It's time for another edition of "Lauren links and rambles about gender and whatnot." Your favorite! (!!) ! So I'm a-gonna get to it:
GENDER & VIOLENCE*
There are a couple of bright pink signs posted on a fence next to a busy thoroughfare in my neck of the woods that say something to the effect of: "LADIES- STOP BEING VICTIMS. GET A HANDGUN." And it lists a phone number, supposedly for some sort of arms supplier. Those signs piss me the fuck off. Something I should really make an effort to do before I move away is follow through with my plan to make another, bigger sign to cover one of the pink ones that says: "MEN- STOP BEING PERPETRATORS. END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN." Fucking fuck, people. Seriously. The signs came to mind as I read a few posts this week, emphasizing two big issues having to do with feminism, gender, and violence:
1. The idea that a gun, or any sort of self-defense method is a "good enough" solution--or any solution at all, really--to the real-life epidemic of violence against women.
2. Generalized ignorance about the role gender training plays in the perpetuation of violence done by men.
So, discussion with link-age:
1. HAVING A GUN IN HER COLD, DEAD HANDS DOESN'T CHANGE THAT WHOLE COLD AND DEAD PART: Or, why more guns are a terrible idea
A douchebag "feminist" columnist that I am too lazy to link to suggested, as many other well-meaning douchebags have in the past, that maybe feminists should be all pro-gun and shit so we can shoot men before they get a chance to rape us. Right. Okay, well let's just disregard the fact that most rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. I mean, I probably wouldn't carry my handgun to hang out with friends or friends of friends that I knew and trusted as much as anybody. This is not even to mention the issue of domestic violence: you have to get to a pretty serious breaking point as a victim to be able to shoot your abuser, and most abuse victims wouldn't be able to get away with obtaining a gun and being able to use it without the abuser finding out first and punishing them. And doesn't it seem like common sense, that the more guns there are out there, the more people will get hurt by them? I don't even want to imagine what a bunch of cranky shoppers in line at the grocery store might turn into if one or more of them revealed that they were carrying a gun. I mean, I've worked in a grocery store, and PEOPLE ARE ASSHOLES. FOR NO REASON. Easy access to deadly weapons would only exacerbate the problem. And as far as gender-based violence goes, Amanda said it well (as usual):
Instead of laying a challenge to the dominant worldview that accepts male violence, we try to grant women access to the same male violence by obvious phallic symbols. But having a violent phallus of your very own doesn’t do much, practically speaking, against the violence perpetrated by the be-phallused against the un-phallused.
Lining us all up like Civil War soldiers to shoot at each other doesn't really solve the problem. We need to stop focusing on what the victims are (or should or could be) doing, and start looking at who's victimizing them, why they're doing it, and why the hell we put up with it.
This leads me to....
2. I'M JUST SAYING THAT MAYBE IT MIGHT POSSIBLY BE A GOOD IDEA TO PERHAPS EXAMINE THE MESSAGES SENT TO MEN AND BOYS ABOUT VIOLENCE: Or, why expecting the worst often just gets you the worst
You know how increasingly, these news stories pop up about how "girls are becoming more violent" or whatever? I'm not saying that's not a problem, because violence = never cool. HOWEVER: how often do you see your local Fox affiliate investigate "boys continue to be encouraged to treat others cruelly in order to maintain some bullshit definition of masculinity"? Oh, more attention is being paid to bullying in general (and this is a boon to everyone), but what I think gets lost in the mainstream discussion is this examination of gender. It's the fucking Manly Olympics again that is fucking everyone over. Are men REALLY naturally more violent than women? Does testosterone ACTUALLY cause them to act irrationally, keep them from practicing self-control, and force them to harm others? Well, due to the fact that I know plenty of non-violent men, I'm going to have to go ahead and call shenanigans on that nonsense. It's just more evo-psych bullshit that uses biology to try and justify shitty social norms as "natural" and "determined by evolution." STFU. Seriously.
Ashley at Feministe really crystallized the argument:
Anyway, believers in testosterone zombies aside, anyone paying attention can tell you that men are more likely to be violent largely because their violence is condoned and even encouraged as a normal aspect of male identity. The fact that, as the headlines above show, perpetrators of violent crime are assumed to be male unless stated otherwise shows just how normalized male violence is...
...I’m often amazed at how invisible we make the identity of dominant groups in analyzing the behavior of their members, as opposed to the way we imagine that every member of a marginalized group is representative of the entire population of that group.
It's ridiculous how the patriarchy uses negative stereotypes about men (that they're violent, can't control their anger or lust, are incompetent at basic household tasks and/or with children, etc.) to absolve themselves of responsibility. Women have to do all the shitty household work because BOYS DON'T KNOW HOW. Women have to avoid being raped because PENISES ARE JUST TOO HARD TO CONTROL. If I were a man, I'd be pissed as hell that not only are these stereotypes accepted as truth by large swaths of society, but that all men are required to fulfill them. A certain amount of assholery is expected of men themselves in order for the proper masculinity quotas to be filled. This is not cool. It hurts people of all genders. Let's make a new masculinity, okay? In fact, let's make lots of masculinities and femininities and hold hands and sing the gender-neutral version of "Kumbayah." Because as cheesy as that sounds, it's sure as hell an improvement over the current state of affairs.
*I put the headline in pink so you would know that it's about "girl stuff."