I don’t know about you, but I’ve been spending far too much time online this week (and it’s not even over yet). In my defense, much of it was for research, but too often I’ve found myself clicking on links to articles that just made me really angry and did little else. Is it me or does there seem to be a lot of news relating to the abuse of women and general misogyny in the ether? I’m really asking because I don’t know if it’s actually everywhere or if Google and Facebook have finally got me pegged. At any rate, the mainstream media has really outdone itself over the past few weeks, making room in their headlines for lots of stories that seem to be tailor made for click bait, but with very real social implications. I know it’s a drag, but I’m going to post a few of them here for your perusal.
Right around the time the Ragged Ass Barber vs. Evie Ruddy story broke, the CBC ran another story about a woman in Montreal who got into an argument with a lifeguard because she contested their order to “cover up” her three year-old daughter at a swimming pool. Apparently, the girl had swimming shorts on but no top and, because anyone who identifies as female – at any age – is understood to be a walking provocation for men who might sexualize them, this was a big problem at the pool that day.
Then there was the story about pictures of famous naked women being disseminated without their consent. Of course, much of the discussion around this seems to have been about cloud computing security and slut shaming rather than how the hackers felt justified in sexually violating these women in the first place.
The story around the backlash to Evie Ruddy’s human rights complaint (which has been absolutely heinous) wasn’t the only one last week. Canadian gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian was actually chased out of her home after threats on her life became very real. Apparently her attackers took umbrage at her charge of sexism in the gaming world.
This morning, CBC’s The Current examined another story that surfaced last week about how college students at North Carolina State University have invented a nail polish that changes colour when it comes in contact with “date rape” drugs (by the way, can we stop calling it that? Rape is rape). They’d apparently like their product to be included in frosh week kits and, if it takes off, probably stand to make a lot of money. I wonder if they’d consider kicking any of the profits into some kind of PSA aimed at men who rape women after they’ve rendered them unconscious. Or would that be bad for business?
This reminds me of a very short conversation I had with a friend many years ago in another city. I was talking to her about how passive aggressive it felt to have received a vodka company-sponsored rape whistle in my swag bag from a local film festival (“Drink up girls! But don’t get too drunk – otherwise, uh-oh!”). I wondered aloud why it was, more than 40 years after the second wave of feminism, I should still find myself walking home at night with my apartment key sticking out between my knuckles, ready at a moment’s notice to take a swing at any potential attacker. At this time, my friend was working on a large floral arrangement (she’s a florist) and from behind a huge spray of dogwood and salal, she deadpanned: “It’s because of men.” Now before you start getting all “not all men” on me, consider this: Why did the lifeguards ask the little girl’s mother at the pool to cover up her child? Who prompted Evie Ruddy to shut down her Facebook and Twitter accounts after hurling vicious language at her? Who are women trying to protect themselves from should they start using that roofie-detecting nail polish?
How else can one put this other than how it’s already been put? The culture really needs to change.