50 Shades of Hazel- A Male Power Fantasy in 730 Words

Andy Hazel is an untalented student journalist from Melbourne, who wrote this bad article about the film 50 Shades of Grey. Sleazy liberal male Andy sent a message to the Radical Alliance of Women’s facebook page the other day asking if we could answer a few questions about our protest against the film, to help him write his bad article for the University of Melbourne publication Farrago. ‘Liberal male student journalist’ is probably the shortest horror story ever written after ‘Joe Hockey’s budget’, but since this blogger has nothing better to do on a Thursday night, I’ve decided to write a review of his review.

The article starts with a single-sentence paragraph in the word-salad writing style that characterises the rest of the piece. Andy refers to the film as a “pristine adaptation” of a “trashy novel”. Now, I’ve laboured over this sentence for some time as, though so short, creates a disproportionate amount of confusion. Is he saying that the film is true to the trashy novel? It doesn’t seem so, because Andy doesn’t seem to think the film is trashy at all. In fact, he later describes it as “artful”. A glance at the film’s 3 minute trailer demonstrates that this film contains less art than the contents of my menstrual cup. But this doesn’t stop Andy, who attended the premier at Crown Casino last night, as he continues to gush over this B-grade film and delightfully linger on the point that though it shows some creepy-ass stuff, he really doesn’t care.

Sitting in his bedroom, presumably decked out with Superman pajamas and a cute little fedora with the “press” card tucked into the brim, Andy was probably so frantic in trying to detail the “agency” and “complete control” Ana had that he forgot to make any actual argument. Or perhaps, he was trying to expand “don’t question anything that gives me a boner” into 730 words. Who knows exactly what was going through his fedorable little head, or what he was trying to convey with this piece at all, because its fundamental flaw is that it makes absolutely no fucking sense. The piece is riddled with contradictions, some subtle and in reference to the questions I answered (not a lot of use to your “argument” when you’ve provided no context), or just back-and-forth soundbytes about the film. He cites a line from one of R.A.W’s ’50 Shades of Abuse’ flyers, which states that “[50 Shades of Grey] depicts controlling and manipulative relationships as romantic” and argues that the film does no such thing. He argues that Christian’s tendencies are “sadistic”, and shown as such. But in the paragraph directly previous, he croons tearfully over Christian’s constant “need of reassurance” that Ana is “consensual”. How sweet. I know it gets my heart strings a’ pluckin’ when my sex life so closely resembles violent assault that my partner has to keep stopping to check if he’s raping me or not. Swoon. This point seems pretty contrary to the tagline on our flyers- “Violence against women has no grey area”, that Andy insists is “unquestionable”. I’m pretty sure needing reassurance that you haven’t accidentally raped your girlfriend is a “grey area” (or, more accurately, a big red fuckin’ flag area). Unless you got lost in the dictionary reading all those words that being with “un-“, you’re unquestionably questioning our point. Moving on.

The thing that really strikes me about Andy’s little adventure in journalism is his frequent referral to 50 Shades as a “modern-day fairytale”. Perhaps those professional writing courses don’t teach you about different literary styles anymore, since he either interprets a fairy tale as “any fictional story” or maybe “a fictional story about a girl who is validated by the love of a powerful man”. In the case of the latter, young Mr. Hazel might be onto something. A fairy tale is a type of allegoric narrative that uses symbolism and cultural reference to tell a story with some kind of moral message. For example, Snow White teaches us a valuable lesson about how modesty and kindness are the truest forms of beauty (or how old ugly women are evil power-hungry witches, you pick). Little Red Riding Hood teaches young girls what happens when you talk to strange men (or anthropomorphic wolves) in the woods. 50 Shades of Grey teaches us that a) despite all the work those evil feminists have done to convince you otherwise, male power fantasies are totes sexy and empowering, b) if you don’t think you’re being abused, you’re not, and c) the surest path to sexual liberation is being tied up and humiliated. Hey, we didn’t say that fairy tales had to send positive messages, just ones reflective of the culture that creates them. So,  if we give young Andy the benefit of the doubt and assume he took the latter definition of what a fairy tale is, then he’s made exactly one legitimate point in the entire collection of words he randomly pieced into sentences for this article. Meaning that he has inadvertently made a very poignant argument against the way mainstream media reinforces the status quo by creating a specific cultural consciousness. If you didn’t expect such profundity from Mr. Hazel, you were right. But, just as Andy’s parents probably told him numerous times in his life, there are such things as “happy accidents”.

Before I can conclude this review I need to draw focus to the most tragic aspect of Andy’s interaction with R.A.W, and his article in Farrago. A huge amount of women all over the world have spoken up against a piece of cultural media that directly harms them, through the reinforcement of our global and systematic oppression by men as a class, and the direct consequences of media that fetishises male violence- that is, murder, rape, kidnapping and torture, pornography, and a decrease in women reporting male violence. We’re raising our voices about the harm that has been and is being done to us, about how survivors and victims need to be listened to and cared for, how we actually don’t care about the opinions of some privileged few who can re-enact this abuse and find it sexy. And in response, bourgeois men write articles about how all us silly women are wrong about our lived experiences and should shut up and let the “good girls” fulfill men’s power fantasies if they want to. The smugness of these men- not just Andy here- who dismiss women’s real and honest opinions with a hand-wave and a few buzzwords like “sexuality” and “agency” can be rage-inducing at times. But our interactions with these men are microcosmic. They are the same class, the same culture as the men making films, and promoting literature that harms women. They pay us lip service and then remind us that we are not human by turning our trauma, our oppression, our pain into billion-dollar industries. They robotically obey the social hierarchy, either by crushing the spirits of women who have survived abuse, or by shouting over those of us who raise our voices against it. Andy Hazel’s article is the ultimate in mansplaining, and utter crap- what person in their right minds would expect a man who has just sat through two hours of Hollywood pornography to write a review that doesn’t sound like the excited ramblings of a 14 year-old boy telling his friends he found his dad’s Playboy collection? But it makes a point. A very strong point. But not the one he was trying to make, which is “living up to patriarchy’s expectation of you is liberating”, bless his soul. The point is what we’ve been saying all along: 50 Shades, along with the sexual dynamics it advertises, is patriarchy-approved. It gets the Liberal Male (TM) Seal of Approval.

You sure showed us, Andy.

Pictured: Anastasia’s symbolic liberation from male-defined sexuality. Or something.

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A Letter To The New Girlfriend

naefearty

Hello,

You don’t know me – at least not in person – but I am sure your new boyfriend (or perhaps he has already persuaded you to call him “girlfriend”?)has told you about me. Priming you for the possible eventuality that our paths might cross. I’m sure he has you well prepared, just as he did with all the others that came before you. All those well meaning young women.
You look young. Maybe fifteen, perhaps twenty years younger than him? He likes young women. In his head his “female self” is a young woman, crazy about clothes, make-up, partying and music. Thats probably why you have a great time with him – he has all the interests of some young women, women un-burdened by the life experiences accrued over 5 decades of a female existence in a world that hates women. He won’t ever be bored with “girlie talk”…

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“What ya got here is a tarp”: On manstruation

An excellent post deconstructing one of Everyday Feminism’s more recent *cough*dick-worshipping*cough* “progressive” articles. Basically sums up everything I could say myself on the phenomenon of FTTs, with a nice side of wit to take the edge off the irrevocably misery I feel from reading about women who have internalised misogyny so deeply as to despise (and in some cases, surgically mutilate) their normal, healthy body parts.

phonaesthetica

This is a joint effort with the brilliant Hypotaxis (trigger warning: super-long post).

***

We love watching “Hoarders.” One thing we especially enjoy about the show is the occasional character break of the therapists, wherein they drop their clinical reserve and TOTALLY PASS JUDGEMENT on the hoarder, e.g., This house is hoarded and disgusting or Look, it doesn’t matter if this magazine “smells” or not: A mouse has pooped on it!

During a recent “Hoarders” binge, we viewed an episode where the hoarder had allowed termites to devour her home to such an extent that one entire wall of her kitchen was gone and in its place, a flimsy blue tarp.

Even the psychologist was shocked by the neglect, and in his shock, lapsed into inadvertent profundity:

This used to be a . . . where there used to be a wall, he stammered. Where there was a wall, now…

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Cultural relativism is racist.

The Prime Directive

This is a really great post by Independent Radical deconstructing cultural relativism and showing not only how it’s really racist at its core, but also how individualism prevents us from detecting patterns in other cultures that we can clearly see in our own. Highly recommended reading.

In order to defend practices such as burqa-wearing and female genital mutilation, cultural relativists represent such practices as a natural part of non-Western cultures. Cultural relativists would have us all believe that Arab women have been wearing burqas since the beginning of time. In reality, the Arab world was once the site of intellectual progress and religious tolerance, at least compared to medieval Europe (in which strict adherence to Catholicism was insisted upon.) As I said above, class divided societies tend to have cultures and ideologies that reinforce the status quo and these cultures ought to be critiqued on that basis. The Arabic world…

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Small Fried Budgie, Huge Beak and Very Little Backbone, Served in a Red Speedo: The Abbott KFC Special

Caution: Meal may emit very hot air.

I am sure I am not the first to say that Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a revolting, evil-spirited, cretinous, sentient turd. And after my initial feelings of revulsion when assaulted by images of his hairy, loose-skinned, middle-aged torso wobbling above his equally wobbly tight Speedos, I find myself spellbound by an increasing sense of wonder as to how a legion of backwards, white conservatives could bring themselves to vote for such a ludicrous little man. I mean, besides his constant stream of cringe-worthy gaffes, accidentally referring to the opposition leader as “Prime Minister”, majorly pissing off China, aiming to single-handedly destroy Australia from the ground up, and level of understanding of government policy akin to that of a kindergartener’s, I sit still in a state of disbelief of his ability to look more ridiculous than a political caricature of himself. I am amazed that this man is allowed to brush his teeth without supervision, let alone retain the highest office of an entire nation. But his perverted budgie-smuggler-fetish-slash-exhibitionism triggers more than just my gag reflex. I find myself encumbered by my ongoing bitterness about the treatment of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who I still hold to have been the best thing to happen to this country’s government since Whitlam.

No thinking feminist (or Australian citizen for that matter) is a stranger to the fact that Gillard was the victim of a level of publicly-sanctioned misogyny that might as well have arrived in a time machine from a Victorian Asylum. Stopping just short of carting her off to receive a frontal lobotomy,  she was labeled by the media as the political equivalent of the archetypal Hysterical Woman, and our beloved Prime Minister (then Opposition Leader) Abbott displayed no shame in peddling such rampant sexism himself. Here are some choice examples

For posterity, here is my favourite quote from Gillard’s speech in Parliament: “The leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well, I hope the leader of the Opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation”. Oh Julia, your incredible snark lives on in all of our hearts.

The point I am trying to make here is that the nations first female Prime Minister was judged (and ridiculed) almost entirely because of her physical appearance and demeanor (besides her having “lied” about not introducing a carbon tax, which she never actually did, as is outlined by Kerry-Ann Walsh in her terrific book). If you ask me, I found Gillard to be very articulate, professional in appearance, and overall quite dignified and elegant. But of course, the nation could not resist attacking her hair colour, accent, facial features, or the size of her posterior. Keeping it classy, Australia, How dare a woman do a decent job of running the country, for lack of any meaningful political debate, let us attack her appearance.

As you’ve surely noticed from this post’s introductory paragraph, I haven’t spared Tony Abbott from such criticism. And just to illustrate my point further, I think that Kevin Rudd is a pasty, almost vampiric creep, Bill Shorten has a stupid forehead, Joe Hockey looks like a cigar-smoking cartoon villain, John Howard’s eyebrows might as well cecede from Australia and install their own parliamentary system, and Christopher Pyne resembles a “mincing poodle“. But are these external features in any way reflective of these politicians’ abilities (or lack thereof) to do their jobs? Well, besides the arguably accurate description of Joe Hockey, I’m going to say that they do not. Not even, really, in the case of Abbott. Sure, he is an embarrassing moron, and half the planet considers him a dangerous joke, but he’s done and said much more idiotic things than prancing around on a beach in a pair of budgie-smugglers. And this is just one little blog post in the vast expanse of the Internet; you will find that the media rarely makes such assertions about our male politicians.

In response to the annoyingly persistent liberal fauxminist ideology of female nudity=empowerment, it has been argued that if this were true then powerful men like Barack Obama would be seen plastered over every newspaper and magazine in a variety of provocative positions. This rhetoric has a number of good points, and I hold that simple male nudity does not have the same visual effect as male nudity in similarly degrading positions in which we often see women. Without rambling on too much about this, I have come to think somewhat contrarily to this, and got to thinking about the topic this morning after musing to my facebook friends that “If Julia Gillard had done endless photo shoots in a string bikini, not only would there have been a literal angry mob to forcibly remove her from office, I expect that Jacqui Lambie would be campaigning to make the burqa mandatory”.

Such is the widespread revulsion towards the female body. Yes, I am of the belief that politicians, in order to keep up their facade of being respectable leaders of their respective nations, ought not to dress in a way that would cause your grandmother to clutch at her pearls. After all, your dear old gran is still a member of the electorate. And so are the misogynist young men who are part of the culture that strips women of their clothes in order to strip them of their power. This is a simple analysis of porn culture: naked woman=male plaything lacking power and personhood. However, I still wonder why Abbott’s rather confronting exhibitionism has caused less of a stir than the width of Julia Gillard’s arse.

My theory is that his irritatingly smug delight in swinging his shriveled testicles in national media is a quiet “fuck you” to not only Gillard, but powerful women in general. Imagine the colourful slurs that would flood public opinion if a female politician did a photo shoot with nothing but three inches of cloth covering her vulva? Imagine if Julia Gillard was photographed jogging around braless in a skin-tight crop top, breasts swinging pendulously in the flashes of photographers’ bulbs? Not only would no one take her seriously, it simply wouldn’t happen. Men constantly remind us that what is designed to villify and degrade women is not only acceptable when a man does it, but often considered part of his cheeky charm. Do we really need to bring up Monica Lewinsky? Bill Clinton may have got off lightly, but if only Abbott would suffer some criticism for his habit of swinging his junk in public. After slandering and dehumanising Gillard, scrambling into office over her proverbial lifeless body, he stands triumphant upon discarded and disgraced female politicians, holding his Australian flag-adorned genitalia aloft, telling us all- Look what I, a man, can do! I can look like an absolute oaf and still be your head of government!

May I smuggle both budgies and budgets past your sexism-clouded vision, and into the most vulnerable corners of society!

Perhaps the size of his head is a result of decreased circulation down south