The Daily GRRR! - Nov. 13 2014 - Gender Benders

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Welcome, I am your host Trish Holmes and you are listening to The Daily GRRR! on 100.3fm, CKMS in Waterloo, Ontario, soundfm.ca on the web, today is November 13, 2014. It has been a great week if you are a radical feminist, in the philosophical sense that is, I qualify myself there because radical feminists tend to understand the relationship between men and women, in terms of dominance/subordination. And over the past fortnight in Canada, there has been a storm of sexual abuse and sexual harassment cases with these kind of gender-implications.

Let’s start with an update on our old pal Jian Ghomeshi and the assault allegations against him.

Ghomeshi-gate update

For those of you not in Canada, Ghomeshi was the host of one of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation flagship pop culture programmes entitled simply Q. Ghomeshi, in his late 40s, seemed (and it seems alien and somewhat creepy to think about this now) hip, good looking, open-minded - the whole package. But allegedly, according to a growing number of women, he was violent towards those he was dating, engaging in non-consensual violence, including closed fist punching and choking. It seems much of it occurred very quickly, sometimes on the first date, and without warning. None of the women reported his actions to the police, due to what seems like shock, and paralysis of indecision. The Toronto Star instigated the whole affair They’d been in contact with three women who made these allegations. Ghomeshi informed the CBC what was happening, and eventually, in an attempt to keep his employer on his side brought video and photographic evidence of some of his rough sex escapades, all of which he says was harmless role playing and maintains were consensual. Once the CBC executives saw the evidence they fired him so god only knows what was in the pictures and videos. Over the last two weeks, there has been a stream of women who have come out against Ghomeshi detailing the violence. Ghomeshi for his part has maintains his innocence.

There were a few days when the Canadian media was drowning in Ghomeshi-Gate. Since the initial shock has worn off there is some interesting analysis emerging mostly about violence against women and how men perceive consent. For example the Lewis Wynne Jones, piece in the Huff Post ‘"Ghomeshi-gate" Proves Why Every Man Should Be a Feminist’, and the twitter hashtag #beenrapedneverreported. If you’ve read through some of these it’s horrific due to both the content and the sheer number of cases.

However, it doesn’t end there.

Two Liberal MPS ejected from Liberal Caucus by Trudeau

Last Thursday after complaints from two female NDP MPs, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau ejected MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti from his caucus for alleged “personal misconduct,” which was sexual in nature. In his speech announcing the ejection, Trudeau said, “ Here on Parliament Hill and in every workplace, women have a right to be in a secure work environment.”

Now this is a point That Angela Campbell in the Globe and Mail on November 11 picked up in her article “We condemn attacks on women at work, unless it’s sex work”

Bill C36 or Safety at work, only for some women

Here she refers to Bill C36, the federal government’s proposed new law to govern sex work, instead of criminalising selling sex, it criminalizes the purchase of sexual services, it criminalizes the advertising of sexual services in print or online publications and criminalizes the gainful employment of bodyguards, unless they are in a relationship with the worker (which leaves one wondering about the position of pimps).

In December 2013, The Supreme Court struck down Canada’s existing laws on prostitution– namely, the ban on brothels, “living on the avails of prostitution,” and the ban on communicating in public for the purposes of prostitution. The court said the provisions violated the Charter of human rights by threatening sex workers’ rights to life, liberty and security of the person. Critics are warning the new bill does the same thing, and is therefore vulnerable to a Charter challenge. The group whose challenge led to the December Supreme Court decision has already promised another legal fight.

Now the Justice Minister Peter MacKay, has drawn on the experience of Sweden where the purchase of sex has been criminalised since 1999. There, convicted sex buyers face the equivalent of a $4,000 fine. A study there has shown that since criminalizing the purchase of sex in 1999, the number of men who buy sex in Sweden went from one in eight to one in 13. But instead organized crime in the sex trade has flourished. In New Zealand, where similar laws were enacted in 2003, Prime Minister John Key has stated the law has been marginally successful, if at all.

Bill C36 shows a completely unnuanced understanding by the Harper government, if there is an understanding of the situation at all. This is a completely misogynistic bill and may very well be thrown out again. The bill does nothing, and indeed the evidence shows it does nothing, to help women’s health, women’s financial position, or their safety. It focuses purely on the men. Where is the unionisation of sex workers that would have ensured their rights, where is the websites or brothels that women can safely congregate and conduct their business with safeguards rather than being pushed out onto the street without protection. This bill is obscene and at it’s very root anti-women.

Julien Blanc “dating coach” (#ChokingGirlsAroundtheWorld)

I want to play a clip I heard on the Current on CBC on Tuesday morning. It’s of Julian Blanc who styles himself as a “dating coach” and works for the US company Real Social Dynamics. He holds seminars for men on how to pick up women He has been banned from Australia this week and the Canadian government is considering doing the same here.

The men who are defending him, and there are loads, complain that women, (or even better girls, because females over the age of 18 are incapable of being adult human beings) are just mad because his techniques works.

On Blanc’s website men have commented showing support including: "

Putting a girls head down to your dick when you're partying is not a big deal either. If you watch the infield video you can clearly see, that she was already very attracted by him and didn't make any sign of resistance. That doesn't mean, that it's totally okay to do so, but in this case I strongly think, that the girl just wanted it by herself."

Blanc is morally repugnant; truly the definition of arrested development. He doesn’t see women as human beings worthy of respect. His views are repugnant and vile, his motivations are barbaric but I’m not sure he should be denied entry to Canada simply based on his views. Almost as much as I disagree with him, I don’t think border control or the department of immigration should be the arbiter of allowed thoughts or opinions. But when Blanc arrives in the country, we should most definitely greet him in a way that he’ll never want to return.

Keira Knightley poses nude (with intention)

Keira Knightley, the British actor of films such as Atonement and Pride and Prejudice posed topless for photographs for interview magazine released this week. That’s not really risqué, Knightley has posed nude before but this time Knightley’s intention in posing topless was to show herself as she really is (sans photoshop) and to protest images of women that are altered and photoshopped. She stated that women’s bodies are a battleground and that photography had to shoulder some of the blame.

For that comment alone, I can forgive Knightley a whole host of sins, most notably, her role in the film Love Actually. Other female celebrities have come forward insisting that the image presented of them on the front of magazines have been retouched. The new Zealand singer Lorde, Kate Winslet, Lady Gaga and Jamie Lee Curtis have all been explicit in their denouncement of their images.

This is a really interesting debate because Knightley is right and the evidence over the last few weeks in Canada supports her claim that women’s bodies are a battleground. We have in this show alone, abusive men who violate a woman`s autonomy, harassment at work, and complete nullification of sex workers' predicament. Women still in 2014 are experiencing objectification and marginalisation. And that it is happening in Canada is particularly problematic. If women can’t be taken seriously in a developed and socially aware country like this, the rest of the world is screwed.

Women have long known that the perception of their bodies by men have been a liability to being taking seriously as autonomous individuals. In the 18th century Mary Wollstonecraft among others claimed, reason was a universal human capacity independent of corporeal difference. Since her time women have understood the link between how their bodies were perceived by society, to use more conventional terms, how they look, to how their mental faculties were perceived and their social standing. The female body has long been directly tied into female objectification.

Jane Jordan has written about the 19th century Contagious Diseases Act in Britain and its impact on women. This act permitted women to be forcibly examined for venereal disease. The campaign brought up discussions of what rights women have over our own bodies and to what extent should medical appropriation of the body be allowed. These ideas would later surface time and again in campaigns against rape and sexual violence, birth control and abortion, all of which stressed women's rights to control what happens to their bodies. These are deeply entrenched ideas that we`re fighting and we`ve been dealing with them specifically for at least 200 years.

The American philosopher Judith Butler in her 1990 book Gender Trouble discussed how we engage, indeed we submit to our own objectification. When we subject our bodies to practices such as dieting, makeup, exercise, dress, and cosmetic surgery we are attempting to achieve an ideal of what is considered desirable or perhaps normal in society, but we are reinforcing the process whereby sexed and gendered subjects come into existence at all. We are performing, we are doing (as opposed to some inherent state), our gender. The idea of gender or gendered performance is open to destabilisation and change. For example, transgendered performances are one way of destabilising the normative links of gender and heterosexuality. The dominant ideals within a society reinforce the power of certain groups; e.g., men and heterosexuals, over others such as women, homosexuals, transsexual people, or disabled people. If we can subvert these dominant ideas, what it is to be female or male, we can introduce change at a fundamental level and perhaps for woman change the record when it comes to objection. What we need to do on a regular if not constant basis is to bring an awareness to our position within society.

And there is no more basic position or better yet opposition than male vs female. Jian Ghomeshi and Julian Blanc are both solipsistic sadists, possibly sociopaths, but it does allow us to examine how men consider woman for their own objectives rather than autonomous individuals. We need to question what not only men`s role is here, but also what the female role as autonomous and self-directed (to the extent any of us are self-directed) human beings. If all of this, Ghomeshi, Blanc, the MPS on parliament hill is about the pursuit of pleasure under the guise of sex, then why are our values around sex so drenched in obfuscation to the point where we marginalise and endanger female sex workers. This past fortnight has made it clear that women still have a long way to go. Sex is constantly framed from the man's perspective and as the man's territory, and any role that women may play as an active agent (as opposed to the victim) is ignored.

Judith Butler interview overview http://www.macba.cat/en/rwm-sonia-judith-butler

Refs:

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/11/05/2_liberal_mps_booted_from_...

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/we-condemn-attacks-on-women-...

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/politics/ashby-prostitution-law-ignores-th...

http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2014/nov/10/keira-knightley-topless-p...

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminist-body/

This was the The Daily GRRR! for November 13, 2014.

We are on weekdays from 9-10am on 100.3fm CKMS in Waterloo region, and http://soundfm.ca on the web.

 

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