The Other Woman: Gals, Don’t Do That

I read a review in the NYT of The Other Woman (the 2014 movie) that made it sound so bad I simply had to see it for myself. I finally got a chance to rent it last night, and now that I’ve seen it, there’s something I need to get off my chest. The pun, which will become apparent below, is acknowledged but not intended.

The story is, basically: insecure Connecticut housewife Kate King (Leslie Mann) finds out her husband Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is cheating on her with gorgeous lawyer Carly (Cameron Diaz), so she befriends Carly and the two of them plot their revenge on Mark. Then they find out he’s also fucking a sweet young thing named Amber (Kate Upton), so they recruit her into their circle and involve her in their scheme to ruin his life.

I was told the movie was offensively sexist, only occasionally funny, and that the man at the center of this revenge scheme was “charmless.” I simply had to see the movie just to see if it was possible to make Nikolaj Coster-Waldau seem charmless. I can’t believe that unless I see it for myself. The movie was nowhere near as bad as I was told to expect. Granted, I thought the jousting dwarves on Game of Thrones were hilarious, I was laughing right along with Joffrey, so my sense of humor is not such a good example, but I found The Other Woman to be, for the most part, a good piece of mindless, slapstick entertainment. I’d say it’s moderately sexist rather than offensively so. The writing is surprisingly clever; not quite strong enough to convince me of Kate and Carly’s need to go out of their way to find Amber, but it sold me on the idea that it would not be sufficient to send Mark pictures of the three of them dancing together on a beach in the Bahamas. No, he’s a dishonest, unethical piece of shit and he needs to be punished. I’m with them there. If the movie was trying to make Nik C-W seem charmless, they failed miserably; the character is despicable but the performance is perfectly charming and funny. I can see why these three attractive women would become sufficiently invested in him to get angry enough to plot their revenge when they learn of his infidelity. I didn’t like Nicki Minaj’s character, and I’m even more troubled by the fact that the only person of color with any substance in the movie is so incredibly obnoxious, but she does have some funny things to say. It’s well-acted all around. Diaz and Mann are hilarious together, and Kate Upton is perfectly likable. It’s not especially thoughtful or original comedy, but it’s plenty entertaining.

There was just…this one…part, where I found myself unable to turn off my brain and enjoy the ridiculousness. It was plenty ridiculous, but it failed at being funny. It was disturbing, excessive, and not amusing, and this morning I finally figured out what it was about that one scene that grossed me out so hard.

Continue reading

Ugly is wherever you choose to see it.

Dave Futrelle has shown us some “interesting theories about why feminists are “obsessed” with rape and abortion” from an MRA, and I was expecting some fresh batch of fuckery that would get me all good and pissed off. Imagine my disappointment to find out it’s just a rehash of the old rubbish about how rapists only target pretty women, and we feminists are all ugly bitches with nothing to worry about.

(Go ahead and picture Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna reading that paragraph. “I was told you were drunk, impertinent, and thoroughly debauched.” Yes, that’s the voice that keeps going through my head.)

Seriously, though, that’s all they’re saying. We feminists are ugly bitches, and rapists only target women they find attractive, so we’ll never have to worry about getting raped and that’s why we’re all pissed off. That’s the content of the comments shown in the link. That’s the entire range of these fuzz-nuggets’ insight into the feminist psyche. It would get me plenty angry if it were anything new. By now I’ve seen so much of this attitude, my reaction is mostly boredom.

I’m jaded and cynical as fuck, but that doesn’t mean the attitude isn’t also incredibly violent.

Here’s what we need to understand:

No, wait, first off, THIS much is what you need to understand: if you ever, EVER, think it’s okay to suggest that anyone is “too ugly to be raped,” do not ever darken my virtual doorstep. We have nothing to discuss. We have nothing in common. Fuck off and never come back. I’ll ban your sorry little ass without a cursory exhalation.

That aside, it must be pointed out that if rape is a matter of who is “irresistible,” then basically everyone is irresistible to someone. Rapists target everyone from the most conventionally attractive to the least. Rapists target symmetrically flawless 20-ish blondes, they target children, they target elderly women, they target fat women, they target women who are about to faint due to starvation, they target people with serious mental illnesses and cognitive disabilities, they target pretty much everyone. Women are more frequently targeted than men, and women of color (particularly black, undocumented immigrant, and Native American) are more often victimized than white women, and generally those of lower privilege profiles have higher victimization rates than those of us who enjoy relatively high privilege, but ultimately, rapists decide what type of people they want to victimize, and they find a way. They don’t exclusively attack the ones who look like the fashion models who appear most often in the pages of Vogue and Cosmopolitan, they just…target whomever they think is least likely to be taken seriously if they have the courage to report to the police.

There is no woman in the known world who is too good-looking to be told she is too ugly to be raped.

This is what the narrative of “rapists target pretty women” does: it creates a division that has more to do with perception than risk. We are all at risk, to some extent. No matter how beautiful or how hideous, we all have to watch our backs. No matter how compliant with current beauty standards, or how divergent from what is considered desirable, we all have to worry that we either should have seen the rape coming, or that we should be grateful for the attention. We all have to worry about being victimized, and we all have to worry about being blamed.

I don’t like to use the passive voice, but it’s tricky to determine who is responsible for choosing victims and assigning blame.

No one will ever be able to convince me that I’m not a good-looking woman. I’ve received waaaay too many messages on OKCupid with little content other than to tell me I’m cute. (Speaking of which: up your game, guys. That shit gets old in a hurry.) It’s far too late for anyone to tell me otherwise.

And perhaps one might think I could sneer at these rape advocates (they’re not even apologists for rape anymore) with a sample of the shots that photographer Barbara Glaeser just posted on her blog from my session with her. Here’s one of those old, ugly, repulsive feminists who are so obsessed with rape and abortion!

Continue reading

They don’t really want us to leave the cities.

Yeah, I’ve been quiet lately, but I’m not dead. Tauriq Moosa has brought us the news that Scott Adams, known sock-puppeteer, is still talking, this time about street harassment. He still hasn’t learned anything.

There’s the initial bout of condescension towards feminists and feminist-sympathizers, which is especially rich coming from this guy because let me remind you: known sock-puppeteer. He seems to think that feminists don’t know how our movement is received by men, and therefore his opinion will be valuable to us.

Okay, so, quick note to any male readers who might be new (to this blog, to feminist discussion in general) around here: if it seems like feminist activism is insufficiently responsive to men’s objections, or insufficiently sensitive to men’s feelings, or just generally not saying what men think should be said, it’s not because we don’t hear you. Trust me, we hear you. We hear you much better than you hear us. We have different priorities. If our priorities were in line with men’s priorities, we wouldn’t be feminists.

With that in mind, his whole post is worthless before it begins. He’s giving us his take on the recent (infamous) street harassment video by Hollaback, in which a young white or white-passing woman walks through the streets of New York, mostly Harlem, and gets tons of unsolicited, inappropriate, sometimes threatening attention. (If you don’t already know which one I’m talking about, put “Hollaback video Shoshana B. Roberts” into a Google search. You probably already know it.) He looks at this video, first complains that it’s deceptively edited, and then starts screaming at all us uppity females to move somewhere else. Yeah, that’s what he says. Over and over. There’s a bit of concern-trolling about racism and classism, but mostly he’s just screaming at us to move out of wherever we’re experiencing street harassment now. Here are some edited highlights:

MOVE!!! JUST FUCKING MOVE!!!

Okay, I know, your family lives in New York City and your job is there and….JUST FUCKING MOVE!!! MOVE!!! STOP MAKING IT MY PROBLEM!!!

[The video] makes women look like idiots for living in such a place voluntarily.

The creepy stalker guys were just scary. MOVE!!! MOVE!!! MOVE!!!

Mr. Certified Genius Adams’s angle is that he’s telling us feminists how to handle our message to make it more appealing to men, and if he’s thinking that way, this reaction to the issue of street harassment is probably not unique. There are a lot of reasons why this advice is unhelpful, such as a) There are some careers that are impossible to pursue outside of New York and Los Angeles, b) There’s basically no such thing as a safe neighborhood for women, c) The men who appear in that video are probably much more aggressive towards black and brown women who live in their neighborhoods full time, d) Moving somewhere else is fucking expensive and risky, often prohibitively so, e) Therefore, the women who are likely getting the most egregious harassment are the ones who can least afford to move and have the most limited options for other places to live, and f) Wait a minute, why is it that the women have to move? Women are not the problem here.

There are all those issues, and now I want to add that Scott Adams, and anyone else who thinks the solution to street harassment is for women to go live somewhere else, isn’t really serious about that. They don’t want us to move out of the cities. Even if there are some places where women can live and work without harassment (which…no, honestly, there aren’t), nobody actually wants us to follow this advice. If all the women currently experiencing street harassment in New York City cut their losses and moved out to the Land of Safe Streets, that would be a very serious problem for NYC, and nobody wants that to happen. Nobody wants New York, or LA, or DC, or San Francisco, or Chicago, or anywhere else where creepy stalker guys exist (which is…everywhere that humans live) to become a sausagefest. A city without women is an unsustainable city. Demographic devastation is not the answer to street harassment.

They don’t want us to move somewhere safer. They want us to shut up and pretend there’s no problem.

How does anyone think this is a good idea?

There’s this shit on Captain Awkward:

I have a 40-year-old friend who’s very open about his frustrations with internet dating in our geeky friend circle, and recently he went on a date with a 32-year-old woman who, during their date, said that she is looking to have a couple of kids in the future. She didn’t want them straight away, but she’s looking for a relationship that would ideally end up there.

One of the cool things about online dating is that you can state in your profile that you definitely do or do not want children, and you can see how other users answer the same question. If this woman didn’t put that info in her profile, then he’s fortunate she put it out in the open on their first date.

He was appalled by this, and says he feels a) like he was being assessed for fatherhood, and b) that it was unfair that because he doesn’t want to have kids ever, (and I’m sure for other reasons,) she wouldn’t have another date with him – he thinks they’re compatible in other areas, so could have a lot of fun.

Yeah. Um. “Compatible in other areas” doesn’t really add up when one of you wants children and the other one doesn’t.

Most of our friend-group seem to be commiserating with him, but I think he’s out of order. He’s saying that there’s time for her to have a fling with him,

NOPE NOPE NOPE.

It keeps getting better, folks.

I seem to be in an extreme minority – as a gay woman who’s 40, apparently I don’t understand these things. […] But he’s being given sympathetic suggestions like he should have said he wasn’t sure about kids, and string her along for a bit, or do that AND try to persuade her she doesn’t want kids after all, which is despicable to me, or that this woman was some kind of crazy person who was only after his sperm and he had a lucky escape.

HOLY FUCK ALL THE NOPE I CAN’T EVEN.

Do you have any suggestions, or resources, to help geeky guys understand that for some (not all) women in their ‘30s, dating can be more serious than for the 40-year-old guys? I’m obviously not getting through – and given he only wants to date women in their early 30s (if a woman’s still single over 40, she’s got too much baggage, or something something? I KNOW! Why AM I friends with him?) this is unlikely to be the only time this will happen.

See what this dude’s doing here? See what his friends are encouraging him to do?

Guys, don’t do that.

Compared to a man of any age who definitely does not want children, ever, for a woman over 30, who definitely does want children, all other emotional factors being equal, dating is inherently a more serious endeavor. Why is this?

Do I really have to explain why? You know our fertility has a hard limit, right? You know there comes a time at which we can no longer conceive, at all, yes? And well before then, there comes a less certain time at which getting pregnant becomes very difficult and carrying to term gets especially dangerous? And you may have noticed there’s a lot of cultural/medical pressure on women to get our baby-having done before a certain age? Because if you haven’t noticed that pressure, trust me: it’s there. All women who want or might want kids, and have made it past 30 without having any, have noticed that pressure. Advanced maternal age becomes an issue starting at 35. If we finally start trying to conceive at 40, it’ll be really difficult-to-impossible, and that difficulty is all our fault for waiting too long. That’s the message behind the bulk of media attention to the prevalence of infertility: it’s OUR fault if we wait too long.

With that in mind, guys, lying your way into a “fling” with a 30something woman who wants to make babies is a really shitty thing to do.

You do not lie about what you want and string her along. You do not try to persuade her she doesn’t want kids after all. You definitely do not complain about sperm-jacking (which is hardly even a real thing), you do not entertain any suggestions that she might be trying to sperm-jack, if you’re trying to get her to ignore or postpone her plans for motherhood. What the woman is doing in this case is basically the very opposite of sperm-jacking, to the extent that it happens at all.

Think about this: if you’re a dude who thinks sperm-jacking is a thing that might happen to you doesn’t want to be a father, and you’re afraid some woman might disregard your choice in the matter, then…you want to keep your pants firmly on around any woman with a stated interest in procreation. Don’t complain that she won’t go for a second date.

I am telling you all this from the perspective of having been that 30something woman who wants babies and is trying to find a family-making partner. I’ve since changed my mind, and realized that I actually like my selfish, hedonistic existence and don’t want to fuck it up with any defenseless mini-humans, but still, I’ve been in that position of trying to find a partner of the “spouse and co-parent” level, and from that mentality, dating is very serious business. My last boyfriend might have eventually made a good co-parent—who knows, he might be on his way to becoming someone else’s co-parent now!—but our relationship simply wasn’t life-partnership material. I won’t go into detail about how I ultimately decided to break it off, but I will tell you this much: when I finally reached the point where I realized that our relationship just wasn’t serious, and he wasn’t interested in getting serious, then I found that I didn’t want him in my life even as a friend. I had just turned 33, he knew I wanted children (I did, at the time, and his dating profile said he wanted kids too), and he was happy to keep taking up my time indefinitely for a relationship that was going nowhere. Once I put that together, I didn’t feel very friendly to him, and in the months that have passed, my feelings toward my ex haven’t improved. (I didn’t quite see the heights of his disrespect for me until after I broke it off, but that’s another issue.)

It’s possible for two people who both want children to date for a while and still find that it’s not working out, and that’s fine. If they’re really making it work, it’s not necessarily going to reach the kid-having stage as quickly as either of them may have wanted, and that’s okay. The fact that most relationships don’t get that far, and those that do, generally need some time to get there, is why it is really, really unacceptable to say “she has time for a fling with me” when she’s 32 and knows she wants children. No. She has time to let a relationship develop. If she’s willing to say, in as many words during the first date, that she would like to have a couple of kids, then she does not have time for a fling.

They still want us to cross the street.

PZ Myers picked up this…humorous…new meme, but I refuse to put another copy of the unaltered image into Google, so I’ve done my part with it:

Original meme shows compact car hitting female pedestrian on roadway. Text was: "FEMINIST LOGIC" "Don't tell me when to cross the street. Teach drivers not to hit people."  I have super-imposed new text: "ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME? DO YOU THINK RAPE IS JUST LIKE AN ACCIDENTAL COLLISION? WHO ACTUALLY THINKS THIS WAY? WHO?"

Original meme shows compact car hitting female pedestrian on roadway. Text was: “FEMINIST LOGIC”
“Don’t tell me when to cross the street. Teach drivers not to hit people.”
I have super-imposed new text: “ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME? DO YOU THINK RAPE IS JUST LIKE AN ACCIDENTAL COLLISION? WHO ACTUALLY THINKS THIS WAY? WHO?”

Short version: there is no universe in which this analogy is not completely fucking inappropriate in every possible way. This is another one of those analogies that say more about how anti-feminists think of men than about how feminists think of women.

As PZ points out right away, we actually DO have a system of education aimed at preventing motorists from running over pedestrians. Some countries might be more lax than others about enforcement, but here in the US, you need a license to drive. You can be criminally prosecuted for driving without a license. Part of the licensing process is demonstrating that you know how to watch out for pedestrians. Not everyone has the right to drive a car. Some people are not eligible for driver’s licensing because they do not meet the conditions for operating a motor vehicle without putting lives in danger.

Continue reading

While we’re on the subject: they still want our nudie photos.

Like I said yesterday, all the “advice” aimed at women to keep ourselves “safe” isn’t really serious. Nobody genuinely, truly wants us to behave in such a way that we have no vulnerabilities for predatory people to exploit. Folks love to scold us not to drink so damn much, but they don’t actually want us to take it far enough that rapists and other abusers would be unable to attack us.

Right now the news of Women’s Personal Safety is about nude photos. Unless you live under a rock, in which case you probably aren’t reading my blog, you’ve heard about all the famous women whose intimate photos were stolen from their iCloud accounts and shared with the entire Internet. And I’m sure you’ve heard some of the commentary about what those women should have done so that they couldn’t be violated like this. “Don’t take nudie pictures with your phone!” “The Internet isn’t safe!” “Nothing you put online is ever really secure!” “Use stronger passwords!”

I’m somewhat more sympathetic to the people who now preach the gospel of Not Taking Pictures Of Yourself Naked, but that’s mostly because the Internet is a fairly recent invention, cellphones with cameras are even more recent, and yeah, okay, the advice is pretty straightforward. It’s a lot less socially revolutionary and personally restrictive to refrain from putting nekkid photos of yourself online than it is to avoid rape by eschewing alcohol.

Even so, it’s worth asking why these women took these photos and stored them in iCloud accounts. If we were to sit down with Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Ariana Grande, etc. and ask sincerely, what were their reasons for taking and uploading those photos, their answers would probably all be variations on a particular theme: there were men who wanted to see them naked. They took those photos, and uploaded them, because some guys asked them nicely to do so.

This is different from revenge porn, in that the guys who asked for the photos to be taken do not appear to have been involved in stealing those photos and sharing them without the women’s consent. Both violations are similar in that they, admittedly, would not have been possible if those women had declined to take photos of themselves unclothed.

So, this is a question that I want feminist-allied, women-loving men to ask themselves: Do you really want nubile women to stop sharing nudie pics with their men? Do you want your next girlfriend to be afraid to give you a picture of her naked self?

Do you want to live in a world in which nudie pics are never taken and shared between intimate friends and partners, because there are too many people who fail to respect boundaries and privacy?

What if we really DID stop getting so wasted?

Sometimes I like to think about what would happen if women (all people who are at risk of rape victimization, really, but the advice is primarily aimed at women) really followed all this “personal safety” advice ostensibly designed to prevent rape? Of course it’s really about making sure they rape someone else, but still: what would happen if we really did what the unending Greek chorus of comparing women’s bodies to unlocked cars were constantly shrieking at us to do?

“Don’t walk alone at night!” “Have a buddy with you at all times!” “Don’t stay out so late!” “Stop getting so wasted!”

“Guys like this don’t pick on the SOBER girls!”

I want to share another issue I have with all this finger-wagging at women to avoid rape by not getting drunk: this is not serious advice.

I’ve already said a lot about how inappropriate it is: rapists target their victims, and they make good and sure their targets drink too much. Drunk victims are seen as less sympathetic, while drunk rapists are seen as less culpable.

I’ve already gone on about how unproductive it is: if drunk girls aren’t available, rapists choose their victims based on other vulnerabilities.

But there’s something else that I don’t see in the discussion about the “personal safety” approach to rape prevention: all these people constantly scolding us not to drink so much, not to “let” rapists find us vulnerable, not to leave our proverbial cars unlocked in bad neighborhoods? They don’t mean it. Not really.

Continue reading

Ireland’s acting like the setting of a dystopian novel.

This is the sort of thing that happens when a suicidal woman requests an abortion in Ireland.

The poor girl must have been devastated. She was certainly traumatised enough to go on hunger and fluid strike. The HSE went to the High Court to get a care order to prevent her from starving herself. Eventually, she surrendered and allowed the baby to be delivered by Caesarean section sometime between 23 and 25 weeks.

She did what the law asked of her: presented herself to a panel of three psychiatrists and told them about her suicidal ideation. The psychiatrists agreed that she was a suicide risk and should be allowed a termination, but the obstetrician stepped in and insisted that the pregnancy was far along enough for a live delivery and therefore MUST have a live delivery.

She tried starving herself. No, she wasn’t allowed to starve; the state took her in and forced her not to starve or dehydrate. As long as she was pregnant, she did not have permission to die.

This is only a couple of steps removed from the setting of a dystopian novel I was working on (now shelved indefinitely) around the same time as beginning my urban fantasy work; in present-day Ireland, they only keep her hooked up for a short time, and they don’t appear to be forcing psychotropic drugs on her, but still, this is a very Handmaid’s Tale way to treat a young woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant.

Something tells me they don’t roll out the protective orders for suicidal people who aren’t pregnant. Now that the baby is out, there’s nothing stopping her from killing herself.

Delivery at 25 weeks is nearly the bare minimum required for a fetus to survive delivery. There’s a reason why nearly all parents with wanted pregnancies keep them going closer to 40 weeks if at all possible. Staying alive after such a premature birth is doable, but it’s not healthy.

The physical effects (her mental health is clearly irrelevant as far as the state is concerned) of Cesarean section are far from trivial, especially compared to abortion. She’s been forced into a major operation, with permanent effects, in order to deliver an extremely premature infant whom she did not want to conceive in the first place and will not raise.

I do understand where the Irish government is coming from, in handling such cases this way. If one pregnant woman can say she’s suicidal and get a safe abortion in an Irish hospital, it won’t be long until ALL women with unwanted pregnancies can get terminations just by claiming to have suicidal thoughts. Before you know it, the Republic of Ireland will be known as a country where any woman can get a pregnancy terminated legally by a qualified doctor. Everyone knows Ireland is supposed to outsource their abortion care to Great Britain. Anything less is a travesty. The woman in this case was unable to travel to the UK for a legal abortion. I’m seeing from other sources that she is not an Irish national, so it’s probably an immigration concern that kept her from making the trip. It’s the most disadvantaged and desperate women who can be forced to keep their pregnancies to the point of just barely viability, and who can be taken into state custody to keep from starving themselves. Those with more control over their life circumstances can exercise their right to reproductive freedom in other countries.

But that said, how far does it have to go? How many more women have to go on hunger strike, or successfully kill themselves, before the Irish government decides that allowing legal abortion to happen within its own borders would not be the worst thing ever? How many women will they incarcerate and force into major abdominal surgery for the sake of barely viable micro-preemies before they start re-examining their priorities?

Someone’s priorities are really skewed.

This asshole happened:

 “This Ebola epidemic could become a global pandemic and that’s another name for plague,” said broadcaster Rick Wiles on his “Trunews” program.

“It may be the great attitude adjustment that I believe is coming,” Wiles continued. “Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography, and abortion.”

Someone is really, really eager for a new plague to come along and punish America for its overly accepting, pleasure-seeking, independence-oriented ways.

I don’t think it’s any accident that all the “problems” Mr. Wiles listed either pertain to enjoying sex, or refuse to put money in the church offering plate.

Of all the horrible shit that’s going on in our country, and of all the destruction we’ve wrought elsewhere in the world, there are plenty of people, like Mr. Wiles, who think the real problems are, respectively: not being Christian, fucking people of the same gender, fucking lots of people in a given stretch of time, watching other people fuck, and fucking while refusing to accept uncontrolled fertility.

We drove a wrecking ball through Afghanistan, we’ve jackhammered Iraq, we’ve failed to clean up our messes in both of those countries, we continue to enable the Israel/Palestine conflict, we waste absurd amounts of money and human productivity on punishing people for non-violent drug offenses, and we keep millions of families in poverty. Our entire nation owes its existence to genocide and slavery.

Enjoying sex and not apologizing, though? Now THAT is where this guy’s God is putting the smackdown on us.

Most people, including the vast majority of American Christians, tend to think that Wiles’s laundry list of sins ranges from “not a problem in the least” to “less of a problem than people dying of Ebola.”

And yet, there are still people who keep guys like this in business. Many of them do a lot of the same things that are supposedly bringing God’s wrath on us, but they feel bad about it, and that makes all the difference.