Feminism has a problem with conflict resolution. If you disagree you can fight me.

If someone presents an unpopular opinion online, they are ‘cancelled’ like a train in congestion. I don’t know at what point shame hashtags replaced healthy debate, but in case you’re running behind, just check the daily trending topics to figure out which woman is now garbage and which books you need to burn.

A bad opinion once expressed can no longer be re-thought – it tarnishes you permanently. This is not an environment that leads people to change their ways or work together. It’s a private party of bickering where all purpose has been lost.

Mistakes are a fundamental part of learning, and shouldn’t mark the end of someone’s relevance. There’s a crucial difference between women willing to learn and women who close their minds in the face of change. There is also absolute zero chance of any woman perfectly embodying what feminism should be, yet we’re all acting like that’s the endgame.

This is the whiniest I’ve ever been about feminism – hands down. I am frustrated, bitter and yearning for a place where I can discuss, learn that I am wrong and not be afraid. As a result I’m put off writing straight opinion, and I’m finding home in analysis of the movement and how it works. It’s like watching a building burn down but it’s pretty fascinating.

 

So…

What’s happened in feminism recently?

 

French women signed a letter denouncing #metoo

Some French actresses are irritated by the proposal that groping is a sex crime. They think we’re all a bunch of prudes, and that innocent men are going to suffer for simply flirting. Here’s a fascinating insight. 

It’s very hard not to be dismissive of these women, but if you want them to think more like you, honey, then you better damn listen and figure out where they are coming from. You can’t argue back with your fingers in your ears.

 

Margaret Atwood got in some bad books despite her good books

Read this excellent article here for some context and opinion (I can’t view The Handmaid’s Tale in the same way now).

There’s a lengthy back-story behind Atwood’s original letter, but it references an important discussion that needs to be had about the basic principles of our legal system, and how we deal with it when the system is failing us. Any citizen is considered innocent until proven guilty, but when convictions for sexual assault or harassment are near impossible to attain, what options are left for the suffering women and men?

The legal system is complicated further by its systematic racism, which has to be addressed before any woman of colour can rely on it to prosecute their abuser. It is no surprise that a majority of the women calling the suspension* of those accused of sexual assault a ‘witch hunt’ are white. These are women for which justice is an easier goal.

 

Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct and things got ugly fast

The accusations of Ansari are some of the most complex made so far in the Hollywood scandal, and they demonstrate the real trouble we have defining consent.

The accusation is isolated at present, unlike the tsunami against Weinstein, and it details a date-night gone wrong that teeters from a misunderstanding to assault. The debate falls primarily on whether non-verbal cues should be acknowledged as a lack of consent, and how a partner is responsible for identifying them. Ansari claims he was clueless to this woman’s discomfort, but this says a lot about the expectations men have for their sexual partner’s enthusiasm. Her description of catatonic ‘letting it happen’ is familiar to most women, and I believe that’s why her account is ringing true for so many.

The assertion that the woman in question should have shouted louder or pushed him off is not one worth discussing, as anyone who has ever experienced sexual harassment knows the paralysing affect it can have on a person. Ultimately, it is your own responsibility to ensure you are not assaulting someone. If your partner is disengaged you should check they’re okay with what’s happening. This is a basic human relationship skill for empathy and respect, and it’s not exclusive to sexual conduct.

 

Women’s March 2018

Once again ladies across America, and elsewhere, made some amusing placards and came out to support each other. Trump and #metoo were the main focuses, with many still frustrated by the vocal support of Trump by white women.

The pressure on Time’s Up is ensuring they provide adequate and fair support to women across all demographics; their aims are clear but their methods are not. The most vulnerable women to sexual harassment are the poor, disabled and immigrants, who are in difficult positions but also struggle to be heard. 

Curiously, both Aziz Ansari and James Franco have come under fire for wearing ‘Time’s Up’ pins to the Golden Globes, only to be accused of sexual misconduct shortly afterwards. Franco very awkwardly denied the allegations against him while still insisting he supports the encouragement of women to speak on the matter. I have no trouble believing their support is genuine – it is rare for people to see themselves as part of the problem.

 

*Outside of Hollywood, being suspended from work with pay while allegations are being investigated is normal practise.

 

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