Some offense taken: Please stop asking us about marriage

My fifth anniversary with my partner is fast approaching, and that’s pretty great – not only as a testament to the amount of time two human beings can be with each other and not bludgeon each other to death, but as a fabulous excuse for steak.

Anniversary, I salute you.

Sadly, not everything about this will be as wonderful as steak and cuddles. It is an unfortunate fact that other people exist in this world solely – at least it seems – to stick their nose right into your personal affairs. So while most people will congratulate you on not killing someone with a gleeful “grtz”, others will come right out and ask you that goddamn question that most people who’ve been dating someone for a little while get. The one that gets more and more bloody frequent – and frustrating – the longer you date.

“When are you getting married?”


I hate that question. “Why, Laura?” you don’t ask. “Why hate the seemingly innocent, genuinely curious question?” I’ll tell you, curious stranger!

1. It’s part of some unwritten formula for doing hetrosexual relationships

As I said, the longer you spend with someone, the more likely you are to be asked about your marriage plans and if they’re your “one”. While no one says it – and I’m sure a whole bunch of folks are going to yell at me – it strikes me that there is some rule book out there that states time = marriage. But that’s kind of total bollocks. You could meet someone and rush into a perfectly fab marriage, get judged (it goes against the “rule”), and stay together for always. You could also spend years with someone, get married, and basically hate each other the whole time.

Time basically doesn’t factor into it. It’s about the quality of your relationship. While it might seem like the two are related, time doesn’t equal good quality. Your relationship is not a piece of furniture.

Plus, as I always like to point out at this point, I’m 21 going on 16. I still don’t feel mature enough for half these decisions regardless of time spent together.

2. No one is asking my partner this… well, not as frequently anyway

This isn’t a question that only the ladies get asked and I’m not saying that it is. But you have to question why I get this question from everyone during these sorts of occasions, and why my partner reports basically never getting asked this. As in ever. In fact the only time he gets asked about marriage is when he’s being told the benefits for a man of avoiding it like the plague.

“Those are certainly some interesting new pyjamas you’ve got there, dear. Did you go on ebay drunk again?”

If we’re both in the same room together, I am definitely going to be asked about marriage plans. All the jokes about how we should totally avoid marriage are directed at the males in the room, including my partner… who actually wants to get married eventually, kinda unlike myself. Why does my ownership of lady parts mean I should get all the serious questions about families? Maybe it’s because…

3. Everyone assumes women really want to get married, and men are the unwilling party

There’s this prevailing assumption among the people that ask this question that I want to get married. My partner reports hearing the exact opposite assumption – everyone assumes he doesn’t want to, and that I’ll have to drag him down the isle. Frankly, trying to then explain to these people that I’m not super keen on the idea of getting married ever is an idea met with confusion and revulsion. It’s almost a given that the man will be “scared of commitment”, as they so nicely put these things, but the idea that I as a chick would be anything other than obsessed with weddings is abhorrent and offensive to a surprisingly large array of people that ask me these questions.

4. The concept of bridezillas

Because too frequently my desire not to get married right now, if ever, is met with some despair about how I’ll be missing out on the biggest, most extravagant celebration of me. “But Laura!” they cry, “you won’t get to wear that beautiful dress!” Yes, obviously the clothing is the point of getting hitched. Forget signing the certificate or doing the legal bit, let’s just spend all the money in the world to throw one giant bash in honour of me (and my partner), because I really love the spotlight so much.

Me when he stops looking for two seconds to sign the papers.

It’s a total turn off.

5. It devalues our current commitment and feelings for one another

This is kinda the main reason that the constant questioning about us getting married one day winds me up so much. It’s not just that there’s a loaded, gendered expectation that we should get married, but it’s the judgement that is subtly applied to our current relationship because we aren’t married.

Despite its declining popularity and the emergence of more diverse forms of relationships, marriage is very much still championed as the relationship and familial ideal. If you don’t believe me, look at all the tax breaks afforded to married couples specifically designed to encourage the practice. The notion still exists that you find the person you love, and you settle down and commit to them through marriage, and then you maybe even have kids.

The problem I have with this is the assumption that you can’t be totally committed to your partner, forever, and love them unconditionally without having a legally binding document to prove it. I can’t imagine another scenario where you decide, “hey, I like this person, let me give them a contract to sign so they can see that!”

That shit is CRAZY.

But in this scenario, my love for my partner and our relationship is somehow lesser than those of married couples by default, simply because we don’t have that bit of paper. It doesn’t matter that we are a coherent unit, that we adore each other and are always there for one another. It is irrelevant that we’d save each other from burning buildings or pirate zombie invasions. We aren’t married, so as far as wider society is concerned right now, that makes us lesser. There’s something really sad in that.

I take your point.

Yup. So please people – stop asking me when I’m getting married. Instead, why don’t you try congratulating us and asking us how it’s all going? Cos it’s actually pretty great just the way it is.

Some offense taken: Please stop asking us about marriage

Sex Crimes?: Let’s talk about the celebrity nudes scandal

Unless you’ve been living under a very large rock for the past month or so, or trapped on a desert island like Tom Hanks in Castaway (WILSON, sob), then you have probably heard about the hackers who stole nudes of a whole bunch of celebrities. In case you haven’t seen it, this is where it all began, and I applaud you on having a life unlike the rest of us internet dwellers.

In the latest development, Jennifer Lawrence – who up until recently has been entirely silent on the issue – has given a statement about her experience, which is both heartbreaking and honest. In her view the hack is a violation and a sex crime, and not only the hackers and websites containing the pictures are at fault – people who viewed the images are also “perpetuating a sexual offence”. In response to those that might have suggested this comes with the territory of being a public figure, she also points out that her body is her own and not public property, and so the ultimate choice about sharing those photos was her own.

I honestly can’t say I disagree with a single word said there, but the whole hacking scandal has brought to light a whole bunch of issues that we have to talk about.

Consent and nudes 

We all know about issues of consent when it comes to sex (or at least I hope so, but if you don’t then here’s a nice video for you!). What people might not be so clear on are issues of consent when it comes to nudity in videos or pictures, which I guess is understandable, since most pictures can’t exactly get up and say “OI! I never consented to this!”.

Could you imagine if the Daily Prophet had a Page 3?!
Could you imagine if the Daily Prophet had a Page 3?!

While the same principles apply in theory, (i.e. an excited, resounding yes is given), it’s often very difficult to work out as a viewer whether someone did actually consent not only to having their picture/video taken, but to this being published on the web. This is especially a concern since incidences of revenge porn seem to be increasing.

So how do we know if someone has consented to all of this? Well, you really should use a website with strict rules about who can post what, and avoid known revenge porn sites or sites with a distinct lack of rules like the plague. Commercial porn websites are *usually* pretty safe for example.

BUT, and this is a big but (pun intended), don’t assume it’s all safe because a place appears to have strict rules on the subject. Take Reddit for example, which has a whole bunch of sections devoted to amateur porn, and is widely considered to be a “safe-space” for exhibitionists. Now a lot of people think it’s pretty safe porn, because they ask users to verify their posts – usually by posting a picture or video with themselves in it, holding a plaque with their username and date on it. Except, you can post pictures on their without having to do any of that – the moderators pick who has to verify their photos. Maybe that’s how leaked celeb nudes ended up on Reddit. Safe.

When you know it’s safe, look all you want. When you know or suspect it isn’t (and in this case you knew it wasn’t), then don’t click on it. By looking at these personal images without the consent of those in them you are violating that person, and you are indeed perpetuating a sexual offence. It’s that simple.

Blaming the victim

Every time something like this happens, in the midst of all the anger and blame directed at the hackers, a (hopefully) small bunch of folks make some rather stupid comments about how no one should create these images in the first place, lest this should happen. Actions have consequences, right folks?

I try to remind myself of that same thing any time I see stupid things on the internet.
Not featured: Dog enjoying a lovely cat-stew.

There’s one thing that everyone seems to forget when talking about the creation of personal images; that is, the reasonable expectation of privacy that goes with them. Let’s say I come home one day and spontaneously decide to get naked – maybe I’m having a bath or something. If no one is in the house (except people I would feel comfortable being naked with), and all the doors are shut, I expect that my nakedness is between me, the four walls, and anyone I allow to view it. You would therefore be violating my privacy if you secretly filmed me, or burst into my house to gawp, which are highly unusual situations.

Except perhaps if you live at the Playboy mansion – they probably have a lot of cameras.

That sort of situation is very similar to the one in which nudes are created – people are choosing to create these personal images for the benefit of a limited few, and can expect those images to remain between them. It’s up to them to share those images out after all – no one else gets to make that decision. For most people, it remains a safe thing, with no one breaking the ground rules of nudes. In highly irregular situations, jerkwads will steal those pictures or distribute them without consent in an attempt to generally fuck shit up for the person that made them. Again, that’s violating their reasonable expectation of privacy.

“Hold on a minute Laura,” you might protest, “you have to concede that a lot of hassle would be saved if you just didn’t create them in the first place!”. Sure, I get it. By the same token, I could avoid a lot of hassle by not getting naked in my own home, lest someone should secretly film it, or burst in to gawp. But maybe I like being naked; maybe I want to share some intimate part of myself with someone else. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to, just because some asshole feels entitled to look at everyone’s genitals ever?

People make nudes. People will probably always make nudes. Therefore, telling people not to make them is just not an effective solution. In fact, all it does it upset people, and detract attention away from the real villains – the people that distributed those images without consent in the first place.

Plus, on a slightly more obvious note, it already happened, so preaching about shit afterwards gets you nowhere.

Except maybe Dumpsville…

Sex Crimes?: Let’s talk about the celebrity nudes scandal

Pornography is complicated, so let’s talk it over

NSFW: Expect graphic imagery in this post!

As a self-identifying feminist, I am frequently asked by people why I totally hate porn. At this point I like to shock everyone, by announcing that Aha! I actually do not hate porn.

You read that right: I don’t hate porn. In fact, I’m perfectly okay with the fact pornography exists. But, BIG BUT, I’m not so cool with the society in which it exists, and the really awful stuff that happens to porn stars and porn viewers.

So I don’t watch porn – don’t ask me about my favourites, okay?

Why I am okay with porn

Pornography has been around forever and ever, and did I say forever? I mean, the Kamasutra anyone? Totally counts. What about this lovely Roman oil lamp?

It was the longest he'd ever managed...
It was the longest he’d ever managed…

I hear you – you’re more of a Manet/French prossie fan, got ya. Sure, you could argue that those are just pieces of art, and that nudity is just the done thing in art. The same argument could be applied to a lot of things, like erotic novels, or sexual photographs, and porn movies.

Let’s face it, folks have been viewing sexual imagery and getting off on it since forever. Some people would question whether we should, but hey, it happens, and I’m totally cool with it. Do what you will my buddies – take charge of your own sexuality, work out what you do and don’t like, watch/read/stare at some porn.

A tenner to whoever can work out what on Earth is going on here...
A tenner to whoever can work out what on Earth is going on here…


You have my blessing – provided you do it ethically and sparingly!

Why I don’t like porn so much

The last thing you might be worried about when watching ‘Mary’ have an OTT threesome with two dudes is about the ethics of it, I get that. But for the sake of Mary and her two male buddies, for the sake of their lifetime of wondrous shagging, please please think of the ethics.

For starters, her two male buddies will not get paid half as much as Mary for their shag-fest. Which sucks, if you’ll pardon the pun. They put just as much effort into it (if not more, considering that they have to manage to keep an erection and have an orgasm on demand, whereas Mary could just fake it), so they should get paid the same amount.

But they don’t. Because the porn industry is designed almost exclusively for hetero men, and rightly or wrongly, the folks in charge assume that hetero men don’t want to watch two blokes. I look forward to the days in which the world isn’t designed exclusively for blokes that just refuse to pay other blokes to screw ladies for their pleasure. THE SACRIFICE, MAN.

Besides, the fact that the industry is pretty much exclusively designed for straight blokes just outright ignores huuuuuuge demographics of potential porn-watchers. Ladies especially are barely catered for, even though they need to get off too. Lesbian porn – pretty much designed for men. “Bisexual” porn – well, that’s just an excuse for a (usually two-chick) threesome in porn land, which I must say isn’t doing my image any favours. It would be super duper nice if women could have some porn that actually reflects and caters to their sexuality, instead of stuff that peddles the myth that female sexuality basically revolves around male pleasure, or that sex should end when the bloke is finished. Maybe something in which the ladies have actual, real orgasms and actual fun? Then maybe guys would get paid more, too, because there would be a greater demand for penises!


Then there’s the problem of desensitization. It’s been well documented that some people just cannot get aroused without porn, because they’ve consumed waaay too much of some seriously hard shit. Now, how much is too much will vary depending on the person, but the risk is still there. Maybe before dropping your trousers and double-clicking, you should take a moment and wonder if you even need to watch Mary having an OTT threesome to get your rocks off. There are other ways, my friends!

I could go on forever – there’s issues of consent and revenge porn, kids accessing it, rape porn and other violent stuff, for example – but I’m supposed to be revising for my exams. Needless to say, we need to take a long, hard look at porn (haha!), and actively seek to reform the industry so that it’s fairer for the people in it, at the very least!


Pornography is complicated, so let’s talk it over

The (Un)Friend Zone

I apologise for my absence – it was my birthday a few days ago. Let me make it up to you!

I’m going to tell you a story. It goes like so:

Once upon a time, there was a 15 year old girl called Laura, who had a really close male friend. She thought the world of him – even though everyone else found him quite irritating and selfish. She just never saw that side of him. She was really glad to have him as a friend.

One day, Laura and her friend – let’s call him “Ben” – went for a walk in the local area. Ben decided, for some reason, he wanted to go to the grave yard (yeah, creepy, right?) because there was something in there he wanted Laura to see. So she obliged, and off they went. He took her to a patch of grass and sat down… then turned to her and asked her to freakin’ marry him

Laura was shocked – she had no idea he felt that way, and she never wanted to get married, and, well, Ben just wasn’t her type. He was her close friend, and she liked it that way; she didn’t want anything more. So Laura decided to do the right thing, and tell him the truth. He nodded, she gave him a sympathetic hug, and they both went home. As soon as she got through the front door of her house, she received a message from Ben. He called her a total bitch, and said it would be her fault if he went to kill himself that night. Laura was devastated and broke into tears. She told her family, who called him a git. She told her friends.. who sided with Ben, because she’d totally “friend-zoned” him and she was ‘cruel’.

As I’m sure you can tell, this actually happened to me when I was 15. It was seriously scary and upsetting. But you’ll be glad to know he didn’t kill himself at all. Still, the subject of the “friend zone” is one that touches a nerve with me, naturally. So you can only imagine how I felt when on my news feed this morning, I found this:

Yeah, seriously. This exists.
Yeah, seriously. This exists.

I’ve had enough of this shit too. I have a personal policy when it comes to people who insist upon the friend-zone being a real thing, something which is increasingly well known. I UNFRIEND YOUR ASS.

You read that right. You talk about how you, or someone you know, has been “friend-zoned” and, context permitting, I will cease to be your friend. Some people think this is rather dramatic, but I totally disagree. Allow me to explain this policy.

You see, bleating about the friend zone actually says a lot about a person and how they view their friendship and relationships, stuff that probably influences the way they act. People that believe in the friend zone are looking at friendships and intimate relationships from a particular angle – the ‘slot machine’ angle. It works like this:

Exhibit A.
Exhibit A. 

Friendship is a slot machine – you put “niceness” chips in, and you expect eventually the “machine” will put out in a particular way. You’ve been nice to it, you’ve given it your time and all your niceness chips. You deserve a reward. So when the machine doesn’t put out, you’re upset. You maybe shake the machine, demand to know why it isn’t working, and walk away from it to find a machine that does work like that.

One error these people make is that friendships just don’t work that way. In fact, they might look a little more like this:

Yeah, those 'niceness chips' really get around, buddy.
Exhibit B. Yeah, those ‘niceness chips’ really get around…

Let’s say each of those people are the female’s friend, and the arrows are the famous ‘niceness’ chips. Some of them might be interested in relationships with one of those ladies… but judging by the diagram, niceness chips alone doesn’t quite cut it. They both have plenty of niceness chips, and they’re giving plenty of them back. Friendships, much like relationships, are reciprocal – you give something, they give something too.

Plus, the other point about friendships is the reason why you are being nice to someone. Most people are nice to their friends because they enjoy their company, and they want to keep these people happy because dang, these people are awesome to hang out with. If you are being nice to someone simply because you expect something particular in return – like some sweet, sweet lovin’ – you might be a manipulative selfish butthole. Your niceness does not entitle you to any special favours – it is the cornerstone of a good friendship, and a good friend is all that it entitles you to. That’s it. Nothing else.

I was nice to her, so that totally means I can steal her stuff, right?
I was nice to her, so that totally means I can steal her stuff, right?

When relationships do form out of friendships, it’s because that person offers something else on top of niceness coins – like they find them physically attractive, or they share the same sense of humour or something. So if they don’t accept your offer for a relationship, it simply means you were missing that magical ingredient at that time. It sucks for you, but deal with it. Life isn’t a fucking fairy tale. Do not reject their choice entirely and tell them you’re a ‘nice person’ who totally just got shoved into a ‘friend-zone’ by someone who totally only wants to date ‘losers’ or ‘assholes’. (Acting like an asshole isn’t going to make them jump into your arms.) Try respecting their choice as an adult of reasonable intelligence who is fully capable of making their own damn life decisions.

So when I say I will not be your buddy if you talk to me about the damn friend-zone, what I mean is just this – I am convinced that you will only see me in terms of what I can do for you, and not as a real person with real feelings, who makes legitimate choices about my own life, or as a person you might like to have around just because we have fun. I don’t want a friendship based on manipulation and bullshit, thanks. Welcome to the unfriend-zone.

The (Un)Friend Zone

Britain is NOT the best place to be a woman

So, the other day UN Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo said that the UK was the sexist country in the world, in her opinion, and everyone got their knickers in a right twist over it. Understandably, I suppose – it’s hardly a judgement that’s going to help British tourism or anything.

Britain, anyone? Photo courtesy of hongkonguk13

Her reasoning is that the UK has a “boys’ club sexist culture”, and that government measures like austerity tend to have a disproportionate impact on women. She also criticized the media’s negative and sexualised portrayals of women – she argued they created negative and damaging perceptions of women and girls, and lead to the “marketisation” of their bodies – and was miffed that she wasn’t allowed into Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, where their have been some controversial complaints from women in the past.

Now, I’m not going to argue that Britain is actually the most sexist country in the world, because that statement is utterly ridiculous. I don’t have to worry about being prosecuted for ‘promiscuity’ if I’m sexually assaulted, I can have a job, I’ve been educated. If I had a husband and he hit me, that would be a crime here, not his ‘right’ as my ‘owner’. So being a woman in Britain could be worse – much, much worse.

You could also be Katie Hopkins... Case and point?
You could also be Katie Hopkins… Case and point?

But the counter argument I’ve heard, about Britain being the best place in the world to be a woman, is equally stupid. Where does this even come from?!

First off, just because the lady made a silly hyperbolic statement, doesn’t mean the stuff she’s talking about isn’t an accurate reflection of what it’s like to be a woman in Britain. The “boys’ club” is a real thing – it’s most apparent in Parliament where there are only 147 female MPs, compared to 503 male MPs. There are currently only 3 women in cabinet (though two more of those are allowed to attend. Equality, right?!). To put this into perspective, 45% of Sweden’s national parliament is female. It’s not a competition, but I think it’s obvious who’s winning.

I couldn’t find any figures on transgender or androgynous individuals in politics, unfortunately.

The figures rather accurately reflect leadership positions all over the country. Although more women go to university than men now, there are startlingly few female lecturers, professors, and researchers in general. Research presented by female lead researchers is more likely to be rejected. Likewise, even though women dominate education, but more headteachers are male.  Don’t even get me started on leadership in other industries…

So, men make all the decisions. Not surprising, then, that you have ridiculous outdated rules governing women. Like, you literally have to have two doctors ‘satisfy the criteria’ for the Abortion Act 1967. Which are, by the way:

  • continuing with the pregnancy would involve a greater risk to the woman’s life than ending the pregnancy
  • continuing with the pregnancy would involve a greater risk of injury to the woman’s physical or mental health than ending the pregnancy
  • continuing with the pregnancy would involve a greater risk to the physical or mental health of any of the woman’s existing children
  • there is a significant risk that if the child is born s/he would have a serious physical or mental disability.

Yeah, because you’d have to be mad not to want a child.

I’m not even going to talk about domestic violence, or portrayals of women in the media, catcalling, the division of domestic labour, women in science and engineering, austerity measures – I don’t need to. It’s all pretty obvious stuff to anyone who isn’t willfully blind, and it would be patronizing to you.

What I will say is this – just because one turd has a bow on it, and the other has gone white and stinky, doesn’t mean the first isn’t a turd. Stop excusing our existing cultural problems with pathetic stuff like “oh but it’s so much worse elsewhere”, because all you are doing is making Manjoo look right.

Still a turd. Photo courtesy of South Park Studios.
Still a turd. Photo courtesy of South Park Studios.
Britain is NOT the best place to be a woman

I’m totally not a feminist – except when I am entirely a feminist.

There was this lone tree in the middle of a small patch of grass at school that us ‘freaks’ claimed for ourselves (until the school chopped it down, presumably because we were having too much fun), and this was where we would have lunch every day, provided it wasn’t sopping wet or covered in snow. I distinctly recall one lunch break at school at the tree, sat munching my sandwiches happily, when the subject of feminism came up.

“I think feminism is stupid,” one of my friends began. “It’s full of man-hating women that just want to be superior to men. I want to be equal to men; I don’t hate men at all.”

We all nod. “It should be called equalitism or something,” someone adds, having yet to be introduced to humanism I presume.

“I agree with women’s rights,” I remember saying, “but I’m not a feminist.”

At the time, this statement was entirely correct. I have always been a fierce supporter of equality in all forms, but never did I identify as a feminist. Even as I began to call myself “Ms” instead of miss – following a lesson on the origins of the term that left me feeling unclean – I wouldn’t allow myself to be called a feminist. I knew of no feminists, who were frequently criticized by the adults in my life, so my stereotyped view of them was left unchecked. I didn’t want to be a hairy, unclean, militant, grumpy bra-burner who loathed men.

Over the course of time, I began to understand that the people peddling these ideas that feminism is the domain of hairy, man-hating lesbians were the same people desperately trying to suppress the fight for equal rights for… well, just about everyone really. It’s seems pretty obvious to me now, but as a kid you just aren’t aware of these things, especially when no one you know is a feminist. In fact, my first introduction to someone with the same views as me identifying as a feminist was in my media heroes; people typically named Ellen or Jess who talk a lot of intelligent stuff and who’s brains I would literally kiss if it wouldn’t kill them instantly.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? You’d be right – the entire freakin’ point of me telling you all of this is that we should be proud to be supporters of equality. We need to shout from every rooftop how freaking awesome it feels not to be oppressing people. 

Because if we don’t, there are going to remain a whole bunch of very confused people out there who genuinely believe the bullshit that people say about advocates for women’s rights, and are going to fall into the traps set by conservative prudes desperate to keep them in their places. That isn’t extreme – it’s already happened to a lot of the girls who were in that very conversation with me that day. They’ve accepted their ‘lot’ in life, and given up on big dreams, just because those dreams aren’t the done thing for ladies. That’s so sad. Seriously – fuck that shit. No more.

So let’s talk about rights; loudly, publicly, until it drives our neighbours bonkers. Let’s don a uniform of pro-whatever badges, and bumper stickers, and t-shirts, maybe even shoes. Let’s all be feminists.

I’m totally not a feminist – except when I am entirely a feminist. myths and misunderstanding

I was casually searching the web the other day, feeling sorry for myself because they only made a cool t-shirt for men, and there wasn’t one in my size. Isn’t that the worst?! Anyway, I stumbled across this t-shirt made by the people at, and naturally I just had to see that one. Not in a mocking sense (well, maybe a little), I just like to expose myself to opposing ideas and beliefs really.

The website, so far as I can tell, seeks to document what it considers the systematic oppression of males by feminists and “… the government”, through a series of interesting ‘articles’. Let’s take a look.

How it describes itself

The information they give about the actual website is intensely amusingly written. They were obviously trying to make it look like a ‘real’ conversation between two people about misandry… and failed miserably. Come on, one of the questions on there is literally just “uh?”. That sounds more like a conversation of grunts between two moody teenagers to me!

It’s here that the bizarre conspiracy theories start; while grounded in some truth, they are distorted for their own ends. Consider this passage, for example:

Can you give me some demonstrations of misandry? Sure. Have a look at the second-wave feminist view of men for an example. Valerie Solanas, the radical feminist* who shot Andy Warhol in 1968, provides a famous example of misandry in her self-published SCUM Manifesto. In case you’re wondering, SCUM is an acronym for ‘Society for Cutting Up Men’, practically a call for gendercide, the culling of men. Quite literally, Solanas expressed her desire to “institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.

*The hover-over link describes feminism as: “A person who demonstrably affords women the assumption of good and men the predisposition of bad whilst claiming to seek equality”.

Valerie Solanas did indeed shoot Andy Warhol in 1968, and the SCUM Manifesto is a real thing, though no one really knows if this is related to her wounding Warhol and his colleague or if that was perhaps more to do with her paranoid schizophrenia (she spent some time in a psychiatric hospital as part of her prison sentence). The Society for Cutting Up Men acronym is a disputed term, and the only member of that society was Valerie herself. The whole thing is still pretty controversial today – some feminists completely disagree with it, and others think it’s an extreme reaction to the state of society at the time and frustration at the lack of progress being made by non-violent protest. I can’t comment exactly because I haven’t read it. I can say however that to suggest this is in any way representative of feminism as a whole in that period is… well, horseshit, if I’m honest.

It goes on to suggest that misandry is taught to children from an early age:

The next time you switch on the television, count how many programmes have the token ‘stupid boyfriend’ or ‘abusive husband’ or ‘paedophilic father’ figure. Switch over to a children’s channel / time window and watch how many cartoons or programmes reflect ‘silly daddy’ characters or ‘bullying big brother’. Don’t forget, of course, nearly all the women in these same programmes will be smart, sexy, sassy and full of beans, capable of juggling a career lifestyle with children, a husband and a social circle – let’s not forget that she’s undoubtedly a wonderful cook and always remembers everybody’s birthdays. If these images are being constantly spread out over our airwaves, what does that tell our children who are growing up watching & learning daily, hourly, that men are just so stupid, abusive and … well, useless?

This is very interesting. I watched – and still do, sometimes – cartoons reasonably regularly as a kid. It took me a while to think of a single instance in which adults of both genders weren’t depicted as a bit stupid in cartoons. Blue’s clues – not a single woman in it, as I recall. Dexter’s Laboratory – Dexter is a genius, everyone else except his computer and his arch enemy are pretty dim. In the Rugrats, the parents are pretty ditzy (probably to the extent the kids would be taken away in real life. Grim). Fairly Odd Parents, same story. In Ed Edd and Eddy, there are no parents at all; it’s pretty much the same in Spongebob. In fact the only example I could think of was Ms. Sara Bellum in The PowerPuff Girls – not even a main character. Sure, those are largely the kids programmes I grew up with, but some of these are still on, and the themes emerging from kids TV nowadays is very much more of the same. If I grew up with this view of men as being just as equal and deserving as I am, well, I can’t see how the same stimuli is going to colour the view of today’s kids against men.

Making up stories

Among some of the more amusing bits of fibbing, this one has to be the most striking. You might recognize the photo (below) from ‘Defined Lines‘, a popular feminist parody to the Robin Thicke song and video, Blurred Lines. The idea behind the video was to create a deliberate role reversal in an attempt to deliberately emphasize how sexist the original actually is. In their own way, the crew at picked up on the exact same thing; though they rather dull the point by stripping it entirely of its context and its message.

feminists oppressing men

I wanted to comment letting them know of their mistake, but in order to leave a comment you have to know the correct answer to their ‘random’ question, which just so happens to be “Does feminism seem anti-male?”. I could try putting in ‘yes’ of course, but I’m just not a liar.

It isn’t all bad (amazingly!)

Actually, there were one or two things I noticed when flicking through the website that really struck a cord with me. On some issues, we actually agree. Like, for example, the bit where they talk about a lack of adequate provision for male victims of domestic abuse, or the fact that women are much more likely to get custody of children in a divorce, and even the bit where Female Genital Mutilation is illegal and male circumcision isn’t (maybe I’ll write a post about why I disagree with the practice some time).

This isn’t the first time I’ve met with this realization – last year an anti-feminist came to our university and delivered a very bad talk (in which he was actually homophobic) that convinced most of the audience to side with feminism, but on some issues, we all seemed to agree. The problem is, they attribute these problems to the women’s rights movement, when they are actually a part of the patriarchal system. Men don’t receive as much help for domestic abuse because people think – even the men in abusive relationships, to an extent – that a woman can’t hurt a man, as they simply aren’t strong enough. The people in charge see women as weak and defenseless against these strong males, needing additional protection. Men do suffer, though not on the same scale, from domestic abuse and they should receive the same provision for it. Similarly, women get custody more often in divorce because of this messed up notion that women are caregivers first and foremost, so they’re “better” at it, and that it doesn’t really matter if the father is present in the kid’s upbringing. This is backed up by research in the fifties and sixties that didn’t even include father’s in the testing; they thought they didn’t need to. Add in the fact that men are more likely to move out of the family home (because they earn a higher wage, so they can afford a new place) and you have a recipe for custody-bias.

So, now what?

I’m convinced that sexism actually comes from ignorance – sometimes unknowing, sometimes willful. Instead of freaking out when we see stuff like this that we might disagree with, let’s enter into a thoughtful and evidence-based discussion about the issues at hand. If that doesn’t work? Well, you can’t debate with someone who isn’t listening to any counter-arguments; grab a nice cup of tea, politely excuse yourself and take your efforts elsewhere. Eventually they might decide they’re willing to talk.

I look forward to seeing this woefully misrepresented on their website shortly! myths and misunderstanding