I’ve been apprised of the situation that this blog has ads. Sexist, racist, horrible ads.
I read about the ad situation with wordpress.com. It turns out that they add ads to blogs in order to pay for their servers and keep providing a free service, along with a steady stream of exciting new plugins. This all sounds very reasonable and good.
Except that we live in a Patriarchy, and Patriarchy is a thing which reaches its terrifying tentacles into every tiny corner of our lives, and turns things that would otherwise be perfectly reasonable into horrifying nightmares.
Can you think of a single ad you have seen that didn’t contain sexism, racism, or some other form of bigoted hatred? If you can, I’m willing to bet its because you are so deeply marinated in the various forms of hatred that are endemic to our culture that you don’t even notice them.
The particular ads that were pointed out to me were of the “mail-order Asian bride” variety. Wow. “Women are commodities”, “Asian women are passive, not to mention exotic”, and a whole bunch of other scary colonialism I don’t even know how to unpick. Orientalism meets Patriarchy and they collide like two positrons smashed together that explode to release showers of spiraling Wrongness.
A bit of Googling has revealed that it would cost 0.08c per day, or in the neighbourhood of $30 a year to get rid of the ads. Even after converting my squids to USD, well, shit, I could just buy my own domain and install my own WordPress blog for that. So that’s what I plan to do.
I’ll get around doing that sometime when I’m not drunk, i.e. not now.
The story behind this is that someone called succubus_esq has been trying to get something done about the large amount of sexual harassment and sexual assault that has happened at Keycon, a Winnipeg scifi and fantasy convention.
The first email I sent them is here. I haven’t posted their reply, but it’s pretty much summarized in the paragraph of my reply-to-their-reply, which I’m pasting below.
Thank you for your email. However, this email, while extremely polite, did not address any of my concerns. Your sole response to my questions about your policy on sexual harassment at Keycon was to offer to send me a copy of your program, which will be back from the printers in May. Since you have sent this document to the printers you clearly have an electronic copy of it, so could you please email me a copy now? Any file type will be fine.
I have two major concerns about your as-yet-unseen policy. The first is its invisibility. You say that there will be mention of your anti-harassment policy in a printed program which will be handed out to conference attendees. However in this day and age most people expect to get their information from the Internet. I find it very hard to understand why there is no mention of an anti-harassment policy on your website, not even so much as a simple statement that sexual harassment at Keycon will not be tolerated.
My second concern is a suspicion that your anti-harassment “policy” will consist mainly of telling people who have been harassed or assaulted to go to the police. As you are probably already aware people who have suffered sexual assault sometimes do not wish to talk to the police for a whole variety of reasons. In the case of more minor sexual assaults (such as groping) everyone knows that these cases are not investigated or prosecuted, so talking to the police can seem pointless. Furthermore, unfortunately police officers sometimes treat the victim with an attitude of blame, suspicion, and disrespect, and a traumatized person may not feel capable of dealing with this. Sometimes a traumatized person does not feel capable of talking about what happened to them at all. Furthermore in the case of more serious sexual assault such as rape the victim may know the perpetrator and be unwilling to go to the police because she does not want this person to go to prison. In any case any victim of harassment or assault should be offered support and treated with respect whether or not she chooses to go to the police. Some action should be taken with regard to the perpetrator or accused perpetrator whether or not the victim chooses to go to the police (even if the action taken is simply that a pair of volunteers go up to the perpetrator and tell them that harassment is unacceptable).
It has become clear that at past Keycons there has been a dangerous culture of impunity, in which some individuals expected to be able to carry out consequence-free sexual harassment and sexual assault. Adding a clear notice to your website and to other publicity materials that sexual harassment will not be tolerated at Keycon would send a message to these people that harassment is not acceptable behaviour. Having a policy where people who are pointed out as having carried out harassment are challenged, told that such behaviour is unacceptable, and if appropriate banned from the event, would reduce the overall amount of harassment taking place and make the event safer for all attendees.
Being silent about this won’t stop the problem. Doing nothing won’t stop the problem. Treating victims with distrust, and telling victims that no action can be taken unless they go to the police, won’t stop the problem, in fact being silent and distrusting victims creates the perfect set of conditions for assault and harassment to flourish.
Please take real action on this.
P.S. These problems are in no way specific to Keycon. Just Google “scifi convention harassment” or “fantasy convention harassment” or “comic convention harassment”, and you’ll find pages of links to other cons that are grappling with similar issues of sexual harassment and assault.
Pro-lifers claim that they consider a zygote to be morally equivalent to a human being, and thus consider the destruction of zygotes to be murder. They don’t really believe this. They can’t, because it’s too stupid. Pro-lifers may possibly be stupider than the average human being, but they are still not stupid enough to believe that a bundle of cells is the same as a person.
This is a zygote. If it has a soul, then so do my fingernail clippings.
The real motivation behind the pro-life position is to punish women for having sex. That’s all. These people believe that women should be subservient to men, that a woman should only have sex with her owner/husband, and that women should only have sex for the purpose of creating children (children who will, incidentally, also become the property of the owner/husband). Pro-lifers believe that a woman should not have control over her own uterus because, in their view, a uterus does not belong to the woman it is attached to, it is the joint property of her owner/husband and God. To these anachronistic douchebags a woman having sex for the purpose of her own pleasure, and a woman who seeks to control her own reproduction, has committed a sin against God and Patriarchy and needs to be punished.
It really annoys me when feminists are all nicey-nicey towards pro-lifers, addressing their supposed concerns about zygotes as if these concerns had any merit. Pro-lifers hate us. They want to take us back to the days of coat-hanger abortions. They want to enforce rape within marriage while making consensual sex outside of marriage punishable by enforced pregnancy and possible death. They want to reduce the status of women from “human beings” to “expendable baby incubators”.
This stupid proposal to force people to undergo compulsory counseling in order to be allowed to have an abortion is part of a larger plan. It’s real purpose is to chip away at our autonomy, to drag us a few rungs down the ladder from “human being” to “expendable baby incubator”. If this goes through I promise even more, even stupider amendments will follow. If a woman can be forced to undergo counseling, she can be forced to undergo other ritual humiliations as well: such as forcing her to get permission from the father, or forcing her to apply for an expensive license. The pro-lifers will be back to try to reduce the 24 weeks limit, or have women who miscarry charged with murder.
We’re at war, people. Deal.
Keycon is a scifi and fantasy convention in my home town of Winnipeg. The events include a “Board game blitz” and “bedoiun-steampunk belly-dance”, all of which sounds pretty awesome.
But there’s a sinister side to Keycon, which isn’t advertised on the website: a culture of frequent sexual harassement and sexual assault. This was documented by succubus_esq on the Backup project community, it’s pretty horrifying. The organisers have so far responded by refusing to talk about the problem, and a planned meeting on womens’ safety at Keycon was recently cancelled. Succubus_esq has received anonymous rape and death threats.
I’ve sent an email to the Keycon organisers asking for a better response to the situation. Feel free to do the same: the relevant email addresses are along the right-hand side of the Keycon website.
There is also a Twitter hashtag #rapecon, if you’re on Twitter please take a moment to send a message demanding safety for all convention participants.
I’m pasting below my email to the Keycon organisers. If I get any response I’ll post that as well.
I’m writing to express my shock and concern upon hearing that numerous incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault occurred at last year’s Keycon. It appears that certain predatory individuals consider Keycon to be an environment in which they can carry out harassment and assault with impunity. I am sure that you are as horrified by this situation as I am, and therefore I was surprised that there is no mention of an anti-harassment policy on your website. I ask that you immediately add a prominent message to your website and to all other publicity materials, stating that harassment and assault are completely unacceptable at Keycon and that any person committing harassment or assault will be banned. While such a policy would not guarantee that harassment and assault can never occur, it would send a clear message that these crimes will not be tolerated, and thus would likely lower the rate of harassment and assault at Keycon.
It is important for you to create and publicize an anti-harassment policy ASAP, since a policy that was created at the last minute likely would not be well-publicized, and volunteers and organizers would not have time to familiarize themselves with it. If you are having trouble drafting an anti-harassment policy, you might find the Con Anti-Harassment project helpful.
Please reply to let me know the status of your anti-harassment policy, and what other steps you are taking to ensure the safety of Keycon attendees.
Finally, I was very disturbed to hear that a woman who was raped shortly after a previous Keycon, and who has been in contact with you regarding safety issues, has received death and rape threats from an anonymous email account. It is reprehensible that someone should attempt to silence this brave young woman with threats of violence, and unfortunately it seems very likely that the person responsible is in some way involved in Keycon. I trust that you’ll join me in condemning this cowardly and illegal act.
So glad French women can no longer be oppressed by being forced to wear veils and burqas. Yup, it seems by simply banning a piece of clothing the French government has managed to eradicate all sexism and patriarchy from French Muslim communities! Of course there are some who would say that sexism is deeply entrenched and complicated and that Muslim women are more concerned about things like domestic violence, divorce rights, and the right to work and own property, than about head-coverings. Some people would even argue that the burqa ban is more about marginalizing an already-marginalized minority group and expressing the dominance of French culture over immigrant cultures rather than about promoting womens’ rights. But, pshaw.
It should be noted that while French women will be protected from burqa-oppression, they will not be protected from police-officers-stopping-you-in-the-street-and-violently-arresting-you-because-they-don’t-like-your-clothes-or-your-culture-oppression. So, swings and roundabouts.
Hey come to think of it, these lucky French Muslim women are being oppressed by two separate patriarchies AT THE SAME TIME, how completely mind-boggling. Only both patriarchies see what they are doing as being liberation, not oppression. Anyway the two oppressions cancel out, according to the rules of OPPRESSION MATH! (It’s just like real math, except it’s complete bullshit).
I’m looking forward to the next logical step of compulsory high heels, lipstick and mini-skirts for all women and girls between 12 and 90. BRING ON THE LIBERATION!!! Oh yeah.
I’ve just discovered the Open Source Swift Kick to the Balls Project and I can’t even find the words to describe how awesome this is.
The basic premise is that all men are presumed to be open to receiving a swift kick to the balls at any time. If any particular man doesn’t want to be on the receiving end of a swift kick to the balls, it is his responsibility to inform the prospective ball-kicker of his preference.
Yes it is a metaphor.
I wrote to my stupid MP about the stupid amendment that would force women to get counseling before they get an abortion.
I actually stopped writing to MP’s years ago, because it was just so blatantly obvious that MP’s do whatever they were going to do anyway and don’t give a fuck about whether constituents write them letters or not. The replies you get are most often form letters. I once got an actual reply, apparently written by the actual MP and not by his secretary, and it basically went “I am going to completely ignore your letter and do exactly what I was going to do anyway, but thank you for sending me such a lovely letters and thereby participating in the democratic process! I hope that you will write me some more lovely letters in future so I can completely ignore those as well!” Not exactly in those words, but not far off either. So I stopped writing letters to MP’s years ago because it is basically just something you do to make yourself feel better, and it gives our so-called Democracy a gloss of legitimacy it doesn’t deserve.
Also, everything sucks. But I’m drunk. If I had any real moral courage I would probably be outside smashing windows and setting fire to stuff. Anyway, I wrote a letter to my MP, I’m pasting it below:
I’m writing to express the horror and disgust I feel at hearing that an amendment has been added to Health and Social Care Bill 2010-11, which would require any woman needing an abortion to undergo COMPULSORY counselling.
It would be wonderful if OPTIONAL counselling was provided to women needing an abortion. However to make the counselling compulsory is a violation of human rights, since it amounts to treating women as if they were children or mental patients, unable to make their decisions about their own health. This kind of blatant sexism has not been seen in the UK since the Victorian era.
People can only be forced to undergo psychiatric treatment against their will if they are psychotic and have a “mental disorder” which puts either themselves or the public at risk, under the Mental Health Act 1983 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It is very, very wrong to treat women who require an abortion as if they were psychotic.
Furthermore, it is obvious that COMPULSORY counselling would not have any good effect on the patient, since any psychotherapist or personal counsellor could tell you that counselling only works when there is trust between the patient and counsellor. This trust obviously cannot exist when a patient is forced to undergo counselling against her will.
Please let me know what steps you are taking to prevent this sexist and amoral amendment from becoming law.