Archive for December, 2014

Ah Christmas. Despite the title of this blog I genuinely love Christmas. I don’t know why because it’s something I should hate. I hate the majority of people at the best of times, I hate crowds, I hate queuing (despite being English), I hate rudeness, I hate thinking of what I’d like as a present, I hate not being able to buy anything for a month in case someone else buys it for Christmas, I hate inconsiderate shits who think they’re the only ones doing the shopping, etc, etc Christmas involves all of those points, people become Grade-A morons as soon as we reach mid-November, I should despise Christmas with everything I have.

But I don’t, I love it. I don’t think it’s because of other people, I think it’s purely because of the way it makes me feel. Despite hating people at times I do like the way Christmas tends to make people a bit cheerier, if only a little. I don’t care much for presents, I’m an adult now if there’s something I want I generally buy it for myself. I suppose that’s not getting in to the Christmas spirit but it does annoy me a little.

So why the title of this blog? Well, because the website Jezebel, that high-brow teller of insightful and thought-provoking news stories (yeah, right!) posted this article a couple of days ago:

http://jezebel.com/i-rewatched-love-actually-and-am-here-to-ruin-it-for-al-1485136388

Now, there a couple of reasons why I want to write this blog, and both are fairly simple:

  1. This piece perfectly highlights how feminism couldn’t give a flying fuck about men.
  2. This piece perfectly highlights just how myopic feminism really is.

For the record, I love Love Actually, and love watching it when it comes on at Christmas, but I completely agree it is not without its flaws. Having said that, while the Jezebel piece, written by Lindy West, does make some valid criticisms of the film it comes from a perspective that is entirely female-centric. Not that that’s a problem in and of itself, I’ve no qualms with anyone choosing a perspective with which to watch and analyse a film, it’s just the fact it leaves out an entire demographic that could also have its own article.

You see, one of feminism’s great claims is that ‘it’s for men, too’. If that’s the case, why has West only focused on the female characters here? When it comes to analysis of Love Actually why has West decided that only the female characters are worth exploring? Simple, because feminism doesn’t give a fuck about men’s issues and probably never will. If they can’t find a way of making men’s problems a direct result of misogyny then they really aren’t interested.

So, what’s the point of this blog? Well, seeing as it’s Boxing Day here in the UK and my Christmas cheer will now begin to fade, I wanted to take a look at how men are treated at Christmas time, particularly in films. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy these films or that I’ll suddenly start hating Christmas, just trying to highlight the fact that, actually, stereotyped male characters permeate films too.

I’m not going to touch too much on the Love Actually article itself, there are a few comments that I’ll mention, but I would like to look at the male characters in that film and explore how, similarly, you could say they are equally one dimensional and sexist. Why? To show that, with limited thought, you can say anything is sexist. Or racist for that matter.

So, I’ll get the comments from the article I want to address out of the way quickly. Number 1:

None of the women in this movie fucking talk. All of the men in this movie “win” a woman at the end. This goddamn movie.”

All the men ‘win’ a woman? So that’s how feminists, or at least this one feminists, sees relationships, as men ‘winning’ women? She’s not talking about one or two relationships, she’s talking about all the men in this movie. Which means that every single last goddamn man in this movie is some kind of oppressing piece of shit who has no desire other than to ‘win’ a prize through their supposed entitlement complex. How fucked is that line of thinking? Not only is it insulting to the male characters in this film, it’s also insulting to the female characters. It’s also insulting to real world men and women as this kind of lazy, idiotic way of thinking is not limited to film when it comes to feminist theory.

Second one:

“HE’S TALKING ABOUT HIS PENIS, YOU GUYS. It might be a small penis, but it wrote Harry Potter.”

This is referencing Hugh Grant’s speech as Prime Minister when he basically tears the US President a new one. So, outdated stereotypes of women, lack of speaking female characters, misogynistic overtones are not ok but body shaming men is totally fine? I get that this article is supposed to be a light-hearted look-at-how-misognystic-this-movie-is-but-it’s-ok-because-it’s-still-quite-good-so-don’t-take-this-too-seriously type thing, but still, way to ruin your own argument by being a HUGE MASSIVE GODDAMN HYPOCRITE. Yeah, those massive sections of capitals are annoying to me, too!

Anyway, enough energy spent on that article, let’s flip it round and analyse the male characters, because that’s totally allowed right? I mean, if feminism is for men too then I should be able to do this kind of thing and feminists should be totally ok with it, right? Let’s see how that pans out.

I haven’t watched Love Actually for quite a while, but I’m pretty familiar with it to know most of the male characters. Bear in mind I might spell some names wrong. So, sexism towards men:

Kris Marshall – stereotyped man-who-only-thinks-about-sex and has to go to a different country because he’s such a creep in his own country. Thinks his penis is where his self-worth lies and actively seeks out the approval of women for his life to have any meaning. One dimensional.

Colin Firth – Middle aged man who is humiliated by his girlfriend with, presumably, a younger man and has to disappear to get over her. Immediately falls in love with someone else and becomes smitten with her despite it being presented, at least in the beginning, as being somewhat creepy. Goes doolally whenever she’s around. One dimensional.

The two black men – YEA THAT’S THE POINT! The only two black male characters are relegated to side roles and have no major input into the story at all. THAT’S SO RACIST AMIRITE YES!! That goes for the one black woman, she’s relegated to side character that could have been played by anyone. For the record the actors are called Chiwetel Ejiofor, Adbul Salis and Nina Sosanya.

Liam Neeson – Actually a decent character except for that one scene when he meets a new woman and then suddenly goes all week at the knees and like a lovesick puppy because men are so unable to behave like regular human beings in the presence of beautiful women. Actually, that goes for all the male characters, they are all unable to perform basic, normal, socially accepted roles when women are involved. One dimensional.

Hugh Grant – attacks the President of the United States simply because he wants to impress a woman. The entire reason for him doing what he does is because of a woman. Has her ‘redistributed’ (not fired) when he is unable to function with her around. One dimensional.

Martin Freeman – oh would you look at that, a socially awkward man who has trouble making small talk with an attractive woman until the very end. One dimensional.

Alan Rickman – loving family man married to gorgeous wife with, seemingly, perfect job, easily manipulated by attractive, young secretary to the point that he effectively ruins his marriage. Stereotyped portrayal of middle aged man as bumbling idiot who, again, behaves like a buffoon when in the company of an attractive woman. One Dimensional.

Andrew Lincoln – so smitten with unrequited love that he resorts to filming only the woman he loves on her wedding day. Cannot function when she’s around, literally contributes nothing else to the film. One dimensional

Ok, I’ve officially listed all the male characters I can remember. The point is simple: yes, men may have more spoken lines in this film, yes, men probably make more decisions in this film, yes, there are numerous female stereotypes in this film but if you think there is only one way of looking at a film you are dead wrong.

In Love Actually every single goddamn male character is unable to function when there’s a woman around. Their lives are dictated by their desire for female approval and acknowledgement. And it’s not just one regular, everyday Joe either, it’s every goddamn man in the film. When the Prime Fucking Minister of Great Goddamn Britain has to ‘redistribute’ an employee because he’s so fucking doolally every time she’s around he can’t do his job then what does that say about men? Yeah, you can approach it from the other side and say it’s misogynistic because his entitlement complex for what he can’t have is distracting him from doing his job, but you can also say it’s misandric because a man is completely unable to function properly when there’s a woman around.

Let’s forget this is a romantic comedy for one minute. Every single man, every goddamn last one of them, is absolutely rendered incapable of functioning like a simple human being whenever a woman enters their life. Even Liam goddamn-Bryan-Mills-from-Taken Neeson is reduced to nothing but a bumbling wreck when he’s introduced to a woman he likes. What is that saying about men as people? Yes, they can do whatever they want to do, whether that be a writer of the Prime Minister of a country, but it also tells them that their lives are incomplete without a woman, that being unable to go about your daily life is just a natural part of being a man. If that’s not one dimensional I don’t know what is.

It’s this kind of focus that I apply the old red/blue metaphor to. Sites like Jezebel only ever seem to focus on women. That’s not a bad thing, analysing literature and looking at any possible deeper meanings is why I’m an English teacher. But that only works when you’re allowed to look at an entire piece of literature. Whether that’s a book, a game, a film or a TV programme, if you’re only ever told about one demographic then you’ll only ever see the problems one demographic faces. Constantly being told how this film, or that film, or this TV programme reinforces sexist trait about women, without being allowed to have the same focus on men, does nothing but reinforce the idea that only women get stereotyped in films.

Think about Love Actually, which characters are ultimately the ones making the moves at the end? The males. How about that for a reinforcing of sexist stereotypes. Colin Firth learns a new language and races off to a different country to make a public declaration of love, Hugh Grant races off to find Martine McCutcheon and made a grand gesture, Martin Freeman, although rather awkwardly, is the one doing most of the work (I think she helps him in the end by kissing him), Kris Marshall goes another country in his quest for validation, Andrew Lincoln has to make a grand gesture to Keira Knightley and Alan Rickman is the one who purchases an expensive piece of jewelry and then has to make a groveling apology to his wife when he’s been caught out,

I’m not saying these films are unenjoyable, I’m just saying that if you watch a film from the perspective of ‘let’s see how misogynistic this piece of literature is’ then you are going to see misogyny simply because that’s what you are looking for. The red/blue metaphor is exactly that. Imagine a bookcase full of red and blue items. Metaphorically, red items are examples of misogyny, blue items are examples of misandry. I give you one minute and ask you to count the number of Red items. When that minute is up I ask you to name the number of Blue items. You can’t, because you haven’t been looking for blue items, you’ve been looking for red items.

That’s how articles like this Jezebel one work, because you’re constantly being told about the red items you remain completely unaware of the existence of the blue items, despite the fact that they exist and, sometimes, exist in equal numbers to the red items.

But what’s that got to do with Christmas films? Well, the same outdated stereotypes of men are played over and over again in Christmas films. There’s a film channel here in the UK called Movies 24. As soon as November 1st hits the name changes to Christmas 24 and it shows nothing but Christmas films until early January. I’ve watched a lot of Christmas films and the same stereotyped male characters appear with alarming regularity.

Here are some examples of main characters:

The successful but cold and unemotional businessman who goes back to his home town and falls in love with a local woman, giving up his success to move back and be with her.

The single father who is still grieving over his wife, unable to open himself up to new love, despite his child wanting that to happen.

The playboy who is convinced to change his ways by the love of a beautiful woman.

The slacker whose life is going nowhere but eventually falls in love with a woman and finally settles down.

And some supporting characters:

The successful but lacking-in-empathy businessman who does everything he can to provide for his girlfriend, who then leaves him for another man (the main character) who is more attentive and romantic.

The best friend who seemingly has it all worked out, except he can’t hold on to a woman because he’s so emotionally inept at being a good boyfriend.

The father who constantly lets down the main character (usually a woman) and come across as a complete douche. Sometimes he gets to redeem himself, but not always.

The ex-husband/boyfriend who has abandoned the kids and ends up doing nothing but making trouble for his ex. (interestingly, there are numerous films that contain single fathers with dead wives; there are no films that contain single fathers whose wives abandoned them, therefore reinforcing the sexist stereotype that only dads can be deadbeats.)

And that’s just a few. I’m well aware that women are also given stereotyped roles in these films, but that’s exactly the point. Writers like Lindy West give us all we need to know about how misogynistic major blockbusters like Love actually are, but doesn’t seem to give a shit about how the male characters, while seemingly well developed, are nothing but walking, one-dimensional stereotypes.

But those are just cheap, low-grade Christmas films, right? Well, let’s take a look at Doctor Who, one of the most popular TV programmes on BBC television. The Christmas special aired yesterday and I specifically looked for misandry. I wasn’t surprised, unfortunately (spoilers):

  1. Towards the beginning a female character is in an infirmary trying not to think about whatever is in the infirmary with her. She is being monitored by three other characters; two women and a man. She makes a comment about the man having put his hand on her leg earlier in the day. He turns to the other women and says something to the effect of “that was supposed to be comforting.” The elder of the two women throws him a look of scorn and replies “for who?” Implication that any contact made by a man against a woman is for some sort of creepy, perverted sexual gratification? Check.
  2. In a story with 6 main characters (I’m not counting Santa and his two helpers as a main characters), 2 being male and 4 being female, the only character to die is a man, the aforementioned pervy-leg-toucher. So, in a film with 3 female characters who could plausibly be killed off, they kill off the only male. Men shown to be disposable as well as creepy perverts? Check.
  3. In order to try and get Clara to wake up from an alien-induced sleep, The Doctor says stuff about her dead boyfriend. Her response? She slaps him across the face. Violence towards a man because he’s said something you don’t like? Check.

Oh, by the way, that last one also reinforces the stereotype that women are unable to control their emotions.

I could go on and on about the way men are treated when it comes to films and television but I won’t. All I’m trying to do is highlight the fact that men are not perfect in films and television. In fact, sometimes it’s the opposite, sometimes there are very, very few redeemable qualities in male characters in TV shows and films. The point is, we are not told about these stereotyped portrayals, we are not allowed to focus on these stereotyped portrayals for one simple reason – it removes the victim focus from women. That’s pretty sad.

Yes, women are stereotyped in films and television and, yes, these stereotyped roles probably play a part in the way some women go about their lives, but the positives for them is that things are changing, awareness is being made of these one dimensional portrayals and film makers are trying to change things. When it comes to stereotyped portrayals of men, particularly in TV programmes and lower budget films, there is nothing being done. These insipid, unfair, unrealistic, demonizing portrayals of men are not being changed, are not being challenged. If feminists claim that these types of stereotypes are damaging to real life women then why are they not open minded enough to accept that that same logic absolutely applies to men?

I know that a feminist reading this will probably just dismiss this as ‘man tears’ or some other pathetic bullshit justification but if West can find objection to a Hollywood love story where women are ‘won’ by men, then I can sure as hell find objection to the fact that men are presented as incomplete without a woman in their life.

Stereotypes affect everyone and should be explored accordingly. If feminists really gave a shit about men they would know that. But they don’t, no matter how much the claim otherwise, they don’t give a shit about men and probably never will.

Advertisements

7 weeks in the wilderness.

Posted: December 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

NOTE: This was written on Friday the 19th of December but I’ve been without internet for a week so I’m posing it now, on Christmas Eve. Bear that in mind as you’re reading it.

So, where to begin? 7 weeks since my last, proper, blog entry, 3 weeks since deactivating Facebook and logging out of John Salmon’s World. I was pretty adamant in the last blog that I would be gone for a while, so why the return after only 3 weeks? Well, it’s not quite a return, it’s nearly Christmas so, as well as wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, I thought I’d just add a little more context to the last blog entry.

First of all, what have I been doing in the last 3 weeks? To put it simply, I’ve been living my life! Too much time as John Salmon had bogged me down, turned me into a miserable cunt, isolated and pissed off at everything. Ok, that’s a slight over-exaggeration but it’s rooted in reality. I was definitely pissed off at everything and everyone. Christmas is always a busy time and when you deal with young adults (and ‘adults’ is stretching it to be fair) you’re always in for a long slog, especially when you hit December. It’s hard enough dealing with that shit on its own, when you add the MRM into the mix it becomes unbearable.

For those who don’t know, I resigned from my job in October in order to take up a position in another education establishment after Christmas, so the long road to the festive break got longer and harder (arf arf) for me as I had to make sure I didn’t leave the department picking up any shit.

I mentioned in that last blog that I was disillusioned with writing, that I’d lost the fire that had been the main reason for starting this blog last year. I don’t think much has changed, I still want to write, I still have ideas and stuff swirling round in my head, I still have angles and interpretations that I want people to know, not because I have a huge ego, just because I think it’s valuable to read different opinions, no matter how out of left field they are.

So, if that’s the case, why the big deal about taking a break, why the blog entry about shutting down Facebook and the WordPress blog? To be honest, I’m still trying to work that out myself. Ego maybe, perhaps a little bit of attention-seeking, I don’t know. I think I just wanted to get my frustrations out there, make it known that I was getting annoyed at what I was seeing. That’s not because I expected an outpouring of ‘don’t go, we love you’ messages, just because I think I needed to say it, to get it off my chest.

Today was my last day at work, I now have 2 weeks off to relax before starting fresh at a new job. My outlook on life has changed, somewhat, in the last 3 weeks. I’m more positive about things, more pragmatic about why people think the way they do. I’ve been quite scathing about things the last couple of months but I don’t think I’m in the same place as I was. My views on certain areas have softened, and on other areas hardened. I’m hopefully going to set a few things straight about why I do what I do, both in terms of my career and my writings here. This isn’t intended as an attack on individuals, so

Do I still think feminism is poisonous? Yes, of course. Having said that, my stance on feminists has changed. I think the movement as a whole is damaging and I think there are definitely some cuntish feminists who genuinely hate men but just can’t admit it but I don’t blame individual feminists for that. Why not? Well, because in my time away from the MRM I’ve seen feminists who genuinely believe feminism is a movement about equality. I think they’re misguided and they’ve been sold a lie, I think they’re being manipulated and they don’t realise it, I think they’re naïve for believing so blindly in the ‘you’re either a feminist or a sexist’ rhetoric but I don’t believe they are bad people.

Why has my stance on feminists softened while my hatred for the ideology itself remains? Well, because I’ve removed myself from the myopic focus of the MRM. I’ve mentioned feminism’s one eyed stance on gender relations before, but I think the MRM embodies a lot of the same qualities, just from the opposite side. Of course, feminism has a much broader public platform to spout their views, but that doesn’t mean the MRM isn’t as toxic at times. In the same way I’ve seen feminists lump all men into one category, demean them, shame them, humiliate them, dehumanise them and bully them, I’ve seen many of the same traits within the MRM.

I’ve never been shy about my experiences within the MRM, they’ve been mostly positive but, sometimes, I wonder if the men, and some women, within it realise they are behaving exactly like the feminists they condemn.

One of the things I utterly despised about the MRM was the sheer hypocrisy when it came to domestic abuse. Porn star Chrissy Mack (or maybe Christy, I can’t remember) was beaten up by her MMA boyfriend War Machine (his name being about as big an indicator as you could want that he’s a prick) earlier in the year. After reading about the way domestic violence towards men was minimised and belittled, laughed at and scorned, I was expecting some degree of understanding when reading this story. What did I see instead? People minimising the assault because ‘she’s a porn star’ or because rumours were going around that ‘she was caught cheating’. It was pathetic, these are people who condemn feminism for minimising male suffering and here they were minimising the suffering of a woman simply because she was a porn star and may have been caught cheating.

There was a recent article posted by a friend about a new trend in Asia (can’t remember the country, sorry) about women cutting of the penis of their cheating husband. The response? Yeah, pretty much universal condemnation. Now, I’m not saying for one minute that whole hateful response is indicative of the entire MRM, or course it’s not, but that’s the epiphany. If you can’t lump in the few extreme cunts of the MRM with every single person who is part of/have leanings towards it, then you must apply the same logic to feminism.

Does that sound like NAFALT? Well, I guess it is. Now, I think NAFALT as an excuse is poor as it’s mainly used to pay lipservice to the ‘good’ feminists. I’ve seen very little by way of actual, self-identifying feminists condemning the hate speech of radical feminists aside from throwing out the old NAFALT argument. The good thing about the MRM is that, generally, condemnation of cuntish behaviour is usually swift. However, that doesn’t mean cuntish behaviour doesn’t exist. I despise the generalisation of men and how mainstream it’s become, that feeling never went away after abandoning John Salmon, but I also despise the generalisation of women and, despite what I’ve seen and read in the MRM, it’s just as widespread as the generalisation of men.

Again, the difference being that the generalisation of women is always, always highlighted and made out to be negative, especially by feminists, who use their regular tactics of shame, humiliation and misinformation to somehow wrangle an apology out of whoever has ‘transgressed’.

For example, The Inbetweeners Movie. I watched this for the first time the other day and thought it was awful. For those who haven’t heard of the Inbetweeners; it was a TV series here in England about 4 sixth form students and their journey into adulthood. The movie was made as a way of bringing the series to a neat ending. Reading some reviews it became clear that the treatment of the female characters was unappreciated by most people, calling them stereotypical, one dimensional and, of course, misogynistic. I found it hard to disagree, they were all fairly one dimensional and difficult to like. However, not one comment was made about the boys themselves, the main characters who were, likewise, just as one dimensional and generalised as the women. Some people have said the series is supposed to be a parody, a deliberate over-exaggeration of teenage stereotypes. Whatever the intention, the point is that generalisations about women are not ok, generalisations about men are just dandy. I would like to point out that there is not one single character in The Inbetweeners, be it the TV show or film, that I can relate to. My teenage years were vastly different.

But what’s that got to do with the whole feminism vs the MRM thing? Well, feminism won’t allow us to laugh at generalisations of women, yet it actively endorses generalisations of men; backwards campaigns like Men Can Stop Rape and such can attest to that. Feminism will simply magic up ways of victimising women whilst expecting everyone to feel the same way, demeaning and shaming those who don’t.

One of my major bug bears is that feminists are unable to apply rational thought to indirect comparisons. For example, eating disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia, so we’re told, disproportionately affect women and while men suffer them too they are not to be included in the discussion. Feminists claim this is as a result of unrealistic body expectations effecting women more than men. What feminists don’t seem to be able to grasp is that unrealistic body expectations for men are not presented in the same way. So, instead of looking at men with eating disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia (direct comparisons) they should be focusing on the massive number of young men filling themselves with steroids and other drugs while spending hours in the gym to get the bodies of men like Hugh Jackman, Gerard Butler and Christian Bale. Body standards effect men and women, just not in the same way, it’s feminism’s obsession with looking only at direct comparisons and ignoring everything else that pisses me off.

In short, sometimes you have to compare apples and oranges in order to get the full picture.

When you think about it, it’s also rather ironic that feminists want to use direct comparisons for things like eating disorders, yet the wage gap calculations are based on comparing apples and oranges and that’s a stat the feminists love to use. Just goes to show they’ll find any way to make themselves the victim, even if it means being massive hypocrites.

To end what has become something of a ramble, I don’t feel like I belong in a gender movement. I don’t like feminism, but I equally don’t like much of the MRM and I want no part of either. That doesn’t mean I’m against gender equality, If I was I wouldn’t be fit to do the job I do, it simply means I don’t want to be part of a ‘side’ in this ‘battle’. I’m just a person trying to navigate their way through life. I still see things I don’t like, I still see the way feminism infantilises women and demonises men, but equally I’ve seen the way the MRM demonises women and it’s equally as pathetic and unhelpful.

I’ll always be unsure of what my views are, they’re malleable, influenced by new information, shaped and refined every single day by things I read. What I do know is that I don’t need my views validated by an ideology of any kind. I thought I did once, but now I couldn’t give a fuck who likes me or who agrees with me, I’m not doing this for brownie points or to be accepted, I’m doing it because I want to. Will that change? Maybe, everything changes at some point but at the moment I don’t care who I upset or why. The last year has been invaluable to me, it’s shaped who I am, what I believe and what I write, but it’s also shown me the dark side of life, the negativity and hypocrisy. I can’t be bothered to involve myself in that anymore. I’m through with trying to ignore the shit I see when it comes to gender equality because it’s all for ‘the greater good’.

To that end I’ve reduced my friends on Facebook, if you’re gone and that upsets you I’m sorry but your feelings are not my concern. I have limited my affiliations with pages, which means no more admin roles. I still have liked pages that I’ll share the blog with, I’m still friends with admins, I just don’t want to be one anymore. If they choose to share my blog then that’s fantastic but, mostly, I’ll be uploading new entries on my own page. Will that change? Maybe, but for now I have no interest in becoming an admin again.

That doesn’t mean to come across like the self-righteous rantings of someone who thinks they’re important, one of the good things about being John Salmon is that, ultimately, my contribution is pretty insignificant, it’s just my heart spilled onto the page. Simple as that.

Merry Christmas. Despite everything, I do love this time of year!