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May 08 2007

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman

‘The news’ — by which I mean that corporate-owned sworl of global mainstream reportage charged with fueling the status quo — is especially enamored of gruesome girl-gore and maimed women. The first four items in the Twisty Inbox this morning:

Shark bites woman off Maui ["[...] She was surprisingly peaceful and calm.”]

Police say man tries to shoot woman inside courtroom ["[...] Lewis pulled a .22-caliber sawed-off rifle from an envelope and fired at the woman, who was sitting in the row in front of him.”]

Petrol-doused woman ends stand-off ["She is now in hospital having routine checks."]

Woman hit in eye with paintball while waiting for bus ["Someone fired a paintball gun from the passenger side of the vehicle and it hit the woman in her left eye, causing a 'very serious eye injury,' police said."]

After reading about those people putting women’s eyes out and shooting them with sawed-off shotguns, I was up for some feminist hi-jinx. Unfortunately, today’s mainstream news alert for “feminist” contained only one link.

And I confess, the link was something of a disappointment: A woman named Holly has had great sexyfun adventures advertising in the newspaper for a “sugar daddy.” This pursuit was apparently so wacky, so transgressive, so sexy that she just had to write a book about it. Which meant that sooner or later someone would interview her, searching for an answer to the question that for millennia has flummoxed radical philosophers and confused empowerful women:

“Is it anti-feminist to be a kept woman?”

It turns out that putting out in exchange for bling is “pro-feminist.” Having a sugar daddy is “empowering.” Having four sugar daddies is “the most liberating thing I’ve ever done.” And why wouldn’t it be? “Men looked at me,” says Holly, the scales welling up in her eyes, “with new admiration in their eyes and finally accepted me as one of the lads.”

109 comments

1 ping

  1. WorkingWithMeat

    The sad thing is, I’m not even surprised.

  2. cme

    Just a bit ago a tout tried to push a copy of a new free local newspaper on me with the reassuarance “Free newspaper, take one, it can only help”. I thought of you, Twisty.

  3. Panic

    She was surprisingly peaceful and calm
    Well, yeah, I mean the other response when being attacked by a shark would just be a bit hysterical, you know?

    I’ve started using your line, Twisty: Men hate you. Even my friends who won’t identify as feminist (a whole other rant) immediately agree. The “news” is witness.

  4. kathy a

    wait wait wait — holly feels empowerful as “one of the lads?” because the dudes like keeping lads? or what? i’m having some message drift problems here, although i expect what she meant was “i have money, and can call my own shots.” heh.

    one wonders if holly spends part of her fortune on personal security? because the ownership aspect of the patriarchy means that some percentage of the several “sugar daddies” and/or over 10,000 rejected applicants for sugar daddy status will feel offended. demeaned. ripped-off. un-dudlified. if anna nicole smith had a feminist lesson to offer, it is that following the sexy wild woman protocol means you are asking for whatever happens; and that men with resources will be elbowing each other for advantage, should there be competition for ownership.

  5. Ann Bartow

    If you can stomach the self-promo, I blogged about that PSA here:
    http://feministlawprofs.law.sc.edu/?p=1748
    and the post includes a link via which one can give the Ad Coucil some “feedback.”

  6. H

    Meanwhile, here in the UK:

    Ageing, dickhead astronomer claims women have ruined TV.

  7. Twisty

    I think Ann’s comment might have been meant for this thread.

  8. sam

    Panic, you remind me of the first feminist book I ever read, The War Against Women by Marilyn French.

    An early 20-something me was commuting to NYC and reading the book on a train when a woman leaned over and softly said to me in a very serious voice, “There really is a war against women.” That book changed my life. I had never put it all together like that before, never grasped the magnitude of men’s hatred for women so clearly expressed in every facet of society but invisible for its ubiquity.

  9. Natalia

    Meanwhile, a for-profit consulting company estimates that if women were paid a fair market wage for the domestic labor they perform, stay-at-home moms would make $138,095 a year. Women who work outside the home are generally owed $85,939 a year for their second shift. And I’m guessing Salary.com is not a feminist outfit.

    Where did I find this? The NYT? No. Le Monde.

    The Patrick Moore referred to by H seems to feel no compunction about spreading misogyny wherever he goes.

    I used to watch Doctor Who and Star Trek, but they went PC – making women commanders, that kind of thing. I stopped watching.

    Naturally,

    A BBC spokesman described Sir Patrick as being one of TV’s best-loved figures and said his “forthright” views were “what we all love about him”.

    I do find it hilarious that the photo of him shows him as an entitled old white dude wearing a monocle.

  10. mearl

    Twisty, you know why you kick ass? Because while so many others take the violence and hatred against women as routine and inevitable, your posts take every act against the integrity of women straight to task, and you never let anything slide or let misogyny become a normal, acceptable, EXPECTED practise. Revolution is not fun and it’s not glamorous (although not a whole lot of people will sign up for it if it is neither), but the work must be done and the ideas must be put out there. You do this tirelessly.

  11. lawbitch

    I fail to understand how a woman can confuse the difference between admiration/acceptance and prostitution. No matter how you package it, skank will never be an empowered woman. Have a little self respect, will ya?

  12. Jerry

    What’s a sworl?

  13. Rachel

    “Men looked at me,” says Holly, the scales welling up in her eyes…

    I’ve been lurking here for probably a year or two, but I’m commenting now to say how much I love that line.

  14. H

    I fail to understand how a woman can confuse the difference between admiration/acceptance and prostitution.

    I think it’s probably quite easy for a culture that not only teaches women that highest thing, the greatest praise they can aspire to, is to be found desirable by men but also teaches everyone that the more money you make, the more admirable and worthy of self-esteem you are.

    Of course, the family-friendly euphemism ‘sugar daddy’ helps everyone pretend what’s going on really isn’t prostitution at all.

  15. nine

    One thing I have always found interesting about news/newspaper/news channels is the apparent media baised they exhibit. I was listening to my friend complain about how the media made an icon out of the VT shooter as well as portrayed the act as one that was on the front page fr numerous days. My friend blamed the media for all the publicity that this killer recieved and felt that the media pedistol this man was out on would only encourage others to do the same. It seems media has it’s hands in everything, from politics to the apparent over exposure of the degredation of the human race. Always blame the media.

    Then you have to stop and think how the media works. Advertisement. Companies paying for advertisement on thier channel,paper,web site, etc… If thier ads are not being seen, then would they continue to waste thier advertising cash on a source that provides no return? So if money through advertisement is the main source of revenue for media, then wouldn’t advertisement or more importantly to whom they advertise to, determine which media source thrives and which one perishes? Ulitmately is it the consumer who determines the biase of that media source? As a consumer we always have a choice… we chose to or we chose not to. Media is unbaised, the consumer is. Don’t blame the media…if you do not like it then chose not to support it.

  16. whyme63

    H–Poor old rich white dude with a monocle. He’d “rather be dead in a ditch” than appear on Celebrity Big Brother.

    That’s okay–I’d rather see him be dead in a ditch than watch him appear on Celebrity Big Brother.

    I’d prefer it to having to watch Celebrity Big Brother, for that matter.

  17. whyme63

    I apologize for all the boldieness. what a difference a “/” makes.

  18. zofia

    The whole sugar daddy thing is so creepy. I knew a girl in high school who took the older guy sugar daddy route. I heard from my mother who had heard from the girl’s mother that her daughter had landed quite a rich catch. The girl’s mother was proud. I asked my momma what she thought. She told me an old joke that she had once heard.

    An old coot says to a young girl, “will you have sex with me for a million dollars?” She replied, “why yes.” He then said, “how about five?” Indignantly, she asked, “what kind of girl do you think I am?”

    “We’ve already established that, my dear. We’re merely haggling over the price.”

    At 19 it made my stomach turn and it still does.

  19. Svaha

    Liberated Advertising? The Exploitation of Women in the West
    The irony of women’s liberation in western societies is a deeply imbedded form of mental slavery that is hostage to sexist advertising, a hugely profitable cosmetic (from gels to surgery and wire-bras to stilletos) industry, and the widely held notion of progress by “comparison” with the sorry state of women in the third world.
    Women are meek, servile, wretched, abused, housemaids….in the other/Eastern societies. In the West, they speak in a masculine tongue/harsh/gravel voice, they are “equal” to men, they work outside the home, they smoke, drink, take drugs, shave their legs and armpits in ritual fashion/fashion ritual, wear make-up their entire lives, wear restrictive underwear, and are made to sell everything from cars to razor blades through their physical nakedness. Now in the globalizing convergence of progress the mysterious separateness of men and women that constituted the most beautiful aspect of humanity is being diluted by Body Shop, an obligingly carbon-neutral guilt free removal of layers of difference and a plastering of organic make-up that will enslave all women as made-up gloss at the altar of those asexual objects, the Gods (Godesses?) of Equality.

  20. kcb

    Meanwhile, a for-profit consulting company estimates that if women were paid a fair market wage for the domestic labor they perform, stay-at-home moms would make $138,095 a year.

    I brought that up at another blog a while back and somebody told me it was a pointless figure, because if people had to actually pay that much for around-the-home work, no one could afford it. Which I thought proved my point (that women’s work is grossly undervalued) pretty handily, even if the person proving it didn’t get it.

    And, Twisty, your description of the news puts me in mind of a little rule I learned many years ago early in my broadcast-news stint. I’d heard of a terrible assault on the police scanner, the sort of thing we’d normally send a crew out to cover if it were gang-related or stranger-on-stranger violence. I alerted our executive producer, he took a listen and shook his head: “It’s a domestic dispute. We don’t cover domestics.”

    I was surprised, confused, and too young and inarticulate to object. But I did later note that we *did* cover domestic disputes that ended in murder, especially if it was gruesome and caught on tape. That was 15 years ago, and I *still* blame the patriarchy.

  21. sally

    I awoke this morning to the local radio news of the woman being shot in the eye with the paintball. The intersection is about 5 minutes from where I, until very recently, lived. Mysogeny in the suburbs of Ottawa..frig!

    As far as the “admiration in their eyes” line…I think Holly might be mistaking admiration with winces of disdain due to the ‘lads’ thoughts of SDT’s she may be packing.

  22. pisaquari

    When news goes nonprofit I might start paying attention.

    For now it’s just a sad social commentary on the state of people in the wrong positions. Not enough IBTP.

  23. Dawn Coyote

    Kathy Sierra is still in the news on Slate, and the subnormals in the article’s reader forum (Culturebox Fray) are more idiotic than the knuckledraggers on dKos.

    Lithwick’s piece isn’t bad, but this reader gets it righter.

    (use the last link to locate relevant fray posts after the page rolls on)

  24. Feminist Avatar

    I am so angry at the Patrick Moore statements, and especially angry that no one has called him on it. When I mentioned it to my feminist friends they all sighed and said well he is old. Yes he is 84, but should age prevent him from being criticised for his views. If anything he is old enough to know better!

    The funny thing is that I just commented to my partner last night how much better Dr Who is now with his new partner who is also educated and can figure things out for herself.(Spoiler Alert for non-Brits) I literally cheered when she told him at the end of the episode where she said she would not travel with him unless she was his Partner and not his assistant.

    I think I may have to go and write a letter.

  25. jodie a.c

    “is especially enamored of gruesome girl-gore and maimed women.”

    Not just the media, but men in general, as was obvious with the male relatives taking pictures of the torture lynching of Du’a.

    I blame men (because they ARE the patriarchy).

  26. erin

    that’s why equality should never be a goal. it just means acceptance on male’s terms (they looked at me like one of the lads, blah blah) and that means prostitution.

  27. yankee transplant

    “that corporate-owned sworl of global mainstream reportage charged with fueling the status quo”

    Another classic Twisty definition.

  28. H

    FA – The funny thing is that the Doctor has had female companions as smart, together and independently-minded as Martha and certainly more so than Rose in the 1970s. Ace, who took out a Dalek with a baseball bat? Sarah-Jane Smith, who led a slave-labour rebellion in Genesis of the Daleks?? The Romanas, who were Time Lords themselves? Has everyone forgotten them?

    Just don’t mention Bonnie Langford. ;)

    I would also point out that none of the 70s companions were ever written as having the sickly schoolgirl crushes on the Doc RTD seems insistant on writing into the series now. It’s like he can’t concieve of any female travelling in the Tardis unless she’s basically after the Doctor’s cock with a bit of time travel as a bonus. I find this remarkably tiresome.

    This is geek heaven, discussing WHO at IBTP. Hee!

  29. Urban

    I thought Patrick Moore had kicked his mortal coil. When H reminded me that he’s still alive and spouting vitriol disguised as ‘character’, I was actually disappointed. And now I feel like a bad person because of that. Gah.

    “…accepted me as one of the lads?”
    Even if she mistakenly believes that the ‘lads’ (pass the vomit receptacle please) have truly accepted her, rather than actively hating her guts and laughing at her behind her back, I can’t understand why being one of the lads is regarded by her as a bonus.

    H said:
    “I think it’s probably quite easy for a culture that not only teaches women that the highest thing, the greatest praise they can aspire to, is to be found desirable by men but also teaches everyone that the more money you make, the more admirable and worthy of self-esteem you are.”

    I agree. I’m still working through this though: do some women think that being ‘one of the lads’ ie in the inner circle of male-dom makes them desirable to men? Is this the root of the apparent ‘benefit’ of being one of the lads? I am forced to conclude that it is.

    Given that they cannot ever be truly accepted by men as ‘one of the lads’ (see ‘men hate you’), have they fallen for a myth perpetuated by men which indicates to women that being one of the ‘gang’ means that they are in fact considered a human being and thus any sex that goes on is free of oppression and that everyone is in fact, a winner?

    The whole thing makes me feel ill.

  30. flea

    From the comments section at the Patrick Moore article, a Bob Bobwell of Dubai speaks:

    “Sci-fi and sexism? Must be a hit with the ladies!”

    Hee!

  31. H

    I am so angry at the Patrick Moore statements, and especially angry that no one has called him on it.

    I think he’s seen as such a daft, bitter old duffer that no-one can be arsed. Last year, when Michael Buerk put forth much the same opinions without advanced age or eccentricity as a defence, various female newreaders and media personages queued up to mock and critique him in the press.

  32. LMYC

    H, interesting to hear someone else say what I’ve been thinking about the RTD Who. It’s got its strong points, but I feel like he’s jsut got a woody for David Tennant, so he’s writing “Casanova” all over again.

    He’s Just A Guy Who’s Gotta Roam And Leave A String of Broken Hearts Behind, But He’s Got Angst About It So It’s Okay.

    *puke*

    Sorry. I’ll just stick with my Pertwee/Baker/Davison reruns, thanks.

    Fave companion here is Liz Shaw, actually.

  33. Mandos

    Huh! I’d have never have imagined such a thing happening in public in Ottawa. In Orleans?!? What happens in Orleans, anyway?

  34. Feminist Avatar

    Got to agree on the sickening school-girl crush angle of Dr Who. I mean, is it actually needed? And if it is, why can’t these two more intelligent than average adults acknowledge it, discuss their feelings and move on. Especially at the end of last season, I mean if you fancy her/him just blinking say so!

    I barely remember the early Dr Who, other than vague remembrances of the Dr Who with the colourful scarf (am totally having a name-blank) and his blonde assistant who would ask inane questions.

  35. Urban

    “the Dr Who with the colourful scarf (am totally having a name-blank)”

    Tom Baker

  36. Feminist Avatar

    Urban: That’ll be the one! Thanks.

  37. PhoenixRising

    Police say man tries to shoot woman inside courtroom [”[…] Lewis pulled a .22-caliber sawed-off rifle from an envelope and fired at the woman, who was sitting in the row in front of him.”]

    Wouldn’t headlining this story ‘Old Fart Misses Plaintiff with Sawed-Off’ serve both accuracy and Twisty’s obstreperal lobe? Because the gender of the parties to this act of stupidity seems highly irrelevant. IBTP.

  38. Theriomorph

    I blame the Alterarchy.

    Disgustomundo.

  39. thebewilderness

    nine,
    You are mistaken with regard to your relationship to the media.
    The advertisers are the consumer, the viewer/listener is the product.
    The media provides product(us)to the consumer(advertisers) for money.
    IBTP

  40. Brady Lord

    RE: Meanwhile, a for-profit consulting company estimates that if women were paid a fair market wage for the domestic labor they perform, stay-at-home moms would make $138,095 a year.

    Nothing infuriates me more than women who wrangle a domesticated, replicating focused gig for themselves and then whine about how much their services are worth. If you want children, have them, keep working and shut-the-fuck-up, already. The world does not need any more homo sapi-clones. If you’re so compelled to raise off-spring and really think you should be remunerated for it, start a show dog kennel and haul in a few bucks, already. Where are all these husbands who have wrestled their wives into all this forced child rearing and domesticity, huh? Yeah, that’s right, it’s the women who are creating this nightmare for themselves. Waa, waa, waa.

    That’s right. I hate stay-at-home moms who whine about fiscal inequities. If that makes me part of the patriarchy, just send me the paperwork, I’ll sign up right now.

  41. Natalia

    If you want children, have them, keep working and shut-the-fuck-up, already.

    Let’s see, how does that go again? Enormous patriarchal pressure to marry; compulsory pregnancy; no paid maternity leave; wage gap; second shift. Oh yes, and shut the fuck up.

    You make it sound so easy, Mr. Lord, and so appealing! Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  42. therealUK

    I am so angry at the Patrick Moore statements, and especially angry that no one has called him on it.

    I emailed the BBC complaints yesterday. They haven’t replied.

    And the top recommended comment on their webpage says: “There is a real difference between what men and women gain from watching TV. It’s fair to say that unlike most women, men do not simply want to be entertained, they want to learn something interesting, gain insight into a serious subject, or be kept up to date with developments.”

  43. Fiona

    And the top recommended comment on their webpage says: “There is a real difference between what men and women gain from watching TV. It’s fair to say that unlike most women, men do not simply want to be entertained, they want to learn something interesting, gain insight into a serious subject, or be kept up to date with developments.”

    The Sopranos and South Park are, like, totally educational, dontcha know!

  44. Mel

    Hey “Brady Lord”! Shut the fuck up!!

  45. Rugosa

    Maybe Moore is on to something with the separate TV channels for men and women. How about also completely segregating the sexes socially, so women can be free to live their lives while men are confined to the home? They can watch all the educational sports and cop shows they want, as long as they have dinner on the table and the house clean when the wife gets home.

  46. Brady Lord

    Hey Mel,

    Go Pump out more brats and whine about the wretched nature of your choices.

    Oh, and Natalia, it is women who have seized on this notion of child-bearing as some kind of original and wildly fulfilling construct. Most men would live happily without any kids, given the option.

  47. lawbitch

    Glad to know that Brady Lord will *not* be reproducing. The gene pool is really shallow here. Let’s exclude him from the support my children will be paying for social security and the like.

  48. Mar Iguana

    Sir Patrick is the spitting image of Jawa The Hut.

  49. raj

    UGH. Everywhere on campus there are bright pink fliers for feminist porn. “FEMINIST PORN: AN EVENT.”

    Ganked from the Facebook:

    “In an effort to open a new dialogue on pornography, the Peer Health Educators will be screening portions of “The Crash Pad” and “Pornographlics.” After the screening, the PHEs will facilitate a discussion about the films and what makes feminist porn different than “mainstream” porn.”

    The event has 31 confirmed guests.

    You know, Feminist Alliance is lucky to get more than five people to show up to any meeting.

    I’m so tired… I keep wondering if I’m the only one on campus offended by the phrase “feminist porn”? Am I only one who thinks it sounds ridiculous, a complete oxymoron? Will I forever have others telling me what will empower me?

    I don’t know how to respond… I feel sick and offended, but what can I do?

  50. Twisty

    “Most men would live happily without any kids, given the option.”

    Oh, so that’s why they’re all getting vasectomies and refusing to have unprotected sex!

    Brady Lord defies the Megatwistocracy. Banned!

  51. CannibalFemme

    I don’t believe I have mentioned how entirely satisfactory I find the experience of Twisty banning the trollish knobs. It’s protecting the space, yes, but even more than that, it’s action. And I admit that action is basically what pulls my particular little red wagon.

    Much obliged, Twisty.

  52. speedbudget

    With regards to the knob shooting at his (insert relationship nomenclature here):

    Thank goodness we don’t require gun safety and target practice courses in order to purchase a firearm here in the good old US of A.

    (/sarcasm/)

  53. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Yes ma’am, thank you. This is a rhetorical question, but why why why do guys like BL think it’s their divine right to waste everyone else’s time and/or blog space with their stupid bloviating? And why are their posts always so long and windbaggy?

  54. speedbudget

    I realize that my comment could be misinterpreted. I was merely pointing out that our lack of useful gun laws here in the US saved this woman’s life. Thank goodness.

  55. Feminist Avatar

    I don’t like to feed the trolls, but seeing as he is now banned, I have to say I find his line of logic totally mind-boggling.

    Here for all these years, I had thought that women oppressed men by throwing off their biological destiny and insisting on dominating the workplace and society with our sense of entitlement. It turns out that if I had really wanted to oppress men I should have immediately impregnated myself and insisted that some poor sucker provided for my every need and desire.

    I mean, what is it that men want from us? Do you want us to work or not? Do you want stay at home and reproduce your genetic code or not? How am I expected to be a real woman if nobody will tell me what to do?!

  56. Random Lurker

    Those researchers at the Beeb really ought to have spent some time on this side of the pond and viewed our oh-so-educational men’s network Spike. The typical line-up is dripping with such problem solving programs as Trucks!, Worlds Deadliest Explosions, World’s Wildest Police Videos, and about three different flavours of fake wrestling. Or is Spike considered too hippie because they also show those reincarnations of Star Trek where the captain is a non-white man and the first officer a woman and where the captain is a woman and the first officer a non-white man? Who funds these stupid studies and why can’t we spend the money on real science?

  57. Amananta

    Yes, yes – it’s time to ask the age-old question – what do men really want? It’s impossible to keep up with their hormonal mood changes.

  58. nine

    thebewilderness

    I would be interested to see the cash flow diagram of your idea that WE are the products and that advertisement is the consumer. Let me get this straight: The product is sold to the consumer through means of advertisement to turn profit for the manufacturer. SO we (product) are sold to the advertisement agency (consumer) through means of advertisement (media) to turn profit for the manufacturer (those who employ the advertisement agency???).

    Of course, you may have ment that we are a metaphorical product and such, but then wouldn’t that be a screwy world if all of a sudden the product could choose to be or not to be sold… I don’t think the economy would last too long if that were the case. Of course we could say that as a porduct we do not have a choice to be sold and that the manufacturing and selling of us is inevitable. But if that is the case then how can we be against something that is inevitable? Why would we blame?

  59. Jezebella

    Amananta, you’re so right. Men, they’re just so irrational and emotional, violent one minute, horny the next. Bless their little hearts, they just couldn’t make a rational decision if their lives depended on it. If only they would let us tell them what to do so they don’t have to worry their pretty little heads about real life.

  60. MedeaOnCrack

    The trollish knobs. How do they find this blog? They always seem to come in out of the blue a propos of nothing.

  61. Sniper

    Yes he is 84, but should age prevent him from being criticised for his views. If anything he is old enough to know better!

    Well, I am impressed. This guy has been a complete asshole for more than twice as long as I’ve been alive!

  62. Twisty

    “The trollish knobs. How do they find this blog?”

    The abject rankness of the Google search strings pointing to this blog would melt your eyeballs.

  63. CannibalFemme

    Paulette, regarding your question: “Maybe dog is man’s best friend because the mind of a man is more genetically in line with a dog’s than it is with a woman’s?”

    That’s a little hard on dogs, if you ask me.

  64. Vera Venom

    “And why are their posts always so long and windbaggy? ”

    Brevity is the soul of wit. Therefor windbaggy-ness is the soul of idiot trolling.

  65. Mel

    Well, now that the troll has been banned–thanks to many prayers and sacrifices to the Twisty goddess–I just want to say that it turns out he was even stupider than his original post hinted at.

    “Most men would live happily without any kids, given the option.”

    DUH!!! Without kids, there would BE no men around to “live happily.” That is because without WOMEN there would be no men. WE are the ones who literally make all the people. We create them from scratch. The children grow up to be women and, unfortunately, sometimes men.

    What a fucking idiot!

  66. CannibalFemme

    Additionally, vis-a-vis the violence question (and I apologize in advance to those of you who’ve been subjected to my views on this already):

    Honestly, as an overt perpetrator of violence, I personally don’t recommend it as a solution except in the following cases: 1) when there is a direct physical threat to be dealt with that you choose to engage with, or 2) if you are prone to violence, enjoy violence, and are willing to bear the responsibility of all the baggage that comes with this choice; the physical, moral, mental and emotional crap. If violence isn’t a comfortable part of your nature, chances are that violence isn’t a workable solution for you.

    Also, there have been others on this blog who have touched on a solution which, in my opinion, is much more reasonable and less likely to lead to full-on carnage, to wit: putting an embargo on having sexual contact with men. I really don’t have a right to debate this particular proposal since I’m celibate and queer, but it sounds nifty.

    At least, it sounds a lot niftier than war.

  67. norbizness

    Twisty: I would suggest a detour to the archives for some creative asterisking of the more Google-pervert-attracting posts. Think of it as setting up a perimeter of citronella candles in an East Texas swamp. You may not get rid of all the mosquitoes, but everybody loves the smell of citronella!

  68. whyme63

    “What do mean really want?” seems to have been clearly addressed by the banned one–”shut-the-fuck-up, already”.

    Say it loud–Men hate you. IBTP.

  69. Bird

    Nine, I was also stunned when I found out about the dynamics of advertising in the media. It was in a magazine editing course while I was doing my degree that I found out how the mainstream media really makes profits.

    I’ll use the magazine as an example. You think you buy a magazine, and that the content is the point of the publication. You are led to think that the advertising is just there to support the fascinating stories contained within this month’s issue. Surprise! The content is like the bait on a hook, luring the appropriate demographic in to the right advertisers.

    You see, the cover price you pay for that magazine is just a token, really, in the cost of the whole thing. Making you pay for the magazine is more about being able to clearly prove circulation than anything. The real cost is covered by the ad revenues. That’s why they make it really cheap to subscribe: they can then sell ads based on that large subscriber base, bringing in greater profits.

    In reality, the editorial department, especially in contemporary publishing, is merely an adjunct to the ad sales folks. Stories get pulled when advertisers don’t like them. Stories also get published because advertisers want them, ads are placed with complementary content, and contra means that editorial departments will be pressured to write favorable reviews/features about products as well. This is especially bad in things like fashion magazines, where the “next big trend” will largely be influenced by which designer sent the most stuff.

    Think of it perhaps not so much as audience-as-product, advertiser-as-consumer (although that is really what it comes down to in the end). Think of it like those dating phone lines you see advertised on TV: you know, the “women always call free.” The audience in this case is the woman offered the free phone calls so that the paying men (advertisers) can get more access. Yes, we chose to buy the magazines for their content, but we’re being unwittingly sold to the highest bidder in that exchange.

    This carries through to most other media. That’s why ad-free magazines are often printed on cheaper paper with less colour, but cost significantly more and are often struggling non-profits. That’s why an issue of Adbusters costs more than $10. That’s why professional magazines with no ads are either very costly or are run at a loss by various industry bodies. Once a magazine has to rely on the audience to pay for the production costs, the cover price goes up. Same thing for commercial-free TV and other media.

    And that does include all magazines that sell ads, not just Cosmo. The folks at Walrus, Harpers or even people like This! are not immune. They’re just more picky about who they sell you to.

  70. stekatz

    Dang, Brady Lord was banned before I got to needled him with the question: are you Mike, Greg, Peter, Bobby or Tiger?

    Yes, I find it amusing and fascinating that someone who was obviously raised very poorly and who so distinctly resents the hell out of it would criticize women who take such matters seriously.

    I do not mean to invoke some artificial mommy wars debate here. My FIRM belief is that whatever makes the mother happy is best for the children. Women and their families come in all shapes and sizes, and there is more than one way to raise a child. I’ve been a stay at home mom until recently. It worked well when my daughter was tiny, but it’s having quickly diminishing returns for me. So now I’m wending my way back into the work world. Feminism’s role is to both support women in the workforce and value all that grunt work we’ve done through the generations, not to insist that one is better than the other.

    I feel like I’m not making sense. Oh well. Glad Brady Lord’s gone though he’ll be back in another guise I’m sure, perhaps as Duke of the Partridges? Count Huxtable?

  71. Feminist Avatar

    Whyme63- and not just ‘shut the fuck up already’ but stop existing in any way that might draw attention to yourself. Presumably when combined with no child-bearing, just stop existing.

    On another note, Bird is totally right about the nature of advertising. There have been some quite famous examples of major advertisers of women’s products refusing to advertise unless articles were withdrawn, especially articles that deal with non-conforming feminities. Ever wondered why there are no lesbians in Cosmo?

  72. Therem Harth

    Hi Rachel,

    I had the same impulse (I also mainly just lurk).

  73. kathy a

    norbiz — that’s the best vector control idea i’ve seen in a while. roadrunner-esque in its devious elegance.

  74. H

    “Most men would live happily without any kids, given the option.”

    So would a lot of women and increasingly, they are – a fact that also precipitates much pouting and whining from the patriachy.

    I mean, what is it that men want from us? Do you want us to work or not? Do you want stay at home and reproduce your genetic code or not?

    What they really, really want is for us to do whatever it is they want, whenever it is convenient for them.

  75. Twisty

    “I would suggest a detour to the archives for some creative asterisking of the more Google-pervert-attracting posts.”

    I’m a moron, so could somebody explain what this means?

  76. Twisty

    “Glad Brady Lord’s gone though he’ll be back in another guise I’m sure, perhaps as Duke of the Partridges? Count Huxtable?”

    Actually, ‘Brady Lord’ did come back, as ‘Barbara Morgan,’ a “female, extremely fiscally successful” dumbass who began his parting shot with the tried and true “you’re all just a bunch of whiny loosers [sic]” and ended it with the venerable “if you guys can’t appreciate the opportunities in this world, you have only yourselves to blame. Suck on that, losers!”

    I could’ve written it myself.

  77. norbizness

    Twisty: As an example, you use the terms “p*rn” and “p*rn*graphy.” That one find and replace could cut unwanted Google-searchers by about half. Of course, I still get “Condoleezza Rice Naked” searchers after a 2.5-year-old joke, but I want them to be horrified. Plus all my comments close after a week anyway.

  78. Twisty

    Oh. D*h.

  79. RadFemHedonist

    “I do not mean to invoke some artificial mommy wars debate here. My FIRM belief is that whatever makes the mother happy is best for the children. Women and their families come in all shapes and sizes, and there is more than one way to raise a child. I’ve been a stay at home mom until recently. It worked well when my daughter was tiny, but it’s having quickly diminishing returns for me. So now I’m wending my way back into the work world. Feminism’s role is to both support women in the workforce and value all that grunt work we’ve done through the generations, not to insist that one is better than the other.”

    See, you’re being vague, if beating children made you happy it wouldn’t make the children happy, nor would some religious crap. Honestly I’m rather suspicious. If, however, you mean that whether you do the stay at home thing, maybe work from home but you are there constantly and probably taking care of some of the chores, versus going out to work and getting childcare, then yeah, I agree, and Brady lord should really quit with the bullshit, stay at home Moms should complain about what is basically slavery at this time, it should be paid work.

  80. nine

    Bird

    Although I agree with the majority of what you brought to the table, I still do not agree with the whole audience is the product pitch.

    “Think of it perhaps not so much as audience-as-product, advertiser-as-consumer (although that is really what it comes down to in the end)”

    You see, advertisement is like every other business. Offer a product/service in order to make a profit. So an advertisement firm (let’s call then Advertismo) will approach a company (lets say GAP) offering to take care of all of thier advertisement needs. Now Advertismo will create ads to sell GAP products. That is Advertismos product, ads that sell. GAP is the consumer to Advertismo. If they are unhappy with Advertismo’s product (i.e. ads are not selling more GAP products) Advertismo gets the boot. The media (lets call them Cosmo) only acts as a medium to convey advertisement to the end consumer (us). If the ads are not getting exposure to the right demographics, then Advertismo will not run ads with that media format again. In essence if the end consumer (us) does not buy product (the GAP hooded sweatshirt ran by Advertismo in Cosmo) then Advertismo is not hired again by GAP, GAP does not run thier product in Cosmo and Cosmo looks to find a new advertisment agency to fill thier ad quota. Ultimately it is the end consumer (us) that determine the look, smell, feel and content of the media. Media is a monster. We created the monster. We are the monster.

  81. Bird

    I agree, we do choose to consume the media product, and therefore we can have some influence over the content. But I am saying that the media is not actually in the business of selling content to the audience. We are not their primary revenue source.

    The product that the mainstream media is actually selling is the audience. They sell our viewership or readership to the advertising agencies. A successful magazine will be able to supply the appropriate group of consumers to the advertising agency, therefore generating sales for the companies who have hired the agency and garnering new/continued accounts for the ad folks.

    They buy the audience’s interest by producing content that we chose to consume. Essentially, the content of most mainstream media is the currency with which they purchase the audience’s interest, which they can then sell in the form of eyes to view ads. Circulation (or market share) figures are extremely important in the media world, as are audience demographics. Those are the means by which they market their audience to the buyers. That’s why they do all those contests where you have to fill in personal details, send out questionnaires with your subscription renewal, hold focus groups, and find other ways to clearly define who is interested in their content.

    Go read some rate cards and media kits for major magazines and see what they’re really selling. It’s not the publication on the rack in the checkout line; it’s the woman who picks it up and pulls out her wallet.

    If people stop consuming a given media product, the content will change in order to attract more viewers. That’s just so that the publishers have more eyeballs to sell.

  82. Bird

    By the way, the issues with mainstream media are why I decided as a young editor to go into book publishing instead. Although we’re still vying for the audience, at least we’re trying to sell content, not BMWs. I just knew that my personal ethics would become a problem if I ever had to change a story to sell more mascara.

  83. nine

    Bird

    Ah, I totally see where you are coming from now. Yes that does make sense. Media does sell the audience as a product to the advertisement agencies. Albiet this is a unique way to look at it as media is dependent on its product (audience) to consume the product of it’s own consumer (Advertismo). It is two symbiotic parasites living off of a common host. Although, I still stand firm in the fact that we create the media. Since media has a product that is constantly variable, thier business model must be constantly variable as well. Media has a product that determines thier own demand. Since we create the demand, then we create the product for media.

  84. Bird

    nine,

    I think we agree on that one. The content of media reflects the desires of the audience. Obviously, to draw us in to their product, the content marketers need to consider what will draw the most eyes of the sort they want to sell. Note that’s not always the most eyes, period. Most media thrives on filling niche markets: economizing housewives, upper level executives, upper-middle-class women with aspirational fantasies (I’m sure you can name the magazines for each demographic).

    Unfortunately, the desire of the audience is also shaped by the type of content that we consume. So the more commonly consumed porn becomes, for example, the more porn becomes part of the mainstream media image. Or the more empowerful the last set of Cosmo tips, the even higher our expectations of the next. Our tastes are shaped by what we consume, and we then demand more of it. It’s like junkies and drugs. Every hit needs to be stronger than the last or we just don’t feel it.

  85. Feminist Avatar

    Bird and Nine: How do I know what I want until the media tells me?

  86. Bird

    Feminist Avatar:

    Well, if you’re raised in our culture, you probably don’t, unless you’re really good at sticking your fingers in your ears and going “La-la-la-la-I’m-not-listening!”

    The more grown-up version of this is being highly skeptical of anything you read, see or hear and learning to analyze the message.

    Personally, I think a course in pop culture analysis should be part of any woman’s education. Learning to understand Shakespeare is all well and good, but learning to understand the underlying meaning in modern media is a survival skill.

  87. MedeaOnCrack

    Pardon me for butting in Bird. I disagree with you. I think media/advertising creates what we ‘want’, although I’d be struggling to draw my reasons out as finely as you’ve done with yours.

  88. Urban

    “That’s why they make it really cheap to subscribe: they can then sell ads based on that large subscriber base, bringing in greater profits.”

    I feel like I was just hit with the clue-stick… I had wondered for so long why the cover price of a magazine is so much higher than a subscription.

    You really do learn something every day at Twisty’s.

  89. MedeaOnCrack

    The cover price of a magazine is so much higher than a subscription because the newsagent takes a cut.

  90. mAndrea

    Hmmm. The Twisty brigade is too fast for me. I’m still trying to unwrap my head around the mob lynching of Du’a Khalil Aswad.

    What I don’t understand is how come more general interest forums didn’t talk about this. It had video!! Screaming!! Real blood!! Popcorn!! Unless I somehow missed whole batches of threads in my searches, her stoning went largely undiscussed in the usual places.

    Barely a mention… I wonder why. Only at one place did someone make the connection between what happened to her, and what happens to all women. Not surprizingly, that comment effectively ended the discussion.

    The refusal to see misogyny as a continuum strikes me as curiously important.

  91. thebewilderness

    Bird and nine,
    The problem with the “we get what we want” argument is that most people are not in the target demographic. The target demographic gets what the megatheocorporotocracy thinks will draw the largest number of eyes in that target demo. Not necessarily what that demographic wants.
    The reality show format is an excellent example of this.I have never watched American Idol, but I know more than I want to know about it from watching the news. Reality shows are possibly the cheapest to produce form of programming on television, and they draw an enormous segment of the target demo. They know what we say we want and they know what we will watch. They know what we will talk about with our friends the next day. A lot of what they do is bait and switch, because it works. It is their business to know this stuff. It is our business to know what they are doing, why, and how.

  92. nine

    thebewilderness

    “The target demographic gets what the megatheocorporotocracy thinks will draw the largest number of eyes in that target demo.”

    So they just predict what the consumer wants? Once again you fail to illustrate how the cash flow of the “megatheocorporotocracy” and the idea that the megatheoetc… determines what the consumer wants to see. If you can illustrate to me how this would be profitable in a free market, then you might persuade me. Of course you clarify that most people are not in the target demographic. What exactly would the target demographic be for a large reality series such as American Idol? Surely it would not be the type of people who buy Ford vehicles or drink Coca-Cola products…

  93. nine

    Bird

    “The more grown-up version of this is being highly skeptical of anything you read, see or hear and learning to analyze the message.”

    This alone should be a motto everyone holds close to themselves.

    Feminist Avatar: You asked how do we know what we want until the media tells us… The media has been molded by our own wants and desires. Our desires to be an individual, our desires to be unique, our desires to feel accepted, our desires to feel healthy, our desires to feel happy all change the face of advertisement and the media. That is why there is a product for virtually anything anyone could desire.

  94. thebewilderness

    nine,
    It really isn’t a secret, in fact they are very proud of the effort they put into the entire process.
    You can start here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_profile
    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/television/ratings/index.jsp
    http://www.pbhs.com/website/flash/practice_marketing/demographic_marketing.asp
    http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticleHomePage&art_aid=41262
    http://www.tastemakerdemographic.com/
    http://www.marketresearch.com/product/display.asp?productid=1343171&xs=r

    The spamulator is going to freak out over all these links.
    If you ever wondered why all the programming seems the same, five sit coms, three hospital shows, and a few cop dramas, this will explain it.

  95. thebewilderness

    nine,
    The spamulator is probably going to hold up my response until Twisty checks it tomorrow. It has several links to the information you requested.
    Or you could just google it yourself. I’m not really interested in persuading you of anything. This is no secret, they are very proud of the work they do.

  96. Bird

    MedeaOnCrack, the price isn’t entirely to do with the newsagent taking a cut. The first year price for a subscription is also always the cheapest, too. It’s to get a long-term, reliable reader who will then become a good part of the circulation figures. Circulation is very carefully calculated, and there are auditing agencies that certify the numbers so that advertisers know they’re getting the real deal when they buy space. They also calculate flow-through (how many other eyes will likely read that magazine). Magazine publishers actually want you to pass them on to your friends. They’re selling the ads based on the fact that say, three people will read one copy. That’s a key number.

    At most magazines, the ad sales department is significantly larger and higher paid than any other—editorial, design, etc. That should tell you something right there.

    Nine, yes, they do predict what you want. They have all kinds of people out there doing market research to see what people are going to buy. They use things like Nielsen ratings as predictors. They have “cool hunters” out in the streets spotting the cutting edge trends—you know, like that woman in your social circle who seems to effortlessly set new styles and always seems one step ahead—they look for that and sell that person’s style back to the world (and never pay her a dime).

    They also pay people like that to start trends. There are agencies out there who supply young, hip people to go into popular clubs, for example, and order specific drinks. There are teen girls out there who are paid (in money or products) to start trends in their schools for specific clothes, cosmetics or musicians. They’re essentially corporate agents marketing products far more subtly than any TV ad ever could.

    Popular culture is carefully produced and cleverly constructed to draw people in and appeal to as many of the masses as possible. Even subcultures get manipulated for corporate interests. Yes, the initiative springs from what people are interested in, but those interests are chanelled by media producers to put you right where the ad money wants you.

    Take an ad copywriting course sometime, or dive into the world of corporate communications, or take a look behind the scenes of a consumer magazine. These things are far more complex than most people realize, and we are far more manipulated by the media than most of us want to think. Many of our “personal” desires are the result of careful marketing and promotions machines. To think that we direct it ourselves is to allow ourselves to continue to be controlled.

    I realize I’m totally rambling on about this stuff. I did my degree in communications, and I’m hoping to be doing grad studies in the same area soon. The rhetoric of marketing and popular culture is a particular area of interest for me. Sorry for the geek out.

  97. nine

    Okay, maybe I need to clarify on the “predict what we want” statement. I wanted to illustrate that to predict something is equivalent to establishing a hypothesis on a yet-to-be conducted experiment. The hypothesis was established based on previous experiences of the variables and thier reactions to the stimuli. I wanted to point out that even though we have hypothesis or predictions, they are more or less insignificant as the experiment contains variables (in the case of the cosumer’s desires these can shift very quickly – that is why trendy things take off so fast). In the end, you can either prove or disprove your hypothesis but neither really matters as the results of the experiment are what we are looking for. In the case of Advertising, we can predict all we want, but the experiments results are all that matter. If the hypothesis is proven, the Ad works. If not it is scaped & a new experiment is to follow. since the consumer is a variable and since we are the consumer, we directly effect the results of the experiment. Advertisers can only try and predict the outcome.

    “Sorry for the geek out”
    Never feel bad about educating people.

  98. Feminist Avatar

    It is true that advertisers and the makers of particular products can get it wrong, but the relationship between what we want and what society (and within that popular culture/marketing is a huge element) tells us we want is not straightforward. There is no natural ‘desire’.

    “Our desires to be an individual, our desires to be unique, our desires to feel accepted, our desires to feel healthy, our desires to feel happy.”

    Every single one of these concepts is entirely culturally constructed. The promotion of individuality and the desire to be unique is argued by many historians to be a product of eighteenth century Enlightenment (Western) culture. What it means to be healthy is relative to health standards and access to medicines within your culture. The concept of happiness is historically and culturally specific.

    The question is who constructs these ideas. Popular culture is as much as product of society as a producer of society, but it is a very complicated two-way relationship. People rely on cultural and social discourses to understand their experiences, to create a narrative out of the disparate events within their life. Without these discourses, people cannot explain what happens to them- as a result it is very difficult for people to ask or desire something outwith what their culture tells them they want.

  99. Bird

    nine, I get what you’re saying. I guess what I’m saying is that they’ve got their science down pretty well. Their “theory of consumer desire” is developed enough that the major megacorps don’t often miss—that’s why it’s a big story when they do.

    Feminist Avatar, good point. Pop culture is a two-way street. Or, I should say, pop culture grows out of real culture. Marketing machines take the genuine impulses, trends and interests of the people on the cutting edge, the people in “cool” social groupings, and the unpredictable choices that humans make, and then pop culture sells it back to us. A prime example of this is the marketing of African American urban street culture back to the white kids in the suburbs and, even more strangely, back in a distorted form to the originators of the trend. Hell, you see “ghetto style” all over the place in my city, and we’re not even Americans.

    Popular culture is the marketing for sale of real culture. It’s the trends and desires of people mass-produced and sold back in safe, sanitized-for-your-protection packages so that we don’t choke on having to experience and create the real, gritty thing. I mean, it’s way easier to go watch Mel Gibson’s film version of Hamlet than to go to a real community theatre. It’s far simpler to put together an outfit to match the one in the magazine than to chose clothes that actually appeal to you and feel comfortable. It’s a lot more soothing to watch reality TV than it is to face, well, reality.

    Forming our own narratives is difficult. But I don’t think it’s impossible. At the very least, you can chose which pieces of the pop culture story to adopt as your own (“embiggens” comes to mind). But only people who are aware of the pervasive influence of the media culture can actually resist it. Sort of like the patriarchy, huh?

  100. Feminist Avatar

    Exactly like the patriarchy.

  101. nine

    Femenist Avatar

    “Every single one of these concepts is entirely culturally constructed.”

    A culture is the collection of idividual desires manifested into a majority consensus.
    Furthermore in order for something to be “entirely” it has to be without fault or variance. Person A’s desires would have to be the same as person B’s if they were from the same culture. Therefore our desires would be mutual and thus negate as there would be no variation in what is to be desired. Progression of a desireless society would cease. Since we are participating in a discussion…obviously this is not the case.

  102. MedeaOnCrack

    This sounds like it’s right out of a marketing textbook.

    “A culture is the collection of idividual(sic) desires manifested into a majority consensus.”

  103. MedeaOnCrack

    Bird I wasn’t implying that was the only factor. But they do take a huge cut which never goes down. You’re right about subscription, circulation and ad carry though. Thanks for your nicely fleshed out comment. It’s a good refresher. I’ve been to the BSoFA too. ;)

  104. Feminist Avatar

    Nine: Even if I am accept your definition (which I am not sure I do) consensus does not imply lack of variance- its suggests an overall sense of agreement.

    So the patriarchy is a great example as there are multiple versions of femininity and masulinity within the patriarchy but they still form part of the overall consensus which is ‘the patriarchy’.

    Cultures (like the patriarchy) contain within them multiple discourses that weave together to create an overall cultural consensus. That desire is ‘entirely’ culturally constructed does not deny variation of desire, just that there is nothing natural about it.

  105. Tyler D

    nine, I get what you’re saying. I guess what I’m saying is that they’ve got their science down pretty well. Their “theory of consumer desire” is developed enough that the major megacorps don’t often miss—that’s why it’s a big story when they do.

    Psychology and even hard sciences like neuroscience are being applied with some level of success to the field of marketing.

    http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/persuaders/etc/neuro.html

    The intersection between economics and neuroscience is being mined for results that will lead to more effective marketing techniques.

    “They” want to know what we want before we know it ourselves.

  106. RadFemHedonist

    Every single one of these concepts is entirely culturally constructed. The promotion of individuality and the desire to be unique is argued by many historians to be a product of eighteenth century Enlightenment (Western) culture. What it means to be healthy is relative to health standards and access to medicines within your culture. The concept of happiness is historically and culturally specific.

    that’s a load of crap, that people have had such a bunch of horseshit getting in the way of things does not mean we shouldn’t all have our individual rights respected.

  107. Feminist Avatar

    Individual rights have little to do with conceptions of individuality, although they too are culturally constructed. And for that matter ‘culturally constructed’ should not imply ‘bad’- it just implies ‘not natural’.

  108. buggle

    Wow Bird, that is a great lesson for me. I recently subscribed to “Natural Health” for my little cousin’s school fundraiser. I thought that magazine would be better with the ads and the models, since it’s not a Cosmo or Self type magazine. Ha! Every month some skinny white woman is on the cover, and all the ads are still about bettering yourself and looking a certain way. Next time I’ll just send him a check, and say “No thanks” to the magazine.

    I really thought that the ads paid for the magazines, and that the point of the magazines was the content. The way you explained it makes much more sense. Scary though.

    I love this place.

  109. Cathy

    theRealUK posted the top comment for the webpage:

    “unlike most women, men do not simply want to be entertained, they want to learn something interesting, gain insight into a serious subject, or be kept up to date with developments.”

    They do like to bask in their superiority, don’t they? I guess the author of the comment forgot about the porn which is ubiquitous on TV, aimed at entertaining – who, women?

  1. Back when women were in the house, a shoeshine cost a tuppence, and the BBC didn’t suck at PunkAssBlog.com

    [...] Hey, half the payoff for spending 50 years on TV becoming a national icon is so that you can spend your golden years saying whatever fuck stuff you want. That young whippersnapper at the BBC should feel proud to have to mop up after such a respectable luminary while keeping a straight face. Or, as a commenter at Twisty’s put it: I do find it hilarious that the photo of him shows him as an entitled old white dude wearing a monocle. [...]

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