Pourquoi nous nous opposons au droit de vote des hommes
1. Parce que la place des hommes est dans l’armée
2. Parce qu’aucun homme vraiment viril, ne veut régler un problème autrement que par le combat.
3. Parce que si les hommes commencent à adopter des méthodes pacifiques, les femmes ne vont plus les admirer.
4. Parce que les hommes vont perdre leur charme s’ils sortent de leur sphère naturelle et qu’ils s’intéressent à autre chose que les exploits des armes, des uniformes et des tambours.
5. Parce que les hommes sont trop émotifs pour voter. Leur comportement aux matchs de baseball et aux conventions politiques le montre bien, tandis que leur tendance naturel à l’utilisation de la force les rends particulièrement inaptes pour la tâche de gouverner.
Alice Duer Miller, 1915
Les féministes n’ont aucun humour, c’est bien connu :)
"Guys on Reddit are very typically coming from STEM fields - a lot of engineers, a lot of programmers. I really think the complete lack of basic understanding of social justice on Reddit, the lack of understanding of how past oppression continues to exert force on the present, is reflective of a larger failure of a good humanities education. It’s reflective of the increasing early specialization we require of college and even high school kids. Their STEM curriculums don’t require much of a humanities or social science foundation, so they grow up completely unarmed with the tools required to think critically about society, and totally unaware of how social structures shape everyone’s lives - and it’s especially invisible to them as mostly white, middle-class, straight males."
So, first, we had the whole Caster Semenya saga: a female athlete who is really good… so good indeed that it is suspicious. Is she really a woman? Let’s test. Ok, she is. But she is not feminine enough, so, let’s pump of her full of hormone to increase her femininity and lower her performance because she is getting way to close to men’s performance levels and that is just wrong.
And now, we have the Chinese Superwoman, as Le Monde calls her. We are talking about Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen who’s killing it at the Olympic Games in London. She’s good. Too good. Well, she’s obviously a woman so her men-level performances can only be explained by doping (Chinese, y’know).
“The world of swimming may have spent 36 hours in a ferocious debate over the means by which she could achieve such astonishing feats, but the 16-year-old had other things on her mind. As the electronic beep sounded to mark the start of the race, she leapt from the blocks, put her head down, and swam.
On Saturday, Ye had stunned a crowd that thought it had already seen the shock of the evening 40 minutes before, when the great Michael Phelps failed to win a medal in the men’s 400m individual medley.
In the women’s race of the same event, Ye swam a final freestyle leg of such jawdropping acceleration that she overhauled the race leader, finishing almost three metres ahead in a time which shattered the world record. On Monday, in qualifying for Tuesday night’s event, she had gone on to break the Olympic record for the longer distance.
It was awesome, astonishing, unbelievable. And it didn’t take too long for a leading US coach to say what many had been muttering.”
And the real issue is this:
“La Chinoise Ye Shiwen, 16 ans, médaillée d’or sur 400m 4 nages samedi, a battu le record du monde de cette éprouvante discipline (4 m 28’ s 43 centièmes), mais elle a surtout crawlé les cent derniers mètres de sa course presque aussi vite queRyan Lochte (58 s 68 contre 58 s 65), sacré la veille chez les garçons, au terme du deuxième 400m 4 nages le plus rapide de l’Histoire (4 m 05 s 18 centièmes).”
She swam almost as fast as the male winner in the same category. Something is wrong. Except not:
It is interesting that when women performance improve and get closer in line with male performance, then, that is an issue. The same thing happens with scholarly achievement. How many books have been (and continue to be) written about the relative greater success of girls in school and women in universities? All of them deploring the loss of gender supremacy for boys and men. And sometimes calling not so subtly for a restoration of such supremacy through intervention (all couched in terms of making school less ‘feminine environments’ and more attuned to alleged masculine needs).
The case of these women athletes getting closer to men performance levels generates the same kind of anxieties, if not direct intervention, as in the case of Caster Semenya.
“The IFAB agreed to unanimously approve – temporarily during a trial period – the wearing of headscarves. The design, colour and material permitted will be defined and confirmed following the IFAB Annual Business Meeting in Glasgow in October.”
As the article in Nouvelles / News notes, the issue was brought to FIFA by other men to keep women veiled on the pitch even though this goes against FIFA regulations that equipment should be free of political, religious or personal elements. For the women, it was a lose-lose situation: veil or censorship. As Isabelle Germain notes, so much for the universal values of sports and women’s rights. This introduces a form of inequality between female players and it puts Muslim players who wouldn’t otherwise wear the veil in a precarious position. It also implicitly endorses a sexist religious symbols that stigmatizes women’s bodies.
And on this subject, I disagree with Laurent Dubois (who is otherwise one of my favorites sports social scientists… y’all should subscribe to his blog) especially on the example he chose to illustrate the point that the hijab should be ok on the pitch. The situation of a player in Quebec or Canada is not the same that of Asian or Middle Eastern players who may face real threats on the issue of the veil. Dubois also criticizes the French Football Federation for jumping in after the FIFA decision and indicating that, in the name of secularism, veils would not be allowed in competitions held on French soil (which goes along with the whole veil policy in France, which, for the record, I supported).
Of course, I am divided on this. I want as many female football players as possible, from all over the world. Women in sport is good for women and girls, and it is good for society. And I understand very well that, for women in certain parts of the world, no veil means no game. And this is what happens at the convergence of multiple patriarchal institutions where, in the end, older men get to decide on what women can do with their bodies. The result will always be bad for women.
Also, please, can I be spared the “what if women choose to be veiled?” argument? That does not change the inherent meaning of the veil. Why do you think that Jordan Prince wants women veiled? To support their choice to be so? Not really. This decision is NOT about women’s choices (which is why I think Dubois’s example is not good here), it is about caving in by one patriarchal group to the demand of another patriarchal group and individual.
"Not long after Hepler was abused, the world’s first online gaming reality show, Cross Assault, sparked outrage when one of its male stars defended the use of the word “rape” and the phrase “rape that bitch” while gaming.
“There’s nothing unacceptable about that,” stated player Aris Bakhtanians during a live broadcast. The competitive gamer also claimed that “sexual harassment is part of the culture” of combat-based games."
The Atlanticis reviving the tired feminist-baiting question “can women have it all.” Le sigh. In celebration of this backlashtastic event, I’ve compiled some of my favorite images that are often the art in these kinds of articles: The mean/frazzled/distracted working white mom (because WOC don’t exist in this narrative) who has been fooled into thinking she can have it all by feminism. Good times.
Note: I haven’t read the piece (it’s not out yet) and for all I know is a scorchingly awesome piece of feminist writing. But the headline/art/cover is just too awful and (knowingly) plays into the anti-feminist cliche the search for work/life balance is greedily trying to have “it all.”
So we have heard before of virginity testing in parts of the Middle East as well as hymen restoration that happen for fear a woman or a girl, found to no longer be a virgin might be the victim of an honorable murder.
In the same vein of degradation ceremony, meet the anal exams in Lebanon, performed by police to detect homosexuals (homosexuality is illegal in Lebanon). The article is in French. The physical consists of men being forced naked, required to bend over for a physician to take a picture of their anus to determine whether homosexual intercourse has taken place. This physical means absolutely nothing and is proof of nothing and the participating physicians know it.
This is pure degradation ceremony whose main purpose is to humiliate and dehumanize but also to extract confessions of homosexual activity. In many cases, the men are arrested based on what police officers determine to be effeminate behavior or just any subjective assessment about one’s sexual orientation. In other words, these men are arrested based on nothing except pure suspicion and then subjected to what the article and NGOs call the “physical of shame”, for shaming is its main purpose. The broader goal is to police sexual behavior and gender identity in conformity with cultural norms.
But policing gender through degradation also applies more generally, remember the case of Caster Semenya? Well, here is the version 2.0:
“There are female athletes who will be competing at the Olympic Games this summer after undergoing treatment to make them less masculine.
Still others are being secretly investigated for displaying overly manly characteristics, as sport’s highest medical officials attempt to quantify — and regulate — the hormonal difference between male and female athletes.
Caster Semenya, the South African runner who was so fast and muscular that many suspected she was a man, exploded onto the front pages three years ago. She was considered an outlier, a one-time anomaly.
But similar cases are emerging all over the world, and Semenya, who was banned from competition for 11 months while authorities investigated her sex, is back, vying for gold.
Semenya and other women like her face a complex question: Does a female athlete whose body naturally produces unusually high levels of male hormones, allowing them to put on more muscle mass and recover faster, have an “unfair” advantage?
In a move critics call “policing femininity,” recent rule changes by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the governing body of track and field, state that for a woman to compete, her testosterone must not exceed the male threshold.
If it does, she must have surgery or receive hormone therapy prescribed by an expert IAAF medical panel and submit to regular monitoring. So far, at least a handful of athletes — the figure is confidential — have been prescribed treatment, but their numbers could increase. Last month, the International Olympic Committee began the approval process to adopt similar rules for the Games.”
It is puzzling that the very same people who tend to adhere to gender essentialism (biology is everything) all of a sudden wish to “correct” biology when women and intersex people are involved (but not men). After all, wouldn’t it be unfair to have men with lower levels of testorerone compete with those with “normal” levels? Also note the arbitrariness of the rule. What level is the male threshold? The average? What average? Why is it at issue that a woman with higher level of testosterone be forced to undergo treatment to reduce her performance? And shouldn’t men levels be equalized before competition so as to have a level playing field?
And guess who had to subject herself to this? Yes, Caster Semenya herself:
“Today, Semenya is cheering on her teammates at the South African open championships — for many, their last chance to qualify for the Olympics. There is no need for Semenya to race. She easily qualified weeks ago.
Instead, she stands in the stadium aisle, posing for the camera. In the background, Rihanna is on heavy rotation. “It happens all the time, all the time,” she says of the photo requests, laughing. “I’m used to it.”
She wears a tight turquoise polo over her fit, feminine body. Relaxed, poised and, it must be said, pretty, the young woman with an irresistible smile is almost unrecognizable from photographs taken during the height of the controversy.
“I know she gets treatment. What the treatment entails, I can’t give the details,” says Danie Cornelius, a track and field manager at the university.
“We all accept … and she accepts … within sports you have to perform within certain guidelines, or else it will be chaos,” says Cornelius.
“She feels it’s something she has to do.”
When asked about her treatment, Semenya demurred. “I can’t really say anything,” she said, looking at the ground.”
Funny how this came up only when a woman performed exceptionally. Exceptional performance from male athletes is never questioned in terms of gender or whether some male athlete had some extra testosterone and therefore some unearned, illegitimate advantage.
I am curious as to what chaos Danie Cornelius is referring to except to the challenge to the persistent phallocracy in the world of sports. And, exactly, how are women supposed to catch up (as they have been) in terms of performance if exceptional individual women are “corrected” to reduce their performance levels?
As most of you probably remember, the first feature film to come out of Afghanistan after the US removed the Taliban from power was Osama, the story of a young girl, disguised as a boy by her mother and grandmother so the family (composed entirely of women) will not starve as none of them are allowed to work outside the home by the Taliban. It is an excellent film about the consequences for women of the protracted war that killed many men and left women-led families with no rights under a strictly religious fundamentalist rule.
One of the central aspects of the film is the resocialization the girl has to go through to pass for a credible boy (Osama) and not be found out. This means she has to engage in a lot of body work and re-train her body to lose its feminine aspects (in activities such as walking, running, etc. All activities that we tend to not always consider gendered but are very much so). She also needs to learn basic boy-ness in play and games, knowing that the slightest mistake could have devastating consequences (and ultimately, that is exactly what happens).
That is the film. But this is also the reality still today in Afghanistan:
“For economic and social reasons, many Afghan parents want to have a son. This preference has led to some of them practising the long-standing tradition of Bacha Posh - disguising girls as boys.
When Azita Rafhat, a former member of the Afghan parliament, gets her daughters ready for school, she dresses one of the girls differently.
Three of her daughters are clothed in white garments and their heads covered with white scarves, but a fourth girl, Mehrnoush, is dressed in a suit and tie. When they get outside, Mehrnoush is no longer a girl but a boy named Mehran.
Azita Rafhat didn’t have a son, and to fill the gap and avoid people’s taunts for not having a son, she opted for this radical decision. It was very simple, thanks to a haircut and some boyish clothes.
There is even a name for this tradition in Afghanistan - Bacha Posh, or disguising girls as boys.
“When you have a good position in Afghanistan and are well off, people look at you differently. They say your life becomes complete only if you have a son,” she says.
There has always been a preference for having sons in Afghanistan, for various economic and social reasons.
Many girls disguised as boys can be found in Afghan markets. Some families disguise their daughters as boys so that they can easily work on the streets to feed their families.
Some of these girls who introduce themselves as boys sell things like water and chewing gum. They appear to be aged anywhere between about five and 12. None of them would talk to me about their lives as boys.
Girls brought up as boys do not stay like this all their lives. When they turn 17 or 18 they live life as a girl once again - but the change is not so simple.
Elaha lives in Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan. She lived as a boy for 20 years because her family didn’t have a son and reverted only two years ago when she had to go to university.
However, she does not feel fully female: she says her habits are not girlish and she does not want to get married.
In Afghanistan, stories like this have become more common. Almost everyone has relatives or neighbours who have tried this.
Fariba Majid, the head of the Women’s Rights Department in the northern province of Balkh, used to go by the boy’s name Wahid.
“I was the third daughter in my family and when I was born my parents decided to disguise me as a boy,” she says.
“I would work with my father at his shop and even go to Kabul to bring goods from there.”
She thinks that experience helped her gain confidence and helped her get where she is today.
It is not surprising that even Azita Rafhat, mother of Mehran, once used to live as a boy.
“Let me tell you a secret,” she says. “When I was a kid, I used to live as a boy and work with my father.
“I experienced both the world of men and of women and it helped me to be more ambitious in my career.”“
So riddle me this: a society where gender boundaries are strictly enforced, where girls may get poisoned if they go to school and are otherwise expected to conform to strict gender role and boundaries, but that same society allows for the crossing of these gender boundaries in both directions ( girls → boys, and boys → not exactly girls but highly feminized roles).
Here is my take: patriarchal systems generally establish strict gender boundaries. However, these same systems will allow these boundaries to fluctuate according to patriarchal needs. Also, these seemingly contradictory examples make perfect sense once one goes back to the meaning of “patriarchy” which is not male rule (that’s phallocracy), but fathers / elders rule. Therefore, it is the needs of fathers and elders (as heads of families / clans / tribes) that come first, both in terms of their status as providers for their charge, but also in terms of their needs (sexually speaking). Note that it is not dancing men, but dancing boys satisfying older men’s fantasies and sexual needs.
So even though gender boundaries are strict and strictly enforced, these will be bent as needed to satisfy dominant individuals (elders and fathers), as well as maintain and reproduce patriarchal structure. The consequences of imposing fluid gender norms and roles to dominated individuals (women and girls, of course, but also, boys) are irrelevant. In this sense, fluidity of gender identity is not a source of freedom as feminists have promoted it in Western countries, but another source of gender domination and power because one has no choice in one’s gender role, as assigned by patriarchs.
The truth is an irrelevance here; women do not plead for special treatment, begging to enter the workplace so they can buy pretty things. It is established wisdom that working women benefit the economy, their families and themselves. Just last week it emerged that depression is more widespread in non-working women and, in the long-hours macho working culture that thrills business because it enables men’s psychological dominance, what is the cost to them? Even the prime minister acknowledges the benefit of working women as he legislates to make them unemployed, in that strange childish way he has of wishing for something with one hand, and demolishing it with the other, which brings to mind the rage of Shulman’s tiny son: “If we fail to unlock the potential of women in the labour market,” he said, “we’re not only failing those individuals, we’re failing our whole economy.” He said it and forgot it because the budget came – £10bn more in cuts.
So, some facts that won’t make it into Vogue, with or without topless actresses and birds: this is a perfect storm of growing inequality. Last month, there were 1.13 million unemployed women in Britain, a 19.1% increase since 2009, and the highest figure for 25 years. (In the same period, male unemployment has risen by a mere 0.32%). According to data collected by the Fawcett Society, in the last quarter 81% of those losing their jobs were women; in some local councils 100% of those fired were female and, as ever, the poorest are hit most: black and minority ethnic women and those in the north-east are the first to go, and in the greatest numbers.
Many women are leaving work due to the cuts in child tax credit and child benefit. Unable to pay for childcare, they cannot afford to work, which is senseless and destructive, and will keep alive the dogma that women should not work into the next generation and beyond. A survey conducted by the charity Working Mums last year found that 24% of mothers have left employment and 16% have reduced their hours to care for their children; this is regressive, poverty in poverty, depression into depression.
These cuts should be overturned, but how to pay? With the 50% tax rate a historical anomaly, who knows or cares? A strategy for women’s employment is necessary, encompassing women’s security in the workplace, decent provision of childcare and the scandal of occupational and gender segregation, which, together, bring forth the pay gap.
The private sector will boom, says the government, and employ (some of) these women, although it doesn’t have the nerve to promise more. Well, maybe. Was it Emma Harrison, the jobs tsar (now tarnished), who said: “There are always jobs” – adding, as is customary, the scent of blame to the welfare claimant? If they are lucky, women can look forward to their time in the private sector, with its disgraceful full-time pay gap of 20.4%, its inflexible working hours and, of course, its smiling walls of Alexandra Shulmans, telling them “it’s hard”. Down at the TUC last week, all was misery; we are walking, too swiftly, into the past.”
It is funny how forms of inequalities are usually ignored when they put women at a disadvantage and maintain patriarchal privilege (like the wage gap or the greater impact of economic recessions on women and are attributed to something other than patriarchal structures (like women’s individual choices). But when a situation benefit women (like the larger number of women college graduates), then, it is a crisis and we must do something about it (implicitly, to restore male supremacy… you can find the many garbage books on the subject of how schools have become feminized institutions, what with all the “political correctness” that prevents men from being men). Conversely, look at how much traction the concept of “mancession” got despite being a mirage.
So, the Kony 2012 campaign is trending like nothing else. The campaign has been roundly and thoroughly and rightfully critiqued in various places, so, I have nothing to add to yet another example of “white people save Africans from their own savagery” film and campaign with a touch of cyber-utopianism so dumb I initially thought the beginning of the 30 minute video was an ad.
Thanks for hijacking International Women’s Day, guys, whether through your filling up our Facebook and Twitter timelines or because a lot of people had to take time out to explain why your campaign is questionable.
And I am not the only one who is cranky on International Women’s Day, so is Marie Duru-Bellat, about all the little forms of androcentrism as micro-power and how these penetrate into women’s conscience at all times.
On a more macro side of things, let’s not forget this:
“The ‘feminisation of poverty’ is now an undeniable reality. Worldwide↑, women are more likely to be poor, employed in precarious, low-paid labour, and less likely to have access to land, credit and education. Not only do they suffer disproportionately from the effects of poverty itself and the human rights denials that accrue↑from it, but also from the increasingly heavy-handed way in which poverty is governed across the world. Being female and poor subjects you to unique forms of stigma and control, as well as forcing you to bear the brunt of supposedly gender-neutral policies.
The gender-specific and demeaning measures of control and containment that are applied to women overwhelmingly focus on their bodies and reproductive capacity. In many countries↑in the world, including most of Latin America, Africa and the Middle East abortion remains illegal except in very proscribed circumstances. Prohibition does not deter women from seeking abortions, but forces them submit to more unsafe abortions, putting their health, fertility or even life at risk. Planned Parenthood estimate↑that 19 million women and girls worldwide resort to unsafe abortions every year; 70,000 of them will die as a result, more than 96% of them from the world’s poorest countries (in many of which abortion is illegal). For example, in Argentina, each year↑, between 460,000 and 600,000 women have an illegal abortion; abortion complications are the main cause↑of maternal death, with an estimated↑400 deaths each year. Clearly, it is poor women, without any hope of access to a private doctor or international travel who are most exposed↑to these risks. Thus such policies, targeted to control female reproductive capacity (as if men were not involved), promote a selective penalisation of the poorest women.
To be female and poor in itself attracts a unique stigma. The 1980s saw the remarkable rise of the ‘welfare queen’↑as popular bogey (wo)man of choice in the USA. This was fuelled by Reagan↑’s ideological crusade against an ‘excessive’ ‘soft’ welfare system and driven by racist and sexist↑stereotypes of ‘lazy’ African-American women, often single mothers. Indeed, the single mother is a recurring motif in the rhetoric surrounding welfare and benefits across the Western world. The idea that single women ‘churn out’ babies in order to generate more income or obtain free housing is commonplace in the UK↑and was a core part of the vivid American ‘welfare queen’ stereotype. Attacks on the integrity of single mothers are common; they are portrayed as less capable parents - despite evidence↑to the contrary - and are improbably blamed for a host of social ills, including, predictably, the riots↑that took place in the UK in the summer of 2011. The prevalent stigma borne by poor females in many societies is viscerally illustrated by British newspaper columnist James Delingpole who described several of the “great scourges” of contemporary Britain: “aggressive all-female gangs of embittered, hormonal, drunken teenagers; gym-slip mums who choose to get pregnant as a career option; pasty-faced, lard-gutted slappers who’ll drop their knickers in the blink of an eye” (The Times newspaper, April 13, 2006 ). Disturbingly, the stigma of female poverty and single motherhood has become embedded in public policy↑in many different countries: women are all too often the ‘accidental’ victims of supposedly gender neutral measures, such as budget cuts and welfare reform.”
And then, there is Turkish sociologist Pinar Selek, living in exile in France, wrongfully accused of terrorism, three times acquitted by Turkish courts, verdicts that always get appealed by the prosecutor who want life imprisonment for her (even though the supposed terrorist attack of which she is accused was shown to have been an accident). This is political, of course: her work focuses on the underdogs: homeless people, street children, LGBTs, Kurdish minorities and antimilitarism. The police wanted her to give them her sources and she refused, even after torture. So, she has already spent two and half years in prison. Sociology is a combat sport indeed.
And one more reason to be cranky, this should be trending, not Kony 2012. I just watched it on HBO and it is short but very powerful.
This should be going viral.
I hope this one goes to DVD quickly so I can put my hands on a copy to show my students.
So, the second half of Season two is now on the way and it is getting from bad to worse in the misogyny department. Everything I wrote in my previous post on the subject still holds and I would not retract anything. And last Sunday’s episode was especially awful in that respect.
The earlier post is reproduced below.
The latest episode - 18 Miles Out - was neatly gender segregated with two highly gendered storylines. In the first one, Rick reasserts his alpha male status against Shane. Apparently, Jon Bernthal has such an infinite range of submissive postures, I expected him to roll on his back and expose his belly at some point while Rick was browbeating him. Said browbeating was only interrupted by a bunch of walkers. Then Rick saves Shane and Shane accepts his lower status in the wolf pack the group.
The other storyline consists in Lori reasserting her alpha female status against Andrea. At this point in the series, Lori is pregnant with no choice thanks to the fact that Glenn betrayed her trust, affirming his loyalty to the men of the group. In this episode, she browbeats Andrea for not properly fulfilling her gender role. Andrea has been taking shifts guarding the farm, something the men usually do, because it involves handling guns and rifles, which, as we all know, women can’t do (and as Andrea has already proven). Lori lectures Andrea, telling her that she is not needed in these shifts. The men can handle it. She should be doing women stuff: washing, cleaning, keeping things together, you know, the whole homemaking and nurturing thing.
The other reason that Lori is complaining to Andrea is that Andrea thinks women and girls should have choices whereas Lori thinks they should not. Young Beth has decided that, after the barn slaughter, she does not want to live. A rational position to have in this context. Andrea thinks it should be her choice. Lori does not think so and berates Andrea for even suggesting otherwise. Andrea then makes that choice available to Beth. Beth does not kill herself. The other women yell at Andrea.
I swear, why don’t they get Tony Perkins and Michelle Bachmann to play Rick and Lori.
Why do I keep on harping about this. Well, (1) those amounts of rank sexism and misogyny are just vile, and (2) this is a show that could / should be great and it sucks instead because of terrible writing and character development.
Seriously, people, I really wanted to like this series. I like horror stuff, I like zombies and end of the world kinda themes. It’s like this series was made for me… except it is a gigantic pile of sexism and misogyny so far. I have watched all the episodes so far and let me share with you what I learned.
1. Bitches are bitchy
They are. I learned that in the very first scene, after the intro, where the two main cop dudes share their mutual doodly pain inflicted upon them by women. Rick, the future alpha male of the series, knows his marriage is collapsing and the bitch is SO cruel.
And you know why bitches are bitchy? Because, as Glenn helpfully explains to us, they have their periods. And he read somewhere that when many women get together for a long time, their cycles get in synch and they all get crazy at the same time. Because there can’t possibly be any other reason why he, lil’ virgin, no-date, Glenn can’t figure them out.
2. A collapsed world is a world where men can, finally, be men again
This is a trope I have discussed multiple times already. I was hoping this series would be different but no. In The Walking Dead, as with many collapsed world movies and series, once institutions that push men down, to the benefit of women and minorities (like education, workplace that equalize relationships), men can reclaim their “natural” leadership positions and women have to accept this leadership for their own good. The main group we follow is initially led by Shane. Once Rick finds them, he becomes the alpha male (which leads to conflicts of masculinities as the two of them compete for who gets to be the most hegemonically masculine). Of course, such leadership can only be exercises by white men (so, sorry T-Dog… because all black men have funny names like that, and sorry Glenn… or “Asian boy” as another hegemonic white male - Hershel - calls him).
And so, it is back to a natural order of things: men carry the big guns, stand guard and protect the groups while women wash clothes and cook.
BUT, there is such a thing as bad masculinity in The Walking Dead, and it is illustrated by white supremacists Daryl and Merrill and especially Ed Peletier, all of them get their comeuppance. All of them pushed hegemonic masculinity too far, through domestic violence and racism. So, when Merrill beats up on African-American T-Dog and forces Glenn (Asian American kid) and two women to submit to his authority, Rick shows up puts him back in his place and puts himself in leadership position.
3. Uppity women need to know their place
Look women are good at washing clothes but you always get one that gets all uppity. Take Andrea, for instance, college-educated Andrea (but that college education is now worth nothing, of course, as only masculine skills are useful… except cooking and washing clothes), who, after the death of her beloved younger sister, wants to learn to use a gun and to the protecting thing. Well, she cannot be allowed to even have a gun, as Dale makes a point in enforcing. But the bitch does not know her place. She gets a shotgun, uses it, and, of course, makes a terrible mistake (almost killing Daryl).
If only she had waited for one of the men to teach her, then she would have realized how great she would be once she accepted her subservience to more competent men.
4. Women’s ideas are irrelevant
Watch as almost every time a woman makes a suggestion, it is swiftly discarded. Lori does not like the idea of young Carl starting to use a gun. After all, if the men are so reluctant to let grown women use a gun, surely, they would not want a child using them either, right. WRONG! Carl is a boy, he can be taught to use guns, learning to respect the weapon. Which is opposite to Andrea who gets good with guns once she stops being emotional (cuz that’s how bitches are). So, Lori relents and later comes to see that the men were right, as they always are.
Not only are women’s ideas irrelevant, but their ideas about their lives also are. Take Andrea, for instance. After her sister’s death, she is quite despondent (which is, you know, normal). So, when the group gets to the CDC and the doctor them offers a painless suicide as opposed to a permanent race against time and walkers and ultimately a very possible painful death or becoming walkers, Andrea, decides to accept that. So does Jaqui, but she’s black, so, she does not count.
So, Dale takes it upon himself to convince Andrea to not kill herself and blackmails her into helping him get out. Jaqui, though, he is not interested in. So, her character dies in the explosion of the CDC. So long, black lady, we hardly knew you. Dale, incidentally, takes it upon himself to try to control everything about Andrea, treating her like a teenager in need of guidance and surveillance (and chastising Dale for their quickie in the woods because he’s also in charge of Andrea’s sexual life, apparently), but all in the name of caring about her.
5. Women’s trust is irrelevant
Once at Hershel’s farm, two women confide in to Glenn. Lori needs him to get her a pregnancy test (because the slut had sex with Shane when she thought Rick was dead, and, as we all know, the punishment for sluttiness is pregnancy). And Maggie Greene needs him to keep secret the presence of her relative and friends (who have now turned into walkers) in the barn. But Glenn decides, with the helpful advice from patriarch Dale, that these women’s trust is irrelevant and men can do what they want even if it involves betraying such trust.
5. Patriarchs make all the decisions, otherwise, bad things happen
It is in the order of things for alpha males and patriarchs to make all the decisions. If other group members accept it and let it happen, then, everything is fine. It is when some of them get it into their heads to do what they want that bad things happen. Which is why, throughout season 2 (so far), Rick (the alpha male of the transient group) spends quite a bit of time in negotiations with Hershel (the Bible-reading patriarch who is in absolute charge of his flock and has especially a bee in his bonnet about his stepdaughter getting it on with the “Asian boy”). All the important decisions are made between these two.
And the terrible ending of the last episode is because the other group members decide to override the decision progressively being worked out between hegemonic males and do what they want. Slaughter ensues, leaving it up to Rick to make the hard decision, because that is hegemonic man’s burden. And FSM knows that Andrew Lincoln’s (over)acting never lets you forget what a BIG and painful responsibility it is to be in charge. It’s lonely, at the top of the patriarchy.
And then, there’s Lori’s pregnancy. Sure she gets the morning after pill. And someone needs to tell the writers that the morning after pill is NOT an abortion, which is why it is so stupid when Rick, upon finding the pill box, yells at her “you’ve known for days, weeks??” Geez, If she had known for weeks, the morning after pill would have been useless, wouldn’t it. But this is the US, so, of course, Lori will go through the pregnancy. And you can bet that she will be lectured by one man after another regarding what she should and shouldn’t do. Heck, she has already been lectured by Glenn who was still a virgin until a couple of episodes ago.
I can’t wait for the rest of the series. But you gotta keep a sense of humor about the absurdity of certain scenes:
And in Kashmir, girls are just things to stick their penises in (if they can) along with domestic servitude:
“Sakina, 22, was a teenager when she was sold by her family for 1,200 rupees (£15) to a stranger over the age of 60. Her sister, who organised the deal, had duped Sakina by presenting a “young good-looking” chap before the marriage ceremony. She was shocked at seeing the elderly man on the wedding night. Rendered helpless by youth and poverty, there was no escape for the bride. “Nobody helped me,” she said.
Uprooted from her home in Kolkata, Sakina was sent to live far away in Pakharpora, a small village in the Budgam district of the Kashmir valley. The journey 1,200 miles from east to north meant getting used to an entirely different culture and climate.
Time has passed but Sakina cannot reconcile herself to a husband who fails to emotionally or sexually satisfy her. “For the last two years he has become totally impotent,” she said.
The young woman still dreams of marrying someone she loves. But the fear of being torn apart from her two children prevents her from leaving.
There are more stories like Sakina’s in Pakharpora and the surrounding villages nestled in the Himalayas. Muslim girls have been given away by their families to Kashmiri men for amounts ranging from 500 to 20,000 rupees. These girls, who are barely educated, belong to poor families from different parts of the country. “I have heard heartbreaking tales and this practice should be stopped,” said Lubna Khan, a female doctor who makes a weekly visit to the rural outback, which is seldom visited by outsiders.
“What is wrong with these old men?” asked Khan, the sole confidante to many of the sold brides in the area. Local activists say the selling of brides became prevalent in rural areas during the past decade. They attribute it to the rise in poverty due to the 20-year conflict between the Indian army and the militants, who want Kashmir to be independent.”
Of course, widows are used goods, so, who wants them anyway. They can just die alone and poor.
And in Afghanistan (where we, Westerners supposedly liberated women from the patriarchal Taliban):
“Shakila, 8 at the time, was drifting off to sleep when a group of men carrying AK-47s barged in through the door. She recalls them complaining, as they dragged her off into the darkness, about how their family had been dishonored and about how they had not been paid.
It turns out that Shakila, who was abducted along with her cousin as part of a traditional Afghan form of justice known as “baad,” was the payment.
Although baad (also known as baadi) is illegal under Afghan and, most religious scholars say, Islamic law, the taking of girls as payment for misdeeds committed by their elders still appears to be flourishing. Shakila, because one of her uncles had run away with the wife of a district strongman, was taken and held for about a year. It was the district leader, furious at the dishonor that had been done to him, who sent his men to abduct her.
Shakila’s case is unusual both because she managed to escape and because she and her family agreed to share their plight with an outsider. The girl’s father’s reaction to the abduction also illustrates the difficulty in trying to change such a deeply rooted cultural practice: He expressed fury that she was abducted because, he said, he had already promised her in marriage to someone else.
The strength of the traditional justice system and the continuing use of baad is a sign both of Afghans’ lack of faith in the government’s justice system, which they say is corrupt, and their extreme sense of insecurity. Baad is most common in areas where it is dangerous for people to seek out government institutions. Instead of turning to the courts, they go to jirgas, assemblies of tribal elders, that use tribal law, which allows the exchange of women.
”There are two reasons people refuse the courts — first, the corrupt administration which openly demands money for every single case, and second, instability,” said Haji Mohammed Nader Khan, an elder from Helmand who often participates in judging cases that involve baad. “Also, in places where there are Taliban, they won’t allow people to go to courts and solve their problems.””
Such a progressive father.
“During her de facto imprisonment, Shakila and her cousin were allowed out of their dark room after three months and then only so that they could haul firewood from the mountains and lug pails of water from the river. For the entire year or so that they were kept, neither girl was given a fresh set of clothes. For the first six months they were not even allowed to wash the ones they arrived in, making them into dirty-looking urchins who were that much easier for the family to hate. They were fed bread and water every other day.
”They tortured us in a way that no human being would treat another,” Shakila said.
She spoke softly and hid her face when a reporter asked her about the white scars on her forehead. “When they threw me against the stone wall,” she said.”
Sociologist Anthony Giddens reminds us of one central fact: “all traditions are invented traditions. No traditional societies were wholly traditional, and traditions and customs have been invented for a diversity of reasons. (…) Moreover, traditions always incorporate power, whether they are constructed in a deliberate way or not. Kings, emperors and priests and others have long invented traditions to suit themselves and legitimize their rule.” In other words, when people invoke traditions, they imply certain things that are significant from a sociological point of view:
they refer to ideas and practices that apply to groups and collectivities. Traditions are always collective concepts;
they mean to strengthen power arrangements they feel are threatened by modernity;
they invoke tradition to defend practices that are questionable but that they do not want questioned.
This is why invoking traditions is at the heart of conservative thinking even though they refer to “ways we never were”, to paraphrase the title of Stephanie Coontz’s brilliant book on this subject in relation to family structures. In this context, it is not surprising that traditions are always marshaled in defense of patriarchal rule and social structures.
As Giddens indicates, traditions have guardians who are supposed to be the only ones able to interpret the truths perpetuated by traditions. Such guardians can be clerics interpreting sacred texts for their followers or self-appointed “experts” on the family in the United States, for instance. Consistently, such guardians of tradition oppose the ultimate modern and cosmopolitan value of autonomy and individual freedom. Religious fundamentalism, which we examine below, is “beleaguered tradition” as Giddens puts it.
In other words, what the elders above are doing is no different than what the elders below are doing, and they all use the same “traditions” to sustain their power:
Elders: defending and promoting the patriarchy everywhere. It’s a hard job but someone has to do it.