If you really believe that representation doesn’t matter, then why the fuck are you threatened by it? If not seeing yourself depicted in stories has no negative psychological impact - if the breakdown of who we see on screen has no bearing on wider social issues - then what would it matter if nine stories out of ten were suddenly all about queer brown women? No big, right? It wouldn’t change anything important; just a few superficial details. Because YOU can identify with ANYONE.
So I guess the problem is that you just don’t want to. Because deep down, you think it’ll make stories worse. And why is that? Oh, yeah: because it means they wouldn’t all be about YOU.
The reasons why many men pay for sex are revealed in the interviews that make up a major new piece of research
But another of the interviewees left me feeling concerned. Darren was young, good-looking and bright; I asked him how often he thought the women he paid enjoyed the sex. “I don’t want them to get any pleasure,” he told me. “I am paying for it and it is her job to give me pleasure. If she enjoys it I would feel cheated.” I asked if he felt prostitutes were different to other women. “The fact that they’re prepared to do that job where others won’t, even when they’re skint, means there’s some capability inside them that permits them to do it and not be disgusted,” he said. He seemed full of a festering, potentially explosive misogyny.
When asked what would end prostitution, one interviewee laughed and said, “Kill all the girls.” Paul told me that it would take “all the men to be locked up”. But most of them told the researchers that they would be easily deterred if the current laws were implemented. Fines, public exposure, employers being informed, being issued with an Asbo or the risk of a criminal record would stop most of the men from continuing to pay for sex. Discovering the women were trafficked, pimped or otherwise coerced would appear not to be so effective. Almost half said they believed that most women in prostitution are victims of pimps (“the pimp does the psychological raping of the woman,” explained one). But they still continued to visit them.
One of the most interesting findings was that many believed men would “need” to rape if they could not pay for sex on demand. One told me, “Sometimes you might rape someone: you can go to a prostitute instead.” Another put it like this: “A desperate man who wants sex so bad, he needs sex to be relieved. He might rape.” I concluded from this that it’s not feminists such as Andrea Dworkin and myself who are responsible for the idea that all men are potential rapists – it’s sometimes men themselves.
one of the arguments for legalizing prostitution is the same thing, that men would rape “respectable” women (their wives, girlfriends, etc.) if they couldn’t have access to prostituted women. so they’re just relegating another class of women to be raped, and all women lose in this game they didn’t even sign up for.
Married at age 13, Maimuna Abdullahi endured an abusive marriage for a year — and is now at 14 one of thousands of divorced girls in Nigeria. Once married, her husband forced her to drop out of school, blaming her few years of schooling for her disobedience. “She had too much ABCD,” he says. “Too much ABCD.”
Maimuna’s situation is representative of many others — only 2 percent of married girls in Nigeria attend school compared to 69 percent of unmarried girls, according to the United Nations. But Maimuna considers her self lucky, because she now attends the Tattalli School Free School for divorced girls and is learning a trade so she can support herself.
Learn more via the AP.
The magical function of money is gendered; that is to say, women are not supposed to have money, because when women have money, presumably women can make choices, and one of the choices that women can make is not to be with men. And if women make the choice not to be with men, men will then be deprived of the sex that men feel they have a right to. And if it is required that a whole class of people be treated with cruelty and indignity and humiliation, put into a condition of servitude, so that men can have the sex that they think they have a right to, then that is what will happen. That is the essence and the meaning of male dominance. Male dominance is a political system.
It is always extraordinary, when looking at this money exchange, to understand that in most people’s minds the money is worth more than the woman is. The $10, the $30, the $50 is worth much more than her whole life. The money is real, more real than she is. With the money he can buy a human life and erase its importance from every aspect of civil and social consciousness and conscience and society, from the protections of law, from any right of citizenship, from any concept of human dignity and human sovereignty. For fifty fucking dollars any man can do that. If you were going to think of a way to punish women for being women, poverty would be enough. Poverty is hard. It hurts. The bitches would be sorry they’re women. It’s hard to be hungry. It’s hard not to have a nice place to live in. You feel real desperate. Poverty is very punishing. But poverty isn’t enough, because poverty alone does not provide a pool of women for men to fuck on demand. Poverty is insufficient to create that pool of women, no matter how hungry women get. So, in different cultures, societies are organized differently to get the same result: not only are women poor, but the only thing of value a woman has is her so-called sexuality, which, along with her body, has been turned into a sellable commodity. Her so-called sexuality becomes the only thing that matters; her body becomes the only thing that anyone wants to buy. An assumption then can be made: if she is poor and needs money, she will be selling sex. The assumption may be wrong. The assumption does not create the pool of women who are prostituted. It takes more than that. In our society, for instance, in the population of women who are prostituted now, we have women who are poor, who have come from poor families; they are also victims of child sexual abuse, especially incest; and they have become homeless.
Belinda Van Sickle had been working in the video game industry for nine years when she headed up to San Francisco for the second Women in Games International conference back in 2006. She sat in a room with 100 people, most of whom were female, and realized that she didn’t know anyone…
This is one of the most common deflections when the issue of how women are portrayed comes up. It’s known as a false equivalence – the idea that two things presented together as equal when in fact they aren’t. In this case, the idea that just because women have exaggerated physiques doesn’t mean they’re sexist because the men are just as exaggerated too. Of course, this doesn’t work for many reasons. To start with, it assumes – falsely – that the things that women find sexy are the same things that guys find sexy; that is, the exaggerated secondary sex characteristics. But we’ll get to that in a second.
The other issue is the reason for the exaggeration. Comics and games are fantasy true, but the fantasy aspect differs when it comes to male and female characters. Male characters are a power fantasy; the large muscles and massive torsos are visual signs that this character is an unstoppable powerhouse. Kratos doesn’t look the way he does because Sony Computer Entertainment did focus-market studies and found that women reacted best to that design; he looks the way he does because he represents the powerful alpha-male that gamers want to be.
The women, on the other hand, are sexual fantasies. These are the rewards for the player – the character’s love-interest, the motivation to complete the game. They’re designed as eye-candy; they’re intended as something to be consumed, not something to escape into. Women like to fantasize about being desirable yes, but they also like to be powerful, and their definition of what they would consider to be sexy and powerful doesn’t mean battle-bikinis and thongs of power.
But hey, I’m a guy. It’s easy for me to sit here and proclaim what women find sexy, but I could be talking out of my ass. So why not take it to the source? I put out a completely unscientific poll on Facebook and Twitter about characters that women find sexy – video games, comics, anime, whatever. And the results? Well, let’s compare.
Up top we have the exaggerated figures that are supposedly sexy.
And here are the characters my female readers find sexy:
Notice a trend here? These are not the massive beefcakes alpha-males that are supposedly as equally objectified as Kasumi, Ayane or Ivy. These men have longer torsos with much leaner builds; they’re built like swimmers rather than weight-lifters. They’re not men who scream “unstoppable physical power”. They’re lithe and dextrous, not barrel-chested juggernauts with treestumps for limbs.
And the other critical factor: it’s not just their builds that make them sexy. Gambit, for example is attractive because of his personality and his situation; he’s tortured because he can’t physically touch the woman he loves. Nightcrawler is the laughing swashbuckler, full of wit and flirty charm. Jareth is dark and mysterious and just a little dangerous and oozes sexuality.
Yes, the men are exaggerated as much as the women. But it’s the intent and the message that make all of the difference.
The part I find most baffling about the claims that men suffer from the same objectification and sexualization as women is I can never, for the life of me, think of a popular product that has:
- Plot essential scenes taking place inside a male strip bar, a strip bar that is introduced with loving panning shots over the performers bodies.
- Sincere marketing campaigns for non-romantic productions focusing entirely on the sexual characteristics and flirtatious manner of the male lead.
- A scandal where it turns out the creators accidentally released imagery of a male lead nude, imagery that never needed to be created for the production in the first place.
- A video game rumor that there’s a key function to unlock “naked mode” so you can see the male protagonist running around naked
Part of the reason why some people seem to think that men are sexualized is, ironically, because male sexuality is so rarely put on display as enticement that it creates a mirage effect. People who assume it must be there start seeing it everywhere rather than realizing it’s just not there.
Good think Bikini Armor Battle Damage is here to help out.
What I find most funny about the argument that men are objectified in comics and video games (the implication being that the guy making this argument doesn’t give a shit, so women should shut up too) is that the majority of the time, if you present the guy making this argument with a REAL example of the female gaze (and to a lesser extent the gay male gaze) they immediately get super uncomfortable. It doesn’t even have to be as exaggerated an example as when Shortpacked! tackled this subject; look at all the straight male readers who get upset about Nightwing’s ass.
…[P]atriarchy [i]s a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women…the use of the term social structures is important here, since it clearly implies rejection both of biological determinism, and the notion that every individual man is in a dominant position and every woman in a subordinate one… patriarchy is composed of six structures: the patriarchal mode of production, patriarchal relations in paid work, patriarchal relations in the state, male violence, patriarchal relations in sexuality, and patriarchal relations in cultural institutions…
The patriarchal mode of production refers to the undervalued work of housewives who are the producing class, while husbands are the expropriating class. The second level, which describes patriarchal relations in paid work, refers to the fact that traditionally women have been granted worse jobs. The level which is about patriarchal relations in the state refers to the fact that the state is patriarchal, racist and capitalist and it clearly has bias towards patriarchal interests. Male violence constitutes the fourth structure and explains how men’s violence against women is systematically endured and tolerated by the state’s refusal to intervene against it. The fifth level describes the patriarchal relations towards sexuality, where the patriarchy has decided for us that heterosexuality is and should be the norm. The sixth level which is about patriarchal relations in cultural institutions describes the male gaze within various cultural institutions, such as the media, and how women traditionally have been exhibited via the mass media etc. (Walby, 1990).
We can go back beyond the birth of Christ to encounter patriarchy, when Aristotle and his often avant-garde ideas blossomed. Aristotle assumed that women were the defective part of humanity, having only developed as a mistake when the temperature during conception was too low (Weitz, 2003). During the Middle Ages this ideology was at its peak. Amongst renowned beliefs during this age was firstly that the woman was believed to be more stupid than the man. Secondly she was believed to be mainly driven by her libido and as a consequence she was blamed for the first sin ever committed in the sanctuary of Eden (Weitz, 2003). Capitalistic economic practices incrementally became institutionalized in England between the 16th and 19th centuries and from there this ideology spread throughout Europe, across political and cultural frontiers. Finally, in the 19th and 20th centuries, Capitalism had become the main means of industrialization throughout much of the world (Capitalism, 2009). The arrival of capitalism led to the loss by women of areas of work which had been theirs and in the aftermath they also lost certain legal rights over property that they had before held (Walby, 1990). Furthermore, with time the patriarchy changed from being private to public:
Private patriarchy is based upon household production, with a patriarch controlling women individually and directly in the relatively private sphere of the home. Public patriarchy is based on structures other than household, although this may still be a significant patriarchal site. Rather, institutions conventionally regarded as a part of the public domain are central in the maintenance of patriarchy (Walby, 1990, 178).
The rise of capitalism surely did lead to the development of a new form of patriarchy. However it did not lead to an alteration in its basic structures since this historical shift did not have great effects upon gender relations, “men remained the dominant gender; all six patriarchal structures continued across this period; only a minor shift in the relative significance of public and private sites of patriarchy, which can be identified as far back as the seventeenth century, accelerated” (Walby, 1990, 200).