Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Lighting the Dark

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  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    And the award for point missing goes to Grant McDougall.

    Let me put this for you even more plainly. Women are clamouring to tell you about the violence they receive, every day, at the hands of men. The violence comes in words, in fists, in stalking, in being slammed against a wall so hard your teeth crack. It comes in psychological violence, in the headlines in articles blaming women for being attacked. It comes when we are girls, and when we are old women. And from Men Like You. It's not about guns. So shut up and listen.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Question: are gendered terms more helpful when they are positive, like girl power?

    Is "girl power" a positive when it's used about grown women?

    Gender stereotyping is always a mix of positive and negative traits. Women are caring. Men are strong. Those are positive things.

    I think it pays to sometimes stop and think about why you're using a particular phrase. When you say something like "girl power", what is it you're actually describing? Is it specific to one gender? Is it something shared by all or most members of that gender? If the answer to either question is no, is there a reason to use a gender-specific term to describe it? If not, maybe don't.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    Of course, without the guns he probably wouldn't have killed people (or at least that many people). But I think the point is more that the shootings are an almost logical endpoint of MRA culture. I'm not using that #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter because, frankly, I'm scared of being threatened, and no matter how likely it is that those threats are empty, they're part of what happens to us when we talk online, and they're part of what happens to us when we reject sexual advances. Misogyny: to coin a phrase, we're soaking in it.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Danielle,

    persuading them to want to flirt back
    Or... maybe not doing that.

    I'm sorry, can you explain that? How is it bad to flirt such that people want to flirt back?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 491 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Moz,

    Sorry, maybe you didn't mean it the way it sounded to me, which was "keep going with the flirting even if they're obviously not interested". "Persuading" is one of those mildly worrying words, I guess?

    (I should probably note that I barely remember how this works in practice. I've been in a monogamous relationship since 1998. ;) )

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Danielle,

    Thank you. I did put "... want to..." in there specifically to try to allay those concerns, although it looks as though that wasn't enough. Hmm.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 491 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    And because I didn't say what I came here to say:

    To add to your list: Be a safe space. Let people know that you're safe. Don't touch them if they don't want it. Don't expect them to be OK when they're not. Don't assign blame. Don't offer retribution. It takes a lot for some people to feel safe, and it means a huge amount when they do.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall, in reply to Nat D,

    I didn't intend to derail it - certainly not deliberately, ok ? This might surprise you, but I'm on actually on your side. Sorry for upsetting anyone, but I just thought the gun aspect was worth commenting on.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Howe, in reply to Emma Hart,

    The temptation for any individual to blame other people for their failures is very strong. When you’re basically handed the script?

    The script is pervasive. For men it is to take vengeance on those who he sees as having wronged him. This "hero" often chooses to act in a violent and indiscriminate manner. Any extreme action is justified in our eyes and the "prize" should be sweet revenge (and of course the girl).

    Reality check: this "hero" needs psychological help and possible incarceration to protect society.

    This is how it plays out in media. But even in day-to-day life society accepts this.

    Golden Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Mike Howe,

    But even in day-to-day life society accepts this.

    Turns it into magical light tricks and projects it onto silver screens and burns it onto DVDs for our entertaining indoctrination.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2157 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    Don’t offer retribution.

    This is a big one, and maybe not so obvious. Because the script for a man when a woman they care about is hurt, is to leave her alone by herself, and Go After the perpetrator. "I'll go punch him in the nuts for you," doesn't actually help, IMO, it just makes you feel worse.

    Be a safe space. Let people know that you’re safe.

    To put it another way, how can a woman tell you're not That Guy? She's not psychic, and you shouldn't expect women to assume all men are safe until proven otherwise. It's a bit bloody late then.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    A really nice example of my earlier point? My flatmate will pause things, or tell me it's time to go and make a cup of tea, any time there's a scene in a movie or TV that I might not want to watch. She's my real life trigger warning.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Is “girl power” a positive when it’s used about grown women?

    Excellent point.

    When you say something like “girl power”, what is it you’re actually describing?

    Well, it was probably a bad example to choose, but since you ask, I was thinking of it being a term that encourages girls to be assertive, independent, ambitious, self-reliant and so on.

    But just to clarify, it's a horrible term that I wouldn't dream of using.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 662 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Women do make for the very best friends.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2320 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Not sure I can contribute much but some thoughts occurred while reading the various links.

    Historically when you wanted to go to war for whatever reason one of the first things that needed to be done was to define the other nation as "not human" or "other". That definition makes it easier for the humans on your side to kill the humans on the other side. The next thing you need to do is make the humans on your side who are doing the killing less human themselves. That's not easy, most soldiers find it very difficult.

    Much of what I read today on this seemed in many ways to be about reminding all parties that we are all human. And at the same time a tremendously outpouring of frustration that this is not blindingly obvious.

    At what point does a man decide women are not human and then take that decision far enough to do harm - of any kind? What is it that we are doing when we raise generation after generation that casually define women as less-than-human, because as far as I can see that appears to be the case.

    As an aside, I suspect not all derailing is done maliciously, I suspect some of it comes from needing to avoid some pretty ugly conclusions about our own behaviour as men. I certainly don't feel like I'm confident I have not been party to some of the behaviours described on #yesallwomen and that isn't a comfortable thing.

    For me as a man the scary part is not knowing - no scratch that - being pretty certain there must have been times where I was "that man".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3425 posts Report Reply

  • andrew gunn,

    Thanks Emma

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2009 • 42 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    As an aside, I suspect not all derailing is done maliciously, I suspect some of it comes from needing to avoid some pretty ugly conclusions about our own behaviour as men. I certainly don’t feel like I’m confident I have not been party to some of the behaviours described on #yesallwomen and that isn’t a comfortable thing.

    Well, sure. And that's why an incredibly important -- and incredibly difficult -- part of being an ally is having the right answer to this question:

    Are you really listening, or are you just impatiently waiting to assert your unexamined male privilege to speak?

    So often, the most empowering thing us guys can do is just give the floor all the way over to the women who are told on a daily basis: "You can't talk about that, and certain not that way. And even if you do, nobody who matters cares about what's rattling around in your empty little lady-brain."

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    For me as a man the scary part is not knowing – no scratch that – being pretty certain there must have been times where I was “that man”.

    I know damn well that there have been times in my youth when I was "that man" to a greater or lesser extent, and probably more recently when I've lapsed in one way or another.

    And I've come to believe that it is incumbent upon those of us in that situation and with the emotional resources to spare to own our past failings rather than be ashamed to show them; to be the ones who step up and say "It is OK to have fallen for these ideas in the past, but we know better now and must work to overcome the influence they have on our thoughts and actions."

    To be examples of people in the process of change and encourage society to accept that it is not easy to unlearn these habits and thought patterns, but it is possible and it is a change worth making.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Nat D,

    Thank you, I was just going to make the same point.

    What about Wossname in Auckland who beat his ex-girlfriend to death a couple of years ago? Same entitlement syndrome, result was still a death.

    The only difference is that guns make it easier to kill someone rather than putting someone in a hospital, Make it even easier to kill multiple people. The underlying motive and intent? Exactly the same.

    Sure, the US needs to continue their gun debate, but whatever the outcome, it doesn't stop toxic attitudes to "the Other", whatever the Other may be.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I’ll try and be brief about this. I understand and wholly support the reaction of the women I know to this horror. My response, equally understandably, I think, was that here was yet another young man with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis going on a brutal rampage. Like Adam Lanza, who slaughtered 20 children and six adults 18 months ago at Sandy Hook, Rodger was the same age as my older son. That weighs very heavily on me.

    I’ve been wearied and sometimes upset by the constant Twitter retweet noise telling me I’m not allowed to think about that. I made myself read Rodger’s screed and I believe that he clearly had a severe personality disorder and probably symptoms of ASD.

    The thing here is that what Emma aptly describes as “the script” (I thought “the text”) came from a pervasive culture of misogyny. It was that which colonised the space in Rodger’s alienated life. It is that which is a constant reality for women who have to be around misogynist men. That weighs heavily on me too.

    I wrote a post about this after Sandy Hook, so I don’t need to carry on. That’s not what this conversation is today. But I would ask that people allow that there is more than one dimension of these horrible events.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Robert Urquhart,

    To be examples of people in the process of change and encourage society to accept that it is not easy to unlearn these habits and thought patterns, but it is possible and it is a change worth making.

    This. We all fuck up sometimes, all of us. I've seen people change their minds and never acknowledge it - so someone who's pushed the 'car keys' metaphor for rape is on the other side of that argument the next time it comes around - but it takes even more courage to say, as Bart and Robert have here, and some of you have on other threads of mine, "I used to think this/say this/do this, and it was wrong, and now I try really hard not to." Those are the moments I do this for, to be honest. It's what it's all about for me.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    but it takes even more courage to say, as Bart and Robert have here, and some of you have on other threads of mine, “I used to think this/say this/do this, and it was wrong, and now I try really hard not to.” Those are the moments I do this for, to be honest. It’s what it’s all about for me.

    I’ve chewed over a couple or three things over the years, still do. None of them terrible, all of them things I wish I had the chance to do over because I don’t like who I was then and there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Russell Brown,

    --"My response, equally understandably, I think, was that here was yet another young man with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis going on a brutal rampage. "

    I'm not sure he did have a diagnosis, given that family friend someone Astaire was reported as saying his family just suspected he was on the spectrum.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 814 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The thing here is that what Emma aptly describes as “the script” (I thought “the text”) came from a pervasive culture of misogyny. It was that which colonised the space in Rodger’s alienated life. It is that which is a constant reality for women who have to be around misogynist men. That weighs heavily on me too.

    True - but "the script" plays out in the lives of plenty of men who aren't on the spectrum and aren't mentally ill. What's really got me nervous about a lot of chatter around this is how the framing of Rodger as nothing more than a "psycho" is a very convenient way to avoid talking about the culture of misogyny. It's much easier to load more shit on the millions of mentally ill people who don't go on misogynistic kill-sprees.

    I've spent a lot of today trying to write something more or less coherent about Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow's Twitter-tantrum at Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, the way it was reported and the sadly predictable shit Hornaday's had thrown in her direction. (Sorry, don't think it's appropriate to link here but it's not hard to find.) In the end, I just don't really have the spoons for much more than a lot of crying.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Wading in cautiously: thanks for the post Emma. Just wanted to say that and sort of stick my hand up as a non-contributing-but-actively-listening person.

    I’ve chewed over a couple or three things over the years, still do. None of them terrible, all of them things I wish I had the chance to do over because I don’t like who I was then and there.

    I'd bet that more or less everyone does. I certainly do. I read a lot of the links in Emma's post, and they're thought processes, paths, and conclusions I've mostly already arrived at after spending the decades since my teens getting comfortable with myself. But in my '20's? No.

    So how do I contribute in a way that helps more people to be comfortable well-adjusted humans?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

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