HOW COMMON IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT ON AIRLINES? – @KATEHARVESTON

As you board a plane, it’s not uncommon to scrutinize the size of the seats and wonder where exactly your carry-on bags are supposed to fit. But other than that, we generally feel safe nowadays, having gone through several security screenings and identity checks to board the plane.

Another problem looms, especially for women who fly. Sexual harassment is commonplace on airplanes, with both passengers and flight attendants as targets. And the contained space in which it takes place makes the situation even more violating, with the person making unwanted advances — and the people who could stop it — sitting mere inches away.

What’s Causing Airline Sexual Harassment?

We know that many stories of sexual harassment, both on the ground and in the air, involve alcohol. One woman detailed her own terrifying experience with sexual harassment on a plane, noting just how much the man next to her had been drinking.

She said he downed several beverages quickly, perhaps to deal with a fear of flying. But the alcohol soon gave him the courage to make an advance on her, which started verbally and ended with him leaning in for a kiss. Nearby passengers intervened to stop him.  …

 

This was first published at Feimineach. You can find the full text here.

 

 

Feimineach:  quick-hitting the hell out of everything. occasional thinky blogging. Twitter @grainnemcmahon

On hashtags, secrets and the balance of power, by @abigailrieley ‏

Cross-posted from: Abigail Rieley
Originally published: 22.10.17

This post is a hard one to write. I’ve kept this blog for years but this is the post I’ve always second guessed myself out of writing. I’ve written about dysfunctional homes so many times, homes that weren’t safe, predatory men, an inadequate legal system, but I’ve never said that what I had a personal stake in what I was writing – that I understood, that I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to live with a volatile narcissist who will make you doubt the facts in front of your nose. I know what it’s like to dodge ever-changing emotions. I know what it’s like to fear for your life – a dull practical alertness, not a nerve jangling panic.
Read more On hashtags, secrets and the balance of power, by @abigailrieley ‏

The House that Hef Built: Hugh Hefner’s Dark Legacy, by @meltankardreist

Cross-posted from: Melinda Tankard Reist
Originally published: 08.10.17

Behold your hero of the sexual revolution: girl child centrefolds, rape cartoons, sexual harassment and wife beating jokes. MTR on Hefner

 

A new angel has opened his wings!”

“We need more men like Hugh in this world today.”

These passionate declarations from his Facebook page are among numerous accolades for the pornhefmerchant Hugh Hefner, who recently died aged 91.

A charming trendsetter, brave visionary, legend, pioneer, icon, folk hero – the glorification is seemingly endless.

Big names joined the love-in. Rev. Jesse Jackson tweeted in praise: “Hugh Hefner was a strong supporter of the civil rights movement. We shall never forget him. May he Rest In Peace.”
Read more The House that Hef Built: Hugh Hefner’s Dark Legacy, by @meltankardreist

Hugh Hefner: A Feminist Review

Screen Shot 2017-12-17 at 20.45.40“Hugh Hefner is no ‘hero’ – he built an empire on misogyny”, by Claire Heuchan

Reading all of the glowing tributes to Hugh Hefner, I wonder if some sort of collective amnesia has struck. It is a sad thing when any life comes to an end, particularly for grieving family and friends. And yet so many celebrations of the Playboy founder’s work gloss over the sexism that was the foundation of Hefner’s company. Hugh Hefner profited from misogyny – he built an empire on it. At the time of his death, Hefner’s net worth was estimated to be £37 million – money that was made through the commodification of women’s bodies, through presenting women’s bodies as sexual objects that existed for men’s consumption.

Hefner was not, as some claim, a pioneer of the sexual revolution. There is nothing revolutionary about men exploiting women for their own sexual gratification or financial gain – it has been happening for hundreds of years, and is called patriarchy. Hefner has even been embraced as an LGBT ally for featuring a transgender model in Playboy back in 1991. If Hefner was an ally, the word is meaningless. Objectifying a transwoman does not pave the road to equality for anyone. …

I called Hugh Hefner a pimp, he threatened to sue. But that’s what he was, by Suzanne Moore

Long ago, in another time, I got a call from a lawyer. Hugh Hefner was threatening a libel action against me and the paper I worked for at the time, for something I had written. Journalists live in dread of such calls. I had called Hefner a pimp. To me this was not even controversial; it was self-evident. And he was just one of the many “libertines” who had threatened me with court action over the years.

It is strange that these outlaws have recourse in this way, but they do. But at the time, part of me wanted my allegation to be tested in a court of law. What a case it could have made. What a hoot it would have been to argue whether a man who procured, solicited and made profits from women selling sex could be called a pimp. Of course, central to Playboy’s ideology is the idea that women do this kind of thing willingly; that at 23 they want nothing more than to jump octogenarians. …

When I heard Hugh Hefner had died, I wished I believed in hell, by Julie Bindel

On hearing that the pimp and pornographer Hugh Hefner had died this morning, I wished I believed in hell.

“The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous,” said the sadistic pimp in 2010. “Women are sex objects… It’s the attraction between the sexes that makes the world go ‘round. That’s why women wear lipstick and short skirts.”

Hefner was responsible for turning porn into an industry. As Gail Dines writes in her searing expose of the porn industry, he took it from the back street to Wall Street and, thanks in large part to him, it is now a multibillion dollar a year industry. Hefner operated in a country I live in, a country where if you film any act of humiliation or torture – and if the victim is a woman – the film is both entertainment and it is protected speech. …

Hugh Hefner’s influence lives on in his particular brand of “feminism”, by @glosswitch

September has been a difficult month in terms of losses to feminism. First we saw the death of Kate Millett, the radical second-wave author of Sexual Politics. Now it’s been the turn of Hugh Hefner, the Playboy publisher who once described himself as “a feminist before there was such a thing as feminism”.

Obviously it would be difficult to say which of the two fought the hardest for women. Would it be Millett, who sought to liberate us from the bounds of patriarchy, or Hefner, who sought to free us from body hair, inner lives and clothes? An impossible call to make. Still, if it came down to the question of whose brand of feminism has won the day, there’s an easy answer to that.

Hefner feminism is all around us. It’s the feminism of pre-teen girls seeking designer vaginas; of men who rent out vaginas and wombs; of women who diet, shave, starve and never say no. We’re not free from oppression, but oppression is no longer stigmatised. Isn’t that enough? …

The 15 Worst Things Playmates Have Said About Life in the Playboy Mansion at Cosmo

1. “Everyone thinks that the infamous metal gate was meant to keep people out. But I grew to feel it was meant to lock me in.” —Holly Madison in her book, Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny

2. “When you’re here you have to be in by the 9 p.m. curfew. You’re not allowed to invite any friends up to see you.” —Carla Howe, The Mirror … 

Speaking up for what’s right: politics, markets and violence in higher education, by Alison Phipps

Cross-posted from: genders, bodies, politics
Originally published: 15.03.17

Content note: this post contains reference to sexual harassment and violence.

Universities in the US, and increasingly in the UK, are finding themselves under siege. The far right is targeting academics and their social justice work, bolstered by a mainstream suspicion of ‘experts’ and ‘elites’, and a general rightward shift in politics and public opinion. With a white supremacist, alleged serial sexual harasser and abuser in the White House, a hardline English government, and a ‘new normal’ that involves overt and unrepentant sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination, we’re in for a tough few years. I have previously written about the feminist classroomas a ‘safe space’, and the need to protect our most vulnerable students. I have also thought a lot about how the neoliberal university suppresses the very capacities required to do this. I have theorised an ‘institutional economy’ of sexual violence, exploring how institutional responses (or non-responses) to violence and abuse are shaped by neoliberal rationalities. In this post, I will attempt to sketch how the market framings of sexual violence in the university interact with our contemporary political field and growing hostility to progressive work.
Read more Speaking up for what’s right: politics, markets and violence in higher education, by Alison Phipps

Finding Our Voices by @EstellaMz

Cross-posted from: Uncultured Sisterhood
Originally published: 17.06.14

In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions become strongly etched in a merciless light, and what I most regretted were my silences.

Audre Lorde

I’ve been pushing the urge to blog to the back of my mind.

It was inevitable for a couple of reasons.

The first is finding myself in a state of permanent rage over the multitude of injustices which girls and women in Uganda on the continent and globally, have faced historically and still suffer on a daily basis. Hardly a day goes by, not even an hour, without a report: man rapes woman, wife beaten, man kills woman, girl raped by father, soldiers rape women, and so on.

In the era of widely touted Millennium Development Goals, Uganda is in the lead or close to the top when it comes to incidence of child marriagesexual abuse of childrenteenage pregnancy, sexual harassment and assault (rape is hardly reported; on record is mostly that by LRA insurgents during the war in northern Uganda), intimate partner violencematernal mortality, and deaths from complications arising from unsafe abortions. The horrors are endless to the point that many have become desensitized to the real suffering, in real time, of real people.

Human-beings. Girls. Women.
Read more Finding Our Voices by @EstellaMz

About that Protein World advert…(an open letter to James O’Brien)

cross-posted from The Joy in my feetimage

An open letter to James O’Brien,

In the last week almost 60,000 individuals signed a petition to have Protein World’s now infamous yellow bikini advert, used to sell food-replacement shakes, taken down from London public transport outlets. In light of this much reported petition and the upcoming Taking Back the Beach protest planned for Saturday afternoon, you used your Wednesday afternoon LBC radio show to ask listeners what all the fuss is about with this advert. In light of a widespread consumerist culture in which unattainable body images sneer down at us at every angle in almost every public space, what is it about this particular advert which has caused so much offence? The problem, one of your listeners volunteered, is simply that hard-core feminists are getting their knickers in a twist. This is because, another suggested, we live in such a politically correct society these days, that fat people just can’t stand being told that they need to lose some weight. Jealousy is SO unattractive.

Listening to your show at my office when I should have been working, I couldn’t very well call up to provide an answer to your very reasonable question and so, in an attempt to clarify where your callers completely missed the point, I am addressing this open letter to you.

The problem with the advert is not with the photograph of the model in a bikini, oozing unrealistic sex-appeal and making us all feel bad with the way we look on the way to work, when we’ve barely had enough time to brush our hair and wipe the toothpaste from our mouths let alone hit the gym. We’ve seen these images before. We’ve seen this model before. We all know that adverts make people feel pretty lousy; one of your listeners, in fact, wrote in about the mental health implications that pressures to appear ‘macho’ have on men. He was right to raise this. Presumably this listener is also aware that eating disorders are one of the leading causes of ill health for teenage girls. Perhaps he read the research that the number one wish for girls aged 11 – 17 is to be thinner.

No, the problem is not the image, and it’s not even the particularly intense visuals of the image – in blazing yellow, this giant woman glaring down at us like some sort of fantasy Godzilla reeking havoc and judgement wherever she goes. No, the problem with this advert is the tagline that accompanies this image and what this says about the role of women in public space. By asking “Are you beach body ready?” the question this advert puts to women is this: do you have a body deemed by mainstream western notions of female beauty to be sexually attractive enough so as to be aesthetically pleasing to men when on the beach? If not, buy our product or else do not come to the beach.

Do you think that this is a leap to go from the advert’s tagline to the message to women to kindly leave their not-beach-ready bodies at home on the sofa where they belong? Because this is certainly the message that a very large number of women take home and this was certainly the conclusion drawn in a large global study conducted by Girl Guiding and Dove, which revealed that two-thirds of women and girls have avoided actually going out and doing certain activities because they feel bad about their bodies (including, incidentally, 29% who do not go to the beach or pool for this very reason). The CEO of Protein World himself certainly knows that women often feel uncomfortable occupying public space without first altering their appearance; this is what sells his product.

Sure, ok, men don’t just roll out of bed in the morning and out on to the street and, sure, ok, they are made to feel ugly too. But considering the fact that the women who are shown in the media are almost entirely models posing for the benefit of the viewer, whereas the men we see are primarily politicians, business leaders, and sports professionals actually doing stuff, what this says about women specifically is that their primary role in public space is to serve as a sex object.

The reason, then, that feminists are *quote* getting their knickers in a twist *end quote* about this advert in particular is because this is the advert which makes explicit the link between female attractiveness and a woman’s right to occupy public space. It is a) this relationship between women’s subjective sexual attractiveness and public space that is problematic, and this is b) particularly problematic because it feeds into a continuum of violence against women and girls. In government-commissioned research it was made explicit that if boys grow up being repeatedly told by advertisements like this that women’s primary role in public is to provide for their sexual gratification, they are more likely to engage in aggressive and violent behaviour towards women and girls.

Sexual harassment and assault in public is a grave issue in our society. Of the 1 in 5 women who will experience a sexual offence in her lifetime, a significant portion of these offences will take place in public. The British Transport Police estimate that 15% of Londoners have experienced unwanted, intimidating, and threatening sexual behaviour on the city’s transport network, and I’m willing to bet that this problem is even worse than these stats suggest. I do not know a single female friend who has not at some point in her life been subject to sexual harassment or assault ranging, in the  collective experiences of my friendship group, from cat-calling, jeering, and verbal abuse right through to inappropriate touching (and I am using this term euphemistically), being masturbated over, and being pissed on.

I am sure that you, as much as I, want this kind of behaviour to stop, and we can make a start by taking that bloody poster down.

The Joy in my Feet: Inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem, my blog The Joy in My Feet is about celebrating the work of women activists and artists around the world campaigning to end gender oppression. I am an intern with Equality Now working on a campaign to end FGM in the UK, so most of the posts you’ll find are covering current issues of sexual or gender based violence against women, interspersed with poetry and art.

Ways to deal with Eve-teasing by Occupy Sexism

Action against sexism by Street Smart Girl:

Yesterday the medias reported 12 bizarre tips issued by a Kolkata police station. They basically burden women and victims with the responsibility of stopping street harassment, instead of targeting the perpetrators.

Ways to deal with Eve-teasing (police’s tips for women):

1. Dress decently.
2. Have emergency speed dial numbers in your phone.
3. Self defense.
4. Aware of people around you.
5. Avoid late nights.
6. Carry pepper spray.
7. Be well behaved.
8. Stay in groups.
9. Avoid travelling in crowded bus or train.
10. Avoid going in isolated places
11. Walk in well-lit and frequented areas.
12. Be street smart.

 

Dear cops, you have now removed them from your website. Why don’t you upload new tips targeting teenage boys and men, the usual perpetrators, for a change? Let me suggest my dozen tips:

Ways to deal with Eve-teasing (woman’s tips for men):

1. Act decently. Your attitude should send a positive message.
2. Have emergency speed dial numbers in your phone in case you witness eve-teasing.
3. Self control.
4. Respect people around you.
5. Avoid late night if you won’t control yourself.
6. Carry a smart phone and pin the creep if you witness any eve-teasing.
7. Be well behaved. Don’t harass others.
8. Stay in groups and encourage each other to behave.
9. Avoid travelling in crowded bus or train if you won’t control yourself.
10. Avoid going in isolated places so women can enjoy there safely.
11. Walk in well-lit and frequented areas so women will see you from far away.
12. Be street responsible.

Let’s STOP street harassment.

Occupy Sexism: We were taught that being subjected to misogyny was just part of being a woman. We should not attempt to curb male violence, not even name it. But… This is Operation Occupy Sexism. We are Women. We are 3 billions. We do not comply. We do not tolerate sexism. Expect us. Occupy Sexism is a platform to share our experience. Share your success stories of fighting sexism and shouting back at misogynists !

If you were a feminist. by The Real Thunder Child

(Cross-posted from The Real Thunder Child)

If you were a feminist, you would not feel the need to tell us. Your actions and what you say to other males would mark you out.

If you were a feminist, you would see misogyny for what it is, everywhere it is, neither feeling personally hurt or blamed for the often unconscious actions and words of yourself, and other males. You’d be watchful,mindful. And try.

If you were a feminist you wouldn’t expect thanks for common courtesy, for simply not being a douche.

If you were a feminist you wouldn’t deify choice. Nor would you condemn it. You’d view the choices that women make through the prism of still overarching patriarchy. Whether it be prostitution, sex selective abortion, or the niqab, and question what forces that choice, rather than punishing women for the choices forced upon them by men , and that said overarching patriarchy.

If you were a feminist you’d realise that internalised misogyny is a thing. That females aren’t born hating other females or themselves. That this is a beyond Pavlovian defence mechanism. That this “competition” exists purely as control, with patriarchy handing out the prizes. Prizes such as “good marriages”, which in themselves are gilded cages. Control.
And you’d realise how you, even you, benefit from this, instead of using it as tool for attacking women.

If you were a feminist you’d rest the responsibility for sexual violence where it belongs, with the perpetrator.
You’d be mindful when opining how such violence could be avoided.
You’d realise that it can’t.
You’d know how “advice” on attire , for instance, quickly becomes “what was she wearing”, and why.

If you were a feminist You’d realise that females know it isn’t all men, but that the men who it is, don’t wear badges, so for us , it may as well be “all men”… And you wouldn’t take that personally. Furthermore, if you really are a “good guy”, you’d trust us to work it out for ourselves.

If you were a feminist you’d not question or discuss a female’s medical decisions. You’d know a female’s rights over her own medical decisions are for her and her conscience, and not within your gift to either discuss or endow.

If you were a feminist you’d not opine on her “empowerment”. You’d not require a willingness to comply with men’s fantasies as proof. You’d not regard refusing to as signs that a female is frigid, a prude, or lesbian.
You’d recognise true empowerment not as the obligation to say yes, but as the power to say no.

If you were a feminist you’d recognise that how you choose to live , what you wear, how you define yourself or shape your subjective reality, does not become an obligation for females to accept you.
You’d respect their fears as based on millennia of reality, not “hate speech”designed to deprive you of your “rights”.
You’d realise that being female isn’t a political or lifestyle choice, that being female isn’t an identity, or construct. But rather a material fact upon which the rest are attached, and upon which the oppression of females is excused.

If you were a feminist You’d recognise her sex veto, and not insist that the labels you give yourself, either define your feelings as reality or her sexuality as bigotry.
You’d not require her to affirm your feelings or identity, least of all by opening her legs.
Or accepting your catcalls, or enduring your gaze. Lower YOUR eyes, if needs must.

If you were a feminist you would not feel the need to explain to females how they’re thinking, what they feel , and why. You’d listen to them explaining that for themselves.
Neither would you expect females to educate you. If you truly wish to know, listen. Read. It’s out there, it’s neither obscure or arcane, or akin to “dabbling with the occult”.

This and so much more besides, you would, at least, try.
If you were a feminist.