Feminist Aspie

The problem with the “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it” argument.

If I don’t like something, or if I find something offensive, I’m not going to buy it. Of course I wouldn’t; that’s basic common sense. “Voting with your wallet” can sometimes be effective; if enough people take their custom elsewhere, maybe the company in question will listen in order to get their profits back.

So, if you don’t like it, it makes sense not to buy it. However, sometimes that isn’t enough. If you think there’s genuine damage being done by something, you’ll want to stop it completely. For example, many people don’t like The X Factor* because it could be seen to undermine self-run acts who work hard for years before discovery in favour of 15-minutes-of-fame acts who can sometimes be “fake”. Many people don’t watch The X Factor for this reason. So viewers decline, and people take notice. However, so far this has done nothing to stop the very problem that these people dislike.

Furthermore, if the product is spreading harmful messages about a group of people and/or perpetuating stereotypes, a mere refusal to buy it will not stop that. Sorry if this is rather predictable, but I’m going to use autism as an example. Let’s say I was reading a magazine, and I saw an article claiming (directly or indirectly) the false stereotype that most autistic people are violent. I would be appalled, and angry, so I stop buying that magazine. I don’t like it, so I don’t buy it. Job done.

However, other people out there would still be reading, and believing, that article. People who weren’t familiar with the autistic spectrum would take the article at face value, not even realising the prejudice they were taking on board. Similarly, the views of the article could be passed on as fact to other people. The falsehood spreads. None of this is changed by my choice not to buy it. Also, what if I’d heard about this article from someone else, and I didn’t buy the magazine anyway regardless of the article? Then what am I supposed to do?

This is why I have a problem with not only Page 3, but the sexualisation of women in newspapers in general, especially on front pages, and especially in the eyeline of children and young people. There are many reasons why I don’t buy The Sun, or any other tabloids for that matter, and sexism is only one such reason. In other words, I’m already not buying it. Women are being portrayed as sex objects in mainstream family newspapers, sometimes in full view of the entire shop regardless of their buying habits, and I’m already not buying it. Should this mean that I don’t get a say, that I have to sit there and smile and let people believe a stereotype that I will then have to conform to? Does this mean that the only views that count are those from people who are buying it, usually the people who do support the stereotypes?

Let’s turn this on its head. Some people who read this will be fervent supporters of tabloid newspapers. Using their own argument, if they disagree with this blog post, they should just stop reading. And that doesn’t make any sense, does it?

*Personally, I’m a bit of a fence-sitter when it comes to The X Factor. I just think it’s a good example to use.

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Great post about autism and defying societal expectations.

The Caffeinated Autistic

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I rarely write about my kids here, despite parenting obviously being one of the things I definitely care about.  Part of this is because that in advocating for myself as an adult autistic, I am trying to urge parents to treat their autistic children in a more accepting manner.  So it’s sort of me investing in their future by advocating for all autistics, adults and children alike.  Another part of why I don’t talk too much about my kids is that I really don’t want to ignore their right to privacy.  I do not feel that I own my children.  I feel like parenting them is a privilege and a huge responsibility, but it is not a sign of ownership.  I really feel fearful about parenting attitudes that treat kids as property and things to be controlled rather than individual human beings to be respected and loved.  I care about…

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That’s Not Banter – The problem with sexist jokes

If I had invented the word “banter”, I would be incredibly cross with the way it’s being used; namely, as an attempt to justify offensive and discriminatory behaviour. If you complain about such behaviour, you “can’t take a joke” (i.e. victim-blaming). Most of these “jokes” don’t make sense without sexist undertones: take this one from Facebook, “It’s Funny How “Woman” Spelt Backwards Is “Kitchen””. Yes, really.

Clearly, I’m not very good at understanding jokes. Can someone please explain to me why “tits or gtfo” is funny? Why is “that’s nice love, now get back to the kitchen” funny? And why is questioning a woman’s ability to do her job because she is a woman still seen as “banter”? That’s exactly what Andy Gray and Richard Keys did to an assistant referee back in 2011, and when the former was sacked, my Facebook was full of people joining the group “Andy Gray Getting The Sack Is Proof Women Can’t Take Banter”. (Women being blamed for a decision taken by a group of men and women, but I digress.) I can’t find that page now – presumably it’s been deleted, but I did find “Bring Back Andy Gray – Keep the Banter in Football”. That. Wasn’t. Banter.

However, if you say it’s a joke, then to most people it seems to become a joke. The butt of the joke doesn’t get listened to because, apparently, she’s just a silly uptight woman who belongs in the kitchen. Jokes, banter, I’ve even read the phrase “casual bit of sexism” today. This is somebody actually admitting to being sexist and people still finding it funny.

The problem with this “casual sexism” is that it adds up; it’s everywhere (I kept a diary of sexism for a week last month. It’s rather long.) and if people hear enough of it, for long enough, they start to believe it. It also puts some women off voicing any opinions whatsover. For an example of this, have a look at the #SilentNoMore Twitter hashtag (set up by @TheWomensRoomUK following this article on online misogynistic abuse) from earlier today. Or at least try to, because (this afternoon at least) it was filled with misogynistic abuse by people who don’t understand the concept of irony.

This isn’t calling shotgun on the front seat of a car; you can’t just shout “banter” and expect your targets to accept your abuse and be silenced. The entire point of banter, the entire point of a joke, is that it’s funny. For everyone.

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“Why is feminism a dirty word?” Spoilers: It’s patriarchal myths.

Earlier today, this “infographic” from Vagenda Magazine showed up on my Twitter timeline:

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…Right. Let’s go through all of these, in order.

  • “Not sexy” – This defeats the object. Women should not be defined based on whether or not they are sexy. This is a patriarchal myth.
  • “Un-feminine” – The fact that a “feminine” stereotype even exists shows that feminism is needed. The “feminine” stereotype is a patriarchal myth.
  • “Makes you feel guilty” – Again, THAT’S THE POINT. You realise that certain things you say/do are inadvertently sexist, so you stop saying/doing them. Once you’ve done that, nobody should continue to “make you feel guilty”. This perceived permanent judging of people who have genuinely changed is a patriarchal myth.
  • “In-fighting” – There’s also in-fighting in politics. There’s in-fighting in most friendship groups. There’s in-fighting in life. People disagree. This isn’t a reason to avoid feminism; if anything, it’s a reason to add your support to your chosen opinions. There is no more in-fighting in feminism than in any other activist group; such a notion is a patriarchal myth.
  • “Angry” – Okay, so feminism is angry; but this shouldn’t be a bad thing. If you realised how much oppression is faced by so many groups of people, you’d be angry about it too. Anger is (usually) how change happens. Also, when was the last time you heard a man being told to calm down? Turns out that anger being a bad thing is, too, a patriarchal myth.
  • “Unattractive” – See “not sexy”. Patriarchal myth.
  • “Hostile” – Only if you say something massively offensive. I’m relatively new to this – the blog’s been up for just over a fortnight – and everyone’s been really welcoming so far; the only Twitter argument I’ve had was nothing to do with feminism (or gender at all, for that matter). I went to my university’s WomCam meeting for the first time the other day, and they were similarly welcoming. As you may have guessed, any hostility surrounding feminism is a patriarchal myth.
  • “No longer needed” – Actually, yes it is. A quick look at The Everyday Sexism Project, as well as its #ShoutingBack and #StandingUp hashtags, proves this. The idea that feminism is “no longer needed” impedes feminism. Guess who benefits from that? It’s another patriarchal myth.
  • “Confusing” – Seriously, it really isn’t. Women and men should be treated equally – in fact, everyone should be treated equally. If you believe this, you’re a feminist. And if there are any terms or concepts that you don’t understand, just ask. If you don’t want to ask the person, then ASK GOOGLE. It’s really not hard; that’s just a patriarchal myth.
  • “Intimidating” – See “hostile”. Patriarchal myth.
  • “Academic” – See “confusing”. Patriarchal myth.
  • “Dogmatic” – “Forcibly asserted as if authoritative and unchallengeable”. (Yes, I had to look it up. It took about ten seconds of my time. See “confusing”.) This sounds more like the kyriarchy and mainstream media to me. However, applying the label to feminism and intersectionality looks better for, you guessed it, patriarchal myths.
  • “Too radical” – So wanting gender equality is too radical? Would you rather maintain gender inequality? Who would? The patriarchy. Hence all the patriarchal myths.
  • “Not relateable” – This depends on the person, I suppose, but most people (regardless of gender) have experienced sexism. Have you ever been told that something is “for boys” or “for girls”, “masculine” or “feminine”? Have you ever experienced harassment? At work, have strangers ever assumed you were a different gender due to the type of job you do? Congratulations, there’s going to be something you can relate to. This relates to what I said about “No longer needed” – most people feel they can’t relate because they genuinely don’t realise the discrimination they’ve experienced, because sexism doesn’t exist according to, again, patriarchal myths.
  • “Scary” – This is understandable, but like “Angry”, this shouldn’t be a reason to avoid speaking out. In fact, the reason I set up this blog and Twitter is because I realised that I kept refraining from tweeting about sexism due to who could possibly see it. And that’s what the people you’re scared of want you to do, because if women aren’t speaking out, society is allowed to continue to spread patriarchal myths.
  • “Man-hating” – This is factually incorrect. Feminists do not hate men. Feminists hate the patriarchy. The patriarchy is not men. The patriarchy is a system maintained by some men as well as some women; in fact, there are occasions where men (particularly fathers) suffer discrimination due to stereotypes about “women’s work” (particularly parenting). Feminists realise this. Feminists want equality. Anything else you hear is a patriarchal myth.
  • “Seemed exclusive – not for people like me” – Unfortunately, there are some self-proclaimed “feminists” who do exclude others, as shown by certain transphobic articles published this week. However, this is not true of all feminists, and should not be used to put people off feminism as a whole. In fact, I get the feeling that these transphobic articles made it to publication in order to perpetuate this perceived “exclusivity”… making it a patriarchal myth, for a change. 😛
  • “No education about it” – See also “Confusing”. But seriously, if there’s no education about feminism, that’s a reason to support feminism, not a reason to avoid it. Under this logic, if there’s no support for feminism, more people will get away with not educating others about feminism, so there will be less support for feminism, etc. Sounds like a patriarchal myth.
  • “Too intellectual” – See “Confusing”. Patriarchal myth.
  • “Pious” – “Marked by false devoutness; solemnly hypocritical.” I can see why this would apply to a minority of feminists, see also “Seemed exclusive – not for people like me”, but like I said, they certainly don’t speak for all feminists; this is a patriarchal myth.
  • “Irrelevant” – See “No longer needed”. Patriarchal myth.

Please tell me you see a recurring theme here, because now I’m sick of typing “patriarchal myth”.

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The Music and Me: an autistic girl’s experiences with music, part 1

myaspiewife

The Music and Me: an autistic girl’s experiences with music, part 1.

What an amazing post!

 

I didn’t have time to write all that I wanted to say when I originally read this. I myself have grown up with music, Music is such an integral part of my being. I love to sing. Unlike this author, I love lyrics that make you think, and resonate within me. I listen to all kinds of genres from Contemporary Christian Music to Rock to Alternative. I prefer singing slow ballads like songs that I can pour myself into.

What she wrote in this blog was amazingly written. I simply had to share it.

I hope you all enjoy it as much as well.

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ADVERTS. Happiness and weight loss are NOT THE SAME THING. (TW for eating disorders)

It’s probably a bit late to write this blog post, to be fair, but as you’ve probably all noticed by now, dieting adverts are everywheremainly due to New Year I guess. And, as usual, the majority of characters in these adverts are women. Believe it or not, some men want to diet too, and alienating 50% of your target market for the sake of perpetuating gender stereotypes is really not a good idea. Another common theme this year is that (if you happen to be female, anyway), happiness and/or confidence is guaranteed when you lose weight; or, worse, that weight loss is the only way to attain it.

Take this year’s advert by LighterLife, for example. Synopsis: A woman dreams of becoming a singer but instead settles down, gets a job in a bank and “eats without thinking”. Then she goes on a diet and suddenly, her singing dream comes true; the implied message being “lose weight in order to achieve your dreams”. Seriously. The advert’s YouTube description claims it is “a daring new brand identity to challenge the conventions of the weight loss industry”. Honestly, I don’t see what’s being challenged at all; is it the fact that women have dreams that’s seen to be “daring”?

So many other dieting adverts this year start by talking about happiness and/or confidence so the public will see them as different or even empowering, but in reality they’re linking this happiness and/or confidence. For instance, this Special K advert starts by lamenting people being “defined by a number”, then goes on to say “We believe in a more powerful motivation… not a number, but the way you want to feel.” The slogan is “What will you gain when you lose?”. Again, the implied message is that you must lose weight to feel good about yourself. Also worth noting is this year’s WeightWatchers advert, in which Patsy Kensit goes on a diet because “If there’s anything I’d like to get back, it’s my confidence”. Same again – to get your “sparkle back”, according to WeightWatchers, you have to lose weight.

No. Just no. This is sexism, body policing, and just plain wrong.

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Change: It happens. (TW: A brief reference to rape)

“It’s sad, but it’s a fact of life.”

“It happens, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“The world’s never going to just change, you have to accept it.”

This train of thought seems to be a recurring theme encountered in virtually all forms of discrimination. The general consensus is that society can’t be changed, and if it doesn’t like you, the onus is on you to conform – and if that isn’t possible, tough.

Let’s think about this for a second. A “society” is formed by its people. A society IS its people. It’s you. It’s me. It’s everyone we know. In years to come, it will be our children. In short, if you’re participating in society, you have a say (albeit a very minor one) in society. Together, those little pieces of power soon add up.

Change happens, and it happens more quickly than you would think. Evidently, discrimination is still rife across the world, but think about how the rights of women, ethnic minorities and the LGBT* community have improved over the last 50 years. Change HAS happened. And it can happen again. It isn’t likely to happen overnight, but it can happen nevertheless.

In the meantime, the often well-meaning people who tell others that they “have to put up with it” (even if there’s a “sadly” or “unfortunately” in there somewhere) are part of the problem. Imagine if everybody thought like that. The status quo wouldn’t change, because there wouldn’t be anybody to change it.

While I’m on the subject, discrimination is never the victim’s fault. Assuming that discrimination has to be “put up with” and instead trying to change those who suffer it is not okay. Don’t tell women not to go out alone to avoid being raped; instead, tell rapists not to rape. Don’t tell a homosexual couple not to act as a couple in public to avoid homophobia; instead, speak out against homophobia. If an autistic person’s stim is harmless but leads to bullying, don’t stop the stim; stop the bullying. (I know it’s a rather obscure example to use, especially next to sexism and homophobia, but it’s there for a reason). Don’t tell anyone to stop being themselves to avoid discrimination and/or isolation; instead, act to end discrimination so that everyone can be themselves.

The alternative is victim-blaming, and that’s just wrong.

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A rather interesting riddle… (it’s relevant, honest!)

(HUGE hat-tip to Sam Loy for reminding me about this in a comment on my last post. If you haven’t read that comment already, though, please look at this first, because I think I gave the answer away in my reply!)

Back when I was in primary school, I loved logic puzzles, word puzzles, anything like that. In one puzzle book I had, there was the following riddle (answer at the end of this post):

“A boy is in a car crash with his father, who is killed. When the boy is rushed to hospital, the surgeon sees him and says “I cannot operate on this boy, as he is my son.” How is this possible?”

I’m going to be honest here – I couldn’t work it out. Nobody else at home could work it out. Then I looked at the answer, and it seemed so obvious. Years later, in an A-Level English class, the teacher asked the same question. As I’d heard it before, I kept quiet, but I was surprised that so many people, all really intelligent, didn’t get it. “Stepfather” was a common guess, and I remember one person saying “Is it his grandfather or something?” Someone did get it in the end, but it took a while.

I’ll put the answer under a Read More and press Enter a few times, but there’s also more of the post to come if you’ve already heard this!

 

 

 

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I’m now officially back at university!

This means I won’t be blogging as much as I was, but I’ll try to blog at least once a week. My Twitter, @FeministAspie, will remain active; hopefully I’ll still be able to check and update it regularly!

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Assuming “he”: The microaggression we’ve all committed!

In case you hadn’t figured it out, I’m rather new to this whole thing. I’ve been following a few feminist Twitters and blogs for months now, particularly The Everyday Sexism Project; because of this, I now notice sexist “microaggressions” that I wouldn’t have thought twice about before. As you can imagine, this annoyed me, so for a week I kept a diary of every example of sexism I saw/heard, which can be found here. Over the course of that week, I caught myself slipping up several times, by assuming an unknown person is “he”. Needless to say, I’m now actively trying to avoid that, and I question others who do this.

Assumptions of “he” are everywhere.. Discussing an unknown perpetrator of a crime is a major example; how many times have you heard someone say “I hope they get him” when there’s nothing to suggest the gender of the perpetrator? The other huge example of this is when referring to animals. Last month, somebody was describing this music video to me. To summarise, a wolf is being chased, fends off its pursuers using some weird magic, then turns into a human woman at the end. This isn’t surprising, really, because the song (by David Guetta ft. Sia, if anyone’s interested) is called She Wolf. However, this man (who had already seen the whole thing) referred to the wolf as “he” the entire time. When I asked him why, he said “I don’t know… I always assume animals are male”. Basic biology: If all animals were male, they’d be extinct by now!

This assumption that an unknown person (human or otherwise!) is male extends to almost all apects of life. If somebody online does not use their name or any pictures of themselves, they are almost invariably referred to as “he” (that’s where I messed up during my sexism diary experiment!). Within days of going home for Christmas, I was sick of correcting people who assumed my tutor was male. Also of note is someone else pointing out a pump which had been left at £25.01 and saying “That guy fails”. No. As far as I’m aware, men-only petrol pumps don’t exist. 😛

Of course, assumptions of “she” also occur… usually when referring to bad drivers. Whenever people are hindered by a bad female driver, they often refer to her as “Mrs” during the resulting muttering. (I’ve never heard anyone refer to a bad male driver as “Mr”, but I digress.) However, they often do this without seeing the driver’s face, with no way of knowing the driver’s gender. Like I said, I’d never really noticed this before the sexism diary experiment. Assuming that an unknown person is any gender is detrimental to both sexes by perpetuating gender stereotypes; the worst part is, even people who consider themselves to be feminists also trip up.

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