actions every time they witness them, eventually we will build momentum going the opposite way. Eventually equality, and vocal support of equality, will be the standard, not sexism, and not the wishy-washy attitude of, “well I guess we just have to put up with it.”

The key to winning ground against sexism is simple but not easy. It is simply never to put up with it. To always take people who make sexist remarks to task, with as little or as much forcefulness as seems necessary. In the end, making peer pressure work FOR equality, rather than against it.

Two relevant quotes that I’m sure you’ve all heard, just to round things out:

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” –Winston Churchill

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men [and women] do nothing.” –Edmund Burke

Rock Control

Hey everyone. This is the part of the blog where I TAKE ON THE ISSUES!

By, “THE ISSUES” I mean anything that has something to do with current events, or news, or people I know, and which for some damn reason I care about.

The first issue I plan to “take on” (read, talk about until I get tired and go to bed) is Gun Control. This is a big issue. Not because of how scary it is, and yes, I agree it is scary. It’s big because its roots go back to the very beginning of humankind’s emergence onto this crazy rock.

The first major problem with the current gun control issue, meaning the arguments that are happening in the major media, and ALL OVER the internet, is that both sides are full of extremists and reactionaries. Even this post is reactionary. It’s a reaction to all the stupid shit people scream at each other when they are frothing at the mouth over gun control.

Here’s the thing: Violence is startling, scary, and, well, violent. The only people who don’t react strongly to violence probably have serious mental problems. Particularly when that violence happens to you or someone you are close to. A strong, emotional reaction is not just expected, or acceptable. It’s indicative that you are a human.

Legislation shouldn’t be based on strong emotional reactions. Legislation is about everyone, not just one person, not just one perspective, however emotionally logical or human.

Because Gun Control is such a complex issue, I want to cover it thoroughly. Probably over the course of several posts. This post is the beginning, so I will start at the beginning. What makes us react to gun violence so strongly, one way or the other? Pain, fear, anger, outright terror, completely reasonable caution, a desire for freedom. The short story: Guns Are Scary.

Guns are scary because aside from nuclear weapons and remote assault drones (which allow the killer to push a button and completely disconnect from the humanity of the killee, not a word, I know), they are the easiest way to kill other people.

Guns are, like all weapons innovations throughout history have been, an escalation, a reaction. They increase the ease of violence. I’m going to talk later about why that’s a good thing in some cases, and not always the bad thing it seems to be. First, let’s go down in history.

I’m fairly certain that the first murder was when some dude strangled some other dude to death with his bare hands. At least, it is if you believe in science. If you believe in the Bible, which I don’t really, then the first murder was accomplished with a rock. Probably something like this: Cain v. Abel

Which undoubtedly lead to the first murder investigation: Cave Police

A person can kill another person with their bare hands. But it’s difficult (for most of us). It’s personal. You have to be pretty damn committed to the idea of staring into the other person’s eyes as they slowly die to death in front of you to do it. Unless you’re a Navy SEAL, in which case you do it from behind… was that in bad taste? Oh well.

In other words, killing with your hands takes a lot of… effort. Physical, emotional, mental. It also pretty much requires you to be stronger than the person you’re killing.

So if you’re weaker, what do you do when someone stronger threatens you with violence? You cave. You give in. You do what they want. You beg for mercy. Or, you get a rock. Now if we’re talking Cain and Abel, I think Cain just went for a rock right away because he didn’t want to break a nail.

The rock is an escalation. Rocks have to be respected, because even a relatively weak person can kill a strong person with a big rock and sufficient preparation. It follows that once someone gets killed with a rock, the people who see it happen will decide that something needs to be done about rocks. This brings on the invention of the mighty stick.

So, think the cavepeople, let’s put a rock ON a stick. Genius. Now that tribe across the river won’t screw with us. All they have is rocks. We have rocks on sticks. Some of them are even sharp!

The tribe across the river, though, realize their vulnerability (probably by dying a lot) and invent the Even Sharper Rock on an Even Longer Stick.

You can pretty much extrapolate from there. Every single damn weapon since then has been just another way to put a better rock on the end of a longer stick. Even guns, missiles,  nuclear weapons, follow the rock-stick formula. It’s just that the stick has been replaced by powerful inertial forces and chemical reactions, and the rock has been replaced by… better rock. (Well… metal. But they FIND it in rocks!)

Every new weapon, EVERY SINGLE WEAPON, has been invented in the interest of the weaker person killing the stronger. The prey turning on the predator. And these things are necessary for the following reason: humans are full of violence, rage, pride, cowardice, envy, lust, and generally all the other “sins” we all hear about.

This will not change.

Maybe, with the help of intelligent laws and progressive ideas, we can start to make it more and more unacceptable for people to prey on each other. But until the “singularity” comes, and we are all combined with our computers and ascend to quasi-godhood in the far reaches of space, violence will be a human problem.

It’s easy to ignore most of the time. Most of us, most of the time, don’t get assaulted, or shot at, or hit with rocks. The news, of course, tells us that violence is happening constantly, but it’s all far away. Except when it’s not.

The conclusion of this post, though not of the discussion on Gun Control, is that weapons are a terrible necessity.

Personally, I long for a time when swords were ubiquitous, and guns had not been conceived. I wish the world were full of honorable warriors who would challenge each other to duels, rather than killing thousands of badly armed peasants in pointless struggles over a field or two.

I consider it lucky that we live in a world where we can protest about guns. Where we can scream at the government, rail against laws we hate, and generally make a lot of noise about weapons. Please remember that the world used to be a place where if we screeched about Sword Control, we would get our heads chopped off. Or at best we’d get whipped by the Duke and sent back into the fields to pick the wheat. Unless you were the Duke, in which case, you asshole!

There’s probably a sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey in the above somewhere, but I won’t write it. “Whipped By the Duke” could be a great romance novel. TOO BAD IT SUCKS!