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Friday, 25 November 2016

To Screw And Be Screwed

To Screw And Be Screwed

Alexander Gordon Jahans

Forgive the rather bowdlerised title won’t you? Titles show up in search results you know and I don’t want to offend people unduly by title alone. Suffice to say this particular article is not safe for work and you can consider this a trigger warning for sexual themes and feminist critique I know how the sensitive souls among my audience can be deeply affected by those things so look away now. This blog won’t make much ad revenue anyway.

There is this thing I learned in Film Studies, it’s sort of pretention bingo but there is merit to it. Textual analysis. The ability to look at a work objectively and analyse the meanings it is trying to convey and on occasion accidentally conveying. I actually failed the module on representation in film because I was going through my anti-feminist phase and in deep denial about myself and the things I enjoyed. I only scraped through with a D grade on that module when I took a superficial racial reading of Star Wars episode 4 A New Hope.. So my opinions here are not necessarily the most rigorously accurate. None the less I made the mistake when drunk of trying to perform a textual analysis of my short story The Shrinkening and the genre of shrunken women fic in general.

TL: DR I’m a misogynistic pig despite my best intentions and aspirations. Sorry.

There is this idea in feminist circles called Rape Culture. -
I must be careful here because 1.  As has already been stated I don’t really have the best relationship with, nor understanding of feminism. 2. Feminism is great vast spectrum in and of itself incorporating radicals who genuinely and perhaps justifiably in some cases hate men and wish violence upon us, radicals who think feminism should absolutely be a movement for men’s liberation from sexism as well and more moderate feminists in the middle some of which see trans people as a threat to women and many moderate feminists who absolutely incorporate trans people into the feminist banner and cause.  Finally 3. I’m not really sure what Rape Culture as a concept is myself.

None the less I shall attempt to explain. You see it is a fairly well accepted (at least across the feminist spectrum) idea that there is this oppressive regime known as the Patriarchy. Some might see the regime as just capitalism and indeed as a regulated capitalist myself, the description the Randian Anarcho-Capitalist Andrew Ryan gives of capitalism as this great chain of industry, is I think an apt metaphor for the Patriarchy. You see the Patriarchy is a system of oppression and I do mean system. We technically live in a post-feminist utopia of equality right now where women largely have all legal equality to men but the system of Patriarchy lives on, biases passing from father to sun, mother to daughter, employer to employee. Each generation may be a little less sexist, may tolerate sexism a little bit less but the gears turn and the stem remains functioning, keeping white men in a position of power and privilege. It’s positively feudal in its way, then even with such regulation cultural osmosis keeps men at the top and women in a subservient capacity.

If my easily triggered followers are raging at that idea of Patrarchy (as biased, ill informed and contentious as it may be) then they may wet their pants at what I understand Rape Culture to be.

If Patriarchy is the great chain of industry then Rape Culture is where that subtle cultural system of oppression becomes malicious disregard for men and women alike. It is what separates the regulated capitalist from the anarcho-capitalist, the conservative from the fascist, the socialist from the communist. But that’s my bias again. I don’t as a rule like the term misogyny. Even the greatest sexist prick tends to love women in some capacity, indeed that is the chief form of oppression. The cultural value of the female form. Sexism is fine that’s sexual discrimination, an apt term, but woman hater? Yet that’s what Rape Culture is, misogynistic, a culture of hating women and wanting to see them hurt.

Now here the easily triggered will cry out about society never believing that men can be victimised by women and that’s true. Men who are beaten by women, men who are raped by women are so rarely believed, given due respect and sympathy and as a result so rarely come forward. Rape Culture is on one level overtly about the system that encourages, expects and minimizes rape and violence against women but it is also about the sociological reasons behind the rape and dismissal of it. And truth is, in my limited understanding, that we don’t believe men can be victims because we want women to be victims, because we expect women to be victims.

We are civilised folk. We wear trousers, drink tea and/or coffee, have tablet pcs and understand how social media works. We are not ape men howling about our cravings for a bonk, we want equality, of course we do. But we do also want violence perpetrated against women, for them to be vulnerable, fragile, compassionate darlings. Or at least enough of us do that happen to be in positions to influence are. Many of us probably don’t even recognise these tendencies within us. We make explanations and try to justify subtle discrimination and a predilection towards art or sexual material that degrades, dominates or breaks women.

I am mindful of my own prejudices here so let me take a cue from that great feminist voice Anita Sarkesian. She has criticised the idea of the violent female protagonist and admittedly that is something of a problem with videogames. Even my hybrid morality flies out of the window when I play videogames to the point where I basically play Civ 5 as the worst kind of militaristic dictator and end up resurrecting the dead just to kill them again for the experience in Skyrim.

Turning the criticism to wider narrative media however, like books, tv and film, and I very definitely think she has a point. When I think of my favourite characters in fiction, they aren’t the fighters but rather the thinkers who use words and manipulation to control from the shadows. A role even the misogynistic as fuck history books consider to be women’s forte. There is such scope for a female heroine under the trickster archetype, even in the most backwards of settings and I would absolutely love it. I want the Ms Trickster Mysteries to exist but I can’t write them.

I performed a textual analyses of my own fiction and I did not like what I found, I did not believe what I found. I wear pyjamas and suits, I drink tea, I own two tablet pcs and have a facebook fan page. I am a feminist. Or at least I think I am and would like to be. But then I stumbled upon the most curious thing. I’m in one of my research phases at the moment catching up on classic tv: The Thick of It, Yes Minister, Blackadder, House of Cards and Hannibal. It is a hell of a thing to see the powerful charismatic villain being positively dasstardly to some poor unfortunate chosen for seduction and manipulation then find yourself aroused. And in an oh so familiar way. Can’t really write it off as the thrill of creativity or writing when one is a passive voyeur and just as intoxicated. What’s scary is the realisation that my darkest of demons are a standard and accepted part of culture. I know now why I have been tearing myself to pieces all these years, I know it’s wrong and yet I also know by the standards of humans today aren’t so great or uncommon.

And that my friends is Rape Culture. That one can be a feminist, can aspire to be a feminist, yet take delight in the fictional domination and manipulation of women and there not be a contradiction nor especial rarity in that. We live in a culture that passively accepts and finds satisfaction in the victimisation of women. It is an unsettling and disturbing thing to consider. That our unconscious biases, impulses and culture are encouraging however passively the rape and victimisation of women. We cannot deal with this problem in society unless we each wake up to our own parts in the great machine of oppression.

A women with years of political experience who actually won the most votes lost the presidential election to a fat headed, reality tv star, compulsive liar and alleged rapist. Actually fuck alleged. Trump fucking bragged about sexually assaulting women. Even if he was joking that doesn’t excuse him but the fact that it did is part of Rape Culture. Not that all female leaders are necessarily progressive steps forward. *Glares at Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher* Just that here was a vote between Hitler the second and a woman and still the penis won because the woman used  email wrongly while he got off with fraud, rape, sexual assault, racism and even losing the cocking election to come out in charge of the country.

Anyway, sorry if I have upset anyone of the feminist persuasion. I am a flawed man but I shall try to be an asset not a burden to the cause despite my failings.

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