Thursday, July 29, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
The other weekend I was offended on my way home from a two pie night at the gay bar. When I say it was a two pie night I mean that the level of drunkenness required everyone to eat two pies on the way home; stopping at a second dairy on Cuba Street as soon as the first round of pies had been eaten. I had been thinking strategically though, and had gotten a bag of chips at City Stop, along with my Kumara and Cashew. I walked home, feeling safe and sassy in a posse of gay men and licking salt off my fingers; talking about how my friend M really should have scored and bemoaning how the Wellington gay scene could fit on a pin head. I felt safe, that is, until I felt offended. Actually, I still felt really safe but now just with an extra dosage of rage.
I feel like this is a red onion of offensive behaviour, an action that for every layer of offense there is another snuggled beneath it, tighter and more intricate. I think that my metaphor is beginning to fall apart, as I almost just wrote that "the insidious offence nuggets become more 'stinky' as the layers are removed", and like, IT'S JUST AN ONION ALLY, chill out. You like red onion, especially in a Greek salad. But the first layer of offense I felt was how incredibly stupid it is to insult someone by yelling out their occupation at them. How would you feel, dear reader, if I screamed out 'Bank Teller' in the street at you? Or 'Waitress'? Or 'Lawyer' or 'Podiatrist' or 'Telemarketer'? Regardless of what you think about prostitution, and whether or not it should be legal and whichever side of the feminist fence you fall on, I just don't see how it is alright to ever use somebody's job as an insult. There are a whole lot of people who have jobs that I really don't like, but I still don't think that it is okay to accost them in the street.
But I guess that this is where the second layer of the onion of offence comes in, because the thing is that while I haven't ever really liked anyone who has worked at Dick Smith Electronics, apart from this guy Shannon who was really polite about my broken laptop over the weekend, our culture isn't constructed around the lack of privilege held by rude and sweaty computer store employees. But while it wouldn't be acceptable for me to yell out 'DICK SMITH FRONT DESK EMPLOYEE', I feel it would be way more okay for me to yell out 'WHORE'. I did a little bit of Internet research for this blog post, and a really important piece of writing on this subject seems to be an article called Whorephobia Affects All Women, written by Thierry Shaffauser in The Guardian. Thierry writes:
"Women are brought up to think of sex workers as "bad women". It prevents them from copying and taking advantage of the freedoms sex workers fight for, like the occupation of nocturnal and public spaces, or how to impose a sexual contract in which conditions have to be negotiated and respected. Whorephobia operates as a way of controlling and policing women's behaviour, just as homophobia does for men."
And while I have a major problem with his sentiment that homophobia only affects men, and I am currently wondering if Thierry has ever met a lesbian or even heard of Kiana Firouz, I am really liking what he is saying here. Because another papery layer of onion offence that I first thought through was 'Why does a woman out late at night wearing less than a ski suit automatically have to automatically be equated with a prostitute?' Because even though my friend called the blonde girl on Abel Smith Street a whore, I actually have no fucking clue what she does for a living. And neither did he. And then I thought a little bit more, and asked myself 'Why does being equated with a prostitute have to be such a bad thing?' I think that Schaffauser's article touched on some of this stigma, and I really like how Anna North unpacked some of his comments in the aptly titled Jezebel article Sex Worker's Rights Are Rights For All Women, saying:
"Of course, not all women are raised to morally judge sex workers. But Schaffauser's points about public spaces and sexual contracts are spot-on. Too often, women are told not to walk alone, especially at night or while scantily clad. But sex workers often do all these things as part of their jobs — and they still deserve freedom from sexual assault. Unfortunately, the fact that being in public spaces alone at night is something stigmatized groups — not just sex workers, but also those who can't afford transportation or happen to live in the kind of dangerous neighborhoods middle-class people get told not to walk through — have to do makes it harder to claim this simple freedom as a right for everyone."
"Sex workers do all the things women are told not to do — going out at night, wearing "sexy" clothing, talking openly and assertively about sex, sleeping with multiple partners. These behaviors — and sex workers themselves — are likely stigmatized in part to keep women from gaining too much control over their sexuality. But all women deserve such control — and supporting sex workers' rights may be one way to achieve it."
Reading these truly excellent quotes made me gutted that I didn't write the article, but they also really helped me to understand why I felt so offended by my friend. Because it is that thing again, that using a describing, identifying, logical word to mean something really negative thing. The fat thing. The gay thing. And now the whore thing. Is it such an insult because of how our culture feels about women, that they either must be Madonnas or Whore, and we all know which one is supposedly better? Is it because sex workers are naughty, over-sexualised women, who are tempting fate through their dangerous profession? Is it because all sex workers must be desperate, sad, scared women and this association makes us so uncomfortable? I think that these are all really crap justifications, and they should never be a reason to yell at someone in the street. Especially because if whorephobia really is a result of societal pearl clutching, how is heckling going to help? Especially when it is right, smack bang-ingly, blindingly obviously there on the continuum of sexual violence?
When I was bashing around on the Internet looking at this stuff I found a really interesting blog post entitled Whorephobia 101, written by Jane Brazen. I seriously encourage you to go and read this, because I can't quote the whole thing, because I feel like I have already tip toed around enough plagiarism enough in this blog. She writes about her experiences as a mentally ill sex worker, and she is startlingly brilliant and honest. Jane says:
"Sex work is not a simple set of dichotomies. There are not pimp-battered victims and happy hookers purely. It is neither exploitation nor empowerment purely. I have become so weary of the dialogue about sex work falling into these dichotomies. Feminists are so busy arguing about whose side in the sex wars to take to talk about the flesh and blood real lives of actual sex workers.
If you want to know how to help sex workers, you should just ask them. For once, I’d love to have a conversation about what it means to be a mentally ill sex worker. I’d love to talk about how those of us with more “choice” can help those with less of it. I want to talk about why it’s so difficult to get out of sex work. I want to have a discussion about the nuances of consent within a sex work encounter. But I can’t do that if all we talk about is whether or not all sex work is rape. I can’t do that if we just talk about how exciting and empowering sex work is."
I thought that this was a really great idea. I was so struck by it that I had to go and have a cup of peppermint tea and talk to my flatmate Dan in the kitchen. All of the feminist discussion I hear and occasionally partake in is actually missing the point. All of the heckling and the whorephobia and hooker jokes are definitely missing the fucking point, especially when they are screeched into the night by an already marginalised-because-of-his-sexual-preference gay man who also happens to be walking down the street at stupid o'clock in the morning. Sex workers are people. Just like lawyers, and podiatrists and people who work at Dick Smith Electronics. They don't have the same experiences and opinions and thoughts. But unlike a whole screed of other professions, prostitutes already face enough daily stigma and I just don't think that yelling at them while you eat a pie is really going to help.
(Upon proofreading this, I can't believe that I wrote this entire post without making a joke about somebody needing to shut their pie hole. Or humble pie. Or something. I am putting these terrible puns in these weird post-script like brackets so it doesn't seem like I wasted the jokes.)
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Some thoughts about being honest, and some thoughts about taking actions on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
"It’s what makes me like bell hooks’s statement that instead of saying “I am a feminist,” one should say “I advocate feminism.” It changes it from an identity to an action. Otherwise anyone can declare themselves a feminist and then have to do nothing to help women. One can say “I’m not racist” and then get angry when called out on a racist action. It becomes not all that much different from claiming to help women simply by being a woman in the race. Maybe on some level it helps to have more women calling themselves feminist, more women in office, but we need more than just words and presences. We need action."
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I have a new favourite person. Her name is Chantal Biya, and she is the First Lady of Cameroon. Apparently Michael K writes about her all the time at Dlisted, but this is the first I have heard of her. I don't think I have seen a more sassy person in my entire life. I have a new self confidence idol, and I wish I could have a thimble of her pizazz. Wikipedia also helpfully informs me she has established several charitable initiatives.
Access to this URL is currently restricted because of its classification.URL: http://www.curvykate.com/Content classification: Intimate Apparel/Swimsuit
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Lately, I have gotten quite into sending emails to complain about things. As well as being the professionally offended, I have always aspired to be the kind of business suit wearing woman that can send meals back in restaurants in a resolute, but yet polite fashion, and whose meal then arrives back, exactly as she asked for. When I imagine this woman Brass in Pocket immediately begins to play in my head, and I have realised that I have perhaps internalised every woman from every 90's movie ever made. And while I have internalised every wise and cloyingly scripted word that Meg Ryan has ever said on film, before In the Cut at least, I am yet to become this assertive woman. Come to think of it, Meg Ryan is a really shitty example of an assertive woman, particularly in You've Got Mail when Tom Hanks is an asshole and buys out her little book shop. Or does something to her book shop, and therefore her freedom, I forget what exactly. Miranda from Sex and the City would have been a better example. Those movies are dead to me, but I will forever love Miranda-from-the-TV-series for complaining about not having time to schedule her abortion. Now that's assertive.
To Whom It May Concern,
As a regular theatre goer I am contacting you about your Miss Saigon advertising. I think it is a terrible shame that you could not advertise the show to men without objectifying, demeaning and offending women. Saying a ticket to the show is an investment is offensive, and it implies that a circumstance could arise where a woman would owe a man sex. The other adverts, such as the one about hankies, were equally offensive in their banal perpetuation of gender stereotypes. Disappointing, and I have not attended the show based on these reasons.Sincerely,Ally Garrett
Hi AllyI apologise for the delay in responding to your e-mail - I have been out of Wellington since 29/4Thanks for taking the time to convey your views on our MS advertising campaign - Certainly it was never our intention to offend anyone with the content of our billboard advertising, rather it was an attempt to add a little humour into the campaign and I have to say we have had an incredible amount of positive feedback in this regard.It is acknowledged that there will always be a conflicting viewpoint and I am sorry you were offended by the 'scripting' in this regard especially as it resulted in you missing what could and was often described as a production of international quality.RegardsMichael HighstedBusiness ManagerWellington Musical Theatre
Hello Michael,How incredibly patronising.Ally.
Hi there DimitySO!
I think your bras are just gorgeous. I am a size 16 lady, but I wear a size 18 bra because of my broad back.
It is so sad that I can't wear your lovely bras, especially because you
pride yourself on being for ladies with bigger boobs, but so many of
those ladies also have bigger backs!
Anyway, I would one day love to be able to wear one of your gorgeous
To be honest, I am not a size 16 lady. I am maybe a size 16 lady after a recent bout of food poisoning, but right now this body that I am sitting in here typing in is not a size 16. It is more like a size 18, but sometimes needing a size 20 bra because of the bigger back thing. I don't know why I felt the need to lie to the strangers at DimitySO. Maybe that is incredibly problematic in itself and as well as the business woman and Meg Ryan I have also inevitably internalised a whole lot of body shame and I need to save it up for another post. Or maybe I was just worried that DimitySO had a touch of the Karl Lagerfeld and didn't want to see fat chicks in their garments. Anyway, this is what they wrote back:
Thanks for your email.
I am actually a size 18D but wear DimitySO in a 16DD which is the same size cup just a little smaller around the body, so I wear them on the last hook.
Although not ideal, you could look at using a bra extender. This attaches to the existing hooks and eyes and gives you another 4-5 cm at least around the body. The only downside to these is that the straps sit a little further out to the side than they were designed to do, but many people use bra extenders as an option.
I imagine that as the brand grows other sizing's will be added - I hope so anyway.
I will send you comments through to the DimitySO designers to show your interest in this.
Customer / Consumer Service Co-ordinator | Bendon Limited P O Box 53042,
Auckland Airport, Auckland | 8 Airpark Drive, Airport Oaks, Mangere,
D +64 9 257 1696 | F +64 9 257 1600
Which I found kind of interesting. On one hand, that is great that Shelley is going to send my comments through to the designers, and maybe everyone who is reading this blog and who cares about my boobs should also send them an email. But also, Shelley! Shelley, who works for a lingerie company is comitting the cardinal sin of admitting she wears the wrong size bra, because the company she works for doesn't make anything in her size. And whenever I read that recycled article about average bra sizes I also read about how having a crappily fitted bra gives you headaches and back aches and neck aches and all of the other aches. So, that sucks for Shelley. And the general dearth of fashionable, fun and affordable plus size clothing, underwear included, sucks for everyone. In the society we live in, people have gotta wear clothes. Most of the time. And also, that argument about plus size clothing encouraging people to be fat is fucking bullshit. People just want to be warm and if they want to follow trends and express themselves then, by god, they should be able to. Seriously people, untapped market. Apart from ASOS Curve, cos that shit is good. And sometimes it would be cool if I didn't have to look for jersey fabrics or pay with pounds online to put clothes on my body. Or to put wire under my tits.