misogyny

Misogyny is not legitimate criticism.

Women are people. Women face misogyny regardless of what they do.

Sometimes people do bad things. Some of the people who do bad things are women.

When women do bad things, that justifies criticism. It does not justify misogyny, or sexualized insults.

For instance: If a female politician votes against health care for poor people, it’s important to talk about how that will get people killed.

That doesn’t make it ok to call her ugly, mock her body, or make comments about how she needs to get laid. None of that has anything to do with health insurance. None of that is valid criticism. None of that serves any constructive purpose. It’s just misogyny.

Directing misogynistic insults at any woman is harmful to all women. It sends the message that there’s no problem with misogyny so long as the woman is a bad person who has it coming somehow. This implies that the only real disagreement about misogyny is about which women deserve it. 

We need to object to misogyny in principle, regardless of who the target is. Misogyny is not criticism. It’s just destructive hatred.

Responding to desexualization without hurting others

Content note: This post is about ableism and desexualization of adults with disabilities. It is highly likely to be triggering to some people who have experienced degrading desexualization, as well as to some people who have been sexually assaulted or otherwise had people violate their sexual boundaries.

Anonymous said to :

As an autistic person I often feel desexualised, and I don’t like it but I feel sorta uncomfortable stating it for some reason? How should I like, deal with this and enforce my sexuality without making people uncomfortable?

realsocialskills said:

This gets really complicated.

Being desexualized is awful, and it’s also really hard to talk about without sounding like you feel entitled to sexual or romantic attention from other people. Especially when you’re talking to people who’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of intrusive sexual attention and who aren’t aware that desexualization also happens and is also a problem.

Another complication is that many adults really are asexual or aromantic. That’s an ok way to be, and it’s important to acknowledge that those people exist and aren’t broken. Objecting to desexualization does not mean objecting to asexual people.

People who desexualize adults with disabilities in these ways aren’t recognizing asexual adulthood; they’re denying disabled adulthood and expressing it in sexual terms. (And this denial of adulthood expressed in sexual terms also hurts asexual adults).

I think that desexualization is when people refuse to acknowledge or respect some basic things:

  • That you’ve reached adulthood or you are a teenager
  • That you’re as likely as anyone else your age to experience romantic and sexual attraction
  • That if you are experiencing sexual and/or romantic attraction, it’s as significant and important as attraction anyone else experiences
  • If you want to, it’s completely appropriate for you to act on your sexual and romantic feelings (either with yourself or consenting other people)
    • You have the same right to physical, sexual, and emotional boundaries as anyone else

    People who desexualize you might treat you inappropriately in group dynamics, eg:

    • By assuming that you will never have a crush on anyone in your friend group
    • By assuming that you don’t date for real and will always be available to go to couple’s events with someone who is caught without a partner at the last minute
    • By saying things like “I hate men/women/whoever. You’re so lucky you don’t have to deal with dating them.“
    • Or like “It’s so great to talk to you about this stuff. I’m so tired of how everyone else is making the group awkward with their dating drama.”
    • Or venting to you about how hard it is for them to find a partner without considering that you might share this frustration, and that it’s probably harder for you than it is for them
    • Or making jokes about how you’re their ~boyfriend~/~girlfriend~, ignoring the possibility that you might want to be someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend and that you might, in fact, be attracted to them.

    People who desexualize you also sometimes don’t observe appropriate sexual boundaries, eg:

    • Assuming that rules of modesty don’t apply to you
    • Undressing in front of you (in a community in which it would normally be considered inappropriate for someone of their age and gender to undress in from of someone of your age and gender)
    • Touching you in ways that are considered inappropriately intimate in your social circles for people who are not romantically or sexually involved
    • Adopting suggestive poses or being inappropriately close (eg: by having their breasts or crotch way too close to your face)
    • (The rules of acceptable nudity, physical contact, and closeness are different in different cultures, and that’s fine. What’s not fine is having established rules of modesty/boundaries but ignoring them when interacting with disabled people)

    It’s ok to be angry about this kind of thing, and it’s ok to insist that people knock it off and treat you with more respect. It’s ok to expect people to respect your maturity, your romantic and sexual capacity, and your physical and emotional boundaries.

    For instance, it’s ok to say “I’m a grown man; you shouldn’t be changing in front of me,” or “I’m not your girlfriend; stop touching me like that,” or “I don’t want to go to that event with you unless it’s a real date,” or “I don’t like it when you make jokes about dating me,” or “I get crushes too you know.” This will probably make some people uncomfortable; and that’s ok. You don’t have to do all of the emotional labor of making social interactions comfortable; it’s ok to have boundaries even when other people don’t like them. It’s also ok to insist that people acknowledge and respect your age even if they’d rather see you as a child.

    It’s ok to be angry about people treating you badly in areas related to sexuality, and it’s ok to insist that they knock it off. It’s ok to be upset when you’re single and don’t want to be, and it’s ok to be upset about the role that ableism is playing in making it hard to find someone.

    It’s also important to be careful that this doesn’t turn into anger at people for having sexual boundaries of their own. It can easy for some people to become confused about this when start realizing that it’s ok to have sexual feelings, and not ok that others treat you as though your disability means your sexuality doesn’t count. If you’ve been treated as outside of legitimate sexuality for your whole life, you likely have missed opportunities to learn about consent and appropriate sexual and romantic interactions. That’s not your fault; it is your responsibility to address. Being the object of discrimination does not give you a free pass to violate other people’s boundaries, even if you’re not doing it on purpose.

    It’s important to keep in mind that no one is obligated to date you, sleep with you, allow you to touch them, consider dating you, justify their lack of interest in dating you, or anything else like that. (And that it’s not ok to hit on people if you’re in a position of power over them).

    You’re human, so it’s likely that you’re having some less-than-ideal feelings about this stuff some of the time. You might feel jealous, or upset, or even angry at people who haven’t really done anything wrong. (Because they’re dating visibly and you’re lonely, or because you asked them out and they said no, or other things like that which can hurt to see but aren’t their fault.) It’s ok if you’re feeling that way; you don’t have to have superhuman control of your feelings to treat people well. What’s important is that you don’t feed it, and that you don’t act on it.

    In particular, it’s important not to cultivate offense when people you’re interested in dating aren’t interested in you. That leads nowhere good. (eg: I got an ask about how to stand up to a person who was using disability as an excuse to grope people a while back.)

    Rejection sucks, and it sucks more when you’re already really lonely, and it sucks even more when you know that ableism is probably a major factor in why some people you’re attracted to aren’t interested. It can be really tempting when things are that hard to take offense. It’s important to stay aware that people who reject you aren’t wronging you, and to find constructive ways to deal with it that don’t involve contempt for the people you’re attracted to. (In particular, stay away from pick up artist communities. Adopting that worldview makes it much harder to learn about good consent and have respectful relationships).

    It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s ok for you to be sexual and to express interest in dating people. (Even if you encounter people who are profoundly uncomfortable with the idea of disabled people having and acting on sexual and romantic feelings. Those people are wrong.) Your sexuality is not ever the problem. (It’s possible sometimes that things you’re doing might be a problem, but having a sexuality is never a problem in itself.)

    In particular - if you ask someone out or hit on them and they say no, that doesn’t mean that you did something wrong. It just means that they aren’t interested. Asking people who turn out not to be interested is ok; asking is how you find out. You don’t have to be a mindreader in order for it to be ok to ask someone out.

    All of this can be really, really hard to navigate. I hope some of this helped.

    tl;dr Disabled adults and teenagers are often treated like children. People often express this in sexualized terms by assuming that disabled adults are all incapable of legitimate sexual expression. It’s awful to be on the receiving end of that. It’s also hard to talk about or object to effectively. Scroll up for more thoughts on how to navigate this.

    Note to fellow feminists

    We need to stop assuming that women who are nonfeminist or antifeminist are just stupid and brainwashed by men.

    They are women who disagree with us.

    Feminism ought to be about respecting women. Not just women who agree with us. Feminist attitudes towards women who disagree with us can get really sexist and belittling really fast, and that’s not ok.

    We don’t have to agree with everything other women believe; we don’t have to respect every opinion just because it’s held by a woman.

    But we do need to respect other women as people who have opinions and think for themselves. They are not patriarchy objects. They are *people*. People who have beliefs and opinions. Even when they are wrong.

    Stop blaming teenage girls for body image problems

    As kids raised as girls grow up, they get tremendous pressure from almost everyone to fight their bodies: 

    • They get pressure to diet (“You don’t really need that cake, do you?” “Why don’t you start coming to Weight Watchers with me?”)
    • They get pressured to exercise to stay thin, but to avoid growing visible muscles
    • They get pressured to dress within a very narrow range
    • Show too little of your body and you get tons of ~helpful~ suggestions both from peers and adults about how to be more attractive/presentable/adult
    • Show too much, and everyone tells you that you have no self respect (and treat you as though you deserve none)
    • They get pressured to wear makeup and to have time consuming hairstyles (“You’d be so pretty!”)
    • But, at the same time, wear too much makeup or the wrong makeup, and people (including parents and other adults) will react with disgust

    Some well meaning people have discovered that girls often feel bad about their bodies, and sometimes develop related eating disorders. They often address it in a counterproductive way:

    • They lecture teenage girls about body image
    • And they tell them to feel good about themselves
    • In a way that suggests that it’s their own fault they don’t
    • And that they’re just being shallow by worrying about their makeup, weight, skin, hair, and clothing. Because “true beauty is on the inside, not the outside” and “there’s more to life than beauty”
    • Or they attribute girls’ body image to peer pressure, while ignoring all the things adults do that make girls feel bad about their bodies (eg: if you talk about girls pressuring girls to wear short skirts, but not principals who scornfully send them home, you’re missing the point. If you talk about pressure from teen beauty magazine to be thin, but not the posters in the gym class and cafeteria; you’re missing the point)
    • This is not helpful. If you pressure girls to feel good about their, all you’re doing is adding just another body-related task they’re failing at

    This is what I’d like to say to teenage girls, since I know some of y'all are listening

    • It’s not your fault that you’re facing sexist pressure to fight your body
    • Our culture is really hard on women in this regard
    • This is a way in which it’s really, really hard to be a woman
    • People put all kinds of pressure on you to fight yourself and your body at every turn. It’s relentless, and it’s from any number of angles.
    • It shouldn’t be that way. It’s not your fault that people are being mean to you. There’s no amount of weight loss that will make them stop. There’s no outfit range that will get them to stop. You’re being treated badly because sexism, not because of anything you’re doing.
    • It doesn’t ever get better exactly, adult women face all of these pressures too, but it’s not always as overwhelming
    • It’s harder when you’re young and just learning how to cope, and everyone is constantly yelling at you
    • Women learn strategies for coping with this sexist pressure, and they all have upsides and downsides
    • There’s a huge range of different approaches. These are very personal choices, and no one’s business but yours. Deciding that you’re going to spend a lot of time working on makeup and clothing doesn’t make you shallow. Deciding that you’re not going to do that doesn’t mean you’re lazy or immature. And there are any number of combinations, it’s not a decision you have to make the same way for every aspect of expected femininity. It’s personal.
    • As you figure out what works best for you, it can become much, much more bearable
    • It is not your fault if you feel bad about yourself or your body. It’s not a personal failing. Most women and girls feel that way at some point; many women and girls feel that very intensely for years or longer. It’s hard not to.
    • (Also, not everyone who grows up socially perceived as a girl grows up to be a woman. It’s possible that your relationship to your body and your gender is difficult for reasons other than misogyny and sexist pressure on girls. Some people who grow up treated as girls are men or nonbinary. Some people have body dysphoria that is neither caused by misogyny nor relieved by feminism. If you’re dealing with that, that’s not your fault either. It’s also not your fault if you’re unsure or confused. Some people know that they are trans; some people take a long time to figure things out; neither is your fault.)
    • (I want to acknowledge here that this issue affects trans girls, people raised as boys who are nonbinary or unsure about their gender identity, and others. I don’t know how that dynamic works well enough to describe it, but I don’t want to imply that everyone raised as a boy is immune from all pressures directed at girls and women)
    • It helps to build relationships with people you respect and who respect you.

    Some resources that help some people:

    • You Get Proud By Practicing  is an amazing poem by Laura Hershey about the deepest kind of pride and self-respect
    • Body positivity blogs can help. So can fat acceptance blogs (even if you are not fat). Fat Girls Doing Things is a good one
    • Blogs by people who are joyfully into makeup and nail art as an end in itself

    tl;dr Teenage girls get pressured to feel bad about themselves and their bodies, and then get shamed for feeling bad. If you are responsible for supporting teenage girls: don’t do that. If you are a teenage girl: it’s not your fault. This is hard.

    A post for men about creepy men

    I wrote a post a while back about how some people are very good at getting away with doing intentionally creepy things by passing themselves off as just ~awkward~.

    Recently, I noticed a particular pattern that plays out. While creeps can be any gender, there’s a gendered pattern by which creepy men get other men to help them be creepy:

    • A guy runs over the boundaries of women constantly
    • He makes them very uncomfortable and creeped out
    • But he doesn’t do that to guys, and
    • He doesn’t talk to guys about it in an unambiguous way, and
    • When he does it in front of guys, he finds a way to make it look deniable
    • And then some women complain to a man, maybe even a man in charge who is supposed to be responsible for preventing abuse in a space
    • and he has no idea what they are talking about, since he’s never the target or witness
    • And he’s had a lot of pleasant interactions with that guy
    • So he sympathizes with him, and thinks he must mean well but be have trouble with social skills
    • And then takes no action to get him to stop or to protect women
    • And so the group stays a place that is safe for predatory men, but not for the women they target

    For example:

    • Mary, Jill, and Susan: Bill, Bob’s been making all of us really uncomfortable. He’s been sitting way too close, making innuendo after everything we say, and making excuses to touch us.
    • Bill: Wow, I’m surprised to hear that. Bob’s a nice guy, but he’s a little awkward. I’m sure he doesn’t mean anything by it. I’m not comfortable accusing him of something so serious from my position of authority.

    What went wrong here?

    • Bill assumed that, if Bob was actually doing something wrong, he would have noticed.
    • Bill didn’t think he needed to listen to the women who were telling him about Bob’s creepy actions. He didn’t take seriously the possibility that they were right. 
    • Bill assumed that women who were uncomfortable with Bob must be at fault; that they must be judging him too harshly or not understanding his awkwardness
    • Bill told women that he didn’t think that several women complaining about a guy was sufficient reason to think something was wrong
    • Bill assumed that innocently awkward men should not be confronted about inadvertantly creepy things they do, but rather women should shut up and let them be creepy

    A rule of thumb for men:

    • If several women come to you saying that a man is being creepy towards them, assume that they are seeing something you aren’t
    • Listen to them about what they tell you
    • If you like the guy and have no idea what they’re talking about, that means that what he is doing is *not* innocent awkwardness.
    • If it was innocent awkwardness, he wouldn’t know how to hide it from other men
    • Men who are actually just awkward and bad at understanding boundaries also make *other men* uncomfortable
    • If a man is only making women uncomfortable but not men, that probably means he’s doing it on purpose
    • Take that possibility seriously, and listen to what women tell you about men

    tl;dr If you are a man, other men in your circle who are nice to you are creepy towards women. Don’t assume that if something was wrong that you would have noticed; creepy men are good at finding the lines of what other men will tolerate. Listen to women. They know better than you do whether a man is being creepy and threatening towards women; if they think something is wrong, listen and find out why. Don’t give predatory dudes who are nice to you cover to keep hurting women.

    About creepy guys

    A lot of men (and probably other genders, but mostly men) like to creepily hit on people (usually women) in contexts in which it’s not ok to hit on people. (Eg: on the subway). 

    Girls start experiencing this before they’re considered old enough for sex ed.

    Creepy men regularly do this in a way that’s slightly deniable.

    Like sitting way too close. Or asking an almost innocuous thing. And it feels really horrible to be on the receiving end, but it can be hard to put your finger on why. And if you object, the man who started it will try as hard as he can to say you’re being unreasonable. Often, bystanders or people you tell afterwards will empathically agree and tell you he was just being friendly and that didn’t have to be rude.

    This is not your fault. It’s not your fault that creepy guys are awful to you, and it’s not your fault that people punish you for refusing to cooperate with their creepy actions.

    There is usually no polite way to object. Because they manipulate the rules of politeness so that you have to be rude to say no.

    It’s ok to be rude in that situation.

    Being in that situation doesn’t mean you’re a rude inconsiderate person. It means you’re asserting an important boundary in the only available way.

    Most of these guys know exactly what they are doing. It’s not innocent awkwardness. It’s a different thing. It’s doing something they know they can probably get away with denying that they’ve done.

    (People do sometimes do this kind of thing by mistake, too. But it’s not ok then either. And most people who do this, know damn well what they’re doing.)

    The racist ice cream joke you just posted about can also be swung in the direction of sexual harassment. When kids found out my friend and I were lesbians, they would torment us with similar jokes just to get us to “admit” to liking dick. I still don’t understand why jokes like that could be funny to anyone.
    realsocialskills said:
    Yes, that’s another really common kind of hate joke. I have some theories about why people tell jokes like that, but they’re not yet well-formed enough to explain outside my head.

    Hate joke example

    whiteandmildblr:

    realsocialskills:

    When I was in middle school there was a racist ‘personality quiz’ joke that was framed as an innocent question, “Which would you rather have: vanilla or chocolate ice cream?” If you said you like chocolate better, it meant you preferred oral sex with a black boy. Trust me, white girls quickly changed their answers when they realized what the implication was.
    realsocialskills said:
    Wow, that’s horrible. And it’s a particularly clear example of a hate joke. (I bet most of those same girls vehemently denied that they could ever have any racist attitudes.)

    whiteandmildblr said:

    Or maybe they aren’t attracted to blacks?

    realsocialskills said:

    The point of that hate joke is to sexually humiliate women by insinuating that they are attracted to black men. That’s racist. (And also misogynist.)

    The whole power of that joke rests on the perception that there’s a “right” answer, and that no one would ever willingly answer the question “wrong”.

    Everyone has sexual and romantic preferences. This hate joke isn’t about expressing preferences in a neutral way. It’s about expressing contempt for black men, and for women who are attracted to black men.

    Hate jokes suck.

    hi, sorry… wrt: your latest post, i was wondering what ‘gash’ is a slur of. i tried to google it but i can’t find anything. :( thank you for your help
    I haven’t actually heard it before today.
    My guess based on context is that it’s a misogynist reference to female* genitals.
    Does anyone know if that’s right?
    (*by which I mean body parts usually, but not always, associated with women. Some people who are women don’t have them; some people who are not women do.)

    [Image description: protestors with a banner: This “clinic” lies to women.] 
  bebinn : 
 
    How To Identify Crisis Pregnancy Centers    
 Crisis pregnancy centers, or pregnancy resource centers, disguise themselves as medical facilities, but usually have no licensed doctors, nurses or counselors. They often appear under “Abortion Alternatives,” and may have names similar to abortion clinics nearby in order to confuse patients into entering their buildings instead of the real clinics. 
 Once you enter a CPC, their mission is to prevent you from getting an abortion at any cost. They will use misleading language, delay tactics, emotional manipulation, intimidation, and outright lies to either persuade you against abortion or to make you miss your appointment. The worst part? It’s all completely legal and funded by federal dollars. 
 CPCs do their best to appear as legitimate abortion clinics, so how can you tell which is which? Here is a list of red flags for CPCs: 
  The words “crisis” or “resource” appear in the center’s name 
 Their ads use language like “Pregnant & Scared?” 
 They offer free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds 
 When asked if they provide abortions or contraception, they will not give a direct answer 
 The waiting room has biased pamphlets, sometimes with graphic pictures labeled as abortions 
 They attempt to make you feel guilty about considering abortion 
 They offer baby items, such as diapers and formula 
 They downplay the effectiveness of contraception and emphasize abstinence 
 They emphasize the dangers of abortion (Fact:  fewer than 0.3% of patients experience complications requiring hospitalization ) 
 They discuss the false connections between abortion and  breast cancer ,  infertility , or  mental illness , often referred to as post-abortion stress syndrome 
 Regardless of how you talk about the pregnancy, they refer to “your baby,” the “preborn child,” “post-abortive women,” and say that you are “already a mother.” 
   More on CPCs  
  How to Identify CPCs  
  Beware of Fake Clinics  
  Crisis Pregnancy Centers: An Affront to Choice  
  CPC Warning Stickers  
 A list of licensed abortion clinics in the United States can be found on the  Abortion Assistance Blog . 
 
 I don’t know that much about this through my own personal knowledge, so I can’t vouch for everything in this post. 
 What I do know is that a lot of people who strongly oppose abortions are willing to be absolutely horrible to pregnant people in order to prevent them from having one. 
 (You can see that in the behavior of abortion clinic protestors.) 
 And I’ve definitely seen these deceptive ads for crisis pregnancy centers on Facebook and in the phone book. (And some that are aimed at convincing pregnant teenagers to give birth to provide a baby for childless couples to raise in a closed adoption). 
 I think it’s a good rule that a legitimate clinic will give you a straight answer about which services they do and don’t offer. (For instance, not all Planned Parenthood clinics offer abortions. The ones that don’t will tell you that they don’t.)

    [Image description: protestors with a banner: This “clinic” lies to women.]

    bebinn:

    How To Identify Crisis Pregnancy Centers

    Crisis pregnancy centers, or pregnancy resource centers, disguise themselves as medical facilities, but usually have no licensed doctors, nurses or counselors. They often appear under “Abortion Alternatives,” and may have names similar to abortion clinics nearby in order to confuse patients into entering their buildings instead of the real clinics.

    Once you enter a CPC, their mission is to prevent you from getting an abortion at any cost. They will use misleading language, delay tactics, emotional manipulation, intimidation, and outright lies to either persuade you against abortion or to make you miss your appointment. The worst part? It’s all completely legal and funded by federal dollars.

    CPCs do their best to appear as legitimate abortion clinics, so how can you tell which is which? Here is a list of red flags for CPCs:

    • The words “crisis” or “resource” appear in the center’s name
    • Their ads use language like “Pregnant & Scared?”
    • They offer free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds
    • When asked if they provide abortions or contraception, they will not give a direct answer
    • The waiting room has biased pamphlets, sometimes with graphic pictures labeled as abortions
    • They attempt to make you feel guilty about considering abortion
    • They offer baby items, such as diapers and formula
    • They downplay the effectiveness of contraception and emphasize abstinence
    • They emphasize the dangers of abortion (Fact: fewer than 0.3% of patients experience complications requiring hospitalization)
    • They discuss the false connections between abortion and breast cancerinfertility, or mental illness, often referred to as post-abortion stress syndrome
    • Regardless of how you talk about the pregnancy, they refer to “your baby,” the “preborn child,” “post-abortive women,” and say that you are “already a mother.”

    More on CPCs

    How to Identify CPCs

    Beware of Fake Clinics

    Crisis Pregnancy Centers: An Affront to Choice

    CPC Warning Stickers

    A list of licensed abortion clinics in the United States can be found on the Abortion Assistance Blog.

    I don’t know that much about this through my own personal knowledge, so I can’t vouch for everything in this post.

    What I do know is that a lot of people who strongly oppose abortions are willing to be absolutely horrible to pregnant people in order to prevent them from having one.

    (You can see that in the behavior of abortion clinic protestors.)

    And I’ve definitely seen these deceptive ads for crisis pregnancy centers on Facebook and in the phone book. (And some that are aimed at convincing pregnant teenagers to give birth to provide a baby for childless couples to raise in a closed adoption).

    I think it’s a good rule that a legitimate clinic will give you a straight answer about which services they do and don’t offer. (For instance, not all Planned Parenthood clinics offer abortions. The ones that don’t will tell you that they don’t.)