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.   

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.