Monthly Archives: February, 2015

She’s Blonde, She’s Beautiful, and She Carries a GLOCK by Martha Thompson

by Martha Thompson, reblogging from Martha Thompson’s blog (2.19.15) 

“She’s my ideal woman—blonde, beautiful, and carries a GLOCK.” I almost sprayed my just-sipped iced tea over the table. I was at a meeting with a man who wanted self-defense courses in his community, especially for college women.

I was reminded of that moment when I read the recent New York Times article “A Bid for Guns on Campuses to Deter Rape.”[1]  Lawmakers in ten states—Florida, Indiana, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming –have introduced bills to allow guns on a campus to stop sexual assault. Sponsor of the Nevada bill, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore said: “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them.” (Schwartz 2015).

For the moment, let’s set aside the blonde, beautiful, young, and hot remarks and focus on the argument that arming women is the way to stop sexual assault on campus. Jennifer Carlson (2014) says that confusing self-defense with gun defense limits women’s options, implies that “women must choose armed self-protection or no self-protection at all.”[2]

Imagine how different the conversation might be if instead of a focus on guns, it was on empowerment-based self-defense. What if the NY Times headline was: “A Bid for Empowerment-Based Self-Defense on Campuses to Deter Rape.” Imagine if being blonde, beautiful, young, and hot were not criteria for social protection or social vilification. What if the priority in legislation and news coverage was on empowerment-based self-defense programs built upon the idea that regardless of  age, gender, disability, race, sexual orientation, and social class people have the right to bodily integrity and the right to make decisions about how their own bodies are treated.

[1] Alan Schwartz. 2015. “A Bid for Guns on Campuses to Deter Rape.” The New York Times.February 18. Retrieved February 19, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/us/in-bid-to-allow-guns-on-campus-weapons-are-linked-to-fighting-sexual-assault.html?ref=todayspaper

[2] Jennifer D. Carlson. 2014. “From Gun Politics to Self-Defense Politics: A Feminist Critique of the Great Gun Debate.” Violence Against Women 20 (3): 369-377.Violence Against Women 20 (3): 369-377.

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An Open Letter to Mr. Grey (Bear) of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company

Dear Mr. Grey (Bear),

First, I must confess, I haven’t read the book or seen the movie upon which your marketing turns. But I don’t really need to.  I got the gist from the YouTube clip of Ellen Degeneres reading an excerpt, from Dave Barry’s essay about his wife’s reading of it, and from a college student’s paper on the book, which included choice quotes.  You’re simultaneously the object of lust and desire for the women who read your book and thought it was erotica, and you’re the object of scorn and disgust for the women who read your book and thought it was the story of one man’s fantasy of abuse and domination framed as romance.  The dirtier version of Twilight, if you will.

I don’t know how you became a teddy bear, Mr. Grey (Bear), but apparently someone at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company has a keen sense of how to make a dominating misogynist cute.  You have been trotted out as a marketing ploy by a multi-million dollar company.  (How does it feel to be used, Mr. Grey?  Do you want to willingly surrender yourself to the corporate headquarters, in all things?)

I see you everywhere, Mr. Grey (Bear).  It’s like you’re stalking me, which, clearly, is entirely consistent with your modus operandi.  I can’t get you off my Facebook news feed, I hear you advertised on my local radio station when I’m trying to get information about traffic, and you even infiltrated one of my favorite NPR programs as you forced your way into a limerick on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

Your ad haunts me, Mr. Grey (Bear).  I seem to be in a period of my life where I am particularly vulnerable to advertising.  I just bought Fruity Cheerios after seeing that sweet commercial of the little boy going through his breakfast cereal options with his dad (“My favorite kind of Cheerios are the ones I eat with you, Daddy”); I also bought ginger ale after a couple of weeks’ exposure to that Canada Dry commercial where the woman at the barbeque reaches into the cooler and starts pulling the ginger plants from Jack’s Ginger Farm, and I don’t even understand that ad.

But your ad haunts me for a different reason.  You’re a fucking teddy bear, for god’s sake.  How you even came to be considered an appropriate Valentine’s Day gift for adult women is frankly beyond my comprehension.  But a teddy bear who gets his kinks by being sadistic and abusive?  Really?  Am I supposed to be turned on by your satin mask and teeny tiny…handcuffs, or is that supposed to get my kid’s stuffed frog all hot and bothered?  And really, despite all your plushy machismo and smoldering…um…plastic eyes, you know you’re just a puppet, right?  You are merely the pawn of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.  And from what I understand, by your own admission, you’re completely fucked up.  Sexy?  Not so much.

So news flash, Mr. Grey (Bear).  I want you gone – gone from my computer screen, gone from my radio, and for god’s sake, gone from my NPR programs.  I know, that’s not what you’re accustomed to hearing.  But get used to it.  And as for your Dominant – the Vermont Teddy Bear Company – how about a teddy bear that symbolizes women’s empowerment rather than the benefits to men of participating in the rape culture?  Rosie the Rive-bear?  Glori-bear Steinem?   The Bear-zillian Jiu-Jitsu Teddy?  How about Thel-bear and Bear-ouise?  In the meantime, I look forward to hearing how much of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company’s proceeds from your rape-culture-supporting teddy bear self are getting donated to support organizations that fight violence against women or empower women to resist when their partners are controlling and abusive.   I’ll take that as my Valentine’s Day gift.

Oh, and P.S., Mr. Grey (Bear); before you, or the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, or the millions of Fifty Shades of Grey Fans, or the 20-somethings who believe they’ve got a nuanced understanding of the BDSM community, roll your eyes and dismiss this as the uptight vanilla rantings of an over-the-hill feminist, here’s three things to consider: first, members of the BDSM community have already explained how sex depicted in your book violates the accepted standards of mutuality and consent that are explicit in BDSM, so my beef is with abusive relationships, not BDSM; second, if we’re talking about expanding, not constraining, the boundaries on sexuality, then vanilla is as valid a flavor as anything else; and third, and most important, you’re a teddy bear, so if it’s all the same to you, I’ll get my sex ed information from the grown-ups.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Open Letter to See Jane Fight Back

An Open Letter to See Jane Fight Back

Dear Bloggers,

We resent your suggesting that women train in self-defense because it is VICTIM BLAMING! VICTIM BLAMING, VICTIM BLAMING, VICTIM BLAMING. Women training to protect their boundaries is as victim-blaming as telling women to wear hairy-legged tights or inserting that horrifying device with sharp teeth into their vaginal canals—which you yourself criticize on your own blog.

Sure, we get that research shows that women can successfully thwart attacks, and that they cope better with the emotional aftereffects of sexual assault if they did fight back, while no research exists to show that the aforementioned tights or teeth would do the same. Research, smesearch. We know there are lots of accounts of women and girls successfully resisting attackers, with or without prior training in self-defense.

But – and this is our point because we are men against victim-blaming – your suggestion that women do any of the work or make any of the changes that will ensure their own physical safety blames them for the attacks men commit. Sure, self-defense training makes it harder for us to attack them, but that’s not why we oppose it. We oppose it because it is victim-blaming!

Not only that, but such aggressive, unfeminine behavior will not attract most guys. We don’t want some bitchy woman in our faces shouting “NOOOOO!” and hitting or kicking us. We definitely find it a turnoff to think that a pretty lady we’re taking out on a date or inviting to our frat house for a party has actually trained for, or thought about in advance whatsoever, what she’d do if we surprised her with an unwanted play for her affections.

It’s bad enough that someone invented drug-detecting fingernail polish, because now we can’t see the colorful long nails worn on any girl in the same way again. We’re always suspecting that this lovely minx is actually wearing polish for the purpose of, not our pleasure, but her own protection. It’s just not fair. But more importantly, it’s victim-blaming!

The latest outrage is the research-based suggestion that parties should be held in women-controlled spaces. Sure, scholars know that campus party rape is enabled by male control of space. If it’s our frat house, for example, we control how dim the lights are, how much tasteless grain alcohol we put in the party punch, and how the bedroom doors lock. AND we get to offer girls a safe place to spend the night or a walk home (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). The suggestion reported in The New York Times, which we just know you at SJFB will applaud, is to hold parties at sorority houses.  We agree with everyone else out there (such as this mommy blogger) that THIS IS VICTIM BLAMING!

We are so glad that at least some women out there defend men’s right to control the space where we lure you into sex, to control the balance of physical aggression by keeping you defenseless, and to keep you from wearing things we don’t find attractive. We like you better as victims, but only because challenging that would be victim-blaming. Please, blame men. You are much more appealing to us when you remain helpless and wait for the men to change.

In closing – and we know you see where this is going – we want to advance the overarching argument that feminism, in general, is victim-blaming.  After all, as feminism is a social movement of, largely, women for social change, of women reclaiming their space and their power whether or not men want to give it to them, and whether or not there is a bystander there to get it back for them, and so, it is VICITM BLAMING! And it therefore must stop!

Every time you ladies utter “Women Unite, Take Back the….” we will remind you that you really should sit back and wait for us men to take care of things. Anything else would be victim-blaming!

We think you can trust that we have your best interests at heart, that we know what’s best for you, and that we truly want you to feel empowered and liberated coming to the parties we set up to get you drunk and show us your tits.

Love,

Men Against Victim-Blaming

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