Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Short Posts About Women And Gender: Sexism in Politics, Online and In House-Cleaning; New Definition of Feminism And Some Fun Stuff





1.  One study strongly suggests that sexism played some role in Elizabeth Warren's performance in the primaries:

Data for Progress surveyed 2,953 likely Democratic primary voters in August, 2019 and then re-interviewed as many of them as possible (n = 1,619) at the end of January, 2020 -- just before the Iowa caucuses. In the first wave of the survey, respondents reported how much they agreed or disagreed with four statements that are meant to gauge one’s level of “hostile sexism”: 
  1. Most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist.
  2. Women are too easily offended.
  3. Most women fail to appreciate fully all that men do for them.
  4. Women seek to gain power by getting control over men.
As you might imagine, many Democratic primary voters tend to strongly disagree with all of these statements, but this is not true for everyone. Roughly one-third of likely Democratic voters do not, on average, disagree with these statements.

...

...Warren received little-to-no support from the roughly one third of the Democratic primary electorate that does not reject these sentiments. The current front-runners, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, have support from voters with a variety of views on these items.

The linked article stresses that there are many other reasons why someone might not have cared for Warren's policies.  But sexism seems to have played a role.

It's also possible that some primary voters engaged in what the linked article calls second-round sexism, i.e., the belief that other voters are likely to be sexist and that having a woman as the Democratic candidate in the general elections is going to make defeating Trump less likely.  This strategy, then, would explain why the remaining two Democratic candidates are white men roughly Trump's own age:  Minimize all differences except for the bits about Trump people hate so that as many as possible will not vote for him.

2.  Sir Tom Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world-wide web, is worried about the way women and girls are treated online:

Berners-Lee highlights three areas that need “urgent” attention. First is the digital divide that keeps more than half of the world’s women offline, largely because it is too expensive, or they do not have access to the equipment or skills to use it.
Second is online safety: according to a survey by Berners-Lee’s Web Foundation, more than half of young women have experienced violence online, including sexual harassment, threatening messages and having private images shared without consent. The vast majority believe the problem is getting worse.
The third threat comes from badly designed artificial intelligence systems that repeat and exacerbate discrimination. “Many companies are working hard to tackle this discrimination. But unless they dedicate resources and diversify teams to mitigate bias, they risk expanding discrimination at a speed and scale never seen before,” he writes.
I would add to that list all the misogynistic hate sites, including the incel sites, and the radical hatred of all women they disseminate.

I have no idea what a workable solution to this problem might look like, though it could help if other users strongly disapproved of social media behavior which consists of misogyny, sexual harassment and the like.  In other words, the social norm on this needs changing.

3.  I felt a strong sense of deja-vu reading a new Guardian piece which asks if it is ever acceptable for a feminist to hire a cleaner.  That's because roughly the same story was written by my favorite anti-feminist, Caitlin Flanagan, some fifteen years ago, and I wrote about it then.

The hidden framework both those articles use goes something like this:

Most unpaid work at home shall be defined as Women's Work.  If a woman refuses to do it so that she can do more paid Men's Work outside the home, then poorer and more oppressed women must fill the gap she is leaving by that refusal.  Because that unpaid work at home is Women's Work.
This means that the liberation of middle-class women comes at the expense of working-class women, and is not real liberation.  

The only ethical solution is for all feminists to do their own Women's Work *. 

It's worth spelling that out given that the class (or capitalist) analysis the argument otherwise applies is equally valid for studying similar ethical questions in the lives of, say, male stockbrokers who choose not to clean their own offices at work and who choose not to launder their own suits or iron their own shirts.

Perhaps the ethics of those choices tend not to be questioned because they are seen as taking place in the public sphere or in a marketplace and not at home?

But what about that same male stockbroker who employs a cleaning lady to clean his fancy townhouse?  Why would the ethical considerations there be any different?   In any case, why are questions about who cleans the toilet seen as somehow the responsibility of women alone when lots of people use those toilets in many households?

The problem with this analysis is that it conflates two different questions.  One of them is low-pay work and the exploitation of workers.  The other one is labeling certain chores as belonging to women and then holding women to different standards than men when it comes to exploiting low-paid workers.  The solution to the worker-exploitation problem is better labor market protections and fairer wages.  The solution to labeling certain chores as inherently belonging to women only is to stop doing that.

4.  The Planned Parenthood website has a glossary of terms.  One of them defines feminism in a manner I have not seen used before:

Feminism
The belief that people of all genders should have equitable economic, political, sexual, and social rights.
 My guess is that this definition tries to update and expand the traditional definition of feminism which has to do with equitable rights for both sexes.  But switching from sex to gender causes difficulties which the writer of that definition might not have thought about:

When someone writes "all genders" the basis for defining "gender" is probably coming from the gender identity school of thought, which assumes that all individuals have a gender identity which is not based on their actual biological sex but may correlate with it (in which case one is called cisgender inside that school of thought) or not (in which case one is called transgender or nonbinary).

The decoupling of biological sex from gender identity and the use of the latter to define "gender" (what men and women and nonbinary people are) then means that all the genders in the above definition will contain both female-bodied people and male-bodied people (though the relative percentages vary widely).

Suppose abortion was banned.  Would the new feminism, as defined in the above quote, be concerned about this ban?

I don't see how it could be concerned, because the imagined abortion ban would not be singling out any particular gender, as long as all genders contained some male- and some female-bodied people.  All genders would be equally constrained by that abortion ban, and in that sense their rights would remain equitable**.

If this is the way feminism is now defined, then no social justice movement addresses sex-based oppression, despite it still being probably the type of oppression in this world which has the largest number of victims.  So I hope that this is not the generally used new definition, or that people using it figure out how to amend it to allow the traditional tasks of feminism to still be carried out.

5.  Finally, some fun things about women.  Here are ten inspiring stories about individual women (from the International Women's Day celebrations).  This story is about a painting now attributed to Artemisia Gentileschi which was earlier attributed to a male pupil of her father.  And here are colorized pictures of British women working in factories and such during WWI.




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* This is, in fact, also the conclusion of the author of the Guardian piece!  The unequal distribution of work at home (child care, cooking, cleaning, laundry) is one reason why women earn less than men, on average, so it's odd to see a self-declared feminist recommend that more women increase their share of that work, and it's even odder to see how quickly she gets past the idea that men should chip in more.

It's also somewhat difficult to see how not hiring cleaning ladies would make their lot better, or how the valuing of  traditional women's work would increase if more women voluntarily do it for bed and board.

**  Similar problems crop up with pregnancy discrimination in the labor market.  When individuals from all genders can get pregnant, discriminating on the basis of pregnancy is actually not gender-based discrimination.

Actually, similar problems crop up with all aspects of sex-based oppression, including sex-based labor market discrimination, sex-based religious rules which limit women's lives, sexual violence and harassment which are predominantly aimed at female bodies (or bodies which look female to others) and so on.

It's worth noting that trans women, for instance, can also suffer from sex-based oppression when others view them as women, and that female-bodied nonbinary individuals are unlikely to be able to escape sexism, given that sexism depends on how others view us, not on how we view ourselves.  Thus, the importance of understanding (and being able to measure and analyze) sex-based oppression is not limited to just those the gender identity school would call cisgender women.









Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Trump Administration And the Coronavirus Pandemic



Two years ago Donald Trump, Our Leader Extraordinaire:

ordered the shutdown of the White House National Security Council's entire global health security unit. NBC News had a good report on this recently, noting that the president's decision "to downsize the White House national security staff -- and eliminate jobs addressing global pandemics -- is likely to hamper the U.S. government's response to the coronavirus."

And how does he now justify that decision?  Like this:

"I just think this is something, Peter, that you can never really think is going to happen. You know, who -- I've heard all about, 'This could be...' -- you know, 'This could be a big deal,' from before it happened. You know, this -- something like this could happen.... Who would have thought? Look, how long ago is it? Six, seven, eight weeks ago -- who would have thought we would even be having the subject? ... You never really know when something like this is going to strike and what it's going to be."

This is the kind of presidential awareness millions of American voters felt comfortable with..

There's a reason why we want smart, knowledgeable and experienced people running countries and important public organizations.  There's a reason why having years of experience matters.  There's a reason for not engaging one's hind-brain in the selection of leaders.

My anger about Trump's incompetence, denials and clear lack of overall understanding comes from seeing how terribly poorly the US is coping, compared to other industrialized countries.  Testing for the coronavirus in this country has been almost a farce so far:

A week later, the United States declared a public health emergency, a process designed to speed the development of diagnostic tests and other medical products. The CDC received the first “emergency use authorization” to make and distribute its test to the backbone of the public health system in the United States — mostly state labs.

But the emergency policy, intended to keep quality high, also discouraged hospital labs from quickly developing in-house tests. They would need specific approval from the FDA to do so.

“Since CDC and FDA haven’t authorized public health or hospital labs to run the tests, right now #CDC is the only place that can. So, screening has to be rationed,” Gottlieb tweeted on Feb. 2.

The CDC manufactured kits, and on Feb. 6 and 7, 90 test kits were shipped to the public health labs. Some labs began to have trouble with the test. On Feb. 12, the CDC announced the test was providing inconclusive results in some laboratories. The problem was in one of the three components of the test.
How do other countries manage to test thousands of people, then?  What about using the test kits they use?  The answer:

Some critics have questioned why the CDC didn’t switch to tests being used by other countries as soon as the problems arose, but the official said it would have taken longer to apply for a new authorization from the FDA and validate and manufacture a new test than it would to fix a test they knew worked in their own lab.

So it goes.  Currently the US testing is too narrow to allow us to tell much anything about the possible spread of coronavirus in different areas.  This means that we have no idea how correct the numbers of those infected might be.  And then there is this bit:

On Feb. 13, HHS Secretary Alex Azar testified before Congress that a limited five-city pilot would begin to add coronavirus to the usual flu surveillance system to see whether “there is broader spread than we have been able to detect so far.” But the plan was delayed because coronavirus tests weren’t available.

Wider testing for the virus is required to properly plan the need for hospital facilities and medical staff and for deciding when stronger quarantine policies might be in order.  So far the US testing has been totally inadequate for these purposes.  To put it into perspective:

As of Sunday, 1,707 Americans had been tested for the novel coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. South Korea, by contrast, has tested more than 189,000 people. The two countries announced their first coronavirus cases on the same day.
This looks like a clown show, to be honest.





 

Sunday, March 08, 2020

On Gender Norms And Women's Roles. Results From UNDP Surveys.



The New Sex/Gender Norms And Roles Survey:  Main Results


The UN Development Program (UNDP) has published new near-global survey results on social norms about gender.  The findings come from data collected in two waves in the World Values Survey.  The latest wave, from 2010 to 2014, covers surveys done in seventy-five countries.  For a sub-group of thirty-one countries, data is available for both waves in the World Values Survey (2005-2009 and 2010-2014). The latter allows us to see what might be happening over time in various countries about how people, both men and women, view women's proper roles and women's abilities and capabilities.

I spent some time with the results, what with today being the International Women's Day.  How gender roles, norms and gender stereotypes actually work in practice seems a useful topic for thought today, right?  After all, they are one of the main channels which guarantee that women don't stray outside the narrow and rigid traditional sex roles or retrogressive views about what femininity means and how it is properly demonstrated*.

The survey questions try to measure how people, both men and women, view women's empowerment in politics, education, economic life and in physical integrity within a particular culture.  The table below (click to make it larger) shows the questions that were asked:





Both the BBC and the UK Guardian reported on the main findings from the surveys.  Here's the Guardian:

Almost 90% of people are biased against women, according to a new index that highlights the “shocking” extent of the global backlash towards gender equality.
Despite progress in closing the equality gap, 91% of men and 86% of women hold at least one bias against women in relation to politics, economics, education, violence or reproductive rights.

And the BBC:

A new UN report has found at least 90% of men and women hold some sort of bias against females.
The "Gender Social Norms" index analysed biases in areas such as politics and education in 75 countries.
Globally, close to 50% of men said they had more right to a job than women. Almost a third of respondents thought it was acceptable for men to hit their partners.
There are no countries in the world with gender equality, the study found.
The indices referred to in the above quotes are two.  The first one simply counts the percentage of people who hold at least one bias, and the second one counts the percentage of people who hold at least two biases**.

The report itself also summarizes more of the overall findings and also results about change over time in the sub-group of thirty-one countries with data from both waves.  Here are some extra overall findings:

About 50 percent of men and women interviewed across 75 countries say they think men make better political leaders than women, while more than 40 percent felt that men made better business executives. Almost 30 percent of people agree it is justifiable for a man to beat his partner.
Women are skewed towards less bias against gender equality and women’s empowerment. Men are concentrated in the middle of the distribution, with 52 percent having two to four gender social norm biases. More than 50 percent of women are biased in the political arena. Men present biases higher than 63 percent in both the political and economic dimensions, especially for the indicators “Men make better political leaders than women do” and “Men should have more right to a job than women.”Globally close to 50 percent of men agree men should have more right to a job than women.
And here are a few findings about changing social gender norms over time for the thirty-one countries with data from both waves:

More worrying, despite decades of progress in advancing women’s rights, bias against gender equality is increasing in some countries, with evidence of a backlash in attitudes among both men and women.
According to the GSNI2, the proportion of people with moderate and intense biases against gender equality grew over the last few years in 15 countries (out of 31). The share of both women and men worldwide with moderate to intense gender biases grew from 57 percent to 60 percent for women and from 70 percent to 71 percent for men (table 3). Surveys have shown that younger men may be even less committed to equality than their elders.34

Progress in the share of men with no gender social norms bias was largest in Chile, Australia, the United States and the Netherlands (figure 7). At the other extreme, indicating a backlash, the share of men with no bias fell in Sweden, Germany, India and Mexico. The share of women with no gender social norms bias increased the most in the Netherlands, Chile and Australia. But most countries in the sample showed a backlash, led by Sweden, India, South Africa and Romania (see figure 7).



All the above findings matter, of course.  But it's worth diving much deeper into these survey results, to see stuff that becomes invisible in the averaging process that produced those frightening overall percentages.   That's what I do in the next section.

Individual Country Data And Change Over Time

Certain overall patterns are visible across all countries in both the waves of the World Values Survey.  The most important one is that women, almost everywhere,  are less likely to hold the biases the report analyzes than men, though the differences are not large.  That the male and female average biases go together within each country demonstrates the importance of culture, tradition and religion.  All of us grow up absorbing the cultural and religious norms of our communities, after all.

To give an extreme example of this, consider the respondents without any gender social norm bias in the country data of the surveys.  Sweden, a gender-egalitarian country, has extremely high percentages of both men and women who expressed no gender bias in the two waves of the survey, though those numbers declined from the first two wave to the second: 

In 2004-2009 82.2% of women and 79.79% of men showed zero gender bias, while in 2010-2014 the respective percentages fell to 71.69% and 68.29%.

In contrast, corresponding numbers for Jordan, a country with little gender-equality, looked very different.  In 2004-2009 the percentage of both men and women without any gender norm bias was 0.4%, and in 2010-2014 rather similar results applied, with 0.83% of women and 0.5% of men showing zero bias.

The point I wish to make is that the overall averages reported in the BBC and the Guardian hide large amounts of variation between countries

Some countries (Jordan, Ghana, India, Malaysia, Rwanda, South Africa and Turkey among the countries for which data is available for two waves***) show very strong bias against women's empowerment (so that the percentage of respondents showing no bias at all is at most only a few percentage points), while some other countries (Sweden, Australia and the Netherlands among the countries for which data is available for two waves) show strong social agreement about the desirability of social, political and economic equality between men and women (so that the percentage of either men or women or both who hold no bias exceeds fifty percent).

Most countries fall between these two extremes.  The United States comes closer to the latter group than the former, with 46.09 % of women and 39.08% of men showing no bias in the 2010-2014 wave of the survey.

The United States is also one of the countries for which reported bias shrank between the two survey waves, for both men and women.  The change was especially large for men (from 33.06% to 39.08%).  This is, of course, great news.

The following picture demonstrates changes in how respondents view gender norms about women between the two survey waves:



In interpreting it, keep in mind that, for instance, Swedish men and women still hold much more gender-equal views than Chilean men and women.
 
In general, I would counsel caution in how we would interpret the data on changing gender norm bias over time.  Stuff like this, reproduced from a quote above:
Progress in the share of men with no gender social norms bias was largest in Chile, Australia, the United States and the Netherlands (figure 7). At the other extreme, indicating a backlash, the share of men with no bias fell in Sweden, Germany, India and Mexico.
That's because this particular survey has only been done twice.  Specific events (and news about them) immediately preceding a particular wave of the survey could influence the answers of the respondents in that wave, even if there was  no longer term trend toward more or less bias against women's empowerment.  It's also worth checking if demographic changes in the populations to be surveyed are controlled for before interpreting the findings as changes in the gender norm biases rather than in the population composition.

Relating to all this, note that the general dismal findings might perhaps not be so dismal.  This, too, has to do with the fact that these surveys are very recent.  My guess is that data from earlier times would have shown even more gender norm bias.

On Descriptive And Normative Bias


What does all this data really mean?  It's important to note that the questions respondents were asked could elicit both descriptive and normative bias.  The former relates to how things actually are in a particular society, the latter to how things "ought to be" in that same society.

It is possible that some respondents interpreted in the results as holding biases are answering on the basis of descriptive bias.  As an example, if you live in a country where men are almost all the bread-winners stating that it's more important for men than women to get a university education might just be a statement of fact, not an expression of one's normative beliefs of how that society should be arranged or how women's lives should be regulated.  Likewise, a respondent agreeing that men make better political leaders than women gives a statement hard to interpret if no woman has ever held political power in that respondent's country.  How does one evaluate a statement like that without any data?  Perhaps by assuming that the way things are is based on actual male advantage?  But that assumption hasn't actually been tested.

Final Comments

I hope you read this far.  I almost didn't write this far, what with my body falling apart and so on.  The take-home message to me, after wading through lots of tables and text, is not to take it for granted that equality between men and women will just go on increasing, rather than stalling or even reversing.  In fact, the survey itself notes that advances appear to have slowed down and may have even ended in some parts of this earth.

For those wishing a happier concluding comment, you can always look at the complement of the overall findings:  If one third of the respondents seem to think that men can use physical violence against their partners, then two thirds don't think that way, and if almost half of all men think that men have more right to a job than women, then more than half of all men don't think that way.


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*  In my view getting rid of all the gender roles, norms and stereotypes about femininity and masculinity that we possibly can is the only functional road to a more feminist and fairer world.

** The cutoff points and aggregation methods used in the report when constructing the two indices from qualitative answers are, of course, to some extent based on choice. Some choices are easier than others.  For instance, to call an answer biased when it "strongly agrees" or "agrees" that men's access to jobs matters more is a fairly straightforward choice.  But what does one do when someone's agreement or disagreement with an assertion is a number picked from a ten point scale?  Where, on that scale does one draw the bias line?

***  This choice is based on nothing but my current lassitude, caused by ill health.  All the same stuff can be seen in the larger data set, but I wasn't going to go and copy numbers twice, sorry.  Rests weary head against the cool pillow.



Monday, March 02, 2020

Dispatches from the Fever Bed



I have the flu.  I have the flu after I got the flu vaccine.  This is the third year in a row (vaccine-flu, vaccine-flu, vaccine-flu).  Someone up there (Zeus, you bugger?) does not care for me. 

That is an explanation for part of the silence on this blog.  The rest is to do with my deep self-doubts about the value of doing the kind of work I have tried to do here.

When I get some clarity on the latter I will let you know.  Because you are all, of course,  waiting for that with bated breath....

Just kidding.







Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A Parroting Interlude


Have a singing and dancing Finnish parrot, Nakke:



My own current parroting/writing abilities are taking a vacation right now.  No joy in Snakepit Inc.

Nakke, by the way, appears to vocalize in a rather meaningful manner.  In the next video he drops a mug off the counter in the kitchen and then states "look."  When he drops the tea towel, he mutters "finished."


Sunday, February 16, 2020

My sensitivity To Tap Water



Last weekend I traveled to New York City and for various reasons, largely laziness, ended up drinking a lot of tap water and coffee and tea made out of tap water.  I then spent three days sick with stomach pains and extreme diarrhea.  My apologies for you having to read that. 

I cannot drink tap water now without getting sick.  If that sounds like something from the Twilight Zone, I understand.  I wouldn't believe me, either,  if I hadn't experienced this.

My problem began six years ago, two weeks after (as I found out later) my local water authority changed the way water is treated.  At that time not all areas had switched to the new water-treatment system, and for a few years I could drink tap water while traveling in areas which had not yet  made the switch.

Indeed, this was how I realized the connection to tap water, early on:

I had experienced some vague symptoms for about a week, when I went away for a week and all symptoms disappeared.  I returned home, and after two days the symptoms were back.

I had to make another week-long trip after another week or so, the symptoms disappeared again, only to return when I returned to the Snakepit Inc.   Clearly, then, whatever was affecting me was linked to my home.

I began testing foods  and thinking about any possible home-related stressors (I always react with my stomach to everything*, even to falling in love).  At some point I shifted to drinking bottled spring water and the symptoms, which by then had gotten worse, got better.  When I began making tea and coffee with spring water, too, the symptoms completely disappeared.

I then designed a set of tests and went through them, methodically, to see which types of water caused the symptoms, by spending three days drinking each type of water and then returning to a week of spring water drinking.  The results of these experiments were that tap water, boiled tap water, filtered tap water, and purified water all caused the symptoms**.  Only spring water did not.

Fast forward to the present, and I am perfectly fine as long as I drink only spring water.  I can use tap water in, say, boiling pasta, but I can't make coffee with it.  That boiling the water makes no difference suggests that I am not reacting to bacteria in the water but to something different.  The timing of this problem strongly suggests*** that it is linked to the use of ozone treatment in water purification, possibly a sensitivity to the residuals created by it, even when their total amount is below the legal upper limit.

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*  When I was a child my family moved to newly built accommodations shared by several families, all getting water from the same new well.  We lived in those accommodations during the five-day work-week and went away for the weekends.  Every week I got a stomach complaint by Wednesday and every week I recovered by Sunday night.  A medical checkup found no reason for this.

The inspection of the new well had been delayed.  When it was finally inspected, it was found to be polluted with E. coli bacteria.  Many others had drunk the same water, including other children, but I was the only one who showed symptoms.

When it comes to the stomach, I am the princess from the Princess And The Pea story.

** I also had the house water tested and it tested fine.  As an aside, I found the same sensitivity to coffee and tea served in the local area cafes, which further supported the theory that the flaw wasn't about the plumbing at Snakepit Inc. but somewhere else.

***  I contacted a few experts at the water authority about it and this is as far as they came with their suggestions, when I finally managed to convince them that I wasn't a total Mad Hatter.  Sigh.  Now that was fun, that convincing.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Short Posts, 2/13/20. Vanishing Tomboys, Feminist Porn?, UK Male And Female Homicide Rates, And Trump Obstructing Justice



1.  Tomboys.  Where did they go?

The New York Times article on this topic notes the disappearing tomboys:

But this kind of tomboy began to recede in the mid-1980s. Hostility to feminism emerged in that decade, with the rise of the New Right and shows like “Thirtysomething,” in which educated women were sent back to the domestic realm, as Susan Faludi charted in her book “Backlash.” This was followed by the pink-hued “Girl Power” of the 1990s, which moved away from the more masculine-presenting tomboy toward an image that seemed to comfort the male gaze. Jo gave way to Sporty Spice, Xena, Buffy — coifed, petal-lipped and sometimes baring midriff — with the message that one didn’t need to sacrifice femininity to have power.
It was an understandable counter to the somewhat limiting message of the earlier tomboy era, which implied that while masculinity was good for boys and girls, femininity was bad for both. But it also edged out a certain kind of acceptable masculinity in young girls, and came with its own confinements — namely the idea that girls could be strong, so long as they were also pretty.

A tomboy (1) is "gender nonconforming," i.e. at deviance with rigid sex roles based on stereotypical (and often sexist) views about femininity and masculinity.  That this now seems rarer than thirty years ago is disappointing for those of us who see rigid sex roles as one of the main channels cultures have used, and still use,  to maintain sex-based hierarchies.

2.   Porn as empowering women?  Some types of choice feminism ("I choose my oppression") offer me hours of hilarity.  This is one such example:

New York Fashion Week kicked off on Monday, marking the beginning of a month-long event where designers showcase their latest creations in four different cities. Where London is known for its celebration of emerging designers and Paris for its grandeur, New York is revered for its progressive values: its catwalks are often home to bold political statements, promoting diversity and body positivity along the way. Given this reputation, the news that Pornhub stars will walk the runway this Sunday in what has been deemed a “feminist statement” is puzzling.

Modelling for Berlin-based fashion label Namila, several adult film actors will showcase a collection named “Herotica”, alongside Pornhub’s ambassador Asa Akira. Nan Li, one of the designers behind the collection, aims to challenge the porn industry’s exclusive focus on men’s entertainment: “Porn isn’t something existentially male. Most women just have been excluded from determining the narrative.”


Although the idea of resisting pornographic tropes is compelling, the label’s hope to reclaim women’s agency fell flat when it chose to collaborate with a website that distributes footage made as a result of female exploitation. In yet another case of femvertising that claims to champion women while profiting from their mistreatment, the fashion venture is an insult to women who are trafficked, sexually abused and filmed in secret for Pornhub videos. Although the site encourages its users to report illegal content, as a hosting platform it takes no legal responsibility for the videos that are uploaded, making it a hotbed for illegal photos and videos.

It's not that porn couldn't be feminist, of course  (2), but this is not the way to go about achieving that.  Rather, such surface moves offer coverage for the abuse of women by Pornhub and similar sites without addressing the real issues violence in online porn has created.

3.  The new UK crime statistics for the year ending in March 2019 show an uptick in the homicide rates for female victims, though homicides, overall, have declined (3).  As has been the case in previous years, men were about twice as likely as women to be the victims of homicide.  Men were also vastly more likely to be found guilty of homicide than women.  Ninety-two percent of those sentenced were men.

Some additional differences between male and female homicide victims are also worth noticing:

There were large differences in the profile of victim-suspect relationships between men and women victims. In the year ending March 2019, female victims were more likely to be killed by a partner or ex-partner or a family member, while male victims were more likely to be killed by a friend or acquaintance, stranger or other known person.


Almost half (48%) of adult female homicide victims were killed in a domestic homicide (99). This was an increase of 12 homicides compared with the previous year. In contrast, 8% of male victims were victims of domestic homicide (30) in the latest year. This was an increase of six homicides compared with the previous year.

Reflecting the above quote about the relationships between the victim and the suspect, women were more likely to be killed in or near a house or dwelling (71%) than men (39%).

In one sense this reminds me of the argument that the most dangerous place for women is their homes, but this shouldn't be interpreted to mean that they'd be safer if they spent more time outside the home.  That's because male and female uses of space differ.  Women, on average, spend less time in such dangerous places as (secluded) streets, paths and alleyways where 30% of male and 6% of female homicides took place.

4.   There's a certain bitter satisfaction in watching Attorney General William Barr scold Trump for his tweets.  The whole farce about the sentencing of Roger Stone has offered me similar but ultimately hollow pleasure.

And now I feel quite small for that fleeting enjoyment.  But anyone who read through the Mueller Report can tell that Trump is up to his old crimes.  And he is now untouchable, because of the Republicans.

So it's only fair that they get at least a little trouble for orchestrating that outcome.   


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1.  Its male equivalent is an equally important form of refusing to obey traditional (1950s) sex roles.  That equivalent doesn't have a very good name, sadly.

2.  At least we could do sex reversals on typical porn videos!  "Watch Justin Fucked Hard In All His Apertures And Loving It."

Just kidding there.  Or making the point that we must dig much deeper under the surface of porn to address its many problems before we can talk about feminist porn.

3.  Because homicides are a fairly rare event in the UK, annual numbers must be treated with some caution when trying to forecast trends.